U.S. Markets open in 1 hr 53 mins

A Week In Berlin, Germany, On A $55,000 Salary


Welcome toMoney Diaries , where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: an associate working in Philanthropy who makes $55,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on melatonin.

Occupation: Associate
Industry: Philanthropy
Age: 28
Location: Berlin, Germany
Salary: $55,000
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $2,627 (after health insurance, taxes and pension)
Gender Identity: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $895 (all utilities included)
Loans: $0
Netflix: $10.99
Spotify: $9.99
iCloud Storage: $0.99
NY Mag Subscription: $5
ACLU: $10
Savings: I'm not actively saving right now because I'm trying to pay off a bit of credit card debt I accrued moving to Germany. I have around $18,000 in mutual funds and investments and another $20,000 in a 401k.

Day One

5:30 a.m. — My kitten wakes me up and I am NOT having it. My sleep schedule is completely off right now from a combination of jet lag and poor weekend decisions so I didn't fall asleep until almost 2 a.m. I check my phone and see a text from an unknown US number. Turns out it's my ex I haven't talked to since an ugly breakup a few years ago. Nope, not having that either. Feed the cats and try to go back to sleep for a few hours.

9 a.m. — I'm working from home today and I have calls until 7 p.m., so I'm letting myself have a late start. I get up, get dressed, and make a quick run to the grocery store, where I buy peaches, tomatoes, a cucumber, bananas, avocados, basil, mozzarella, sandwich bread, pretzel rolls, tortellini, milk, eggs, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, veggie meatballs, crackers, and cat litter. Bless the cheap groceries in this city. $30.98

10 a.m. — I put all my food away, make coffee and a piece of toast, and settle in with emails. They're doing construction on the flat next door which doesn't make for the most tranquil WFH experience, but I put on my noise canceling headphones (godsend), crank up The National, and get to it.

1:30 p.m. — I finish editing a document I'm working on and break for lunch. I make a big salad with some of the produce I bought earlier while listening to an amazing episode of Reply All. I eat quickly and settle in for a long call. My office can get quite loud and we don't really have space to take calls, so days like this I really appreciate being able to work from home.

7:07 p.m. — Done with my call, hallelujah. I feed the cats and run out to pick up a package. I ordered a clarifying body spray from Murad because body acne in the summer is real, y'all. The pick up point just happens to be the super cheap liquor store around the corner, so I get a couple of beers while I'm there. When I get home I drink a beer on my balcony and read in the sun. I'm rereading the Golden Compass because I got really excited about the trailer for the HBO series. $2.50

8 p.m. — Finally hungry enough to make dinner after my late-ish lunch. I sauté some mushrooms, veggie meatballs, and fry an egg. I watch Lizzo's Tiny Desk concert while I eat (why ARE men great 'til they gotta be great?) and immediately text a friend about going to see to her show in November. She is all in, so I buy two tickets. I read for a bit longer and get in bed around 10:30, hoping I'll be able to fall asleep at a reasonable hour (spoiler: does not happen, I toss and turn for hours). $110

Daily Total: $143.48

Day Two

9 a.m. — I must have turned off my alarm and gone back to sleep because I wake up way later than I intended, whoops! I really need to get my sleep schedule back on track. I set coffee to brew while I take a quick shower and drink a cup while I get ready (tame my wild hair, easy black dress, sunscreen, mascara), answer a few emails, and then head into the office. I walk or bike to work almost every day, which I love. It's about four miles roundtrip so it gives me a bit of extra exercise, saves money on public transport, and starts the day in less of a rush.

10 a.m. — I stop for a cold brew on my walk in. I've started coming to this cafe semi-regularly because it's the only place I've found near the office with good cold brew and the barista is very cute. I'm still the first one in the office, despite my late start. We all have flexible schedules, so we don't really have set hours and people can work from home whenever they want. I eat a banana and get to work. $5.60

1 p.m. — A few more people have come into the office by midday, so a colleague and I walk down to a falafel shop nearby for lunch. I get a wrap, but it's super busy so we take our food to go. I catch up on last night's Dem debate highlights while I eat. $4.50

6:10 p.m. — Spend the afternoon on calls, but it goes by quickly. I finally wrap up a bit after 6, change quickly in the office bathroom, and head out to a spin class I booked with a prepaid pass. Class is good and I leave a sweaty mess, but I definitely should have had a snack before because I start feeling nauseated towards the end. It's raining when I leave the studio and I am absolutely soaked by the time I get home. Note to self: check weather forecast tomorrow! I snack on a couple crackers to settle my stomach, feed the cats, and then hop in the shower.

9 p.m. — I'm not super hungry, but know I need to eat something so I make avocado toast with Everything But the Bagel (yes, I did bring multiple bottles with me from the US) and a fried egg for some protein. I don't really enjoy cooking nor am I particularly good at it, so I tend to eat a lot of easy meals. My best friend lovingly calls my diet "adult lunchables." I turn on an episode of the new season of Queer Eye while I eat and cry like a baby, obvs. I read a couple chapters of my book and lights out around 10:30.

