A Week In Northern New Mexico On $17 An Hour (Follow Up)

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Today: a lift operations manager who makes $17 an hour and spends some of her money this week on touring skis.
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Editor's Note: This is a follow-up diary for the September 2019 Money Diary entitled "A Week In Northern New Mexico, On A $19,500 Salary." You'll want to read that first, here. 
Occupation: Lift Operations Manager
Industry: Ski
Age: 26
Location: New Mexico
Salary: $17/hr
Net Worth: -$17,500 (I am not totally sure how to calculate (you can roast me, it's cool), but I currently have about $1,500 in savings. I also have about $12,000 in student loans, and I am paying off a $5,000 loan to my parents for a car I got over the summer. I also have about $2,000 on my credit card. My boyfriend, E., and I mostly share finances but we don't nitpick over anything. If I pay for dinner one time, he'll get it next time. We do split groceries and rent.)
Debt: ~$19,000 between my student loans, car, and credit card.
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $1,200-$1,900, depending on overtime
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $425 for my half — all utilities are included and there is laundry on site. I know how lucky we are, we live in a monthly rental surrounded by nightly rentals for tourists.
Student Loans: $200
Car: $150
Credit Card: $300-$400
Spotify: $9.99
Audible: $9.99
Billie: $9.99 (every three months)
Car/Renter's Insurance: $104.27
Savings: I have $200 of each paycheck automatically routed to my savings (so $400-$600 depending on how many weeks in the month)
Health Insurance: $173.67 (I'm still shopping around still for vision and dental)
Phone: $60 (I send this to my parents as it is cheaper for their plan to keep me on it.)
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Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
Definitely — both of my parents went to college. My brother and I were told from a young age we had to go. I ended up going to school out of state so I paid out-of-state tuition. I paid for it mostly with loans, but my grandma paid for the first two years for both me and my brother. I used loans for the last two years and have been trying to pay them off as aggressively as I can.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Not a whole lot — my dad is fantastic with numbers and money, but he didn't like sharing finances with me and my brother. As I've gotten older, my dad and I have talked a lot more openly about money (mostly mine and not his/my mom's). My brother and I knew my parents were hit hard in 2008 but we never fully knew how hard until years later.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My brother and I were told that our job in school was school and sports so neither of us had jobs until after high school. I babysat and house-sat and used that for spending money. After I graduated high school, I nannied and worked at my high school's pool. Mostly I pulled lanes and set up timing equipment for swim meets and water polo games but it paid well for an 18-year-old.
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Did you worry about money growing up?
Not really mainly because my parents were so closed-off about finances. After 2008, my brother and I definitely knew to not ask to go to certain places to eat or ask for certain things. My parents always made sure we had food, clothes for school, and they continued to let us play sports and do other extracurriculars that were not free. My brother and I went to public school until high school (my grandpa split it with my parents because he wanted us to have a "Catholic" education...lol).
Do you worry about money now?
For sure, I don't know a lot of people who don't. I love working in the ski industry, and my job is very fun (albeit stressful sometimes). I'm grateful to work at a place that has summer activities as well. We all get "laid off" the month of April, but I try to use PTO and budget carefully so I don't get too strapped.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I would say when I graduated college at 22. I bounced between seasonal jobs in New Mexico and Alaska for two years so my parents would occasionally help me with moving expenses but that's about it. I know if E. and I needed help, they would be there for us like they have been for my brother and SIL.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Negative, ghost rider.
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Day One

7:50 a.m. — My boyfriend, E., wakes me up gently to kiss me goodbye. Today is my first day off in over three weeks and I am reveling in it. I try to fall back asleep but fail — it feels so good to sleep past 6! I get up, grab coffee from the kitchen, and feed our two kitties breakfast. I then get back in bed and scroll on my phone (read: watch too many TikToks) before I pull myself out of bed to get stuff done.
11:30 a.m. — I have changed our sheets, folded and put away our laundry, vacuumed, mopped, and tidied up and I feel SO much better. E. comes home for lunch and we chat a bit about what's going on on the mountain. Once he leaves, I head out and drop off some letters at the post office and grab a couple of bottles of coffee creamer from the grocery store. While I'm there, I pull out the last half of rent in cash from the ATM. E. and I have refused to give our landlord checks anymore since he sometimes takes over a month to deposit them and it drives me CRAZY having money in my account I can't "spend." $7.92
4:30 p.m. — I've just been hanging out at home being a wonderfully lazy person. I attempt to start Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid for the second time, and I'm happy to report it's much better this time around. I read until E. gets home around 4:30 and then I move to the couch so we can watch more of the second season of Cobra Kai (don't judge, it's super cheesy and dramatic but we love it).
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6 p.m. — I get started on dinner. I cook chicken for E. on the stove and cook veggie chicken pieces in the toaster oven for me. I also make one of those ready-made stir fry kits — this one is teriyaki flavor and comes with Yakisoba noodles and allll the veggies. It's super quick and super tasty. I save half of mine for lunch tomorrow. We finish Cobra Kai and are bummed we're already done since we started two days ago... E. does the dishes since I cooked. We just hang out for the rest of the evening and I read for a bit.
8:30 p.m. — I get myself ready for bed and work tomorrow. I make sure my lunch is good to go and throw some snacks and socks in my backpack. I always keep extra ski socks in my backpack and I used my spares at work the other day and forgot to replace them. I do my nightly routine — wash my face with Clean & Clear cleanser, apply a spot treatment, and finish off with Trader Joe's antioxidant facial serum and ultra moisturizer. I know TJ's skincare products get some hate but since I started using them over the summer, my face has never been softer or clearer! Head to bed around 9 but fall asleep around 9:30.
Daily Total: $7.92

