Italian Woman Wins Case To Be Granted Sick Pay To Look After Ill Dog

Occupation: Special Education Teacher

Industry: Public Education (K-12)

Age: 22

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Salary: $44,000

Paycheck (1x/month): $2,950, more if I attend paid professional developments.

Monthly Expenses

Housing Costs: $747.50 for my half. I rent a one bedroom with my boyfriend of six years. It's our first apartment out of college and we love it — we can see the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Park from our balcony!

Loan Payments: $150 for student loans, even though they don't enter official repayment until 2020.

All Other Monthly Expenses

Electricity: ~$60 for my half

Wi-Fi: $24 for my half

Cell Phone: $0, thanks Dad!

Grad School: $96. I'm getting my master's degree right now, but am thankfully getting a lot of scholarship funding to cover the cost.

Union Dues: $82

Health/Dental/Vision/Life Insurance: $0, covered 100% by my school district

Retirement: $384, taken out before taxes and my check gets cut

Credit Card Bill: I pay my credit card off in full each month, usually $800-$1,200

Netflix: $0, thanks to my mom and dad

Hulu: $4 for my half (shared with BF)

HBO: $0, shout out to my BFF

Amazon: $0, thanks BF's mom and dad!

Transportation: I refill my Metro card as needed

Day One

5:45 a.m. — Ugh, Mondays. My alarm goes off and for the first time in weeks I get up and out of bed. I need to leave my apartment by 6:25 to get the Metro, so I don't have much time to snooze. Make myself coffee, a PB&J, and apple slices for lunch.

6:30 a.m. — I made it to the train on time, a miracle for a dark and cloudy Monday. I have to reload my Metro card, so I put $20. I did the math and I don't take the Metro enough to make a monthly pass worth it, so I just throw $20 on whenever it gets low. I used to be able to walk to work in less than five minutes, but because of an issue in the district I work in, I was relocated to a different school partway through the school year. I'm still angry about the move because of my new commute and because my old school was amazing.


7:45 a.m. — My class wins the attendance award for third grade this morning — 100% attendance! I teach a self-contained special-education class for students in kindergarten and third grade. We only have three students right now so it's not that hard to win the attendance award, but my kids love it and it makes the Monday much less gray.

8:05 a.m. — I eat breakfast with my students every morning. Our school runs a program that provides free breakfast to every student each morning to ensure they get a full morning meal, and to help get kids to school on time. Today, it's cinnamon glazed pancakes and I honestly enjoy them.

12:15 p.m. — Finally lunch time. One of my students is absent today so it's a very low-key day. My kids have the last lunch of the day as well, so the finish line is in sight when I send them off to the cafeteria. I eat in my classroom (I haven't really made any friends at this school yet) and catch up on emails. After reading more about the Paul Manafort and George Papadopoulos indictments, I immediately text my little sister who is a political science and economics double major in Washington, D.C. (and one of the smartest people I know). I'm still uncertain about whether this will bring real change in this abomination of an administration, but it's always fun to talk politics with her and dream of the day this horrible nightmare of a presidency will end.

2:15 p.m. — Made it through Monday! We did a science experiment at the end of the day to determine if common vegetables are actually fruits, so I snack on leftover cucumber and red pepper while I clean up the room and prep for tomorrow.

2:45 p.m. — My BF picks me up from school. He's a freelance film editor and just finished a job, so he's on the hunt for something new. I love when he's on a job because we gotta pay the bills, but having him home in the afternoons is wonderful.

3:30 p.m. — I'm originally from Boston, so these 100+ degree days in October have been horrible. But it's finally getting "cooler" so we're making lasagna for dinner tonight. (I don't consider high-60s cool, but when in SoCal...) I pull out my mom's sauce recipe and start cooking since it needs to simmer for at least three hours. I also start making monster Oreo cookies I saw on does not go well. The food coloring makes the white chocolate seize up immediately, and my second non-colored batch somehow seizes as well. I feel horrible because I promised my students I'd bring them Halloween treats. One of the moms in my class said she'd send a cookie decorating kit in with her son for Halloween so I keep my fingers crossed and hope my students won't be too disappointed.

