A Week On Unemployment In Massachusetts

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.
Have you applied for unemployment benefits during COVID-19? Are you having trouble getting through to the office? We want to hear your experience of filing an initial unemployment claim for an upcoming story. Submit your experience here.

Today: an unemployed woman who receives $405 a week and spends some of her money this week on Color&Co hair dye.
Occupation: Unemployed
Industry: Entertainment
Age: 25
Location: During this diary, I am in Massachusetts, but I usually live in Los Angeles, CA.
Salary: ~$35,000 (currently unemployed)
Net Worth: $0
Paycheck Amount (1x/week): Right now, $405/week in unemployment benefits.
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,000
Student Loan: $63.50
WiFi: $25
Utilities: ~$60
Cell Phone: $44.40
Apple Music: $9.99
Staff Me Up: $14.99
Seek Treatment Patreon: $5
Car Insurance, Netflix, NYT Subscription: My dad pays (and I own my car outright).

Day One

1 p.m. — I have been sleeping late recently, but this is nuts. Couldn't fall asleep last night after watching the documentary Thin. Haunting. Today is my last full day in the Airbnb where I've been quarantining for two weeks. I live in Los Angeles, but my family is from Massachusetts. After much hemming and hawing, I agreed it was less scary to come spend my endless, jobless days with my family. But since I was flying back, I had to quarantine before I could go home to my elderly parents and sister. It all feels very expensive and a little dramatic, but ultimately I'm truly happy I'm not going to be alone in my hot LA apartment for this whole thing. My high-risk roommate went home as well and I thought it was going to be just me for months until my parents said they'd spring for this Airbnb for me. Lucky, lonely me.
1:45 p.m. — Have coffee and an English muffin for breakfast, then take my dog, D., out for a walk. I talk to my dad on the phone. He's all worked up about the injustices of copyright law. Classic dad!
3 p.m. — Back home and I see that I got my $1,200 from the IRS. Hell yeah, baby! I donate $25 to Movimiento Cosecha, which is an organization that gives money to undocumented immigrants who aren't getting stimulus checks. Not to fear — this donation will not be setting the tone for a virtuous week. There's definitely gonna be, at the very least, sloth, pride, lust, and probably even wrath. $25
3:30 p.m. — Read some of my book, The Shipping News, and then take a shower. It's incredible how gross I seem to get doing pretty much nothing every day.
6 p.m. — Mask on, I walk to CVS in an attempt to buy alcohol. D'oh! There's no alcohol at drug stores in MA! I forgot. I head home empty-handed.
6:30 p.m. — Have a Zoom birthday call for my oldest friend, F. After an hour, we agree to all go have dinner and then reconvene later. I order in. $29.17
8:45 p.m. — Log back into the bday party and play a difficult card game virtually. When the party's over, I watch Ex Machina. Incredible!
12 a.m. — Chip away at my novel. You'd think quarantine would be an amazing time to write, right? Wrong. Harder, if not harder than ever. I've been working on this thing forever and even I am not sure why. It's definitely more of an exercise in stamina than a “piece of literature I stand behind.”
1:30 a.m. — I get a text from an ex. This is the one I like. I don't respond, with the expectation that this cold shoulder will elicit a phone call from him tomorrow.
3 a.m. — Not tired, but gotta try to go to sleep.
Daily Total: $54.17

Day Two

10 a.m. — Up and cleaning and packing. Another English muffin for breakfast.
11:45 a.m. — My mom arrives to help me bring my luggage home. We immediately get into a fight! We are so predictable. We always make up though.
12:30 p.m. — Back at the old homestead! Parents and I take the dog for a walk. Mid-spring means freezing rain in Massachusetts. The charms of New England. My parents and I go head to head on New Yorker cartoon captions. It's really hard and we all suck!
5 p.m. — I apply for an Angeleno Card, which is basically extra cash from the city of Los Angeles. Hope I get it. I asked my landlord in LA if he would be waiving rent for those who had been laid off and he said that he would defer rent if we couldn't pay, meaning we'd have to pay back everything we owed over the course of the next twelve months. That is really not helpful at all, landlord!!
7 p.m. — I wake up from an accidental nap. Strange dreams. I eat dinner with family and then we all watch Sam Morrill's stand up special.
9 p.m. — My sister and I clean up dinner, then make oatmeal cookies. I love my sister and continue to lobby her to move to the west coast. All I want is for us to one day live together by the beach.
11 p.m. — The ex does not call. Serves me right. I end up replying to his text. I think everybody has many soulmates, but unfortunately, he happens to be the only one of mine that I've met. I want to meet one that is less frustrating!
2 a.m. — Somehow it got late. I'm having many mixed emotions about being back home with no end in sight. Falling back into old patterns and everything.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

11 a.m. — Ah, midday. I feel compelled to say that before coronavirus, I worked at lot! Seven days a week sometimes! I was in TV production and on weekends I was a caretaker for my roommate who is severely disabled. I think most of us feel a need to be somehow productive, bettering ourselves, etc., and I certainly feel this way, but that feeling is rarely strong enough to supersede my laziness when there's no $$ involved. I think in this period of extended unemployment I'm reckoning with my basest capitalist urges—Must Work Tirelessly To Make Money For Others Because That Gives My Life Meaning. I go downstairs and eat some cereal.
12 p.m. — Walk with D. It's freezing. When I get home, my sister and I do a work out that she calls “blog-o-lates.” I don't know if this is an actual type of exercise or something she made up. I make some ramen (teehee) and watch the first episode of Run. Extremely romantic.
4 p.m. — Dad and I attempt a Double Crostic. These seem to be for people who've mastered the crossword, which is not us, and we peter out quickly. Uh-oh, I feel a nap coming on… I slither up to my room.
7:30 p.m. — Disgraceful. Slither back downstairs for canned soup and wine.
8 p.m. — Zoom call with two friends. We talk all the time but somehow there's always more to discuss, even when I've been sleeping all day.
12:30 a.m. — I leave the call because my laptop dies. I do the day's dishes and then go up to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

