A Week In Boston, MA, On A $41,000 Salary

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Today, as part of Your Spending In Your State:a graduate program assistant who makes $41,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Meyer's dish soap.
Occupation: Graduate Program Assistant
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 26
Location: Boston, MA
Salary: $41,000
Paycheck Amount (Weekly): $560.49
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Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,000 for my half of the rent. (I live with one roommate.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (My parents paid for undergrad, and I work at a university, so my Master's degree is free!)
Car Payment: $263
Phone Bill: $90
Health/Dental Insurance: $150
Work Parking: $16
Utilities: $45 for my half
Netflix: $0 (Yes, I'm 26 and still use my best friend's family plan — I'm the worst.)
Internet/Cable: $67.50 for my half
Savings: $200 (this varies depending on how well I'm doing per month)
401(k): $60
Pure Barre Membership: $80 (My mom pays for my monthly unlimited amount because it's way too expensive, and I just pay her $80 per month. She's great about encouraging fitness and knows I have a limited budget, so she's always happy to help out with things like this.)

Day One

4:15 a.m. — Wake up SUPER early to go to my 5 a.m. barre class. I have to leave work early tonight to make it to my 4:30 p.m. grad school class, so I get to work at 8 a.m. on Tuesdays. No fun waking up this early, but barre makes me feel really good about myself and even when I'm grumpy about waking up early, it really is a great way to start my day. Afterward, I run home to change/shower/get dressed for work.
8 a.m. — Get to work with my yogurt for breakfast and just sit there and stare at the yogurt for a while. It's great and wonderful and I pretend it'll fill me up...but then I break down and walk over to the coffee bar on campus to get a croissant. Now I'm MUCH happier with my morning. I make coffee in office kitchen and spend my morning answering emails, putting out fires, and dealing with people. I work in the graduate programs office and most of my day is spent dealing with our graduate business students. Sometimes it can get tiring (as any job can), but working with the students is the best part of my job. $3.19
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1 p.m. — I try to eat lunch later in the day at work, as it helps make the day go by a little faster. I munch on cheese and crackers, Goldfish, and grapes. Not my best work, but it fills me up enough that I can deal with the rest of the day. Eventually, I cave and grab a little pumpkin-shaped Reese's from the kitchen.
4:30 p.m. — Leave work and head off to class! It's a sort of general history of American higher education, and I love it. I've always loved history. It's funny to think of things like the American Revolution and Civil War in terms of their effects on higher education. Also a bit of a major bummer when you realize how higher ed doesn't have a great history of inclusiveness. Book recommendation: Ebony and Ivy by Craig Steven Wilder. I had to read it for my Diversity in Higher Education class last semester, and it really opened my eyes to a lot of really upsetting things about this profession.
7:15 p.m. — Get out of class and tell my boyfriend I'll drive him home to his apartment so he doesn't have to take public transportation. He's in class the same time I am on Tuesdays, so it works out well. It's dark and a little rainy, so I get nervous driving, but we make it there and I give him a kiss goodnight and wait to make sure he gets into his apartment safely before driving off.
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10 p.m. — My roommate and I live on the second floor of an old house, and I love the apartment, but it gets a little creepy when I'm there all alone, which I am tonight. I love watching Criminal Minds and Forensic Files, which probably contributes to why I have trouble sleeping when my roommate's not home. But I've gotten much better about only watching fun/funny/happy things while she's gone so I don't freak myself out. Tonight, I turn on Coco to make me feel better, and it's definitely a good option.
Daily Total: $3.19

