A Week In Vero Beach, FL, On A $32,000 Salary

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Today: a surgical technologist working in healthcare who makes $32,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Hot Cheetos.
Occupation: Surgical Technologist
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 24
Location: Vero Beach, FL
Salary: $32,000 (I work part-time.)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,080
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $365 for my portion. I live with my girlfriend and a roommate, so we split it three ways. The entire rent is $1,095.
Student Loan Payment: $50
Phone: $50. I'm on my mom's plan, but I pay her monthly.
Car Insurance: $95
Gas: $80
Electric: $30
Internet: $17
Netflix: $8
Spotify: $3 (I'm on the family Premium plan, which is $15, but I split it with five people.)

Day One

6 a.m. — My two cats are bugging me for their breakfast, so I begrudgingly get up and feed them half a can of food each in the dark. I get back under the covers and fall back asleep right away. My girlfriend, D., and I sleep until 10:30, which is pretty late for us. We have the day off together, yay!
11 a.m. — We heat up leftover Korean food from last night and share a huge plate of bibimbap — rice, egg, veggies, and some beef. I have some miso soup on the side and a cup of tea. We hang out for a while, and it's nice to not be in a rush. We decide to play the new Nintendo NES I bought D. for Christmas. It has all of the old-school Nintendo games programmed into it — it's super fun and maybe a little too addicting. We play until we get too competitive and decide to call it quits.
2:30 p.m. — Officially feeling lazy because it's already 2 p.m. The condo we just moved into has a brand new gym, and we head down there. I'm trying to gain some muscle, so I do some weight lifting while D. runs on the treadmill. One sweaty hour later, we call it quits and head home to shower and get ready for our weekly grocery shopping. Every week or so, we do a big grocery shop. I'm a crazy meal planner, so I make lists of dinners for the week, snacks, lunch, etc. That way we don't spend money on unnecessary food! I bring the list I already made for this trip, and we head to Publix for fish and Walmart for everything else. I hate shopping at Walmart, but it's hecka cheap and we try to stay on $100 each week (split in half, so we each pay $50).
4:30 p.m. — We get cod, catfish, NY strips, a huge thing of chicken thighs, chicken stock, spaghetti, Panko, buns, red curry paste, black beans, chickpeas, rice vinegar, flour, tomatoes, green beans, green onions, carrots, bok choy, a lemon and a lime, broccoli, potatoes, a bag of apples, a bag of clementines, avocados, garlic, cheese, heavy cream, sour cream, a frozen pizza, Greek yogurt, almond milk, eggs, flour, sugar, Cherry Coke, and some chips! We go a little over our usual budget, but we justify it because we just moved in and need some extra stuff. $118.67 is the total and I pay, but D. pays me for half. $59.33
6 p.m. — Put all of our stuff away, feed the cats, and cook dinner, because after shopping we're STARVING. We make some garlic cheesy pasta. So. Much. Garlic. It's so good, and we eat it while watching the show Faking It. It's a little problematic, but it has lesbian representation, so I'm all in. We share some Oreos with milk later, and then around 10 call it quits on the TV. I make a cup of chamomile mint tea, and we head to bed. We hang out and show each other funny things on our phones until all of a sudden it's almost midnight and we actually go to bed.
Daily Total: $59.33

Day Two

6 a.m. — Get woken up by my insane cats again. I get up, eyes half closed, feed them each half a can of food, and crawl back into bed with D. We snuggle, and the next thing we know it's 10 a.m.
10:30 a.m. — D. and I never get weekends off together, and this is our second day in a row! Exciting! We hang out in bed and talk for a little, and then decide we're hungry. I make some rice in our rice cooker and fry up two eggs with soy sauce, green onions, and bacon. Once the rice is finished (and perfectly, I might add — I never knew I needed a rice cooker until D. brought one into my life), I throw everything together and have a bomb rice breakfast bowl, miso soup, and a cup of tea.
12 p.m. — After cleaning up and hanging out some more, we get ready and head to my parents' house. Since we recently moved out for the first time, we miss our families already. We talk and laugh with my mom for a bit. I love her — ever since I moved out, we've been getting along so much better. My mom gives us a bunch of baked goods to take home. Yum! Then we head over to D.'s parents' house, but nobody is home. We pick up a package of ours that we got sent there. Some Thai tea, cat food, and a big ol' cutting board! We're cooking nerds, so we're super excited about it.
3 p.m. — Couch shopping. Still on the prowl for a couch for the new place. We go to a few consignment shops, but it's Sunday so a lot is closed and we don't find anything. We do find a ladle we've been needing, a citrus squeezer, a vegetable peeler, some sparkling water, makeup wipes, and tea, though! $22.91, but D. gives me 12 bucks. $10.91
4 p.m. — Stop at Publix to get condensed milk for my Thai tea, salami, chips, and bread. Then we have a little snack when we get home — leftover pasta and some salami, and I make a Thai tea. It's exactly like the kind they serve in restaurants! We play Overcooked, a video game we're obsessed with. Then we decide to make dinner. We cook the Cajun catfish and put it on some buns. Not my favorite, but I'm not mad at it. I feed my cats, too. $19.37
8 p.m. — Dishes are done and we put away laundry from earlier. Okay...D. puts away laundry from earlier. We hang some more, download that backwards voice-recorder app, and die of laughter! I make a cup of mango moringa tea, pack D.'s lunch of leftover fish with rice, and head to bed around 10:30.
Daily Total: $30.28

