A Week In Cambridge, MA, On A $32,800 Salary

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Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a toddler teacher who makes $32,800 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on a Nutella crepe.
Occupation: Lead Toddler Teacher
Industry: Early Education
Age: 24
Location: Cambridge, MA
Salary: $32,800
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,009
Monthly Expenses
Rents: $1,000. (I live with one roommate and we each pay this amount. Heat and hot water are included in our rent.)
Health Insurance: Free, through work.
Student Loan Payment: $0. (Thank you, Mom and Dad!)
Spotify: $9.99
Netflix: $0. (I use my sister's account.)
Internet/TV: $77.59
Electricity: My roommate covers the electric bill.
MBTA Pass: $84.50. (My work pays $31.73 per pay period.)
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Day One

8:27 a.m. — I wake up slightly before my alarm is set to go off, which is the worst because there's not enough time to fall back asleep. I make my way over to the living room, turn on the TV to The Today Show, and make a yogurt parfait for breakfast with Trader Joe's French vanilla yogurt, frozen mixed berries, chia seeds, and homemade granola bars that I crumble up for added texture. Yum! Today I have an afternoon shift at work, so I take my time getting ready in the morning.
9:30 a.m. — It's a gorgeous sunny day! As I'm walking to work, I look at my phone to choose a podcast for my commute and realize I need to buy a new monthly train pass. I make sure to stop into the nearest T station to reload my Charlie Card and then head out to walk again. I feel so lucky to live in a city where transportation is relatively inexpensive. $84.50
9:40 a.m. — A couple of nights ago, I saw on Instagram that Dunkin' Donuts has three new Girl Scout cookie-flavored coffees! I. NEED. Moving from upstate New York to Massachusetts has suddenly turned me into a DD addict. Since I just want to try one of the new flavors and I don't actually need the caffeine, I order a small coconut caramel iced coffee with milk and no sugar. This may be my new go-to order for a long while! $2.34
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11:45 a.m. — I work at a preschool that has an in-house chef who is amazing! I love her cooking, so I never bring my own lunch. The school administrators also encourage teachers to eat the school lunch with the children to model appropriate eating practices and to socialize with the class. Today's lunch is banana pancakes, corn, strawberry yogurt, and navel oranges. It's tasty, but I know that this vegetarian lunch won't fill me up.
2:30 p.m. — I recently learned that you can preorder cronuts from Dominique Ansel Bakery! I'm visiting my older brother who lives in New York next month, and while I visit often, I've never had a Cronut because of how quickly they sell out. I am shaking with excitement as I successfully put in my preorder for two. I text my brother to let him know it's done and he texts back asking why I didn't order the max number of Cronuts you can order, which is six. Sigh. $13
6:40 p.m. — Home at last! It's late and I'm starving. Luckily I have tons of leftover pasta carbonara that I made over the weekend. I quickly prepare a salad of organic mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and a honey-balsamic dressing for a balanced meal. Dinner is ready in less than 10 minutes. After dinner, I wash the dishes, take a shower, and go to bed early.
Daily Total: $99.84

Day Two

6:40 a.m. — I definitely did not get enough sleep last night and have to be at work by 7:30 for the opening shift. When I have an early morning, I only give myself enough time to get dressed, put on makeup, and walk to the bus stop. I hustle out the door with my homemade granola bar in hand and catch the bus with a few minutes to spare. I pay with my Charlie Card.
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7:15 a.m. — I'm immediately on the hunt for coffee when I get off at my stop. The preschool I work at is affiliated with a well known university, so it's located right on their campus. I pop into one of the academic buildings that I know has a café inside and get an iced coffee with three pumps of caramel syrup and milk. The breakfast buffet has a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich that looks bomb, but I resist the temptation. $2.30
11:45 a.m. — Lunch today is a good one: turkey Tex-Mex, stewed tomatoes, and pineapple. I'm very thankful that this preschool has a lunch program.
1:30 p.m. — There's a staff meeting today that I fail to get out of. (Only two out of four teachers in each classroom are required to attend.) The one bright side is that there is always a sweet treat at every meeting, and today there are Girl Scout cookies. I snag a couple of Thin Mints and shortbread cookies for myself and a couple more to bring back to my co-teachers.
3 p.m. — Since I'm out of work early, I go grocery shopping at Trader Joe's. It's a short 10-minute walk, and it's a lovely day. I have no idea what I'm in the mood to eat for the rest of the week, but I start with finding the basic foods I typically get: apples, cara cara oranges, a salad kit, tea, and frozen meals. I decide to make pizza this week. I have marinara sauce at home, so I grab a garlic and herb pizza dough, mozzarella cheese, onions, and chicken sausage. I'm happy with my purchase and even more happy that everything fits in my backpack without breaking my back. I wait about five minutes for the bus and then head home. $39.14
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4:30 p.m. — While I unload my grocery haul, I check my phone for texts from my best friend so we can plan a time to chat. She still lives in New York, and I miss her terribly. Over the weekend, she took a road trip to D.C. to visit a mutual friend and I have to find out the juicy details! She just got home from driving for six hours and tells me she will call later tonight.
5:15 p.m. — I make spaghetti and meatballs for dinner with ingredients I already had in my pantry. I have lots of greens to make a simple salad – the same as yesterday. I plan on saving the pizza for the end of the week.
7:45 p.m. — My best friend finally calls me and I am happy to hear from her. I normally hate talking on the phone (I 100% prefer texting), but she is a great storyteller. We talk for just over two hours, and then I shower and plan an outfit for tomorrow. I get sidetracked when my roommate finally comes from work and I debrief her on my phone call. She'll be away on a trip until the weekend and I want to hang with her as much as I can tonight. I get to bed by midnight.
Daily Total: $41.44

