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A Week In Boston, MA, On A $450,000 Joint Income

Photo: Courtesy of Crate and Barrel.
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 penny

Today: a freelance fiction editor who has a joint income of $450,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on mixing bowls.
Currency in USD.
Occupation: Freelance Fiction Editor and Author
Industry: Writing/Publishing
Age: 33
Location: Boston, MA
My Salary: $25,000
My Husband's Salary: $425,000 (includes base salary, bonuses, and stock grants. He is a software developer.)
Net Worth: $2,750,000 (Mostly in stocks and funds in Vanguard, Betterment, and Charles Schwab. My partner and I share joint checking accounts and joint credit cards, and we don't make a distinction between "my "money and "his" money. Bills are paid from our joint accounts.)
Debt: $0
My Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $1,000
My Husband's Paycheck (biweekly): $5,300
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $2,800 (for our one-bedroom apartment with a den just outside of Boston. We also have a parking spot in our building's covered garage, but we don't pay for that since we got it free as part of moving into this new apartment building.)
Electricity: $125
Gas: $35
Water/Sewer: $30
Internet: $50
YouTube TV: $64.99
Hulu: $11.99
Disney+: $7.99
YouTube Red/Google Music: $9.99
Singing Lessons: $300
Figure Skating Lessons: $450
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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?
Both of my parents spent their whole lives as bartenders and neither attended college, so I think there was definitely an expectation that I would do better than they did. I knew they would feel accomplished and proud if their child graduated with a degree, so I did feel a bit of pressure to go to school and do well there. I ended up getting a BA in Computer Science and Literature, combining two of my loves into a dual-major degree. Although I had some merit-based scholarship help with college costs, I didn't qualify for need-based financial aid, and I ended up with a lot of private education loans.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I can firmly say that no one ever really talked to me about money or guided me in finances while growing up. If anything, my mother was quite an indulgent spender who was always buying clothes, manicures, jewellery, and other things that weren't strictly necessary. Because of that, I didn't have a good idea of what actual debt looked like until I was in college and I very quickly had to figure out how to deal with that after graduation. As a sophomore, I took a software development internship at a financial services company in Boston and my manager/mentor there taught me a lot about finances. I'll always be grateful for how much time he took to educate me since I was a little lost and naive at the time.
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What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job actually dates all the way back to high school! I was part of the high school drama club. In particular, a few friends and I were lighting and sound technicians for our high school's theatre productions. Because our school's theatre was so nice, it would often get rented out to non-school entities for functions. When that happened, the school always wanted a couple of lighting/sound people on-site to deal with any issues. They would hire us high school students to do this. It was pretty cool to be on the school's payroll and be trusted enough to manage situations like these. I felt very grown-up!
Did you worry about money growing up?
I never had any acute worry about money growing up, but I was aware that we weren't that well-off. My parents divorced when I was very young, and I split my time between their two households, which made them both a bit like single parents. I did a lot of cooking and chores myself and spent a lot of time alone because they were constantly working. There was always food on the table and a home to come back to, but we didn't have any luxuries. With my dad, our "splurge" activity would be to go mini-golfing every few weeks.
Do you worry about money now?
I am very lucky to not have to worry about money anymore. For the first decade of my post-college life, I had this constant weight of more than $100,000 in student loan debt to deal with. I was working as a software developer, so my income was high and stable, but it didn't make the debt feel any less stressful. After I met my husband (also a software developer), things started becoming more and more comfortable. We paid off my debt, had the money to travel around the world, and I felt far less stressed about finances. A couple of years ago, when I got burned out of the tech industry, I had the opportunity to start a freelance editing business and start publishing books. I've been working steadily for the past two years to build up clients and connections, and I'm grateful I have the time and financial safety to do that.
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At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
College was really the point at which I became responsible for myself. Suddenly I had loans in my name, a car, a part-time job, and a plan for my future. I have a financial safety net now, but I definitely spent quite a few years without much savings, constantly worried about losing my job because of my huge monthly student loan payments.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I do not receive any passive or inherited income.