4 p.m. — I have a call set up with one of my mentors. Things have been really challenging lately at work and I need help. I've been asked to do some things that I'm sure are out of compliance with California Education Code and the laws that govern special education, but since I've only been at this school for a month and I'm a first-year teacher, I've been hesitant to put my foot down. Talking with my mentor is helpful and I feel a little better knowing that I was right and something fishy is going on, but I'm still feeling nervous about approaching my administration.

5:30 p.m. — Since the Oreos went so horribly, I decide to test run the other Halloween project I have planned: slime! I mix everything together (glue, water, food coloring, glitter, saline solution, and baking soda) and thankfully it all comes together as intended. My BF and I have way too much fun playing with it. I hope my kiddos like it as much as we do!

7 p.m. — Lasagna is ready! I'm happy with how it turned out. BF and I eat on the couch (a bad habit we are trying and failing to break) and watch the last two episodes of Mindhunter. We decide that overall the season was good, but things go off the rails a little in the final few episodes. We switch over to Brooklyn Nine Nine for the rest of the night and make plans to watch Stranger Things season 2 tomorrow for Halloween.

9:30 p.m. — My bedtime has gotten so early since I started teaching! I'm less tired than usual but know I should sleep now so I don't regret it in the morning. BF comes to bed and snuggles for a while so I don't have to go to bed alone, then lets me get some sleep.

Daily Total: $20

Day Two

5:45 a.m. — I wake up and realize our air conditioning is broken AGAIN. It's been on all night but the thermostat reads 82 degrees. No thank you. I make a mental note to ask BF to put in a maintenance request with our landlord today. This is the fourth time our AC has broken in as many months. I'm not thrilled.

6 a.m. — Keurig coffee, PB&J, apple slices again.

6:40 a.m. — Make it to the train on time again! Tap my Metro card that I loaded up yesterday and tune into podcasts. I finish an episode of Feminasty and start an episode of my all-time favorite podcast Pod Save America #FriendOfThePod

7:25 a.m. — Drink my coffee and get ready for the day. Today's prep work includes cutting tiny shapes out of black construction paper so we can make bats and jack-o-lanterns using geometric shapes. It's super tedious but I'm hoping it'll be a fun activity for my students.

7:50 a.m. — Bean and cheese burritos for breakfast. Not my ideal breakfast food but they're not too bad. (And, again, free breakfast.) My kids are all riled up about Halloween and I have a feeling it's going to be a long day. While my kids are eating, I pay my credit card bill and Venmo BF for my half of the rent. Halloween means end of the month, so it's bills day.

12:15 p.m. — Lunch time! PB&J, apple slices, and a bean and cheese burrito my kids didn't eat this morning. The more I work with six- and eight-year-olds, the more I feel like I eat like a six- or eight-year-old. We made slime before lunch as part of our Halloween-themed day (it was epic), so I use my lunch period to clean up some of the giant mess we made.

1:15 p.m. — On Tuesdays, my kids get out an hour early so teachers can attend professional development or staff meetings. We have professional development today on integrating social emotional learning and art! I'm excited for this one.

3 p.m. — The professional development was SO good! It was all about how important the arts are for children who experience trauma and adverse experiences. Almost every student at our school is considered a low-income student, and well over half are English Language Learners, two major markers for social, emotional, and academic barriers. I hope our school takes what this speaker had to say to heart. While I wait for BF to (ever so nicely!) pick me up, I squeeze in prep work in since I'll lose my morning to a parent conference tomorrow.

4 p.m. — BF was later than expected picking me up; he walks dogs when he's not working in film and a walk ran late. I'm always so jealous when he gets to hang out with pups all day! Once we get home, I immediately crash on the couch and we start watching Brooklyn Nine Nine because BF doesn't want to start Stranger Things until it's dark and spooky out.

