A Week In Boston, MA, On A $67,000 Income

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: an editor working in medical publishing who makes $67,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a burger.
Occupation: Editor
Industry: Medical Publishing
Age: 28
Location: Boston, MA
Salary: $48,000 plus an annual bonus, which has typically been $12,000 per year
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,254
Additional Income: I have a part-time job as a library assistant. The pay is around $17/hour, and last year I earned just over $7,000.
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $2,100 (I bought a house last summer and am living by myself in glorious singledom. The only question is when the cats will show up.)
Loans: $0 (My parents very generously paid for my college education, and I paid off my car a couple of years ago.)
Utilities: $344 (Gas, electric, water — My water bill is paid once per quarter and happened to fall this month. Also, it's winter.)
Health/Dental Insurance: $71.57
Phone: $52 (I'm on my parents' plan.)
Internet/TV: $106
Netflix: $4.50 (I share an account with my friend.)
401(k): I contribute 16% of my salary.

Day One

6 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I have to rush through my morning routine — it snowed a few inches last night, so I need to clear off my car before I can leave. (I could have set my alarm earlier, but I don't believe in waking up at any time that starts with a 5.) Luckily, the snow is light and powdery, and I don't even have to shovel my driveway! Taking a gamble that it won't be frozen when I come back.
6:45 a.m. — Get to work early, giving me time to read more of The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates. (Vampires, I think, plaguing the residents of Princeton in 1905, Woodrow Wilson among them — I'm not very far into it.)
8:30 a.m. — I've never been a big breakfast person (I would honestly skip it if I could), so I just have a few crackers with peanut butter. I can already tell I'm having one of those days where I'll be hungry no matter what I eat.
10 a.m. — Eat an apple and get hungry again five minutes later. I don't know why I even bother with fruit.
11:30 a.m. — It feels like I'm going stir-crazy at my desk, so I decide to go for a walk, hoping that when I get back I'll be able to focus more. A coworker joins me, and we talk about her improv class, the struggles of managing curly hair, and whether or not mustaches are acceptable on men. (We decide they're not.)
1 p.m. — Soup alone isn't going to cut it today, so I go down to the cafeteria looking for something I can add to it. I wind up getting a salad that I know is a mistake the second I buy it. Combined with my leftover lentil soup, it's a sad lunch indeed. $1.68
2 p.m. — The Girl Scout cookies on my desk are starting to look tempting, but I'm trying this thing where I don't eat chocolate before 5. (Kind of like Mark Bittman's Vegan Before 6 p.m. diet, only I went with 5 because then I could call it the NC-17 diet, as in No Chocolate Before 17:00. It's the little things in life.) Instead of Girl Scout cookies, I eat a spoonful of peanut butter. That seems to help.
4 p.m. — Time to go home! Boston was recently voted has having the “worst traffic in the country,” and I believe it. I can't really complain, though, because my commute is 35-40 minutes. But I will complain about people who drive 30 mph on major roads. Get off the road, seriously. You're the worst. I stop for gas on the way home. $21.87
4:45 p.m. — The snow on my driveway hasn't frozen, but it definitely would have been easier to shovel it this morning. Oh well.
5:15 p.m. — It's after 5, so I finish off those Girl Scout cookies while meal planning for next week. Somehow “meal planning” devolves into “scrolling through Instagram.”
6:30 p.m. — Dinner! Tonight I make rice noodles with crispy shallots, scallions, and chili-garlic sauce. The shallots are delicious, but the recipe is otherwise a dud.
7:30 p.m. — I was going to go grocery shopping, but my neighbors invited me to watch the Bruins game with them. I don't care about the Bruins or hockey in general, but my neighbors are awesome, so Wegmans will have to wait.
10:45 p.m. — I come back from my neighbors' and really don't want to finish cleaning up after dinner, but I decide to be a Responsible Adult and take care of it. The rest of the evening I spend eating chocolate and reading a trashy romance novel. I'm having a hard time with it because the main character's name is Angus, and that's just not a name to me.
11:45 p.m. — Bedtime!
Daily Total: $23.55

