A Week In The Suburbs Of Boston, MA, On A $73,000 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 web administrator working in education who makes $73,000 per year and spends it some of her money this week on a Bloody Mary.
Occupation: Web Administrator
Industry: Education
Age: 33
Location: Suburbs of Boston, MA
Salary: $73,000
Paycheck Amount (Weekly): $1,150
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,600 (I'm a single mom and recently took my parents in under my roof. They're getting older and unfortunately, sicker. In our culture, we take care of our elders instead of putting them in a nursing home. They offered to help me out with half the mortgage, which helps out A LOT, especially because my children's father refuses to pay child support on time, or even at all.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (I just graduated not too long ago, so this hasn't kicked in yet.)
Utilities: ~$80-$110 for electricity, ~$80-$118 for water, $85 for sewer
401(k): $0 (Since I'm a contract worker, I don't get benefits until I'm permanent, which should be soon!)
Car Payment: $242 (I'm leasing my car, and I can't wait to get rid of it!)
Car Insurance: $175
Condo Fee: $130 (covers pool, gym, garbage)
Apple Music & Storage: $7 (I'm still on a student membership.)
Credit Cards: $900
Health Insurance: $0 (covered by the state for now)
Dental Insurance: $35
Vision Insurance: $28
Trumpet Rental: $60 (for two kids)
Cable/Internet: $0 (My parents pay. They said it's cheaper to get the service under their names. Senior citizen discount, maybe?)
Savings: Whatever is left gets transferred to savings. (The struggle is real, okay?)
Advertisement

Day One

6 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I've probably been up since 5 a.m. I haven't been able to sleep well lately. Earlier this week, I broke things off with a guy I was dating, so that's been on my mind. I'm still extremely sad about it, but I know I'm worth so much more than being treated like an option. I reluctantly roll out of bed and do elbow planks for 90 seconds. I'm working on strengthening my core, and I need these abs to pull through! I shower, and as I'm getting ready for the day, I pop into my kids' room to make sure they're up and getting ready for school.
7:05 a.m. — It's too much effort to pack leftovers, so I grab a box of Hot Pockets from the freezer for lunch and a slice of banana bread and an avocado for breakfast. I brew some tea and transfer it to a travel mug. My son, B., gives me the other half of his bagel to eat. I'm trying to save some money by not going to the cafe in my work building every morning for breakfast. I drop my kids off at the bust stop and am on my way to work.
7:50 a.m. — The gas light turns on. I pull over at the next gas station I see. I ran out of gas one time on the highway and that was a terrible and scary experience! $30
8:15 a.m. — I make it to work and sip on my tea and eat my banana bread as I read the news before I start the work day.
Advertisement
10 a.m. — My other son, A., reminded me this morning to pay for his school field trip next month to a museum, which I'll be chaperoning. Oh, boy. Is this a good idea? I quickly regret my decision to chaperone, but I log onto the school website and pay up. $18
10:15 a.m. — My cousin texts me: “See you in less than a month!” We are meeting up in Atlanta for a concert. A few weeks ago she booked the hotel, and I just remembered now that I haven't paid my half. We're celebrating her birthday and my belated birthday, so we thought we'd splurge on the hotel. I Venmo her for my share. $311
11 a.m. — I text my best friend, R., to see if she's celebrating her birthday this weekend. She couldn't decide if she wanted to do something, since last year we spent a lot of money going to Toronto for her birthday. She decides that she'll do a small celebration. I hop on Amazon to look for a gift. She's taking a trip next month to Europe for the first time, and I know she doesn't have a converter for her electronics, so I find a cool one with USB ports ($45.99). I also purchase a book about the history of the art museum I'm volunteering at ($9.99). Now it's back to work! $55.98
11:45 a.m. — I heat up my Hot Pocket, cut up the avocado, and eat lunch at my desk while I work.
Advertisement
3:45 p.m. — My friend texts me the details of her sister's birthday celebration next week. We're doing a private cooking class, and it's BYOB. It should be really fun!
5:15 p.m. — I leave work and get a text from my dad telling me he's going to drop off A. at soccer practice, but he can't stay. I'm glad my parents live with me now, because they have been helping me out with my kids and are able to do after school activities while I'm still at work.
6:20 p.m. — I arrive at the field just in time to pick up A. He limps to the car. My poor child! One of the other kids stepped on his foot during practice. I tell him he'll be fine and that we just need to wrap it.
6:45 p.m. — We arrive home, and I am exhausted! Another perk of having your parents live with you is that there is always free food. I am so glad I didn't have to make dinner. I set the table and eat dinner with my kids. I check their homework and ask them about their days, and then they show me what they learned on their trumpets at band practice today.
7:30 p.m. — I'm falling asleep at the table, so I have my kids do their chores (wash and dry dishes) and then I head to bed. I tell them to shower and brush their teeth before they head to bed. They give me hugs and kisses before I head upstairs.
8 p.m. — The house is really quiet for some odd reason. I go to check on my kids in their room and catch them on their iPads! I yell at them and take them away. A. already showered and got into his pajamas, but B. hasn't yet, so he hops in the shower. I love my kids, but I'm glad they're going to their dad's this weekend. I need a break!
8:30 p.m. — I think the breakup really wore me down this week, and I haven't had a chance to really grieve. It's one thing to break up and have a few days to do nothing but cry in your bed. It's another thing to break up and then have to do your usual everyday stuff. Normally, I have tomorrow off (I only work four days a week) and would have loved to just mope around at home, but I have an orientation at the museum I'm volunteering at. I set my alarm and fall asleep right away.
Daily Total: $414.98