Day One

9 a.m. — It's Saturday, the start of the weekend! On weekend mornings, my husband, F., and I tend to go out for coffee and breakfast as a tradition. We love specialty coffee and Boston has a lot of great shops. We feed the cats, jump in the car, and head downtown, where F. gets an espresso cream soda and I get an Assam tea latte. $16
10 a.m. — While waiting for our drinks, we decide we're really feeling some rice rolls and wonton noodle soup from our favourite hole-in-the-wall in Quincy. We go there so often that the owners know us by name. $30
11:30 a.m. — F. and I have been on the hunt for a few things for our new apartment (we moved in a couple of weeks ago), so we head to Crate and Barrel to find some mixing bowls, measuring cups, and baking pans. We also take a look around their furniture floor, where we find a large shelf we discuss for the kitchen. We're not sure about it yet, so I snap a picture and put off the decision. $95
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1 p.m. — Saturday afternoons tend to be quiet for us. At home, F. plays a game on his Nintendo Switch and putters around the kitchen to do the last of our unpacking, while I do some cleaning and organising. After that, I answer a few emails and get to work on a beta read for a client. The manuscript is only 60,000 words, so I'm anticipating it won't take me that long to read the book and write a feedback report on it.
5 p.m. — At five o'clock, my stomach is rumbling. I ask F. what he wants for dinner, but we're both in full-on lazy mode after a relaxing day at home, so we decided to order burritos from Chipotle. $25
8 p.m. — It's a nice night out, so F. and I head down to our apartment building's deck to sit by the fire pit for a while before ending up in bed. F. reads The Economist while I scroll through reddit, and one of our cats stretches between us, because he's a cuddle bug.
Daily Total: $166

Day Two

7 a.m. — I'm always up early on Sundays because it's waffle day! F. and I head to a spot in Cambridge for liege waffles and cappuccinos. Because it's a pandemic, we order ahead online and then eat in our car, but that doesn't make it any less delicious. $18
8 a.m. — After the waffles, we head to another coffee place for espresso. We know the baristas there, so we drink our espresso and chat with them about what coffees I've been using with my home espresso machine lately. I consider buying a bag, but I don't see anything that calls to me. No matter, because they'll likely have a new roast soon that I'll want to try. $10
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9 a.m. — Next, F. and I head to Whole Foods to do some shopping before it gets too crowded. We pick up ingredients for overnight oats, plenty of fruit, some shrimp and pork chops to cook, frozen ready-to-bake croissants, eggs, milk, yogurt, a bag of chips, and some other small things. $95
10:30 a.m. — On the way home from the grocery store, we stop to fill up the car's gas tank. $36
11 a.m. — I can't believe how early it still is by the time we get home! Because of that, I'm feeling motivated. I wipe down the bathroom while F. gives the espresso machine it's weekly deep cleaning, then I get some more work done on that beta read. I'm hoping to have it finished today so that I can start a new project tomorrow.
2:30 p.m. — Our late lunch is leftovers from the freezer and fridge. F. has pork dumplings, tofu, and noodles while I eat some of the nearly expired yogurt with granola. After lunch, we prepare overnight oats with apples, blueberries, maple syrup, and cinnamon, and put them into little single-serving mason jars for easy consumption.
7 p.m. — The afternoon flies by as I work. I deliver the beta read feedback to my client, go through my upcoming calendar days and projects, and try to schedule time to write book six of my own urban fantasy series. Book five is currently with the editor and I'm excited to get it back and make some changes! F. and I order sushi from a place within walking distance and pick it up, enjoying it in front of the TV while watching reruns of What We Do in the Shadows. $40
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Daily Total: $199

