A Week In Toulouse, France, On A $50,000 Salary

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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 customer service representative working at a travel startup who makes $50,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on chilled white wine.
Occupation: Customer Service Representative
Industry: Travel Startup
Age: 26
Location: Toulouse, France
Salary: $50,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,350
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $370 (My boyfriend and I rent a nice one-bedroom apartment with a terrace, and we each pay $370 per month.)
Loans: My monthly minimum is around $70, but I generally pay $1,000-$1,200 per month.
Electricity: $60
Cell Phone: $19
Dog Insurance: $15
Apartment Insurance: $8
Spotify Premium: $10
Netflix: $9
Skype (to call family in the U.S.): $7
NY Times Digital Subscription: $2
City Bike Subscription (annual): $11.09

Day One

6:45 a.m. — Wake up with my boyfriend, X., who takes our little pup out to relieve himself. I get my coffee started in my Moka pot (always with a splash of creamy milk!) and open my laptop to work a bit on Javascript. I'm currently teaching myself to code, and I'm loving it.
8 a.m. — X. leaves for work, and I get dressed and take pup to the park down the street. I've put on a new audiobook, The Flight Attendant, on the Libby app (I've just discovered this app, and for a gal who used to have her library card number memorized, it's absolute heaven!).
9:10 a.m. — Running a little late, since we ran into one of pup's best Pomeranian friends at the park, and they were just so cute and playful that I couldn't bear to separate them! No worries on the few minutes late, though — I love working from home! I pour myself a bowl of muesli and milk and, with puppy napping at my feet, I tuck into the day's work tasks.
10 a.m. — A friend invites me to go to an open-air cinema tonight (I've so been wanting to go this summer!) to see The Usual Suspects, so I get both of our tickets online. $15
1 p.m. — Lunch break! I assemble a veggie/rice bowl with chopped radish, green onion, avocado (though sadly not all the way ripe yet — such a bummer!), sautéed spinach, all topped with soy sauce. So simple and good — it's one of my favorite lunches to prepare. During my lunch break, I also hang some laundry out to dry (another benefit of working from home: being able to stay on top of laundry obligations!) and then take pup for a stroll again in the park, while tuning in a bit to my audiobook.
6 p.m. — X. comes home bearing this week's grocery haul. We split monthly grocery costs 50/50, so we'll settle costs at the end of the month. We usually average about $300 each month for both of us for all groceries, and we cook virtually every meal at home, which is nice.
7 p.m. — Usually X. cooks, but I want to prepare a big summer gazpacho for us tonight. Once done preparing the soup, I toast a few pieces of bread and spread the rest of the veggies that weren't strained over them and offer them up as an apéro for the two of us. We eat those before knocking back our cool glasses of gazpacho.
9 p.m. — I take a city bike to meet my friend at a cute bar (I order a caipirinha, and my friend handles the bill) before heading to the open-air cinema to see The Usual Suspects (I'd never seen it before, and it was quite amazing).
Daily Total: $15

