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A Week In Portland, ME, On A $100,000 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 executive assistant who makes $100,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on toddler snowpants.
Editor's Note: This Money Diary was written in October 2022.
Occupation: Executive Assistant
Industry: Tech
Age: 36
Location: Portland, ME
Salary: $100,000
Net Worth: $65,000 ($20,000 in savings, $32,000 in 401k, and $13,000 in investment accounts. My wife and I split all expenses 50/50, no joint accounts.)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $4,200
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent $1,350 (my half of a two-bedroom apartment I share with my wife)
Utilities: $120
Gas: $35 (I work from home in a walkable city, so I only need to fill up maybe once a month)
Cell Phone: $69
Insurance: $37 (for health, vision, dental, and life insurance, all deducted from my paycheck pre-tax)
Pet Insurance: $24 (my half, split with my wife)
Gym Membership: $25
New York Times Digital Subscription: $4
Netflix & HBO Max: $25
Patreon/OnlyFans Subscriptions: $75

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?
Absolutely. From a young age, my parents promised me they would pay for college. Both my parents attended college, and I loved the idea of a moody academic life at a prestigious university on the east coast. My grades got me out east, but I wouldn't say I was at the most prestigious school. My parents were kind enough to pay for my private out-of-state tuition at a four-year university so I graduated with no loans. After that, I got my master's at a state school, which was paid with one-third scholarships, one-third loans, and my parents paid the remaining one-third. I paid off my grad school loans about eight years ago.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents were very generous with money, but I wasn't taught much about the realities of personal finance as a result. I was told to never use credit cards, so I used debit cards into my 30s without realizing what a huge mistake that was. To my parents' credit, they were shocked when I revealed this. I believe they might have said "never" when they probably meant "rarely" use credit cards. I promise I've gotten a lot better!
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I babysat from an early age and in high school I started hostessing at a restaurant to pay for gas.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Not in the slightest. We took multiple vacations a year and my parents often purchased new appliances or cars. We lived in a very wealthy suburb so I think I was skewed into thinking we were less rich than others as my parents didn't splurge on luxury or brand name items as much as other parents we knew. Our life was and has always been very comfortable. My dad retired the year I went away to college, so money became tighter then, but they still covered my undergraduate tuition. The only change I noticed was being pushed to find work in the summer, but otherwise, I was very well-supported even on a single income. My mom retired around 10 years ago and they currently own several properties, so I don't think they're struggling.

Do you worry about money now?
Not really. I'm very thankful for my tech industry paycheck, which does go far but not as far as people would assume. I have a decent amount in savings and excellent healthcare, so I don't worry about unexpected expenses. My wife and I got married early last year, so sometimes I worry it will take a long time to get my savings back to where they were before I paid for a six-figure wedding. I'm lucky to be able to think so, but I operate under the adage that money is for spending! I also recognize that as a fully remote tech worker, my job might be more tenuous that I'd like, but I'll ride this gravy train until it reaches the station.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
My parents covered rent for both my brother and me through school, so given I did get a master's degree I stretched that out a little longer than most. I paid all my other bills and fun expenses, but they always made sure I had a roof over my head. I started paying my own rent when I was 27, so that's when I feel I became financially independent. In terms of a safety net, I am confident that in a disaster either my parents or my spouse's parents would support us in whatever we needed.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I had an allowance of $25 a week through high school. My parents put $10,000 down on my current car when it was purchased about 10 years ago. I paid the rest off a couple of years later and it's still going strong! I have a trust fund but it's not accessible to me until my parents pass away and honestly I have no clue what's in there. I get a couple hundred from them for birthdays and Christmas as well.

