A Week In Portland, OR, On A $50,000 Salary

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Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: a producer who makes $50,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a breakfast burrito.
Occupation: Producer
Industry: News
Age: 28
Location: Portland, OR
Salary: $50,000 base, $3,000 expected in overtime and holiday pay
Net Worth: $20,000
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly ): $1,330 (after taxes and deductions)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $800 (I live with my boyfriend and our shared rent is $1,864 for our two-bedroom, two-bathroom with included parking and in-unit washer-dryer. My boyfriend pays a bit more due to having a higher income and using the second bedroom more than me. This also includes our pet fee.)
Student Loans: I paid off my student loans two years ago, hallelujah! In total, they were $23,000.
Car Payment: $800 (I bought my car in September 2018 and hope to have it fully paid off by the end of this year.)
Car Insurance: $114.75
Cell Phone Plan: $70
Health, Dental, and Vision: $8 (deducted from each paycheck pre-tax)
401(k): 4% of my income deducted from each paycheck pre-tax, my company fully matches.
Renters Insurance: $16.24
Internet and Cable: $46 (for my half)
Electric: $40-$60 (for my half)
WSG: $30-$40 (for my half)
HBO, Hulu, and Netflix: $37.37 (I am the one people mooch off)
Savings: $200+ (I have $2,500 in my emergency fund in a traditional savings account. I have around $7,000 in investments and $10,000 or so in my 401k.)
Climbing Gym: $576 (annually)

Day One

3 a.m. — Narrator: This alarm is not a mistake. My alarm goes off at this time every weekday. As usual, I mentally curse it and hit snooze once. I've gotten up this early for a couple of years, but it's still hard.
3:15 a.m. — I get myself out of bed after my second alarm and proceed to do my half-hour morning routine: grab the clothes I laid out and go to the bathroom. I get ready in the bathroom since my boyfriend, K., is sleeping in the bedroom. We live together and he's used to this early morning tango of hearing me shuffle around the bedroom a bit in the dark.
3:20 a.m. — Money Diaries is the reason I finally got a skincare routine (I'm indebted to you, OPs!). My morning products are a Neutrogena cleanser, Thayers Witch Hazel Rose Petal face toner, and Clinique 72-hour moisture surge. I then only bother with Covergirl liquid foundation, Covergirl powder, and chapstick for my very minimal work makeup. It's too early to do more — I will take any extra minute of sleep. At my job, I can look pretty casual, so my outfit consists of black Paige jeans, a gray sweater, and navy Steve Madden slip-ons. Most mornings I feel like that scene in The Princess Diaries — well, this is as good as it's gonna get. I wish that I looked more put together, but that would mean waking up even earlier…
3:35 a.m. — I kiss K. goodbye as he continues to sleep, the lucky bastard. I head out to the living room and kitchen where our cats eagerly await their breakfast. I oblige, then pack my own food for work: cereal bar, fruit snacks, carrots, string cheese, and vegetarian chili for lunch.
3:45 a.m. — I drive to work, which takes less than 10 minutes. Having a car is expensive, but public transportation doesn't run this early, nor is there a very direct route from my place to work anyway. I bought my car from family and am paying them back as quickly as I can. I prioritized aggressively paying off my student loans and three months after finishing those off, my 13-year-old car decided it wanted to cross the automotive rainbow bridge. I was loaned the money for my new car without interest or a payback timeline, but I don't want to leave my family without that money for long. I bought my car in September 2018 and hope to have it fully paid back by the end of this year. I still owe $6,000. I also opted for a car with four wheel drive, because if there's snow, I'm in a job where we definitely go into work. When I arrive at work, the first thing I do is go to the break room to grab a necessary cup of Earl Grey tea to help wake me up more.
4 a.m. — I settle in at my desk and dive into my email, so many other tabs, and a variety of programs to catch up on the weekend coverage and morning assignments. Yes, I'm still working on-site in the newsroom during COVID-19, so far at least. We have a new configuration of desks for social distancing along with hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes galore. I feel safe and trust the transparent policies and workflow changes my company has put in place to address the very fluid time we're in.
6:15 a.m. — I grab another cup of tea. You will see a pattern this week.
9 a.m. — I buy a bag of yogurt-covered pretzels from the vending machine. $1.79
10 a.m. — I take a break to eat my lunch. The vegetarian chili is packed with good stuff like peppers and zucchini. Mmm, hearty and delicious.
10:40 a.m. — Gov. Brown announces the statewide stay home, stay safe executive order. Knew that was coming but now it's official. Many businesses will have to close tomorrow and the new normal is sinking in more.
1 p.m. — I wrap up work and drive home.
1:20 p.m. — Feed the kitties again, catch up with K. for a bit (he's been working from home for a couple weeks now), and then take a nap.
3:30 p.m. — My nap alarm wakes me up and I am mostly refreshed. My sleep schedule is pretty unconventional, with my odd hours: I usually get about six hours at night and then need an after-work nap. After waking up, I'm determined to be productive for an hour, so K. and I clean the apartment.
4:30 p.m. — I call my best friend from college. She works at a hospital but not one that is taking COVID-19 patients due to its specialty care. We chat about the pandemic and about when she may be able to come to Oregon next. I had loose plans to go see her in June, but everything is up in the air now. We have a good talk and hang up after about 45 minutes.
5:15 p.m. — K. and I decide to brave the grocery store now that the stay home order is in effect. We have a good amount of food in our kitchen already that we could stretch out, but we'd feel more comfortable with some additions. I put in a load of laundry before we venture out.
6 p.m. — The store isn't too packed but the usual things are out: toilet paper, chicken, etc. We buy shrimp, a three-pound bag of Cuties, ginger beer, a bottle of red wine, a six-pack of beer, a six-pack of hard cider, root beer, bananas, apples, popcorn, chips, a bagged salad, cereal bars, a large pack of gum, and a pint of Halo Top that I know I'll want some time this week. We split the cost. $43.99
6:15 p.m. — We make pasta with meat sauce for dinner, classic and easy. I do two more loads of laundry and we wind down with some episodes of Jeopardy! The pint of Halo Top does not make it to later this week.
8:20 p.m. — Get into pajamas and brush my teeth. Nighttime skincare routine includes same cleanser and toner as the morning but I swap the Clinique for Neutrogena Deep Moisture night cream. Crawl into bed for sleep.
Daily Total: $45.78