Day Three

8 a.m. — The sound of car horns jolts me awake. I can never fall back asleep once I'm up. I go to the living room and watch The Today Show while I do my morning yoga stretches. I have a lot of time to kill before work, so I make Vietnamese coffee. When it's finished brewing, I stir in condensed milk and add ice cubes. I have a yogurt parfait too.
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9:30 a.m. — I have an afternoon shift, so I walk to work, taking in the vitamin D while listening to a podcast. Luckily, the weather this week has been cool and sunny.
10 a.m. — There's still a half hour before my shift, but I always get to campus early and chill out in the building with the café. I run into a coworker who is writing her children's documentation. I just finished doing mine last week, and we talk about how stressful work has been. After our chat, we walk over to work together.
11:45 a.m. — Today's lunch: chicken fajitas, Mexican rice, corn, and apples. As expected, it's delicious! The toddlers love it too and we make sure to let the chef know.
2:30 p.m. — I'm never not hungry. While the toddlers are napping, a co-teacher and I look for "second lunch" in the fridge (a.k.a. leftover school lunches), but sadly the fridge is nearly empty. I settle for pita chips and cheese, and she gets cottage cheese and Wheat Thins from the pantry.
6 p.m. — My friends and I are going to the Syracuse vs. Boston College game tonight. We bought our tickets for $15, months in advance. The group that we are going with is all SU alums, so it's gonna be a good time. I got an email earlier this week for 50% Uber rides, so I take advantage and Uber and dinner to meet a few of the girls. $4.10
6:20 p.m. — One of the girls arrived early and got us a table before the dinner rush. The menu looks amazing. I order a burger ($18), and my friends order a black bean quinoa burger and a Buddha bowl. We haven't gotten together in weeks, and it's really nice to hang out. It makes me sad to think of how busy everyone's lives are. When dinner is over, we ask for separate checks, and my friend offers to Uber us to the liquor store to buy Bud Lights to bring to a pregame at someone's apartment. I brought my own Harpoon IPA. $18
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8:30 p.m. — The pregame gives me a lot of social anxiety. There are 50 people and I probably only know 10 of them. My friends and I find room on a couch that's away from most of the action. I feel awkward, but after an hour, everyone is ready to go, so I call an Uber XL for my friends and me and we make our way to the game. GO ORANGE! $8.54
9:30 p.m. — Throughout the night, I run into old college friends that I had no idea would be at the game. We don't talk for too long, but I promise to text them and make plans for the weekend.
10:50 p.m. — I leave the game a little early since SU is losing. I order a Lyft using the promotional code that was advertised during the game, but the Lyft driver never shows up! Next I try Uber Pool, but they can't match me with a driver. Then I see a co-teacher and her boyfriend who coincidentally also were at the game, so I take the T with them to their apartment, where I finally get an Uber home. $5.18
12:06 a.m. — Time for bed.
Daily Total: $35.82

