A Week In The Boston Area On A $96,000 Joint Income

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: a Managing Editor who has a $96,000 joint income and spends some of her money this week on an Anthropologie candle.
Editor's Note: This is a follow-up to the April 2019 Money Diary entitled, "A Week In Washington State, On A $123,000 Income." Read that, here.
Occupation: Managing Editor
Industry: Education
Age: 28
Location: Boston, MA
My Salary: $61,000
My Husband's Salary (T.): $35,000
My Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,807 (post taxes, 401(k), transit pass)
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $2,800 (graduate student stipend/external grants)
Gender Identity: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $2,180 for a one-bedroom near T.'s campus (includes pet fee) + $200 parking
Health insurance: $110 (from T.'s stipend)
Utilities: $70-$90
Internet: $40
Cleaning Service: $170 for two visits/month
Cell Phone: $120 (for us, my mom, my sister)
Car Expenses: Paid cash for a used car a few years ago, which we share. Car insurance: $48
Pet Insurance: $30
Dog Walker: $90/week
Donations: $60 ($25 library in hometown, $15 national park in home state, $10 local animal rescue, $5 each NPR/PBS)
Streaming Services: We have logins for Netflix/Hulu/HBO/etc from our parents.
iCloud Family: $2.99
Spotify Family: $15
New York Times: $15
Candy Subscription Box: $9.99 (year-long present for T.'s brother, ends in a few months)
Patreon: $15
The Atlantic: $50/year
Web Hosting: $20/year
Amazon Prime: $120/year (I would like to cancel but haven't been able to convince T. to cut the cord yet)

Day One

4:30 a.m. — T.'s alarm goes off and I burrow deeper into my duvet cocoon. He kisses the lump where my head should be and heads out for a run. T. has an ultramarathon in a few months and has jumped into training mode right in the middle of winter in Boston. I'll never understand the appeal, but I can respect it (and the extra bed space).
6 a.m. — I slide out of bed to find my coffee waiting for me in a travel mug and T. in full study mode at the kitchen table with the pup at his feet. I pull on several layers of oversized sweat pants until I look like the Michelin man and the pup, C. (she gets her own initial!), and I roll out the door. I use the coffee as a hand warmer while we take a lap around the block and she does her business (check her emails, see how many meetings she has today, the usual dog stuff).
7 a.m. — There's oatmeal with apples and cinnamon when we get back up to the apartment and it smells fantastic. T. and I have breakfast while talking about logistics for the next few days. T. is doing two Master's programs simultaneously and my head spins just thinking of all the things he's crammed into his schedule. He is honestly the energizer bunny in human form. T. loads the dishwasher and plays with C. while I make myself presentable for outside. I remember my lunch and head out to the T station (paid for with my pre-tax monthly transit pass).
8:30 a.m. — I really enjoyed freelancing and everything that I learned from it, but when we moved across the country last year I knew that I would want to work in an office again to feel like I was making an effort to put roots down (and also to force me to get out of the house and into real pants). It took a little while for me to find my current job, and I've only been here a few months, but so far I'm loving my new position. When I get to the office I peel off my outer layers and make some free office tea before sitting down and confronting my Monday morning inbox. T. is on campus and gets the first of what is going to be many many coffees. $2
10:30 a.m. — I fight my way through a good number of emails. Another editor asks if I'd like to take a walk and get coffee and I agree. She started at this job around the same time I did, and I am (lovingly) trying to push my inner loner introvert aside to try to make friends in Boston. We take the stairs down to the coffee kiosk in the lobby and I get a latte ($3). She shows me pictures of her dog and we exchange numbers for future potential doggie get-togethers. T. gets another coffee and buys one for a classmate ($4). $7
12:30 p.m. — I get so caught up in brainstorming and discussing new ideas with some of my authors that my stomach lets out a very loud rumble to remind me where my priorities should be. I heat up the roast vegetables and Italian sausage I brought from home and scroll through social media while I eat. I decide to stretch my legs a bit and head up to another floor to refill my water bottle. T. gets lunch and another coffee. He rarely brings food from home during the week because it's a lot to lug around campus all day. $12.50
2:30 p.m. — I get off an hour and a half long conference call with my boss and colleagues at our office in a different city. We're attending an out-of-state conference in a few weeks and I might have to fly first to DC and then to the conference from there, but I really hope not. I have some desk walnuts from my stash and go on another quick walk for water to avoid falling asleep at my desk. T. buys a six-pack of running socks and some energy gels ($35.90), and yet another coffee ($2). $37.90
4 p.m. — Our company has a flexible in/out policy and I'm done for the day. I take the T home and listen to the American Girls podcast on the way. I'm super behind on episodes, but this podcast is everything that my nine-year-old, overall-wearing self didn't know she needed. C. and I load up in the car when I get home and head out to our volunteer site. We recently got certified as a volunteer therapy dog/handler team (something I've been wanting to do for ages) and we go to an after school program once or twice a week. My heart melts and my ovaries explode (in the best way possible) every time I see C. interact with the kids.
6:30 p.m. — We stop to fill up on gas on our way home ($37.59), where T. is waiting with his specialty — grilled cheese and tomato soup. We have The It Crowd on as background noise while T. preps for tomorrow and I put the dishes away. He takes C. out for her nightly constitutional while I shower and urge my skin to soak up all the dermatologist-approved moisturizer I lovingly slather on it. Winter eczema is no joke. $37.59
9 p.m. — In bed with our noses buried in our respective reading. Cuddles and we're fast asleep by 10.
Daily Total: $96.99

