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A Week In Amsterdam On A $55,542 Salary

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Today: a digital planner working in advertising who makes $55,542 per year and spends some of her money this week on fries with mayo.

Occupation: Digital Planner
Industry: Advertising
Age: 32
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Salary: $55,542
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $3,435 (I get a 30% reimbursement ruling being an expat.)

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $961 (We own our house and get $572 back per month for the first year of paying our mortgage.)
Loan Payment: $67 (I'm paying off an ambulance fee.)
Premium Health Insurance: $200 (I had a choice and wanted this package.)
Apartment Fund: $28 (All residents chip into this. It's for improvements on the whole building.)
Utilities: $91 (This includes gas, water, electricity, and internet. I pay less than my boyfriend, R.)
Netflix: $13.99
Spotify: $9.99
Blinkist App: $5
Weebly: $25
Therapy: $160 for two sessions per month
Dog Walker: $301 for 15 walks per month
Private Members' Club Fee: $0 (It's $171.75, but my parents pay for it.)

Day One

7:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off. It's the first day back at work since the holidays, and I cannot deal.

8 a.m. — I roll out of bed. R. walks our sausage dog while I make him coffee — that's our deal. In reality, I manage to do it about 30% of the time, and the rest of the time R. brings coffee to me in bed. As I get dressed, our Google Home plays Mariah Carey's "Heartbreaker" on repeat, because I love to rap the Jay-Z part.

9:05 a.m. — I drop a bunch of birthday balloons outside my friend's apartment door before racing to work. I hope she enjoys the surprise when she wakes up. In Amsterdam, you cycle everywhere and, this morning, I get caught in a sudden downpour. The great news is: my brows are still perfect. The bad news: my hair now resembles Gollum from The Lord of the Rings.

10 a.m. — As a belated holiday treat, management brings in warm croissants.

10:45 a.m. — I get jam from the breakfast spread stuck in my hair. Now it's sticky and a bit matted. Oh well!

1:10 p.m. — My family is visiting from the States right now, so we're getting lunch today. We have an unusual family dynamic: My parents are married, but my mum works in Amsterdam and my dad is retired and lives in the States to help with my sister's startup. We get together as a family twice a year, maximum. My dad, however, flies over regularly. I have truffle mushrooms on toast for lunch, say goodbye, and bike back to work. Mum kindly offers to pay for us all.

7 p.m. — I buy a card and a gift box for my friend's birthday present at the Dutch equivalent of Target. This year I'm gifting her a gold ring by a gemstone jeweler I discovered on Farfetch. I don't have a huge circle of friends, so I prefer to spoil the special ones in my life with something big on their birthdays. $3.14

7:30 p.m. — We all meet for a low-key birthday celebration at the local pizzeria. (Luckily for me, my best friend lives two minutes from my house, so we regularly meet for dinner or drinks within walking (stumbling) distance of our homes.) At the end of dinner, we split the bill and make sure the birthday girl owes nothing. She loves the ring, but I have to reorder it in a larger size. $26.33

11 p.m. — Watch half of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone with R. and the dog in bed before we all pass out cold.

Daily Total: $29.47

Day Two

7 a.m. — I am off to the hospital for half a day. Last year, I experienced my first anaphylactic shock while eating shrimp pad thai. All of my blood tests came back negative, so now I'm doing a series of provocation tests. This involves eating what they think you're allergic to every half hour for four hours to see if you react. I've avoided shellfish for a year, and I am absolutely terrified my throat will close up again. Uber to hospital. $20.26

2 p.m. — The provocation test took forever, and I never want to eat shrimp again. It was such a gross breakfast. Weirdly, I am craving a sushi roll for lunch from the supermarket near my house, but a work crisis has me rushing back. I grab a sausage roll from the hospital canteen instead. $3.49

2:30 p.m. — When the Uber arrives at work, I find myself feeling particularly perky despite being un-caffeinated. I struggle with social anxiety, which means how people react or speak to me often hugely affects how I behave in return. Being perky in a place as political and anxiety-inducing as work is rare. This is something I'll be working on with my CBT therapist throughout this year. $23.35

6:30 p.m. — I have really long meeting followed by an uncomfortable chat with two of my bosses, who both expected me to have an answer to something I don't have experience in because it's digital. It's like asking a neurologist why they can't operate on my heart, because isn't it all medicine?!

