The Money Diaries: The 25-year old restaurant worker on his way up
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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.
Today’s post is by a 25-year old married man who works at a restaurant but is looking for bigger and better opportunities elsewhere.
10:45 a.m: Work called, wondering where I am. Turns out I was scheduled for 10:30 and not 12 noon as I thought. I apologized and explained I must’ve misread the schedule and will be there ASAP.
10:46 a.m: Left for work and spent the drive wondering what the manager was going to do. Getting fired crossed my mind. My reserves have been used up maintaining my bills while training for this job and pulling only minimum wage. How was I going to cover rent a month from now?
11:15 a.m: Got to work 45 minutes late. The Manager gives me a written warning that says “future violations will result in termination” and makes me sign it. Wow.
2:45 p.m: My shift is over and I only made $40. My pockets feel painfully light.
4:11 p.m: I arrive home, check my email and see a bank alert that my account was overdrawn by $3.44. I can’t believe I forgot that automated credit card payment.
6:11 p.m: Mailed rent check to landlord. I always hate sending out so much money to one person at a time. I now have about $260 and I need $1350 to cover my budget for the coming month. I’ve got a job interview lined up for Tuesday; hopefully I can finally start making closer to what time is worth.
8:45 p.m: Had a short phone conversation with a friend about banks and their expensive overdraft charges. I recommended ING Direct’s Electric Orange checking account which earns interest on your balance and doesn’t have overdraft charges, although I was secretly hoping to earn the $25 referral credit…
4:10 p.m: Long day at work so far. Had an opportunity to leave or take one last table before I go. It’s kind of a waste of time to have only one table at a time, but I decided to take it anyway. Also asked my manager to schedule my next two weeks with as many shifts as possible. No school, so I need to make the most of my free time.
5:45pm: Driving home. That last table worked out favorably and I made $25 on it. Leaving work with $91 in my pocket. Not great, but not horrible. I notice the check oil light is flickering on my dash telling me I need to feed it some more lubricant. I can’t afford to spend the $400+ on the repair right now so I spend about $9 every two weeks on some cheap oil until I can. The power steering fluid is leaking as well, but that’s only $3 every other month. A pain, but still a minor expense.
7:45 p.m: Carpooled to a going-away party for a friend of mine. Saved money on gas, but bought a 6-pack of beer so I don’t seem like a mooch.
7:20 p.m: Today was excellently spent relaxing and recovering from a hectic week. Fortunately, the only financial decision today was regarding dinner. Decision: Go to Chipotle and share a salad with the better half ($14 for two salads), or go to Publix to purchase the ingredients and make our own. We considered the possibility of sharing one salad and only spending $7…
7:43 p.m: At Publix, our total comes to $12.84 for lean ground beef, a tomato, an avocado, cilantro, a lemon, an onion, garlic and sour cream. This will make enough to feed us three dinners.
9:00 a.m: Left for the Rapids Water Park with my wife, her 12-year-old sister and her 14-year-old cousin. Their tickets were covered by their parents with a little extra money for food. Our tickets were free with “2 for 1” coupons which I had from earlier this year. Total cost: $5 for parking and $5 to rent a locker, plus a few bucks for the gas to get there.
7:20 p.m: We used the rest of yesterday’s dinner to feed the four of us. Well worth it.
7:30 a.m: Getting up for a big job interview. The position is in my field and would be a huge jump in income for me. Additionally, it was referred through my university and allows me to earn an additional credit toward my degree each semester. Two birds with one stone!
12:30 p.m: Long interview day. Met with three separate individuals and did a programming test to see if I’m the real deal. My contact said his boss was very impressed with me, which he said is very hard to do. I personally feel that I nailed it, but I can only wait now.
1:40 p.m: On the drive home, I hear this very distinct knocking coming from my car. I pull over to inspect the hood and see that my engine has lost all of it’s oil and is bone dry. My engine has never run out of oil that quickly and normally my oil pressure light would turn on. I waited 30 minutes on the side of the road in the blistering 90 degree weather for the engine to cool. All I could think about was how much this will cost to fix.
1:43 p.m: While I’m standing over the car, I get a phone call from the company I just interviewed with. I’m being extended an offer for the position! I’ll need to go through the formalities, but I can start as soon as HR does a background check. Great. Now I just need to figure out how I can get there.
4:00 p.m: After a 30 mph crawl back to the apartment, I’m more than ready to call it a day. I’ll deal with the car tomorrow. I enjoy a reheated slice of pizza that was left over from lunch and unwind.
9:30 a.m: I’m pretty sure I wasn’t scheduled to work until noon, but I still called just to be sure. Even though I had the job offer, I didn’t want to count my chickens.
10:45 a.m: Reading notices that two of my bills are a month overdue. The first time I’ve ever been behind on my bills because of a lack of funds. Decided it would be best to pay them with my American Express for now. It will keep the accounts current and I’ll pay a little extra on it in the long run.
3:30 p.m: Uneventful day at work. It was slow, so cuts got made early. I made $38 since I got on at noon.
6:00 p.m: Wife helped me organize my clutter and discussed what to do with all of it. We’re going to stop by the management office tomorrow morning to see if we can have a yard sale next weekend. Get rid of unnecessary stuff AND make a few bucks? Why not.
8:00 p.m: We made ramen for dinner. Added some lettuce and a little tuna for some substance. We left the provided seasoning out and used some of our own. Didn’t turn out half bad!
10:00 a.m: After a lazy morning, my wife and I got up to get started organizing the rest of the stuff we moved into the apartment.
10:40 a.m: Management had no problems with us having a yard sale. We go around and post the news in the other buildings in the complex asking if others want to join in and sell their items.
1:10 p.m: We went to the AT&T store to change our cell phone plan but we were misled, as they no longer deal with AT&T. Wasted gas.
4:00 p.m: Back home, we go through about half of our apartment and have a tall stack of things to sell as a result.
7:00 p.m: A friend comes over and helps me change the rollers on our patio door. The parts cost $12.00 and we saved on the handyman cost.
In sum: Despite a large amount of life changes all happening at the same time, my wife and I focused our expenses and wrung out every last drop of cash we had at our disposal to make it through this last month.
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