Day Two

4:30 a.m. — Today's a rest day but T. gets up with his alarm and goes into the living room to do some studying.
6 a.m. — T. is gone by the time I get up since he has an early meeting in another town, but my coffee and a little note are waiting on the counter. I zip up and C. and I brace ourselves for the cold. After we run back upstairs, I make a breakfast bagel with spinach and turkey, but I'm feeling uninspired for lunch so I dump a bunch of things together to make a “hot mess” salad. T. stops at Starbucks and gets a breakfast sandwich and coffee. $6.98
8:30 a.m. — I peel off my layers (anyone else always overheat while on public transport, no matter the season?), make some tea, grab a maple bar that someone brought (yay!), and settle in for email time.
11 a.m. — I refresh my tea and have a meeting with one of the graphic designers. We go over layouts and then spend a bit of time chatting. Like me, she's also a recent transplant originally from a warmer climate. I'm glad to know that the winters (supposedly) get easier. Back at my desk, I place a grocery pick up order for T. to get on his way back into the city (cold cuts, cheese, veggies, fruit, pasta, laundry detergent, snacks, bread, eggs, yogurt, peanut butter, etc.). $89.87
12:15 p.m. — I drizzle the hot mess salad with the olive oil and vinegar I keep in my desk for this purpose (thanks for the tip Bon Appetit), and thumb through my internet feeds while I eat. The dog walker texts us pictures of our girl out and about, super cute. I head up to refill my water bottle and get some blood moving before parking myself back in my seat. T. gets lunch and a cup of his drug of choice. $12.78
4 p.m. — Packing up and heading out. I get off one stop early and walk the rest of the way home because the sun is out momentarily and I intend to enjoy it. I change into yoga pants and do a Pilates video on YouTube, then organize the groceries T. picked up. T. makes a bunch of copies at the library. $1.75
6 p.m. — Lately I've been trying to expand my collection of fallback recipes and set myself a goal of making one recipe a week that I would drool over online but wouldn't ordinarily attempt to make myself. This week is NYT's green puttanesca and I'm very pleased with how it turns out (team anchovy forever). I put on a '70s disco playlist while I cook and shake my groove thing. T. joins in when he gets home. We're both terrible, awkward dancers, but at least we can dance terribly and awkwardly together.
8:30 p.m. — T. loads the dishwasher and hunkers down to study while I take C. out and shower, which takes longer today because dry shampoo can only do so much for so long. If I could trade a large amount of money for the ability to snap my fingers and have my hair dry and cowlick free in an instant, I would do it in a heartbeat. Until then I will be handcuffed to my hairdryer. I crawl in bed and read for a bit before falling asleep, and T. comes in a bit later.
Daily Total: $111.38

