A Week Of Being Unemployed In Los Angeles, CA

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: an unemployed UX Designer who spends some of her money this week on the Call Me By Your Name sequel.
Occupation: UX Designer (unemployed)
Industry: Design
Age: 26
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Salary: $0
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I'm living with relatives until I find a job)
Student Loans: $296
Adobe CC: $10
Spotify Premium: $10
Public Storage: $68
Private Health Insurance: $292

Day One

8:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I lay in bed for a while, savoring the fact that I'm free to lay in bed as long as I like. I check my messages and my email, which includes an offer for a phone interview within the next week. My brain is always overactive in the morning and the to-do list feels endless. Still in bed, I try to rearrange my week ahead. Until I find a job, I'm currently living with my relatives south of LA in their guest bedroom. My aunt allows me to stay for free and lets me eat whatever food is in the house. When I finally hop out of bed, I can hear her watering the garden outside. I scarf down some cereal for breakfast, then open up my laptop, trying to sort through email and scan through job postings as efficiently as possible before I head out for the day.
11:30 a.m. — I take an Uber Pool to a Burmese restaurant that's about an hour from my aunt's house. Because I'm unemployed and recently moved from Chicago, I can't afford to buy a car yet. If I plan wisely, using ridesharing services is also cheaper and more convenient than renting a car. I usually use Lyft for ethical reasons, but Uber has a 25% off deal going on and I need the savings. $16.39
12:30 p.m. — At the restaurant, I meet a fellow designer, L., and her co-worker, M. A few weeks ago, I reached out to L. through my alumni network asking if she could meet up and impart some advice as I continue searching for jobs in the area. She greets me excitedly with a hug, which makes the connection feel more natural. I order a plate of lamb biryani and a mango lassi. Although I typically treat others to coffee or food at these types of personal meetings, L. offers to pay for my meal and I gratefully accept. The food is delicious and the three of us have a good time talking.
2:00 p.m. — I say goodbye to M. and L. and jump in another Uber Pool to Playa Vista, where I tour a co-working space. I already have access to a free co-working space as a recent alumni through my design school, but am looking to transfer locations. I'm allowed to test out the space for the day —it's naturally sunny, dog-friendly, and has a meditation room. I grab a free glass of fruit water and sit outside on the patio reading and catching up on emails. $5.08
3:30 p.m. — I can't stay too long at the space, because rush hour is soon approaching and the Uber rates will only go up. I take a quick walk through the grassy campus surrounding the co-working space and feel slightly nostalgic about the corporate job I previously held, seeing other employees walking around on their break. I was scheduled to attend a networking meetup this evening at a building just down the street, but I opt not to go. This is the second day in a row that I flake on a networking event and I feel guilty about it despite giving myself back some time. I call my last Uber Pool for the day and head home. $15.93
4:30 p.m. — After arriving home, I immediately open up my laptop and check to see that my monthly credit card payments went through. I take a deep breath knowing that my savings account has officially entered the single-digit thousands. I recalculate the number of months I have until net-zero, even though I already know the number by heart. I also add today's expenses into my spreadsheet, one that I've maintained in detail since I started working right out of college (I majored in accounting and get far too much joy from manual budgeting). Then it's back to work: taking notes from my meetup, sorting through emails, responding to Slack messages, scheduling interviews and meetings, reading industry-relevant articles, applying to more jobs, and planning my day for tomorrow. The kitchen table is my workspace for the moment.
6:30 p.m. — I feel myself losing focus, so I jump in the shower, then eat my lunch leftovers for dinner. My aunt is watching her nightly Jeopardy on the TV nearby. I'm listening in and get all of the geography questions right. After dinner, I go back to work, browse the internet, then do some light journaling and reading. I drag myself into bed around 11, hoping I can get up early to explore. It's tough to justify “fun stuff” when unemployed, but it's necessary to maintain one's sanity. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
Daily Total: $37.40