Day Two

7:45 a.m. — I wake up slowly as X. is getting ready for work. Since I went to bed later than usual last night, I'm fine with this being a very relaxed reading morning. I tuck into Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris on my Kindle and a bowl of muesli with milk (bonus cozy points for the rain outside!).
9 a.m. — After showering and making my coffee, I open my laptop and get to work.
10 a.m. — I go to sign up for a Body Pump class on my gym's app for Saturday, but realize that the class won't be taking place (the French are usually on vacation during August, so services are very limited). I decide to sign up for tonight's class instead and text X. to see if he can give me a ride right after work (I usually take the bus, but I'd be cutting it very short this time). X. says he can! Body Pump booked.
1 p.m. — Lunch break. Threw together a scramble with eggs, mushrooms, garlic, spinach, and Emmental cheese. Avocado and a glass of chilled gazpacho on the side. Banana for dessert because we have a lot and they're starting to turn a bit brown. For the last half of the break, pup and I head to the park for a little stroll.
4:15 p.m. — I'm currently working on "Student Loan 1-01" (using the Debt Avalanche method of paying the biggest loans/highest interest rates first; this is my fourth of 13 student loans to pay, but I'm chugging along. In the past nine months, I've paid around $11,000 to those loans, which I'm super fucking proud of). I usually do all loan payments on Mondays, but I'm feelin' suddenly inspired, so I throw an extra $200 I have in my "curveball fund" at Loan 1-01. Bam!
6:10 p.m. — My meeting runs a bit late, so I have to leave it and scramble to get my gym clothes on and workout bag ready. X. and I leave, and I make it perfectly on time — woo! The instructor's not the one I usually prefer, but I still get a good workout.
8:10 p.m. — I take the bus back home (I use a prepaid Metro/bus card that I usually put roughly $16 a month on). X. starts cooking tonight's dinner (big salad, ham from the French Basque Country, and some more of the gazpacho). A new expat friend just invited me to go see Amélie at that same open-air cinema I went to last night (this time for Friday night — two days from now), and seeing as it's one of my absolute favorite movies of all time, how can I possibly say no?! I book my ticket from the website. $8.50
9 p.m. — After dinner, we go for our nightly walk around the neighborhood with pup. The sunset is pink and beautiful (European summers mean the sun doesn't go down until pretty late). Once home, we hang out a bit and then head to bed around 11 (I also read a cute French novel our neighbor loaned me, Minute, Papillon, which helps put me to sleep).
Daily Total: $8.50

