A Week In Portland, OR, On A $40,000 Salary

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 recruiter who makes $40,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Hydroflask.
Occupation: Recruiter
Industry: Staffing Agency
Age: 22
Location: Portland, OR
Salary: $40,000
Paycheck Amount (paid semi-monthly): $1,237 (before my health insurance starts being deducted)
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $878.50 for my half of a one-bedroom apartment
Utilities: $60–$90 for my half (water, sewer, electric, trash, gas — all paid through my building)
Wi-Fi: $0? (The company hasn't charged us for months…we keep checking our account; if they ever do, it'll be $20 for my half.)
Lemonade Renters Insurance: $7.25
Student Loans: $201
Car Insurance: $88.50 for my half
Car: $0 (I own an old car.)
Spotify: $9.99
ACLU Donation: $10
Credit Card: During one of my lowest mental-health periods recently, my mom offered out of the blue to pay off most of my credit card balance. I was barely able to make a dent in it on my base salary, despite making large payments (interest is a bitch). I am very privileged to have one parent who can afford this and am extremely grateful, as my mom and I have always had a stressful relationship as it pertains to money. It is my goal to never carry a balance again. I won't be surprised if the comments section tears me apart for this, but I wanted to be completely honest in my money diary, as up until recently I was trying to put $800+/month toward this.
Phone Plan: $0 (I will start paying my mom the $29 beginning next year.) Savings: I use Digit and transfer funds to my high-yield account when I can. I am not 401(k) eligible at my job for a year.
Amazon Prime: $60/year
Scott's Cheap Flights: $40/year
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Day One

8 a.m. — I wake up exhausted but weirdly energized? You know those days you sleep so little that you're actually somewhat energized? That's this morning. I take a body shower to wake up, run a straightener through my wonky bedhead hair, and am out the door after light makeup and a hug from my sleepy boyfriend. I walk to work.
9:45 a.m. — As I'm eating oat-milk yogurt at my desk, the exhaustion sets in. Read The Skimm, respond to emails, and try to wake myself up with tea, but alas, my body is not having any of this being vertical nonsense.
10:30 a.m. — Leave some voicemails for job candidates, eat an English muffin with almond butter from the office kitchen, and call my first scheduled appointment to learn she was in a car accident (oh no!). We push the call to later today. I do more work and read Money Diaries from the weekend.
12:15 p.m. — Snack on sriracha Hippeas during client calls to hold me over until the sweet reward of lunch.
1:44 p.m. — FINALLY FREE! I pop down the street to grab food. I try to pack lunch at least four days a week, but I was researching side hustles and applying to jobs until 2 a.m., so today is not one of those days. I walk to a small neighborhood joint while listening to the brand-new Office Ladies podcast. I grab a rice bowl loaded with veggies, soy curls (tempting IBS fate, but oh well), and dreamy spicy peanut, tahini, and ginger-sesame sauces. $10
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3:07 p.m. — The candidate who got in a car accident earlier doesn't answer. I want to believe the best about most people, but everyone in my office thinks “car accident” is almost always a lie. I need a nap.
5:06 p.m. — Holy fucking shit. My boss pulls me into a meeting and gives me a $10,000 salary bump. I am in shock and so happy, but now also feel weird about a phone interview I set up this week — because I've known something has to change and I couldn't continue barely affording bills and paying off debt. I walk home and call one of my best friends on the East Coast and my mom to happy-dance about the fact that I can start saving again and afford plane tickets home for the holidays.
7 p.m. — I spent an hour talking to my best friend and then relay the good news to my boyfriend, H. He's really tired after a stressful workday and isn't very peppy, but I know he's happy for me. I head off to dinner at AFURI to meet my cousin, who is in town for work.
9:11 p.m. — My cousin has a daily food allowance on his corporate card (lol, must be nice), so he pays for dinner. Phenomenal hazelnut ramen and king salmon nigiri. We don't see each other often, and it is nice to catch up. We head to a dispensary, where he buys weed mints, and then head back to my apartment to chat more with H. My cousin heads out around 10:20, and I eat Trader Joe's pumpkin Joe Joe's while my boyfriend watches Succession and I lazily watch these weird, rich people fight amongst themselves.
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11 p.m. — I drop some CBD-rich tincture under my tongue to ensure a better night of sleep and brush my teeth. Then wash my face (first with Tatcha Cleansing Oil to remove makeup and then with REN's Clarifying Clay Cleanser). I follow with Ordinary Niacinamide Serum and rose-hip oil to moisturize. I put spot treatment on a few blemishes (okay, all over my nose like an actual clown trying to tackle stubborn blackheads) and pass out after cuddling H.
Daily Total: $10