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — An hour after my alarm goes off I get out of bed and check the ETA to Echo Park with traffic. I consume half an avocado (with lemon juice, olive oil, and everything seasoning) then run out the door and hop into an UberX. The restaurant I'm going to is known for croissants that tend to sell out early and by the time I get there (even on a direct route), it'll already be two hours past opening time. $23.59
10 a.m. — They've sold out of croissants. Not surprising. I order an egg salad sandwich and hazelnut financier to-go, but the cashier forgets about the financier. I consider re-ordering, but instead take it as a sign that I probably shouldn't get one. I walk to the lake and find a shady spot to people-watch while I eat my sandwich. When I attempt to walk through the park, a crew member stops me and asks if I could please walk in the other direction. I love and support the film and TV industry, but when it impedes on my park time, I have a real problem. I haven't decided where to go next though, so I wait it out. $10.95
11:30 a.m. — The film shoot is finally over, so I walk through the park, still trying to decide what to do. I'm on a free ClassPass trial, so I search for a few yoga studios nearby with classes that start within the next 30 minutes. I can't make up my mind, so I spend even more time pacing around, consequently burning up under the sun. Why am I like this?
12:30 p.m. — My allergies have gone full force after being outside for long enough and I've successfully missed the yoga class start times. I also need a bathroom, so I pinpoint a coffee shop as my next destination. It's only a 20-minute walk, but it's also 96 degrees outside. I opt for an Uber Pool ($3.37). At the coffee shop, I order an iced matcha latte ($5.50) and spend some time reading and eavesdropping on nearby conversations. I seek out the bathroom and do a quick scroll through Bumble because being seen using social apps in public is embarrassing and I want to set my location within LA proper. In reality, I'll have to limit the amount of dates I go on because let's face it — dating is expensive. $8.87
2 p.m. — My phone is at 30% battery and so is my energy, so I call another Uber Pool to go home. Score: there's no traffic and I'm the only rider. I get home, change into comfy clothes, and fall into bed. As much as I'd like to nap, there's a to-do list in the back of my head that keeps me awake. $14.95
3:30 p.m. — I get back on my laptop to sort through emails and prep for tomorrow's interview. A friend who works at an ad agency sends me a lengthy document critiquing my portfolio and I respond to each line in detail, which officially leaves me exhausted. I'm eternally grateful, but this isn't my first portfolio critique and now I'm second-guessing all the effort I've put into the past few months.
6 p.m. — I need a break. Even during unemployment, it feels like the only time I can really take a break and meditate is at the dinner table. I grab a mix of leftovers from the fridge. I return to my laptop for more practice interview questions, then a quick shower before bed. I'm knocked out by 10.
Daily Total: $58.36