Day One

8 a.m. — Boo Monday. I work Monday through Friday, but my wife only has to go in to work Tuesday through Thursday, so we are able to spend the day together even while I'm at my laptop. This morning my wife, C., has a physical therapy appointment, so I could have slept in, but I try to be awake when she is. I blearily eat cereal and catch up on work that came through over the weekend waiting for her to come home.
10 a.m. — Last night I got my assigned family for a holiday "adopt-a-family" and I am SO EXCITED. I love the holidays and buying gifts, and while I am charitable all year round, I love being able to buy gifts and holiday essentials to help make a tough time of year better for those in need. Last year I was assigned a family with teenagers, but this year they are both infants. I really don't know much about babies, so I reach out to a friend who just had a baby and my mom to see what kids that age can even do. Not very much, it seems!
12:30 p.m. — Lunchtime and I eat Wheat Thins and goat cheese with a side of some red grapes. Since I haven't received many emails or Slack messages today, I also use some free time before my meetings to clean the toilet and sink in the bathroom. I'll do the shower and tub tomorrow after I go to the gym.
2 p.m. — My Tuesday Zoom meetings got moved to Monday so the rest of my afternoon is built around phone calls with my managers and coworkers. In between, I do a ton of data work and check in on my wife during her WFH times. I also buy a bunch of stuff from Amazon I've been eyeing, like makeup, a bench for our getting-ready room, some fake plants, and socks. $240
4 p.m. — We use Misfits Market to get produce delivered in a bi-weekly box, but some of the oranges are moldy... ick. They refund me the cost of the oranges that I can use on a future box. I'm not entirely sure these services (Misfits Market/Imperfect Produce) are necessarily cheaper, but working with a flexible schedule and a walkable city means I have plenty of opportunities to get groceries, so I hope this keeps me from buying too much food each week.
5:30 p.m. — Looking through our new box and the fridge, I see we got some fresh spinach so I decide to make pasta for dinner! There was a viral recipe going around for Bella Hadid's spicy vodka pasta, so I combine that with some of the spinach and Texas toast on the side.
7 p.m. — We eat dinner and watch episodes of retro Unsolved Mysteries after we eat. I loved this series as a kid even though it scared the bejesus out of me back then. They're all from the early '90s so it's nice to see lots of cases solved and people reunited thanks to new DNA technology. Plus, you never know.... perhaps YOU can solve a mystery.
8 p.m. — Wife has some prep work for tomorrow done and packs her bento. Meanwhile, I do some more browsing for my adopt-a-family and play with our cat.
10:30 p.m. — Skin-care routine — is it bad I use the BareNatural retinol serum from the dollar store? Hard to tell if it does anything. Then some Duolingo, pop a weed gummy, and crawl into bed.
Daily Total: $240

Day Two

7 a.m. — Up and drive to the gym. Normally I'd walk but I have a slew of errands to do this morning. After my workout, I run to the bagel shop next door for a garlic bagel with chive cream cheese before heading to the dry cleaners to pick up some coats I need washed before we speed into winter. $7.50
9:30 a.m. — Coats look good, but they couldn't figure out how to get the stains out from some other shirts I dropped off. No idea what they were either, oh well. I have gift cards for the dry cleaning place, so this is super cheap after the cards are applied. $2
10 a.m. — I head to Shaw's to get groceries: oat milk, clementines, white wine and White Claws, poblano peppers, and some other non-perishables. I also grab two big chunky pumpkins for us to carve this weekend! I prefer to buy my dairy and frozen food at Target so we'll get more sustenance when I visit there this weekend. $186
11:30 a.m. — My car stuffed full of groceries, I also pop into a dispensary nearby and get some CBN tinctures and gummies. I used to take some pretty heavy-duty meds to sleep with crazy side effects, so I'm happy I can transition to something else to help me get some rest. $125
12 p.m. — Back home, I eat pumpkin spice pretzels and an orange for lunch. I pull out my laptop and start some work. I'm completely remote which I've really enjoyed and the company is based on the west coast, so while work goes rather late into the evening, I have lots of time in the morning to catch up on errands, gym, etc.
3 p.m. — Lull in my work so it's time for a hot! girl! shower! There's nothing special about it, but I find calling a midday shower a "hot girl shower" helps make the experience more enjoyable. I'll admit this one does get too hot because I clean the tub and shower while I'm in there and it gets very steamy. I recover by laying in a towel watching TikTok until my cat wanders over and reminds me to work.
5:30 p.m. — After some more work, I head to the kitchen to make my favorite dinner. It's black bean and poblano quesadillas with salsa fresca and creamy guac. We originally saw this recipe on HelloFresh, which we started ordering during the pandemic. We don't get boxes very often anymore, but pro tip… you can just buy the ingredients yourself and make the meal without the box. My wife comes home and while this isn't her fave meal, she graciously shares my excitement over a bowl of chips.
6 p.m. — After dinner, C. and I watch a couple of episodes of Murder She Wrote. We do watch a lot of classic TV.
8:30 p.m. — Time to play DND over Discord with some friends. We are all living in different states, so 8:30 p.m. EST means it's possible to play with west coast people who are just finishing up work (myself included). I started playing DND in person on a whim with a friend group a few years back, and while we all moved away, we got very into playing virtually. It turned out to be a great source of entertainment over the pandemic and now it helps me keep in touch with a lot of friends.
10:30 p.m. — Session is finished so C. and I tidy up and give the cat lots of attention before Duolingo and bed.
Daily Total: $320.50

