A Week In the Bay Area, CA On Unemployment

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.
It's hard enough being laid off any time of year, but losing your job around the holidays/the new year is especially difficult, scary, and demoralizing. If you've been laid off in the past few months (or have been in past years), how are you coping and surviving? Let us know here.

Today: a woman on unemployment who spends some of her money this week on a BuzzBallz.
Trigger Warning: this diary discusses addiction and recovery.
Occupation: Unemployed
Industry: Retail
Age: 29
Location: Bay Area, CA
Salary: $450/week from unemployment (was about $50,000)
Net Worth: -$73,938 (Cash: $813, investments: $115, credit cards: -$2,028, student loans: -$72,838 (studied at an HBCU in Washington D.C., didn't finish, transferred to local state school, one year left to go!))
Debt: -$74,866
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $450 per week on unemployment
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $700 toward $1,990 rent on a one-bed split with my fiancé, he pays more proportionately based on our incomes.
Loans: Typically $95 a month but paused through January
Gym: usually $50 (paused)
Hulu: $11.99
iCloud Storage: $2.99
Affirm Payments: $108 (for bag I bought pre my store closing)
Acorns: $5 per week
DoorDash Dash Pass: $9.99
Cell Phone: $144
Health Insurance: $38 (right now due to unemployment on healthcare marketplace)
Dental: $14
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?
Going to college was always expected of me especially since my dad and stepmom graduated from a top local state university. Unfortunately, due to broken down communication, my parents didn't have any plans set in place for how I'd actually attend. The summer before I was a high school senior, they basically told me that I better apply for as many scholarships and grants as possible. Through a combo of help and fee waivers, I applied to 13 schools and was accepted to 8. I earned approximately $20,000 worth of scholarships. Also, unfortunately, I was never taught how to properly manage and account for funds so I spent my work-study money and struggled after my freshman year of college, hence why I'm not done yet!
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We talked about when there was and was not money. My parents have all always had a "make money to spend money" mentality. Due to their collegiate backgrounds, my dad and stepmom were more well-off than my mom, but all of their spending behaviors were pretty much the same. I was told to save but rarely, and never taught how to save.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I did a bunch of community outreach in high school that earned me a stipend that ended at $100 a month by the time I graduated high school. I bought my own snacks and a $30 a month bus pass with this money. My first real jobs were in college as a front desk gal at the boys' dorm (lol) and a sales associate with the same company that just laid me off as a manager (sad).
Did you worry about money growing up?
I definitely worried about money. There were times when all we had was ramen for dinner and Hot Cheetos and a Gatorade for lunch. There were times when the lights and heat weren't on. Unfortunately, I never felt comfortable sharing this with my dad because I knew he'd take me from my mom with whom I have an extremely close relationship.
Do you worry about money now?
I do worry about money now. I worry about being able to ever pay off my loans, about not saving enough for my emergency fund and retirement, about ever being able to afford a home with my fiancé, about having to continue to help my mother and brother, and about getting a suitable job.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
While I've always been financially responsible for myself, I'll be honest and say I haven't had to ask for help since I was 27. I can count on my dad and stepmom to help me in a pinch though and I'm so grateful for that. I can also always live at home with either parent if I really needed to.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Lol no.

Day One

8:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off as I'm tossing and turning. I stay in bed for the next 45 minutes going over my accounts, reading and responding to texts in our best friend group chat, and generally waking up.
9:15 a.m. — Time to get my life together. Today I need to do loads of laundry, apply for more jobs, and complete an exercise for my fiancé's counselor. He's struggled with addiction over the last few years (!) and finally made the decision to spend time at a residential program. I'm hoping this exercise gets him to see the negative impact his addiction has had on our relationship and his relationships with his family and friends. I potty, make a Nespresso, and open the blinds. I'm making today great!
10:30 a.m. — Put in five loads of laundry that I've been procrastinating on since I have to drag them in batches across our apartment complex. Ugh! $9
10:56 a.m. — Hop on and call Ulta customer service. I'm missing a package that's a Christmas gift/birthday gift that I need this week! Hop off the call annoyed that I have to wait three business days to see if it arrives. FaceTime my cousin whose mom is working on a job lead for me — it might come through! Fingers crossed!
1 p.m. — My nail lady and I have a burgeoning friendship and she's offered to assist me with getting some stuff to update my apartment. Unfortunately for me, she also happens to have a professional organization business on the side and takes my place to task leaving me super overwhelmed (even though I know she is right about a lot...change is hard). I switch laundry over and lug it back to the apartment sometime later. $4.50
2 p.m. — We drive to Ross and spend two hours browsing, sorting, and buying. I resist buying the highlighter pink Vans of my dreams (and in a freaking women's size 9!) even though it kills me. I walk away with a few new bed pillows, a few decorative pillows, a sheet set, a shower curtain, a hand towel for the bathroom, tissue paper, a step stool, a sponge holder, and a set of gift bags (holidays are here, shawty). My friend says I need to be a little selfish and do this updating for myself (we are living in a '90s bachelor pad). I believe that this is a lot of change all at once and probably will not take her up on the organizing at this time/do what I can on my own now that I have her suggestions. $44
5:45 p.m. — I spend 45 minutes agonizing over whether or not to accept the help from my nail lady friend. Though I had a decent childhood, times were sometimes tight through early adulthood and this all just seems frivolous. There's also the fact that my friend typically charges thousands of dollars for her organizing services and is trying to do this all for free. I come up with a solo solution after talking it through with my cousin, and then have a tequila and orange juice to de-stress (I promise I have better, more mindful coping mechanisms after eight years in therapy).
1:43 a.m. — What a Monday. Drained. I'll talk to you all tomorrow.
Daily Total: $57.50

