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: a Policy Officer working in International Development And Humanitarian Aid who makes $47,892 per year and spends some of her money this week on Toms.
Editor’s Note: All currency has been converted to USD.
Occupation: Policy Officer
Industry: International Development and Humanitarian Aid
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $3,279
Gender Identity: Woman
Rent: $748 (I sublet a bedroom in a two-bedroom apartment in the Red Light District. I haven’t had a good sleep in months. My roommate is also my landlady, a very nice woman in her mid-50s. No living room, only a shared kitchen.)
Student Loans: $194 (After graduation I was $22,000 in debt; 10 months later I only have $16,500 thanks to a few lump sum payments from my savings)
Transit Pass (monthly) $75
Pre-Paid Cell Phone Top-Up: $30 (For 1.5GB of data and unlimited calls/SMS in Switzerland)
Health Insurance: $367 (For the most basic package I could find!)
Personal Savings: $500 (My work is by six-month contract, so I squirrel some cash away in case the day comes I have a gap.)
Dominican Republic Fund: $200 (My friends are getting married in just over a year and decided to do it on a Caribbean beach.)
Netflix: $0 (I used to pay for the family account, but my mother forbade me from continuing to pay, so we transferred ownership.)
7:10 a.m. — As I wake up, I see a message from a guy who is subletting a studio apartment I viewed last week. I desperately want him to pick me, so I shoot him a message right away letting him know he can call.
8:32 a.m. — I stop in at the grocery store on the way to work to grab a gluten-free muffin for breakfast and pre-made lentil salad and apple for lunch (too lazy to prep something the night before, sue me). My potential landlord calls to tell me I got the apartment! As I get on the tram, I immediately send messages to my pub quiz team through the group chat, a few friends deeply invested in my house hunt, my immediate family, and a friend visiting in September to let them know they’ll be upgraded from air mattress to pull-out couch. $6.07
9:02 a.m. — I arrive at the office and find out my boss has decided to work from home thanks to jetlag from her last work trip. I settle in to check emails, eat my muffin, and drink my customary morning tea.
12:03 p.m. — Lunch time! I head to a nearby park to soak up some sun and read Bananas, Beaches & Bases by Cynthia Enloe while I eat my lentil salad. I also FaceTime my sister for a bit, but she’s finishing a night shift so can’t talk for long (the six hour time difference can be really difficult sometimes).
5:04 p.m. — I’m free! I close my laptop and get the hell out of dodge to head home and finish a job application for a position with a two-year contract. Mmm, temporary stability that would allow me to lease my own apartment — the Millennial Dream.
6:47 p.m. — Job app submitted, I cook myself some veggie mac and cheese with some 100% red lentil pasta, which I picked up out of curiosity (I give it a 7/10). A friend messages me to see if I want to go dancing, but I take a look at the raging thunderstorm outside and politely decline.
10:40 p.m. — After an evening reading and a few episodes of the US version of Shameless, I brush my teeth, wash my face (Cetaphil), and head to bed.
Daily Total: $6.07
8:30 a.m. — My weekend alarm goes off — sleeping in any later messes me up for the whole work week. I lace up my running shoes and head out for my regular 5k running loop along the lake. I know the upcoming week will be hectic and I won’t have time for it in the evenings.
9:37 a.m. — I’m back, showered, and eating my breakfast of vanilla yogurt and muesli, mapping out my packing plan of attack. I’ll be moving into the new place in about a month, but I’m giving up my room in a week (end of the month) because I’ll be away on holiday for two weeks. My sublet agreement is super flexible and my landlady already said it is completely fine. However, it adds a little stress, since I need to have everything packed and stored in my friend’s cellar before I take off.
12:47 p.m. — I pack one of two suitcases and I’m already sick of sorting and purging my things. Moving always means getting rid of things I no longer need — mainly expired meds and clothes with holes. I take a break when my landlady’s sister drops by. She just spent two weeks on vacation in my homeland, Canada!
5:36 p.m. — All my stuff is now sorted and packed and I’ve squeezed in a few hours with my book for book club. My landlady knows I want to make fondue for my parents when they arrive for a vacation later in the week, so she picked up some cheese and dried meat for me at the discount grocery store while she was there. I pay her back with cash. I also realize I’ve completely forgotten about lunch, so I make a massive veggie stir fry and rice. $11.63
8:28 p.m. — I’d just made myself a mint tea when a friend messages me asking if I want to grab a drink before we go on our respective vacations. I’ve played Old Lady enough this weekend, so I abandon my tea, debate flats vs. heels (flats win), and throw on some makeup (CoverGirl mascara and BB cream). I grab the bus to meet her at a bar where I get two glasses of Pinot Grigio for myself and end up buying my friend one to celebrate her new job offer! $15
1:42 a.m. — After a late tram home (with a little additional walking), I brush my teeth, throw some micellar water on my face, and then it’s lights out.
