A Week In Burlington, VT, On A $40,000 Salary

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Today: a program technician working in government who makes $40,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Heady Topper beer.
Occupation: Program Technician
Industry: Government
Age: 25
Location: Burlington, VT
Salary: $40,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,230
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,650 total, split with one roommate. I pay $850 for my share, which includes pet rent.
Student Loan Payment: $0 (I am very grateful that my parents and grandparents helped fund my education.)
Utilities: ~$50
Internet: $22.50
Retirement: $200 (The state contributes $570, but I don't get to keep their contribution unless I stay with the state for three more years.)
Health Insurance: $160
Spotify: $10
Greenpeace: $18
Pet Insurance: $39
Amazon: $13
New York Times: $15
Yoga: $18
Compost: $12

Day One

6:15 a.m. — Wake up, press snooze. Mondays are hard. My boyfriend, E., and I cuddle for a bit before I drag myself out of bed. I walk my golden retriever pup back to my apartment and make breakfast. I keep it simple on weekdays and have toast with peanut butter and jelly. And I drink two mugs of coffee, because Monday. I have a bit of time before I have to leave, so I apply to a couple jobs using some cover letter templates I have already.
12 p.m. — Heat up some leftover curry that E. and I made yesterday. We've been lamenting about our boring weekday lunches, so we made enough vegetable curry to last us through the week! I gobble down lunch before taking a break at a café across the street to get a green tea and read a couple chapters of a Pema Chödrön book. I really enjoy setting aside time on my lunch break to be more reflective and switch brain modes before diving back into work. When I do this, I often go back to work in a much better mood than when I don't! $2.78
1:45 p.m. — Get a phone call from an NYC area code – a job I just applied to this morning wants to interview me! I do a happy dance and then try to maintain composure.
4:30 p.m. — Go home, walk the dog, do some light cleaning, and then head to my BF's place to make dinner with some friends for a mini Hanukkah party. I get there, and we realize we need more beer, so I stop at a convenience store to get a four-pack of craft beer. Latkes and kugel are made, and dreidel is played. $17.11
8:30 p.m. — I feel bad kicking out our friends, but we have tickets to see one of my favorite bands, Wild Child. Once we get there, I get a Heady Topper and my BF gets a couple of Focal Bangers. $27
10:30 p.m. — Wild Child was so much fun! I was a little disappointed with their song selection, though, since I love their old songs and I'm not a fan of their new album. But as a fellow musician, I understand the need to play new material. I go to bed satisfied.
Daily Total: $46.89

Day Two

6:15 a.m. — Wake up, snooze a couple times, and then walk the dog back to my place. Today, I have avocado toast with sea salt and crushed red pepper flakes. Two mugs of coffee, per usual.
8 a.m. — Arrive to work and get a couple easy tasks out of the way before heading into a day full of back-to-back meetings. I don't mind having so many meetings – tbh, I'm kind of bored on days when I have none! At least when I have meetings I don't have to worry about occupying the empty time.
4:30 p.m. — Free at last, and the sun is actually making an appearance! I tiptoe outside so I don't scare it away…few people realize that Vermont is almost as dismal as the Pacific Northwest or London. I haven't seen the sun since Thanksgiving in Philly a week and a half ago! Must take advantage of this opportunity to take the pupperino for a run. We go for a quick three-mile loop around town.
6 p.m. — After coming home, doing some yoga, and showering, I heat up more curry. I'm happy to have a chill night to myself. As exciting as yesterday evening was, I find it necessary to have time to myself. I peruse Amazon's dog leashes while eating dinner, and find a decent looking one for $10. $10
9 p.m. — After watching a few episodes of Shameless, I put on my bedtime playlist and journal. I've been journaling pretty sporadically lately, but I really find it helps ease my anxiety and empty the nonstop overanalyzing Scorpio brain I have.
Daily Total: $10

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I totally had the intention of taking the doggo for a long walk this morn, but my bed is very nice and warm. I snooze instead.
12:15 p.m. — After shoving some leftover curry in my face, I head to a café. I get an English breakfast tea and a chocolate chip cookie and read my book. Get back to work feeling more at peace and optimistic. $7.30
5 p.m. — Call E. and figure out what to make for dinner. Seems like between the two of us, we have enough to call it a meal. Head to his place and whip up some lentils and sweet potatoes over brown rice. Not the most exciting dinner, but it hits the spot.
Daily Total: $7.30

