A Week In The Netherlands On A $79,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a Communications Manager working in chemicals who makes $79,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a blue pencil skirt.
Editor's Note: All currency has been converted to USD.
Occupation: Communications Manager
Industry: Chemicals
Age: 32
Location: The Netherlands
Salary: $79,000
Paycheck Amount (14x/year ): $3,600
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1165 (after tax rebate — paid by me and my husband from a shared account. We bought our first house this year in the Netherlands where there is a generous tax rebate offered for homeowners. In the first year, we get a higher rebate of around $600 per month. In the second year, this will go down to around $400 per month.)
Loans: $0
Retirement Investment Account: $850
Cash Savings Account: $800
Health Insurance: $315
Utilities (Gas, Electricity, & Water Tax): $260
Home & Life Insurance: $110
Internet/Cable: $55
Netflix/Spotify/News Subscriptions: $45
Donations: $40
Discount Train Card: $55
Note: All monthly expenses are for two people, shared by my husband and me and paid from our shared account.

Day One

9 a.m. — I wake up a little later than usual on a Saturday and have two pieces of toast with Dutch cheese and a big mug of tea while watching YouTube videos from expats living in the Netherlands. I've been living in the Netherlands for more than six years, but I still enjoy watching these expat vlogs that compare life in the US to Europe. Dutch cheese and bread are delicious and it's one thing I wholeheartedly embrace in this country.
11:30 a.m. — My husband and I need to return the bicycle-share bikes we borrowed to get home Friday night after a party, which are cheaper and usually faster than taking a taxi. We decide to take a look through a couple of home and furniture shops on the walk home. We bought our first home this year and are still furnishing this much bigger space. I buy a few hand towels (on sale) for $6.55 and we get cappuccinos at a cafe before walking home ($6.65). $13.20
12:30 p.m. — Lunch is a chicken salad sandwich at home, made with leftover roast chicken from Thursday's dinner.
2 p.m. — I decide to start culling my wardrobe. In fact, it's something I've been meaning to do for weeks. I'm not great with fashion, and I usually get frustrated shopping, but some of my work clothes are becoming embarrassing. I spend a few hours cleaning out my closet, deciding what needs to go, and searching online for replacements.
6 p.m. — I go to the grocery store to pick up ingredients for tonight's dinner, some breakfast items for tomorrow, and chocolate. Once home I make Finnish salmon soup (Lohikeitto) with the ingredients I bought. $21.45
7:30 p.m. — After dinner, I return to look at the items I had saved during my online shopping excursion in the afternoon. It's difficult to find office-appropriate clothing where I live, so I usually buy work clothes online. I decide to buy a pair of lovely grey trousers for work. Shipping is free. $105
Daily Total: $139.65

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — I eat a bowl of granola and a banana before cycling to my weekly Pilates class at a studio where the classes are usually in English. I pay upfront for 10 classes at a time, which includes one free class, bringing the cost of each class to about $9. The classes are small and personal, and this feels like an amazing deal.
11 a.m. — I pack up the clothes I cleared out yesterday, and while I'm on a roll, I clear out even more clothes that are too small, ripped or worn out beyond repair, or that I've been hanging on to for just way too long without ever wearing. The too-small sweater I've been hanging on to since university? It's going. In the middle of the clean-up, my husband and I have an impromptu budget talk about some of the bigger purchases we have planned for the coming months. There is a lot we would like to do to renovate the older house we bought a few months ago, but it's not going to happen this year. It takes patience, but it's very satisfying to save up and pay for things entirely in cash.
1 p.m. — Lunch is another chicken salad sandwich, as well as a slice of bread with hagelslag — Dutch chocolate sprinkles — for dessert.
1:30 p.m. — I load the bags of used clothes on my bike and take them to a donation drop-off point near my house. Once I get home, I deep clean the master bedroom. With space in the closet and completely clean floors and surfaces, this feels like a much better, more peaceful space.
3:30 p.m. — I'm still thinking about a few clothing items I put on my wishlist online yesterday. I decide to order a blue pencil skirt as well, also for work. $60.89
4 p.m. — I go to a home goods store and pick up a small frying pan, as well as a few other extras for home, like tissues, tea filters, and a jewelry cleaning kit. $44.50
4:15 p.m. — I am back at the grocery store to pick up ingredients for tonight's dinner and my lunches this week. $35.46
6 p.m. — I prepare dinner for my husband and me, a prawn curry on rice, using ingredients I bought in the afternoon. After dinner, my husband washes up while I study to get my Dutch driving learner's permit. I'm failing nearly every practice exam — not a great sign given my test is on Tuesday. I break to try and clean some pieces of jewelry I unearthed during my clean up. No luck there either.
8 p.m. — I'm exhausted and decide to have a hot shower. I've been in my workout gear since the pilates class — a stretch, even for me. I do a face mask, brush my teeth, and get ready for bed. I read for a little while in bed, and turn out the lights by 9.
Daily Total: $140.85