Day Three

4:30 a.m. — T. gets up to go for a run and I do my part by rolling over and taking up most of the bed.
6:30 a.m. — I sleep in a bit because T. is on pup duty this morning. I make oatmeal with blueberries while I sip the coffee he left on the counter and we have breakfast together when they get back. T. has a seminar and a networking event tonight so he won't be back until late. We get ready for our days and I pack up the extra puttanesca and a tangerine for lunch. I listen to an episode of the Write or Die podcast on the way to work.
8:30 a.m. — I treat myself to a caramel cappuccino from the kiosk in the lobby ($4) and run into the coworker I had coffee with the other day. We chat and head up to the office together. I settle in to watch some videos related to the topic of our current project. T. also treats himself to coffee ($2). $6
10 a.m. — My best friend from college is in town on business next week and has arranged to stay an extra day. He's proposed going to go to a drag brunch so I do some research and find one that looks fantastic. T. has a running event that morning so I only get two tickets ($60). I do a lap around the office between responding to emails and taking notes on the videos. $60
12:30 p.m. — I love when food tastes even better the day after and the puttanesca doesn't disappoint. The coworker from earlier and I have lunch together in the kitchen so no mindless social media scrolling today. I go with her down to the coffee kiosk but don't feel like getting anything myself. T. is at home for lunch today and places an order for dog food, treats, very important poop bags, and a new toy for C. because he can't help himself. $67.90
4:40 p.m. — I end up staying later than planned because a meeting (which should have been an email) runs long. Oh well. I stop at the library before heading home to browse and pick up a few books (Nine Pints, Love Lettering, The Widows of Malabar Hill, On the Clock). I don't know if I'll ever be able to fully put into words how much I love (love, love) libraries, especially being able to visit new ones while traveling. I think they say a lot about a place and its community.
5:30 p.m. — I do another YouTube workout video and C. joins me in downward dog. She is way more flexible than I am. Afterward, I curl up on the couch with my laptop and work on personal writing projects, including looking over a piece for my writer's group tomorrow. I still have my freelance website and portfolio up, but between the cross-country move and the new job I've stopped actively looking for gigs. The occasional one trickles in from time to time but the income is basically negligible. T. is at the networking happy hour and buys two beers. $11
7:30 p.m. — Dinner is cobbled together from the bits and pieces that are already in the fridge: the rest of the sausages and roasted vegetables, a few slices of cheese, and an apple. I get a call from a friend from home — another good friend tripped on the stairs in her (very old) building and broke her nose and damaged her top row of teeth. Our friend is working part-time while finishing undergrad part-time and her insurance has a super high deductible. My friend and I both venmo her $100 to help defray the ambulance and ER costs. It's not much, but hopefully, it'll help somewhat. I message our friend's boyfriend and he says that there's a possibility that the stairs were not up to code (too high and too narrow). There's a chance that management will help pay for her medical bills but it's probably a long shot. Our friend is okay, but I'm still upset and wish there was more I could do (short of overhauling the whole system so she doesn't have to worry about the cost, uuugggh). $100
9:30 p.m. — I take C. down for a quick walk, shower, make some sleepytime tea to help me relax, and climb into bed with one of my new library books (Nine Pints — I read Bad Blood a few months ago and was surprised to find myself fascinated by the topic. They're very different books and I highly recommend both). T. gets home and we catch each other up on our days. I can't seem to unwind and we put on vintage The Office episodes while he rubs my back to help me fall asleep. It works like a charm.
Daily Total: $244.90

Day Four

4:30 a.m. — T. gets up to study like the disciplined human he is. I snuggle up for more delicious sleep.
6 a.m. — Wake up to a ton of messages and updates about last night. My friend is out of the ER and doing alright at home, which is what's important. I'm dragging a bit this morning but brighten up after seeing T. and C. and having a sip of coffee. C. and I head outside and she checks her emails and does other business (sends invoices maybe? I definitely don't miss that part of freelancing). T. has whipped up scrambled eggs and toast, and we eat them completely drenched in hot sauce (is it possible to buy stock in Valentina? I should check). I get my things ready for work, stock up on desk snacks since I'm running low, and listen to some Of Montreal on the T to put some pep in my step.
12 p.m. — The morning has basically been one big game of email whack-a-mole right from the get-go, and I finally have a breather to stretch my legs and make some office tea. I decide to take lunch already and get a falafel plate ($8.50) from one of the food trucks down the street. Yum. T. bought a coffee a few hours earlier ($2) and he buys lunch and another coffee ($10.30). $20.80
2:15 p.m. — My energy is flagging. I buy M&M's from the vending machine and mix them with the walnuts and cranberries I brought earlier to trick myself into pushing through the next few hours. $1
4 p.m. — Done! I usually work from home on Fridays and make sure to pack up my work laptop and the notes I need. I could work 100% remotely, but after freelancing I like the structure of coming into the office. It makes me feel like I'm in a millennial reboot of Dilbert. I drop everything off at home, pick up my personal laptop, play with C. for a bit, and head out again to meet my writing group at a cafe. I get a London Fog. $4
6 p.m. — I'm still finding my feet with this new group, but they are super encouraging and supportive, and the weekly meetings are a great way to motivate myself to actually write for myself instead of pushing it on the back burner. The cafe is on T.'s way home and we walk the rest of the way together. Neither of us feels like cooking or digging through the freezer tonight, so pizza it is! T. calls in our order (pepperoni, black olives, red onion, and spinach) and goes to get it while I queue up the new season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (no spoilers, just going to say that I wish we had just stuck to the wonderfulness that was the first season, but now we're here and we're committed). We descend on the pizza like vultures. $22.40
8:30 p.m. — We are stuffed, happy and tired. T. takes C. out and I get rid of the evidence that a pizza massacre ever occurred. I shower and crawl into bed, checking what's up on social media and falling down a cookie decorating video rabbit hole on Instagram. T. stays up to study and I don't wake up when he finally gets to bed.
Daily Total: $48.20

