A Week In Boston, MA, On A $56,100 Salary

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: a digital strategist working in journalism who makes $56,100 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on lingerie.
Occupation: Digital Strategist
Industry: Journalism
Age: 24
Location: Boston, MA
Salary: $56,100
Paycheck (Monthly): $1,774, plus $600-$800 in freelance income
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,100. (My SO makes about three times my salary, plus a significant bonus, so we split rent 60/40. It's important to me that I feel like I'm paying for my own living expenses, but he always picks up nice dinners, bigger vacation expenses, etc.)
Student Loan Payment: $0. (I graduated from college with $30,000 in private loans, and paid them off two years after graduating.)
Utilities, Cable & WiFi: ~$100
Spotify: $4
New York Times Subscription: $4
Therapy: $50
Headspace: $12.99. (This is a new expense, suggested by my therapist.)
Phone Bill: $97
Netflix, HBO Go & Hulu: I use my boyfriend's.
Workout Class Package: $125, alternating between spin and barre every month
Transportation: $0. (I walk to work.)
401(k): $400

Day One

10:30 a.m. — I wake up and learn that there's a story I need to work on. I'm a little irritated because it's going to take up my entire afternoon, and I become grouchier and grouchier about it as the day goes on. My boyfriend makes matzo ball soup with homemade broth we have in the freezer; it cheers me up a little, but my anxiety over work is pretty high.
3:30 p.m. — Finally done with work for the day; what a Sunday. It's rainy and gross out so we knock out our errands early and stay in for the rest of the day. I call an UberPool to Whole Foods. $2.89
3:45 p.m. — Spending money on “fancy” groceries is probably my biggest vice. I like to cook with food I'm excited about, and it makes me want to eat out a lot less. I grab ground chicken, kale, broccoli rabe, parsnips, chickpeas, steak tips, salsa, bell peppers, and a bag of honey-roasted chickpeas I keep in my desk to snack on ($58). My boyfriend picks up two bottles of wine, a bag of Linzer cookies for me and a few cans of cold brew, which he pays for. (He usually eats dinner at his office on weeknights, so most of our groceries are my stuff). $58
6 p.m. — I decompress from a stressful morning and afternoon by reading. I'm just getting to The Rules Do Not Apply and am loving it, as a journalist myself. My boyfriend makes roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli over rice (a favorite Smitten Kitchen recipe) while I watch The O.C. He's wonderful and we really work to support each other on days when one of us needs it. He sits down beside me and tolerates a full episode of the show.
8 p.m. — We make a pot of tea. (We're big on tea, less on coffee, in general). It turns into a solid Sunday after all.
Daily Total: $60.89

Day Two

8:00 a.m. — Wake up just as my boyfriend is leaving for work. I get dressed and throw a breakfast round into the toaster oven. (We get them at Whole Foods, and I'm obsessed. Today's flavor is cranberry apple.) I make a cup of matcha too; it's way cheaper than buying coffee or a matcha latte at work, and healthier, too! I read The New York Times and scroll through Instagram.
12:30 p.m. — For lunch, I eat leftover broccoli and sweet potato over brown rice with soy sauce. I really try to minimize how much I eat out during the week. (I'd say this played a huge role in how early I was able to pay off my loans after college.)
1:45 p.m. — I had a fairly successful no-shop January. As someone who freelances a lot, it's hard not to treat freelance income as “fun money” and not budget appropriately with it. To get over this, I'm really trying to only buy things I love and can't stop thinking about buying. So far this month, I've bought a pair of pants from Everlane that I think I'll wear all spring and summer. (I've officially decided I can no longer wear short shorts on a regular basis. RIP.) To that end, I see L.L. Bean is having a sale on summer clothing, and I find a seersucker sundress that can replace a white linen dress I've had for years, which is sadly too short for me now. $63.25
5:30 p.m. — On my walk home, I decide to be nice and pick up my boyfriend's dry cleaning since he's having a really busy week. It's cash only, but luckily, I actually have cash for once. He Venmos $5.40 me for it.
6:30 p.m. — I hop on a call with a creative recruiter I found on LinkedIn since I want to take on more copywriting projects. He's nice enough, but it sounds a little bit like a scam. I read reviews online and learn that people do not like working with this agency. It's not for me, but I'll follow tomorrow with a "thanks, but no thanks."
7 p.m. — Dinner is leftover short rib, collard greens, fingerling potatoes, and matzo ball soup –what a feast! I snack on kalamata olives (my favorite) that I bought at the overpriced Whole Foods antipasto bar. Then I chow down while watching Gossip Girl for the 500th time. I also embark on an ambitious lunch creation for tomorrow, and TOTALLY mess up – it turns out really gross, and I can't bring myself to package it up in Tupperware. I'm mad at myself for wasting steak tips, veggies, and an hour of my time. Dejected, I toss the whole production into the trash (so wasteful), and shower to try and de-stress.
10 p.m. — Remember I never invoiced one of the writing projects I just filed. I submit the invoice, looking forward to the $200 check that should come my way in two weeks. Then it's time for a little reading before I am tuckered out. My boyfriend texts to say he's leaving the office soon, but I fall asleep before he gets home.
Daily Total: $63.25