6:30 p.m. — Leftover lasagna for dinner! We made enough to feed a small army yesterday. I also make myself a drink, hibiscus agua fresca from Trader Joe's mixed with gin. It's amazing; the hibiscus and gin complement each other super well. We watch three episodes of Stranger Things while we eat lasagna and leftover Halloween candy. (We didn't get any trick-or-treaters.)

9 p.m. — My phone starts buzzing like crazy. A group chat I'm in with other grad school friends is blowing up over an assignment I totally forget to do. I decide it's too late to start it tonight and promise to do it during my breaks tomorrow. I finished undergrad in May but my study and work habits are already trash.

9:30 p.m. — Bedtime! Snuggle up with the BF and pray our AC gets fixed soon.

Daily Total: $0

Day Three

5:45 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I am exhausted. I want to snooze and Lyft to work so badly but alas, I have a parent conference this morning. Drag myself out of bed and start the day.

6 a.m. — To no one's surprise: Keurig coffee, PB&J, and apple slices. There's a union meeting this morning that I can't go to but I'm hoping I can snag a leftover bagel.

6:45 a.m. — On time for the train three days in a row! Last week, I took a Lyft to work three out of the five mornings so I'm patting myself on the back for my timeliness. I listen to Pod Save America during my commute.

7:20 a.m. — The mom that's coming this morning is a little late for our conference, but it goes well. She's a kickass lady and her son is one of my favorite students. (Shhh, don't tell! I know we're not supposed to have favorites, but we do.) We agree that her son is making a lot of progress this year but we still have a long way to go in reading and behavior. I leave the conference on a hopeful note.

8:20 a.m. — No bagels. I grab a cup of lukewarm coffee from the lounge before taking my students outside for P.E.

10:20 a.m. — Recess, thank goodness; it was a long morning. I drink the rest of my coffee and catch up on emails. I'm an Inbox Zero kind of woman but I've been behind since last week and the 182 unread emails are stressing me out. I cut it down to 82 before recess ends and vow to get it under control by the end of the day.

12:15 p.m. — The long morning turns into a longer afternoon. Wednesdays are hard, y'all. I remember I have assignments to finish before class at 5 p.m., so I begrudgingly start those. I find out my friends in the grad program who teach middle and high school don't have class tonight and I'm super bitter. I hate the grad program I'm in, but I need it to boost my teaching credential (which will boost my paycheck), and this program gave me the most scholarship money. I eat my lunch and work at my desk until it's time to pick up my students.

2:27 p.m. — After my students leave for the day, I quickly clean up my classroom before calling an Uber to take me to Westchester/Playa Del Rey for grad school classes. It's only 17 miles away, but it usually takes over an hour to get there, so I leave right as school ends. I'm grateful to be going in the opposite direction of the Dodgers game tonight. (Not that I care about the Series this year. Go, Sox!)


4 p.m. — Oh my god, that Uber took forever. Traffic wasn't bad but the driver took such a circuitous route. I arrive on campus feeling exhausted and crabby, so I stop at the café in the building and grab a brewed coffee in my to-go cup. They charge you for a medium but I can fit more than a large in my cup! I also buy a chocolate chip bagel with reduced fat cream cheese. None of my friends from the program are here yet so I hang out and go window shopping online. Gap Factory and Old Navy are both having sales and I desperately need new clothes.


5:50 p.m. — Class is a snooze. I know I should be paying attention, and feel like a shitty student, but I still can't bring myself to close my laptop. I do discover that after paying my BF for my half of rent and paying off my credit card for October, I have a sizable chunk of extra money in my checking account. After a quick consult with my financial manager, a.k.a. my dad, I put $500 extra towards my student loans. It gives me such a rush of pride. I'm carrying almost $18,000 in loans from undergrad and even though they aren't technically in active repayment yet, I've been paying them down a little each month for the past four years. Here's hoping for debt free living in the not so distance future! I also put $627.27 into my savings account.


7:30 p.m. — Class ends and after chatting with my professor briefly about a reading intervention program I'm implementing in my classroom, I call an Uber. The ride home can be brutal sometimes, but tonight I get home in under an hour!