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — I wake up unusually early and resist the urge to look at my phone. Instead, I grab a pen and notebook and do a shorthand version of “morning pages” to dump out all my swirling thoughts. Practicing mindfulness is a practice, I suppose. I head to the kitchen, fry an egg, and place it on top of avocado toast, then plate the toast next to a cinnamon sugar Eggo. I pour myself only a tiny amount of coffee, which I drink for the taste, never for the caffeine. I scan through new job postings but mostly laze around until my video interview.
12:30 p.m. — Well, the interview went well enough that I was offered an in-person follow-up interview on the spot. That means I've now committed to giving a two-part presentation sometime within the next few days. Sigh. I don't think I want the job, but I could use the practice. I assure myself that the presentation won't actually be that much work and it's on Friday, which gives me time to prepare. As an ultra-efficient anti-procrastinator, I can't help but immediately start on the challenge.
1:30 p.m. — I take a quick break for lunch, trying to finish whatever I still have in the fridge (cheese toast and a salad kit). Pretty soon I go back to work researching, designing, reading articles, and snacking in-between.
5 p.m. — Phew, I need some fresh air. I step outside into my aunt's lush backyard garden where the sun is shining, pace around, and take a few deep breaths. I check my recent matches and see a message from F., who's asking what I'm doing tonight. I'm exhausted but bored, so I agree to meet him later, only after a nap. This is the first date I'm going on since I last saw my ex, B. I try not to get emotional, but it's hard. B. would never suggest meeting up as late as 9:30 because he'd already be in bed. B. would make the hour-plus commute to see me, not the other way around. But I know it's not fair to compare past romances with future prospects. At the very least, I'm excited not to think about work for once, and I'm grateful for the extra free time that unemployment has brought me. I clean my room to kill some time, then get ready to go out.
7:30 p.m. — I send my date's info to a few friends (name, age, height, time, and exact location) for safety purposes, also because I lied to my relatives about what I was doing (sorry!). On the way to the bar, my UberX driver is blasting slow jams on the stereo, which makes it even harder for me not to get emotional. I try to cast aside all preconceived notions and remember my simple goal of meeting new people and making genuine connections. $23.80
8:30 p.m. — When I meet F. at the bar, he's hot, confident, approachable, and makes me feel comfortable right away — the kind of date I always hope for. We vibe immediately, talking for hours over several drinks, which he pays for. I usually don't let dates pay for me, but thank god he did, because coming all the way to Silver Lake was an investment. We leave the bar and walk to his apartment nearby. F. is 35 and lives with a roommate, which really illustrates the high cost of living in East LA (my ideal neighborhood). He pours a few more drinks and lets me eat his leftovers. Soon enough, my clothes are off and he's sweating all over me. Thank. You. Yes.
Daily Total: $23.80

Day Four

3 a.m. — In any given situation, I'm terrible about knowing when the right time to leave is. But there's no reason for me to stay at F.'s, so I call for my ride home. Half-naked, he walks me outside and sees me off. It was a successful night overall and worth the trek, but I feel a bit off. I'm in the process of deciding how I feel about casual dating when F., for example, is someone I'd love to hang out with again. Before I crawl into bed, I search for “free STI tests near me” and pledge to look more into it later. I've always been the girl who's ultra-responsible, too smart for her own good — and yet, I was dumb enough to have unprotected sex. At least I've already got birth control covered (thank you past-me for getting the arm implant while I was still on my employer's insurance!). $17.73
7 a.m. — I can't sleep any longer and I'm just now remembering that the key to a successful hookup is not to drink so much. I feel terrible physically and it's taken away the full enjoyment of last night. I drink some water, take a hot shower, and brush my teeth, all which help me to relax and fall back asleep.
11 a.m. — I'm awake again and feeling much better, though I'm starving. I make myself a healthy breakfast platter, featuring scrambled eggs, spinach, salmon gravlax, and Filipino bibingka with coffee. Afterward, I sit down at my computer and try to write about everything that happened last night, but I'm not sure it warrants as much of a story as past experiences. Anyways, I get distracted overhearing my cousin make music in the room next door — I think he thinks I left the house to go out. It's that fact alone, not the rapping, that forces me to stifle my laughter.
2 p.m. — I lie down to take a nap, but the walls are thin and for some godforsaken reason, the neighbors are yelling at each other and smashing glass. I'm waiting for my psychologist to reach out and confirm our time for a virtual session, but she seems to have forgotten and I'm not mad. Although I could use one right now, a session does not come cheap. I'm also not in the mood to get any work done, so I keep procrastinating.
4 p.m. — Finally finished my leftovers from this week, sheesh. I've resigned myself to the fact that I won't be getting any work done today. I step outside and pace around the backyard to get a last glimpse of today's sun, then bum around my room until dinner. My desire for more non-work related activities leads me to pre-order Andre Aciman's new book. I almost exclusively read non-fiction, but a girl's gotta immerse herself in fantasy every now and then. $16.62
7 p.m. — I fall asleep for a bit, then drag myself out of bed to make dinner — a grilled cheese sandwich and salad. I wash some dishes, which, as odd as it sounds, is quite satisfying. To me, there's always been a certain satisfaction that comes with home upkeep and it's one I've missed since giving up my one-bedroom apartment earlier this year. I'm in bed by 10:30, lamenting an unproductive, albeit much-needed day off.
Daily Total: $34.35