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — Wake up, do the stuffs, and head to the office quickly before heading out for a long day of fieldwork.
12 p.m. — Stop at a cute looking café in southern Vermont, and it does not disappoint. The bakery case looks bomb, and I get a raspberry crumb bar and a coffee to enjoy while taking a break from driving and reading. This week is looking pretty cookie-heavy, but hey, a little sugar to get me through the day is sometimes very necessary! $5.50
2 p.m. — I'm in bumfuck nowhere, and I'm almost out of gas. I just barely make it to a town center where there's a gas station. I fill up and put it on the company card. ($27.30 expensed)
6 p.m. — E. and I head to our friend's benefit auction. She works at a crafts school and has a wreath auction fundraiser every December. Our other friend is an auctioneer, and he always volunteers to do the announcing. We get a couple beers and crack up at his theatrical auctioning. $20
9 p.m. — Back home nice and early, just how I like it! We watch a little comedy on Netflix and pass out.
Daily Total: $25.50

Day Five

8 a.m. — Walk the dog home for my telework day. It's such a nice way to end the week! My telework days are usually a mix of writing letters, answering phone calls, dealing with technical issues, and updating data. Also drinking lots of tea in my PJs — the best part!
10 a.m. — Yesterday I found out that one of my favorite bands is playing in Boston this spring! I'm super stoked. I see concerts there fairly frequently when bands neglect Vermont (all too common, unfortunately). I get two tickets. $25
2 p.m. — Pack for the weekend and then head out to take the pup to the vet. Her eye has been super red and goopy lately, and since we'll be away for the weekend at my parents' place, I figure it's best to put my anxiety at ease and get it checked out now. The vet does some tests and suspects it's a minor bacterial infection. The bill is steep, per usual, but it's worth it for peace of mind. $160
5 p.m. — E. and I finally have all our things ready to head out. We stop at the co-op on our way to get some Vermont cheese and tempeh for part of a gift. I have a minor heart attack when I see how much one of the artisanal cheeses costs, but E. promptly Venmos me to cover the whole bill. He's too nice!
6:30 p.m. — Almost made it to my favorite rest stop in NH, but my gas light turns on and I decide to pull off rather than take a gamble. I'd rather not run out of gas on a major highway! $26.42
8:30 p.m. — Arrive at my parents' apartment shortly before my sister and her BF, and we all have dinner together and open Hanukkah presents. It's a lovely little evening!
Daily Total: $211.42

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — Wake up to move the car out of the overnight lot and onto the street. My parents moved from our childhood home to the city a couple years ago, and this is one of the few annoyances of city living. After moving the car, I take the dog for a 4.75-mile run around a reservoir nearby. She does great! I love running, and I'm really trying to train the pup to come on all of my runs so I can knock out my own exercise and dog exercise in one go. The vet told me she had a bit of chub over the summer, so I'm trying to make her exercise as much of a priority as my own.
1 p.m. — Last-minute errands at the Russian market across the street before our guests arrive for our annual Hanukkah party! We get lots of smoked fish, a few beers, and a random assortment of Slavic items. My dad pays.
2:30 p.m. — All the guests are here! I haven't seen my aunts since last Hanukka and I haven't seen my grandma since May! Lots of catching up, and lots of latkes of course. Eventually E. and I realize we haven't let the dog outside since this morning. Oops! She seems pretty antsy, and as soon as we let her into the lobby, her puppy bladder can't hold it and she pees a little. Damn. We sprint downstairs so she can finish her business outside and take her for a walk. E. very discreetly runs inside and grabs cleaning supplies before anyone even notices. Score.
7 p.m. — The gang goes to see Green Book, and my parents cover tickets for everyone. I'm pretty picky about movie preferences (LOVE horror but most other genres bore me – again, Scorpio preferences) but I love it! It was thought-provoking and funny. Highly recommend!
9:15 p.m. — E. and I run home to check on the dog. I'm a little paranoid after the pee situation earlier, so we just run up, make sure she's okay, and leave to meet my parents, my sister, and my sister's BF at a Japanese place around the corner. None of us are that hungry after our mid-afternoon latke feast, but my family is very weird about having three square meals a day. I get the matcha-dusted salmon with ginger mashed sweet potatoes, and eat half and save the rest for a future meal. My parents cover the bill.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

8 a.m. — Wake up, take the dog out, and move the car. Happy to come back for a relaxed morning. After eating breakfast, my mom and I do some grocery shopping at TJ's (she gets me some of the nice expensive goods — oils, nut butters, etc.) and then stop at the indoor farmers' market. My mom is raving about the gluten-free ravioli, so she picks up the butternut squash one for herself and a mushroom one for me. I don't eat 100% gluten-free, but my stomach feels SO much better when I do!
1 p.m. — After everything's all packed, E. and I head out with the intention of stopping at a brewery on the way. We drive until we reach Concord, NH, and pick up some Mexican food on our way to the brewery. E. pays. We share a flight of beer (he pays again) and stay entertained by our dog playing with the brewer's dog, a cute black lab mix with almost much energy as our pupperino! They have a blast, and it makes me feel less guilty for making her sit in a car for four hours.
7:30 p.m. — Finally home! Fortunately, we have plenty of curry and sweet potato/lentil mixture leftovers to throw together and avoid going to the grocery store or ordering takeout.
Daily Total: $0
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