Day Two

5:40 a.m. — Mmmmm no. I snooze until 6:10 and then get up. I quietly usher the kitties out of the bedroom and shut the door so E. can continue to sleep. I pour myself some cold brew and turn on our electric kettle to boil water for my french press. I grab my lunch out of the fridge and immediately put it in my backpack so I don't forget. I then braid my hair and do my intense morning skincare routine of applying vitamin C serum and sunscreen. I have become a pro at getting dressed in the dark so I throw on my baselayers and grab my phone and water bottle out of the bedroom. I turn on my milk frother and add that to my french press coffee and put it in my backpack. Put on my ski pants and puffy since it is a whopping nine degrees outside, kiss a very sleepy E., and head out.
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6:42 a.m. — Get into my office and check my voicemail to see if anybody has called out. No one has (yet) hooray! I do get an email callout though...boo. I drink some Emergen-C and check my schedule for the day as well as notes my co-manager left for me yesterday. I also throw my ski boots on my dryer/heater so they're nice and warm, take my temperature, and sign a COVID questionnaire stating I don't have any symptoms or, to my knowledge, come in contact with anyone with COVID. I also turn my radio on to make sure I hear our lift mechanics if they need anything from me.
7:15 a.m. — I guess now is a good time to talk more about updates since my last MD? In my previous MD, I had left this job to be an office assistant at our town's chamber of commerce, and you all were not shy of telling me how you felt about how I spent my money. I definitely went a little wild with my latte spending mostly because at my ski area job, I don't have the ability to drive to work or go get nice coffee. So I was just really enjoying the freedom! I got asked to come back to this job after my previous boss (the reason I left) left and I got asked to fill her place. I am SO much happier here than I was when my old boss was here. Also, E. and I are officially back together (obviously) and moved into a new apartment in April. It is so much nicer being in a true one bedroom than a studio! My co-manager and I get along SO well and it is much easier being here than it was previously.
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7:30 a.m. — We have a quick meeting with my team about the happenings of the day and then everyone goes to their assigned lift for the day. I grab an egg, cheese, and biscuit sandwich from the cafeteria ($3.43). I quickly boot up and grab my helmet/goggles and skis and head out to do my morning rounds and ride all of our lifts and make sure they're spinning and that my guys have everything they need. $3.43
3:45 p.m. — Today turned out to be more go-go-go than I expected. I am finally back in my office and working on my daily schedule/lift placement for my team for tomorrow. I am also catching up on emails and making notes of everything that went on today for my co-manager, M., so I don't forget anything to talk about with him tomorrow. At some point today, I grab a hot veggie panini from the restaurant at our summit restaurant and some fries. $6.47
5:30 p.m. — E. and I are home and decide to try that TikTok trend of making a wrap by making a cut halfway down to fold it. We want breakfast ones, and the only thing we have for them is eggs. I run to the store in town and pick up avocado, big tortillas, shredded cheese, shredded hash browns, and bacon for E. We try not to shop at this store since it is so expensive ($26.07). I make everything for them and we eat while re-watching The Big Bang Theory. We will definitely not put so much stuff in the wraps next time as they were really full, but they are so tasty. E. does the dishes, and I finish Such a Fun Age. The ending felt rushed, but it was a great book! 10/10 would recommend. I head to bed around 9 after taking a shower and doing my skincare. $26.07
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Daily Total: $35.97

Day Three

6 a.m. — Only snoozed twice today! Out of bed and do the same old routine, kiss E. goodbye, and head to work. I get in around 6:45 and check my email/voicemail. Move some people around as I have a couple of call-outs but no biggie. Have a quick meeting with my team at 7:30 and send them off. I eat an egg/cheese biscuit while gearing up. $3.43
2:50 p.m. — Finally back in my office after skiing around checking on everyone and giving people lunch breaks. I eat my stir-fry leftovers while I check my email. Part of the NM state requirements for ski areas to operate is all full-time employees get COVID tested every two weeks so I head out after eating to get that done. Come back and try to finish a schedule for my team for the next two weeks.
5:30 p.m. — E. and I end up going to our friends' house for some drinks and appetizers. We work with all four of them and they all live together and people we've been hanging out with since the beginning — I'm not trying to be defensive off the bat, but since all six of us get regularly tested and only hang out with each other, we feel comfortable going to their house. They have wine, cheese, and crackers. E. and I pick up a weird but delicious combo of mac-n-cheese, veggie spring rolls, and pork egg rolls. We head home around 8, assemble our new automatic litter box (paid last week, and we know its bougie), and I head to bed around 9. $18.47
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Daily Total: $21.90