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I've been up since 3 a.m. I woke up out of nowhere and couldn't fall back asleep. I get up and hop in the shower. Then I get a knock on my door, and it's my son, telling me he toasted half a bagel for me. He's such a sweetheart. I dress up and put on a full face of makeup. Today is my orientation at the museum and we're taking pictures for our IDs. I have to look my best!
7:15 a.m. — I'm so glad I taught my kids to be independent. They get ready for school and eat breakfast without me having to tell them to. I say goodbye to them before they leave for the bus stop, and then finish getting ready.
8 a.m. — I'm craving eggs, so I make an omelet to eat while I drive. Multitasking is a skill I've learned since having kids. I pack my half of the bagel, and I'm out the door by 8:30 a.m.
9:30 a.m. — There's more traffic than usual, and I freak out because I don't want to be late for my orientation. I park in the garage and run over to the museum entrance. The doors are locked and no one is inside to let me in! I also don't see anyone else outside. Strange...I call the director and get no answer, so I email her. I wait about 15 minutes. No one else shows up, and I get no reply through email.
9:55 a.m. — I drive out of the garage and luckily, I don't have to pay for parking because I was there for such a short time. Sweet, but what a bummer. I drove all that way for nothing? I could have just stayed in bed. I call my best friend to see if she is free to meet me later for lunch, since we didn't get a chance to link up last weekend. We agree to meet up at 12:30 p.m.
11 a.m. — I get home, check my work email, and see that I got a request. Some of my colleagues still don't know that I don't work on Fridays, but that's okay, I don't mind. I log onto my laptop, finish up the request, and kindly remind her that I'm off on Fridays. I also check my personal email. The director from the museum emailed me back saying that the orientation was canceled and apologizing for not emailing me sooner about it. To be honest, I'm pissed. She follows up with another email and says that the orientation actually wasn't canceled and that a few people couldn't make it. She says she'll email me later about another time to meet for orientation. I need this volunteer gig, so I respond politely, "Sounds good. Thank you for the information!"
11:10 a.m. — I gather up my laundry and throw a load in the washer. I ordered a ring from a website a few weeks ago and it's too big for my pinky finger, but it was final sale, so I go onto Amazon to order a ring size adjuster. $4.99
12:30 p.m. — I arrive at the restaurant on time and wait for my friend. She's 30 minutes late, but I'm in no rush. She finally shows up and we order two rounds of drinks and a bunch of apps. We catch up on what's been going on in each other's lives since we last saw each other. She decides to sets up an eHarmony account for me. Really?? I'm brokenhearted, not desperate. She offers to pay for the subscription, and I tell her she's wasting her money. I tell her to be in charge of the account and screen the men until I'm ready to date again.
3 p.m. — My friend has to leave to go pick up her baby from childcare. She says she'll pay the bill since she missed my birthday celebration. She's so sweet. I drop her off at her car, and I head out to my hair appointment. On the way, I call my kids to make sure they've been picked up by their dad after school, and they have.
3:30 p.m. — I stop by Target to grab a few bottles of contact solution. I browse around to see if I need anything else, and luckily, I don't find anything. Everyone knows how dangerous Target can be. You walk in looking for one thing and leave with a cart full of unnecessary crap! $15.92
4 p.m. — I arrive at the hair salon. I ask my stylist, who is also my cousin, for just a trim since I'm growing out my hair for my sister's wedding next year. As I'm sitting in the chair I feel the lack of sleep catching up to me. She straightens my hair, and I'm good for the weekend! She doesn't let me pay or tip because it was my birthday the other week. I love her.
5:30 p.m. — I made plans earlier in the week to hang out with my fellow “mom” friends, so I head out to pick them up for dinner. I arrive at my friend's house and text her that I'm outside. I'm hungry! I just want to get to dinner. But she tells me to come inside because she has to wait for her husband to get home so he can watch their kids. 45 minutes later, he arrives and Mamas Night Out can officially begin! We pick up our other friend from her apartment.
7 p.m. — We go to a local Thai restaurant that we always go to. We are hangry, so we order a few dishes — papaya salad, spring rolls, calamari, tum yum soup, noodles, and fried chicken wings. We kill everything but three chicken wings, and catch up on what's going on in each other's lives. They fill me in on their married lives. I kind of just want to roll my eyes. I'm still bitter about my breakup.
8:50 p.m. — The bill comes, and my friends won't let me pay! They say it's a late birthday present to me. Is it just me, or am I getting a lot of free passes today? I'm loving it! And of course, I love my friends! We leave the restaurant, and I drag my friends to the nearest convenience store. I hear the jackpot is $1 billion, so I want to try my luck and buy a few lottery tickets ($20). I drop my friends off at their homes. They want me to stay and drink with them, but I decline. I'm extremely exhausted. $20
9:50 p.m. — I get home and remember I did a load of laundry earlier, so I throw those clothes in the dryer. I get ready for bed, silence all my electronics, and close my black out curtains. I watch a TED talk that my friend sent me and then I knock the hell out.
Daily Total: $40.91

