Welcome to Money 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 epidemiologist who makes $92,600 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Lonely Planet travel guide.
Editor’s Note: All currency has been converted to USD.
Industry: International Relations
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $7,000.50
Gender Identity: Woman
Rent: $1,350 (for my portion of a two-bedroom apartment in city center I share with my boyfriend, H. He pays $1,050 per month because his income is less than mine. I also receive a rental subsidy from work of $400; that’s applied before the amount you see here.)
Student Loan Payment: $1,105
Phone and Internet: $0 (My work covers my phone and H.’s work covers his phone and our internet.)
Power Yoga Membership: $71.49
Look Fantastic Beauty Box: $19.65 every other month. (I get this mostly for the sample size luxury items that I use when I travel. I only get this six times per year.)
HBO Nordic: $14.76
NYTimes Crossword Puzzle App: $39.99 per year (This has dramatically changed the way I use my phone, I’m on social media so much less!)
Savings: As much as I can, but I try very hard to make it at least $2,000 a month. After I built up a good enough savings/emergency fund (around $50,000), I’ve been trying to pay down my loans as fast as possible.
6:45 a.m. — I wake up early because I slept horribly last night as I usually do in hotel rooms. I’m in Geneva for work. I eat a banana I brought from Copenhagen, shower, and throw on new black pants I just bought, a nice shirt, and a blazer. I’ll use this time to explain that for all my work travel, my job gives me a per diem (a set amount of money every day that differs per city). If we don’t use that money, we can just keep it, so I always look at this as extra salary. So I’ll include these as regular purchases!
7:45 a.m. — I meet my boss, M., and we agree to get coffee at the office’s coffee shop. We arrive at work and grab two cappuccinos. I pay because he paid for my dinner last night. We see a colleague who used to work in our office, but has since moved to Bangladesh. She takes a seat with us until our other colleagues from Copenhagen arrive. We talk about nothing work-related for a half-hour until the meeting is about to start. $5.97
9 a.m. — The meeting starts. I’m still relatively new to my job, so for me, I view these meetings as an opportunity to learn more about the different levels of the organization and how everything operates. I’ve worked in bureaucratic organizations before, but Geneva really intimidates me – so many people who act very important and are always eager to show they are the smartest, most ambitious, most important, etc.
12:30 p.m. — After a nonstop morning, we break for an hour lunch. The salad bar is the only option that looks remotely appealing, so I grab a bunch of different veggies and quinoa salad and a huge chunk of cheese and pay. $12.40
1:300 p.m. — We are basically locked in the board room all day listening to presentations. A from Finland is wearing bright red pants and a white t-shirt while all the other men in the room are in suits. I immediately respect Finland A LOT as a country because of this guy.
6 p.m. — There’s a wine and aperitif event. I REALLY hate events like this and yet since I started at this job, I find myself at them fairly often. I mingle with a guy from Portland who abruptly says “okay well nice talking to you bye!” and walks away to go talk to Mr. Cool Pants Finland. I mingle in a corner alone and awkward, feeling eerily reminded of being 12 and at a school dance and no boys wanted to dance with me. I go outside the room to call H.
6:40 p.m. — H. is the best person ever and instantly makes me feel better. I need to get better at networking and schmoozing. I take a seat at a table with another colleague from Copenhagen. My boss comes by and says there is a debriefing meeting for staff in another board room.
8:30 p.m. — The meeting ends and we run to catch the bus back to the city center. M. and I agree to have a drink at the hotel bar with a colleague from Turkey. M. and I both order grilled cheese sandwiches. M. pays for dinner again, even though I tell him not to and that it’s ridiculous, he insists. I’ll get his coffee again tomorrow.
10 p.m. — I head upstairs to my room, exhausted. I sit down on the bed for what I thought was going to be five minutes and turns into an hour and suddenly it’s 11. I realize I have to pack since I’m flying back tomorrow. Thank god for Amazon’s packing cubes that make my life so much easier and packing such a breeze!
11:30 p.m. — I finish the nighttime routine and packing and get into bed. I set three alarms for tomorrow. I really want to finish the book I’ve been reading The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk (it’s SO GOOD) but it’ll have to wait until tomorrow. I’m beat.
Daily Total: $18.37
6:45 a.m. — I hit the snooze and actually wake up at 7. I shower, don’t wash my hair, put all my packing cubes in the suitcase and head downstairs to meet M.
7:45 a.m. — “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” M. says to me the second I step off the elevators. Yep, that’s right, today I turn 31! We head outside, huddled under M.’s umbrella because it’s pouring, and drag our suitcases to the bus stop. At the stop, I open my suitcase, pull out my raincoat, and put it on.