Day Two

7 a.m. — I wake up at 7 on days when I need to get to work by 9 because it gives me an hour to sit and drink coffee, relax, and start my morning right. When I get to work, I jump right into the day. It's a little crazy because it's still the beginning of the academic year, so we're dealing with a lot of overwhelmed students. Some of them can be a bit rude when they don't get what they want, but you have to be firm (especially when it comes to adding/dropping a class after the deadline!). I try to be really understanding since I'm a student myself , but it's amazing how some people are just not nice. Luckily for me, we have plenty of really wonderful students who make up for it.
1 p.m. — Scoot over to the dining hall with a coworker to grab a salad. $8.99
5:30 p.m. — My mom and I go to the same Pure Barre location, so sometimes we end up in class together, which happens today. When she's in class, she kicks butt. After class, I tell her I'm heading to Wegmans to get food for dinner, and she offers to take me to Sweetgreen for dinner instead. I take her up on it. I get a mix of romaine and shredded kale with carrots, sweet potatoes, spicy broccoli, cucumbers, onions, and spicy cashew dressing. Thanks, mom!
8 p.m. — Get home, shower, and start to relax. I recently traded in an old Walgreens gift card I never used for an Amazon gift card (you don't get the full amount when you trade it in, but it's much better than having a gift card you'll never use), which I use to buy toothpaste, Neutrogena Norwegian Formula hand cream, Mrs. Meyer's basil-scented dish soap, lip balm, sheet masks, BB cream, clear eyebrow gel (my Armenian eyebrows are NO JOKE and must be put in their place — I also really should get mine threaded again soon), spot treatment, and a super cute fall blanket scarf because I feel like I need one fun thing in this package of necessities. The gift card covers almost all of it, so I only spend $10.45. Roommate is away again tonight, so I put on a few episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which helps me get to sleep eventually. $10.45
Daily Total: $19.44

Day Three

7 a.m. — Get up at my usual time. I did NOT sleep well. Ended up waking up at 2 a.m. and had a hard time getting back to sleep because I freaked myself out about scary stuff, as usual. Eventually fell back asleep at around 5 a.m. So I'm a bit grumpy this morning. I have my coffee, pack my bag for barre, grab the rest of my salad from last night for lunch, and scoot out the door! I end up stopping at Starbucks for a latte on my way to work because I tell myself I deserve it. $5.03
11 a.m. — Staff meeting, which means free lunch! Whoop! Sit through the meeting – and then grab a yummy tomato, basil, mozzarella, and prosciutto sandwich and a piece of chocolate-dipped biscotti. I stay around for a while talking and eating but scoot back to the office a bit earlier than my coworkers because I have a lot of work to get done.
5:30 p.m. — Head to barre class and, oh my god, my abs. The girl who teaches the class today is amazing but also kills me by the end. My abs, legs, EVERYTHING hurts. But it also feels so good. I go home and make pasta with sauce for dinner.
8 p.m. — Roommate is finally home! That means I can go back to watching my true crime shows! I'm very into Oxygen's crime docuseries options lately, so I watch some of The Disappearance of Crystal Rogers. These shows kill me because they really build up the drama as if they're going to help solve the case, but then always leave you with: “We've exhausted all of our leads, and now we're just going to go home to leave other people to deal with it.” But I love them anyways.
9:30 p.m. — Boyfriend calls on his way home from his class. He does this usually when he's walking to or from the train station, and it's nice to hear his voice after a long day. We share stories about our days and then he tells me he has a giant container of peanut butter for me. It seems very weird, but he's a student and doesn't have a lot of money to get me any sort of gifts/flowers/whatever, so he tries really hard to give me smaller things that are practical and helpful, and it means a lot. We hang up once he gets home because he has to get work done, but we still text back and forth a little until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $5.03

