A Week In Portland, OR, On A $60,000 Salary

·19 min read

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

Today: a social worker who makes $60,000 and spends some of her money this week on a baby playmat.

Occupation: Social Worker
Industry: Child Welfare
Age: 23
Location: Portland, OR
Salary: $60,000
Net Worth: $19,000
Debt: $56,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,715.76 + ~$500/month mileage reimbursement
Pronouns: She/her/hers

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $650 (My half of a two-bedroom apartment shared with one of my best friends. I pay extra for the master bedroom and pet rent.)
Student Loans: $415 ($38,000 left from grad school and $18,000 from undergrad, I’ve paid off $10,000 so far.)
Tithe: $340
Water/Sewer/Garbage: $37.50 (my half)
Internet: $26 (my half)
Electric: ~$30-$50 (my half)
Cell Phone: $112
Health Insurance: $0 (fully covered by employer)
Dental Insurance: $26 (deducted from paycheck 1x/month)
Spotify/Hulu: $9.99
Gym: $29.95
Netflix/HBO/Disney+: $0 (use my parents’ Netflix and boyfriend’s HBO, Disney+ is free through Verizon for now)
Social Work License Supervision: $130 (This covers two hours a month that I pay someone to supervise me for two years until I am fully licensed.)
Regal Unlimited: $21
Car Insurance: $259 (I know it’s high, but I was in multiple accidents last year and I don’t want to give up my full coverage!)
Costco Membership: $120 annually
Roth 403(b): ~$250 (My employer was matching 5% up until last week when they froze their portion of the contribution due to COVID-19 budget cuts)
Savings: ~$500-$1000

Day One

8 a.m. — I catch up on the news on my phone for a few minutes. Sundays are usually my only day off. My cat won’t let me lay in bed for very long, so I get up to feed him and make coffee. I do my morning routine: Clinique Acne Solutions face wash, toner, and moisturizer. I put on a full face of makeup most days because it makes me feel good about myself. I decide to curl my hair today because I haven’t done it all week while working from home. I round out my morning with some Bible reading and prayer. It’s been very helpful for me to utilize my spiritual disciplines during the pandemic.

10 a.m. — I start driving to my boyfriend, T.’s, house and realize that I desperately need gas. I stop at a questionable gas station and don’t even pay attention to the price. It’s way more than I usually pay at the Costco by my apartment, but I need it. Sigh. $42.55

10:30 a.m. — I get to T.’s house and we watch church online. He lives with his parents and his mom makes me coffee and crepes for breakfast. He’s five years older than me and I don’t mind that he lives with his parents. They’re very sweet and they rely a lot on T. for financial support and help around the house. We’re planning on buying a house of our own next year and I know that it’s a point of contention between T. and his parents because they can’t maintain this house on their own.

12:30 p.m. — We take T.’s dog for a walk and play outside for a few minutes. T.’s mom sanitizes the door when we come back in. His dad is immunocompromised so I haven’t been spending much time with them since the coronavirus outbreak. I wasn’t super comfortable with the idea of coming over today, but T.’s mom insisted. T. and I spend most of our time in a different room than his parents.

2 p.m. — T. and I lounge around, alternating between watching The Middle and playing on the Nintendo Switch. I bought it for him a few weeks ago as an early birthday present. We eat lunch with his mom. His dad eats lunch in a different room.

10 p.m. — We finish Tiger King! What a wild show. I know a lot of people have binged it, but we took three days to watch it because I needed breaks between episodes. I drive home, feed my cat, and head to bed.

Daily Total: $42.55

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — I was going to try to sleep in and skip my morning meeting at work, but my body (and cat) wakes me up. I do my typical morning routine and realize I’m almost out of face wash. I then remember that I ordered extra during a Black Friday sale and dig it out of my cabinet. I’m very glad I don’t have to make that purchase yet.

9 a.m. — The nonprofit organization that I work for has morning meetings at 9 to address the COVID-19 concerns/challenges. They aren’t mandatory, but I usually sign in and work on other things. Today’s is extra pointless since we have a staff meeting later today.

