A Week In Portland, OR, On A $62,500 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We’re asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

Today: a case manager who makes $62,500 per year and spends some her money this week on lawn goose clothing.

Editor’s Note: This is a follow-up diary. Before reading this diary, we recommend you read this Money Diary from June 2020.

Occupation: Case Manager
Industry: Government/Social Services
Age: 33
Location: Portland, OR
Salary: $62,500
Net Worth: $43,934.94 (assets are regular savings: $9,100, house-related fund: $4204.50, bonds: $1,560.95, IAP: $24,833.26, 457(b): $5,851.58)
Debt: $1,615.35 (personal loan — three payments to go!)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): ~$1,815 (paid hourly, variable workdays per pay period, in reality, my paychecks range $1,525-$2,025)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $730 (paid to my partner who owns our home, I pay one third and he pays two thirds)
Personal Loan: $543.45
Utilities: $125-$200 depending on season (my half)
Internet: $32.50 (my half)
Phone: $0, on a family plan with my mom
Car Insurance: $191.50 every six months (my half, shared with partner)
Savings: $600-$800
Donations: $70 (ACLU, Oregon Public Broadcasting, Meals on Wheels, local environmental and single-payer healthcare nonprofits)
Patreon: $25, split between The Great Unlearn and You’re Wrong About
Netflix: $17.99 (use partner’s Spotify Premium and a friend’s Hulu)
NY Times/Crossword/Cooking: $22
Local Wine Club: $45 (two bottles of featured wine, free tasting, and discounts)
Yoga Studio: $33 (three classes a month)
Curology: $64.85 every two months
Union Dues: $70 (pre-tax)
457(b): $100 (Pre-tax. I also have an employer contribution of 6% to my public employee’s pension.)
Insurance: $60.78 (medical/dental/vision/short and long-term disability, pre-tax)

Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I suspect my parents expected me to go to college, but it wasn’t a discussion because I always wanted to go. I have a bachelor’s degree from a liberal arts college here in Portland. I funded college with a half-tuition academic scholarship, a small amount of work-study, a relatively small amount in loans, and the generosity of my parents, who contributed probably around $80,000 over four years. I think my parents may have preferred I go to a more affordable in-state school, but they very generously let me take the reins on what I wanted, provided I got at least a partial academic scholarship.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I don’t remember a lot of conversations and money, though when my mom read my first Money Diary and learned how much credit card debt I had in my twenties, she said, “I thought I taught you better!” Clearly, the education didn’t stick. My parents opened a savings account for me when I was 2 and gave me a modest allowance throughout my childhood, which I earned by doing chores. I distinctly remember my mom celebrating my first purchase (a frozen yogurt parfait) and the first purchase I had to save for (a black dress with a rose-printed cardigan), which I do remember made me feel good about delayed gratification. I definitely wasn’t (and am not) well versed in stocks, investment funds, etc.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
The first time I earned money was babysitting the kids next door at 12, which I did mostly because I idolized The Baby-Sitters Club. The first time I had an actual paycheck was when I was 14 and worked the cash register at the local fairgrounds during expo season. I got that job because getting a job was what I’d internalized as what I was “supposed” to do once I could work, and my mom’s friend offered it to me. The first time I supported myself was after college, when I was a Starbucks barista and a nanny. I graduated in 2010 with an English degree so didn’t have a TON of career options (ha), and my number one priority was getting a job with health insurance because I am extremely risk-averse.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Never. My parents both had stable incomes and simple tastes. My mom worked at the same hospital for 36 years before she retired last year. My dad worked his way up from a truck driver to a marketing manager in the freight industry over his career. We took a domestic vacation once a year and a couple of international trips when I was in middle and high school. I always had everything I needed and a lot of what I wanted. (Never did get an American Girl Doll, though.)