Day Three

8 a.m. — Although I don't have an alarm, we do have two hungry cats who make it their mission to annoy us each morning until we get out of bed to feed them. With F. working from home on a flexible schedule and me being a freelancer, we tend to have very lazy starts to our weekday mornings. F. feeds the cats while I stay in bed. He rejoins me a few minutes later and we browse our phones for another hour before getting up for real.
9 a.m. — F. is now in our office den. He's started his day with an americano and overnight oats, and he already has his headphones on. He tends to get into the zone quickly, so I won't see him for a while, although we do chat on WhatsApp all day. The cats have finished eating and have retreated to their daytime nap areas. The fluffy one takes the cat perch by the windows and the less fluffy one curls up on our bed. I grab my own overnight oats, make myself a vanilla latte, and sit at the kitchen island to eat and get some work done.
12 p.m. — F. wanders out of his office and starts working on lunch: frozen xiao long bao from The XCJ, which are absolutely incredible. We eat a dozen each, steaming them tray by tray, as we sit at the counter and chat.
1 p.m. — F. goes back to work, but I'm less motivated. I browse Lululemon and Athleta, looking for tank tops, but I don't find anything I like. Instead, I finally decide to take the plunge on some Lululemon Align leggings with pockets and a dark-blue long-sleeved top. I'm a figure skater, so I usually need long sleeves and layers when on the ice. $185
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5 p.m. — After working on an intense line edit of a fantasy novel all afternoon, I take a break to feed the cats and then make dinner. I grab the pork chops we picked up yesterday at Whole Foods, as well as some potatoes and carrots, and make Japanese curry. I start the rice cooker and put together the simple meal pretty quickly. It's one of F.'s favourite foods, so I know he'll appreciate it once he's out of a meeting with his team.
8 p.m. — F. and I both have a soft spot for cooking shows, so we watch Hell's Kitchen and last night's episode of Last Week Tonight before relaxing in bed.
Daily Total: $185

Day Four

9 a.m. — I'm a creature of habit, so just like yesterday, I make a latte (with maple syrup this time) and grab a jar of overnight oats before starting work. The less fluffy cat won't leave me alone this morning, so I let him sit in my lap while I pick up where I left off yesterday with editing.
1 p.m. — I'm going to be skating all afternoon, so my lunch is yogurt with granola and fruit, an english muffin with peanut butter, and a bottle of orange juice. I eat quickly, grab my laptop and skate bag, and head out for the afternoon. F. is on his own for lunch, but I'm sure he'll manage!
2 p.m. — I arrive at the skating club and check-in. I'm only scheduled for my 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. skating sessions, so I pick up a 3 p.m. session as well (an extra $21). I browse the internet on my phone for a while and watch the other skaters before I start getting ready to skate. I stretch, run a circuit around the facility a couple of times, do some off-ice jumps, and get my boots on. I skate the 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. sessions by myself, practising mostly jumps and moves before I have my 5:30 p.m. session with one of my coaches. He makes me work extra hard and we focus on pretty intense technical work on my toe loop and Salchow jumps. $21
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6:30 p.m. — My skating is done, my boots are off, and I'm exhausted. I text F. to ask if Sweetgreen is okay for dinner. He sends back a thumbs up. I place our usual order through the app and pick it up on my way home from the club. $26
8 p.m. — I take a long shower and curl up on the couch to watch TV with F. He had a trying day at work, and since I used to be a software developer too, he tells me about his current project and bounces some ideas off me. I make us affogatos (espresso over ice cream) for dessert while we talk.
Daily Total: $47