12 p.m. — I spent the morning attempting to reach clients. Most of them don’t answer my calls and texts. I grab a plate of protein pancakes that my roommate, F., made for lunch and sign on to my staff meeting. I still have a few high-risk clients that I have to see in-person despite Oregon’s “stay at home” mandate. I’m classified as an essential worker because of this.

2 p.m. — I’m done with work for the day. I try a new workout video offered by my gym. It’s “Aerobics with Attitude” and I feel so empowered after finishing my workout! I eat a snack of celery and peanut butter, along with a chocolate chip cookie freshly baked by F. She’s in grad school and only has online classes two days a week, so she’s been baking out of boredom and I’m reaping the benefits.

5 p.m. — I call my parents who live out-of-state. I’m bummed that T. and I had to cancel our trip to see them next week. He’s never been home with me and my parents were looking forward to trying to convince us to move to their area. They catch me up on family and their lives. I talk about the potential risk of losing my job and plans for attempting to reschedule our trip. We got our money back from the airline and have no clue when it will be safe to travel again. We’d like to try again in June, but that may be wishful thinking.

7 p.m. — I text with T. about the hospital that he works at as an overnight nurse. He said that they’re overstaffed tonight and told him to stay home “on call.” So far they’ve been under capacity due to canceling elective surgeries and limiting the amount of non-COVID patients. He said it feels like the “calm before the storm.” T. is the calmest person I know, so I can’t think of a better person to be working in healthcare during a pandemic. I make a quesadilla for dinner and log on to a Zoom meeting with T. and some of our friends to catch up on life.

Daily Total: $0

Day Three

7 a.m. — I wake up and do my morning routine. It’s payday, so I take care of some upcoming bills (listed in my monthly expenses). F. has a friend who works at a bakery that’s still open and that just released their spring menu. We drive to visit them and I get a vanilla-raspberry and rose cruffin ($6.25, including tip). When F. and I get home, we each log in to our respective Zoom meetings for the day and eat the most delicious pastries. $6.25

12:30 p.m. — I sit through a whirlwind of meetings. I finish decorating a diaper cake for T.’s sister who had to cancel her baby shower this upcoming weekend due to coronavirus. I feel bad and know that T. will see her on Friday when he babysits her older son, so I’ll send it with him next time he comes over. I also remember to order her gift on Amazon ($14.44). It’s an inflatable playmat filled with water and shaped like a turtle. I’ve been eyeing it for weeks and it went on sale today. It’s not on her registry, but I saw a similar playmat at one of my client’s houses around the time she announced her pregnancy and I knew I had to get her one. It’s technically from T. and me, but I won’t bug him about splitting the cost right now. I also order a new set of three screen protectors for my iPhone ($9.99). $24.43

2 p.m. — I visit a client in their home, armed with a face mask, gloves, and hand sanitizer. I was fully expecting the kids to make fun of me, but it’s actually their mom who throws the shade. I get home and T. arrives at my place just as my next client cancels our virtual visit. We cuddle and watch TV until my last phone call of the day.

5 p.m. — I’m done with work and I start dinner: spinach spaghetti noodles with meatballs and cauliflower on the side. We settle on the couch eating and watching The Middle.

8 p.m. — We attempt to start a puzzle, but T. gets frustrated and quits. He asks if I want to play Super Mario Party on the Nintendo Switch and I agree. We drink wine and get competitive. He wins, barely. We play a few more rounds and head to bed around midnight.

Daily Total: $30.68

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — I wake up and decide that I’ve had enough of Zoom meetings over the past two days. My job is definitely not a 9-5, so I normally set my own schedule anyway. I decide to work a half-day for my mental health. I get out of bed and clean for a bit before doing my morning routine. T. is still sleeping.