Do you worry about money now?
Not really. I sometimes worry I won’t have enough in retirement — working with low-income seniors, it’s hard not to. I also wonder if I’ll be able to do everything I’d like to, such as contribute to theoretical future kids’ college educations and travel. But I never worry about not having enough to meet my basic needs.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
Technically, I’m not fully financially responsible for myself because I’m still on my mom’s phone plan! Otherwise, at 22 or 23, about six months after I graduated college. My parents supported me through college and the first couple months after graduation as I flailed around until I got my jobs in place. I absolutely have a safety net; my parents are comfortable and I know they would get me through a crisis if needed. My partner would also be able to support us for a short period of time if I lost my income.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Not in the traditional sense, but yes to substantial monetary gifts. In addition to supporting me through college, my parents gifted me plenty of money for large expenses in my early twenties: tires/car repair, medical bills when I broke my ankle, etc. (To be completely honest, this is partly how I ended up with so much credit card debt: I’d put the expense on my card and use the money they gave me for fun. Ugh.) They also recently gave my partner and me $5,000 for new house expenses. I know from conversations with my mom about my parents’ financial situation that, unless disaster strikes, I’ll eventually inherit some money, though hopefully not for many years to come.

How has your life and financial situation changed since your last Money Diary?
The biggest change in my life over the last year is that my partner purchased a house in September! We were casually looking throughout the summer of 2020 and were losing steam when this beautiful house appeared in one of our favorite neighborhoods. I’m not on the title (I know, I know), mostly because it was such a whirlwind — we toured it the first day it was on the market and had keys in hand less than six weeks later. Since we’re not married, trying to figure out co-ownership options in that timeframe felt like too much, though we both consider it “our” house. If we break up, I’ve gotten reasonable rent in a great living situation; if he passes away, a third of the house is willed to me. He paid the down payment (5%); I covered the inspection fees (~$750), and my parents gifted us $5,000 for repairs and improvements. This is the first time we’ve lived together without roommates, and our shared housing was getting really tense after six months of COVID lockdowns last year. I feel incredibly lucky and grateful and am loving the house and garden projects that are making this place a home. Other than my housing situation, things in the past year have been pretty stable. Over the winter, I put my heart and soul into applying for a promotion that would have gotten me out of direct client service and would have come with a $10,000 raise, but I didn’t get it. I’ve been feeling pretty burned out since then. Financially, after spending several thousand dollars on new furniture and moving expenses last year, I’ve been rebuilding my savings in 2021. My debt is almost completely gone as well, and I am VERY excited to celebrate my final payment this month!

Day One

5:22 a.m. — Is there anything better than half-waking up thinking your alarm has gone off and discovering you have another hour to sleep?

6:40 a.m. — Good morning! Up early with a goal of work and life productivity. While the water for coffee comes to a boil, I start sun tea and water the front flower bed. The 15-year-old boxer shorts I use as pajamas split down the seam as I bend to turn off the hose. Hmmm. I’ve been contemplating the purchase of a pair of kinda fancy lightweight PJs; this is clearly a sign.

7:28 a.m. — I took a few days off last week to extend the long weekend and visit my parents (first time since January 2020!), so I’m facing an out-of-control inbox and a gazillion voicemails. Let’s do this. Don my Sally Albright-inspired blue light blocking glasses and settle in at my desk. One of my favorite parts of our move to our own house is that I have a dedicated office now instead of a corner of our bedroom.

10:37 a.m. — Inbox: tamed. Urgent calls: returned. External-processing coworker: (half) listened to. The last 25 miles of my 425-mile drive yesterday took over an hour thanks to holiday weekend traffic and my AC gave up the ghost just as traffic slowed to a crawl. There was no way I had the emotional capacity to go to the store after that, which means I have almost no food. Breakfast is a pear, peanut butter, and stale crackers.

12:30 p.m. — Uncover an emergency box of Annie’s white cheddar shells, which I make with lots of butter, plain yogurt instead of milk, and a ton of black pepper. This is objectively the best boxed mac n cheese. Add some garden kale because I am an adult. I slice my finger and fingernail while chopping it because I am a klutz. After the bleeding stops, it’s back to an afternoon of client phone calls.