7:30 p.m. — Mum forgot to get almonds and honey for the lamb tagine I'm cooking, so we walk to the store together and catch up on our days. She runs a business in the same industry and is incredibly talented. I always see her as the female work mentor I never had but always needed. $6.58

11:30 p.m. — My whole family walks me home, where I find a sick R. sitting on the couch. He gets sentimental when he's ill, so it's a lot of "I love you"s and cuddles while I heat up the lamb tagine for him. We continue to more watch Harry Potter before he falls asleep on my chest with the dog.

Daily Total: $53.68

Day Three

8 a.m. — R. is still very sick, so he rests while I walk the dog. There are lawn blowers making a tremendous noise on our street, and it's freaking the dog out so much he won't do a number two.

12:30 p.m. — Earlier today, I invited my sister out to lunch. Now it's lunchtime, and she's not picking up the phone, so I try to reach her via my dad. Dad offers to eat with me instead, because my sister made plans to go shopping. Don't get me wrong, I love spending time with him, but it's been eight months since I last had one-on-one sister bonding time, and I was really looking forward to our annual catch up, so I'm quite hurt. I call an Uber because my dad doesn't bike and, in exchange, my dad pays for our hamburgers and fries. $6.86

1:45 p.m. — I Uber back, as I wanted to squeeze in a post office parcel pick-up after lunch, and the queue takes ages. After getting my parcel, I head back just in time for the doctor. $6.86

2 p.m. — For a European, I spend a ridiculous amount of my own money on healthcare, and all I ever get is paracetamol and a "get better" from my doctor. Nonetheless, I arrive at the doctor's office ever the optimist that they might take me seriously this time.

2:25 p.m. — Hurrah! For the first time in two years of living here, I got a prescription from my doctor on the first try. Victory jig back to the office.

3:20 p.m. — Do a little online shopping. I've been looking for a knitted midi dress I can wear with knee-high boots and this one is perfect, even if I couldn't get it at a discount. $45.76

5:20 p.m. — I leave work a little early because my friend wants some advice over wine and I won't be able to make time for her this weekend if I don't chat now. Luckily, it was a quiet work day, so I leave without feeling too much guilt. This is the friend who lives near my house, so she heads to our usual bar and waits for me at our table. The bartender knows us so well that he comments after we pay the bill: “Only two glasses tonight, ladies?” The shame. My friend generously pays.

6:35 p.m. — Whoops! I missed five calls from R., and I'm feeling a little tipsy. Luckily, the bar is across the street from our flat, so R. walks over to pick me up because we have dinner plans. He starts to laugh hysterically when he realizes I've had too much wine. Typical me. I hug my friend goodbye and walk the two minutes with R. to the pizzeria, where we meet my sister and her boyfriend. Nothing like carbohydrates to soak up the alcohol. We split dinner three ways. $26.32

Daily Total: $85.80

Day Four

9 a.m. — The alarm goes off. I would never set an alarm normally on a Saturday, but I promised to cook breakfast after my family's pilates class.

12:30 p.m. — My sister is having a confidence crisis. She wears clothes that are too large for her and feels unstylish. Her boyfriend, however, is really going on about how her clothes are oversized and making her look bulky. I can never tell if my sister takes these comments to heart, as she always responds with a joke. I offer to take them shopping for the afternoon.

1:30 p.m. — Amsterdam is famous for french fries with mayonnaise, so I treat them to the city's best french fry stand to fuel them for the day ahead. $3.43

2:30 p.m. — R. shrunk a jumper of mine just after I bought it. He looked for a replacement online, but it's sold out. But now I happen to find one in my size at & Other Stories. I'll Tikkie request him for the money later ($67.52). (Tikkie is like Venmo.)