Day Two

6:45 a.m. — Wake up before my alarm. Today is my work-from-home day, so I get to sleep in a little. Force myself to change into actual clothes, then make my way downstairs into my office/library.
9:30 a.m. — I was going to have a sunny-side-up egg, but the yolk broke when I cracked it into the skillet, so now it's a scrambled egg. Add some salt, pepper, vinegar (trust me), and toast, and I'm good to go!
9:45 a.m. — My boss decided to have multiple people review an article at the same time (instead of one at a time, like we're supposed to), so now I get to reconcile all of their edits into one document. It's really irritating, since sometimes the edits conflict with one another, and it would have been entirely avoidable if it was edited by one person at a time.
10 a.m. — Screw this, I'm going to Wegmans.
10:45 a.m. — Back from Wegmans. (I have an hourlong break, so I'm not shopping on company time.) Just needed a few vegetables, heavy cream, crackers, and bleach. Thought I was running low on onions, but when I went to put them in the fridge, I realized I already had two bags. Oh well, they won't go to waste. $20.10
12:30 p.m. — I've done a solid chunk of work and am feeling good about the state of my inbox, so I use the rest of my break to make Sriracha ramen soup. While I'm cooking, I put on Ariana Grande's new album, and I'm in the middle of breaking down some serious dance moves when I realize that one of my neighbors came home early from work and can definitely see into my kitchen.
12:45 p.m. — I break my NC-17 diet by accident, popping a Ferrero Rocher hazelnut chocolate without even thinking. I straight up forgot.
2:30 p.m. — My inbox exploded. Why do people keep sending me things on a Friday afternoon? Can we not?
4 p.m. — Clock out for the day, but work isn't done yet! I take out the trash and recycling, finish laundry, and pay some bills. At 5, I reward myself with some more chocolate.
8 p.m. — I took way too long in the shower, and now it's time to make dinner. I try a new recipe from Ottolenghi Simple: sticky Thai rice with crispy garlic, chili, and peanuts. It comes together surprisingly quickly, but that doesn't stop me from munching on chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds while I cook. When dinner's ready, I sit in front of the TV to watch Sex Education on Netflix. Love this show — Gillian Anderson is absolutely divine.
9:30 p.m. — I spend the rest of the night working on a parody of Ariana Grande's “7 rings” called “7 books,” which I want to bring in to the library (my part-time job). One of my coworkers wrote a poem about our book-sorting machine, so I'm hoping people will find it amusing. Inspiration strikes and I write, “Emma and Harry and Frodo and Scarlett / Girls with tattoos just like Lisbeth Salander.” Oh, and I eat a ton of Hershey's Nuggets. So much better than Hershey's Kisses.
Daily Total: $20.10

Day Three

6:35 a.m. — Even though it's the weekend and I can sleep in, my weekday alarm has trained my body too well. I attempt to snatch at least one more hour of sleep, but eventually I give up and finish my trashy romance novel instead. Snow is falling outside — the first of two storms this weekend — and yet the birds are chirping. March in a nutshell.
8:45 a.m. — I wander downstairs and log the romance novel in my reading tracking spreadsheet. (I promise I have a life sometimes.) I take some of my mom's homemade bread out of the freezer to defrost for breakfast, all the while thinking of the chores I want to tackle today. The American Cup for gymnastics starts streaming at 11:30, and I want to get as much done as possible before then. On today's to-do list: deep-clean the stovetop, clear all the papers off of my dining room table, and update my finance tracking spreadsheet.
9:45 a.m. — Finally get around to eating that bread, along with some apple compote I made ages ago and should really try and finish off before it goes bad. While I eat, I read through some of my friend's story that he sent to me for feedback. Although it's not something I would ever read on my own, he's going to look over one of my stories in return, so I'm trying to give it the same level of review I would want from him.
11 a.m. — I finally figure out how to remove the dials on my stove and am rewarded for my perseverance with actual knots of cat hair left behind by the previous owner.
11:25 a.m. — Not only do I clean the stovetop, but I also hit the kitchen sink, with all those crevices that are so adept at trapping grime. It's amazing how much more energy I have now that my library schedule's changed. I used to work a full weekend every other weekend, all on top of my regular full-time job. I love being at the library, but not having a day off for 12 days straight was brutal. And once I bought my house, it became unbearable — because not only was I working two jobs, but the house essentially became a third job — 0/10, would not advise anyone to do this unless you have no other choice. You need your free time, people!
12 p.m. — I have E-ZPass for tolls, which automatically refills when I'm running low, and I am charged today. $10
12:30 p.m. — I take a break from watching the American Cup to make lunch: Pioneer Woman's pasta with tomato cream sauce (basically alla vodka minus the vodka). Naturally, the tomato sauce splatters all over the stovetop I just cleaned.
2 p.m. — Watching gymnastics really makes me want to get back into it — I'm currently “off again” due to laziness and a broken thumb. During commercial breaks, I find myself doing handstands and straddle stretches.
3 p.m. — The American Cup comes down to a fight between two Americans in both the women's and the men's competition. (The setup is that men and women alternate competing on the same stage, with two athletes representing the U.S. versus a handful of international athletes.) My guy Sam Mikulak falters once again on the last rotation and comes second to Yul Moldauer, but I don't mind too much because Yul is incredible, and honestly, Sam needs to get his shit together.
4:30 p.m. — My mom comes over to help me hang a mirror/jewelry cabinet in my bedroom. Things have gotten a lot better between us now that I'm no longer living at home (no more talking about politics!). She's been a huge help with all the projects around the house, by which I mean, let's be real, she has done the bulk of the work. Thank you, Mom!
6 p.m. — We head over to a friend's house for a mother-daughter dinner. It's fun catching up and the food is great (fried halloumi, chicken with prunes/apricots soaked in some sort of glaze, an Ottolenghi-esque rice dish with pomegranates, and poached pears for dessert). By 10, I'm exhausted. I think it's partly age, partly being an introvert.
10:30 p.m. — Get home and blitz through my nighttime routine so I can go to SLEEP.
Daily Total: $10