5:06 p.m. — Wrap up work for the day and head to the grocery store. Obligatory COVID note: I am fully vaccinated, as are the entire cast of characters you’ll meet in this diary. I still wear a mask anytime I’m in public indoors and on crowded streets. I purchase ingredients for fish tacos and a shrimp and garbanzo bean salad, veggies and hummus, fruit, seltzer, Yassa frozen yogurt bars, and a couple staples. I also get a dozen limes, which feels very Amy March, but is actually for… $95.38

6:15 p.m. — …MAI TAI DAY! The first 90-degree day in Portland always means our friends gather for mai tais, lovingly hand-mixed by our friend, while wearing our Tommy Bahama finest. I change into a Hawaiian-print dress and add some pink eyeshadow. Five of us hang out in the backyard, enjoying our cocktails, and a dinner of cold five-spice chicken and sesame noodles that my partner, N., made.

9:15 p.m. — N. takes out the trash and washes the dishes; I prep overnight oats and shower. Do my evening skincare (RoC retinol under eye cream, Curology moisturizer, and RX cream), then lie in bed and sweat. Oh my god. It’s so warm. Do the NYT crossword and read, until N. comes to bed and apparently wants to have sex, despite it being 8,000 degrees.

Daily Total: $95.38

Day Two

6:55 a.m. — N. is already up and making coffee by the time I stagger out of bed, exhausted because the crows have been squawking loudly for two hours. N. has named our neighborhood crows Huginn and Muninn and likes to pretend he is Odin, so I blame him for this disruption. I’m sitting on an interview panel all day today, which means wearing makeup to avoid terrifying the candidates. I mostly made the switch from Glossier to Ilia during the pandemic — big news! — and the full-face routine is SPF skin tint, concealer, blush stick, eyeliner, mascara, powder. I do, however, remain loyal to Boy Brow.

7:30 a.m. — Half-heartedly start to write up a catastrophically overdue client assessment, but lose steam after composing approximately two sentences. Hmm, how have I fallen so far behind? What a mystery. Switch to answering some emails, then review the resumes/cover letters of the candidates we’re interviewing. Grab my overnight oats and some strawberries around 8:30, interviews start at 9.

11:40 a.m. — Three down, five to go! So far, I have humiliated myself by standing up on camera, revealing that below my blouse I am wearing large white short-shorts that vaguely resemble a diaper, but thankfully there wasn’t a candidate present. Answer a couple more emails, listen to some voicemails, head downstairs for lunch in the backyard. It’s too hot to eat actual food, so I have snap peas and hummus and a Yassa frozen yogurt bar while reading some Voyager.

5:01 p.m. — Damn am I glad I was just a panel member for those interviews, and not the hiring manager because there were multiple impressive, qualified candidates. Check my personal email and discover I’ve been billed for the summer Alltrue box ($54.95). Argh, argh. Meant to cancel that. I reactivated my membership only in pursuit of the market tote in the spring box. Try to decide if it’s worth attempting to get a refund; don’t come to a conclusion, which probably means the decision will be made for me. Call my mom, tidy the kitchen, eat a pear — regular evening things. $54.95

6:50 p.m. — Despite being cranky and hot, I actually manage to work out! I’m doing a 30 minute-a-day Fitness Blender program, which is so short that there’s really no excuse to skip days. I was very fitness-focused during the first year of the pandemic, but totally fell apart this March. I’m trying hard to regain focus again now. Quick shower, moisturize, and back downstairs to make dinner.

8:56 p.m. — Sam Sifton really did me dirty with his fish taco recipe, claiming it would take 30 minutes when it was clearly an hour-plus, but they are delicious. N. and I enjoy dinner and Coronas in the backyard and then I clean up. We alternate kitchen chores every day: if you cook, you also clean, so the other person has the whole evening free.

10:32 p.m. — Skincare. Crossword. Outlander. Sleep.

Daily Total: $54.95

Day Three

7:03 a.m. — So much for getting up early! It got chilly overnight so I’m ensconced in the blankets, avoiding the day. Eventually make my way out of bed and do the normal morning routine. No video calls = no makeup. Chat with N. for a couple minutes as he’s getting his bike bag together and I’m taking my first sips of coffee.

9:45 a.m. — Break after a busy morning of returning yesterday’s phone calls. Eat some overnight oats and strawberries and read a few pages of Voyager.