3 p.m. — Zara is having an epic sale, and it's a zoo inside. I find a pair of trousers that I really like plus a few items for my sister. She leaves with a dress, which I treat her to. $43

4:30 p.m. — Everyone is starving, and the private members club I belong to is only three minutes away from the shops. We head there and hunker down on the sofas. For the first time in over a year, I enjoy a bowl of lobster bisque with shrimp! (No surprises, but as I am still alive typing this, the shellfish didn't kill me.) $29.18

6:30 p.m. — We walk back home along the canals. It's dark, and the fairy lights are reflecting on the water — it's an incredibly romantic city. My sister and her boyfriend dream of living in Europe, and we discuss how amazing our Dutch life would be.

7:30 p.m. — The rest of the family is starving, but we're pretty full from our late lunch. We lie and say we had light snacks because we don't want the family to lecture us about late afternoon eating (it's a bad family habit of ours). I order curry for everyone, hoping by the time it gets delivered we'll find some space in our stomachs. I pay for dinner. $146

9 p.m. — Two dinners later, and I am now so full I feel nauseous. Laying on my mom's bed, I am craving sleep, but R. wants to talk about starting a business. Both my mum and dad grew up without money but later became successful entrepreneurs, so R. loves asking them for advice. We got my dad's full career history over Christmas, and it really makes me evaluate my own career path. He was so much further up the career ladder at my age.

10:30 p.m. — I say a teary goodbye and wish my family a safe flight tomorrow morning.

11 p.m. — After walking home with the dog, and R. and I clamber into bed completely exhausted. Stomach full. Heart heavy.

Daily Total: $221.61

Day Five

10 a.m. — The dog is barking, which is code for: "You slept in too long and I need to pee." R. goes for a walk with the dog while I try to sleep in.

12 p.m. — My friend messages to say she's in an Uber on the way to our spa date. I tell her I am about to catch an Uber myself, but she offers to pick me up instead. Two minutes later, we're in the car catching up about her date last night. My friend pays for the ride.

12:30 p.m. — We arrive ready for a full day of massages, relaxation, and 2019 goal-setting. When my friend first came to Amsterdam on a holiday, I took her to this spa. We didn't realize it was naked and unisex, so you can imagine our surprise when we opened the doors to discover dozens of nude bodies! It took us all of 10 minutes to adjust, and since then, this spa has become our monthly ritual.

4 p.m. — We leave the spa feeling completely relaxed and motivated to reach our 2019 goals. Ironically, I'm about to break one of my goals, which is to be more financially savvy, because the winter spa package we booked is twice the usual entrance fee. We both got sucked in by the promise of relaxation, free cake, and tea. $62.97

4:30 p.m. — In exchange for my free ride here, I pay for our Uber back ($20.56). When I arrive outside the house, I call R. to see if he'd like to go on a date with me. We live across from three bars, so it's easy to be spontaneous. We pop over to our local, and R. orders a bitter lemon while I enjoy a glass of Malbec. We discuss his business, and our relationship. R. kindly pays. $20.56

5:30 p.m. — We go to the store to grab ingredients for sweet potato nachos. R. pays for the sweet potato, turkey, cavolo nero, corn, broccolini, and Greek yogurt.

7 p.m. — During dinner, we watch Zwartboek (a Dutch World War II movie). R. loves the nachos so much he has two helpings before cleaning out the entire fridge. The man vacuums and mops our floors three times a week. Is this obsessive or normal?

10 p.m. — We are both exhausted and start puttering around the house. I am in the mood for one more activity before sleep, but I can't find any nice lingerie. I want to surprise R. when he comes back from walking the dog, but there's not one lace thing in my drawer. Mental note to do a secret search before our staycation. I'm a little self-conscious because after a year and a half years, we're not as regular as we used to be, and sometimes R. jokes that I don't want him like I used to. He mentioned it earlier while we were having drinks, and it's been on my mind all night. My fear is that he thinks his winter weight gain is the reason why, and nothing could be further from the truth. My man is fine. Like stupidly fine. And hey, I've also gained winter weight, too!

11 p.m. — He initiates and I feel guilty. If only he knew I was in the mood, too.

