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A Week In Boston, MA, On A $60,000 Salary

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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 dollar.

Today: An assistant manager who makes $60,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a bathrobe.
Occupation: Assistant Manager
Industry: Retail
Age: 23
Location: Boston, MA
Salary: $60,000
Net Worth: $53,000 ($34,000 in high-yield savings account, $17,000 in a 401(k), $1,000 in mutual funds, $1,000 in checking, no debt).
Debt: $0 (I paid off my student loans right after graduating college because by senior year, I had started working full time at the store I now manage.)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,700
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $950 (I live with a roommate).
Utilities/Wi-Fi: $50-$90
Cell Phone: $35 (sent to my parents).
Podcast Subscription: $7.99
Spotify/Hulu: $9.99 (I share these with my family and they share their Disney+ and Netflix passwords with me in exchange).
Peacock: $4.99 (I paid for this exclusively to watch the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, but I will be canceling it next month).
CharlieCard: $70
Health Insurance: $87.70
Short Term Disability Insurance: $33.06 (my job is very physical, so this is to plan for injuries that might take me out of work).
Long Term Disability: $6.90
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?
I loved school and wanted to be good at it, so college was a natural path for me. I think if I had another plan after high school, my parents would have been on board. They definitely made it clear that if I went to college, I would be financially responsible. My parents had no clue about the college application process or what it would cost so I was lucky that my high school teacher helped me apply for a program which let me attend an expensive private school without taking on significant loans. The program + Pell Grants covered tuition every year and room/board the first year. I worked several jobs each year to pay for room and board and program-specific supplies and instruction. I also took out $7,000 in loans during my junior year to help with housing expenses. I also taught at after-school programs, worked in restaurant kitchens, managed concerts and events, and worked in my department's main office. I started working at my current job during my junior year.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents didn't really talk to us about money. They tried to teach me the envelope system when I was about six (a physical envelope for spending, saving, and giving), but I was six so it didn't totally stick. There wasn't any money most of the time, so not much to talk about.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was doing bookkeeping for a construction company at the age of 12. It was sort of legal in my state. I started to get serious about playing violin, which I'd learned in school, and I knew I'd need my own instrument and private lessons if I wanted to keep up with other kids. I had at least one job all through middle school and high school, if not more, including working on a food truck. I used the money to pay for music expenses and school expenses, and occasionally to help with household expenses when my parents got desperate.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Definitely. I am the oldest of five and it was always clear there wasn't enough of it. We always had somewhere to sleep but had to move suddenly several times and families from church would often bring us food when we couldn't afford groceries. My dad would also move long distances from us to find work. I learned how to pinch pennies from my mom.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes, but probably without as much reason. I am privileged to work for a company that pays me well and that I don't have to worry about food or housing insecurity anymore, but I do worry that it could collapse under me at any moment.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I was completely financially responsible for myself at age 17 when I moved out. I don't have a financial safety net other than my savings, but I have friends who would let me crash on their couches if I got desperate.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My grandmother died when I was 11 and left each grandkid $1,000, but my parents used that to buy shoes/groceries/other necessities for everyone at the time.

Day One

2:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I'm opening today so I have to be at work by 3:30. I'm staying at my partner's apartment, so I turn my alarm off as quickly as I can (he doesn't have to be up for another hour) and quietly sneak out of bed. I made tiny apple and cardamom hand pies earlier this week, so I eat one of those while I stretch. Bundle up and get on my bike to ride to work!
4 a.m. — Our morning delivery has arrived and we're unloading the truck from in front of the store. Unfortunately, the trays of bread and prepackaged food weren't all stacked properly and so they tip over — there's salad and loaves of bread everywhere. I'm in charge this morning, so I direct a couple of people to grab empty shopping carts and we salvage what we can, but we definitely lost more product than I want to. Luckily the team works together quickly and we get back to safe operating conditions on the road as fast as we can!
6:30 a.m. — I have myself opening the cheese section this morning so I'm breaking down pallets and organizing back stock but that hand pie four hours ago didn't fill me up enough! I grab a GoMacro bar from our shelf and ask someone to ring me up for it. With my discount, it comes to $2.07. $2.07
8 a.m. — We make it to opening! Thank goodness. I feel pretty happy about how the morning went — no cardboard or product is left on the floor, which doesn't always happen. I find the rest of my GoMacro bar in my pocket and eat it before unloading the leftover pallets from last night's delivery.
10 a.m. — Lunchtime! I have sweet potato and lentil pot pie that I made using the recipe from Maya-Camille Broussard's Justice of the Pies cookbook. It has sweet potato biscuits on top and it's delicious. I eat a perfect Sky Valley heirloom orange and some mint chocolate cookies with it. I also run to the bookstore across the street to pick up some treats for one of the crew members at my store — she went above and beyond to help me with a difficult customer yesterday even though that's not really in her job description so I want to thank her. I pick up some adorable cat-shaped vegan gummies and a fancy toffee Rice Krispies treat. $13.90
1 p.m. — Finally done for the day! Bike home and shower so I can take a nap before my rehearsal tonight.
5:45 p.m. — Wake up from my three-hour nap to eat some dinner and warm up my voice before heading to choir rehearsal. I have squiggly sesame and soy noodles I got from work (slightly fancier instant ramen). They're delicious and give me the energy to bike to rehearsal instead of taking the bus and train.
7:30 p.m. — Bike to rehearsal, which takes me about 20 minutes. I listen to the podcast Normal Gossip while I ride (it's one of my current faves).
9:15 p.m. — We have 45 minutes left of rehearsal and my energy is waning. I try to wake myself up by drinking a ton of water, but I can feel/hear how tired I am in my voice. When we finish at 10, I am the first one out the door and bike home in a record 13 minutes and 40 seconds. Climb back into bed still in my leggings and sleep for a few hours before work.
Daily Total: $15.97

