A Week in Oregon on a $46,000 Salary

a man and woman holding glasses of beer

Welcome to Spending Notes, where we do a weekly deep dive into how our readers spend their cash.

Today: a contractor who makes $46,000

Occupation: contractor

Age: 37

Location: Gresham, OR

Salary: $46,000 (approx. $1,769 per pay period)

Day One


Have you ever seen one of those TV shows where they rebuild a whole new house from the ground up, design and all? That’s what my company aims to be for our customers. I’ve made connections with other local businesses who help us do just that, like a great outdoor power equipment store in Gresham, OR. Today, we’re setting up a fence to block out the bright light that would otherwise sun-soak their side windows each afternoon. In the process, I get a nasty splinter, which calls for a trip to the drugstore for some tweezers, alcohol, antibacterial ointment, and bandages. Fortunately, it’s an easy fix!

Total: $11

Day Two


Today, I’m working to find some dog safe plants for a particular project we’re handling. They’re hoping to have plenty of houseplants inside, plus a small herb garden outside. They’re pet owners, though, so we must avoid any toxic plants in the space. We cross-check potential options with the ASPCA’s list of pet-safe plant options and settle on spider plants and Boston ferns as the focus points of the project. All this focus on canine family members reminds me that I have to order some food for my furry friend!

Total: $21

Day Three


We are working on another project today. We’ve decided that a basket of faux fern fronds will be the best bet for this living room remodel. The homeowners were worried about keeping a plant alive but weren’t opposed to a bit of greenery if it were low-maintenance. In this case, they’re getting no maintenance! Faux house plants are a great option for adding a touch of nature without the risk of killing it. I grab a soft drink after work to cool off after a sweltering day.

Total: $10

Day Four


My pup is going to the veterinarian for a well visit this morning, so I took the day off to spend with him. He’s given a clean bill of health. Then we go to a coffee shop, where he gets a cup of whipped cream all his own. We go through a fast-food drive-through, too, where he knows he’ll be getting a burger. I figure he deserves some indulgence after the stress of a vet visit!

Total: $72

Day Five


Back to the daily grind today. I’m building a porch on one of our projects. Previously, they had a pair of garden beds out front but never kept up with them. Instead, the homeowners dream of sitting on the porch with a few planters adding the natural touch they would have gotten from a garden. A few of the guys and I grab a few beers after work to celebrate that it’s Friday.

Total: $16

Day Six


Today’s repairs and maintenance are being done on my home. More specifically, I’m working on the patio area. My lawnmower recently gave out, too, so I run to the store to purchase a brand new mower. It’s a great addition to the variety of outdoor power equipment I keep at home already—I guess you could say I bring my work home with me.

Total: $285

Day Seven


This morning, I call my parents to catch up before heading to the sandwich shop for a quick lunch. Then, I head home and turn on the crockpot with a few chicken breasts to be shredded this evening. In the meantime, I do some cleaning, dusting my shelves, and vacuuming the house. Then, come dinner, I shred the chicken, add some barbecue sauce, and serve it up on a bun.

Total: $17

Total for the week: $432

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