8:30 a.m. — I decide to get a coffee before the meeting starts. I have a cappuccino and a pain au chocolat and find somewhere to sit where I can be alone for a few minutes. I sit on a comfy armchair near the entrance and run into one of the consultants from yesterday. Nowhere is safe around here! We chat a bit until we head to the meeting. $3.96
9 a.m. — Meetings, meetings, and more meetings. I take a lot of notes and get stressed about getting to the airport on time.
12:30 p.m. — Lunchtime! Cafeteria salad bar again, albeit slightly cheaper today. The group I have lunch with goes to grab a coffee, one of my colleagues pays, and we sit outside since the rain stops. They sing happy birthday to me and we talk about our weekend plans. $11.59
3 p.m. — I head out to catch the bus, hugging a few of the colleagues I’m close with on my way out. The bus is free because hotels in Geneva give you a transport card to use for the duration of your stay. I know I’m going to be extra early for the flight, but the airport is nice enough and I have to bring back some Ragusa for H. so I need time to shop!
4:45 p.m. — I’m already through security and my flight doesn’t leave for another hour and 30 minutes. I stop in the first shop I see for some Ragusa chocolate. I buy three boxes, two for H. and one for our program assistant, B. $46.26
5 p.m. — I then stop in a duty-free shop to see if they have other chocolate. I see Ragusa there, and it’s three boxes for the price of two. I am kicking myself, but oh well. I hardly spent any money while I was in Geneva. I get a pretzel from one of those carts and my friend video chats me to say Happy Birthday. $2.95
6:20 p.m. — The flight home is uneventful. I sleep a little, read a little, and relax a little. I have three pages left of The Red Haired Woman by the time we land.
9:20 p.m. — I’m home! I take the elevator upstairs and when I get to our door I see that H. put a plant outside with a Danish flag in it — you always welcome home a traveler with a Danish flag in Denmark. It’s a funny tradition. I get inside and he starts singing “happy birthday” and says dinner is ready. He made my favorite simple easy meal for post-traveling — pasta with broccoli, roasted hazelnuts, chili, garlic, nice olive oil, and parmesan cheese. It’s so good and so simple. I see a card from my mom on the table. She sent me some scratch-offs, which I have no luck with. Then H. gives me my presents — a pair of new rain pants! Which I’d been needing for ages but never bought, and a pair of leather leggings, which I’d wanted forever but never found the right pair. I try them on and they fit! What a good birthday! We chat until late at night sharing a bottle of wine before cuddling up and going to bed.
Daily Total: $64.76
9:45 a.m. — It’s late! We never wake up this late, I attribute it to travel and last night’s wine. I get up and jump in the shower, H. preheats the oven and gets the dough ready to make bread rolls in the oven. His bread is amazing, and he bakes usually once or twice a week. It’s nice always having fresh homemade bread at home. This is a simple bread with some pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds on top. While it bakes, I finish my book. A solid four stars on Good Reads.
11 a.m. — We’ve eaten the bread and decide to go to the store he bought the leather leggings at so I can try on a bigger pair just to make sure mine are the right size (they seem a little short, but otherwise perfect). The bigger size doesn’t look better, so I keep the ones I have.
12:30 p.m. — We have a second cup of coffee at home and then leave on a long walk to Carlsberg Byen, the old brewery part of the city that’s now trendy apartments. There was an article in the Guardian about the neighborhood recently, which is why we want to go. On our way, we walk through Vesterbro, a cool part of the city I haven’t explored so much yet. I stop in a shop and find a new winter coat that I LOVE, but it’s $419 dollars, which I don’t really feel like spending right now… that’s an awful lot of money for a winter coat.
1:20 p.m. — While we walk we talk about real estate. We have been thinking of buying a place — it seems so stupid to just spend money on a rental place we won’t ever own — but our lives are also pretty hectic with travel and our line of work involves moving around a lot (I’ve lived on three continents in the past five years, H. has been moving around since 2009, and we met almost five years ago while living in a country neither of us is from) so we are hesitant to commit long term to anything except each other.
3:15 p.m. — After a walk and break in the sun, we start heading home. We take the new metro line, and H. pays my fare because I forgot my card at home. We quickly eat another roll from breakfast with a little of the leftover pasta from last night.