Day Three

6 a.m. — You guessed it, my cats are acting like they haven't eaten in weeks. D. is getting ready for work, so she feeds them. I don't have work today — I graduated about six months ago and got hired part-time the day of my graduation. I love it here. I'm off the weekends AND Mondays. It would be nice to work Mondays and get some more hours, but I'm making more money than I ever have and working less. I have some side jobs I do, like dog sit for one of the doctors I work with, and I pick up a shift or two every month at a restaurant my mom manages, so it works out. I go back to sleep after D. leaves.
9:30 a.m. — I'm up, but I can't move because one of my cats is lying on my legs. I wouldn't dare disturb her. She moves eventually, and I make a cup of chai tea and sip it while scrolling through social media. My sister is coming over today so we can work out and then hang by the pool in my condo complex. I'm waiting to eat breakfast with her, but I'm starving, so I eat a clementine to tide me over. My sister texts me to tell me she's coming by around 10:30, so I roll out my yoga mat and do some stretching. I'm sore from working out on Saturday, and this is helping.
10:30 a.m. — My sister comes over and we eat some avocado toast with sun-dried tomatoes and cream cheese. We chat while eating. She wants to go visit my brother, who lives about six hours north of us, this weekend, and I'm thinking about tagging along! I love my brother and miss him. Gym time. My arms are extremely sore still, so I work on my lower body and core. After about an hour, we are tired and hot. The weather is in the 60s today, so it's way too cold for us to swim. We're Floridians, so anything under 80 is cold. My sister and I say our goodbyes, and I make sure to tell her I'll text her if I decide to come on the road trip this weekend!
1 p.m. — I shower and play with my cats for a little while, and then D. comes home for lunch. I'm in the middle of making a huge pot of Thai tea to keep in the fridge, and we chat before she has to leave again. I heat up a couple of bean-and-cheese burritos I have in the freezer, make a cup of Thai tea, watch some Netflix, and relax! The Thai tea's not very good this time, and I'm disappointed.
3 p.m. — I buy D. and myself new reusable water bottles from this site called D.stil. They donate some of their profits to help provide access to safe water around the world. $32.08
4 p.m. — D. is home from work! We talk about our days, she has a snack, and then we head over to her parents' house again. D.'s dad fixes her headlights while we hang out with the rest of her family. I'm really close with them and really enjoy spending time with them. I miss them just as much as I miss my family! Her mom made chicken wings, and she also gives us some cheesecake to take home!
7 p.m. — Dinnertime! I play some music and we get to cooking. We decide on steak, baked potatoes, and green beans. One of my New Year's resolutions was to eat less meat, so we're only doing meat for dinner twice a week. We eat while watching You on Netflix. We also share the ricotta cheesecake from D.'s mom. Delicious.
11 p.m. — We're obsessed with this show, but it's way too late now, so we finally call it quits. I pack lunch for the both of us (salami sandwiches, turmeric chips, clementines, and yogurt), while D. handles the dishes. Then I make a cup of ginger tea and head to bed.
Daily Total: $32.08