Day Four

5:40 a.m. — I have a harder time than usual waking up this morning...probably the wine and not-so-healthy food. E. leaves for his second job at a coffee shop, so I just lay in bed dozing until I get up a few minutes later. Feed the kitties, do my routine, and am in my office by 6:45. Meeting at 7:30, quick breakfast sandwich from home, and head out on the mountain to do rounds.
3 p.m. — Today turned into a strangely busy day. We do some training with ski patrol and my coworker, M., and I ride around all day checking all the lift stations and helping where we can. I finally finish my schedule for the next two weeks but hold off sending it until tomorrow morning just in case anything radical happens.
5:45 p.m. — M. and I have a meeting with our bosses so I leave a little later than usual. E. picks me up and we get home. I mindlessly scroll TikTok for a while until E. asks what I want for dinner. He lays down next to me on our bed while we chat and we get carried away ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. We finally decide on Italian food for dinner since we are too lazy to cook tonight. I get manicotti, E. gets spaghetti and meatballs, and we each get a cannoli. I go to bed at 9 after skincare. $45
Daily Total: $45

Day Five

5:40 a.m. — Same drill as always. Get into the office around 6:45 and make sure everything is ready for the day. Meeting with the team at 7:30 and then I gear up and eat a breakfast burrito while I'm on the chairlift to summit.
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3 p.m. — I talk to some of my friends about their touring (backcountry skiing) setups. I decide to check FB Marketplace and I actually find some beautiful skis for $300, and the seller is also selling skins with them for an extra $100!!! Message them immediately, and they respond saying with shipping to me it'll be $438 and I'm STOKED. Now all I need is a set of bindings that can be both alpine and touring and I'm ready to go. Definitely a huge purchase but I had some leftover Christmas money that I put in a different account for a "rainy day" purchase and this is IT. Some of this money my grandma sent me so I send her an email telling her what I bought. Anyone else's family members like to know what you buy with money they send you? Just mine? Word. $438
4 p.m. — FINALLY send my schedule out to my team and head home around 5. E. is working until 5:30 at the coffee shop so I walk home, but I call my mom on the way to chat. Get home and scroll TikTok for a while. I put some tater tot rounds and veggie chicken sliders in the oven and hop in the shower while they cook. E. and I eat while watching The Big Bang Theory. I head to bed around 8:30.
Daily Total: $438

Day Six

6 a.m. — I'm up and getting ready for work. It snowed a bit last night which means my staff comes in earlier to shovel chalet decks, so I get to work around 6:30 and start shoveling. I head out on the snow as soon as my meeting is over because we have a manager's meeting at 10 and I have to approve payroll before the meeting.
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9:30 a.m. — Get off the hill and chow down on an egg and cheese sammie while I approve payroll. I try to go through everyone's timesheets every couple of days so it doesn't take me too long to approve everyone. Meeting at 10 and then back on the snow at 10:45 to continue about the day. $3.43
5:00 p.m. — Finally home! Only one more day until a day off, woohoo! E. gets home right after I do. We do absolutely nothing all night and it's great. We watch The Big Bang Theory in bed and eat leftovers. E. takes a shower around 7 and I do the dishes. I head to bed around 9.
Daily Total: $3.43

Day Seven

6 a.m. — E. kisses me goodbye and I fall back asleep for 10 minutes. I have one of those dreams that I get up and get ready for work and then my alarm goes off and I'm very confused for a second. Do my same morning routine, using my extra time to give the kitties all the scritches and get into work around 6:40.
3 p.m. — What a day. I had a bunch of people call out, so M. and I have been running around all day. The ski instructors have been helping us a ton, so I run to the store in town and pick up some adult beverages for them as a thank you. $40
5 p.m. — Home! I'm off tomorrow so happy Friday to me! Or is it Saturday since I work six days a week? Either way, I'm stoked. E. gets home a little after me and we just veg out all night. E. makes pasta with artichokes and pesto for dinner, he adds chicken to his and veggie sausage to mine. I'm going grocery shopping tomorrow on my day off so we go over a list of everything I need to get. I also make a note to get us sushi (avocado maki for me) for dinner tomorrow. I do the dishes, my skincare routine, and head to bed around 10 (latest I've stayed up all week...slightly embarrassing).
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Daily Total: $40
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