10 a.m. — I read the Bible and scroll through the news until T. finally wakes up. He gets ready and we head out for errands. We pick up onesies and baby shoes to finalize his sister’s baby gift ($17.40). $17.40

11 a.m. — I’m trying to eat healthier and I tend to make smarter purchases when T. isn’t at the store with me. He loves junk food. I pick up cake pans and an apple corer because F. and I have been cooking more and have realized that these are essentials that we don’t have in our kitchen ($15.96). $15.96

11:30 a.m. — I attempt to buy eggs, but they’re charging $5.99 for one dozen!! It’s unacceptable and I refuse to buy them. I get fresh produce, frozen veggies, brown sugar, vegetable oil, garlic spread, foil, Ziploc bags, and wine ($62.49). $62.49

12:30 p.m. — T. suggests going to Costco for eggs. He fills up the gas in his car and then we head into the store, which is surprisingly empty. I pick up salsa, cauliflower rice, and two dozen eggs for half the price of Fred Meyer’s one dozen ($20.17). T. buys energy drinks to take to work. He sends me $50 for his half of the baby gift for his sister. When we get home, I make scrambled eggs and bacon for lunch, along with some banana bread that F. made. I settle in to do paperwork while T. plays the Switch. $20.17

4 p.m. — I decide to finally attempt to call clients. I’ve felt pretty defeated this week because most of my clients have been ignoring me. I have strong relationships with my clients, but it’s hard to get a teenager to answer the phone in any circumstance, let alone during a pandemic. I worry about their mental health being stuck at home though.

6 p.m. — I still have plenty more to do for work, but I need to be done for the day. T. and I both agree that we aren’t hungry. We go for a walk around the neighborhood. We dream about homeownership. I’m halfway to my savings goal for our down payment. T. just finished paying off his student loans and is now aggressively saving for the down payment.

7 p.m. — We get back to my place and I make some tea for us. He plays the Switch and I log in to my online Bible study. I love connecting with some of my favorite ladies. We are all feeling the social isolation and I can’t wait to hug them again when this is all over!

9 p.m. — I log off and F. gets home from her new job. She just started caregiving with a vulnerable population. T. mentions that he’s hungry and heats up some leftovers. I’m not hungry, but I check my calorie intake for the day and decide that I should probably eat something. I eat a handful of Goldfish and a chocolate chip cookie.

11 p.m. — T. leaves. I feed the cat and go to bed.

Daily Total: $116.02

Day Five

7 a.m. — Wake up, morning routine, and head to my office to pick up some donations for families that I work with. I have to wear a mask and gloves while I’m there. I sanitize everything I touch and realize that one of the bags I need isn’t ready and I don’t have time to make one. I’ll have to come back later.

9 a.m. — I do a home visit with a family and drop off some food/household supplies to them. It feels weird wearing a mask around people that I’ve been visiting in their home for months, but they’re appreciative of the extra protection.

10:30 a.m. — I get home from my visit and make a snack of apples and peanut butter. I try to sit down to get work done, but have a really hard time focusing. I answer some emails and then decide to put dinner in the slow cooker. I put chicken, veggies, and broth in for a soup. F. comes out of her room on a break between classes and asks if I want to order Chinese food. I’m really proud of myself for saying no, since I have plenty of groceries. She asks to use the free delivery on my DoorDash account and I agree. She pays using her card.

1 p.m. — I’m finally able to focus and I finish all of my paperwork for now. I get ready and head to my office to pick up stuff for my next visit. My coworker is in the office preparing donation bags of food and they leave the stuff outside for me to pick up, since only one person is allowed in the building at a time due to the outbreak. I drop it off to my client and don’t stay long to avoid excess contact. I’m technically supposed to do visits outside, but it’s raining so that is not happening. It starts hailing as I drive home.

3 p.m. — I send my last email of the day just as T. walks in the door. I chop some more veggies to add to the slow cooker while T. finds something to watch on TV. We end up watching The Middle, again. I eat chips and salsa and T. says he doesn’t want any. As soon as I finish he tells me he hasn’t eaten all day and he’s hungry. I offer to make him something, but he says he wants Taco Bell. I go along for the ride and he buys me a happy hour freeze. When we get home, I fall asleep on the couch for an hour and my drink melts.