Day Four

6:45 a.m. — Wake up and immediately fall asleep for another hour. Rinse and repeat.
9 a.m. — I mosey on downstairs and rev up my Shakira playlist, starting with “Waka Waka,” of course. I use the last of my cilantro and some wilting parsley to make a whipped cream cheese spread with scallions and some lemon juice (recipe courtesy of Budget Bytes). I've been meaning to do this for weeks, and yet for some reason keep procrastinating, so I'm glad the herbs haven't gone bad.
10 a.m. — I finish reviewing two chapters of my friend's story and send them to him. I'm having some issues with his female character — she's a prostitute (of course), and the bulk of her dialogue seems to be reminding people that she's a prostitute. I tally all the mentions of her profession in one chapter and hope that helps get my point across.
10:30 a.m. — I start chopping potatoes so I can make one of Chrissy Teigen's breakfast hash recipes, which will actually be my lunch before I head to the library. Most of her recipes are a little out of my league, but they're all so delicious.
12 p.m. — Breakfast hash is a success! Sadly, I don't have time to savor it, because I have to leave for my 1 p.m. shift at the library.
3 p.m. — The library is insanely busy. It's nonstop at the front desk, and the return bins are overflowing. One of my coworkers pulls me aside to tell me that the man I helped check out had been staring at me ever since he walked into the library, and she's noticed it on other occasions, too. I didn't get any weird vibes from him, but I'm definitely going to be paying closer attention from now on.
5 p.m. — There's always one person who comes in right as the library's closing and wants to “oh just quickly” return books, pay their fines, and check out new books. Super aggravating — we're closed! Everyone else left the building! They know exactly what they're doing, too.
5:45 p.m. — My mom reminds me to go to the supermarket to stock up on butter, since there's a sale and she gave me some manufacturer's coupons that will bring the price down to 98 cents. I don't want to go to the supermarket right before a snowstorm, since everyone else will be doing the same thing, but I go anyway. They don't have the butter, so I get a “rain check” for the sale.
6 p.m. — After a few Hershey's Nuggets, it's time to get started on dinner, which is slow-cooked onion-and-cider soup. I use the 40-minute simmer period to wash my hair and get ready for tomorrow. I'm not sure if I'll be going in to work or not, since we're supposed to get a lot of snow during the morning commute and my car cannot handle even an inch of snow under the tires.
9 p.m. — The soup recipe didn't make enough for two servings (poor planning on my part), so I save the full serving for leftovers and just eat half a serving while reading more of The Accursed. It's getting more interesting now that the vampire (? still unclear) attacks are happening.
10 p.m. — I'm still hungry, so I gravitate toward my ever-so-healthy standby, potato chips — and, of course, Hershey's Nuggets.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6:10 a.m. — We got a foot of snow and the roads are barely plowed, so there's no chance I'm driving to work today. I text my manager to let her know and try to fall back asleep, without success.
7:30 a.m. — I'm working in my office when I see someone get stuck on the road outside my house. After his first few failed attempts at backing out, I open my door and offer to help, but he says he has someone on the way. The best possible outcome — I get to feel like a Good Samaritan, but I don't actually have to do anything.