Day Five

9 a.m. — Two hours after my alarm goes off, I finally get out of bed. I'm debating whether or not to accompany my cousin on a hike this morning. As much as I want and need to go on a hike, I'm just plain lazy. I move to make breakfast, which includes an egg, spinach, hash brown, and stroopwafel with coffee. After breakfast, I conduct some company research and prep for tomorrow's interview.
11:30 a.m. — I catch a ride ($11.57) to the Arts District for lunch at Smorgasburg, an open-air vendor market that runs every Sunday. There, I go for one Peruvian taco and a fancy s'more ($14.12). I often thank my small stomach for saving me money on having to buy lots of food, but I also curse it in situations like this when I want to taste everything there is. $25.69
1:30 p.m. — I have tickets I purchased a while ago to an afternoon performance of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, featuring the LA Opera Orchestra. After arriving at the theater via Uber Pool ($3.66), I find my (complimentary upgraded!) seat and people-watch for a while, occasionally scrolling through pictures while I wait for the show to start. I get sad again thinking about how B. and I aren't on talking terms anymore. I feel like he'd be into this event, even if he wasn't in town to attend the performance. Anyways, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe he'd think that paying to see a movie you could just watch at home is a crazy idea. The theater goes quiet and the curtains rise as I let the excitement take over and suppress all the guilt I have for splurging on a ticket. I've seen the film dozens of times, but this viewing makes me love it even more. $3.66
5:30 p.m. — The skies are grey when I leave the theater and call a ride home. There's not much food in the fridge, so it's another grilled cheese with turkey and lox for me. I pick up where I left off this morning with interview prep, take a shower, and hit up some more potential dates for next week before getting into bed around 11. $14.86
Daily Total: $44.21

Day Six

7 a.m. — I'm up early for another tour of a nearby co-working space, this time in Long Beach. I get ready, eat cereal for breakfast, and hail an Uber Pool. Thank god the tour goes well — I love the location and can finally commit to a full-time working space. Now I'll be able to return to the job search full-force, in case this week's interviews don't work out. My in-person presentation also gets pushed to next week, which eases the stress off this week's schedule. $6.69
11:30 a.m. — The interview went well, seeing as I'm sent an online assessment to complete as the next step! I jot down some notes from the call, then head to a lunchtime yoga session nearby. I'm still on a free ClassPass trial, so I just have to rent a yoga mat ($2). It's a bad habit, but I hate carrying around my own yoga mat. After yoga, I'm starving but know that the salad I brought from home won't satisfy my hunger (does it ever?!). I head to the nearest sandwich shop and choose the cheapest sandwich on the menu ($8.59 with tax). $10.59
2 p.m. — Back at the co-working space, I grab a fresh cup of free coffee and get back to work. Suddenly, the requests are pouring in — I talk to a developer friend about a potential design consulting gig and respond to messages from new recruiters in the area. Another fellow designer whom I met with last week has apparently been sending my information around! I'm certainly overwhelmed now, but grateful that the job search keeps moving forward.
4 p.m. — I take a Lyft Line back home and end up paying full price because I fail to read the small print on my supposed reward (ugh). I realize I'm racking up more rideshare costs than planned, but crossing my fingers that it all pays off. Once home, I decompress a bit before tonight's networking event. $11.37
5 p.m. — I pre-paid for the event ($25) so that I'd be forced to go after having flaked on last week's free meetups. On the downside, it's another long and expensive ride to Chinatown ($24.90), especially since I'm riding during peak rush hour. Thankfully, it turns out to be a pretty chill get-together unlike any other, and I meet all different types of creatives (who will hopefully become good friends or collaborators someday!). At the very least, it feels comforting to meet others who are struggling and unsure of themselves, yet passionate about their work. $49.90
8 p.m. — I'm still me, so I Irish-goodbye the whole thing a little early and dash into a shared Uber back home, reveling in the crisp air with the windows down. At home, I consume my sad, rejected lunch salad with free shrimp chips and kombucha from the event. I reflect on a productive day and am about to go to bed when I notice an incorrect charge on my credit card. I shoot off a few emails disputing the charge and head to bed around 11. $15.67
Daily Total: $94.22

