The Money Diaries: The 20-something with two jobs who’s still living paycheck-to-paycheck
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Today is another post in the Money Diaries series, which is based off New York Magazine’s Sex Diaries. We’ve collected stories from real people about their spending habits over seven days, anonymized them, and posted them here.
This week’s post is by a 20-something working two jobs but still living paycheck-to-paycheck. Only a few days after being paid, and she’s already almost broke again.
* * *
8:00 a.m.: I woke up this morning to my daily balance text message from Bank of America letting me know that my account is $5.31 overdrawn. I can’t really do anything about it, so I basically just have to shrug it off until my direct deposit goes through from my part-time job (Thursday) and my full-time job (Friday). Getting paid bi-weekly is such a pain. I’m okay at budgeting myself out sometimes, but I had a vacation a few weeks ago that I haven’t yet recovered from. So, here we are, on the Tuesday of a pay week, and I’m broke as a joke.
9:00 a.m.: I get a coffee and a donut at Dunkin’ Donuts on my way into the office ($3.47) and a French roll at the bakery nearby a few blocks later when I realize I’m not in the mood for a donut ($1.35).
10:00 a.m.:At work, I do some online window-shopping through all the discount sites I subscribe to (Ideeli, Rue La La, Gilt, etc.) but delete all the e-mails. I know I’ll get new ones on Tuesday after my paychecks come in, and that I’ll probably do some shopping then. I also research some trips to St. Bart’s that my boyfriend and I talked about taking next fall. $2,500 per person seems reasonable to save up over the next year, although I have student loans and credit card debt piling up that I never think about savings plans for, ever. I’ve actually been spending the money in my ING Savings account that I transferred over. That’s supposed to be my vacation savings but it’s disappearing.
11:00 a.m.: My boyfriend and I just resigned the lease on our apartment. We decided that we were going to celebrate by going to Ikea and buying some furniture for the place. I still owe him $300 for rent that I borrowed for my trip last month, but he says I can just pay him all back when I get paid this week. We get a Zipcar for the day and drive the 45 minutes to Ikea, where we spend about $150.
4:00 p.m.: When we get back to Boston, we’re too tired to go to the grocery store, so we spend about $70 on overpriced provisions at CVS across the street. The amount I owe him is climbing but it’s all stuff we need, we rationalize, so I just go with it.
5:00 p.m.: I got a $100 paycheck from my part-time job today, and I immediately feel relieved and want to spend something. I bring home $25 worth of Panera for me and my boyfriend on my way home from work (we barely even eat half of it like I knew we would), loan $50 to my best friend for Red Sox tickets I really wanted her to have, and think briefly about shopping (just one shirt!) but I manage to control myself. Not much I can do with my remaining $20 anyway.
8:00 a.m.: Pay Day! I feel rich when Bank of America texts me this morning with my new balance ($1,300), but I watch it disappear so quickly over the course of the day that I feel guilty and stressed. I pay back the total I owe Jon ($560 – ouch), pay a part of the $3,800 bill I owe to the vet for my dog from over a year ago ($150) and $110 to my only non-closed credit card.
3:30 p.m.: I decide it’s time to spend money on something for me, so I go downtown and find a salon and get a haircut. I expect to pay about $50 plus tip, but the total comes to $90 because the owner did it, which I didn’t ask for or expect at all. I’m too embarrassed to say anything to the girl at the register, so I fork over my debit card and start feeling anxiety knowing how much cash I blew through today. I get myself a burrito at Boloco for dinner and go home for the night.
9:00 a.m.: Today I’m going shopping with my best friend for her wedding dress. I debated with myself for hours last night whether I should take the train to meet her, or get a Zipcar and drive. The car would have cost at least $50, and the train was $20, but I didn’t want to get up that early to take the train. Jon convinces me to save my money and take the train, which I do but I’m not the happiest about it.
12:00 p.m.: Luckily her parents buy us coffee in the morning and lunch after the fitting so I cut some spending there.
5:30 p.m.: When I get home, Jon and I get another Zipcar and go to Target for a few other household things we need. We also grab some groceries while we’re out and spend a total of $150 that I split with him. I keep rationalizing that we deserve to have our apartment the way we want it, but I still feel stressed.
12:00 p.m.: Today I’m working a double waiting tables at my part-time job, because I picked up an extra shift at the last minute thanks mostly to this damn haircut. We make okay money, which makes me feel a little better, and I only spend about $10 on food since I just ate at the restaurant all day. I’m exhausted, but if I’m at work for 12 hours, I can’t possibly spend any money, and that’s a good thing.
9:00 a.m.: I work from home all day today, so there’s not much of a chance of shopping. I get myself a coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts in the morning, but I have bagels at home. I get cat litter at CVS, but I have a $2 coupon so it’s only $5.99.
12:00 p.m.: Lunch time. I walk over and get a burrito and a smoothie ($10) and stop at CVS again for some soda. I notice my favorite mascara is on sale, so I pick one up ($5) even though I have enough makeup in my bathroom to last me forever.
Total spent: $1150.81
Total deposited: $1300.00
Lots of shopping, lots of stress and guilt over how much I shopped. All week long I neglected to return the phone calls from the Department of Higher Education who keep calling about the loan payments I’m late on. I got paid three days ago, and I’m almost broke again. I spend 60 hours a week working, yet somehow am still living paycheck to paycheck and am ignoring my debts. I need to get it together!
Get the “Conscious Spending” chapter from my book – for free
It’s easy to assume that anyone who lives paycheck-to-paycheck just doesn’t earn enough money. Sometimes this is true…but more frequently, they simply haven’t defined financial priorities: what they love enough to spend on, and what doesn’t really matter.
My book (available on Amazon) contains a FULL chapter on this. Today, I’m giving you that entire Chapter , “Conscious Spending” here, where you’ll see things like:
- How my friend spends $21,000 per year going out (guilt-free)
- Why another one of my friends is able to spend $5,000 per year on SHOES
- The non-profit employee who saves $6,000 per year on a small salary
- Much more
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