Day Three

8 a.m. — Breakfast is a cranberry-orange whole wheat round and vanilla cold brew with almond milk. I really don't want to buy lunch, so I grab a frozen burrito and a Siggi's lemon yogurt. I throw deodorant, lipstick, and a perfume sample in my bag because I have a photoshoot for a freelance gig after work, and I want to feel somewhat put together.
12:15 p.m. — Several fire drills in the office since we're well into production for our spring issue. I clean up edits on an online piece that's running tomorrow. I also get an email from a client I'm eager to work with on freelance editing work, asking if I'd be interested in pursuing a new project for two or three hours a week. I'm so excited: It'll be about $400-$500 a month, regularly! Not pitching publications and brands for copy work is so nice, and having anchor clients is my dream as a freelancer. I accept and then happily eat my frozen burrito and Siggi's while reading Into The Gloss.
4 p.m. — I walk back to the office and try to finish last-minute tasks on my to-do list, like laying out a marketing email and chatting with our art department for my online piece that will run tomorrow. I also book a bike for a post-work spin class on Thursday because it's going to be over 50 degrees and that is TROPICAL in Boston this time of year.
5 p.m. — I have a photoshoot for a piece I wrote for one of my side-hustles, along with a friend who works on it with me. It's at a local wine store, and we are really excited about it. We hop on the T. $2.25
6 p.m. — The photoshoot is a blast, and we get to sample a few different wines. I ask for a recommendation and pick up a new Bordeaux. $22
6:30 p.m. — My friend and I want Greek food right across the street for dinner, so I break my no-eating-out-during-the-week rule because it's nice out and sometimes life is worth breaking your own rules for. I get a chicken gyro and we split fries. $9.50
8 p.m. — Time to plop down on the couch. I make a small pot of green tea and force myself to make lunch for tomorrow: refried beans, whole wheat tortillas, salsa, and cheddar.
Daily Total: $33.75

Day Four

8 a.m. — I eat a hard-boiled egg for breakfast and make a quick mug of matcha. My boyfriend kisses me on his way out the door.
11:30 a.m. — I'm hungry earlier than anticipated, so I start picking away at my lunch. I'll be really hungry later, too. I can feel it. While eating, I look at lingerie and wish I'd bought something when there were Valentine's Day sales, even though I know I was being lured into the marketing. I interned at a lingerie brand when I was in college (it was a total nightmare) but it instilled a love of nice undergarments in me. There's a lovely boutique down the street from my office. I walk over on my lunch break with the intent to browse but leave with a Chantelle bra I love – a quality purchase! $50
6 p.m. — Once I'm home, I start cooking what turns out to be a very ambitious dinner for one. I wasn't expecting my boyfriend to make it home, so I thought I'd treat myself. It's ginger-maple ground chicken meatballs over pasta with broccoli rabe. Broccoli rabe is my favorite vegetable, but tricky to get right. I turn on music (Arctic Monkeys, the classics) and get to work.
7:45 p.m. — My boyfriend gets home relatively early and with a box of chocolates from Burdick's! I'm really pleased and surprised and eat three truffles at once. We make tea and catch up before bed.
Daily Total: $50