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — No 4 a.m. alarm! It's a sleep-in day for both of us but C. didn't get the memo. We wake up to her little wet nose in our faces, probably checking to see if we're still breathing. I take her down while T. makes coffee and peanut butter banana toast for breakfast. I'm still too full from last night, but T. the bottomless pit has no such problem. I boot up my work laptop and log in early. Looks like everyone else working from home today had the same idea. T. gets his things together and heads to campus.
10 a.m. — I take a break from back-and-forth edits to make another coffee and have some yogurt with granola. The dog food and treats T. bought earlier in the week are delivered, and C. and I take a break to play with her new toy: an octopus that is probably going to lose most of its legs within the week. T. gets coffee. $2
12:30 p.m. — There isn't much movement in Slack and I decide to work through what would usually be my lunch break so that I can end even earlier (aka be online in case something comes up, but really just be working on the Friday NYT crossword and lurking on my usual discussion boards). I have a tangerine and call that lunch since I'm still not very hungry. The dog walker comes by to take C. out and we chat for a bit about the semester and her classes. I venmo her for this week ($90, included in monthly expenses). T. has an off-campus lunch meeting. $17.70
2:30 p.m. — Quitting time! I close out by writing a to-do list for next week and triumphantly shut the laptop. I put on another YouTube workout and can really feel the burn this time. T. comes home and we become couch zombies for a bit to switch into weekend mode. I'm suddenly capital-H hungry and make a turkey and cheese sandwich for second lunch.
4 p.m. — Two of T.'s classmates and their significant others are coming over for a drink before we meet up with a larger group from (one of) his programs. We rock-paper-scissors to see who tidies up and who goes out to get snacks. T. lets the Roomba loose and attempts to organize his nest of papers and I bundle up to go to the grocery store. I'm not sure what these people drink so I grab a bottle of white and a few types of beer to cover my bases, as well as kettle chips and cheddar popcorn. $21.02
6:30 p.m. — T. and I shower and both us and the apartment are as tidy as we're going to get. I'm not the best in groups, especially if I don't know anyone (but if you want a one-on-one, I'm your gal), so I'm kind of nervous when they first come over. T.'s classmates and their partners are very nice and easy-going, which helps me get over my nervousness quickly. A glass of wine (or two) also helps. C., however, is in her element and volunteers as chip crumb expert.
8:30 p.m. — Someone calls an Uber (T. venmos them $10 later for our portion) and we meet up with others from the program. T. braves the crowd at the bar to get a beer and a gin and ginger ale for me (which ends up going straight to my head), and we split an order of fries and chicken tenders ($26.90). The conversation quickly turns technical and I end up talking with one of the partners who was at our place earlier. He's also very much out of his element and we bond over our mutual social anxiety. $36.90
10:30 p.m. — The group is moving to another bar but T. and I are ready to go home. We say our goodbyes and get an Uber ($16.88). T. takes C. outside and buys me a bag of Swedish Fish at the corner store ($1.50), which I happily and slightly tipsily eat in bed while we play 30 Rock roulette and watch random episodes. $18.38
Daily Total: $96