Day Three

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off, but I'm still so tired. I put off getting out of bed until 7:30, then jump in the shower and get dressed. I have breakfast (granola with banana, again), and do my hair and makeup. I will work from home this morning, which gives me extra flexibility on the wake-up time.
11:30 a.m. — I get on my bike to go to the train station, then on to my afternoon meetings. I grab a sandwich from home to eat on the way. I have a discount card for the train which gives me 40% during off-peak hours, and that costs around $55 per year. $3.20
12:30 p.m. — I arrive at the office for my meetings and have a couple small cups of tea. One nice thing about office culture in the Netherlands: coffee and tea is nearly almost free.
3:30 p.m. — I head back home on the train to finish up the workday at home. I grab an apple as a snack at home. $4.04
6 p.m. — My driving instructor arrives to pick me up for my first lesson. After years of making use of public transit and the cycling infrastructure in the Netherlands, I've decided it's time to get my driver's license again. I haven't driven in years, so it' s a bit of a rocky start. Getting a driver's license in the Netherlands is very expensive. On average, the cost to get a license is around $2500, from start to finish. Each lesson is between $45-55. Here, you can't learn how to drive from an experienced driver like a parent, a friend, or a long-suffering spouse. You must learn from a licensed instructor. I have to say though, his instruction is extremely thorough and drivers here are very safe. They're probably on to something. $55.42
7:45 p.m. — My husband has made us salmon and pesto pasta for dinner while I was out on my driving lesson. I'm starving.
8 p.m. — I get back behind my computer to finish some work, and to prep for my driver's "theory exam" tomorrow, which will allow me to keep going with my driving lessons. I'm still not passing the practice tests. This test is hard! I pack it in at about 10:30 and drop into bed.
Daily Total: $62.66

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — I need to get working straight away this morning so after I have a quick shower, I grab a bowl of granola with a banana and eat it in front of my computer. I need to get a few things done before my first calls of the day, so today it's dry shampoo all the way.
11:30 a.m. — I leave the house, and take a 15-minute bike ride to the driving exam office to get my driving learner's license. I prepaid for the test online ($43.50) when I reserved this appointment. It costs only $3.50 extra to take the test in English, which is a testament to how much English is spoken in the Netherlands. As somewhat expected, I don't pass, meaning I need to take (and pay for) the test again.
12:30 p.m. — I head to the office, stopping first to grab a ready-made salad and an iced tea at the train station. I have a train card, which covers the journey from home to work, so there is no out-of-pocket expense for the trip. $6.50
6 p.m. — It's been an incredibly busy afternoon, but I manage to leave the office at about 6 and head to the train. I mistakenly check in with my personal train card, rather than the one for business, which means I am paying for this trip. $3.20
6:30 p.m. — My train is delayed by more than 30 minutes, so I grab a bag of chips from a nearby vending machine. It's an emergency. $1.25
7:30 p.m. — I arrive home finally and am so grateful that my husband has prepared dinner for us — chicken breast with broccoli and potato. And, my blue pencil skirt has arrived. It fits perfectly!
8 p.m. — I relax for a bit, checking email and social media for about an hour before heading off to bed. It's been a long day and tomorrow will be just as busy. Time for sleep.
Daily Total: $54.45