12 p.m. — Eat a cold fish taco (gross) and pull a few weeds in the garden. My potted microgreens and radishes fried in the heatwave, but the raised bed is thriving and the strawberry plant has shot off a solid looking runner. The cat sneaks outside; I confront her behind a fern and she slinks back to the front door, casting threatening looks at me.

2:27 p.m. — Eat a Yassa frozen yogurt bar while watching the video of O.J. Simpson trying on the gloves at his trial. He’s wearing latex gloves underneath them! Of course they don’t fit! Also, wouldn’t being *soaked in blood* cause leather to shrink? Ugh. (I’m working my way through the You’re Wrong About episodes about O.J. Simpson and this 25-year-old case is taking a lot of brain space.)

3:48 p.m. — After my first diary, some commenters were interested in hearing more about my job. I work with older and disabled adults who receive Medicaid long-term care services. I assess and document people’s need for assistance with daily activities (bathing, toileting, cooking, etc.), then help them manage the care they get. My caseload is about 90 people; some live in their own homes with visiting caregivers and some live in assisted living facilities. Today I’ve set up home-delivered meals, discussed a client’s preferences as he considers moving to a small care home, begged someone to reconsider an unsafe care plan, and documented an assessment I did last month. Assessments used to be in clients’ homes, but since COVID, they have been over the phone, which is… not great. It’s hard to get a sense of how people are really doing without seeing them, especially if they have memory loss.

5 p.m. — It’s already my weekend thanks to my alternate-Fridays-off schedule! A few coworkers are coming over for pizza and drinks, so I take a quick shower and put on some makeup. We eat and chat/gossip for hours in the backyard. N. hangs around off and on, but the four of us descend into intense gallows humor and brutal stories (our job can be emotionally taxing and occasionally graphic), which isn’t his cup of tea. There’s plenty of booze flowing tonight, but I just have one cider before switching to Polar seltzer; I’m donating blood in the morning and can’t be a dehydrated husk. Venmo my coworker for the pizza. $15

9:45 p.m. — N. helps me clear the yard, then we settle in on the couch. His coworker gave us a lawn goose last Christmas — in case you were ignorant of this, as I was, these are two-foot-tall, white plastic geese that you dress up in seasonally appropriate outfits and display in your yard. It is chintzy in the most delightful way, and our neighbors love seeing Mr. Honkington’s outfit changes. We pick out a couple summer outfits, which I purchase. $52.96

10:20 p.m. — Nothing new tonight. My skincare routine is minimal; I tried every “clean beauty” product under the sun last summer and just developed acne, but am finally pretty happy with everything except my under eyes (dark circles, fine lines).

Daily Total: $67.96

Day Four

7:20 a.m. — Wake up to the cat’s typical morning screamfest. My alarm is set for 7:45 so I can work out before I donate blood, but I know in my heart that isn’t going to happen. Instead, I complete my pre-donation RapidPass, do the NYT news quiz, and scroll through social media for ages.

8:15 a.m. — Drink a lot of water and a tiny amount of maintenance coffee, and microwave some oats with cinnamon/orange-infused honey. Get dressed in a grey denim skirt and blue and white striped shirt, wash my face, and put on some makeup. I know most people stopped wearing makeup during COVID, but I went the other way and am much more invested in beauty products than I was pre-pandemic. I attribute this to a combination of no longer being doomed to sweat off makeup while biking to work, and the advent of Zoom meetings where I actually saw my face and realized what I looked like to other people (eek).

9:18 a.m. — At the Red Cross, a mere three minutes late! I don’t think I have ever been on time to anything in my entire life, one of my worst qualities. Donation goes smoothly and extremely quickly and I’m back in my car with a box of orange juice and a packet of Nutter Butters in under 45 minutes. N. texts me a question about Medicare appeals for his dad who is in the hospital. They want to discharge him, but the family doesn’t think he is ready. I’m not remotely a Medicare expert, but because of my job, I’m usually the person friends and family turn to with insurance or hospitalization questions. I *am* pretty adept at navigating dense, bureaucratic websites, so I sit in my car and research discharge appeal options and confirm that the hospital will have a patient advocate who can help with this.

