A Week In Boston, MA On A $75,000 Salary

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Today: a senior paralegal who makes $75,000 per year and spends some of her money on SweeTarts.
Occupation: Senior Paralegal
Industry: Legal
Age: 38
Location: Boston
Salary: $75,000 plus $10,500 bonus (My husband, N., makes about the same, but our accounts are separate)
Paycheck Amount (1x/week): $969 (after 401(k) and other deductions)
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,530 (for my half of a mortgage on a five bed, three bath house in the 'burbs that I split with N. and our collective four children, includes taxes and insurance; I share the house with my husband, my two kids from a previous marriage, and my two stepkids from my husband's previous marriage)
Loans: $0 (student loan and car loan is paid off)
Utilities (water, gas, electric): ~$200 for my half
Cable/Cell: N. pays
Health Insurance: N. pays for a family plan which covers me, my kids are covered by their dad
Cell Phone: $171 for five lines (N., me and three kids, which includes payments on two phones)
Netflix: $10.99
Hulu: $0 (included in our cell phone plan)
Gym: $54 for me and four kids (M. pays $20 for gym closer to his work)
Kids activities: ~$400 (depending on the sport season)
Car insurance: $77
Fuel: ~$125
401(k): $804
Amazon Prime: $119 (annually)
Savings: I don't keep a separate savings account, but I do a zero sum budget once a month and have several "sinking" funds for home/car maintenance, saving for new car, Christmas, vacations, etc. My checking account usually has between $15k-$20k at all times. This Money Diary is just my spending. N. and I have totally separate accounts and I don't include his income or spending in my totals.

Day One

8 a.m. — Wake up (this is about as good as it gets lately for sleeping in!) and N. is already awake and playing on his phone. He puts on the latest SNL and we watch it in bed. This recently became a new Sunday morning tradition since we rarely manage to stay awake for it. We had a date night in the North End last night and still managed to be home and in bed long before 10.
10 a.m. — I text my sister to see if she's planning to go to Zumba. We usually go together, but she's tutoring a student this morning, so I go alone. It's not at the Y closest to me, but I love the instructor and have been going to this class for years. As always, it's a great workout. When I get back in the car, I text my daughter to see if she wants to go to Target now and ask her to ask her brother. (They both have phones, but she's the more reliable texter). They were at their dad's house the night before, and she had texted to let me know she really needed a few things. Their dad has already dropped them at my house since he had to referee basketball. When I pull in, I'm shocked that they both run out, because my son typically hates errands and loves nothing more than hanging at home playing video games (he's almost 12).
12 p.m. — I need coffee, so we head to Starbucks. I order an iced grande caramel macchiato and give in to my kids requests (ok, begging) for cake pops ($9.06). When we get to Target, we first grab the things my daughter needs: face wash, concealer, and moisturizer. She may only be 13, but she takes her skincare seriously — probably more than I do. I grab a couple of frozen meals for work. I usually do food prep, but I have a crazy week coming up, so I want to be prepared. I also let me daughter pick something she can microwave for dinner (Amy's mac'n cheese) because the rest of us will be at my son's swim banquet and she will be home alone. Somehow, flaming Cheetos and ice-cream (neither of which I eat), end up in my cart. The fun of tweens/teens ($42.83). $51.89
1 p.m. — We arrive back home and I make lunch for the kids and myself. I haven't eaten anything today, so I make an egg sandwich on a bagel. It's really nice out and I feel motivated, so I grab the vacuum and go clean out my car. N. returns home from walking his sister's dog and we head out to grocery shop. It's a relatively light week since he's already made his typical breakfast and lunch for the week (fruit salad and chili) and we are out most nights. We get the normal stuff for kids' lunches, my lunch, snacks, drinks, etc. I pay and N. venmo's me half. My half is $62.33. We get home and my kids help bring in groceries and then we all get ready to go to the swim banquet. $62.33
5 p.m. — We get to the swim banquet just a few minutes late and the place is already packed. My stepdaughter is also on the team, and we say hi (she's at her mom's this weekend). She's sitting with her friends, and her mom (N.'s ex-wife) and her girlfriend are at another table with no extra seats, so we find a table with a couple of seats. My son is already off sitting with his friends. I message my son's dad and warn him the place is packed and there are no extra seats. He's supposed to be here, but messed up his reffing schedule and wasn't sure if he would make it. We prepaid, and enjoy the pizza, salad, pasta, and chicken. It runs a little long and is too crowded, but it's always a nice way to wrap up the swim season.
8 p.m. — We arrive home and jump into food prep for the week. I hard-boil eggs, and N. makes his chili. He did a lot of the prep earlier, so it's pretty quick. He does the dishes while I make sandwiches for the kids. We then head to bed and watch a couple of episodes of Schitt's Creek. N. falls asleep per usual about halfway through, so I get up and do my very quick nighttime routine. I use Beekman wipes made with goat's milk to wash my face, throw on same random moisturizer that I'm sure I got in a Target beauty box at some point, and brush my teeth. I scroll on my phone until I get tired and then go to sleep around 11.
Daily Total: $114.22