8:22 p.m. — I get home and BF has made dinner; my hero! He's on the phone with his two best friends and playing a video game with them so I quietly grab stir fry (chicken, broccolini, carrots, and red pepper) and rice along with a very large glass of pinot grigio before digging into lesson planning.

9:20 p.m. — BF finishes playing his game with friends right as I wrap up creating anchor charts and lesson plans for tomorrow. I want to watch an episode of TV with him but I'm tired. An early bedtime ensues, complete with the usual pre-sleep cuddle routine.

Daily Total: $529.67

Day Four

5:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I feel miserable. I'm exhausted and my body aches. Snooze for 10 minutes before dragging myself out of bed.

6:05 a.m. — Coffee, PB&J, apple slices.

6:38 a.m. — I leave a few minutes late but am still on track to make the train...until I realize I forgot my coffee on the kitchen counter. There is absolutely no way I can make it through this day without coffee, so I abandon the responsible commute plan and stop at Starbucks. I have money left on a gift card and put the difference on my credit card. I get a grande skinny vanilla latte and feel hard twinges of homesickness. It's been so long since I've had a hot latte and it makes me think of fall and winter back in New England. Fifteen days until I go back home!


6:45 a.m. — Grab an UberPOOL to work. I try not to Uber or Lyft to work if the fare is over $4, but I'm running too late to get the train today.


7:10 a.m. — Spend the morning prepping, as usual. We're starting a brand-new English language arts unit today, and I'm worried about how it will go. My third graders aren't reading yet, so ELA has been hard this year. But I know they have the capacity to learn the content, so I'm determined to adapt the curriculum to make it fit their needs.

10:20 a.m. — Things did not go very smoothly this morning. My students got frustrated and uninterested very quickly because the ELA curriculum is not built to support their learning needs. I make a note to message the instructional lead at my old school to see if she has any suggestions because there's no way we can do 30 weeks of this. I eat my breakfast (Cheerios and a banana today) and read emails.

12:15 p.m. — Better afternoon! We do mindfulness practice after recess and it's really starting to help some of my students. I spend part of my lunch break hunting for a book in the school library (no luck, but our amazing librarian promises to find it for me), then eat my PB&J and catch up on emails.

1:40 p.m. — The school forgot to tell families their kids were being released half an hour early due to parent conferences today. Chaos and madness ensue. I end up staying late to help our librarian wrangle more than 60 third, fourth, and fifth graders who haven't been picked up yet.

3 p.m. — BF picks me up. He really is the best.

3:30 p.m. — FaceTime with my mom. I never thought of myself as someone who was especially close to family until I moved away. My whole life, I'd never been more than 20 minutes away from my immediate family, so I think I took them for granted a little bit.

4:30 p.m. — I have a meeting with an organization that trains and supports teachers to run for office. I adore teaching and love being the classroom, but I want to run for office someday. I feel very strongly that if an elected official is making policy and voting on legislation regarding education, they should know what teaching is like. I want to run for something small like school board in the next five to 10 years and see where things go from there! The meeting goes well but leaves me with a longer to-do list.

5:15 p.m. — The vertical blinds in our apartment are breaking at a truly ridiculous rate. Personally, I think they're atrocious but #renterslife says we gotta keep them. I order metal clips on Amazon to fix the broken blinds. I use the AmazonSmile extension, so part of my purchase benefits Brave New Films, a cool, nonprofit media agency a few of my friends have worked for. I rotate out what organization my AmazonSmile is set to every month or so.


7 p.m. — I have class online tonight. It's kind of a waste of time but I don't mind it since I love my professor. BF makes dinner again: butternut squash mac and cheese. I tell myself it's healthy because of the squash but then I dump a ton of extra cheddar cheese on top. I promise myself to eat healthier in the coming days.

8:20 p.m. — Class is over, so BF and I can finally watch an episode of Stranger Things. I'm not as grabbed by season 2 so far because I feel like Eleven is so much less powerful than she was last season. I don't need to see more broken and traumatized girls and women on screen, you know? Give me badass El back!

9:30 p.m. — Bedtime for me. Snuggles with the BF as per usual.