Day Two

3 a.m. — Yeah, I'm up. Today's outfit is of very similar nature to what I wore yesterday: preppy gray sweatshirt from Old Navy, black jeans again, and the same blue slip-ons. Most of my clothing is from Nordstrom Rack, Target, or Old Navy and is mainly neutral colors.
3:45 a.m. — I finish my skincare and makeup, say bye to K., feed cats, and pack food for work (the usual snacks and then soup for lunch).
4 a.m. — I sit down at my desk with Earl Grey in hand. Bless this energizing cup of hot goodness.
6:20 a.m. — Tea time dings again.
10 a.m. — Work flies by and it's time for my break. The soup is okay, just from a can. I know, super high in sodium but sometimes ya gotta go with the easy things in life.
1 p.m. — It was another day full of COVID-19 coverage. Oregon hasn't been hit nearly as hard as neighboring Washington and California, but it has a lot of the same measures in place to combat the spread like school closures through the end of April and yesterday's stay home order. The pandemic is impacting every aspect of life, so we have plenty to report on. A day's worth of coverage can feel like a week. It's a whirlwind and it's been pretty exhausting.
1:20 p.m. — Home and time for nap. Before COVID-19, I usually napped for 45 minutes to an hour. Now, it's at least two hours from how worn out I feel at the end of the workday. With how much information comes in during my shift, my brain gets fried.
4 p.m. — Get myself out of bed and hang out with K. After some chill time, we decide we really should put the Ring Fit Adventure to use. I've never played it, but it turns out to be pretty fun! I'm glad to be moving, too. We play mini-games together for an hour. Working out at home is an adjustment, I'm used to using the apartment gym or going to the indoor bouldering gym where K. and I are members. K. got me into climbing in the past year and I miss it. I take a shower.
6 p.m. — Dinner time and it's pasta again! But for tonight, we make it with pesto and chicken. Another basic dish but it hits the spot. I crack open a hard cider and we watch more Jeopardy!
8:15 p.m. — Nighttime routine and lights out. Yay for a no-spend day!
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