Day Two

7:20 a.m. — Alarm blares. Hobble blindly toward the shower and wash my dirty-ass hair while trying to burn myself awake. It doesn't work. I crawl back into bed with H. to rest for 15 more minutes until my 8:10 alarm goes off.
8:40 a.m. — I make myself an iced matcha to sip while getting ready. I comb my hair, put on brow powder, gold eyeliner, and mascara using a free mini size of Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara (which is dope, but not this mascara lover's favorite). I put on a new red sweater, jeans, and black booties and my jacket and earmuffs. I throw some random lunch ingredients in a plastic container and am out the door late while listening to Office Ladies.
9:30 a.m. — Sitting at my desk eating berry oatmeal, reading over a contract. I decide I can't wait any longer to get new gloves and a winter coat and text H. about going shopping (he is way more fashion-inclined than I am). I check my finance apps this morning (Digit, Mint, Cleo — the hype or roast feature is amazing). Lastly, I check out the T-Mobile Tuesday's deals in the app (only learned of this recently and highly recommend getting free stuff for other T-Mobile stans).
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11:40 a.m. — I remind myself of what I need to research tonight: a new therapist once my health coverage kicks in soon (lol, if anything is even covered), and the ballot measure due in a few days (love that Oregon is a vote-by-mail state, as it makes voting more accessible and increases participation).
12:03 p.m. — I calculate what my new take-home pay will be after taxes. It isn't a massive boost, but I think I can meet my ambitious goal of paying off my student loans in less than five years! :) I eat my random lunch and read a Money Diary.
4 p.m. — A blogger I love, Loni Jane, is having a huge sale on her e-books. With the discount and exchange rate (U.S. is currently very strong over Australia), it comes to $24.64 for two books totaling nearly 700 pages. Score! I hate how little I read for pleasure as an adult, but anything food-, health-, and self-improvement-related always manages to maintain my interest. $24.64
5:45 p.m. — I walk home and stop in the grocery store to get H. some goodies to cheer him up (he texted me earlier, he was having a tough day). I pick up some overpriced chocolate almonds and a bag of Skinny Pop white cheddar popcorn (it's dairy-free and yummy). I leave a cute note for him on his computer — as the poor dude fell asleep next to his laptop. I watch YouTube and read my e-books for a few hours. $10.88
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8 p.m. — My boy has arisen! I do a few days' worth of dishes (shout-out to depression) now that he isn't sleeping, and make a delicious chili rice noodle “salad” of sorts for my dinner, using an e-book recipe.
9:30 p.m. — I rotate a few of my dozens of plants and water a choice few (it's no longer growing season). I also learn from a YouTube comment that cauliflower is a hybrid of cabbage and broccoli?? WAS I THE ONLY ONE WHO DIDN'T KNOW THIS?? I proceed to sit on the couch, eating the popcorn and chocolate almonds while watching Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and looking at winter coats.
12:48 a.m. — Well, my hopes for an early bedtime are shot. H. and I have been arguing/talking for two hours. Things have been rocky recently, and we want to take some space (live apart for a few weeks), but there is no easy way to do that with no family or close friends around. Emotional exhaustion weighs heavily on us both, and our individual job stressors haven't helped. I wash my face with both cleansers, follow with a vitamin C serum from The Ordinary, and finish with Herbivore's Lapis Oil. I take my nighttime supplements (zinc, magnesium, multivitamin, Vitex) and head to bed. But then H. comes in and scoops me up in a hug and...
1:41 a.m. — ...Sex and weed. Weed and sex. Pee after (very important, y'all). And then go to bed laughing, which is a big improvement.
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Daily Total: $35.52