Day Four

7 a.m. — Sleep until 6:30. I have three alarms in the morning — one at 6:30, one at 6:45, and one at 7 when I need to get up. Probably not the best way to handle waking up, but it works for me. It finally feels like fall this morning, so I open up all of the windows in the apartment and curl up on the couch with my coffee to start my day off right.
7:30 a.m. — Mom calls to tell me that I should get my niece a baby doll for her third birthday. It's a little pricey, but it's good quality, and it'll last her a long time. I just have a hard time with these sorts of purchases — getting paid weekly makes it hard to buy bigger things out of the blue, and I don't end up with much “spending money." I end up putting this purchase on my credit card so I can pay it off slowly. $60
10:30 a.m. — At work, sipping some coffee and taking it a little slow. Fridays aren't too crazy in the office because our students aren't in class, so we don't have to worry too much. It's a good day to get to all of the emails that I didn't have time for earlier in the week. Boyfriend texts to see if I can come into the city this weekend for a bit. I was planning on staying at my parents' house for the weekend (they're away) and going in to pick him up on Sunday so he can come over and do his laundry for free for once instead of paying $8 per load. But I tell him I will, while silently dreading the Uber fees that come with getting into town on the weekends.
5 p.m. — Get home, grab my things, and head into the city in an Uber. We've talked about the fact that my weekend rides into the city are costing me a lot of money, but I don't know if he really gets it. I try to keep the limit on my credit card low ($2,000 total — it's been that way since I was in college), whereas he has a much higher limit. I need to get better about telling him I just can't come into town every weekend, even though I love doing it, and there's way more for us to do there. $19.33
6:30 p.m. — Head out to a cute restaurant for dinner. The food is good — we share calamari, I get a great salad with tomatoes, peppers, grilled pineapple, red onions, and basil vinaigrette, and he gets the bolognese.We each get two glasses of wine. $61.43
9 p.m. — Get back to my boyfriend's place, turn some music on, and get work done. I have a ton of reading to do for my class, and he has some job applications to finish.
11:30 p.m. — We finally head to bed. I quickly remove my makeup, wash my face, and brush my teeth. I've tried to have a fancy skincare routine in the past, and honestly, I kind of need one. But right now, I really don't have the funds to go crazy on all different creams and moisturizers, so I just make do with washing my face, getting all of my makeup off, and occasionally putting on a cheap mask if I can. I use Neutrogena makeup wipes, which are pricey enough, but my mom is the best and gets me the giant package of them from Costco that lasts me five months.
Daily Total: $140.76

Day Five

7 a.m. — Wake up because the blinds in my boyfriend's apartment do a terrible job of keeping the sunlight out. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love me some natural lighting, but I'm a tiny bit grumpy right now. We wake up slowly and try out my boyfriend's new coffeemaker that my mom bought him as a housewarming present. It's a drip coffeemaker, and it actually works really well.
9 a.m. — I tell him I need to leave because I have to get a bunch of things done today. Since my parents are gone, I agreed to do my mom's grocery shopping for the week. (She does so much for me that I try really hard to return the favor when I can). I also need to do laundry and drop something off at my grandmother's house. My boyfriend keeps trying to get me to stay, and I kind of have a bit of a breakdown. I have a tendency to overextend myself for other people, and I've just have been feeling a little overwhelmed, so I want to get everything done and then give myself some “me time” to relax because I need a breather.
10 a.m. — After my lovely little freak out, my boyfriend calms me down by saying he has no problem coming with me tomorrow if I need to get groceries, or if I want to do it without him. He then tells me to get back in bed, gives me a fresh cup of coffee, and makes me breakfast. Usually I help him when he cooks, but he won't let me this time. We eat and then cuddle while watching a few episodes of The Office. It's really relaxing and helps me feel a lot better about my day. I'm trying to be a lot less emotional (I don't like how easy it is for me to panic/cry sometimes), but he's also gotten really good at helping me deal with my emotions in a way that validates how I'm feeling but doesn't let me go too far off into anxiety and panic.
1 p.m. — Finally time to head back to my apartment so I can grab my things, and my car and head to my parents' house. I give him my BF a kiss goodbye and tell him I'll see him tomorrow. Hop in an Uber ($15.63), get back to my apartment, load up my laundry and overnight bag, and drive over to my parents' house. On my way there, I stop at TJ Maxx to grab a gift to bring to my friend's engagement party tonight. I already got her an engagement gift right when she got engaged a few months ago, but I hate showing up empty-handed, so I want to get her something little. She and her fiancé are moving into a house, so I go into the home décor section and find a really sweet sign for them to put up ($8.14). $23.77
4 p.m. — Arrive at the engagement party. I'm in the bridal party, and we needed to show up early to take pictures. Then a bunch more family and friends come over and the party gets started! I have a hard cider and a small glass of sangria early in the party and then stop drinking so that I'll be okay to drive home. I eat a ton of food (two hot dogs, mac and cheese, coleslaw, and a super cute strawberry shortcake in a mason jar) and spend time with everyone. I always get nervous before these events because I don't know anyone really well (I'm the only one in the bridal party who didn't go to school with the bride-to-be) but her friends are so wonderful and everyone in the bridal party makes me feel so welcome that it's a great time.
10 p.m. — Get back to my parents' house and curl up in bed. Their house has an alarm system so I feel way better being there alone. That means true crime time! Fall asleep watching a few more episodes of The Disappearance of Crystal Rogers
Daily Total: $23.77

