A Week In Minneapolis, MN, On A $33,500 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 women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: an unemployed catering event manager who makes $228 a week and spends some of her money this week on a church donation.
Occupation: Unemployed (laid off Catering Event Manager)
Industry: Service
Age: 30
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Salary: As a Catering Event Manager: about $33,500. Maximum unemployment benefit: $6,712
Net Worth: $55,000 ($25,000 in savings and $30,000 in a Roth IRA. I live with a partner, but we keep our finances separate.)
Debt: $0 (I have one credit card, which I pay in full every month)
Unemployment Check (1x/week): $228 (as a Catering Event Manager my paycheck was $1,100 twice a month)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $670 (for my half of a studio alcove I share with my boyfriend)
Loans: $0 (I graduated owing $14,000, thanks to many need-based and merit scholarships and have paid them off. I bought my car in cash for $4,500.)
Utilities: $30-$65 for my half
Internet: $30 for my half
Phone: $44.71 (family plan with my brothers and sister-in-law)
Spotify Premium: $10.78
NYT Digital Subscription: $15
Google Drive Storage: $2.99
Netflix: We use my boyfriend's family's account
Car Insurance: $29 every six months (I split unevenly with my boyfriend because it didn't increase his premium much when he added me to his policy)
AAA: $5.67 for my half (paid annually)
Retirement: I contribute when I can to a Roth IRA I opened in 2014. I was contributing a matched 3% to a simple IRA at my job.
Health Insurance: Currently uninsured. I was going to be eligible for my company's plan on April 3rd, but after being laid off, I applied for state insurance. I'm still waiting for more forms to come in the mail (everything is by paper).
Donations: I donate sporadically — usually at the Unitarian Universalist service, to non-profits where friends work, and Planned Parenthood.
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Day One

9 a.m. — Wake up. Although this was my first week laid off, Saturday still means the weekend for my boyfriend, J. We've been faring pretty well sharing our 576 sq. ft. studio while he works from home. I honestly have been enjoying having him around and I'm hoping it stays that way. I make us scrambled eggs with spinach, mushrooms, and vegan chorizo rolled into multigrain flatbread with smashed avocado and pressed on the panini grill. We drink tea.
10:30 a.m. — We go into deep cleaning mode. I do all the cooking and more of the daily cleaning around the apartment than J. does, but we usually clean together on the weekend until it's all done.
12:30 p.m. — For lunch, we have leftover pizza that I picked up last night (chicken, oyster mushrooms, goat cheese, basil).
5 p.m. — I'm feeling restless and go out on a walk while J. plays a computer game online with a friend. I call my stepdad first. He has a bad growth on his face, so I'm glad to hear it's been shrinking. I hope he'll still be able to get it biopsied and removed the first week of April as planned. Then I call my grandma and we chat as I wander around a cemetery. It's in the middle of Minneapolis, but it's just me and a bunch of wild turkeys in here.
7 p.m. — I get home and end my call with grandma. J. is still playing his game. Social distancing or not, it's Saturday night, so I make a caipirinha for myself and an Old Fashioned for J. I heat up leftovers from last week for dinner and we watch The Invisible Man. I usually avoid scary movies because I get nightmares easily, but this one is worth it!
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Daily Total: $0

Day Two

9:30 a.m. — Wake up. I put frozen pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese rolls with tapioca flour) in the oven and make strawberry banana vitaminas (fresh fruit with milk).
10 a.m. — We aren't perfect weekly attendees, but we like to go to the Unitarian Universalist service on Sundays. They're using Zoom to live stream, so we cast the service on the TV and settle in. We agree they've done a great job transitioning to online services and it's hard not to get emotional reading the concerns and gratitudes in the chat. I text in $10 to the virtual offering plate. Afterward, there is a virtual coffee hour which I stay for while J. showers. $10
1:30 p.m. — I do a 60-minute yoga practice on the DownDog app. I've been really enjoying their classes and am thinking of subscribing when they switch back to being paid.
2:45 p.m. — I take a shower, then heat up leftover sweet potato cashew curry for myself and make a turkey, swiss, tomato, and spinach sandwich on sourdough in the panini press for J.
4 p.m. — I meet a friend for a walk around the lake (keeping six feet between us). Even though I know we're both tired of talking about COVID-19, it's hard to talk about anything else.
6 p.m. — A couple of weeks ago, I picked up clothes and other miscellaneous things from my childhood room at my stepdad's. One of the boxes had postcards I bought around the world and now seems like a great time to actually send them. I blast out a call for addresses from friends and family, pour a glass of Cabernet, and start writing.
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8 p.m. — J. wants to watch a movie. It can't be just any movie, though, right? After he rejects a few of my suggestions, I heat us up leftovers and turn on the first episode of Love is Blind. After a half-hour of J. both making fun of me and showing mild interest, he puts on Knives Out. It is a good choice after all! I've liked all the movies in the "eat the rich" thread coming out lately.
Daily Total: $10

