Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We’re asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.
Today: a product manager who makes $77,250 per year and spends some of her money this week on Van Leeuwen Ice Cream.
Occupation: Product Manager
Industry: Ad Tech
Location: Portland, OR
Net Worth: $58,000 (between HYSA, retirement, and investments less debt). I have no assets (no car, no house)
Debt: $3,200 (student loans)
Paycheck Amount (bimonthly): $1,863
Rent: $675 for my half (my partner who makes $59,000 pays the other half)
Loans: $0 (loans currently frozen)
Cell Phone: $60
Gas: $15 ($45-$60 in the winter months)
Xbox Live + Gamepass: $15
Orangetheory: $169 (on hold for 60 days)
Spotify Premium Family: $15 (I pay for my brother’s)
CBS All-Access: $6
HBO: $15 (I share this with my coworkers and they share their Hulu and Disney+, I use my parents’ Netflix)
Car Insurance: $24 (for non-owners)
Twine Investing: $1,000
401(k): 20% of paycheck + 3% company match
Cat Food: $40
Amazon Prime: $95/year
Equal Justice Initiative: $15
Diversity Awareness Workshops & Resources: $20
Renter’s Insurance: $12
Cell Phone: work pays
Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
Both of my parents are Filipino and attended prestigious colleges. My mom dropped out to be a chef, but my dad expected all three of his kids to go to college. That expectation changed when he kicked me out when I was 16 and I went to go live with my mom (they separated when I was four). She didn’t put any pressure on me to go to school. I wanted to go but she couldn’t afford to help and didn’t want to take out any PLUS loans in her name. She was very wary of the government knowing her financial business. It was a struggle to get her to fill out the FAFSA to get federal aid. Thankfully (?), because she was below the poverty line I was able to get almost all of my tuition covered with federal loans. I got a few small scholarships through essay submissions and $16,000 to play soccer for four years. I ended up with $28,000 worth of student debt when I graduated from school with a BA.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My dad constantly talked about money and what to do if you had it, which we didn’t. He was a single dad with three kids by the time he was 22. He made us go to stock market seminars as kids and read things like Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I hated it because I was a seven-year-old kid with no interest in knowing the difference between a bull vs bear market. We didn’t have an option not to do the crazy ambitious things he set up for us. Looking back, I still think he was delusional and the content of what he was teaching was iffy. I’m pretty sure the stock market stuff he was part of was actually an MLM or a pyramid scheme. My mom was a hippie and didn’t believe in the concept of money.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I got a job in high school working at the local video store. I got it because the owner was friends with my mom. It paid $7/hr with unlimited access to rent any movie.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes. My dad made a decent salary, but it was never enough to give him the status he wanted. He wanted to portray the image of a successful single dad, but underneath the surface, he was financially and mentally unstable. We would have a million extracurriculars and sports camps, but not enough food in the fridge. I was always embarrassed by his attempts to be frugal. We used to walk around the mall food court as a family just to get free samples and avoid paying for a full lunch. In contrast, when I would spend summers with my mother, we were dirt poor, but always had food on the table. My mom had two more kids after my siblings and me, so five kids in a two-bedroom house would often overwhelm her. She was also mentally unstable and would lash out at us about not having enough money. I grew up feeling super guilty about my existence. My parents were overly transparent with us about their money woes and would often say how different their lives would be if they didn’t have me and my siblings. I stopped trippin’ about that early on in adulthood after years of therapy though.
Do you worry about money now?