Day Two

11 a.m. — Wake up hungover, ew. Take a few Advil and get the Nespresso going. Call my mom. Start working on an exercise that I'll be sharing with my fiancé and vice versa tomorrow; I'll need to email this to the counselor today!
1:28 p.m. — I send off my exercise only to then speak with one of my fiancé's counselors who lets me know that we will not in fact be speaking tomorrow. It's annoying because I'm not just waiting around all day for this to happen and I'm excited about what this can do for us. I save some jobs to apply for during tomorrow's application marathon I'm having.
4 p.m. — I realize that I'm out of weed. I'm getting all of my drinking and smoking in now since when my fiancé comes home next week, there will be none of that. I hop on Weedmaps, find what I like, and order delivery. I decide I need to also grab a cheap wine since my two best friends and I have been having amazing wine-inspired conversations the past few evenings. I also grab Hennessy, a soda, and a Snickers ice cream bar from the corner store. Promptly eat the ice cream bar by shoveling it into my mouth. $39.78
5:15 p.m. — Weed arrives! How it went from $39 for an eighth to $53.50 for using my debit card is beyond me... $53.50
5:30 p.m. — I forgot to buy Swishers at the liquor store, ugh. Also get sunflower seeds for the next few days or so. $9.96
9:03 p.m. — Finish folding allllll of the laundry, shower, cook dinner, and have several FaceTime calls including with my fiancé. Wine night gets canceled so I have one shot of liquor. Too tired to even roll up a blunt.
Daily Total: $103.24

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — Lol. Snooze.
10:20 a.m. — Alright I'm up. Respond to texts and emails. Review my to-do list. Run to the restroom to get the day going! I have a crap ton of things to do.
11 a.m. — Do a "stay at home" beat face. L.A. Girl pro concealer, Laura Mercier translucent powder, Benefit Hoola bronzer, Anastasia dip brow pomade, Fenty Beauty cream blush, Morphe Cosmetics highlighter, MAC Haute & Naughty mascara, Urban Decay setting spray, Fenty Beauty gloss bomb, and good old Carmex. Tidy up and get going.
11:51 a.m. — I'm spending the day balancing work (applying for jobs, vlogging, and writing a new blog post). I've always loved social media, but during quarantine, I thought fuck it, lemme start a YouTube channel. Lol. I'm being really transparent with my circle of family, friends, etc. and I'm documenting a few of my days on unemployment. This also includes Nespresso, don't worry.
1:42 a.m. — Just applied for hella jobs, so I break from my to-do list for breakfast/lunch. I have a poke bowl with onion, fried onion, tobiko, jalapeños, corn, tuna, and spicy poke sauce delivered, and it is extremely satisfying ($22). I haven't had it in months and I used to eat this two times a week. $22
2:58 p.m. — I spend some time cleaning my bathroom. Before moving on to cleaning my patio, I get a notification that the Hundreds and Sanrio have a collab. Shit. Immediately place an order for a tee and mug using Sezzle (these payment programs will be the death of my barely existent savings account). Already afraid of the comments... $17.34
11:32 p.m. — The rest of the afternoon passes in a blur of cleaning and moving my bookcase across the living/dining area and taking several calls from fam and friends. At some point, I lend my best friend $10. I talk to my fiancé, make chili, and binge YouTube videos for the rest of the evening. $10
Daily Total: $49.33