Day Six

8 a.m. — Wake up, relax, and have my coffee for a little bit. Text the BF to say I'll pick him up in the early afternoon so that I have time to get a few things done. Scoot over to the farm stand near our house to grab my mom's groceries and a few mini pumpkins for my apartment. I have what I call a "tiny pumpkin army" every fall. I pick up so many of them that they end up all over the apartment, and it's insane, but I love them. My collection accumulates slowly as fall progresses but then suddenly they've taken over, and it's great. I swing by my grandmother's house and bring her a few pumpkins for her apartment too, and she trades me for a cute fall decoration she picked up for me. My grandmother has a habit of picking out cute little things for me. They're always a little silly, usually from Walgreens, but they're really sweet, and I love her for it. $31.75
1 p.m. — Scoot into the city to pick up the BF. Swing by the grocery store to pick up a few things for lunch/dinner so that we don't end up going out to eat. We get swordfish, scallops, pasta sauce, spaghetti, garlic, onion, Sun Chips, frozen corn dogs, and ice cream. We split the cost. $23.40
6 p.m. — After doing laundry and working all day and swinging by Staples so my boyfriend can pick out highlighters (and so we can try out all of the office chairs for fun), he starts making dinner. He's a great cook, so we have a deal where he cooks and I do the dishes after. Lucky for me, he's really big on using as few pots/pans/dishes as possible, which makes my job a lot easier. He does the swordfish and scallops over the pasta with sauce and everything comes out perfectly.
11 p.m. — Finally head to bed because we have to get up bright and early tomorrow!
Daily Total: $55.15

Day Seven

6 a.m. — Wake up bright and early so that I can drive him and all of his laundry back into the city before work. I drop him off, kiss him goodbye, and he hands me a yogurt he grabbed from his apartment because he knew I didn't have anything for breakfast this morning. Saves my whole morning, honestly.
11 a.m. — The Monday-est Monday there ever was. Is it time to go home yet? Put out a bunch of small fires in the office. Pour myself a cup of coffee and throw in some pumpkin spice coffee creamer my coworker brought in.
4:30 p.m. — Head to class. BF texts me beforehand — he has class tonight at the same time and wants to know if I want to grab dinner after. I tell him I'd love to, but that I'm honestly too broke to afford going out right now, though I'd be happy to drive him back to his apartment after class since it's raining. He tells me that he'll take me out and pay because he wants to treat me anyway, so I agree.
7 p.m. — End up at a yummy seafood restaurant nearby. It's cozy inside and a great way to get out of the rain. I have a tendency to just order salad or something as cheap as possible on the menu when someone else is paying, and my BF knows this. He tells me not to worry and to order something I want — better yet, something that will give me leftovers for lunch tomorrow too. He's good about things like this. He orders us oysters to start — I never used to liked oysters (the idea freaked me out too much), but he got me to try one and now I actually enjoy them. He always asks for my opinion after I try each different one so that he can remind me which ones I really liked the next time we order. I get baked cod with a side salad and butternut squash, and he orders the Cioppino. I get a glass of wine and he gets two glasses of bourbon. (He's not driving!) He pays and makes sure I don't forget my leftovers!
9:30 p.m. — Home to a totally dark apartment in the pouring rain, and needless to say, I'm a little freaked out. Roommate is gone again — and it sounds like she's a bit under the weather, which means she will probably just stay at her parents' place until she gets better…so I could be alone for a while. Call the BF while I get into the apartment and turn on all of the lights on so I feel less alone. Then I curl up in bed and turn on Making It. My coworker told me to watch it when I'm alone because it's fun and happy, and she thinks I'll like it. She's 100% correct! I. Love. This. Show.
10:30 p.m. — Rain and wind are howling outside and I'm a little anxious, so I make some tea, pop a few melatonin, and try to catch some Zzzs…
Daily Total: $0
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