Day Two

6:15 a.m. — First alarm goes off, and I text my daughter to be sure she's up; don't judge, my bedroom is on the first floor and the kids are upstairs. Ain't nobody got time for that kind of walk upstairs and across the house at 6 a.m. just to be sure someone's up. She always is, but I like to double check. I tell her to make sure her brother is up too. I supervise the morning routine from bed, and the kids leave for the bus at 6:45 a.m. and I finally drag myself out of my bed, feed the cats, and hop in the shower. I make my breakfast, lunch, and coffee and head out the door.
8:30 a.m. — I arrive at work after my 30 minute drive. I used to work in Boston proper and the commute could take 45 minutes or two hours each way. After that, a 30 minute commute to another suburb is a breeze. Things have been a little slow, but they're picking up. I work on a research project for a client and do some other non-billable projects for the firm. I take a break mid-morning and enter my weekend's transactions into my budget software. I also email the law firm working on my refinance about a question. We bought our house almost three years ago, and the value has gone up enough that we are refinancing to eliminate PMI (private mortgage insurance).
12:30 p.m. — Lunch time! I eat my sandwich, which is a Skinnytaste recipe of a sliced-up hard boiled egg, tomatoes, and scallions along with blackberries, Stacy's pita chips, and a seltzer. I typically eat at my desk, but spend some time reading Money Diaries and other personal finance blogs as a break. We only get a 30 minute break, and I also have to plan the soccer practice I'm coaching. I then get back to work for the rest of the day doing more of the same research and emails. I take a break around 3 to go grab a coffee — I use my Dunkin' app to order and pick-up, but this purchase makes the balance go under $10, so it automatically reloads ($25). $25
5 p.m. — Change into coaching clothes and head home. I pick up my son on the way, and we head to an elementary school gym for soccer practice. I've been coaching his travel soccer team for a couple of years. The town hasn't opened up the fields to play on and though it's tough to practice inside, we make the best of it.
7 p.m. — Back home and N. has just gotten here with his two kids. Although we've only been married for about five years, we've all lived together for almost nine years, so the kids are like siblings. N. and I work on dinner for the kids and us. Since we don't have a ton of time, it's nothing fancy — just chicken sandwiches and tater tots all around. We were going to have salad, but decided that chewing salad seemed like too much work (is that just us?). We clean up the kitchen and make sandwiches while the kids go shower and get ready for bed. We then head to our bed and the kids come say goodnight around 9. We watch a couple of episodes of Schitt's Creek, I do my normal routine, and shut lights off around 10. Usually I fall asleep quickly, but for some reason, I lie awake for awhile.
Daily Total: $25