Not anymore. I used to when I was working retail after I graduated from college. I racked up a decent amount of credit card debt. I would go out all the time and spend wild amounts of money on drugs and booze, and then buy crazy lavish gifts for people I was casually dating. Since I met my partner, D., four years ago though, I stopped doing all of the stupid player stuff and set some financial goals to match hers. She didn’t pressure or coach me to do any of it (in fact, she really hates talking about money/budgeting or anything to do with financial planning), but I’m a competitive person by nature and wanted to match her financially. I became really strict with my budget while also leveling up my salary. Within three years I was able to pay off $18,000 worth of student loans and $7,000 of credit card debt. She didn’t help me with any of it, but she was fine with the standard of living I was setting for us when I was on a shoestring budget. Since hitting some of my financial milestones, I’ve eased up considerably on my budget. I try to keep my monthly expenses as low as possible and be a little freer with my everyday spending. I budget $500 for food/groceries every two weeks. If I spend too much in one area, I usually will have to cut back in another. It’s not the best budgeting system but it works for me.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became responsible for myself when I graduated high school. My parents and I had a mutual falling out before I left for college. I took over my cell phone bill, paid my own car insurance, and navigated my way through student loans. When I decided to take a gap year between my sophomore and junior year to qualify for the in-state tuition rate, I realized how hard it was to live without loan assistance. I was working retail part-time and couldn’t get any more than 20 hours a week. I was receiving food stamps and hit up the food bank every chance I could, but I was still scared I wasn’t going to make rent for the month. I did stupid things like flip points of MDMA or steal laundry detergent from big corporations to subsidize the lack of cash flow. Petty stuff, but still, I recognize how lucky I was that I didn’t get into any trouble. These days, I have D. who will support me unconditionally. She has a safety net and financial support from her parents in little ways. They wouldn’t support me directly, but D. would and I guess you could say that’s an inadvertent safety net. We’ve been together for almost five years. Our finances are separate right now. We’re not in any rush to get married or join finances. When the time’s right it’ll happen.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Haha, no. Even if my parents passed, I don’t think I would receive anything.
8:18 a.m. — Overslept! I wake up to D. buzzing around making ice cream for our downstairs neighbor, L. It’s her birthday and her favorite flavor is white chocolate raspberry, so D. is making a homemade batch. I try to ignore the craziness in the kitchen because I’m still half asleep. I throw my contacts on and make some coffee in our Keurig (I feel bad about using disposable K cups, but D. loves the convenience and her parents send us Costco size packs of it regularly. So I take advantage of the free-ness and try to make up for my carbon footprint in other ways). I drink my coffee while reading my email before my first meeting at 9.
10:20 a.m. — Chatting with coworkers over Slack about potential feature blocks for client launches and also debugging some weird reporting issues. My life has been pretty chill since I got promoted in January. I still get residual questions, but for the most part, my days are self-organized. I set up a couple of stakeholder meetings later in the week to review the two new feature proposals. I remember the NWSL challenge cup semi-final is on, and stream it through CBS All Access. Let’s go Thorns!
12:12 p.m. — I get wrapped up in the game; Thorns lose to Houston. Oh well… there’s always next year. D. reminds me it’s lunchtime. We both have been working from home since the pandemic started. It’s been nice being able to work next to her. We eat leftovers and then go back to the kitchen to clean up the dishes. This week is one of the random times we have a bunch of groceries in our fridge. Most of the time we eat get takeout or pull stuff from the freezer.
7:30 p.m. — Eat dinner. Tonight is sheet pan ratatouille over polenta. Eggplant, zucchini, onion, red bell pepper, garlic, fresh thyme, with olive oil and balsamic roasted in the oven. D. makes the polenta and adds coconut cream. She tops her bowl with mozzarella and parmesan. I top mine with sun-dried tomatoes and capers. We both have a beer.
10 p.m. — Time for bed! I do the dishes and tidy up around the apartment. I wash my face with Purity by Philosophy, apply night cream by First Aid Beauty, and Vaseline to my lips. I didn’t have a nighttime routine before D. and now I just copy hers. We are slowly merging into the same person.
Daily Total: $0
8 a.m. — Wake up, snuggle with D. a little bit. Roll out of bed and make coffee for both of us. It’s my turn to have the office during the 9 a.m. meeting time today. D. is taking hers in the living room. 10 minutes go by and our cat takes the biggest, smelliest dump in his litter box. My office seat is right next to the litter box. I relocate to the living room.