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm and make breakfast from what's left in the fridge (scrambled eggs, spinach, nut butter toast). I read through emails, prep for today's coffee chat, and look into renting a car (nope, still pricier than rideshares).
11 a.m. — A recruiter calls me and I attempt to explain my whole story while simultaneously getting ready to go out and managing a ride ($11.24) to my next location. Today I'm meeting with Z., another alumni and fellow designer who's graciously offered me her time. I order tea lattes for the both of us ($10.45) and we chat for a while in a sunny plaza. She leaves the meeting early and I realize that I need to find a bathroom, stat. $21.69
1 p.m. — I run into a nearby grocery store to pick up cheese slices and rice cakes ($4.98) then head to the store's bathroom only to find that it's closed. I need to keep moving, so I call an Uber Pool ($8.62) to bring me to my next location. Because it's a shared ride, it's another 15 minutes of waiting time plus a 30-minute drive. I'm dying to go to the bathroom. $13.60
2 p.m. — The next location is a huge shopping complex, so naturally I circle around for an unnecessary 15 minutes trying to find the restrooms. An angel of an employee calls out to me because I clearly look lost. She points me towards a cafe and I avoid eye contact with the cashiers as I run in to use the bathroom. I'm saved. I head upstairs for some spicy wontons ($13.70 including tax and tip) and stop myself from ordering an extra plate of xiaolongbao. There's also a shop selling Japanese cheese tarts nearby, but I resist the urge. Recently I've been going out of my way to purchase products that are sustainable and packaging-free, so I run into Lush to buy a solid lotion ($14.18), even though it's not the scent I wanted. $27.88
3:30 p.m. — I'm ready to head home, but there's an Asian bakery right next to the exit. I figure it doesn't hurt to stop in and look and I'm usually excellent at exercising self-control anyways. I end up buying a three-pack of pineapple cakes to snack on when I get home ($6) and finally get into an Uber home ($8.42). $14.42
4 p.m. — When I get home, all I really want to do is send out more job applications, but I'm a few hours behind schedule and I need to rest before getting ready for another date tonight. Obviously, I feel guilty for putting off work-related stuff, but I already rescheduled the date once before. Nap, shower, snack, send my friends info on the logistics, then I'm off to the bar in another shared Uber. $13.75
7:30 p.m. — I meet V. at the bar. He's nice, but shy and awkward, and it takes him a while to warm up. We have one round of drinks (he pays) then he calls an Uber so we can head to his place. Despite the lack of chemistry, V. is responsible, asks for verbal consent, and is really, really good at going down on me. I leave immediately after we hook up because he's clearly watching his bedtime. Plus, I feel bad because it was partially a pity hookup and partially a self-serving one. By the time I leave an Uber Pool back home is pretty cheap, but I feel myself on the verge of tears because all I can think about is how much I miss B. and our chemistry. Making the emotional decision, I opt for an UberX. I always wonder if drivers can see or sense the emotions of their backseat passengers. I try to hold it in. $13.19
11:30 p.m. — I walk through the front door and burst into tears. I brush my teeth, text my friends an update, and sit up in bed trying to process everything. The crying tires me out enough and eventually I fall asleep. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, an entirely free day where I can stay home and focus on work.
Daily Total: $104.53
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