Day Three

9:30 a.m. — I meant to get up with J., but it didn't happen. I don't feel like eating yet, so I have some lemon ginger tea and work on submitting my job search activities to make my unemployment benefit payment request. I make a spinach-strawberry-ginger smoothie for myself and a strawberry-banana for J.
12:30 p.m. — I start making lunch — salmon cakes (think crab cakes, but with canned salmon, my mom used to make them!) with sauteed spinach and mashed potatoes. J. takes a break to eat with me.
2 p.m. — I work on sorting through my mom's old clothes that I picked up at my stepdad's. She passed away from colon cancer six years ago. I want to make a quilt with some of her t-shirts — I don't know how, but my grandma will help me when/if I ever get around to it. I'm now a colonoscopy cheerleader, so: everyone 50+ needs them, or earlier if you have symptoms or family history! Polyps can be removed during the procedure, before they grow into tumors. They're not that bad — speaking from personal experience.
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4 p.m. — I drive to St. Paul to pick up J.'s new license plate and tabs. It turns out they were sent to our old address because he hadn't updated the address on his car's title, but he needs to sign a form to authorize me to make the change. I take the form and head back. It's a beautiful day, so I stop to take a walk along the Mississippi River. I call my brother, who is worried about getting laid off, and my other grandma who just got back from Florida.
7:30 p.m. — I get home and start making dinner. First I marinate and bake tofu in a homemade Thai peanut sauce. Then I saute broccoli and red pepper, toss in the rest of the sauce, and serve it all over udon noodles.
10:30 p.m. — We get in bed and I watch Love is Blind. I'm afraid to check the actual time, but I make it to the dreaded “Are you still watching?” before calling it a night.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7 a.m. — J. wakes me up. I make us french toast, topped with cream cheese and a sauce of strawberries cooked down in water and honey. I drink a cup of coffee and actually get dressed to go back to St. Paul with the signed form.
8:30 a.m. — Right after I get in the car, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band's "Keep Your Head Up" plays on the Current, our local radio station. J. and I saw the band in New Orleans shortly after I moved back from Brazil to be closer to him and again at a show in St. Paul for his birthday last year. I couldn't tell you exactly why, but I start to cry. I drive to the License Bureau and get J.'s new license plate and tabs without a problem.
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9:30 a.m. — Low fuel light is on. I stop for gas on the way back. I walked to work and don't need my car often, so I only fill up my tank about once a month, or when I visit family in other states. $23.67
10 a.m. — I get home and start canceling flights and our Airbnb. J. and I had a trip planned to New York next month and I was going to Chicago for a show. I make a spreadsheet to keep the info about our flight credit on four different airlines organized.
11 a.m. — An hour of yoga on DownDog, then a shower.
12:30 p.m. — I start making lunch — turkey cutlets in butter chicken sauce and a big batch of white rice. I top lettuce and tomato salads with a dressing made of plain yogurt, salt, pepper, garlic, lime, and cilantro. J. has a lot of work to do, so he eats at the desk instead of taking a break with me.
2 p.m. — I start working on my résumé for a Portuguese bilingual at-home tech support position. Working remotely with full benefits and speaking Portuguese every day would be great. The problem? Tech is not exactly my thing. I also loathe job searching and spend way too much time overthinking my resume and cover letter for each application. I get flashbacks to last year when I was unsure which direction to go in my job search. I feel overwhelmed and this time the crying is full-blown. J. hugs me until I get it together. I know I could be a lot worse off, but I'm frustrated about finally "figuring things out" by deciding on my new job and then being laid off not even two months later without any idea when I will be able to return.
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5 p.m. — The same friend invites me out on a walk. I'm happy to set aside my work. We take a different route, avoiding the lakes, to be around fewer people.
6 p.m. — I get back with time to review my German homework before class starts at 6:30. J. and I started classes this year because he hopes to do a Masters in Germany in 2022 before we move back to Brazil. I took two years of German in college, so I have a nice head start. This is the first class we've had online since in-person classes were cancelled. It feels great to get my mind off everything else going on.
9 p.m. — The class ends and I heat up leftovers from last week — sweet potato cashew curry for me, penne in vodka sauce for him. We watch an episode of Ugly Delicious and go to bed.
Daily Total: $23.67