Day Five

7 a.m. — I am up at the normal time and slowly get ready for work — shower, getting dressed and doing make up, and eating breakfast. I pack myself a lunch from leftovers in the fridge and throw in an apple and some mini chocolate bars as snacks.
8 a.m. — Back on the train to head to work.
12.30 p.m. — I have about 10 minutes to eat my lunch, and it's a disaster. My pasta salad thrown together with leftovers is dry and unpalatable. I eat as much as I can and scarf chocolates to make up for it. There is no time to grab anything else.
6:30 p.m. — Time to leave the office, and head home via the train. My husband has made dinner again as he's home more often than me this week; we have chicken fajitas. I go for a short run and a workout at home while my husband goes out cycling.
10 p.m. — Incredibly, it's been a no-spend day (for me at least). But the fridge is empty and I can already anticipate some costs tomorrow. For now, it's time to read and go off to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

6 a.m. — I'm up early again, and zip through my morning routine, finishing off the last of the granola and grabbing tea in a flask to go. I leave the house by 7 to make it to a morning meeting. At the office, I help myself to free coffee to keep up the energy. It's going to be another busy day.
12 p.m. — A colleague sends me a text message: Am I in the office today, and do I want to go for lunch together? I haven't packed a lunch today and it's a perfect excuse to catch up. I try not to buy lunch at work as it costs a small fortune and the servings aren't very big. I get a mixed salad with walnuts, beets, and goat's cheese and a raspberry quark for dessert. $7.20
5 p.m. — We have dinner guests tonight so I try to leave the office on time today, and take the train home (free!).
6 p.m. — I'm home in good time, with a few minutes to spare to get changed before our guests arrive. My husband has invited a colleague and her husband to join us for a meal — she's an expat like us, who married a Dutch guy. My husband has made an amazing stew and salad. His colleague brings a bottle of wine to share.
10:30 p.m. — We have a great time with my husband's colleague and her husband. After they leave, I catch up on some emails and start getting ready for bed. I'm finally in bed and ready to sleep at 11.
Daily Total: $7.20

Day Seven

6:30 a.m. — I have a lot to do today, so to save some traveling time I decide to work from home. I am out of my usual breakfast supplies, so I make two fried eggs and eat them on toast. I have a large cup of tea and get to work by 7:30.
12 p.m. — I am so hungry for lunch and luckily, we have leftover stew in the fridge. I eat this while watching a show on Netflix for half an hour, then go back to work.
2 p.m. — I need a caffeine fix urgently, so I walk 10 minutes down the road to a coffee place I rarely ever visit, but has great coffee. I order an "American" size latte, which comes with a small piece of nougat. $4.40
5 p.m. — I am ready to call it quits! It's been a hugely productive day, especially after the hit of caffeine this afternoon, and I am so ready for the weekend to start. My husband has sweetly arranged dinner again (I'll have to pick up my end of things this weekend) and we have a bottle of wine in the fridge. It's time to relax and unwind before we pick up another weekend of cleaning and restoring our old house.
Daily Total: $4.40
Calling All College Students! Have you always wanted to do a money diary? Well this is your chance! We’re doing a special series of college diaries and we want to feature you. If you’re interested, send us an email telling us a bit about yourself with the subject line “College Diary.”
Want more Money Diaries? Well, you’re in luck — Refinery29 Canada is launching its own Canadian Money Diaries three times a week. (Which means once you’re done with catching up on all our diaries during your lunch break, you can head on over to R29 CA for even more.) You can now experience Money Diaries IRL at 29Rooms Toronto September 26th through October 6th. Buy tickets here.
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.
Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series