10:30 a.m. — On the Fridays I don’t work, I treat myself to breakfast from my favorite coffee shop in our old neighborhood, so I pick up a cappuccino and lox toast on my way home ($18.70 including a $5 tip). Charging this much for six ounces of milk and espresso, a piece of bread, and some fish is absolutely extortionate, but it’s so delicious that I don’t care a bit. Pre-pandemic, my coworker bestie and I bought lattes at this shop’s downtown location two or three times every week, so this $20-every-two-weeks is actually a decrease in my coffee shop budget. $18.70

1:45 p.m. — Emerge from a haze of reading Voyager, half-napping, and cuddling the cat to do some financial maintenance. I pay the water bill (accounted for in monthly expenses), then email Alltrue to request the cancellation of my summer box. The worst they can say is no, right? While I’m in the mood, I also cancel my yoga studio membership. I maintained my membership during the pandemic because of my fear for the fate of small businesses, but I haven’t attended a virtual or in-person class in over a year, and my favorite instructor is no longer teaching there, so I have no reason to keep paying for nothing. Then, since it’s a beautiful day and I am feeling guilty about lazing around, I put on a pair of shorts and my Suavs sneakers and go for a walk on Mt. Tabor.

4 p.m. — Arrive home after four and a half miles of wandering through neighborhoods and the park’s wooded trails while listening to Michael and Sarah dissect the post-murder days of the O.J. Simpson saga. Snack on some snap peas and hummus, strawberries, and Kettle chips before tackling the bathroom. I watch season five of Outlander as I clean and do laundry. I do most of the household cleaning; N. handles trash/recycling/compost, plus the household and car repairs and maintenance. In different circumstances, this split might feel uneven, but since we live in a century-year-old house and I drive a 20-year-old car, there is plenty to keep him busy.

6:20 p.m. — Take a quick shower and head to the grocery store for a few items for brunch tomorrow, plus a six-pack that takes me 10 minutes to choose because despite carrying 597 kinds of beer, it’s nearly impossible to find something hoppy with a reasonably low ABV ($34.65). Is wanting to have two beers without getting trashed such an unreasonable ask, local breweries? Back at home, N. is making mapo tofu, yum. I watch more Outlander until he calls me down to dinner. We sketch out an itinerary for driving to a friend’s wedding later this summer — we initially planned to fly (first time since COVID!), but apparently there’s a rental car shortage. We sometimes use Turo, but strike out here, too: there is a $1,300 PER DAY Audi and almost nothing else. $34.65

9:15 p.m. — Once N. has cleaned up dinner, I take over the kitchen to make pie crust dough for tomorrow’s quiche. Then I grab a beer and we settle in on the couch, with the cat between us, to watch Before Midnight. I forgot how stressful this movie is and have a flashback to watching it on my couch over Thanksgiving 2013, sobbing and eating half a pie straight from the pan.

11:40 p.m. — Rescue clean sheets and towels from the dryer. N. makes the bed while I put away the towels. Then the usual nighttime routine and sleep.

Daily Total: $53.35

Day Five

8 a.m. — I set an alarm in anticipation of getting brunch ready, but don’t drag myself out of bed until 8:30. Make coffee, prep and get the leek and gruyere quiche in the oven, rinse off some strawberries, and snip some spinach and pull some radishes from the garden for salad. N. does dishes, fries bacon, and sets the table. I throw on a blue jumpsuit, sweep the stairs, and our meal is just about ready when our friend L. and her dad arrive at 10.

12:15 p.m. — Our guests take off after a couple hours and N. receives an update that his dad will be released from the hospital in an hour or two. We both spend some time online trying to find a sturdy metal patio chair with arms, so his dad can sit outside while still self-transferring post-surgery, but there’s nothing available at nearby stores. N. is going to transport his dad back home, since he owns the highest-set vehicle in the family. I agree to pick up some car parts for him this afternoon since he won’t be back until after the store closes.