Day Three

7:40 a.m. — Ow. Alarm, why must thou injure me so? I stumble into the kitchen, make a matcha latte, and put in my headphones for my phone interview at 8.
8:32 a.m. — Interview over. Overall I feel good about it, but the recruiter seemed to cool down when I asked questions about benefits, which didn't feel great. I rush through three-minute makeup. I throw on leggings, an old sweater, rain boots, jacket, blanket scarf, beanie, and gloves to prevent my face melting off from the cold. Kiss H. goodbye and rush out the door a few minutes late. I listen to Binge Mode (my fave podcast that I discovered thanks to a Money Diary a few years ago) on my walk in.
9:30 a.m. — Eating an everything bagel I got from the office kitchen. I debate which winter coat to get while grimacing at prices. I try to tell myself it's an investment, but it still bites. I then read over benefits info the recruiter from this morning sent over. Definitely a stronger benefits package. I would pay much less for better health insurance.
11 a.m. — Transfer funds out of my Digit account back to checking, since my balance is very low and I have to send rent money to H. I Venmo him as much of rent as I have in cash — he makes more than me, and I will pay him the rest next week when I'm paid. I loaned him rent money a few months ago as well, while he was job hunting. Not fun times, but I know thankfully cash flow will be easier once my raise goes into effect. I then drop a thank-you card in the mail to my mom just because. I love sending paper cards. I've sent cards to all my close friends and my dad recently, and they've been so touched that I've vowed to do it more.
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11:30 a.m. — I guess the call went better than my tired morning brain perceived. They already want to have an in-person interview next week. I'm nervous to dip out of work to do it, but I have to see what else is out there given how poor my mental health has been recently (I had a phenomenal therapist back in my old city, but her rate is too expensive for me to call). Monday's raise and pay-structure change caught me by surprise and has been a massive relief, but I need to feel as stable as possible, especially if H. and I were to live separately or break up, which I couldn't afford until two days ago. I was raised by a strong female breadwinner, and while there were significant downsides during my childhood and through my parents' divorce, that experience has heightened the importance to me of always being able to support myself and cover my bills no matter what happens.
1 p.m. — Eating my leftover noodle salad thing at my desk. Finalize an interview time for next week and eat some chocolate almonds.
3:10 p.m. — I suddenly feel super queasy and am sent home. My boss insists on driving me home when she finds out how sick I'm feeling. (I may be holding a trash can…) What a weird day. My stomach is in knots, and my feet are clammy. I text my choir director that I'm unsure if I'll make rehearsal tonight (which sucks, given we have a concert in a few days). H. is working from home, and so I lie on the couch next to him while he works.
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5 p.m. — Still feeling disgusting and starting to feel worse, but my new iPhone arrived! I got one of the pastel ones, and it's so cute I could die. Apple price-gouges us all, but damn, they look good doing it.
5:40 p.m. — I feel like I'm on a boat I'm so nauseous, so I text my choir director that I won't make it. He doesn't seem pleased. I really wanted to sing tonight; it does wonders for me mentally. I try to buy my winter coat, and they don't accept my credit card. I stress eat some Trader Joe's Halloween gummies, which send me running to the bathroom. No more food for me. A while later I buy myself a phone case on Amazon, but my credit card cash back covers the $8 cost.
8 p.m. — I am trying to distract myself from my growling stomach. I read a Canadian Money Diary and then turn on game seven of the World Series. I love an underdog. C'mon, Nats!
11 p.m. — And the Nats win! I finally feel okay to eat a little something.
12:15 a.m. —Skin care (added in some lactic acid), supplements, humidifier cranked, and feeling like a happy human for the first time in ages. CBD-rich weed tincture under my tongue, and I'm out.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7:40 a.m. — Happy Halloween! First alarm goes, and I'm rolling around silencing two phones (I guess they synced all data?). I take my temperature with my Daysy (a piece of my birth-control equation since getting off the pill).
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8:25 a.m. — Get ready for the day. Should I dress up for the office? Who knows. I cobble together a costume last minute and walk to work. Andddd no one else dressed up. Oh well, I find it funny and a few people guessed my costume correctly.
11 a.m. — Hungry and disappointed with myself for not packing a lunch once again this week. It is what it is. I read a Money Diary and snack on a fig bar H. brought home from his office (we get many of our snacks from his office, lol). It's literally a fig newton in fancier health-marketing packaging, lol. Oh well, the nostalgia is real. Calls and reviewing a résumé until lunch.
12:30 p.m. — I book a hair appointment online for a few weeks from now, take my costume apart, and head out to find something delicious. The Thai food truck has a 20-minute wait, so I pay for my pad see ew ($8) and walk to a store nearby to buy my West Coast bestie a birthday card ($4.35). Back at my desk enjoying this dank food and watching YouTube, since my bosses are out to lunch. I text my choir friend about rehearsal last night and then hop on a call. $12.35
5:30 p.m. — Home after a brisk walk in nice weather (it's above 50 degrees!). My bosses left early, and I spent the last 30 minutes of work explaining the importance of voting to my coworker who has never voted. Being engaged is incredibly important! We aren't the most aligned politically, but he is extremely checked out and thinks it's too much work to learn about everything. I mention privilege associated with not caring or thinking things impact you, but stick mostly to my “vote for the people that can't” shtick, which he likes. He then tells me he wants to get drunk together and vote. Small wins, I guess? H. is napping when I get home (he has been working into the wee hours recently on freelance work with tight deadlines), so I sit down to set up my new phone, pop on the new case, and eat some candy corn and candy pumpkins (yes, yes, everyone hates candy corn, but I am enjoying my last days in Halloween mode).
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7 p.m. — I'm in the mood to carve pumpkins tonight, so I grab a cute little freckled one from the produce section of my local grocery store. $3.54
8 p.m. — H. cooks most of our meals, but he's too tired today after his class, so I whip up some marinara pasta with Italian-style seitan. Delicious and fast! H. pours us some wine, and we watch Nick Offerman on Hot Ones.
11:43 p.m. — We've had a fun, chill night watching random shows and videos, eating small desserts, and carving up my small pumpkin together! I double cleanse my face like normal, follow with serums and my rose hip oil. Brush teeth, supplements, and bedtime cuddling with my boo. 
Daily Total: $15.89