Day Three

7 a.m. — C. wakes me up about five minutes before she heads out and I throw on my gym clothes so she can drop me off. While the weather was okay while working out, heading home I have to walk through a TOTAL RAINSTORM.
10 a.m. — On my rainy walk, I stop and grab a croissant at the bakery down the road. I wolf it down once I've dried off at home, play with the cat a bit, and then get an early start to work. $3.78
12 p.m. — I have my head down, working straight until lunch when I emerge to make a bambino pepperoni pizza from Trader Joe's. While it cooks, our landlord stops by with some crème brûlée she wants us to try. I've never had it before but I'm intrigued. We get so into chatting, I almost forget I have food in the oven! But I get to the pizza just in time.
2 p.m. — Work slows down and it's a gloomy day which means it's a good day to do some creative writing! I don't get much written but I do a lot of editing of what I already have. I don't plan on publishing anything but sometimes it's nice to just write something for yourself.
5 p.m. — Dinner time rolls around and after skimming Pinterest for ideas, I make a pan of roasted veggies, yellow and sweet potatoes, and chicken sausage. I don't normally like sausage but this type from Trader Joe's smells heavenly when I cook it. C. comes home from work and suggests we serve it over rice.
7 p.m. — Wife has to work so I pull out my Switch and play a bit of Bear and Breakfast. It's a really cute game that got a major software update but it's still crashing a lot. Sigh. It's a fun game when it works.
8 p.m. — Oh crap we forgot about the crème brûlée! It takes us longer than expected to prepare it because it turns out I didn't know how the broiler works, but when it's done it is delicious.
10 p.m. — Play a little more of my game, but when it crashes again I figure that's a sign I need to crash myself. Duolingo in bed and I show my wife a bunch of funny TikToks before we fall asleep.
Daily Total: $3.78

Day Four

7 a.m. — I tried one of the new CBN tinctures last night and slept like a rock. C. drops me off at the gym and I work up a big sweat since I won't be back until next week. Afterward, I walk home while listening to Not Another DND Podcast and resisting the urge to stop for breakfast.
11 a.m. — Once home, I make an acai bowl with granola, bananas, cocoa nibs, chia seeds, and almond butter. I also tune into a quarterly company meeting. I know tech is going through a lot of growing pains right now, especially for remote workers, so I am keeping my fingers crossed nothing crazy happens to my company in the next few months.
12 p.m. — I eat some toast quickly while working. There's a lot to do today because we have tomorrow and Monday off for our quarterly wellness weekend. I didn't plan to put on makeup before I leave the house, but I have just enough time between lunch and leaving the house that I might as well.
1:30 p.m. — I head out to an ENT appointment as I've had some weird ongoing stuffiness that my primary care doctor hasn't been able to place. Some years back, an ENT told me to simply stop consuming alcohol, dairy, and spicy foods but like… dude be reasonable. The new doctor wants me to get an allergy test so that'll be fun! I'm sure I had one as a baby, but this will be a new experience as an adult. I bet it'll take me several months to get an appointment because Maine healthcare is crazy backed up. I pay my copay and go home. $15
4 p.m. — After being home for a bit, I gotta figure out dinner. Eventually, I decide on homemade mac and cheese with jalapeños, chives, bacon, and steamed broccoli.
5 p.m. — Wife comes home. We eat and we watch some YouTube before she decides to play Genshin Impact. I watch a little bit but I can't really get into it. I have a moderately invasive procedure at another doctor's office early tomorrow that I am a little anxious about. I've been told it's not painful, just uncomfortable, but I'm not looking forward to it.
8 p.m. — To calm my nerves I do some ill-advised online shopping. I pick out a bunch of clothes on Shein but I won't buy them until I can reward myself for getting through my doctor's appointment unscathed. I'm thankful for no work tomorrow, too.
10 p.m. — Wife is sleepy so we head to bed. I take a gummy and tell myself not to worry about tomorrow! Duolingo and sleep.
Daily Total: $15

Day Five

8 a.m. — Wake up nervous… I eat some Oreos and an orange for breakfast and go to the procedure. On the drive over, I blast music to pump myself up.
11 a.m. — The procedure is definitely uncomfortable but now it's over. I celebrate with a tuna sub from Subway and a Diet Coke, which I eat in the parking lot and decompress. My toxic trait is I actually love Subway tuna. $8
12 p.m. — Once I'm ready, I head into Trader Joe's. It's much later than I like to shop at the only TJ's in Maine, but I need to get stuff for the Halloween parties we have tonight and tomorrow. $78
1 p.m. — When I get home, I see I got a text from an old friend that one of my high school teachers had a stroke. I get flowers and a care basket for $200 and Venmo request some friends for their portions, which will be $50 each. $50
3 p.m. — I have the day off work, but I gotta make snacks for the parties! I make a couple of batches of brownies to serve in a cute coffin-shaped pan I grabbed at Target. I also make my homemade French onion dip that has to sit overnight in the fridge.
7 p.m. — Wife gets home and we hang out before heading to the first floor to have a Halloween dinner with our landlord and housemates. The house is a triplex and we all get along super well. Whenever we get together for these house dinners, we just gossip about the whole neighborhood and eat meat and cheese. It's extraordinary.
11 p.m. — We stumble back upstairs, full and giggly. Wife is very drunk so we go pretty quickly to bed, but not before awkwardly tapping through some Duolingo.
Daily Total: $136