Day Two

2:30 a.m. — Back to the waking world! I'm a little tired, but it's my Friday so I'm gonna power through. I'm also in charge again today so I know it'll go by quickly. Eat another hand pie (this one is peach) and stretch before biking to work. I charged my bike lights overnight so I'm ready to go.
7 a.m. — See? It's going by quickly! We've gotten most parts of the store in good shape for opening and I take a minute to eat a date, fig, and nut bar that I bought from my store earlier this week.
9 a.m. — Early lunch today — I eat the last serving of sweet potato pot pie, another orange, and some dark chocolate pretzels I bought from work earlier in the week.
10:30 a.m. — A person from our electrical service provider shows up to look at our automatic doors and I try to explain the issues we're having with them. This work order was placed so long ago, I honestly cannot remember what caused the issue in the first place but the sensor is clearly all out of whack now. After the third time the contractor calls me "little lady," I turn him over to my boss, a tall man, to finish up the work.
11 a.m. — I pull a couple of morning crew members to deliver their performance reviews — they go well, and one of them has a lot of questions about potentially getting promoted, which is really exciting! They definitely have the right personality for the job and a lot of the skills, so we talk about what else they would need to work on.
1 p.m. — I'm out of here! It's my weekend so I'm pretty excited to bike home. I shower and text my partner, E., that I'm home. He's coming over for pizza and movies this afternoon.
5 p.m. — We order pizza from a kosher pizza place (even though neither of us keeps kosher) that has really interesting toppings and a couple of my coworkers have recommended. We get a cauliflower manchurian pizza and it definitely lives up to the hype. We also enjoy a side of aloo chaat. I tip 20% (always). $51.57
7 p.m. — We watch a documentary about background singers that I got from the library. It's really excellent and I'm so glad I checked it out. While we watch, I snack on Nutella cookies E. brought. We're so cozy that E. decides to stay with me even though he needs to get up "early" (6 a.m.) tomorrow and I'm switching to nights so I should sleep in. We're asleep by 10:30.
Daily Total: $51.57