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — So much for sleeping in. I wake up from a dream — well, nightmare. I check my email, return texts, and browse social media.
9 a.m. — My best friend, R., calls me to fill me in on her night last night and lets me know we might go out tonight to celebrate her birthday after all. Her friend is a DJ at a club, and he wants her to celebrate there. I'm a little scared because sometimes we go overboard with the drinking, but I love hanging out with her because we always have a good time. She tells me to pack an overnight bag, just in case.
10 a.m. — I'm heating up leftovers from last night and looking for an escape room. I have plans to go later tonight with my friend, P., who is visiting from out of town. I texted him to see what time he wants to hang out, and I buy us the tickets. $64
4 p.m. — After lounging around for most of the day, I call R. to figure out who is going to pick up who. I don't want her driving into Boston herself. After all, it's her birthday weekend. But she insists on picking me up. I start getting ready.
7 p.m. — She texts me she's here at my house. I hop in her car and see that she also picked up another friend to hang out, too. We head in to the city, and she drops me off at a restaurant around the corner from the escape room, where I'm meeting P. for drinks before. He's late, so I order a sangria and french fries. When he shows up, he orders a beer, and we chat for a bit. He takes care of his bill and mine. How nice!
9:15 p.m. — We walk over to the escape room and try to solve puzzles with some strangers. We are at the last clue, and we can't figure it out before time runs out. Turns out we were missing two pieces and wouldn't have been able to solve it anyway. Damn!
11 p.m. — I check my phone and see that I get a text from R., who tells me to meet her at our friend's apartment to pregame. I ask P. if he wants to join and he says yes. We take his car to my friend's place, and when we arrive, there's a mini party already going on. A few other friends are already there drinking. We are greeted with champagne and shots of tequila.
12:15 a.m. — My friends call two Ubers, and we head out to the bar. One of the people in our group knows the security guards, so we skip the line and go inside. The birthday girl decides she wants to get a table, so we get one. She orders two bottles of champagne, and we drink and dance the night away! I pitch in for the table. $111
2:30 a.m. — I ditch P. — he gets a little too touchy feely with me. We are just friends and will always remain just friends. He knows this. I tell him to have a good night. We're all hungry, so I suggest we go to Chinatown. It's the only place open late-night that I can think of. We get seated at a popular Chinese restaurant. I order seafood soup, green beans, and XO noodles. We split the bill, minus the birthday girl. $31
4 a.m. — One of my friends is sober, so he drives us home and drops me off first. I get into pajamas and knock out as soon as my head hits the pillow.
Daily Total: $206