Daily Total: $83.53

Day Six

8 a.m. — R. walks the dog and brings me coffee. I told you, I am useless during winter. Must Google winter alarm clock with fake sunlight and read about the benefits.

9 a.m. — R. is now getting anxiety from work, and my heart goes out to him. I know I can't fix it, but keeping the house tidy minimizes his stress.

12:30 p.m. — For lunch, I reheat the sweet potato nacho leftovers while listening to the Golden Globes opening speech.

1:30 p.m. — I quickly run out for tampons, face wipes, and an indestructible dog toy. I also end up buying a cheap yoga mat and a charcoal mask because looking after my 30-something skin is a new goal of mine. $22.90

3 p.m. — Spend the day working on an exciting campaign.

6 p.m. — I come home and the dog is super whiny, meaning he needs to do an urgent pee. I run downstairs with him and sure enough, floodgates open.

6:30 p.m. — Grocery shopping time. My supermarket is the size of a small country, yet there are no fresh herbs or peas. These are the two things I needed to make dinner. The annoying thing is that we had peas in our fridge until yesterday when R. did the mass clean. Now I'm irritated. I call R. who's at home and ask if he truly threw out the peas. He senses my tone and walks the few yards over to another market to do damage control. I know I could've made anything else and not been so difficult, but it took me half an hour to find a recipe I loved and my heart was set on making this one. As a penance, I pay for the burrata, courgetti, pea melange, lemon, and dill. $16.71

7:15 p.m. — While dinner is cooking, I tell R. about The Americans, which I read a lot about during my Golden Globes binge over lunch. We watch the pilot, which is very exciting, but halfway through my friend calls to discuss her nightmare of a day. R. leaves me to it and starts working on his business financials again in the kitchen.

7:30 p.m. — Dinner is ready, and R. is now knee-deep into his financials on Excel. I am absolutely ravenous, and my meal disappears in less than three minutes. I plate R.'s meal, who is now on the phone talking business to friends and family, so I go hide in the bedroom watching some crap on YouTube.

8:15 p.m. — With his phone call done, R. pops into the bedroom. Something has truly upset my stomach, and I am feeling gassy and bloated. It isn't pretty. I continue watching The Americans on the sofa while R. continues to work from the safe distance of the kitchen.

9:30 p.m. — I offer to help R. tidy up the kitchen as he's still working, but he insists on doing it himself. I cook, and he cleans, is the typical rule. Regardless, I unload the dishwasher to give him a head start. While putting away the dishes, he grabs me around my waist, kisses my belly, and then tells me he's the luckiest man in the whole world. Feeling full with love and adoration, I wash my face and test my new charcoal face mask while relaxing in bed.

10:30 p.m. — R. walks in and says the bedroom window should be cracked open. I apologize half-heartedly because I can't help it. The problem is, R. never passes gas. Ever. We've been together a year and a half, and it has only happened once, accidentally. I, however, sometimes during a Full Moon, when the temperature is just right, let out a small not-so-ladylike noise and get a mock look of horror from R. He calls me a gassy antelope, and I call him Winnie the Pooh because he eats all the leftovers on other people's plates.

11 p.m. — I have been ordered to sleep and stop watching crap on YouTube. I rediscovered old Lizzie McGuire, and it is just as bad/good as I remember.

12 a.m. — There is a strong wind outside that's rattling a ladder and making a terrible scratchy metal sound. It is driving me insane, but as it's on my neighbor's balcony, there is nothing I can do.

Daily Total: $39.61

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I get up and make R. coffee while he walks the dog. I also discover that the kitchen was never cleaned. This drives me crazy, because in the winter, Amsterdam gets invaded with mice. If those rodents start to hear that at our house offers up a free buffet every night, I can only imagine we'll get overrun.

8:40 a.m. — I stub my pinky toe on the toilet door and shout expletives. The dog freaks out and hides under the sofa. I have an interview today, so I am trying to look perfect. I ask Google if it's going to rain, and she says no. Then I try on two different outfits, but nothing gives me that confidence I'm craving. I can't find my bike keys or a single tampon. The dog is so sensitive to my moods, he hides in a corner as I rush from one end of the flat to the other trying to find everything.