Daily Total: $15.10

Day Five

5:45 a.m. — Thank god it's Friday.

6:20 a.m. — Coffee, PB&J, apple slices. I'll have to be more creative next week.

6:45 a.m. — Make the train! Having BF pick me up saves me almost $10 on the Metro, so my card still has plenty left this morning.

7:10 a.m. — Drink my coffee and prep for the day. It's another early dismissal day, and on Fridays, I give my kids a half-hour of free choice/playtime, so I don't have quite as much prep work to do.

8 a.m. — Whole-wheat cinnamon coffee cake muffin for breakfast. I'm going to be hungry again in about five minutes. Breakfast conversation includes dinosaurs, France, and cheese. These kids are too funny.

10:20 a.m. — Payday means online shopping apparently. I've been eying The Ordinary's Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion. Since switching to an IUD in January, I've had the worst acne. Being 22 and in a position where I feel like I need to be an expert or authority figure in parent-teacher conferences and IEP meetings, I feel like having acne makes me appear younger and less confident. I'm hoping the retinoid plus a few other new products (that should be arriving today!) will help clear things up.


12:15 p.m. — I'm so exhausted and run down. My students are having a hard time keeping their hands to themselves and waiting their turn to speak. I always feel awful when I grow short tempered with my students; they're still learning to control their challenging behavior and they need love and support more than they need consequences sometimes. I try to strike a balance, but after a long week — it's hard. I eat my lunch, catch up on emails, and start the newest episode of Speechless (an all-time fave!) to boost my mood and ground me in the better attitude I need to have with my students.

1:40 p.m. — I made it through the week, thank goodness. Drop my kids off with their grown-ups and make a break for it. BF picks me up and we head home. He had a miserable day too; his phone broke. It'll be a mopey night in for both of us.

4:30 p.m. — Poor BF has been on the phone for over an hour with the phone company. I get an alert that a package has been delivered; it turns out to be three packages! One is a bag full of leftover Halloween candy from my parents, which BF and I promptly tear into. Another is from my aunt — a cute wooden sign that says "Fall." She knows I've been missing the fall weather back home, so this makes my heart swell. The last contains my long-awaited skincare products from Ulta. I'm very eager to try them out.

6:30 p.m. — We finally get around to making dinner, barebones burrito bowls. I throw white rice in the rice cooker and heat up black beans and fire-roasted corn. When everything's ready, we add a ton of cheddar cheese and guacamole before jumping into Stranger Things.

10 p.m. — It's sad that this is now a late bedtime for me. Snuggles with the BF until I fall asleep.

Daily Total: $14.79

Day Six

10:20 a.m. — There's nothing like 12 hours of sleep after a long week! I didn't intend to sleep this long, but honestly I'm not mad about it. BF puts water on for coffee, but we realize we're out of our usual blend. Dunkin' Donuts sent me free samples of their new Bakery Blend flavors so we try the dulce de leche cookie one. It's kind of gross, but we drink it anyways.

11 a.m. — Decide that this morning calls for donuts (most Saturday mornings do). We live across the street from a California Donuts and are friends with the family that owns it. We pick up chocolate frosted, vanilla frosted, maple glazed, and sugar raised donuts and promptly devour all four like the creatures we are.


2:30 p.m. — Decide we've had enough indoor time today and go for a walk to Los Feliz. We stop at Bru Coffeebar and each get a nitro cold brew. I don't really like mine — it's too bitter — and I wish I had tried the ginger lemonade sparkler. The walk was still nice though; I miss fall but more bearable temperatures have finally arrived.


5:45 p.m. — Get a text from my friend that she wants to push our movie date back a few hours tonight. We were supposed to go at 4:30...then 5:15...then we're aiming for 7:15 p.m. I try not to be annoyed. Now that I have time to make dinner, I get started on shepherd's pie. I cook up ground turkey, peas, carrots, corn, and top it all off with the frozen mashed potatoes from Trader Joe's before throwing it in the oven. The frozen mashed potatoes are SO GOOD. Even my mom prefers them to her own.