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — Man, how am I even awake right now? I surf social media and lounge around the house.
10:30 a.m. — I get a text from R. She is hungover, but tells me she's going to pick me up in an hour for her birthday brunch. How is she even awake right now? I hop in the shower, and I get ready as fast as I can.
11:45 a.m. — R. gets to my house, but I tell her to hop in my car. I know the feeling of driving hungover, and it's terrible. We stop to pick up our friends who will also be joining us.
1 p.m. — We get to the restaurant and order drinks. I'm a little hungover, but we order Bloody Marys. Hair of the dog, right? The manager of the restaurant comes over to our table to say hello. He happens to be an old friend from high school! He knows R. as well. We catch up for a bit. He sends out champagne, appetizers, and the whole works! He is such a sweetheart. We split the bill evenly and pitch in for the birthday girl's portion. $60
3:30 p.m. — We decide to go check out a drag show downtown, and catch the last 40 minutes. It's awesome! I just love good entertainment. We order a round of drinks and split it (including the birthday girl's). $20
5 p.m. — My friends want to continue the celebration but I have to head home; my kids are coming back to me from their dad's at 6 p.m. I drop off my friends at their apartment and my best friend leaves from my house, since she left her car there.
6:30 p.m. — My kids return home! I missed them and give them hugs. We chat about their weekend. They play some video games while I lounge around the house.
8 p.m. — My kids and I get ready for bed. I turn on Netflix and pass out. What an eventful weekend.
Daily Total: $80

Day Five

5 a.m. — Well, I think it's about 5 a.m. I wake up sweating from a horrible nightmare. I'm creeped out by it, so I lay in bed until my alarm goes off at 6 a.m. Then I read a text message from my friend saying she saw the guy I was dating at a club last night, and that she saw him get a girl's number at the end of the night. I was hoping I'd never hear about him again, but this is just a confirmation that I made the right choice about breaking things off with him just last week. What a scumbag!
6:30 a.m. — I shower, get ready for the day, and pack leftovers for lunch. I'm out the door by 7:15 a.m., drop off my kids at the bus stop, and continue to work.
8:15 a.m. — I get to work, read emails, and put out some fires. I'm pretty much on auto-pilot.
11:30 a.m. — I heat up my lunch and eat it at my desk while I browse Amazon. Then it's back to work.
6 p.m. — I haven't recovered from the weekend yet, so I'm glad I'm finally going home.
7 p.m. — I get home and have dinner my mom made. I try my best to help my kids with their homework. Afterwards, we all get ready for bed. I just want to sleep.
9 p.m. — My friend calls me and gives me details about what happened at the club last night. I'm feeling awful, but after talking with her and hearing the full story, I do feel better. I'm glad my friends saw him take down the girl's number, because now I know what kind of guy he really is. I no longer miss him, nor do I have the urge to contact him. After the call, I bawl my eyes out over him one last time, and I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