9:15 a.m. — My sister gets me up at the crack of dawn to see the snow. It's coming down hard. It's beautiful, but feels wrong for April.
10 a.m. — Have some cereal, take D. out, but his little frame is shivering too hard to pee.
11 a.m. — Do half-hearted yoga with my sister and then play an endless game of Scrabble with my parents. I make ravioli for lunch.
4 p.m. — I wrestle with my skin by mixing ancient lotions and exfoliants I find lurking in my parents' bathroom. My adult acne has outsmarted every product on the market. Okay, well, everything you can buy at CVS. My skin is absolutely gorgeous everywhere on my body except for the part people see, my face—this aways strikes me as a great injustice.
5 p.m. — I have a virtual meeting of my writer's group in an hour and read over the other members' workshop pieces. It's honestly less “writer's group” and more like four friends hanging out. Sometimes I bring the hammer down too hard in workshop settings and need to remind myself that it's not that serious. Anyway, it's a very fun time.
8:30 p.m. — I have a limp veggie burger for dinner, no bun, no condiments (can you tell I'm not a food enthusiast?) and watch Say Anything with my parents. I saw this movie like a week ago, but I love it so much that I insisted that we watch it.
1 a.m. — Feeling nauseous/depressed/guilty, which is my go-to cocktail for feeling terrible. I have fairly severe emetophobia, which is a fear of vomiting or seeing other people vomit and this always adds a level of anxiety to feeling sick that most people don't experience. But mostly it's quarantine coinciding with a strange time in my life that is getting to me. It's hard to have truly nothing concrete to look forward to while hearing nothing but doomsday news all day. It's not like I'm gagging for things to go back to normal so I can return to my job. I freelance in TV production, which does not seem to be my calling. But being home is just so static. I know I should go to therapy but I can't afford it right now.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

11 a.m. — Hello world. Today it's gorgeous out (?!!) so I happily take D. to the park. The snow has mostly melted, but a few robust snowmen remain.
12 p.m. — Have a video call with my cousins, who live in Germany. We make German pancakes together, which, we find out, are just crepes. My mom went to Trader Joe's early this morning for their ages 60 and up “geezer hours” so we have Nutella and strawberries to slather all over our crepes. Mom and pop eat some too.
3:30 p.m. — I accompany my mother to her friend's house to deliver some groceries and see her new puppy. We stand on opposite sides of a fence while D. and the puppy bark their heads off at each other.
6 p.m. — Back at home, I sign up for a Best Buy credit card. No, this is not necessarily a good time to be purchasing expensive electronics. I remind myself that D. had $3,000 oral surgery a few months ago and that I haven't even begun to bounce back from that hit.
6:30 p.m. — My mom cuts up an apple and brings it to me. She says she doesn't usually get to flex her mom muscle now that her daughters have moved out. I am nearly in tears.
7 p.m. — Take a bath? This is very out of character.
8 p.m. — Eat dinner and watch The Talented Mr. Ripley with the whole family. This movie is very long!
11 p.m. — A phone call from a different ex. This one is the most recent. It seems like he's doing well……..not cool…..
2 a.m. — I work on my novel. Is there a way to say this that sounds less douchey?
4 a.m. — Oh, phooey. I go to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

11:30 a.m. — Wake up excited. It's D.'s birthday. I don't know his actual birthday, or how old he is, but his previous owner told me, alarmingly, that he used to be a “big pothead.” So I decided his birthday is 4/20.
12 p.m. — Looks like D. doesn't want to eat today. On his birthday no less. :,( I guess I'll take him to the vet tomorrow if this keeps up. Is the vet even open? Oh no. I take him for a walk and he seems fine, but even after all the exercise, he won't look at his food.
3 p.m. — For my coronavirus body modification, I'm going the road most traveled. I've always said that after my face, my hair was my second greatest injustice. Thin and mousy. I order blonde hair dye online through Color&Co. I have to fill out info about my current hair shade and am warned by the website that the shade of blonde I am ordering will definitely not go with my skin tone. $34.90
5 p.m. — Text from a third ex. Am I on fire or is it just quarantine?
7 p.m. — Don my mask and gloves and drive to Hmart for a few groceries for us (mostly ramen and milk tea) and a some things for my sister's boyfriend's family. It feels amazing to be inside a structure where I'm not also sleeping. When I get back, we wipe everything down with Lysol. $54.56
8 p.m. — I eat a delicious bean soup made by dad. Starting to sink into the dumps. On the upside, D. started eating! Maybe I'll extend his birthday into tomorrow.
12 a.m. — Doom and gloom. Listen to the podcast Seek Treatment and try to sleep.
Daily Total: $89.46

Day Seven

11 a.m. — Up. Dad, D., and I take a frigid walk to the park. I have a leftover German pancake for breakfast. I talk to a friend on the phone and we do a crossword together.
4 p.m. — I edit and submit a short story I wrote a while ago to a contest and pay the entry fee. They give all the submission fees to the winning writer, so I see it as a donation to Someone Talented Out There. $24
8 p.m. — Dinner is another frozen veggie burger, microwaved to perfection. I don't eat meat and I'm not afraid to evangelize about it! My family watches the end of Superstore and then we switch to Spanish teen drama, Elite. Kinda wanna watch Say Anything again…..I resist.
12 a.m. — My sister and I hunt for matching outfits online. Will we ever agree? No, but it's about the journey anyway.
Daily Total: $24
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