A Week In Boston, MA On A $154,468 Joint Income

Photo: Courtesy of Apple.
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 nurse leader with a $154,468 joint income who spends some of her money this week on an Apple Watch.
Occupation: Nurse Leader
Industry: Health Care
Age: 31
Location: Boston, MA
My Salary: $104,468
Husband's Salary: $50,000
Net Worth: $115,000 ($50,000 in a high yield savings account, $65,000 in retirement accounts, no debt. My husband and I have fully merged finances. No debt, just paid my nursing school loans and my car off last year! No debt from my master's degree because I worked full time and my last employer had extremely generous tuition reimbursement. Starting my doctorate in the fall — my current employer has a partnership that grants me a steep discount, but not quite as good as my nearly-free masters.)
Debt: $0
My Paycheck Amount (weekly): $1,290
Husband's Paycheck Amount (monthly): $3,800
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $2,550 (two-bed, one-bath)
Netflix/Hulu/Disney+: $31 (added Disney+ because #quarantine)
Unlimited Barre Pass: $119 (Founding members' rate. I chose to continue paying at the full rate during this time to do my part to keep them around — I'd be devastated if they had to close.)
Unlimited T Pass: $45 (For my husband's super long commute. 50% discount and pre-tax through my employer)
Health Insurance: $443.96 (Will go down by over 50% next month because I just reached one year here)
Retirement Contribution: $527 (me, 403(b)), $500 (Husband, K., Roth IRA)
Parking: $200 (we live on a street with no parking so we rent a spot in a lot nearby)
Internet: $62.50
Gas: $75
Electricity: $75
Phone: $60 (I am still on my family's plan and pay my dad directly, husband is still on his family's plan and his dad won't accept payment)
Apple Music/Storage: $10.99
Savings: $2,500, usually a bit more depending on expenses
Car Insurance: $356 every six months
Renter's Insurance: $215 annually
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Day One