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — I didn't set an alarm but my internal one helpfully wakes me up at 6:30 anyway. T.'s did the same to him, but at 5:30, so thank goodness for small mercies. We have coffee and I work on the Saturday crossword (I wouldn't survive five minutes without autocheck). I get about halfway done before I start getting ready for our weekly breakfast date (yoga pants with less dog fuzz, actually brushing my hair before throwing it in a bun).
8:30 a.m. — We head to a place in the neighborhood. It's still early enough that it's not overrun with hungover undergrads so there's barely a wait. We each get drip coffee and breakfast burritos, which are heavenly. Both T. and I are naturally early risers and figuring out that both of us preferred having a standing breakfast date instead of feeling obligated to limit dates to dinner (when we're both exhausted and just want to be cuddled up in bed) was a major turning point in our relationship. Not having to deal with zero-contact deployments anymore has also helped a ton (funny how that works). $30
12 p.m. — T. putters around and studies a bit at home before heading out on his long run of the week (a casual 27 miles...the couch potato in me has no words). The weather is nice today and C. and I take a longer walk than usual while listening to a book podcast (Sentimental Garbage, I could listen to her Irish accent all day).
1:30 p.m. — I'm meeting up with a girl that I matched with on Bumble BFF a few weeks ago (do you match with BFFs? I never know which verb to use). We got coffee before the holidays and I think we clicked, but with everything being crazy we haven't seen each other since even though we've texted a fair bit. I put more effort into getting dressed for this date than the one I had with my husband (actual non-yoga pants, a cute sweater). We meet at a coffee shop and I'm practically vibrating from all the coffee I've already had today, so I get an Earl Grey tea and a blueberry scone ($5.60). The conversation is a bit stilted at first but we warm up quickly. T. buys a bottle of water out on his run ($1.07). $6.67
3:30 p.m. — We leave the coffee shop and wander in and out of a few stores but neither of us is looking for anything in particular. I see an enormous and criminally expensive candle in Anthropologie that I really like. It's not something I would ordinarily buy, but I still have an Anthro gift card from a Christmas gift I had to return (the thought was in the right place, but the size and style were very off). I pay the difference. $3.78
5 p.m. — The girl and I part ways and I take the T home. I think we had a good time, but trying to make new friends in a new city is exhausting and takes up so much mental energy. T. is studying when I get back. I take a shower, settle into comfy clothes and decide to recharge my introvert batteries by starting a puzzle and listening to podcasts. The American Girls and I have a grand ole time.
7 p.m. — T. takes a study break to make spaghetti and a spinach side salad, and I am fully on board this carbo-load train. He retreats back into his book fort after dinner, where he'll probably be for a while. I load and run the dishwasher, take C. out for her nighttime walkabout, and return to the puzzle. I make some sleepytime tea, bring a mug to T., and sort through puzzle pieces until my eyes cross. I read in bed for a while (Love Lettering — I have a huge crush on Kate Clayborn and her characters and her writing style) before falling asleep around 10, and T. comes in a bit later.
Daily Total: $40.45

Day Seven

6 a.m. — C. jumps into bed to snuggle with us, which almost never happens (she's very loving, but prefers to keep her distance) so it must really be cold today. We enjoy the cuddles for as long as possible until she starts getting restless with how boring we're being. T. takes her out and I make coffee and manage to fit a few pieces of the puzzle together before they get back. We work on the puzzle together for a while before T. makes peanut butter toast and settles in to study for a few hours. I eventually have some yogurt and granola for breakfast and play with C. and her new toy for a while (the octopus is still eight-legged but time will tell).
10:30 a.m. — T. emerges to make another pot of coffee. I agree to another cup and he attempts to explain what he's studying to help work out the problem sets. Not going to lie, my eyes glaze over a bit with all of the technical theory, but all he really needs is a sounding board to talk them through out loud. C. is usually his first choice but she's currently taking a very important nap, so I'm the fallback. He eventually goes on a short run to stretch his legs and I sort through laundry for him to start when he gets back. The light in this building's basement laundry room won't stop flickering ominously and I have consumed enough true crime media to know that I don't want to become the subject of Netflix's next hit docuseries while doing laundry.
12:30 p.m. — C. and I go for a walk and I can feel my cheeks become the picture of health from all this crisp New England winter air. T. is doing a post-run stretching video when we get back and I join in. He takes the laundry down to start a few loads (with the dryer it comes out to $6.25 on a pre-paid laundry card we loaded $50 on to last week) and I warm up leftover spaghetti for lunch. T. also has a peanut butter sandwich, milk, and bananas to top it off.
3:30 p.m. — I wake up from an unexpected but not unwelcome post-lunch couch nap. I've been listening to The Happiness Lab podcast (from an MD recommendation!) and I'm finally caught up on episodes. I decide to sign up for the online course (free, since I don't need a certificate) and go through the videos for weeks one and two. T. switched the laundry over while I was napping and we fold and put the piles away. I spend some time reading articles online and looking for a recipe to try this week. Maybe I'll attempt Italian wedding soup.
6:30 p.m. — T. is still studying and I'm starting to get hungry. I make a pot of rice and fix us rice bowls with canned tuna, edamame, and quick-pickled vegetables. I leave his bowl in the fridge for later. T.'s little sister FaceTimes to say hi to C., and T. comes out for a dinner break and to chat for a bit.
8:30 p.m. — I make some more progress on the puzzle and decide to call it a night. T. has also decided that he's had enough studying and we watch some House Hunters to unwind. He gets even more vocal than I do whenever the topic of entertainment space comes up (don't get him started on carpets or paint colors). T. takes C. out while I cobble together something vaguely resembling a lunch to bring tomorrow and take a shower. We read in bed before cuddling and falling asleep.
Daily Total: $0
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