Day Four

8:40 a.m. — I didn't end up falling asleep until 1:30 a.m. and kept waking up throughout the night. I'm exhausted, but I make the effort to get out of bed. I stretch, watch TV, and make myself a yogurt parfait. I'm a creature of habit – my routine is the same everyday.
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9:40 a.m. — I need a pick-me-up from DD. Today I try the peanut butter cookie iced coffee with milk. I also get my coworker (from last night) a brownie batter donut as a thank you gift and a box of 10 munchkins to bring to my co-teachers. The cashier is new and feels bad for holding up the line, so he gives me two extra munchkins for the trouble! Our toddlers are a great group of kids, but they are a handful, especially with the stomach virus running rampant throughout the center, so these donuts will be a good boost for morale. $6.06
9:45 a.m. — I have two offers on a Madewell cardholder that I'm selling through Poshmark. I bought the cardholder around Christmas last year, but sadly didn't love it as much as my old one. I go to CVS to buy a small bubble envelope since I anticipate that I will sell this soon. $1.46
11:45 a.m. — Lunch today is tortellini with turkey meat sauce, steamed carrots, and bananas. Delish!
1:45 p.m. — The toddlers are finally napping, and my co-teachers and I demolish the donut holes in just a couple of minutes.
6:30 p.m. — I go out for ramen with two of my work friends. We all work in different classrooms so we don't usually see each other during the work week, unless it's by a chance encounter. We vent to each other about work stuff and catch everyone up on our lives. When the bill comes, I use my card to pay and the girls Venmo me their portions. Miso ramen was the right choice on this cold night. $22
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7:45 p.m. — As we leave the restaurant, I'm still hungry and remember there's a crepe place close by. No one objects to going. (I love my friends.) We each order a crepe. I get strawberry, kiwi, and honey in mine, and they order raspberry, lemon and Nutella, and coconut, Nutella, and strawberry, respectively. We each eat a third of our crepe and then pass it around, which is probably my new favorite way of sharing food. The consensus was that the raspberry, lemon and Nutella crepe was the best one. $8
9 p.m. — I'm having so much fun hanging out with my friends that I'm sad the night has to end. It feels like the weekend and I almost forget I have work tomorrow. I take the T home.
9:25 p.m. — Shower and then end my night by scrolling through Reddit while watching Chopped until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $37.52

Day Five

6:55 a.m. — I wake up to a massive rain storm. There's a nor'easter in Boston and flooding along the coastal areas is expected. I slowly get dressed, put makeup on, brush my teeth, etc. I still have a few granola bars left, which will be my breakfast for today. I look out my balcony window to witness how bad the storm is, and also to people watch for a few minutes before I catch the bus.
8 a.m. — I make it onto campus and walk the five minutes to work. The rain is unreal.
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11:40 a.m. — Today's lunch is cheese quesadilla, red peppers, and plums. Not my fave.
3:30 p.m. — I'm out of work and my weekend can finally begin! The rain and wind are much heavier now than they were this morning. I run to the bus stop. I get a good Snapchat video of the rain for my friends and family in New York, where there is snow (which I prefer over rain) today.
4 p.m. — I made a grand exit off the bus when someone pushed me towards a fire hydrant as they were trying to board. I take off my leggings immediately when I'm home to inspect a nasty gash on my right leg. Greaaat. I'm bleeding a little and unfortunately don't have the right bandages for the job, but I have small ones. I'll have to make the trip to Walgreens tomorrow for more.
6:30 p.m. — I veg out for a couple of hours on my couch watching YouTube before I build up the energy to be productive. I haven't vacuumed my apartment in over a week, so I get cleaning, and then prepare dinner. I make spaghetti with tomato sauce again and using my salad kit from Trader Joe's. I feel too lazy to cook anything more complex than that. I settle in to eat and watch an episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills that I missed this week.
8:30 p.m. — I texted my friend earlier to ask if she could talk on the phone, and she was more than happy to. She is another friend of mine who lives in New York. I curl my hair while she tells me about her week. We get really deep in our conversations, but she always knows when to switch up the topic and change the mood. After a solid hour, we hang up.
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9:30 p.m. — I'm finally going to start watching This Is Us tonight, after many recommendations from friends. I slice up an apple with cookie butter on the side, put on a sheet mask, and watch a couple of episodes. There's no better way I can think of to end a night.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