4:45 p.m. — We hang out on the couch for a while and eventually decide to go to the bookstore nearby. I finished two books in the last two weeks, and with all the travel coming up, I need to replenish my supply. I choose three new ones: All the Light We Cannot See, Exit West, and Convenience Store Woman. $46.61
6 p.m. — I Skype my friend while H. runs to get groceries. I give him my card to pay since I’ll be home the rest of the week to use the groceries and he won’t. We decide to make a quiche, so he gets tomatoes, cream, organic red peppers, organic broccoli, organic tart dough for the crust, organic eggs, and organic butter, bananas, and organic pumpkin seeds for bread. We’re not obsessed with organic stuff or anything… that’s just basically all they sell in many Danish grocery stores. $21.47
9 p.m. — The quiche eating is done and we clean up. H. picks up the newspaper to read and I decide to do yoga in our second bedroom. After ten minutes of YouTube yoga, I’m too tired and decide to go on Reddit instead. I find out the next season of Bojack Horseman comes out in less than a week and get super excited. Normally I hate cartoons but Bojack is the best. We get in bed by 11.
Daily Total: $68.08
8 a.m. — We wake up and H. bakes more bread while I shower and then make a banana, blueberry, strawberry, mango, and raspberry smoothie. We eat, have coffee, and before we know it it’s 10.
10:30 a.m. — H. leaves today for Egypt, so we only have a few hours to take a walk, so we take a walk down by the water.
12:45 p.m. — We walk back, heat up the quiche for lunch, and H. packs quickly. So jealous that he can do this, it always takes me hours to pack, even with my packing cubes. Afterward, I walk him to the metro station and he gets on the train. We won’t see each other for more than two weeks. It sucks but we both are pretty independent people, I think you have to be when you move around so much.
2 p.m. — On the way home from the station, I chat with my mom on the phone while popping into a few different stores looking at coats. I can’t stop thinking of the coat from yesterday. I think I need to buy it. I’ve had my old coat for nine years so I reason that I’ll probably have this one for nine years. And while my old coat was good enough for living in milder climates, the windy, wet Scandinavian winters just aren’t a match for the old coat. I think I’ll buy it tomorrow. After I get home, I head to a yoga class that is included in my membership.
6:30 p.m. — On the way home, I stop at a wine shop and buy two bottles of wine on a special offer. $23.49
7:10 p.m. — I bike to my friend, S.’s, house for dinner, wine in tow.
7:45 p.m. — It’s so nice to see S., one of my close friends who also moved to Denmark. She gives me a tour of her super cute new place (very hyggeligt, to be peak Danish). She gives me the book, Everything I Know About Love for my birthday. Another thing to read! We make spring rolls and talk for hours until it’s 10:30 and I have to head home.
10:55 p.m. — What a good day! H. messages that he is safe in Cairo and I relax in bed, happy.
Daily Total: $23.49
7:45 a.m. — I had a HORRIBLE night’s sleep last night — only about two hours — and barely can crawl out of bed on this rainy Monday morning. My days usually start like this when H. is away. I have a harder time falling asleep without him, but also waking up and getting out the door when there’s no one else who needs to shower or get ready after me makes it hard to be productive in the morning. It’s cold and rainy, but I’m excited to try out my new rain pants so I hope it’s still raining when I leave (never thought I’d say that).
9:30 a.m. — The bike ride to work is a success in the rain pants, I am so thrilled with my present I send H. a selfie of me in full rain gear soaking wet from work. I’ve never arrived to work this late, so I feel off and exhausted. I immediately start answering a backlog of emails.
10:30 a.m. — I have coffee with our program assistant, B., who despite being closer in age to my mom is probably my best friend at the office. I tell her all about the meeting in Geneva and she hands me two presents — a bottle of wine our boss brought back from his home country and one of those exercise balls for sitting at my desk.
11:15 a.m. — I remember my sister bought us tickets to see Jagged Little Pill (the new Broadway show with Alanis Morissette’s music!) on Broadway while I’m home in December. I make a bank transfer for my ticket. $173.75
12:30 p.m. — I have lunch out with B. I usually bring lunch, but since I’ll only be here for three days this week, it’s cheaper for me to buy lunch since groceries would have been just as expensive and gone bad while H. and I are away. B. and I are traveling to Israel two days early so that we can prep for the meeting and also have a quick visit to Jerusalem, or as our work calls it, a “private deviation.” $8.26
3:30 p.m. — My energy is tapped out. I leave super early using some flex time for how late I stayed at work all last week. I ride my bike over to the store with the winter coat. I haven’t stopped thinking about it and after shopping around yesterday for others, it was one of the cheapest and the one I liked the best. I purchase the coat and walk out feeling super happy ($419). Then, I cycle to the book store and pick up Lonely Planet’s guide to Israel and Palestine ($27.67). When H. and I went to Ukraine a while back we loved having one of these guides, so I vow to always get them before I travel now. $446.67
4:30 p.m. — I get on my bike and ride to power yoga for a 5 p.m. class with my favorite instructor. It’s such a good class tonight, I can tell by the fact that I’m dripping with sweat.