Day Four

10:10 a.m. — Roll out of bed. Send my fiancé my part of the cell phone bill (above already accounted for). Finish up with my bookcase and lounge around. Call Ulta customer service AGAIN and they send my order out again and issue me a gift card for a free gift with purchase.
1:39 p.m. — I finally get bathed, dressed, teeth brushed, and walk to Target for provisions. I get chicken wings, skirt steak, pork chops, San Pellegrino soda, and a pint of ice cream ($29.94). I stop at the corner store and pick up a BuzzBallz (lmao) and a pack of Top Ramen ($4.93). $34.87
8:30 p.m. — Finish putting out my Christmas decor. Feel sad that I can't afford a real tree this year but am so grateful to be able to have a roof over my head, food to eat, and be able to still enjoy other aspects of the holidays. Eat leftover chili for dinner, then lounge around the couch eating sunflower seeds and immersing myself in cooking videos and Feel Good diaries.
12:43 a.m. — Watch adult videos, handle business, and KO. Less than a week until I see my fiancé. He's going through it, but he will be okay. I love that man so much.
Daily Total: $34.87

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — Ha!
9:41 a.m. — Okay cool! Roll around, check group chat threads, emails, and accounts. Ignore my bestie in the group chat. She's just so negative about her life sometimes and I have my own shit going on. I just always come from a place of gratitude and positivity, so dealing with all her troubles can be a LOT sometimes. I still try to be super supportive because I love her! I apply for more jobs via my phone. (I do this throughout the day as I see new opportunities pop up in case it seems like I'm getting nowhere with the job search!)
10:42 a.m. — Start to change into fresh clothes and remember I needed to wash and style my hair this morning. Immediately move to PJs and breakfast instead for the moment, lol. Decide to wake and bake before starting my day. Breakfast is bacon and a fried egg. Yum.
11:30 a.m. — I begin the laborious task of washing, deep conditioning, blow-drying, and straightening my kinky curly hair. I even tack on the task of self-tanning (I have albinism — I go for the lightest shade which adds a subtle glow that only I notice lmao). I also wait around for my fiancé's Christmas gift. Goodness, I can't stand shopping around the holidays!
3:15 p.m. — Chat on FaceTime with one of my besties and head to the corner store for frying oil and a cheeky liquor purchase. This should last me through the weekend. Once my fiancé comes home from rehab, there will be no cheeky liquor purchases for a long while, so I am kinda going in this weekend. Eat two gummies and cheers to Friday in between applying for jobs from my phone and couch today. Make fried chicken and fries for dinner and watch a movie. Chill ass Friday night. $27.77
Daily Total: $27.77

Day Six

10:50 a.m. — Wake up and make chicken and waffles. So simple yet so satisfying. After, I spend the day floating in and out of sleep. I guess my mind is weary because I've been so sleepy lately.
11 p.m. — Spend the day talking to and FaceTiming with family and friends in between sleep. It's so cold that I think the heater has been pulling me to sleep. At this point, though, I wake up and jump between watching YouTube videos and reading romance novels (two of my fave past times).
2:40 a.m. — Finally go to sleep anxious about my mom and brother spending the night tomorrow! Is that a no-spend day, I see?!?
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

10 a.m. — Wow I feel like I had a sleeping marathon. Call my mom and confirm she's sleeping over tonight. We argue because it's raining and she doesn't want to come. I win in the end though. I don't want her taking advantage of the fact that I'm jobless to try and change our plans. Certify my benefits for the last two weeks for EDD.
2 p.m. — Confirm when she and my brother are coming and she packs up a bunch of things to bring with them (Christmas decor, food, things I've left at their apartment...). I get annoyed because she's apparently been expecting me to pay for their Lyft to get to my place which is a smooth $30. Then on top of that, she argues me from an Uber (cheaper) specifically to a Lyft "because she won't be comfortable." Wait for them to be ready and complete my applications to finish my last year of school next fall. $32.15
3:18 p.m. — Mom and brother hop in the Lyft to my place and I grab milk, sunflower seeds, and OJ from the corner store. $13.66
6:45 p.m. — The afternoon flies by! It's lovely to have their company (I'm in their bubble). My mom treats us to a few bottles of wine (cab sauv, all the way!). She also made steak and baked potatoes, yum! My little brother is obsessed with our Oculus Quest so now he's gotta have one for Christmas, d'oh (somehow).
10:30 p.m. — I'm full and sleepy after dinner and wine with mama. I start to get crabby after watching Cinderella, so to bed I go! What a long week.
Daily Total: $45.81
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