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — I don't work until 10 today, because I have some later meetings to attend this evening, so I wake up slowly as X. is in the shower. Once up, I make my morning coffee and settle in with some Me Talk Pretty One Day. David Sedaris is an amazing writer, and I'm constantly chuckling at the way he describes different people and situations.
9 a.m. — Pup and I head to the park to see if any of his pup friends are there. Surprisingly, no other pup friends except for an older woman with her two dogs who always asks what pup's name is. Always. Every single time. She's pretty sweet, though. Once back home, pup gets a little treat, and I tuck into a bit of Javascript practice during my last half hour before work starts.
11:30 a.m. — I finish up my work tasks for the morning (working on a project for this quarter and also preparing my talking points for tonight's monthly all-hands meeting, where I'll be sharing our team's latest updates). I'm excited but nervous. I'm actively trying to feel more confident/comfortable speaking “in front” of everyone (really only talking to a screen with the rest of the company listening/looking at me on their screens, but still). Will report back on how that goes. With a bit of a lull before diving into more busy work, I take a short break and have a quick shower (I'll go ahead and add this to the list of work-from-home perks!).
1 p.m. — I take a few minutes to throw together my favorite veggie/rice bowl lunch (rice, spinach, radish, green onion, and avocado). The avocado is perfectly (!!!) ripe today, and it completely warms this California gal's heart. I eat lunch while working at my laptop.
8 p.m. — The meetings go so well! I felt super prepared and confident (yay!), and our COO even reached out to me after the fact and congratulated me on a job well done, so that was extremely validating! Anyway...we're hungry! I do the dishes in the sink while X. prepares an amazing light dinner (since it's hot and we don't want to cook anything on the stove). He prepares these luscious bowls of pieces of melon, Serrano ham, and bits of feta. I've never tasted something so incredibly fresh and perfect for a cool meal. We finish off the meal with bread and cheese (we are in France, after all) and white peaches for dessert.
9:10 p.m. — We leave for our nightly walk with pup around the neighborhood. The perfect nightcap on a busy day. And extra bonus points for crossing paths with a cute little hedgehog (!!) along the way. Back at home, X. watches a bit of a movie while I read Minute, Papillon, and we eventually head to bed around 11:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7:20 a.m. — Happy Friday! I wake up feeling pretty well-rested. X. takes pup out and then gets ready for work. I get the coffee brewing while I finish up some leftover dishes in the sink to start the day with a clean kitchen. I drink my coffee while X. and I watch a bit of morning news before he leaves for the day.
7:45 a.m. — X. leaves for work, and I settle in with some Me Talk Pretty One Day and the rest of my coffee. It's already hot outside, but it's set to storm tonight, so that will cool things off this weekend. Eventually, I decide to leave earlier this morning for the park with pup, since it's so hot/heavy outside. Once back home, I chug some cool water. And it's payday today! I usually do my financial check-in on Monday mornings. I've become really into personal finance over the past year and have proudly gotten a hold of my finances. I used to barely get by paycheck-to-paycheck and was in the red credit-wise, but now I'm killing it, if I do say so myself, and I feel so grateful and proud of myself to have made that shift. I pour my customary muesli and milk and get to work.
9:30 a.m. — This morning is pretty light work-wise, so I take a few minutes to wash and moisturize my face, brush and floss my teeth, and use my eyebrow pencil (very low-maintenance on the makeup front, in general — the most I'll do is eyebrows, mascara, and some BB cream, though when I'm occasionally feeling wild, I'll also add a swipe of fire-engine-red lipstick) before settling into more busy work that will probably take up the majority of the workday.
11:40 a.m. — I pick up my phone and take a few minutes to make a new budget for this latest paycheck. I use You Need A Budget (YNAB), and I can 100% say it has allowed me to both save and pay down thousands of dollars of debt over the past year (not exaggerating here).
1:20 p.m. — I don't want to cook anything, so I throw together a lunch with pieces of Serrano ham and Ossau-Iraty cheese (again, from French Basque Country) onto some bread, with some avocado on the side and the rest of the chilled gazpacho from the other night with a bit of olive oil drizzled over the top. I eat on the balcony and listen a bit to The Flight Attendant audiobook. After, I take pup to relieve himself in the grassy area facing our apartment building. Once back inside, he gets a treat and I grab a banana before clocking back in to work.
6 p.m. — I just have one meeting at the end of the day and then…weekend! I head out to the living room (I'd been working in the bedroom with our portable AC) and hang out with X. while he plays Grand Theft Auto. He hands me the controller, and I drive around like a maniac (a nice way to completely shut off "work mode" in my head). Man, I miss driving…
7:30 p.m. — We head into the kitchen, and X. prepares the same melon, feta, and Serrano ham dish as last night while I do some dishes in the sink. Then we eat the bowls while watching Fresh Prince of Bel-Air — we've just started rewatching it on Netflix, and it's pretty great. Bread and cheese to follow and white peaches for dessert.
9 p.m. — I meet my friend and her husband at a bar terrace and order a glass of dry, chilled white wine. It's extremely humid because of the supposed storm that's impending tonight, but the wine feels good. After, we head over to the cinema. Since the storm will eventually roll through, the film has been moved inside, so we shuffle into the screening room. I'm in hog heaven the whole time — I laugh, I cry, and I'm pretty sure I'm looking like a grinning lunatic the entire time. $4.50
12 a.m. — Once the film lets out, I say goodbye to the couple I'm with and start walking across town back toward home. It has definitely stormed, but thankfully, we were safe inside! I call X. and let him know I'll be riding a bike back home. Walking through downtown is so unusually peaceful for a Friday night, and I bask in the tranquility.
Daily Total: $4.50

Day Five

9 a.m. — Weekend! I wake up super slowly, and X. takes pup outside. We then spend some time playing with pup before deciding to take a little stroll down to the bakery down the street and grabbing a couple chocolate croissants for our morning breakfast — I love France! We get back home, croissants acquired. I start brewing the coffee, and then X. and I enjoy our breakfast (complete with fruit juice and white peaches) on our balcony. It's the first Saturday in a while that we don't have anything pressing to do (errands, chores, appointments), so we bask in the pure bliss of it all! $4
2:30 p.m. — We've spent the morning doing a whole lot of nothing and everything. I spend some time coding and building a new mock website, we do a couple of light chores around the apartment, deciding what to do for the day, etc. It's such a relaxing Saturday — I am definitely a fan. X. prepares a lunch of grilled sausage, rice, and green beans. We're both still pretty full from our decadent breakfast, but we figure we should eat lunch now — the French are pretty particular on meal window times, after all. Or maybe that's just X. We eat on the balcony and finish off lunch with some cheese and a banana for dessert.
5 p.m. — We head into town with the pup to walk around. I'd really like to try on a pair of black boots I've been eyeing, so I want to see what size works best. I try on the boots and find my size. They cost 189€ ($215), and I almost cave and buy them on the spot, but as a general shopping rule for myself (learned after a lot of impulse buys in my past), I like to go home and think on it for a few days. Plus, I want to save up a little bit before going for them. I'll probably go back and buy them in a couple of weeks. :)
7:30 p.m. — We escape the crowds downtown, end up at this cute restaurant just along the river, and decide to order an apéro before heading home. It actually turns into a bit of a small dinner — I order a glass of dry, chilled white wine, while X. gets a pint of beer. We then split a lobster roll and some tasty pâté and baguette. I take care of the bill, but we'll add it to this month's grocery/food expenses to split between the two of us. $42
9 p.m. — Get back home and relax in front of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air again. A bit later, I take a bubble bath and read from Minute, Papillon. After that, we head to bed and I read a little bit more from my book before we fall asleep.
Daily Total: $46