6:20 p.m. — Home from yoga and starving. I quickly make myself the first things I can find between the fridge and freezer: Tofu nuggets, edamame, one of H.’s bread rolls toasted with egg, spinach, and tomato on top. It hits the spot.
8 p.m. — I jump in the shower. I am so exhausted I can hardly keep my eyes open. H. and I chat a little bit before I start falling asleep mid-sentence. Dead asleep by 9:30.
Daily Total: $628.68
7 a.m. — I got a full 10 hours of sleep last night, so I am feeling ALIVE this morning. I ride to work and am at my desk with a cup of coffee and a roll with honey and cheese from the café by 8. $1.64
10 a.m. — The morning is taken up by requests from my supervisor who flew from Geneva to Prague and wants me to write up a report, read through comments, and plan for my trip to Belarus next month. I also have a call with my PhD supervisor and one of our consultants today.
1:30 p.m. — Quick lunch with B. in the cafeteria. We both are stressed. $7.02
6 p.m. — The rest of the day absolutely flies by. I have a lot to get done before we leave on Thursday. I ride over to the power yoga studio that’s closest to my office. I always just go where the English-speaking classes are for the day (one time I made the mistake of going to a Danish class and made a complete ass out of myself), and today it’s just my luck that it’s super close to work!
7:30 p.m. — Class is over and I head back home. I make tofu nuggets as an appetizer, and dip them in mustard, a condiment which I’ve only just fallen in love with. I chop up garlic, half a broccoli, half a pepper, spinach, and a bunch of tomatoes and make some chickpea pasta to go with it. I devour it in about three seconds and get in the shower.
9 p.m. — I throw in a load of laundry (underwear and things I need for the next trip). After it’s in the dryer I head to bed again. I notice that The Affair 5th season is on HBO, but I forget what happened in all the other seasons so I feel like I should start the whole series over again. I debate it but feel like committing to five seasons of a show is a lot, so instead I open up All The Light We Cannot See. Sleep somewhere around 11:30.
Daily Total: $8.66
6:30 a.m. — Wake up, shower, get ready, bike to work.
8 a.m. — I have coffee at my desk and wrap up the last few things I need to. Today productivity seems hard and I find myself creating to-do lists of simple things to make me feel like I’m accomplishing something when really I’m not.
12:30 p.m. — I have lunch with B. and another coworker. It’s a nice lunch and always good to talk to colleagues I don’t normally work closely with. $6.56
3:30 p.m. — S. (the one from dinner Sunday) and I message and we decide to grab a coffee together. Not only did she move to Denmark, she even got a job in the same building as me! We both are super happy that we see so much of each other. Denmark isn’t the easiest place to integrate, and it’s nice to have someone else going through the same things as me.
5 p.m. — I leave work and cycle home, happy to be out of the office for the next nine days. On my way home, I stop in a few stores looking for a travel yoga mat. I try to do yoga every day, even while I’m away, and it’s just nicer to have a mat to keep me accountable. I can’t find any near me. I get home and make the exact same dinner as last night, finishing off all our produce in the fridge.
6 p.m. — I run to the corner store to pick up snacks for the trip — rye bread chips, dried fruit, some naked bars, and Clif bars. $14.94
7:30 p.m. — Feeling inspired by my sort of positive experience with slow paced yoga on Sunday, I book myself into a class called “yoga+mediatation” tonight. When I first arrive the instructor asks if this is anyone’s first time meditating. I am the only one that raises my hand. She asks who incorporates meditation into their everyday wellness routine. Almost everyone else raises their hand. I don’t even know if I have a wellness routine, let alone incorporate meditation into it?
8:30 p.m. — Okay maybe there is some validity to meditation. I feel so relaxed afterward. On my way out of yoga, I buy this roll-on essential oil that I’ve been testing every time I’m here and can’t get enough of. $36.41
9:30 p.m. — I get home and get ready for my trip. Before I can pack I need to water all the plants, clean up the kitchen, and neaten my room so I feel completely organized for packing. Packing takes me until 11:30. Amazon packing cubes to the rescue again. I fit everything together nice and neat and am so looking forward to crawling into bed.
Daily Total: $57.91
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