Coronavirus Money Diary: As A Golden Baker Loses Hours, Cutting Back And Trying To Stay Hopeful

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2min 23sec
Courtesy of Michael King
Michael King plays his guitar at his home after getting his hours cut from his job as a baker, March 31, 2020.

Name: Michael King

Age: 36

Profession: Baker

Income last year: about $30,000

Expected income this year: Unknown

Do you rent or own? Own

What do you pay for that you can't cut? Mortgage and HOA fee

What do you pay for that you could cut if you had to? Gas and car insurance

Are you paying for anything you’re not using? Practice space for his band that he also uses as storage for his gear.

Little by little, Michael King keeps losing his hours at the small coffee shop in Golden he works at. He’s doing all he can to keep working as a baker.

“I love my job,” King said. “Just the act of making things to share with people is the heart of what really makes it click with me. I get to come in and make stuff for other people to enjoy … but I haven’t gotten to do that in a couple [of] weeks.”

In 2019, King made the most he’s ever made: a little more than $30,000. Since the governor's COVID-19-related ban of on-site dining, King went from nearly full-time hours to barely scratching 20 hours. Since more people are getting coffee than baked goods these days, he’s acted more like a barista lately.

He lives with his partner who was laid off in December and has been collecting unemployment.

“I’m very fortunate to have the living situation that I do,” King said. “My [cost of] living is substantially lower than a normal person’s.”

King bought a condo in Denver in 2008 and pays about $700 a month for his mortgage. If he got laid off tomorrow, he said he has enough in savings to float for a few months. But some of that money will soon be eaten up: King’s car got totaled while it was parked on the street about a week ago in a hit-and-run. In the meantime, King’s using his partner’s car to get to work. 

“It’s been a wild time,” King said. “It feels like every day is a week long.” 

Still, has to take it day by day. It’s difficult to think past a week.

“I think the uncertainty just kind of takes over in my head and I can’t plan on anything because I don’t know what’s going to happen the next week, or even the next day,” he said. 

King and his partner try to keep spending to a minimum right now. His hope is that rents and mortgages will freeze.

“It feels wild to me that they would shut down so many industries and not really address the consequences of it immediately,” he said.

They cook more at home instead of ordering in. The two usually visit their families in Washington during the summer, but that doesn’t seem likely to happen now.

As far as worrying about COVID-19 itself, he’s not anxious about getting sick. He’s more worried about transmitting it to others if he does get it.

In the meantime, he tries to manage his anxiety. Still, at times, it can feel unbearable.

“I’ve been pretty overwhelmed because of everything that happened all at once,” he said. “It’s hard to concentrate on anything.”

In an attempt to get his mind off of the world, he spends a lot of time with his 12-year-old golden retriever, Benni, named after Elton John’s “Bennie And The Jets.” He also goes for walks and plays his drums when he needs to clear his head.

King ended up getting completely laid off a few days ago. He’s been able to file for unemployment. Overall, King knows he’ll be alright.

“I’m lucky to have a network of support, like a supportive family and a partner and his supportive family,” he said. “So I think, whatever happens, we’ll be okay.”