12 p.m. — I get a text that my Imperfect Produce box arrived. I ordered fruit, veggies, tofu, tortillas, buns, and some chocolate ($33 paid last week). This along with the Purple Carrot ($71 paid last week) I forgot to skip, means we’re overly stocked on food and need to eat a lot this weekend to avoid wasting any of it. We don’t split these random, one-off food purchases. Sometimes I order, sometimes she does, it generally all comes out in the wash. D. and I warm up the remaining ratatouille leftovers from last night. It’s a lot of food, but this is the bed I made. She’s a good sport about it. We suggest ways of making meals and giving them to our neighbors. We get overwhelmed by food allergies though and the thought they might not like our cooking and decide to just stick with the original plan to freeze/eat it all.
5:30 p.m. — Done with work! D. and I decide to skate behind our house. I recently picked up skateboarding during quarantine and D. decided to rekindle her love of rollerblading. It’s been a great way to get exercise and socially distance from everyone since that spot is less traveled.
7:30 p.m. — D. makes corn and field roast enchiladas from the Purple Carrot delivery service. It’s delicious, but I still grumble about it being too expensive for what it is. We watch Tiny House, Big Living while we eat.
Daily Total: $0
7:30 a.m. — Wake up when my alarm goes off for the first time this week. I feel super rested so I look through my phone and wait for D. to wake up. As I’m scrolling through Insta, my boss messages me that he wants me to present at our meeting at 9 a.m. I tell him no problem and hop on the computer to prep. So much for having my morning routine! The meeting goes well and my boss is super happy I was able to turn it around so quickly.
10 a.m. — My brother waves to me on the House Party app. He lives in East Asia as a foreign service officer. It’s always hard to connect with the time differences. I call him right back. He likes to meet on the House Party app versus Whatsapp because of the games. I swear he’s 12 going on 32. We reminisce about the old times and eventually hang up. I’m proud of how much growth my siblings and I have had over the years. We were all pretty touch and go for a while in terms of being homeless, unemployed, and generally making terrible life choices. Somehow we all turned out okay. My pipe dream is for all five of us live near each other so we can hang out in person regularly.
12 p.m. — Eat more leftovers…yay! I’m not even mad about it because it tastes so good. I ask D. to order some beer for me on GoPuff. She orders 20 cans of beer and 50 disposable face masks (we have reuseable ones but she thinks it’d be nice to double up) and charges me $42 on Venmo. I have a virtual happy hour later today and I generally have a good time if there’s a beverage in my hand. $42
3:43 p.m. — I’m three beers deep and make an impulsive decision to buy a T-shirt to support a bar in NE Portland ($30). Small businesses have teamed up with local artists to print unique designs on T-shirts to generate additional income while they’re shut down. I’ve bought three so far during the pandemic, and this will be my fourth. My new aesthetic since learning how to skate is large black T-shirts and Vans. I feel like I’m regressing because I no longer have to go into the office. I’m about it. $30
6 p.m. — Feeling Friday fancy and ask the downstairs neighbors if they want to drink outside with us. We post up in our normal spot on the curb with masks and order some pizza. My treat because I have to convince D. that we shouldn’t cook even though we have tons of food, she concedes if I buy. I order what I think is a large vegan pizza and she orders a medium cheese with pineapples and jalapeños off Postmates ($50 for the ‘za + service fee, $20 for the tip). Drinking and buying stuff is definitely my weak spot. I make a lot of impulsive decisions when I’m drunk because I just want to have a good time and treat the people around me. We share our pizza with our neighbors. Everyone in the building is super cool and around the same age as us. We’ve all been in a bubble together throughout the pandemic. After we have a few drinks and finish eating, we make plans to hang out on Sunday to visit a family friend’s lavender farm. $70
Daily Total: $142
9 a.m. — Sleep in. Slightly dehydrated with a touch of a hangover. I don’t have any obligations except for a dinner later tonight. I hang out on the couch and binge-watch TV while D. waters me and feeds me leftover pizza. Throughout my stay on the couch, I keep going back and forth to the bathroom. My stomach is not happy and I’m suspicious it’s the cheap beer I drank last night.