8:15 a.m. — I'm starving, so I pop some bread in the toaster and get out my whipped cream cheese spread. Before I can eat, though, I notice that my neighbor's car is stuck in his driveway, and he and his girlfriend are trying to dig him out. I go over to help, and they in turn help me dig out my car. He has a plow and plows out both his driveway and mine, saving me hours of work. I'm really thankful that I moved next door to them — they've been so friendly and welcoming, and this isn't the first time they've plowed out my driveway, either. I make a mental note to buy them a bottle of wine ASAP.
10:30 a.m. — Working from home on Monday is unfortunately not as leisurely as working from home on Friday. I'm getting a ton of emails, and as soon as I clear some of them out, more come in.
12:30 p.m. — Due to a bit of an oversight on my part, my garbage bins are now behind the wall of snow plowed by my neighbor. Left to me is the unhappy task of digging a garbage bin–sized path through this snowbank, because who knows how long it's going to take to melt on its own. Luckily, the snow is still fairly light, so it's annoying but manageable.
1 p.m. — My cast-iron skillet rusted yesterday from that breakfast hash, so I clean it again while heating up leftover Sriracha ramen soup for lunch. I text with my coworker about our plans tonight — we're going to another coworker's improv show, and we're meeting up for dinner beforehand. I can only hope that the MBTA won't be completely dysfunctional because of the snow.
4 p.m. — I sign off for the day and immediately leave to drive to the train station, paying $6 for parking. I've budgeted an hour on the T, but you never know what's going to happen on the Green Line. And sure enough, after about three stops, we have to get off the train because of a “minor technical issue.” (I've been making eye contact with a cute guy who is — score! — also reading a book, but sadly he decides an Uber is better worth his time and does not get on the next train.) After that, things go more smoothly, and I'm on time to meet my coworker. $6
5:45 p.m. — We go to a small, cozy pub and each get a burger, splitting an order of poutine. My veggie burger is pretty good, but the poutine is just okay. $26.93
7 p.m. — There's still some time to kill before the show, so we grab ice cream, which on second thought was maybe not the best idea in the middle of winter. But it's pretty delicious. $5.82
8 p.m. — The show begins! It's a student show ($7, already paid), so there are three groups of improv classes, each at a different level. My friend is in the first group with the newer students, and she has some really funny moments — she seems to be enjoying herself, too! After her group, there are two more, including one that does improv while singing! Pretty impressive.
10:30 p.m. — The T ride back is mercifully uneventful, and I'm able to get through several more pages of The Accursed. (I'm like 90% sure it's vampires at this point.) I need to go to bed early for work tomorrow, but at home I get distracted by a new posting on my neighborhood Facebook group — apparently a man who lives on my block has anger-management issues and has gotten arrested several times. One of the women in the group says that he blocked her into her driveway and started pounding on her car door, screaming that she was going too slow. This freaks me out a little — I've never seen the guy, but I'm living alone and don't know what I would do if that happened. The woman is advised to call the police, but she's afraid of retaliation.
Daily Total: $38.75