6:30 p.m. — By the time dinner is ready, I have to leave! Grab a Lyft to the ArcLight in Hollywood. Right now, I'm using the round up and donate feature in Lyft to benefit the ACLU. $4.65 for the ride, $0.35 to ACLU.


7 p.m. — My friend finally arrives and we scramble to buy tickets. There are like six seats left and we get the last pair together.


7:15 p.m. — My friend wants snacks for the movie and I do too. I get a kid's combo because the movie theater sizes are so freakin' big, and it saves money. It comes with popcorn (that I don't even end up finishing), a kid-sized drink, and fruit snacks.


9 p.m. — The movie was fantastic; my friend and I both enjoyed it. Grab another Lyft home. $4.14 for the ride, $0.86 to the ACLU.


9:21 p.m. — Get home and watch Brooklyn Nine Nine with bf before going to bed.

Daily Total: $45

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — Daylight savings has me up earlier than usual, but I don't mind. I feel well rested and content with an earlier start. Make Keurig coffee (usually we do French press on the weekend but we're out of coffee grounds) and oatmeal. I add nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, brown sugar, pears, and walnuts to give it a fall flavor even though it's 80 degrees in the apartment. Super annoyed with my landlady; the AC has been broken for over a week now.

12 p.m. — Running errands at Ikea today! BF loves Ikea more than life itself so it should be a good time. We decide to get lunch before we shop. He gets pasta, meatballs, chocolate cake, and coffee (free with Ikea Family!) and I get pasta, meatballs, and a latte (also free). It's not the best food ever but it's inexpensive and does the trick. I eat about half of BF's cake; sorry bae.


2:40 p.m. — After almost three hours in Ikea, we make it out with only things on our list! We get two picture frames for a vintage map of BF's family's land in Maine, a vintage solar system poster, a lid for our skillet, a garlic press, two more bowls, a four-pack of unscented candles, a candle plate, and, of course, cinnamon buns. I put everything on my card, but Venmo BF for $26 worth of stuff. We would usually go halfsies, but I promised to frame the map for our anniversary. I don't include one of the frames when I split the bill.


3 p.m. — Next up, grocery store! We hit the Trader Joe's in Burbank. We get coffee, K-cups, hibiscus agua fresca, spiced apple cider, apples, kale, carrots, red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, eggs, milk, frozen orange chicken, orecchiette, tomato basil marinara, shredded mozzarella, turkey meatballs, frozen chicken breasts, and a bottle of Riesling. Total comes out to $61.25. I deeply hate how expensive groceries are, but am grateful that I get to split the bill. Venmo him for my half.


4:30 p.m. — Skype with my mom, dad (and our puppy, Finnian) while I make dinner. We're having sweet potato and quinoa chili. I throw sweet potato, red onion, red pepper, black beans, fire roasted tomatoes with chilies, quinoa, chicken broth, fire roasted corn, cumin, paprika, crushed red pepper, and garlic into a pot and let it simmer into goodness.

7 p.m. — BF loves the chili. I do not; it was way too spicy for me. I eat leftover Halloween candy then heat up shepherd's pie. We finish season 2 of Stranger Things (it ended WAY stronger than it started!) and keep watching Brooklyn Nine Nine.

8:40 p.m. — I get an email from Gap Factory saying I have an additional 10% off, bringing my discount up to 50% plus free shipping. I cave and get much-needed new clothes after consulting with my sister. I snag a lightweight puffer jacket for SoCal "winters," a purple shirt with a cute little hem tie, a navy bell sleeve sweater, a black cowl neck dress, a black long sleeve t-shirt with a cool V-neck back, and another pair of GapFit leggings (my fave!). It's been an expensive day but I tell myself that working a full-time, grown-up job entitles me to expensive weekends for reasonable purchases.


9:17 p.m. — Early to bed to stave off a stressful Monday morning. Snuggle with BF until I fall asleep.

Daily Total: $225.67

Source :

5 Money Diaries: A Week In The U.S. On $40,000+ Salaries
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