430 p.m. — Finally get off the couch to become human. Take a shower, brush my teeth, wash my hair with Deva Curl products, and throw some sunscreen on my face. D. reminds me to book the rental car for today and tomorrow. We generally walk or bike everywhere we need to go, but in the times we do need a car, I usually rent one through Getaround. The app allows you to rent cars from neighbors while they’re not in use. I rent the closest one to us for four hours today and another four hours for Sunday’s lavender farm excursion. D. and I split the cost. $30
5 p.m. — We drive to the bougie grocery store by our house to pick up a dessert, but the line is outrageous. We decide to go to the Safeway in the opposite direction of where our friend lives. I can tell D. is already getting anxious. She hates being late. At Safeway, we get Van Leeuwen vanilla bean ice cream, Stacy’s cinnamon sugar pita chips, and a prepared berry mix. $19
5:30 p.m. — We arrive at our friends’ house with masks on. We hang out on their back patio while catching up. Our host makes Aperol spritz and has a spread of carrots, cucumbers, chips, and homemade beet hummus. My friend K. is from Hawaii so she cooks up a vegan version of a Hawaiian burger. She grills pineapple, marinates Beyond Burgers in teriyaki sauce, and serves it on Hawaiian sweet rolls. She adds Beyond sausages, fries, and fried Walla Walla onions for sides. Then, she brings out giant portions of honeydew and cantaloupe. It is really nice they made everything vegan on my behalf.
8:30 p.m. — We’re so stuffed we don’t even eat the dessert we brought. Instead, we have decaf lattes and talk about the potential of putting a tiny house on their land. We jest that we’re starting a lesbian compound and dream about the potential of living on the same property. My Getaround app reminds me the reservation is about to end, so I extend it two more hours ($20 split). We leave with more food than we originally brought. They’re older than us by 20 years and are well established. They never let us pay for anything, and if there are leftovers, they make us take them home. They’re about as close to family as I’ll get. I’m very thankful D. brought them into our lives. $10
10 p.m. — Return the rental car and walk the four blocks back to our house. Take showers and pass out.
Daily Total: $59
9 a.m. — Time to pick lavender. I wake up and get ready for the day. I’m kinda bummed I’m missing the Challenge Cup final, but it’s too late to back out now. D. texts the downstairs neighbors that we’re planning to leave at 9:30. We text them the location while we walk over to the Getaround rental.
10 a.m. — The lavender farms are really beautiful and remote compared to where we live in the city. D. catches up with the family friends while picking a giant bouquet. Our neighbors meet us there and everyone has a good time. It’s getting hot, so we get ready to pay. D.’s family friend doesn’t let us pay for the lavender, so instead, D. buys one of their baseball caps. I happen to be carrying the bag with the money and hand over $15 for the hat and give the rest of the cash as a tip ($9). They have a note that they still prefer cash over card. Thankfully, we grabbed the cash from our piggy bank before we left the house (D. and I keep a literal piggy bank of cash. Whenever I win money from sports bets or have random cash from an event, I throw it in the pig. D. does the same. We have anywhere between $20-$120 depending on the time of the year. I don’t keep track or count it towards my available money). $24
12:30 p.m. — We stop to get gas ($10 split) on the way home. $5
12:50 p.m. — My friend, T., texts me to say she wants to skate. It’s supposed to be 100 degrees today and I tell her I’m down as long as I don’t have to bike to our normal spot. She agrees to pick me up around 3:30. D. makes the oyster dynamite Purple Carrot meal. We’re both still hungry, so we warm up the remaining pizza and watch the last two Twilight movies. I’ve never seen them before and D. suggested it. I read the books in high school, but forgot how overtly religious the whole series can be; I keep commenting about how bad the acting is every 20 minutes but keep watching because #KStew. D. reminds me to Venmo charge her for the car rental, emergency dessert run, and gas. I request $55 from her.
2 p.m. — Finally realize that the “vegan” pizza I ordered wasn’t actually vegan. All the random stomach issues I had the past two days were not because of the cheap beer, but because I’ve been eating five different types of cheese every day for the past three days. I feel pretty dumb for not realizing it sooner. After some time on the toilet and bit of Pepto, I feel better.