Day Three

6:15 a.m. — Same routine, but today with all four kids. After, I feed the cats, shower, get dressed, and blow dry my hair. I grab an oatmeal packet that I'll eat with a banana from my office. I make coffee and the exact some lunch as yesterday. I drop my stepdaughter off since she has one more year of elementary school and the others ride the bus. Next year, they'll all be in middle school together. I get to work right on time and start my day at the office. I'm leaving early to go to my son's IEP meeting, so I dive right in to work.
1:30 p.m. — I leave work and head to the middle school for my son's IEP meeting. He's on an IEP for a “specific learning disability” (similar to dyslexia/dysgraphia). His teachers spend most of the time talking about how funny he is, which is likely fostered by his love of 90's sitcoms (mostly Friends and The Office). He's had a really good year and they're talking about removing the IEP at some point in the future. I'm not sure I want to do that, so we'll see. On the way home, I stop for an iced coffee and grab a couple of donuts for the kids as a treat and once again, use the app. After my kids get picked up by their dad, I head back out to go to a wake of my former high school coach and my whole family arrives, including N. This coach was an absolute legend and I'm going to miss her. I get a little emotional when the entire current softball team shows up in uniform.
7 p.m. — N. and I head home and make a quick meal of butternut squash ravioli in a brown butter sage sauce. We then begin to make a dish to bring to our meeting the following night. He also preps some things since he's going to make paella after school. Since N. teaches Spanish, he leads the overseas trips and for the past several years, I've joined him. This year we are heading to Spain and Portugal. We make patatas bravas and while we cook, we try the Meloncello we picked up in the North End on Saturday and a couple of beers. Before bed, I do a little more work and watch more Schitt's Creek.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7 a.m. — Got to sleep in a bit! No kids were home and I didn't need to make sure someone was awake. Because our schedules with the kids are somewhat scattered, this doesn't happen that often. I end up wasting too much time on my phone and finally drag myself out of bed at 8, because the cats are giving me dirty looks about not being fed. I shower, make coffee and an egg sandwich for breakfast, and start doing some work before I need to leave for the funeral at 10:30. I hardly ever work from home, but this is a strange week with my son's meeting in the middle of the day and then the funeral. It is nice to have the flexibility when needed. I'm only working four hours today, so I do about two before I get ready to leave and plan to do more later.
11 a.m. — I hate funerals, but it was a nice tribute and my sister did an amazing job with the eulogy. My coach didn't have family so her players, coworkers, and friends were her family. It was supposed to be miserable out, but it turned out to be a great day. Afterwards, we head to a local wedding venue-type place. The food is pretty good and it's nice to chat with some former teammates. I get a Hawaiian sea breeze since it's still relatively early in the day and I want something fruity. I put $1 in the tip basket. $11
3 p.m. — I arrive home and check in with my kids. My daughter had texted me requesting that I stop and get her vanilla Oreos since “her period wants them,” I decline, reminding her that she had a donut the day before. I let her have a couple of thin mints instead when I get home and I log back in to do more work. I feed the cats before I leave, dropping my kids off at my parents, so they can feed them dinner. Fortunately, I get to the meeting pretty quickly. Parents begin arriving and we feast on a bunch of different Spanish and Portuguese foods. This is the biggest group of students we've had, with 33 traveling, plus six other adults. Parents and kids are excited and a little nervous, and N. runs through the final agenda and answers parent questions.
9 p.m. — After picking up my kids from my parents, I head home. I'm super thirsty and we have no cold seltzer in the fridge, so I grab the blueberry beer I put in there the night before. I log on and check in on work and make sure there was nothing else I need to do. My daughter and I chat a bit and then she heads to bed. N. stopped to walk the dog on his way home, so I put on Workin' Moms. N. gets home and immediately gets hooked on it. I decide to re-watch the first episode with him, since he likes it, but he falls almost immediately asleep. N. gets up at 4 a.m. since he goes to the gym before work, so I totally get it. I do my nighttime routine, I read a money diary since I didn't do it during my lunch break, and then head to bed.
Daily Total: $11

