Kiki* is a 28-year-old in San Diego who used to be sales manager at a large shoe company. A year ago, her company relocated. Since then, she’s worked part-time at several small companies in various roles, but has been unable to find steady employment. (She thinks her lack of a college degree is making this especially hard.) She has cut back superfluous expenses like eating out and going to the movies as much as she can, and her money goes to rent, insurance, her cell phone, and occasionally a little treat for herself. She’s in a long-term relationship and she and her boyfriend split the rent.
With sporadic income, Kiki is scrambling every week to find enough money to pay her bills. She currently relies on savings from her first job and help from her mother. She is looking forward to getting a new job so she can replenish her currently dwindling funds and pay back her awesome mom.
Right now, her main focus is staying in her apartment and keeping her head above water. Eventually, she’d like to re-build her savings and get back to traveling, which she loves.
- Yearly income: ~$10,000, depending on odd jobs
- Rent: $950
- Phone: $110
- Electricity: $50
- Internet: $80
- Car insurance: $58.75
- Renters insurance: $13.59
- Netflix: $16.37
7:00 am, $16.37 — Netflix
This is automatically taken out of my account so I don’t usually notice it. This is the one unnecessary thing I still pay for; I’ve canceled cable and all my various subscription boxes. I need Netflix to stay sane and I don’t feel even the slightest bit bad about it.
9:00 am, $30 — Background check fee
I’ve been applying for jobs like crazy, and nobody tells you how expensive that can be. I put in an application for a job at a luxury dog grooming and boarding facility—I love pooches!—and they wanted $30 to do a background check! The thought of spending the $30 and not being guaranteed a position filled me with anxiety. On the other hand (paw?) they seemed very interested in me and honestly, why wouldn’t they want me?! So, I went for it, even though it meant skipping an entree at dinner tonight.
8:30 pm, $10 — Fried artichoke hearts appetizer
I had plans to see a friend and am in serious need of human interaction, so I agree to meet her, even though I can’t really afford it. I don’t offer up an explanation for why I only got an app and water, because honestly, I am embarrassed. This friend would understand because she’s a good person, but she has a fancy corporate job and has no problem dropping $50 on a steak on a Wednesday night. We’re just living in different worlds right now.
Day total: $56.37
10:00 am, $4.05 — Latte
I met a woman for a job interview at Starbucks. The gig was to do some random jobs around her house, like organizing things. I felt weird about not having something to drink while I waited, so I bought a latte. It was fine, but I felt a little bitter that I allowed weird social pressure to make me spend four dollars on something I don’t really need. Oh well.
11:00 am, $10.63 — Tacos
I bought enough tacos from a fast food place to last me for three days. I don’t feel great about the lack of nutrients, but the tacos were cheap and filling, and that’s what I needed.
12:00 pm, $0.99 — Money order
My landlord only lives in-state for about half of the year. So, she has given her tenants deposit slips so that they can deposit rent checks at her bank. I tried to deposit half my rent (I pay it in two monthly installments) in cash, and the bank wouldn’t let me. So I had to go procure a money order.
12:30 pm, $500 — My portion of the rent
Ugh, this one hurts. I detest paying rent because it really feels like I’m just throwing money down a hole. If I were paying off a mortgage, at least I would be working towards something that’s mine. But I like having a place to live so… here we are.
Day Total: $515.67
11:00 am, $22.32 — Groceries
I needed a few things, and while I’m not thrilled about spending money, a girl’s gotta eat. Aldi is a great grocery store because I can get a lot of food for not a lot of money. I was able to buy three frozen pizzas for the cost of getting one delivered. (I’ve been craving pizza, and this was satisfying enough to get it off my mind.)
Day total: $22.32
Nothing! I didn’t spend a single dollar today! These were exciting when I did have a job, and they’re even more thrilling now. I spent the day working on my resume, putting in applications, watching the new Sabrina on Netflix, and cuddling with my sweet dog, Shelby.
Day total: $0.00
9:30 am, $3.78 — Dog treats
I took Shelby for a walk and passed a dog store. I decided she needed a treat; she’s the best and helps keep me sane during this tough time.
Day Total: $3.78
9:00 am, $80 — Internet
This bill is just over a week late so I am relieved to have it paid but $80 is a lot to take out of my account right now. But the internet is a necessity these days—especially with job searching!—so hooray, I have internet for another month!
10:30 am, $31.82 — Gas
I hate this. Thirty bucks for 9.12 gallons of gas. I am privileged to have a vehicle that works (for now) and a license to drive it, and I am grateful for these things. I just hate watching dollar bills flow into my truck. Plus, I hate to think about the environmental ramifications of gas. I made a mental note to think about getting an electric car when I get a new job.
Day Total: $111.82
11:00 am, $30.56 — Personal care
Target is my downfall, but I have been learning throughout this whole process to only buy what I need at the moment so it wasn’t too bad. I bought shampoo, conditioner, and some small grocery items. I’m not overly excited about this purchase but keeping up my appearance helps me feel normal, and that’s important right now. If I feel bad about myself, looking for a job is even harder, and I need all the strength I can get in this fight. Plus, the shampoo I bought smells really good.
Day total: $30.56
Total weekly spend: $740.52
*Name has been changed