Day Five

7:15 a.m. — First alarm goes off, in the shower around 7:30. Hop out, niacinamide serum on my face, light makeup, sunscreen (always!), and make myself a hot matcha latte. I eat a few of the pumpkin seeds we roasted last night and organize the snack drawer. Add dairy-free mozzarella and peas to leftover pasta and put it in my bag.
8:17 a.m. — Success! I check my checking account and see that money I transferred myself from my high-interest savings account appeared. Time to get a winter parka (since they wouldn't accept my credit card type)! The price makes me cringe, but at least I found a code to knock 20% off the price ($224). I thank the no-sales-tax gods of Oregon. I put on fleece tights, a white turtleneck, navy skirt, and black booties layered with tons of chaotic outerwear to fight the freezing temps and walk to work. $224
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9 a.m. — Sitting at my desk basking in the glory of Friday. I want to blast holiday music (I don't celebrate Thanksgiving, so Christmas starts for me on November 1), but I tell myself to wait until after my Halloween-themed concert tomorrow. I listen to the “Healthcare” episode of Office Ladies, and it's fitting because today is the first day of my health coverage!
10:30 a.m. — Working on candidate sourcing and looking at holiday flights. The possibility of a job shift makes committing to dates difficult, but I'm still excited about my New Year's plans with H.
5:03 p.m. — Leave the office after a busy last few hours. I chat with my mom on the walk home about my interview a few days ago. We talk for about an hour. H. and I have plans to go to Ben & Jerry's for their free-nondairy-scoop day, but he is sleeping so adorably when I get home that I decide not to wake him for a while. I proceed to shovel some popcorn into my mouth like a wild hyena and read my fave newsletters: Girls' Night In and NYT's What to Watch.
6:51 p.m. — I slowly wake up H. and we head out to Ben & Jerry's. We each get a scoop of nondairy: coconut chip and chocolate chip cookie dough. Both meh. I love some Ben & Jerry's flavors, but the ones they keep in stores are NOT it. We enjoy the free ice cream and then head across the street to Harlow, one of my favorite brunch spots that I didn't know was open for dinner. I get the best biscuits and gravy. $11
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8 p.m. — We head home and watch The Great British Bake Off final with cookies and tea, like good faux Brits.
10:45 p.m. — Starting to feel pretty run-down and mopey. I think my slight sore throat all day is deciding to stick around. Always before a concert [insert deep sigh]. I wash my face, take supplements, and head to bed around midnight, hoping to have a voice for tomorrow.
Daily Total: $235