6:30 p.m. — I wake up and realize that the soup has been cooking for too long. I shred the chicken and it looks fine. I put some of the chicken in a container for tomorrow and heat up perogies that T.’s mom sent with him. T. says he wants soup and I dish out two bowls for us. We keep watching TV and have an uneventful evening.

10:30 p.m. — T. goes home. He’s working this weekend so I know I won’t see him for three days. I feed my cat and take a shower then head to bed.

Daily Total: $0

Day Six

7 a.m. — Wake up, morning routine, and spend some time catching up on the news. Oregon seems to still have a low amount of cases, but they’re increasing every day. T. texts me and says that they have at least 16 doctors and nurses at his hospital who tested positive. This crisis feels more and more daunting every day and T.’s likelihood of getting it keeps increasing.

9 a.m. — Morning meeting time. We’re starting to provide educational support for families who are trying to homeschool their kids right now. I volunteer to help with online tutoring and making sure that kids are staying on track as much as possible

10 a.m. — I go for a jog/walk around my neighborhood. It’s rainy and cold, but ever since my gym closed I’ve been avoiding cardio. I really enjoy catching up on my favorite Friday podcasts: Frugal Friends and Future Rich.

11 a.m. — I catch up on paperwork from yesterday and call a few clients before logging in to a virtual youth group that my organization is offering for the youth that we work with. This group is playing a Dungeons and Dragons game which I know nothing about, but I have two youth clients who are on the call. We have a great time and I’m proud of my clients for attending.

3 p.m. — My apartment is relatively clean, but it can always be cleaner! I sweep, mop, wipe down everything, and take the trash out. My reward is a salad with chicken and starting a new tv show. I can’t find anything interesting on my streaming services and I decide to keep cleaning instead.

6 p.m. — My friends and I are having a Netflix party tonight. We all order from local restaurants and watch Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. I take forever to decide between a pizza place where I know the owner and my favorite Mexican restaurant. I text my friend about it and she votes Mexican. I order through Postmates and it arrives after the movie starts ($29.97). I eat an appetizer of chips and queso dip and my main meal is a carne asada burrito. It’s so good to chat with my friends and try to maintain some sense of normalcy in our lives. We decide to make this a weekly tradition until the pandemic is over. $29.97

Daily Total: $29.97

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I’m awake, but decide to skip my morning routine and read through some of my devotional. It brings me a lot of peace through this chaos. After a while, I move to my computer to finish up work for the week. I’m not going anywhere today and I don’t have any video meetings, so makeup and hair doesn’t matter. I turn on a movie in the background and move to the couch.

10 a.m. — I make coffee just as my roommate arrives home from her early work shift. We chat and I decide to make today a movie marathon day. I begin with A Portrait of a Lady on Fire on Hulu. I normally have a hard time focusing on movies that aren’t in English, but I’m glued to the TV the entire time.

12:30 p.m. — Workout time! I miss the gym, but have found lots of online content to get me through. When I’m done, I put on a Peter Thomas Roth pumpkin enzyme mask and take a bubble bath. I realize I haven’t eaten yet today and I’m very hungry. I heat up leftover soup and make a salad. Time for the next movie: Booksmart, which is a perfect mix of comedy and cringe. I’m feeling very satisfied with my choices so far.

5 p.m. — I switch to catching up on TV shows. I notice that there’s a new episode of How to Get Away with Murder. I definitely thought this show was over since it’s been off for like six months. I also watch last week’s episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and This Is Us.

8 p.m. — I make a bowl of cereal for dinner and round out my day with one final movie, Up in the Air on Hulu. I’m less interested in this movie and spend most of it texting with T. while he’s at work. He tells me that even more doctors and nurses are getting the virus at the hospital. He hasn’t been around any COVID patients that he knows of, but I encourage him to get tested anyway. I say my prayers and go to bed.

Daily Total: $0

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