Day Six

9:30 a.m. — I wanna sleep in and C. is a little hungover, but I made my flu vaccine appointment at a Target location several towns away so we have to wake up and head over there. I have a bowl of cereal and then I'm out the door.
11 a.m. — Get my flu shot... probably a little late, but I chickened out from getting it simultaneously with my COVID booster so I gotta get it now. I do the windmill arm swing to help keep from having a sore arm and start properly shopping in Target.
12 p.m. — For some reason, this Target has also completely changed their grocery section so while I get the frozen chicken I like, there's no cheese and dairy of any kind. Going to a fourth grocery store in one week will be such a pain. I said I was trying to cut back. Oh well. At Target we hope to find Halloween costumes last minute for a party tonight but no such luck there, either. We're having a lot of house guests over the holidays and I really want the house to pop, so I stock up on stuff for that. $350
1:30 p.m. — For lunch, I get us a mini Pizza Hut pizza and pasta as well as Starbucks from the food court inside. $14
3 p.m. — Back home. We have a Halloween party tonight and no costumes. We were hoping to find something at Target but they were all kid costumes. In a panic, we paw through our clothes for a while thinking up random ideas before settling on C. dressing as "work from home" and myself as "unsexy background kid at Euphoria High School." C. and I debate if there will be food at the party. To be safe, we heat up some leftover pasta to eat for an early dinner before leaving.
6:30 p.m. — The party is a solid drive away, but I'll drive as these are C.'s work colleagues and she drinks more than me anyway. When we get there, I'm glad we ate beforehand as there are only light snacks and candy at the Halloween party. The couple hosting is super nice and they have a truly lovely house. We spend the whole time ooh and ahhing. For the last few months, we had been seriously looking at buying a house in Maine, but there's unexpected job uncertainty on my spouse's end, so we really don't know where we'll be in a couple of years. It's sad to see someone living the life you want, but I know we'll get there eventually.
8 p.m. — I bully someone at the party into making me a Negroni… sbagliato... with prosecco in it. (Ooh stunning!) I take a sip but it's not very good! Good thing I'm driving.
10 p.m. — We're having a great time with new pals, but my flu shot is really getting to me, so we drive off into the night. Our cat wants very badly to play but we are both too wiped to do much more than wash our faces, feed him, Duolingo, and collapse into bed.
Daily Total: $364

Day Seven

9 a.m. — Uughh… I wanna sleep for a thousand years. My body is so sore and tired, but I really just had that one drink, so it must be the shot. I can't believe a simple flu shot bodied me so bad. We had aspirations of walking to the bakery for breakfast but I just can't do it. Maybe tomorrow. I have toast for breakfast while we watch YouTube. We have been very into Japanese bento making and reviews of cafes in Tokyo, so that's where we're at.
12 p.m. — I spend some time tidying the house then have leftover poblano quesadillas for lunch.
2:30 p.m. — My mom gave me a bunch of Kohl's coupons for my adopt-a-family gifts, and while Christmas is basically two months away, the coupons will expire today. This will be the first of many packages ordered... I have no idea where I'm gonna store it all before the holiday. This one is mostly clothes — I'm surprised how small baby snowsuits are! $151
5 p.m. — I am still not feeling well enough to cook, so I ask C. to order us crab rangoons for dinner. We get them and some other apps from a Thai place we've ordered from on Caviar before. I remembered something was different about them but don't realize what until the food arrives... their crab rangoons are garbage! Sigh.
6 p.m. — Since tomorrow is Halloween, we watch Hocus Pocus 2. I'll admit, I was a huge Hocus Pocus stan before it got popular. Maybe that's why we didn't enjoy the sequel very much? It wasn't very funny in a way kids or adults would like? Whatever, get that bag Bette Midler!
7 p.m. — Next we move on to the main pre-Halloween event: carving pumpkins! We watch the first half of Over the Garden Wall while carving our pumpkins, which is a tradition I started when we moved in together a few years back. We could watch more, but it'll give us something to do while waiting for trick-or-treaters tomorrow.
9 p.m. — Not quite tired enough for bed but in a spooky mood, we have some more beers/White Claws and watch Muppets Haunted Mansion. I feel like all the TV I watch is for kids or retro... not sure what that says about me.
11 p.m. — We set up our pumpkins with candles on the porch before snuggling into bed. Tomorrow I have the day off work just like C., so I'll make a big charcuterie board (called "char-boo-terie") to serve each other all throughout Halloween day. Excited for that and to see the kids in their costumes tomorrow!
Daily Total: $151
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