Day Six

7:40 a.m. — I wake up early and well-rested this morning. Pup's ready to go out, so I take him out to relieve himself. It's super cool and fresh outside, so that's nice! We head back inside, and I make some coffee while X. snoozes. I spend the morning reading personal finance blog posts, and I'm learning quite a lot.
10 a.m. — X., pup, and I head out for our Sunday tradition of going to a local market in town where we buy this week's grocery staples. I also grab some dried ginger and pear pieces. We get cheese, chips for today's lunch, and eggs at one vendor. I pay for that. Then X. pays for bread, ham, a green pepper, and tomatoes. $16.75
11 a.m. — After the market, we head to one of our favorite café terraces and order espresso while chatting about life and future plans. X. picks up the bill. After, we head home and I prepare ham and cheese sandwiches with chips on the side. Nectarine for dessert. Also: update on the boots from yesterday. I found them on Amazon for $121. Looks like I can get those puppies sooner than I was planning (probably next pay period in a couple weeks, because delayed gratification also feels pretty great).
4 p.m. — X. and I have tea and the dried pear pieces from the market. I finally finish the book! Later, we head out to play tennis at a court in our neighborhood. Unfortunately, many other neighbors had the same thought, so we wait a long time before we can play. Even so, I'm happy we get a chance to move around a bit.
8:30 p.m. — We get home and I get started on the dishes in the sink while X. prepares dinner (some cold sausage from yesterday with mustard and rice on the side). We finish up the meal with bread and cheese. After dinner, I call my mom to say hello. I try to call my family at least once a week, and it's been most recently on Sundays, as a way to make that transition from the end of the weekend to getting ready for the start of the week.
Daily Total: $16.75

Day Seven

8:15 a.m. — Oops — Monday morning, and we sleep through our first alarms. X. jumps up and takes a quick shower before heading out. I take pup to get some time at the park. I'm happy because I have time to listen more to The Flight Attendant audiobook. Once back home, I pour a bowl of muesli and milk, set the coffee to start brewing, and then do my Monday net worth check-in where I take a look at my bank accounts and current student-loan balance to check on progress. For sure, my biggest "Money Moves" day. I also pay off my credit card balance while I'm in my banking app. Hmm, I notice that my last paycheck didn't route my 401(K) contribution to the account. I know I'd recently updated the contribution, so it may have to do with that, but I need to check on it, so I write in to our 401(K) custodian. Lastly, I make a $400 payment to the student loan I'm currently focusing on. With this payment, I'll only have $1,000 more on it!
9 a.m. — Get to work. I also send in a reimbursement request for my monthly gym membership ($45), which my company offers as a sweet little perk.
1 p.m. — Lunch break and my customary rice/veggie bowl lunch. I also take pup out to relieve himself, but we don't stray too much farther than the grassy area outside the apartment.
6 p.m. — Off work for the day. I meet X. and pup outside to head to the park. It's nice to fully step away from the computer right after work to make a point of turning my brain off and switching to non-work mode. Back at home, I read a little of Me Talk Pretty One Day while we watch Jimmy Fallon in the background. Later, I finish up the dishes in the sink while X. starts preparing dinner. It's going to be a yummy pasta mix that he puts together with cream, mushrooms, pancetta, and green peppers.
9 p.m. — X. and I take pup walking through our neighborhood and chill out a bit before heading to bed.
Daily Total: $0
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