Daily Total: $26.63
8:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off again, but the two glasses of wine from the night before have me curling under the covers for another 30 minutes. I manage to drag myself out of bed to grab yogurt and muesli. I was planning on a run, but my mild headache has me reconsidering.
1:30 p.m. — I didn’t go for a run. I did manage to eat an apple, finish my book and binge Shameless. Unbelievably productive! I shoot my mom a message asking her to bring me a giant bottle of Advil. I hate buying painkillers in Switzerland because they’re crazy expensive. I spend the next three hours importing photos from my phone and organizing them into folders in order to free up space for my upcoming travels. It’s a fun trip down memory lane!
5:14 p.m. — I eat leftover veggie stir fry with an accompanying Babybel cheese for dessert. I chat with a friend back in Canada and jokingly ask him to make an Instagram account for his dog. He actually does. Then a friend that has recently moved back to England shoots me a message asking if I want to FaceTime. I haven’t spoken to her since before she went on a cruise and I went to Istanbul for a long weekend break, so we have a lot to catch up on!
11:41 p.m. — After a very, very long chat, I brush my teeth, wash my face (micellar water again), and head to bed.
Daily Total: $0
7 a.m. — Up and at ’em! I check my email and see a draft sublease agreement from my new landlord. I read it over and add a few amendments that include mutual notice periods and a pre-move in inspection to protect myself from any liability for damages. I’m pretty proud of myself for functioning sans caffeine this early on a Monday.
8:27 a.m. — I pop into a grocery store to grab a muffin, lentil salad, and an apple again. I didn’t plan very well and my fridge is barren. Grocery stores in Switzerland are closed on Sunday (!) so I had to accept not preparing lunch. $6.07
2:12 p.m. — After lunch, I work at my desk for a bit while I wait for my boss who is running late for a meeting. I take the unexpected time to arrange Happy Hour tonight with a few friends — my usual weekly pub quiz is on summer hiatus so I’ve got an unexpected free night.
5:24 p.m. — I grab the suitcase I’m borrowing from a coworker to help with the move (I’m not renting a car, just wheeling my stuff over on foot — it’s less than a mile away) and head home. Freedom!
6:30 p.m. — After dropping the suitcase at home, I walk to a bar by the river near the banking district. I try not to think about the prices.
7:44 p.m. — A pigeon literally poops on my head. My friends and I collapse laughing. I order a second glass of wine and some napkins to wipe my tears away.
11:13 p.m. — Happy Hour turned into Happy Hours… oops! But we had a lot to catch up on. After three glasses of wine each, we reluctantly decide it’s time to head home and each pay for our own drinks. When I get home, I realize I never ate dinner the extended chat session ruined my plans to cook. I berate myself for the unhealthy liquid dinner, but ultimately decide I’m too tired to do anything about it and head to bed. $27.28
Daily Total: $33.35
7:13 a.m. — I wake up two minutes before my alarm, panicked that I’ve missed it and am late to work. Wide awake now. I hop in the shower to do a proper hair wash (last night’s rinse wasn’t good enough). I hate morning showers because I don’t own a hair dryer, but this morning it is a must.
8:27 a.m. — I’m heading out the door when I realize Happy Hour also cut into my plans to go grocery shopping. I pick up my muffin, lentil salad, and an apple AGAIN on the way to work. $6.07
9:21 a.m. — I scarf down my muffin and tea before my first meeting in a long line of meetings with people from across the world. I take a quick break between calls to sign all the paperwork for a six-month extension of my work contract — they’ve decided to keep me. Huzzah for continued employment!
5:53 p.m. — I’ve been super productive with my day, so I’m happy when I leave work. I quickly change at home into more comfortable clothes before heading out to return the skis I borrowed from a friend last season.
7:39 p.m. — What should have been a 20-minute job turns into an hour due to a major transit delay, but a woman got onto the tram with the tiniest dog I’ve ever seen so I’m appeased. After dropping off the skis, I’m off on foot to a second friend’s place in order to borrow a fourth and final suitcase for the move.