Day Six

6 a.m. — Waking up was a mistake. I'm exhausted.
8 a.m. — At the office, I'm about to eat the crackers I brought for breakfast when I see there are bagels!
10:30 a.m. — After a quick meeting with my team, it's time for a mid-morning snack: apples and peanut butter. I'm having trouble concentrating on work, probably because I stayed up too late scrolling through the comments on my neighborhood Facebook page. (There's been no update on the anger-management guy.)
12:30 p.m. — I realize I forgot to call my grandma yesterday. I call her every Monday at 6, but I got thrown off yesterday because of working from home, which is something I normally do on Fridays. I hate it when I forget, because I know she's sitting by the phone and waiting for me to call, and I don't want her to worry or feel let down. I put a reminder in my phone to call her this afternoon on the way to my second job, and I add another reminder that's going to go off every Monday at 5:45.
1 p.m. — Time for lunch, which is leftover lentil soup. (Maybe a little too leftover, since it's been at least a week. I'm definitely tired of it by now.) I read more of The Accursed, but a character I was invested in died a few chapters ago, and now I'm not as interested. The sunk cost fallacy is real, though, and I keep plowing on. At the end of my break, I purchase two improv tickets — last night my coworker and I saw posters for another show that looks really good, so we're going to check it out. The tickets are $18 each, and my coworker pays me back for hers. $18
4 p.m. — I leave work and head to my evening shift at the library. On the way there, I call my grandma, but she doesn't answer — I'll have to try again tomorrow. When I get to the library, I'm lucky enough to snag a space close to the building. The parking lot is always full at this time, with cars circling around looking for spaces. I wouldn't normally mind parking farther away, but when I get out late at night and it's dark and freezing, I don't want to have to walk very far.
6 p.m. — It's a pretty slow night, thankfully. I've been rotating between the front desk, the call center, and the book-sorting room. The call center is where I eat my dinner (leftover pasta alla vodka minus the vodka) and read more of The Accursed (yup, definitely vampires). I also take the time to munch on some Kit Kats.
9 p.m. — My shift is over, and the only thing I want to do is eat Hershey's Nuggets and sleep. I set about the former with gusto, but the latter takes me a little longer, even though I really do need to catch up on my zzz's…
Daily Total: $18

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I'm able to clear through my inbox pretty quickly, leaving me with some free time. As part of an ongoing effort to be a Responsible Adult, I call the nearest car dealer to schedule an appointment. My car has a safety recall on one of the airbags, so they'll replace it for free — but while they're doing that, I'm also going to have them replace my windshield wipers, which are literally falling apart. I'm told this will be $35.99, so we'll see.
9 a.m. — I use most of my break to squeeze in an early workout. Normally, I try to exercise Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at the office gym, but my routine has been thrown off the past couple of weeks because of all the snow days. Today's workout consists of squats and more squats; I've got a three-day program from a trainer that's supposed to help with my back, which has had chronic pain since I was in high school (gymnastics injury). I hope it's working — it would be really nice to be able to stand for more than 10 minutes without having back pain. I don't even remember what that's like anymore.
10 a.m. — After my workout, I make another bid to be a Responsible Adult and call a local chimney company to fix my chimney cap, which blew off during the last wind storm — yikes! No one answers, though, so I'll try again later.
11:30 a.m. — I'm getting seriously distracted from work by multiple group texts. Two of my coworkers and I are going to have a grilled cheese and Magic Mike XXL night on Friday, so we discuss what kind of grilled cheese we want while salivating over Channing Tatum and Joe Manganiello. (Tomato bacon jam will totally be involved.) Another group of friends is planning to see Captain Marvel, so we have to haggle over dates and schedules.
1 p.m. — Lunch is leftover onion-and-cider soup. I know it's not going to be enough to sustain me, so I buy a bag of potato chips. They're overpriced, and I wish I had thought to bring some chips from home. $1.44
3 p.m. — The afternoon is spent proofreading medical articles.
4:30 p.m. — On my way home from work, I swing by the grocery store for my rain check on the butter sale — two packages (eight sticks). With the coupons from my mom, all the butter comes out to $1.96 total, or $.98 per package. $1.96
5 p.m. — I'm hungry when I get home, so I start eating a chocolate bar, but it's not very good, so I switch to my old friend Hershey. I call my grandma and we chat for a few minutes — she always hurries off the phone because phone calls used to cost so much! Afterward, I start thinking about everything I have to do before I meet some friends for dinner, and the list seems endless.
6 p.m. — Spoiler alert: I didn't do any of the things I was supposed to do.
7 p.m. — I meet my friends at our usual Mexican restaurant. We all used to do karate together, and we've kept in touch even though we're no longer in the class. One of them went through a really hard time at the end of last year, and it's great to see her starting to get back on her feet, due in no small part to the adorable puppy she and her boyfriend got at the beginning of this year. We decide that next time we'll get together at her place and meet the puppy! $17.39
9 p.m. — I get back from dinner and briefly contemplate going to bed at a reasonable hour. Then I stay up working on my story and eating chocolate instead.
Daily Total: $20.79
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