2:25 p.m. — I have been in a sleepy-but-over-caffeinated haze for over an hour now, drooling over overpriced linen sheet sets online. Pull myself up and throw on jeans and a t-shirt and make my way to the auto parts store. The order costs about $100, but I’m not counting this as a “spend” because N. will pay me back immediately. Back at home, I confront the brunch dishes, start a load of kitchen laundry, and polish off the last slice of quiche.

4:08 p.m. — I want to order those aforementioned fancy pajamas, but feel I’ve been hemorrhaging money this week. I take a look at my financial spreadsheet to see if it fits with this pay period’s discretionary spending budget. I’ve been trying to rebuild my savings after lots of moving-related spending last year, and have saved a bit more in the first five months of the year than I anticipated. This is partly because of the stimulus payments, which I split between savings, spending (stand-up paddleboard!), and donation (abortion clinics). I’ve also had the opportunity to work a ton of overtime at an emergency shelter during the ice storm and assisting with vaccine administration to housebound people. Being able to do this work safely was a huge perk of getting vaccinated back in January, which I felt extremely weird about since I was/am still working from home. Anyway, I decide that if I get my Alltrue box canceled/refunded, I’ll buy the pajamas, but if not, I’ll wait a while.

4:25 p.m. — I get an email from Alltrue, agreeing to cancel the box and refund me! I still don’t bite the bullet on the pajamas, though, and instead, negotiate with myself to wait and see how much I spend grocery shopping tomorrow. Losing control of my spending again is a major fear of mine, so I try to really want everything I buy.

7 p.m. — I’ve been reading for the past couple of hours — first a Baby-Sitters Club book (I love children’s lit, and have been revisiting these in a fit of nostalgia), then starting The Panic Years, because the question of kids is never far from my mind. My biological, animal self desperately wants a baby, but the part of me that’s living on a dying planet plagued with seemingly insurmountable inequity feels this is a terrible idea. I just finished Leave The World Behind, which was frankly horrifying, and am now looking for real-world perspectives on parenting in the end times. In the meantime, it’s time to make dinner.

8:15 p.m. — This spicy shrimp and chickpea salad from NYT is amazing, highly recommend. I serve it with grilled bread and white wine. Clean up and decide to have another quiet TV night. We watch Mr. Marston and the Wonder Women, which we both agree is laughably heavy-handed.

Daily Total: $0

Day Six

12:25 a.m. — Toss and turn, thinking about work. On the weekend! Rude, brain. A sleep meditation helps.

8:58 a.m. — I’ve read that you need less sleep as you get older, but my capacity for sleep seems to increase every year. Make coffee and a grocery list. N. and I have completely separate grocery budgets; we do our own breakfasts/lunches/snacks and choose our shared dinners separately. This week, I’m making steak and salad, shrimp banh mi, and peanut sauce tofu.

11 a.m. — First stop is the neighborhood farmers’ market where I visit three stands and buy most of my produce for the week. Everything looks so good, I want to buy it all! The market’s Instagram account promised cherries, but they must have sold out almost immediately because there are none in sight ($30). Next, I go to the grocery store for non-seasonal produce, meat, dairy, snacks, seltzer water, and pantry staples (more Annie’s). Also, extremely expensive cherries because I’m emotionally invested in them now ($89.57). $119.57

1:15 p.m. — I’d hoped to hike this afternoon — we’re doing a 60-mile backpacking trip in August and I haven’t walked more than five miles in six months, but N. ends up having to go back to his parents’ to do an urgent house repair. Eat last night’s leftovers, then do laundry and meal prep (overnight oats, fridge pickles, spiced green sauce). All of this occurs as Outlander plays in the background. Hot take: Roger is a whiny, volatile, self-centered dick, and Bree deserves better.

3:30 p.m. — I used to be pretty heavily involved with a few nonprofit boards and recently have felt unengaged and self-absorbed. I’ve decided my re-engagement priorities are becoming a precinct committeeperson and getting a graduate certificate to support my career trajectory, out of direct service and into policy and training. Spend some time comparing programs that run the gamut from public administration to adult education.