Day Five

6:15 a.m. — Early wake-up again since my kids are here. I sort of doze after I wake them up, but then my daughter reminds me that I said I would French braid her hair. I check to see if she's taken her ADHD meds since she has state-wide testing today. She just started taking meds last year after it became apparent middle school required a lot more focus. I'm proud that she has managed to get all A's this year. I clean the kitchen, shower, and then make the mistake of laying back down. I know this is a bad idea, but my bed is comfy! When I can't wait anymore, I get up and get dressed and dry my hair. I then make coffee, my lunch (same as the other days), pack my gym bag, and head out the door. Typically, I try to get to the gym on the days my kids are with their dad at night, but I didn't make it to my usual cardio dance class on Tuesday because of the wake. I vow to go right after work because if I don't go then, I know it won't happen.
8:40 a.m. — Arrive at work just a few minutes late after stopping to grab an iced coffee and a wake-up wrap at Dunkin's. I still have money on my card. In between work, I do some random other life things I need to handle. I follow up about paperwork on my refinance, respond to an email about my son's IEP meeting, order the kids a yearbook ($20), and send out an email to the parents of the kids I coach. My morning is busy with meetings and other work. I then get an email that our closing is on Monday. This is pretty insane since we first reached out to the broker inquiring about doing a refinance less than three weeks ago! We are lucky that they decided to waive the appraisal and accept the estimated value which sped things up. Removing PMI is going to save us $300/month off of the mortgage. $20
12 p.m. — Lunch time! Even though I planned to eat the same lunch as the rest of the week (hardboiled egg sandwich, blackberries, and Stacy's pita chips), one of my co-workers asks if I want Thai and I can't resist, especially since I had planned to get take out the next day anyway. I hope my sandwich is still good tomorrow! She places the order for a bunch of coworkers and I walk with her to pick it up since I have no cash and need to use my card for my cashew chicken. ($9.58). Around 3, I take a quick walk to grab an iced coffee. I usually try not to get more than one in a day (although I did get two smalls), but I have book club tonight and will need a little caffeine to get through the rest of the day. $9.58
5 p.m. — It's quittin' time! I head out and go right to the gym. I change and hit the treadmill. Sometimes I'll do intervals, but today I decide just to walk since I don't want to get sweaty before book club. I bring a random assortment of wine, spiked seltzer, and blueberry beer to share. When I get there, my other sister is already there and then four more ladies join us. We spend probably the first hour or so just talking about life, but finally dive into the book discussion while we snack on cheese, pepperoni, and crackers. We read Where The Crawdads Sing and it's probably one of the group's favorite books since we began meeting over two years ago. We spent the rest of the night chitchatting about the book and life and before I know it, it's 11:30! We choose Elinor Oliphant is Completely Fine for our next book. I head home, rush through the routine, and climb into bed. N. is out cold and three of our four kitties are on our bed.
Daily Total: $29.58