Day Five

9 a.m. — The bananas we bought at Whole Foods are on the verge of being overripe, so I forgo my overnight oats and have cinnamon Cheerios with banana for breakfast. We need some more coffee beans, so F. and I discuss the roasters we like and whether there's anything new we want to try. I order three bags of coffee beans from Onyx Coffee. $65
10 a.m. — F. decides to purchase the shelving we saw at Crate and Barrel over the weekend, and I'm happy because there are a few things we haven't been able to put out yet because we don't have the space in the kitchen. $750
10:15 a.m. — I idle around on my computer, checking my book sales and the ad campaigns I currently have running for them. I don't make a ton of money from my published novels, but I do check on the numbers several times a week. I also check on reviews. Score! I have a new four-star review and another five-star review. That always brightens my day. I get to work editing for the rest of the morning.
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1 p.m. — F. and I have a tradition of getting hot pot at the restaurant down the street on Wednesdays. They do a lunch special that is super affordable with lots of meat and veggies. After we finish our meal, we stop during the walk home to get bubble tea. $65
2:30 p.m. — Once back at home, I really need to knuckle down on editing. I don't get a lot done on Tuesdays, so I rely on Wednesdays and Thursdays to have a lot of catch-up time. I work all afternoon because I'm engrossed in the novel I'm editing, snacking on some chips and cookies as I go.
7:45 p.m. — F. and I get very focused on work and both completely miss dinner time! We throw together a quick noodle soup with vegetables and tofu from the fridge. F. boils eggs, and that's our makeshift meal for the evening while we relax and watch Masterchef.
Daily Total: $880

Day Six

9 a.m. — I'm out the door early on Thursday because I have a doctor's appointment in Boston followed by a singing lesson. Both are downtown, so I take the T into the city. $2.40
12 p.m. — Once done with my errands, I go to my favourite coffee spot for a latte and a ham and cheese croissant for lunch. I'm starving because I skipped breakfast. I text F. and offer to bring him something home, but he declines, so I head home by the T. $16.40
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1 p.m. — I work all afternoon because I'm nearly done with my current editing project and I'd really like to deliver it tonight.
6 p.m. — Lo and behold, six o'clock rolls around, and I'm ready to send this editing job off to my client. I give it one last look before releasing the email into the wild. F. is making shrimp stir fry for dinner, and he doesn't look like he needs help, so I take a relaxing shower before our meal.
8 p.m. — After being reminded by an internet ad that a horror movie we want to see just opened at the movie theatre, we decide to have an impromptu outing. We book our seats online for an 8:30 showing and very quickly head to the theatre. There are only maybe five people in total watching the movie and it's nice having the space nearly to ourselves. We love horror movies! This one ends up being enjoyable and we talk about it on the ride home. $27
Daily Total: $45.80

Day Seven

7 a.m. — I'm up early because I can't get back to sleep, so I feed the cats and get ready for the day, bringing out my laptop to work on an assortment of tasks. F. is still asleep, so I don't make myself an espresso with the noisy machine. Instead, I grab a bottle of orange juice to go along with my overnight oats and sit in the office.
9 a.m. — F. is up and out of bed, so I let him have his office and lounge on the couch instead. It's been a productive morning. I've booked two clients into my schedule, rearranged my calendar, and bought a couple of books to read for fun. I've even called the groomer to make an appointment for the fluffy cat. $10
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12 p.m. — F. texts me (even though I'm in the next room) to ask if I'm hungry, and we decide to walk down to our favourite Hong Kong-style cafe. We order and wait for them to get our takeout together. Once at home, I dig into my black pepper pork chop over rice and F. assembles his beef brisket and wonton noodle soup. $18
1 p.m. — I don't have a lot of time before I need to get to the skating club, so I play around with the espresso machine. I have an untouched bag of single-origin beans on the shelf, so I take some time to dial them in, testing different espresso shots. F. helps me since he has a great sense of taste and has been drinking coffee for longer than I have.
2 p.m. — I head to the skating club and I get there just in time to stretch and warm-up before my skating session. We mostly work on pretty arm movements, jump landings, and beautiful extension. It's like an intense dance session, but on ice.
5 p.m. — I head home from the club to find that F. has ordered sandwiches and soup for dinner. Awesome! I'm hungry and sore from falling a few times, so I'm happy to sit down on the couch and relax and eat. $25
8 p.m. — I'm between editing projects for a few days, so I settle down to read a book for fun — a new release from an author I've been following for years. I read until late, and the less fluffy cat purrs in my ear the whole time.
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Daily Total: $53
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