Day Five

11:30 a.m. — I run an hourlong recurring meeting for our team twice a month. Initially, it was daunting to get up in front of so many people and be in charge, but it has turned into a great learning experience for me that I wouldn't trade. This one goes fairly smoothly, luckily.
3:30 p.m. — My day slows down considerably, so I walk around the corner for a cold brew. Surprise: it's way too late in the day for me to be drinking coffee, and I'm way too hopped up and borderline nauseous the rest of the day. $4.25
5:45 p.m. — Once I'm home, I work on freelance projects, trying to channel the energy into something productive. I pitch an editor a new idea for a piece, and he actually responds an hour later (rare) with the green light. At least I'm selling work in my queasy state.
10:30 p.m. — Pop a Pepto Bismol and crawl into bed.
Daily Total: $4.25

Day Six

8 a.m. — Friday, glorious Friday! I make a smoothie with almond butter, blueberries, strawberries (I keep these frozen), and almond butter. Plus a sprinkle of matcha.
12:40 p.m. — I have a stressful morning at work. My copy is getting a ton of edits that I don't necessarily agree with, and it frustrates me more than it should. I do a Headspace session in my office, and then realize I just really don't want to eat my frozen burrito for lunch. A friend and I order Dig Inn on Caviar. I get the herb chicken marketplace bowl over farro with cashew Caesar and sweet potatoes. $16
5 p.m. — I'm meeting friends from my old office for drinks before we go to karaoke. I swing home to drop off my stuff and change before calling an Uber to the bar by our old office. It takes forever in traffic, but my phone says the T is very delayed so I thought this would be better (plus, I have 40% off of Uber for the week). $7.68
6 p.m. — I buy a Corona and pay in cash, which sucks because I can't budget well when I don't use my card. Catching up with old colleagues is fun, though! $3.50
7 p.m. — We walk to a Japanese place down the street because we figure the trendier spots near the karaoke spot will all have terrible wait times. We were right: This restaurant only has a 25-minute wait. We each get a sake cocktail at the bar while we wait for our table. I order soba in warm miso broth with fried bean curd and fish cakes. $38
10 p.m. — Several rounds of drinks later, my work week exhaustion is catching up with me at karaoke. I stick to gin and tonics to avoid a hangover tomorrow morning (mixing liquors is my downfall) and am pleased that everything is fairly cheap. $25
10:45 p.m. — We debate staying for another set, but there's a great restaurant across the street. We get raw cookie dough and profiteroles for dessert. I order a personal pot of sencha, feeling very adult about this decision. $13
12 a.m. — I walk home and it's freezing out. My boyfriend is also out with friends and isn't home yet. In the mirror, I notice my face looks really dehydrated (probably because I am dehydrated), so I do a face peel followed by a hydrating mask after taking a quick shower. I also drink a lot of water and watch an episode of The O.C. before my boyfriend gets home.
Daily Total: $103.18

Day Seven

10 a.m. — Not hungover! A bit achy, but that might have been all the sugar before bed. We make breakfast burritos with eggs, veggies, and refried beans.
11:45 a.m. — The weather's fairly nice out (for Boston in the winter) so we go to a museum. My Charlie Card is out of money again, so I reload for us to take the T there. I have free admission at the museum through work. $20
3 p.m. — After a full afternoon of walking around, we're both pretty hungry. We stop at by Chloe for lunch, where I get a black bean burger and sweet potato fries for us to share. This place is good but definitely overpriced. $15
6 p.m. — While walking around the stores on Newbury, I find lightweight linen pants at Marine Layer that I know I'll live in this summer (drawstring waists forever!) — and there's a 15% discount. $83
6:30 p.m. — We stop at Trader Joe's to buy groceries for dinner tonight (lentils, kale, and chicken apple sausage soup) and staples like oatmeal, tofu, and almond milk. Also, crumpets for breakfast, because they're so good. We split it evenly. $25
7 p.m. — Back home, we get cooking while watching mindless television. It's an easy recipe with a long cook time (about an hour and a half), so we want to get things going as quickly as possible.
9:30 p.m. — After dinner, we rent a movie on Amazon Prime through our Roku. I fall asleep way earlier than I mean to.
Daily Total: $143
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