9:15 a.m. — It's a quarter past nine, and I am about to lose my mind. Whatever. I leave the house, no scarf, no earmuffs, no tampons, and the poor dog is upset. On these days, I wish I could stay at home and cuddle him all day long.

9:20 a.m. — Arrive at the post office to discover I am too late picking up my package, and it's been sent back to the store. Great.

9:30 a.m. — It starts to rain while I am cycling to work. Google Home lied.

9:45 a.m. — Get off my bike near work because a code yellow storm has come into town and the wind is too strong to bike against. I decide to walk the rest of the way as it continues to rain. Perfect morning start. Late and soggy.

11 a.m. — I get a call from an unknown number, and it turns out my dog has run away while on a walk with his dog walker. I am a mixture of furious, scared, and relieved. I try to call the walker 10 times, but she isn't picking up the phone. Of all the days for this to happen, and for the first time, too. I can't leave to pick up the dog, so I call R. Our dog has escaped to a cafe that is very close to his office and very far from mine. R. immediately calls the restaurant owner and organizes a strategy plan. I was expecting him to put up more of a fight about being disrupted at work, but I really appreciate his lack of complaining.

11:10 a.m. — The walker finally calls me back to apologize profusely. I am not mad at the fact she lost the dog — he ran away, and that's on him. I am mad, however, that for 10 minutes she didn't call me to let me know that my dog was missing, and I found out from a stranger. She should've let me know and kept me updated throughout the process.

11:14 a.m. — I call R. immediately and catch him just as he's stepping outside the office, borrowed car keys in hand. What an absolute nightmare. Honestly, today is turning out to be a bottle of wine by 5 p.m. kind of day. Mental note: I need to organize a line up of winter gear, keys, and tampons by the front door to minimize my stress.

12:10 p.m. — Cycle to my mum's house because it's so close to my office, which gives me time to prepare for the interview and return to work quickly without raising alarm bells. Problem is, everyone who I called about the dog is also asking about the job interview, while I'm sitting at my desk opposite my boss. A minute before the call, I listen and sing along to "I'm Every Woman" to get my sass on.

1:30 p.m. — Nailed it. I am excellent at interviews and feel pretty confident, as they called my experience “impressive.” Leave mum's house and head straight to pick up some soup and mini quiche from a local favorite cafe. $9.56

2:30 p.m. — This has been an expensive month because of visitors, and now I owe my friend a deposit for an upcoming ski holiday. The total cost is next to nothing for an eight-day trip, including a ski pass and a huge chalet. It's just a lot of money to part with after blowing through almost my entire wages before the second week of the month. Luckily, I have savings. $350.50

3 p.m. — I am starving. Eat some leftover office lunch, which consists of potatoes and eggplant.

5:45 p.m. — Manage to cycle home, walk the dog, clean the entire kitchen, and do the washing before R. gets home. He calls to say he can't get groceries tonight as he has a business call, but insists that I wait at home until he can give me his card.

6 p.m. — I go to the supermarket for brown pasta, spinach, kidney beans, tomatoes, and a zucchini. I am going to make wholemeal tartiflette pasta with spinach using leftover Reblochon cheese we bought during our Christmas vacation. I'm also going to meal prep and make soup to cover two work lunches in an effort to minimize costs.

7 p.m. — R. is still on the phone when I get back with groceries. I prepare dinner and lunch, and then watch more of The Americans. When dinner is ready he is still talking. so I make myself a plate and go back to the sofa.

9:30 p.m. — I am cold to my bones, so I suggest a bath. R. starts running it while I watch the end of the episode of The Americans.

10 p.m. — Bath time! R. is cleaning up the kitchen and doing more work on his computer. I get cozy inside the tub and wait for him to get in. When he gets in, we start to discuss my interview and his phone call.

11 p.m. — It's time to get into bed and watch my Australian hotel show as R. continues to putter around the house and give the dog a final walk. Finally, R. climbs into bed, and now I can sleep in my nook between his arm and his chest.

Daily Total: $360.06

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