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — Wake up to be sure my stepson is up and getting ready and fortunately he's up. I quickly fall back asleep until my alarm goes off. I then lazily through scroll social media until I hear my stepdaughter in the kitchen. I realize how late it is and accept that this will be a dry shampoo kind of day. I throw on jeans and a sweater. At least it's Friday! I feed the cats, make coffee, and toast an English muffin with peanut butter for breakfast. Then I grab a seltzer and head out the door, dropping my stepdaughter off on the way.
8:25 a.m. — I get to work early, but then end up wasting time chatting with various coworkers. It's a quiet day in the office because, for some reason, a bunch of people are on vacation today. I eventually get motivated and get working on some projects.
12 p.m. — I'm starving, so I eat my lunch. The sandwich is actually not too bad the next day! I finish up the blackberries and eat some more pita chips. The school nurse calls and my son is not feeling well. She said he had a headache and sore throat, but no fever. Normally, one of my parents would get him since I'm 30 minutes away and working, but since school gets out in an hour and my dad is already getting my daughter after play practice, I tell them to just let him rest until the end of the day and he can take the bus home. I'm actually pretty sure it's allergies.
2:30 p.m. — My son calls asking if I'll pick him up some Gatorade. I walk to CVS and grab face wipes, hair elastics, and two Gatorades since, apparently, my stepson is also not feeling well! I have coupons and rewards, so the price is brought down to $7.29. I get $20 cash back so I can give some to my daughter who has a school dance tonight. While I'm out, I grab a coffee. This puts me under the auto reload limit, so it automatically recharges my card. ($25). Oops, I'm definitely going to be over my coffee budget this month if I don't slow down. $52.29
5 p.m. — Ready for the weekend to start! I head home, stopping to pick my daughter up from Girl Scouts, and help N. with dinner. The kids have mac n' cheese and hot dogs (really fancy up in here!) and N. and I make what we call “healthy nachos” which is pita bread cut up into triangles and baked, topped with some cheese and turkey chili that he makes every week. After dinner, I drop my daughter at her school dance and head to some errands. At Target, I pick up liquid allergy meds for my son (he hates swallowing pills). I also grab a bag of SweeTart Chicks, Ducks, and Bunnies. $14.13
8 p.m. — I then head to Kohl's because I don't want to go home, just to turn around to pick up my daughter. I pick up 10 pairs of socks and a workout shirt and use a reward, so I only pay $14.39. I get my daughter at 9 p.m. and head home. She's sweaty and happy after dancing with her friends for two hours. Apparently middle schoolers don't do slow dances anymore. She makes me feel old most of the time. N. and I watch an episode of Grey's Anatomy that we recorded. I take some of allergy meds and I fall asleep quickly around 10:30. $14.39
Daily Total: $80.81

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — I wake up feeling pretty well rested. This is the most sleep I've gotten in a long time! I have all sorts of plans to get things done, but I end up reading on my phone and talking to N. for awhile. He's a super early person, so he's already done laundry and dishes — looks like he's been productive for both of us! He then brings me an egg sandwich in bed. He's the best. N. then heads out and drops his kids to hang with his sister while he goes to play tennis. Finally, I get up and hop in the shower. My son is up, so I make him an omelet and toast and tell him to shower so I can take him for a haircut. I check in on my daughter before I leave and find that she's still sleeping, so I wake her up as she needs to get ready for a Girl Scout event. The haircut is pretty quick and they do a good job ($20.95 including a $5 tip). We then head to watch my nephew's game. It's a gorgeous day, so I'm glad to be outside, but they lose in overtime, which stinks. $20.95
2:30 p.m. — I arrive back home and realize I haven't eaten lunch and I'm hungry. I snack on some “fiesta mix” which the butchery near my house sells (we're obsessed with it) and then cut up a red pepper and eat it with some garlic hummus. N. heads outside to grill some chicken for the week. It's also an excuse for him to smoke a cigar. I was planning on getting a head start on packing for our trip Thursday, but he convinces me to grab a drink and join him. I have a Hell Or High Watermelon left from forever ago and it goes perfectly with this 65-degree day. I also steal a puff or two of cigar. I've never smoked a cigarette day in my life (neither has N.) and never have my own cigars, but I do enjoy sharing one with N. once in a while.
4 p.m. — The plan originally was for all of us to head out for Mexican food tonight, but N. is now feeling pizza and after he polls the kids, pizza gets the vote. N. and I then head out. We stop at Target for new sheets on our way to the pizza place (I love Target, but this is a lot even for me!) ($41.58). I'm pretty sure a candy bar ended up in the cart when I wasn't paying attention. N. has this theory that if you finish it before you leave the store, it doesn't count. We pick up the pizza and N. pays since I bought the sheets. $41.58
7 p.m. — We finally get to work pulling out suitcases, making sure we have our packing cubes, converters, my neck pillow, and filling our toiletry bottles. I have a blueberry beer and N. drinks a couple of Stella's while we play Rummy 500. The kids go outside to play on the trampoline and stay there until it's almost dark out. They then go play video games before getting ready for bed. Meanwhile, N. and I head to bed to watch The Goldbergs and Fresh Off the Boat. I do my nightly routine and get to sleep relatively early since I have Zumba the next morning.
Daily Total: $62.53
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