Day Three

6 a.m. — I didn't sleep very well so I don't wake up when E. does, but I do when I hear him leaving. He kisses me goodbye and tells me to go back to bed, but this is already four hours later than I slept yesterday so I can't. I get up and eat my last little hand pie.
10 a.m. — I've been sort of lying around reading and watching TV all morning, but now I get up and start making bread dough. I've been baking all my own bread for about a year and I think I might try sourdough next, but today's loaf is an artisan bread enriched with olive oil and full of whole grains and seeds. It needs to sit for a while after mixing, so I decide to venture out into the world.
11:30 a.m. — I take a casual bike ride and find a baking supply store! They sell sandwiches, so I get a sweet potato and goat cheese sandwich and a hot cider (and tip 20%). It's delicious and I read while I eat in their café area. $20.32
12 p.m. — The store is so niche and so perfect that I can't not look around. I end up with an apron for myself and a pin for my friend that's a teapot made out of bread. She'll love it. I look longingly at the bannetons and flour mills, but am not sure that I'll use them enough to make them worthwhile yet. $38.90
12:30 p.m. — As I bike home I pass a branch of the library I've never visited so I stop to check it out. It has a beautiful glass facade and lots of natural light. I find a bread book that I've been wanting to read and check it out with my Minuteman library card before heading home.
1 p.m. — Bread dough has risen, time to shape it into a loaf and let it rise again. I put it on a baking sheet covered with oiled plastic wrap and a towel to keep it warm. I also start making macaroni and cheese by prepping shallots/garlic/carrots.
2 p.m. — My dough's second rise is done and the oven is preheated. I score it, pop it in the oven, set up my steam, and I'm good to go. I turn my attention completely to the béchamel sauce for the mac and cheese now. It turns out VERY cheesy because I am set on using up all the cheese in my fridge, but it's delicious.
3 p.m. — I temp the bread — it's at 200 degrees and golden brown so I feel good about pulling it out and putting it on a rack. I clean up my dishes and wipe down the kitchen while it cools (and to distract myself from cutting into it too soon). My roommate wakes up as I'm cleaning (she works nights so she's getting ready for work).
5 p.m. — I successfully forgot about the bread, but now I cut into it. It's soft and delicious, especially slathered with butter. I also eat a peanut butter blondie I baked last week.
6 p.m. — I walk to the library to return books and pick up holds — I also find another cookbook, Zaitoun, I want to read and test out. In bed by ten which feels late for me right now.
Daily Total: $59.22

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I'm up early again so I text E. to see if he wants to go get bagels with me. I meet him at our favorite bagel place by taking the bus and the T (using my prepaid CharlieCard) and enjoy a classic egg sandwich on a pretzel bagel. I pay for both of us. $23.81
9 a.m. — E. wants to go to the Carhartt store so he drives there. We're both really loving Carhartt pants for work — all of my other ones get destroyed by all the lifting and moving I do, not to mention the absolute impracticality of women's pants without belt loops or pockets. He has a pair to exchange today so he does that.
10 a.m. — E. is craving juice so he drives us downtown. It's a Thursday morning so pretty quiet on Newbury Street, and we're the only ones in the juice place. I get an orange juice, he gets a smoothie, and he pays. We walk around with our juice for a bit.
10:30 a.m. — E. asks if I want to go into Trident Booksellers, the independent bookstore down here. I never say no to a bookstore, so in we go. He finds an adorable dish towel that I offer to buy for him and I find a smaller version of the bandeau headband that has been great at protecting my hair while I sleep. No books though, which does seem to contradict the purpose...until I see an adorable, tiny, hardcover Winnie the Pooh book that is doll-sized but made to look like an antique. It's $10 and I impulsively add it to my purchases. $38.90
12 p.m. — We head back to my house because I have virtual therapy (covered completely by my insurance). My therapist and I talk for an hour and then I eat mac and cheese read for a little before texting E. to see if he still wants to hang out this afternoon.
2 p.m. — Take the bus to E.'s apartment (prepaid CharlieCard) to bake cookies and watch TV. We curl up on his bed with a Netflix comedy special and fall asleep immediately after. We nap for a few hours and then look at train tickets for our upcoming trip to Philly. E. pays for the tickets.
6 p.m. — Take the bus home (prepaid again) because E. is still on mornings and I need to stay up for a while still. I eat the leftover pizza from the other day for dinner and watch several hours of Scandal while I work on my knitting project. I also call my friend and we talk about our respective life and relationship woes. In bed and asleep by 11:30.
Daily Total: $62.71

Day Five

7 a.m. — I'm up EARLY so I will be reading and washing my hair this morning. I put it off for a while hoping I'll be able to sleep again because once I wash my hair there's NO way I'm laying down on a pillow until it's fully dry. I put in curl cream while it's wet and let it air dry.
9 a.m. — Eat some toast and stretch thoroughly to prep for my work week. I also watch an episode of Scandal while I'm doing this.
10 a.m. — I read a short book of poems and play the piano for a while. I should be finishing my taxes or finding a birthday present for my little sister, but I'm decidedly avoiding both. I also pack a lunch and make sure I have my uniform/a mask/box cutter for work in my bike bags and check the air in my tires.
1:30 p.m. — I head to work a little early so I have time to stop at CVS on the way. I have a coupon for hair products that I need and I have to pick up some Breathe Right strips for E. to keep at my house to help with his snoring. The coupon isn't working for some reason but I'm too far in to back out and I don't want to pester the CVS employees because I know they're not personally responsible, so I end up spending more than I would have liked. $48.23
2:30 p.m. — Lock my bike up at work and head inside to change and clock in.
7 p.m. — I finally take a break to eat mac and cheese, an heirloom orange, and a peanut butter blondie. I also run downstairs and buy some scalloped potato and five cheese potato chips as a treat. $4.77
9 p.m. — The store is closed at last — I open up some of the more obscure chips and one of our vegan dips for the crew to try while we take in the dry/frozen delivery. They're pretty good! I expense them ($7.99 expensed).
12 a.m. — Store is locked up and ready for the morning — I say goodnight to my fellow manager and bike home!
12:30 a.m. — I take a shower and eat some ice cream I bought from work earlier in the week — chocolate ice cream swirled with raspberry sorbet. I had high hopes for this and it's DELICIOUS. In bed by 1:30 with a book.
Daily Total: $53