3:30 p.m. — T. picks me up and we go skating in an empty parking lot. We both have masks on. It’s hot but we roll around for a couple of hours. I land my first ollie ever! Very stoked. Makes up for the crappy day.
5:30 p.m. — Head home. It’s about 96 degrees in the house. We only have a window AC unit in the bedroom. I cool off by eating an ice cream, berry, pita chip combination, and it is so good!
7 p.m. — We watch 13th on Netflix. It’s wildly eye-opening and heartbreaking at the same time. I make the Purple Carrot cajun baked tofu over collard greens for myself. D. doesn’t like this recipe and makes a veggie patty with avocado, greens, and tomato on a brioche bun grilled in mayo.
Daily Total: $29
7:30 a.m. — Wake up right when the alarm goes off. The bedroom is already steaming up. It’s supposed to reach 98 later today and I’m dreading it. D. makes us coffee. We’re almost out of the coffee pods her parents sent us. I ask her if she wants to switch to Nespresso for the next few weeks. She says no and laments the days of having free office coffee. I guess we’ll just cross that bridge when we run out. Our food and coffee spending have definitely increased since March. My office provided free coffee, kombucha, espresso, beer, and lunch on site. I definitely save more money going into the office then working from home (all that free toilet paper!). Still, I’d rather work from home any day than go in. It’s just nice to not have to socialize when I don’t feel like it.
12 p.m. — Warm up the cajun tofu leftovers for lunch. I peruse Money Diaries and cancel my CBS All Access subscription. I only bought it for the NWSL challenge cup.
4 p.m. — I’m really cranky from the heat and upset at how unproductive I’ve been all day. I vent to D. (I’m always in my feels about work stuff and she’s always there to be my #1 hype man) and she surprises me with a margarita. It’s nice and cold with frozen peaches and blueberries. I slurp it down, she finishes her work stuff, and we go for a walk to drop off our rent check and ballots.
6 p.m. — Cooking over an open flame seems like torture, but we push through and make steamed white rice with roasted veggies and a peanut sauce. Ice cream combo for dessert.
10 p.m. — We watch the rest of Indian Matchmaking on Netflix. Getting a lot of queer vibes from some of these people on the show. All speculation, but I can only imagine how hard it would be to be gay in a traditional Indian family. I take a cold shower and scroll through TikTok. I read a bit and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $0
7 a.m. — I wake up to do the dishes while it’s not too hot. D. is already in the office running a workshop for her company.
8 a.m. — D. is done with the workshop and comments about the coffee almost running out. She does some research and finds reusable K cups for $14. I tell her she should buy them and I’ll split the cost with her. We have a bag of coffee that my brother gave me that we can use. I Venmo her $7 for a pack of six. $7
12 p.m. — I look in the fridge for food and decide to make a sweet potato hash with field roast, spinach, and avocado. I cut and cook more potatoes than I need in case D. wants to make a potato hash with a fried egg. I saute the spinach and field roast and throw some sriracha veganaise on top.
6 p.m. — I chug a beer and walk D. to Orangetheory. It’s her first day back at the gym since the pandemic. I need the extra steps to hit my watch goal, so we mask up and go for the two-mile walkabout.
6:30 p.m. — When I get back to the house, I do the dishes, clean the cat litter, and vacuum. Once my tidying is done, I play a few rounds of Call of Duty on Xbox live. In between matches, I make dinner — roasted veggies, beet hummus, naan, and a cilantro garlic sauce. We have two bundles of cilantro that we need to eat, so I throw one bunch in the blender with four cloves of garlic, olive oil. and salt. It’s very strong. I probably shouldn’t have put in that much raw garlic. D. is back from the gym and is happy that I prepped dinner. She comments that the workout was tough and the safety measures the gym is taking were really great. She’ll unfreeze her account. I’m still TBD on unfreezing it. I don’t feel like doing HIIT workouts yet.
8 p.m. — We rent The Rental (hehe). D. treats since it’s her movie pick. The movie isn’t that scary but I still enjoy it. I eat the rest of the ice cream and berries.
Daily Total: $7
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