3 a.m. — Bright and early? Nope, it's dark and early for me!
3:20 a.m. — Today I decide to put in more effort to my outfit, just one notch up but it's something! I put on another pair of trusty black pants (of course), a dark purple long-sleeve shirt from Target (the most color of the week so far!), and a jean jacket (an Old Navy score for $20). I pack my lunch with food that K. cooked yesterday afternoon — ground seasoned turkey with soy sauce and a side of rice. He wanted to use the turkey and found a new recipe.
4 a.m. — Back to the grind, tea in hand.
6:25 a.m. — I am a creature of habit…
10 a.m. — How is it only Wednesday? I'm really dragging. I've worked in news since graduating college, but this amount of coverage is so much more than I have experienced. Sure, there have been days of breaking news before that were hectic, but the pandemic has no end in sight. I can tell how stressed I'm getting. I eat the turkey and rice, which is pretty good.
10:45 a.m. — Since I know I'm getting into a slump, but don't want a third cup of tea, I make a hot chocolate from a pack of no-sugar Swiss Miss in the break room. It helps warm my soul and gives me a bit of life back.
1:20 p.m. — Home and so ready to nap.
4 p.m. — Wow, that was very needed. I come out to the living room and K. suggests putting on New Girl. I haven't watched the show since it aired so I say go for it. We watch a few episodes and I remember the awkward humor and how Schmidt was by far the best character.
6 p.m. — A friend recommended a YouTube live yoga session hosted by a local instructor, so I decide to give it a try in our second bedroom that we have set up as a den/office. I haven't done yoga in ages and have been meaning to get back into it. After the hour-long practice, I am wiped. My breathing was so off, my poses were really wobbly, and my limbs feel so stiff now but I'm so glad I did it! I Venmo the instructor the suggested donation amount to thank her. $5
7 p.m. — While I did yoga, K. cooked shrimp with sweet chili sauce and rice for dinner. It's one of my favorite three-ingredient dishes and it's ready right when I finish. I'm so ready for food, I eat it with gusto.
7:20 p.m. — I take a bath to help loosen up from how much yoga kicked my butt. I love baths. It's a good way to end a very long day. Afterward, I lounge a bit more before bed and it's lights out for me at the usual 8:20 p.m.
Daily Total: $5

Day Four

3 a.m. — Up and at ‘em.
3:20 a.m. — I am determined to look cuter today. I put on a black print dress from ModCloth that I've had for years, a faux leather jacket K. got me for Christmas, black tights, and black booties from Target. Yes, wearing all black and I'm feeling good. I do my skincare, say bye to K., feed cats, pack food, and I'm out the door.
4 a.m. — Hello Earl Grey, my old friend.
6:15 a.m. — Another trip to the break room.
10 a.m. — I eat the last of the turkey and rice I brought to work for lunch. It fills me up and I am content.
10:40 a.m. — My coworker mentioned earlier that she was craving M&Ms. While on my break, I see a “sharable size” bag of peanut butter M&Ms. I buy it and we split the pack. She thanks me and asks what she owes me. I say I'm not worried. She says she'll get the next one, whenever that may be. $2.59
1 p.m. — Work didn't feel as draining today, praise be! Drive home, chat a bit with K., and take my usual snooze.
4 p.m. — Get up and hang out with K. before we decide the weather is nice enough to enjoy. We go for an hour-long walk on a trail near our apartment.
6 p.m. — We get home and I take a shower. Then I get into PJs for the rest of the evening. Dinner is another helping of chicken pesto pasta from Tuesday. Leftovers for the win!
6:30 p.m. — K. has a side gig as a trivia host but since all bars are closed except for bottle/can sales and growler fills, he hasn't done a show in a while — until tonight! I had the idea to get a group of friends together for trivia virtually and K. was happy to write up questions. We get on a Facebook Messenger video group call and all play as one team, trying to answer K.'s general knowledge questions. We get just over half right, so we take it as a win! Since the game is just us, instead of waiting on other teams to turn in answers too, it goes pretty quickly and we end up staying on the call to catch up more. We talk about COVID-19, of course, but share some laughs as well. We hang up around 8:30 p.m. I drink two hard ciders during the call.
9 p.m. — I do my nighttime routine and go to bed late but happy that it was a good day.
Daily Total: $2.59

Day Five

3 a.m. — TGIF!
3:20 a.m. — Today's outfit: A red cardigan from Target over a kind of watercolor-looking print top from Anthropologie, black pants (the glue that holds my style together), and black Aldo flats from DSW. I do the rest of my morning routine and head to work.
4 a.m. — Caffeine, I love you so much.
6:15 a.m. — Caffeine, do I tell you enough how great you are?
9 a.m. — I'm feeling extra hungry today, so I get a breakfast burrito from the refrigerated vending machine to microwave and eat. $1.79
10 a.m. — I finish off the last of the chicken pesto pasta for lunch.
1 p.m. — FREEDOM! It's been a sluggish week, y'all. I am eager for two days of downtime.
1:20 p.m. — Home sweet home for quality time in for the next two days. I nap hard since it feels like the weight of work for the whole week has made me a shell of myself. Luckily, sleep can work wonders.
4 p.m. — Awake and I hang out with K. We moved in together six weeks before the spread of COVID-19 accelerated across the country. I'm so glad to have him all the time, even more now.
6 p.m. — We keep dinner really simple: chicken noodle soup and a bagged Caesar salad. We also mix up some ginger beer with gin to drink.
7 p.m. — We then decide to put on a movie that's been on my Hulu watch list forever: I, Tonya. It's great and Margot Robbie is phenomenal. After the movie, we play some Mario Kart. I win the first race — which is the first time I've ever beaten K! — but then fall back into my usual standings for the rest of the races.
9:15 p.m. — I'm ready for sleep. K. cuddles me in bed for a bit. He stays up later than me every night, usually playing video games. Before I fall asleep, we talk about our communication styles and how we'll each try to be more aware of how we're both feeling and expressing those feelings during the pandemic. I'm more emotive than K. so I want him to know how I expect I'll be when really stressed and I tell him how much I appreciate him.
Daily Total: $1.79