4:30 p.m. — My “no excuses” 30 minutes per day workouts have not been happening. This is because my next one is an “intense core burnout” that sounds extremely unpleasant. Grit my teeth and do it, and it’s fine. Some friends have invited us over for dinner, so I shower quickly and dress in a chambray shirt, white pants, and brown clogs. Are these the pants I ordered in my last diary, thinking they’d look hideous on me? Yes, and I LOVE them. Some risks are worth taking.

6:10 p.m. — I can’t reach N. to coordinate about dinner and have a fully realized meltdown thinking about what could have happened to him/his parents/their house. I text his sister in a complete panic, and have just decided to drive the 30 miles to make sure they’re okay when he casually responds to let me know he’ll meet me at our friends’. I’m still taking an SSRI for anxiety!

6:30 p.m. — I swear, I usually only go to the grocery store once a week, but I’m starting to feel like I should set up a cot. Pick up ice cream, strawberries, and caramel sauce for dessert ($19.97). Friends have made Korean short ribs, gochujang tofu, salad, and piña coladas: bless them. Start dinner with a toast to vaccinations; an impromptu get-together feels beyond amazing. $19.97

10:30 p.m. — Head home. Skip the retinol tonight because the skin around my eyes feels like it’s been seared, and do a hydrating eye patch instead. Monday crossword is about my pre-sleep speed tonight.

Daily Total: $139.54

Day Seven

7:05 a.m. — Monday :(.

9 a.m. — I’m having one of those days where there’s so much to do that I’m paralyzed and do nothing. This past year has been incredibly hard for me at work. I adore my clients, but my engagement is waning and everything feels like it takes twice as long as it used to. I can’t tell how much of it is me, how much of it is COVID disruptions, and how much of it is more complex situations. I’ve been seeking out some new internal career opportunities, but after narrowly missing out on the position I’ve been dreaming about for YEARS this winter, I’ve been struggling.

9:45 a.m. — Take a break from staring into the void to order a flower delivery for a friend whose grandfather passed away, splitting the cost with N. ($34.71 for my half). Also: overnight oats, black tea. $34.71

12:15 p.m. — Balance my bank accounts and spending spreadsheet on my hard-earned lunch break. This has gotten more complicated since I switched to a local credit union with a high-yield checking account last summer. I keep most of my money — savings and spending — in that account, but have several hundred at my old bank, and I put most of my purchases on my credit card and pay it off weekly. Making sure I’m not off the rails requires some math. Still get it balanced down to the penny, though!

3:20 p.m. — Finally got energized after lunch (crackers, cheese, snap peas, hummus, cherries) only to come to a screeching halt when I receive an email that seems to imply I’m not doing enough for a client I’ve been working my butt off for. Frozen yogurt bar to cool off (heh); then compose a response that details the actions I’ve taken and ways I’m able to help with hopefully just the merest hint of icy disapproval at the insinuation.

5 p.m. — Well, I was hardly the picture of productivity today, but I caught up and kept up with phone calls and emails, and given my bleak outlook this morning, I’m going to count that as a win. Transition seamlessly into my workout (is there nothing she can’t do?!), then update my COVID tracker. Still going strong, 467 days and counting. I’ve actually formed some friendships on social media with people who are similarly invested in Oregon’s COVID data and in countering the vast amount of misinformation that gets shared online, which has been an unexpected perk of the pandemic.

6:45 p.m. — Weed, thin, and water the garden; pick some kale and radishes for a salad. It should be N.’s night to cook, but he didn’t prep his marinade yesterday due to parental housework, so I volunteered to take tonight. We have grilled steak with green sauce from Six Seasons, bread, and a green salad. Simple and delicious. We discuss aging parents and future responsibilities. Neither simple nor delicious, but increasingly important. This makes me think about kids again: how do you balance child-rearing with caring for elderly parents?

9:30 p.m. — Despite how this week has been, I’m actually pretty introverted, so I’m ready to see/talk to no one tonight, including N. Retreat upstairs to watch Outlander, fold laundry, and read. Call it a night around 11, and that’s a wrap! The pajamas remain in my cart — only time will tell if I ever buy them…

Daily Total: $34.71

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