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — I don't do as well at getting up today. Last night, Brazil's president announced that people were being "hysterical" about the "little flu" and that the country couldn't stay shut down — business should continue as usual. I scroll through Instagram stories to see my friends' reactions (of disgust) and message a few to check in.
9 a.m. — I finally get out of bed. J. has already eaten and is busy working, so I make breakfast for myself while dealing with yesterday's dishes. My soft-boiled eggs actually come out perfectly — it's a miracle! I top a slice of dense, whole rye bread with smashed avocado, an egg, and everything bagel seasoning, and drink black tea with cinnamon.
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10:30 a.m. — I'm feeling a bit inspired from online church service and German class. I was an English as a Second Language teacher for eight years before switching to catering full time this year, but I've never taught online. I look into teaching options.
12 p.m. — I start making lunch — a huge stir-fry with cabbage, onions, mushrooms, carrots, vegan "chick'n," and edamame noodles in a homemade sesame sauce. We eat together, then cuddle on the couch a little before J. goes back to work.
2 p.m. — I message back and forth with my sister in another state and scroll Instagram. I Venmo $5 to a content creator I follow (@hownottotravellikeabasicbitch) as a thanks for the work she puts into sharing information. I see that my unemployment benefit of $228 has been deposited — that was faster than expected! $5
2:30 p.m. — I get back to "work" on researching teaching online. My laptop is really a drag. I bought it refurbished for $450 in 2013. J. formatted it for me a couple months ago when it had become unusable, but I have barely used it since then preferring our desktop. Now that he's working on the desktop, I'm back on my laptop. It's so slow and the keyboard has so many issues that I think I'll need to get a new one if I'm going to teach online.
5 p.m. — I do an hour of yoga, watching the rain fall outside, then take a shower.
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6:30 p.m. — J. has his German class online. I water my 12 houseplants and write postcards with a glass of wine.
8 p.m. — I decide to bake a yogurt cake. I make a raspberry sauce to top it.
9 p.m. — J. finishes his class. We eat leftovers and cake, then go to bed.
Daily Total: $5

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — I get up a little after J. I clean up the kitchen and make us both avocado toast with soft-boiled eggs. He has coffee with milk and I have chai with oat milk.
10:30 a.m. — I sit down at my laptop, but after half an hour, I can't focus. It's a beautiful day, so I decide to go on a bike ride. Some Minnesotans bike year-round, but I'm not one of those hardy winter riders, so this will be my first time taking it out this year. I wash off the dust and stop at a gas station to fill up the tires ($1.50 for air), then make an 18-mile loop. It is glorious. $1.50
2:30 p.m. — I get home and eat a slice of yogurt cake before getting in the shower.
3 p.m. — Leftovers for lunch then back to job searching. My biking high unfortunately doesn't stay with me.
6 p.m. — J. finishes working and we have a serious talk. He thinks I need to be prepared for my company to not hire me back until the end of the summer or possibly ever. He goes out on a run, I cry a little, and then sit silently in the dark for a while — there is literally nothing I feel like doing. Eventually I pour myself a glass of wine and text my sister.
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8:30 p.m. — J. has leftovers for dinner and I make bean and cheese nachos to have with salsa fresca. In bed after, he asks if I'm feeling sad (yes) and says, why don't you watch Love is Blind? (Okay). I watch through to the final episode (can I marry Lauren and Cameron?!).
Daily Total: $1.50

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I get up. J. has already eaten breakfast, but I make a vegan chorizo, black bean, and spinach scramble in a multigrain flatbread wrap and black tea with cinnamon, then get straight to the computer.
12 p.m. — No! After spending all morning writing my multilingual script for a video I need to upload to a teaching platform, I see that they are no longer accepting applications for English teachers. I feel stupid for not checking again before, but get over it. I think I'll make my own business.
12:15 p.m. — I heat up leftovers for us both and J. eats at his desk. My sister, who is a tour leader, tells me that her company has canceled all tours through June and that two of her friends have COVID-19. Both are in their 30s and otherwise healthy. They aren't hospitalized, but it's been very rough on them.
12:30 p.m. — I research everything I can on teaching group classes through Zoom and start building a website on Squarespace (free for the first 14 days). It feels nice to be learning a new skill! At some point, I have a slice of yogurt cake, a mango turmeric smoothie, and espresso made on the stove.
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6:30 p.m. — Time to get ready for (virtual) happy hour! I make guacamole and a strawberry margarita with a tajin and sugar rim. It's nice to catch up with some friends around the country, plus a new friend of a friend. J. gets back from his run, so I make him say hi to them before he leaves again to go to Target and Walmart. I make another margarita, this one with frozen mangoes and tajin.
9:30 p.m. — J. comes home with his load — he's setting me up for my own home office! He got me a fold-up table and fold-up chair (with cushioning), a mouse, and a headset with a microphone. Awwww. We're actually able to fit it in our apartment and it will be better than working on the couch! I fall asleep early.
Daily Total: $0
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.
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