9:30 a.m. — I wake up at 7:30, which is too early for a Saturday, and I want to sleep for a few more hours, so I set my alarm for 9:30. When I wake up again, I check my phone and see a text from my friend who I'm going to see Black Panther with. Tickets are almost sold out and I'm worried we won't get the time we want.
10 a.m. — I feel groggy and in need of coffee. I make my usual weekend breakfast: Vietnamese iced coffee and scrambled eggs with mozzarella cheese and everything bagel seasoning. I turn on This Is Us, my new TV obsession.
10:30 a.m. — My friend texts me that she got us movie tickets! She Venmos me and I pay right away. $13
12:30 p.m. — My roommate is coming home from her vacation and she's bringing her boyfriend and his parents back to the apartment. I want to give them space and privacy, so I get ready for the day and walk to Harvard Square to go to CVS. I pick up Band-Aids, sour gummy worms, Sprite, and cranberry juice. I need candy for the movie and drinks to make a mixed drink when I go to a pregame later. $15.06
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1 p.m. — Before I go home, I make a pit stop at one of my favorite bookstores. They have a basement with a lot of used books for a decent price. I'm looking for new books for my class because my co-teachers and I are getting tired of the books in our library. I choose Fancy Nancy and The Posh Puppy. The kids have been loving Fancy Nancy lately, and I may selfishly want this one because the book cover is glittery and purple (my fave color). It's half the price of a new book. I'll bring in the receipt on Monday and my work will pay me back. ($5.50 expensed)
2 p.m. — I'm starving. I make a big pot of pasta again, most likely for the last time this week.
3 p.m. — I take an Uber to my friend's house in Medford and then she drives us to the movie theater. $5.58
6:30 p.m. — OMG Black Panther is amazing! On our drive home, we can't stop talking about it.
7 p.m. — My roommate and her boyfriend are home when I get back from the movies. We talk for a few minutes, since we haven't seen each other all week, but I have to eat and then get ready to go out tonight with work friends. I reheat the pasta, blast the Black Panther soundtrack on Spotify, and get dolled up.
8 p.m. — My friend lives all the way in the North End, and the easiest and quickest way for me to get there is Uber. I feel guilty for spending so much money on Ubers this week, which is very unusual for me. I make a mixed drink of tequila, Sprite, and cranberry juice to bring with me before I go. $7.30
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8:33 p.m. — This is my first time seeing her apartment, and it's so freaking nice. Her rent is way too expensive for me to afford, but she gets what she pays for – location, location, location. I meet her friends and we have a low-key night.
10 p.m. — It's time to go out, and my friend calls the Uber.
11:30 p.m. — After an hour of waiting in the cold, we pay the $10 cover at the bar and rush inside. First order of business is coat check ($1). We pay and then head to the bar. I suggest we get a round a lemon drop shots. A girl I met at the pregame beelines to the bar and orders the shots as well as two Bud Lights for me and my coworker and a vodka ginger ale for herself. I Venmo her for the drinks. $25
1:30 a.m. — We're all feeling tired and ready to go home. The prices for Uber are crazy expensive at this hour, so I opt for Express Pool, which cuts down the cost a lot. I get home just before 2 a.m. and pass out. $6.97
Daily Total: $72.91

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I take my time this morning and check Instagram, Snapchat, and Reddit before getting up. I go to the living room, where my roommate and her BF are, and we tell each other stories about our nights.
10 a.m. — I'm super dehydrated, so I get a tall glass of water and then make a cup of tea to have with yogurt for breakfast. I stay on the couch and read two chapters of Into The Woods. I bought this book last summer and it has taken me a long time to finish it, even though it's really good.
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11:30 p.m. — Since, I don't have plans today, it's a good time to clean my apartment. During the week, my bedroom floor is covered with my clothes and shoes. I have a bad habit of throwing them on the floor instead of putting them in the hamper or back in the closet. I end my cleaning spree in the kitchen by washing dirty dishes from yesterday and scrubbing the counters until they're pristine. Cleaning the apartment makes me feel better.
12 p.m. — As I was cleaning my room, I thought about how many clothes I have in the closet. I'm running out of space and hangers and with spring approaching, it feels like the right time to clean out the closet. I pride myself on making this a biannual routine. I order a donation bag from thredUP.
1 p.m. — Last month I started watching Planet Earth II on Neflix. It's still a mystery how that began, since it's not the usual type of show I would watch, but I'm really into it. I finish the rest of my salad for lunch and watch more episodes from the series.
5 p.m. — I only get through one episode before zonking out. I take a VERY long nap. I'm surprised by how tired I was! Then I take a shower.
6 p.m. — Dinner tonight is a frozen bibimbap bowl from Trader Joe's. I make a fried egg to go with it, which makes a huge difference. I watch another episode of This Is Us during dinner.
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8 p.m. — Before the end of the night, I make overnight oats for breakfast and choose an outfit for tomorrow.
Daily Total: $0
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