Day Four

6:45 a.m. — I feed my cats a little later today because I just don't want to get up. I say goodbye to D. as she leaves and then get up and get ready for work, since I start at 7:45 today. (My start time depends on what time surgeries are beginning for the day.) I put on some CC cream and mascara, throw on my scrubs, get my lunch ready, and head out the door at 7:30. It's a whopping 50 degrees, and the heat in my car is broken, so I'm an icicle the whole ride. I don't bother getting the heat fixed because, well, Florida.
2 p.m. — Finally, a break! Because I'm in surgery all day, my breaks are a little wonky. Sometimes I don't even get to pee until 2! I scarf down my lunch in my car and then head back to work.
4 p.m. — I head home, exhausted from the day. D. is home, too, and we share a Supreme Frozen pizza and make an executive decision to do absolutely nothing tonight! My favorite kind of night. We watch more of You. It's wild. And sad. We eat leftover steak, potatoes, and green beans for dinner, and then share some Oreos.
9 p.m. — We emerge from our Netflix black hole. What day is it? What time is it? We know nothing. We clean up and D. does dishes while I pack lunches. I'm bringing a big ol' salad made of spinach, kale, chard, cheese, and radishes, topped with some olive oil, lemon, and beet hummus. I also pack some miso soup and a clementine. Our roommate comes home, and we all chat for a while before I make a cup of ginger tea and head off to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6 a.m. — Feed my cute but annoying cats. Get ready for work, which for me is a 10-minute routine because I can't bear getting up any earlier. Brush my teeth, slap on some CC cream and mascara, get my lunch together, and head out. I start at 6:30 today. I'm grateful that I have to wear a hair cover at work — no one ever knows about my bad hair days!
12:30 p.m. — Lunchtime! I eat my delicious soup and salad in my car while texting a friend from school. She moved a few hours away, and I miss being able to talk to her in person. I need to visit her soon.
3 p.m. — Yay! Done with work. I was nervous about today because I assisted in a surgery I've never done before, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be! I always work myself up, but it always turns out fine. My mom comes by today! She made a huge pot of vegetable soup and wants to give us some. She is the cutest.
6 p.m. — I head to Publix and grab a sourdough baguette for the soup, some dried berries, pistachios, kombucha that's on sale, ripe bananas, and dark chocolate chips. I'm making some granola cookies tonight, and I needed some extra stuff. I use mashed banana, oats, dried berries, pistachios, chopped pecans, dark chocolate chips, coconut oil, vanilla, and cinnamon. They're amaaaazing! $28.41
9 p.m. — D. is home. We have some soup and bread and she tries my cookies. We hang for a while and head to bed.
Daily Total: $28.41

Day Six

6 a.m. — Feed cats, get ready for work, and get there at 6:30. Long day in surgery today!
12 p.m. — A medical sales rep is here and brought lunch for everyone, so I didn't bring food today. I have a turkey sandwich, chips, some salad, and a pickle! Free lunch always tastes better.
2:30 p.m. — Off of work. I go to this awesome sandwich shop to get food for me and D. I get a California sub with turkey, bacon, avocado, sprouts, lettuce, and tomato. $23.38
4 p.m. — D. is home! I surprise her with a sandwich, and she surprises me with a bottle of wine. She's the best. We eat our subs and relish them with every bite, because we don't go out to eat much anymore. I save the second half for lunch tomorrow.
8 p.m. — I'm craving a hot chocolate, so we go to the Starbucks close to us. I get a venti hot chocolate, and D. gets a vanilla bean frapp. I pay. We watch some TV together, snack on some chips because we're still full from subs, and call it a night by 10. I pack our subs, oatmeal cookies, and yogurt for our lunches tomorrow. $7.81
Daily Total: $31.19

Day Seven

6 a.m. — One more day and it's the weekend! I do the usual and head out.
9 a.m. — A five-minute break! I scarf down my oatmeal cookies and yogurt.
12 p.m. — I have the leftover sub. It's not as good as it was yesterday, but it's still delicious. I'm so excited to get out of here.
1 p.m. — I find out from my mom that my dad is at the hospital, intubated in the ICU. He had a liver transplant about three years ago and hasn't been doing well ever since. I'm pretty much done at work, so I ask my boss if I can leave early to go see him. I get there right away. The doctors think my dad is rejecting his liver, so they're running a bunch more tests. It's hard to see my dad like this, but he's been sick for so long, I'm kind of used to it now. I leave and tell my mom I'm going to come by again tomorrow.
5 p.m. — D. and I decide to go to Publix for no apparent reason. We buy Brie, sparkling grapefruit water, oatmeal, two bags of Hot Cheetos (don't judge), doughnuts, and Life Savers gummies. The total is $33.85, but D. gives me $10 because most of it is for me. $23.85
6 p.m. — We're making veggie curry tonight! We play some music, chop up some broccoli, carrots, onions, potatoes, and garlic, and throw it all in a pot with some red curry paste. But our coconut milk has gone bad, ugh, so we do another Publix run! Good thing we're so close. D. buys the coconut milk ($1.89) and we finish up the curry. We throw it on top of some rice and decide this meal is definitely getting added to our meal rotation. Yum. Then we watch some Netflix together. I text one of our friends to make some plans to go bowling tomorrow night! I haven't been out in a while, so I'm excited to see some friends.
9 p.m. — I make a cup of ginger tea, and D. and I cuddle until we fall asleep.
Daily Total: $23.85
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