Day Six

9:15 a.m. — Wake up slowly, Daysy temp, curl up next to my sleeping boy. I text a choir friend and play on my phone for a long time. I snuggle my Olympic sleeper and pillows. I. Love. My. Bed.
10:45 a.m. — I'm finally up and getting in the shower. I really don't wanna wash my hair, but it looks so weird. Shower, prep music, start getting ready.
12:05 p.m. — I've made a huge brunch — two fried eggs, avocado toast on sourdough, and leftover biscuits and gravy from last night's dinner. Smothered in hot sauce, accompanied by green tea and water. H. makes me some honey and tea in a thermos, and I dash to my car to drive to the venue for call time.
1:23 p.m. — Drinking steaming tea and running through our pieces at rehearsal. The pieces are funny and spooky. It's more of a casual community group than I'm used to, but I'm enjoying it all the same. Singing benefits my body and mind in such a beautiful way (I've been performing since childhood).
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4:30 p.m. — Fun concert! And I'm officially quite sick, but gotta push through for the concert. H. and I drive to Target to grab pieces for our costumes. We spend ages in Target and I walk out with a few costume components, a Christmas mug, a pop socket for my new phone, and a green juice. $20.35
6 p.m. — I am now very hangry and full-on mopey sick. We search around for a place to eat, and H. decides on Virtuous Pie (a dope vegan pizza joint), as I am a pile of sick goo melted into the car seat, incapable of rational thoughts. We stop for gas along the way (H. buys, I pay next time) and miraculously find parking right in front of the restaurant. He buys himself a pizza and garlic knots for us to share. I buy myself a Margherita pizza ($12 + 20% tip = $14.40). Delicious. Hanger = gone. $14.40
8 p.m. — We've been back home, chilling in respective corners for a while. Both very depleted and I am feeling yucky, but I never party hard, so I'm determined to rally and make it to this party.
9:55 p.m. — Alone in an Uber pool to the party ($9.03). H. really took a turn for the worse mentally and physically, so I am headed to the party alone. I took several drops of weed tincture under my tongue before leaving, and my weed pen is coming with me. I don't drink much at all because alcohol doesn't love me, and the feeling is mutual. Everyone's cannabinoid receptors are different, but weed always leaves me feeling great or just a bit groggy the next day, instead of hurling or in immense pain. Living in a legal state is a beautiful thing — it's so cheap for great, legal weed. $9.03
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4 a.m. — Party was great. I stayed to watch the time change. I'm very high. Uber home ($8.45). Bedtime after many munchies were consumed. $8.45
Daily Total: $52.23

Day Seven

9 a.m. — Wake up, Daysy temp, turn on AC. Back to sleep.
11 a.m. — We cook up a big brunch of lox, bread, and eggs, and then slowly get ready.
2:30 p.m. — Hop in the car to drive to the Washington Square Mall so H. can return something. He returns his clothes, and my fashion-loving dude roams free around the mall. I use self-restraint as much as possible, knowing my bank balance will be low for the next three weeks until my raise paycheck. I buy a Taiwanese fruit tea ($5.75) and, after much waffling, allow myself to buy a gift set of two Glow Recipe masks I've been eyeing for months, telling myself it's a raise gift, haha ($28). H. generously offers to buy me the new mascara I came in for, and I thank him. $33.75
5 p.m. — We check out many more stores, and I end up buying him a Hydro Flask as a belated birthday gift (he finally chose his preferred bottle) ($32.95). After the mall, we head to Cost Plus World Market, since I haven't been in six months and want to poke around. I buy us dishwashing gloves to clean the bathroom and feel insanely boring, but buying rice noodles makes the trip feel more fun ($10.98). $43.93
6:30 p.m. — Home from shopping and excited to save money by eating in. We eat leftovers from brunch and meal prep for the week. H. watches football while I force myself to be productive. I start by filling out a document for my upcoming interview, cleaning paint off my boots (someone got paint on me at the party last night), and then move on to decluttering and organizing my belongings in our very limited storage space.
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9 p.m. — Research and vote on the Portland ballot measures due in a few days. I'll drop it in a vote box tomorrow. I go to wash my face and put on my new overnight masks and find the gift set is missing a piece. Ugh, I'll need to swap it out in-store. I settle into being a sick loaf on the couch with H. Finally head to bed around 1 a.m., laughing together and hoping for a peaceful week ahead.
Daily Total: $77.68
If you are experiencing anxiety or depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.
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