Daily Total: $10.10

Day Three

4:30 a.m. — Whomp whomp, I'm awake. I try to go back to sleep for a while, but I finally give up around 6:30 and get up to make coffee. I turn on some old Carla Bruni and read on the couch while the cats zoom around like adorable maniacs. When it's time for a second cup of coffee, I also make a breakfast sandwich with scrambled egg, cheddar, avocado, and hot sauce on a pretzel roll. It falls apart immediately but is delicious. I give the cats breakfast too.

8:10 a.m. — I go out to pick up another package, this time a skirt and dress I ordered from & Other Stories. I try them both on at home and I don't think the dress is as cute as it was expensive, but I hang it up to reconsider after work. The skirt, however, is great (pockets!!), so I pair it with a striped tee and sneakers for today. I realize I've started my period almost a week early, which is annoying but explains why I've been breaking out like crazy. I pack my bag for the day with lunch and snacks and head out.

9 a.m. — I stop at a drugstore on my walk to the office and pick up bandaids for a toe blister situation, melatonin because apparently I don't sleep anymore, and a new menstrual cup. I recently tossed my old one when it reached its manufacturer-recommended shelf life (I got in on the ground floor of the menstrual cup movement 10 years ago). $19.40

10:30 a.m. — A colleague makes a pot of coffee so I pour myself a cup, add some milk from the fridge, aaand it's very chunky. Gross. I pour my cup out along with the rest of the milk and take this as a sign that I don't need more caffeine.

12 p.m. — I'm feeling really aimless, unproductive and generally blah today, and chalk the feeling up to period blues and lack of sleep. I decide a little walk in the sun will perk me up, so I go out with two colleagues. They peel off for lunch and I walk a few blocks farther and pop into a bakery where I buy a delicious looking cinnamon thing. I take it back to my desk and eat some leftover salad for lunch because balance. $3.35

3 p.m. — Update: Apparently that milk wasn't bad, it was just some non-homogenized hay milk. My bad. Who knew we had found a way to milk hay?

4:30 p.m. — Wow I am in a MOOD. Why you gotta do me like this, body? I decide to head out a bit early when I start feeling like I'm going to cry at my desk for no particular reason. I can keep an eye on emails at home while not wearing pants. I stop at the supermarket on the way home for cat food, oats, cheese, crackers, and bananas. $12.13

6:30 p.m. — I get a time sensitive work request so I send off a few quick emails to get it resolved, and I'm quite pleased with the end result (#pantslessproductivity). I turn on Great British Bake Off and make a grilled cheese with sautéed mushrooms, avocado and chili for dinner. After I eat, I prep overnight oats for tomorrow with chia seeds, cinnamon, and maple syrup, wash my face, and climb in bed early to read and veg for a while. The kitten falls asleep on my chest so now I'm really not moving again. I pop a melatonin and lights out at 11.

Daily Total: $34.88

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — Hallelujah, a full night of (mostly) uninterrupted sleep. It's Friday, and I'm already in a substantially better mood than yesterday. Melatonin, you the real one. The construction noise from next door is already next level this morning, so I try to get out of the house as quickly as possible. The poor kitties are NOT happy. Coffee, shower, shirtdress, sunscreen, mascara. I load my bag with my pre-made oats, the last of the leftover salad and some snacks, and I decide the & Other Stories dress is not cute enough to keep so I pack it up to return.

10 a.m. — After I get settled at the office and answer a few emails, I browse workout classes and book a 10 a.m. spin class for tomorrow. I don't feel like shelling out for a package so I just book a single ride. $26.86

1:30 p.m. — As I'm eating lunch I get a text from a guy I've been seeing, D. We've been seeing each other for a few months, but haven't hung out in a couple weeks because we've both been traveling. It's still early and not too serious, but he's the first guy I've been genuinely excited about in a while. We had plans to hang out on Sunday, but he tells me he'd rather see me sooner if I'm free. Um, yes please. We make plans to meet up at a beer garden later and I go ahead and cancel that 10 a.m. spin class because, let's be honest, that's not going to happen.

6:30 p.m. — The evening takes an unexpected turn: A friend calls me in the midst of a personal crisis and I go meet her immediately at a bar near her house. I text D. to push things back an hour and have two drinks with my friend. I have to leave by 8 if I have any hope of meeting D. on time, but I'll see my friend again tomorrow so I feel less bad about leaving. I leave $22 for the drinks and hop in a cab to save time ($17). $39

8:50 p.m. — I am feeling those two drinks and literally running around my house trying to get ready. I leave the cats a day worth of food, shave my legs, pack a bag with clean clothes and toiletries because I know I probably won't be back tonight. D. texts to say he's running a little late and thank goodness because I am too and I hate being late. I cab up to the beer garden to meet him. $12.31