6 a.m. — My alarm wakes me up from another nightmare. Thank goodness! I know I'm a little stressed out and these horrible dreams will soon pass. I hop in the shower and get ready for work. My eyes are puffy, so I slap on some eye cream.
7 a.m. — I pack banana bread and brew some tea. I'm out the door by 7:15, I drop off my kids at the bus stop and I'm on my way to work.
8:15 a.m. — I arrive at work and eat my breakfast while I read the news. Then I start my day catching up on emails.
10:45 a.m. — My supervisor pops into my office and tells me she wants me to go to a staff meeting. I wait with her and my colleagues for our shuttle bus to pick us up and take us to the main campus where the meeting is held. We arrive late, and I hear my stomach growling during the meeting. How embarrassing!
12:30 p.m. — After the meeting, I decide to walk back to my office building because it's a nice day. I stop by the cafe and grab a turkey sandwich, which I eat at my desk while I continue working. $7.99
5:30 p.m. — I leave work and stop by the convenience store. Since no one won the jackpot the other night, I decide to try my luck again. $20
6:45 p.m. — I'm finally home and starving. I marinate some chicken thighs I bought last week and throw them in the oven. Then I cut up tomatoes and basil and make a salad — so healthy! I help my kids out with their homework as I eat, and we talk about their days.
8 p.m. — I get my kids ready for bed and I go to bed as well, except I end up turning on Netflix and watching an episode of Maniac. This show is so interesting! I don't really understand it yet, but I'm trying to figure out the storyline. I eventually pass out.
Daily Total: $27.99

Day Seven

6 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I stay in bed for an extra 30 minutes. I'm happy I didn't wake up early again. I take my time getting ready because I have a therapy appointment this morning before work.
7:15 a.m. — I say goodbye to my kids before they leave to the bus stop, pack a slice of banana bread, make a cup of tea, and am out the door and on my way to my appointment.
7:50 a.m. — I arrive at my therapist's office and sip on my tea while I wait. It's been a few months since I've seen her but lately I've been feeling not like myself and decided to check in.
9 a.m. — I head into work to reflect on my therapy session. I think taking care of my mental health is so important, especially when I have two kids who depend on me.
9:45 a.m. — I arrive at work and settle in while I eat my banana bread. I check the lottery website to see if I won the lottery, and I didn't. Whomp, whomp. I start reading emails and get to work.
12:45 p.m. — I didn't pack a lunch, so I dig in my snack drawer and find a mac and cheese cup. I'm going to my friend's birthday cooking class celebration tonight, so this should hold me over until then. I Venmo my friend for the class ($90 for my portion plus the birthday girl's). $90
5:10 p.m. — I leave work and head to the party. I call my kids to check in with them, make sure they're doing their homework, and remind them that I'll be home late tonight and to be good to their grandparents.
6:15 p.m. — Traffic to Boston is brutal! There must be a sports game tonight. I finally arrive at the party. We start drinking wine and preparing the meals. On the menu: tuna tartare, braised short ribs with homemade pasta, and chocolate mousse cake. So delicious! It feels so good to surround myself with positive and happy people.
11 p.m. — I can feel my food coma setting in, so I head home. The gas light in my car comes on again, and I pull in to the nearest gas station. Is it just me or is my car a gas guzzler? Damn this stupid pump! It won't allow me to pump an even dollar amount. $27.01
11:45 p.m. — I get home and get ready for bed. I'm out like a light. *Drake voice*
Daily Total: $117.01
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.
Have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Right now, in addition to our ongoing diaries, we're looking for potential diarists along the following theme:
Your Spending In Your State: We want to run one Money Diary from a different state each week. Want to rep your state? Submit here! In particular, we're looking for diaries from Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and Mississippi.
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs

More from Work & Money

Watch

R29 Original Series

Watch Now
Documentary
Five love stories behind diverse, multicultural marriages.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Life experiments, 5 days at a time.
Watch Now
Fashion
The style of subculture.
Watch Now
Beauty
Viral trends, tried and tested.
Watch Now
Documentary
From vibrators to lipstick, learn how your favorite products are made.
Watch Now
Documentary
Extraordinary, one-of-a-kind individuals
Watch Now
Documentary
The latest stories to watch.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Inside the homes of millennial women — & what they paid for them
Watch Now
Comedy
Let's talk about sex, baby.
Watch Now
Documentary
Female artisans around the world
Watch Now
Politics
Made by and for smart, opinionated women.
Watch Now
Film
We helped 12 female directors claim their power.