Day Six

8 a.m. — Why am I awake?? No one knows but I can't fall back asleep, so I decide I'm going to treat myself to breakfast at my very favorite sandwich spot. I get up and get dressed and take the bus and the T (prepaid CharlieCard).
10 a.m. — I decide to stop at Goodwill. I find two shirts and an awesome airtight container I'm gonna use for flour. $12.09
10:30 a.m. — Once at the sandwich place, I get an amazing herby biscuit breakfast sandwich with mushrooms and a perfect, perfect swirly cardamom bun. I eat the sandwich on my way home. The pastry makes it home with me and I eat it while reading When The Angels Left The Old Country by Sacha Lamb. $21.46
12 p.m. — I get home, pack a lunch for work, and talk to my dad on the phone. We're reading a book together and we talk about it every week.
2 p.m. — Head to work on my bike, making sure I have thick gloves for when it gets colder later. It's absolutely bananas when I get there and we are sold out of tortilla chips already. I triple-check the order coming in tonight to reassure myself that we're getting more.
7 p.m. — More macaroni and cheese for lunch with another orange, another blondie, and lots of water. I read and eat.
10:30 p.m. — Why am I still waiting for the delivery that was supposed to be here at 9? Truly no idea. Why is there a car parked in the loading zone in front of the store that's been there for three hours? Also no idea. The crew member taking in the truck tonight asks me to have the car towed, so I offer to take in the truck in a weird spot so we don't have to deal with it. Unfortunately, they're in the only spot we really can't maneuver around so I called the police department's non-emergency number. They come super quick and get the fastest tow truck I've ever seen. The car's gone before we can say boo.
11:15 p.m. — Truck is here and not a moment too soon. I drink a ton of water and then get to work figuring out which pallets we're gonna break and which ones we'll leave alone for the night. We get more done than I thought we would and are out by midnight. We even fill up some of the displays at the last minute.
12:15 a.m. — Make my way home on my bike, shower, and eat a little ice cream before climbing in bed with my Kindle.
Daily Total: $33.55

Day Seven

10 a.m. — Didn't set an alarm but I'm really relieved to have slept in a little more today. I eat some toast with butter for breakfast and clean my kitchen before work. I also text E. about him meeting me for lunch at work.
1:30 p.m. — Working a little earlier today, so I bike there and get ready for another crazy day. My boss is working today and he's got a list of things we need to accomplish. I pick up a set of cute notebooks at the bookstore across the street before I start work because 1) I'm finding myself forgetting things as the store gets more chaotic and 2) my coworker had adorable sloth notebooks to keep track of things so I also wanted to have adorable sloth notebooks. They come in a pack of three so I'm set on sloth notebooks forever. $8.49
6 p.m. — E. meets me for lunch and we get burgers and fries from this place on the corner near my store. It's $25 for both of us, he pays. I have a delicious veggie burger and we share jalapeño cheese fries.
8 p.m. — I get a notification that an offer I made on eBay was accepted. My friend has this EXCELLENT bathrobe that I want for myself and have been scouring the internet to find used. I'm excited to own it but also feel like I've made a couple of low-thought purchases this week so I'm not thrilled at spending more money. $27.40
9 p.m. — Okay, I don't want to spend more money but also I can feel my body crying out for fruits and veggies so I grab ingredients for a salad and some bananas and oranges. I get tahini, lemon, avocados, onions, garlic, olive oil, and a can of chickpeas. $20.68
11 p.m. — Bike home and make dressing for my salad. I need to roast the chickpeas and sweet potatoes still but I can get this started either way. I have to work at 9 a.m. tomorrow so I get to bed quicker than normal and resolve to just braid my hair tomorrow — I don't feel like taking the time to get it right before bed or de-frizz tomorrow morning. Asleep by 1:30.
Daily Total: $56.57
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