Day Six

6 a.m. — Nope, I sleep in later than this on weekends. The cats are pawing at the door for food. K. gets up to feed them and comes back to bed. We both sleep another two hours.
8 a.m. — Awake but still in bed. It feels so nice to be lazy. I scroll social media, K. and I talk a bit, and I finally get up around 9:30 a.m. I eat a cereal bar and some fruit. The original plan for today was to have a little getaway in the Willamette Valley to enjoy wine country and spend the night out there. Knowing that the stay home order was coming, I canceled our reservation, which was booked back in December. While the place we would have been staying is still open, it didn't feel right to keep our plans. It's also nice to have the $155 refund.
10 a.m. — K. joins me for this morning's yoga live stream! He's a good sport and I plan to keep doing these practices, which the instructor is holding three times a week. I Venmo her again. $5
11 a.m. — After yoga, we take it easy for a while. I'm usually a person who likes to have plans and be social, but this chill time has been really good for me. I know when I need to recharge and even though I still have that productive itch in me to being doing something, getting stuff on my to-do list done, etc., I accept that I want this leisure time.
2 p.m. — Some time outside sounds like a good idea, so K. and I go out to a trail near our apartment for a walk. Since the weather holds up, we end up walking eight miles. We see a fair amount of people along the trail but everyone practices social distancing. On our way back to our apartment, we stop by a mini-mart because we are both very thirsty. K. buys a tall can of Corona, two bottles of soda for him, and a bottle of Diet Coke for me.
5 p.m. — I take a shower when we get home. For dinner, we make bowls that include rice, black beans, ground season turkey with green chiles, corn and grated cheddar cheese. Everything tastes great, but I feel like some flavor is missing.
6 p.m. — I make some popcorn and we watch a few more episodes of New Girl. We then try to pick a movie to watch in the rabbit hole of streaming options. Nothing really jumps out at us but we start a movie that seems interesting. We watch about 45 minutes and decide we're not entertained, so we switch back to New Girl.
9 p.m. — I'm tired so might as well get a nice, long night of sleep again. On weekends, I usually sleep 10 to 12 hours a night because I can and it's glorious. K. stays up to play video games and joins me however many hours later.
Daily Total: $5

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — I wake up and lie in bed peacefully. K. again answered the call of the hungry cats earlier. I get up after a while and eat a cereal bar and fruit for breakfast.
9:30 a.m. — I FaceTime my sister. She lives outside of the US, so this is the way we normally communicate. We catch up about how our respective regions are doing with COVID-19. She also has to go on-site for her job.
11 a.m. — K. and I opt to walk around the heart of our neighborhood. We don't see nearly as many people on the sidewalks as we saw on the trail yesterday. We pass by a few of our favorite businesses that have had to shut down. It's a sad sight and I hope they can reopen whenever the time comes.
12:20 p.m. — We stop by a restaurant on our way back to our apartment that has the most amazing sauce so we can add it to our leftover bowls. K. goes in and buys the sauce.
12:30 p.m. — Home for lunch and the sauce makes the bowls perfect! I am so pleased and full. The rest of the afternoon is spent with New Girl on and playing a few rounds of a card game called The Game.
5 p.m. — We make an online order for pick-up at K.'s favorite Chinese restaurant. The order includes broccoli beef, the restaurant's signature spicy chicken, and a side of rice. This food will last us at least a few meals. I pay with 18 percent tip. $50.56
6 p.m. — Before COVID-19, Sunday evenings were when we would go out and play trivia at one of the places we walked by earlier today. This evening, we spend more quality time on the couch. I think a lot about how much has changed in a short amount of time. It's a lot to take in and adjust to, but I feel grateful for my home, my family, K., my friends, and my job.
8 p.m. — I do my nighttime routine and get into bed. I fall asleep wondering what news the coming week will bring.
Daily Total: $50.56
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.
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