7:53 p.m. — After sending a Snapchat, I get a text notifying me I’ve used all 1.5 GB of my high speed data. I refuse to pay $14.08 for another 1 GB, so I resign myself to painfully throttled speeds for the next week.
8:33 p.m. — Finally back at my place after a two-hour trek across the city, but no rest for the wicked — it’s my designated time slot with the single washing machine in the building and I need to wash almost all of my clothes before my upcoming holidays. $1.43
11:57 p.m. — I’ve cooked and eaten dinner (pasta made 100% out of green peas this time, absolutely disgusting, 2/10), hung up my clothes and left them to dry in the basement, and researched easyJet flights to London to visit friends.
Daily Total: $7.50
5:33 a.m. — I head down to the basement to collect my laundry. The guy who has the room today needs it emptied by 6 a.m. and gets very angry when it’s not done. Kill me now.
6:02 a.m. — I can’t get back to sleep, so I lace up my running shoes and hit the road for a morning 5k. I get to witness a pretty spectacular sunrise over the lake — big win.
8:29 a.m. — After showering and dicking around on the internet (Instagram is now telling me when I’m all caught up on new posts, which I find aggressive and judgmental), I head out the door to catch the tram and buy my now-apparently-daily purchases of muffin, lentil salad, and an apple. I have GOT to pull it together! $6.07
1:34 p.m. — I finally manage to take a lunch break this week! I head to the mall near the office to buy some navy Toms for my upcoming vacation ($65.38). On the way through the mall I see The Body Shop is having a huge sale, so I pop in to pick up three gift kits to stash in my closet for future use as hostess/acquaintance/catch-all gifts ($25.75). It’s such a My Mom move. I guess we really do become our parents. $91.13
5:02 p.m. — I still have a ton of work to do, but have got to get to the grocery store before it closes. I’m buying food for my entire family and I want them to feel welcome, so I haven’t skimped on the shopping list. I head to the discount grocery chain to get what I can before popping across the street to the expensive chain to pick up a few additional items. I get bell peppers, mushrooms, bean sprouts, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, avocadoes, blueberries, apples, salami, bacon, shaved chicken breast, eggs, milk, sliced cheese, cream cheese, four yogurts, regular bread (for the rest of the family), gluten-free sliced bread and mini-baguettes (for the shared fondue), baby potatoes, two bottles of local wine (to welcome the family), four ciders (for my sister), and four beers (for my dad). My eyes practically bug out at the final total. $82.65
7:41 p.m. — I’m too sweaty and tired to even think about cooking, so I toast a slice of bread and crack open the cream cheese for dinner.
9:17 p.m. — A friend of a friend drops by to bring back my air mattress. She borrowed it when she last had to move and was without a bed for a week.
10:03 p.m. — Shoot! I forgot that a job application for a really great position was due at midnight. I’m absolutely exhausted, but crack open my laptop and do my best to draft a non-shit cover letter.
1:29 a.m. — After tossing and turning for an hour, I finally get to sleep.
Daily Total: $179.85
6:30 a.m. — Up and at ’em again! My family’s arriving today so I’ve arranged to work from home in the morning so I can pick them up. I sit down with my laptop pretty much immediately, after another slice of toast with cream cheese. I skip caffeine today.
10:37 a.m. — On my way to the airport via the train included in my monthly pass, I make a pit stop at the grocery store to pick up a few last-minute items: 50 SPF sunscreen and toothpaste for my parents ($20) and a welcome bar of Swiss Chocolate and dried mushrooms for tonight’s fondue ($7.89). $27.89
11:35 a.m. — They’re here! I meet them in Arrivals and we grab the train back into the city (tourists get one free ride). After many hugs, I leave them in my apartment and hurry to the office.
4 p.m. — I take off early — everyone understands because they know I haven’t seen my family since Christmas. I tram home, making a pit stop at the train station to activate our already-purchased Eurail passes, and meet my family at the apartment. They spent the afternoon hanging by the lake, trying to beat the heat. After a few post-work glasses of wine, I make fondue.
6:53 p.m. — Some of my family heads to bed — red-eye flights from North America are exhausting — but my dad and I set off for a walk by the lake. I take the chance to break in my new Toms a bit.
9 p.m. — We’re back and everyone’s in bed! I grab my laptop and hang out in the kitchen for a few hours before bed, catching up on a few work emails and watching a few more episodes of Shameless. Tomorrow’s my last day of work before two weeks traveling through Austria, Czech Republic, and Germany. I can hardly wait!
Daily Total: $27.89
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