9:20 p.m. — When I get to the bar and D. is already at a table outside. I give him a big hug, apologize for being late, and buy our first round of beers. We end up staying at the bar for a couple hours catching up on our recent travels, and CD buys another beer for himself and a pizza for us to share. We walk back to his house, do adult things, and fall asleep around 1:30. $12.31

Daily Total: $90.48

Day Five

10:15 a.m. — I (surprise!) don't sleep well, and am up on and off for hours throughout the night. I finally get up to use the bathroom around 10:15 and D. wakes up, too. He makes me coffee and we sit on his balcony in our underwear eating leftover cold pizza (breakfast of champions). This leads to more adult things. I shower and get ready to go meet my friend, P., at a beer festival. Today's outfit is a thrifted band tee, black midi skirt, sneakers, and very red lipstick. D. is going to meet friends, so we make plans for next weekend and part ways. I buy a four-pack of metro tickets and use one to get to the beer festival. $10.07

1 p.m. — The festival ends up being a damn delight. It is one mile of beer and food stalls, with bands performing on stages along the way. I meet my friend and her son at the entrance and we adults buy a festival-branded beer mug and lanyard each ($9). With this, you can get any beer along the route for $2.80. P. and I take turns buying rounds of different beers and snacks ($39). At some point I decide I need real food, so I get a delicious halloumi sandwich ($8). We find one stage with a singing competition and make friends with a few people sitting at our table. Everything is cash only, so I stop drinking once I'm out of cash. $56

10 p.m. — P. and I have made our way through the mile with her son and our new friend, N. We end up at a stage with a great band playing fun covers and dance for a while. There is one creepy guy who will not leave N. alone, so I casually dance around her and fend him off. Sigh. We are having a great time, but we're starting to hit the messy point in the evening for a lot of festival-goers. We all party ways, and N. and I take the train together (I use a ticket from the package I bought earlier). I get home, feed my cranky kitties, take my make up off, chug a bunch of water and pass out around 11:30.

Daily Total: $66.07

Day Six

9 a.m. — Wake up hurtin' a little bit from yesterday and looking forward to the prospect of a quiet day. Sundays in Berlin are great to just chill because everything is closed and I plan to take advantage. I have toast and coffee and alternate between being productive and lounging. I clean my bathroom and kitchen, do a couple loads of laundry, read and watch more Queer Eye.

3 p.m. — I wake up from a nap and decide a proper meal would be good, but my food supply at home is dismal (the downfall of nothing being open on Sundays). I order a halloumi sandwich (inspired by the one I had yesterday), fries, and a big fizzy water. The sandwich is not nearly as good as yesterday's, but it does the trick. $21.30

7 p.m. — Sunday, lazy Sunday. I go down a rabbit hole looking at finance management tips and tools online (inspired by writing this Money Diary). I do some research into zero interest credit cards and apply for one with a balance transfer for my existing credit card balance because I really want to knock it out as quickly as possible. I've also been thinking for a while about potential side hustles now that I'm more settled in here, and I send out a few feelers about a project I'm interested in. I pop two melatonin and lights out around 10.

Daily Total: $21.30

Day Seven

7 a.m. — I wake up in a very good mood, which is a pleasant surprise for a Monday? I make a piece of toast with avocado and Everything But the Bagel, shower, get ready (dry shampoo, sunscreen, mascara, AND brows, whoa), feed the cats, and head to work. I opt to take the train today, but manage to talk myself out of stopping for a cold brew. I make coffee at the office and settle in with emails.

12:30 p.m. — I'm meeting a former colleague turned friend who's in town for a few days for lunch. We go to an Italian spot around the corner from my office and get a pasta each and a burrata appetizer to split. It's so good to catch up and we make plans to meet after work for beers with a few other people. $14.55

5 p.m. — The afternoon passes super quickly and I go meet my friends in the park near the office. I buy two beers from the corner store and we sit in the sun for a while before everyone has to go their separate ways. I think this is really my favorite thing about Berlin — how much people take advantage of outdoor spaces in the summer. It (almost) makes up for the brutal winter months when everything is dark and sad and cold. $5.40

7 p.m. — I sit in the park a bit longer texting D. and then walk home listening to a great 2000's playlist. I make tuna with greek yogurt and spicy mustard and eat that with an apple and some tomatoes and avocado for dinner. I book a spin class for tomorrow with the credit I didn't use Saturday, feed the cats and read for a while before heading to bed early.

Daily Total: $19.95

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.

Want more Money Diaries? Well, you’re in luck — Refinery29 Canada is launching its own Canadian Money Diaries three times a week. (Which means once you’re done with catching up on all our diaries during your lunch break, you can head on over to R29 CA for even more.) You can now experience Money Diaries IRL at 29Rooms Toronto September 26th through October 6th. Buy tickets here.

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

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

I Got $40,000 In Scholarship Money & Still Have Two Jobs To Pay For College

A Week In Charleston, SC, On A $70,000 Salary

We Talked To 7 People Who Are Actually Doing The Jobs They Wanted To Do As Kids