7 a.m. — First alarm goes off. I am terrible about snoozing. I also worked late last night so I could see my night shift nurses. They don't get a ton of interaction with leadership, so I try to come in super early or stay late to talk to them at least a few times a month. Fortunately, my husband, K., is a super morning person. He has already gotten up and walked and fed our dog. K. is "working from home" during the pandemic. There's not much he can do from home since he's a research scientist, but he's been filling out some grant applications and attending lab meetings. It's been really helpful to have him around — work is starting to settle down for me, but the past few weeks, I've been working 60+ hours a week, including weekends.
7:30 a.m. — Finally out of bed! I shower and do my morning skincare routine while listening to podcasts. I love skincare and reading about other diarists' regimens so here's mine: wash with CosRx Good Morning gel cleanser, Thayers' rose witch hazel toner, The Ordinary ascorbyl glucoside (vitamin C) serum, and one of my collection of moisturizers — today it's Burts Bees daily moisturizing cream. I have temporarily stopped wearing makeup to work because I am required to wear a mask due to COVID. I have mostly been wearing scrubs to work during this time because I'm doing more with patients and staff than normal, but today I decide to wear regular clothes: navy pants, striped shirt, blue cardigan, and my leopard Rothys loafers (#leopardisaneutral, my firm belief).
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8 a.m. — We have a COVID update conference call every morning so I dial into that while I make my usual coffee with steamed Trader Joe's cocoa almond milk. I grab the breakfast egg bites I made, kiss my husband, and head out the door.
8:30 a.m. — Arrive at work — I am lucky to live close enough to walk. I spend the first hour in my office responding to emails, eating breakfast, and getting organized. Then I head out to round on my staff and see how the day is going on the units. Side note, I am immensely grateful to be "essential personnel" during this pandemic. I am a total extrovert and would not do well working from home regularly — even the fact that our face-to-face meetings have largely been shifted to Zoom has been sad for me.
1 p.m. — My work bestie texts to ask if I want to meet and grab lunch in the cafeteria. I get a ham and cheese panini and a Diet Coke. We eat together while on another conference call. $8.72
2 p.m. — Check in with the manager of the units I cover. It's a quiet day on the unit (would never say this out loud because nurses are very superstitious) so we're getting caught up on emails and other tasks that lately have fallen off the radar as COVID prep overtook everything.
2:30 p.m. — My boss stops by my office to check-in. Normally, I have a monthly scheduled meeting with her to talk about what I'm working on and what I need from her, but (you guessed it) because of COVID these have been canceled for the last two months. It's great to talk to her—- she's an amazing leader and really supportive of my future goals. Coincidentally, today is my one-year anniversary at this job. I moved from another state so transitioning to a new state, new institution, and new role has been a challenge, particularly since this has been a tough year. This COVID era is a really hard time to be a newer nurse leader. I really feel for my staff and at times think I'd be more comfortable caring for patients because that's what I know. I also feel some guilt for not being at the bedside anymore.
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3 p.m. — Yet another Zoom meeting, this one about emergency response. If you're getting the feeling that I attend a lot of meetings when not social distancing, you are correct. I eat a few Cadbury Mini Eggs during the call (my favorite thing ever).
4 p.m. — Last Zoom meeting of the day. This one is about how nurses in my leadership division are coping with the ongoing COVID crisis. I almost skipped it to head home but decided to attend at the last minute and instantly regret it as I am one of only three attendees. It ends up being a (small) group therapy session. Awkward. I mute myself for most of the call (side note: the inability of most of my colleagues to properly use the mute function on conference calls has been an ongoing source of hilarity/annoyance during this pandemic) and tidy up my desk, which has slowly gotten snowed under with papers. Round on the unit briefly one more time before I head home. Everyone seems pretty calm! Good day.
5:30 p.m. — Home! Kiss my husband and cuddle the dog. Immediately change into my PJs and do my evening skincare: squalane oil cleanser from The Ordinary then Derma-E hydrating cleanser (oil cleansing changed my life, highly recommend). Then more Thayers' toner, Mad Hippie Vitamin A serum, and Origins Gin-Zing moisturizing cream.
6:45 p.m. — Dinner of leftover meatloaf and roasted potatoes. It is delicious and I'm really glad I did most of the cooking over the weekend so I can have these dinners with minimal effort now. My husband and I do our nightly gratitude practice of saying three things we're grateful for from the day. Mine are my awesome boss, leftovers for dinner, and my very cute and cuddly dog.
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8 p.m. — K. and I tuck into the couch with a beer and our dog to watch our quarantine obsession, The Great British Baking Show. I've also been doing a lot of baking as a form of stress relief so we've gotten into a dessert every night habit. Tonight it is from-scratch confetti cupcakes from the amazing Smitten Kitchen. I made them because this weekend was our six-month wedding anniversary. Little celebrations are key right now.
9 p.m. — We're old, this is our standard bedtime. Snuggle and chat for a few minutes but my husband drifts off really quickly. Then I read on my phone for another hour. Currently reading Where the Crawdads Sing (I know, I'm super behind the times but I've tried before and gotten distracted).
Daily Total: $8.72

Day Two

6:20 a.m. — K. gently nags me to get up. It works and I shuffle off to the shower. Same morning routine as yesterday. Having now worn real clothes once this week, today I am back in my scrubs. I class it up a little with a drapey sweater instead of a scrub top. Make the same coffee as yesterday, pack my food, and head out the door.
7:30 a.m. — At my desk. I work on some email and calendar management before heating up my egg bites (same as yesterday) and dialing into the 8 a.m. call. We've been joking for weeks that we should make a morning call bingo game because we hear from the same few people every day.
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8:30 a.m. — Call over. I go touch base with the charge nurse on my unit. More coworkers text and ask if I can meet them for coffee, which sounds good. I get a vanilla latte and we shoot the breeze about work and home life for a little bit. Then I go round on one of my other units — our patients have been moved because our normal physical spaces are now COVID units. $4.45
12 p.m. — Stop by my manager's office to check-in and learn we have a phone interview for a new per diem nurse! I stay for that and she is an amazing candidate who is truly lovely to talk to. I walk away inspired. Hopefully, she decides to work with us!
1 p.m. — I am HUNGRY. I managed to pack my lunch today (leftover spaghetti pie from the Emily Bites blog!) but walk with my manager to get a Diet Coke (you'll notice this is a daily theme). I also cave and get a chocolate chip cookie ($4.26). While eating lunch, I catch up on my Insta stories and notice that my barre studio is having an Instagram sale. I buy two MantraBand bracelets I've been wanting. Pretty much the definition of frivolous spending but they're on sale and the purchase supports the studio, which I love ($40.37). Finish eating while I take another conference call from my office. $44.63
4:45 p.m. — Heading home for the day! Conveniently, my work bestie is also leaving and gives me a ride home since it's raining and gross. Arrive home and find the jigsaw puzzle I ordered was delivered. I kiss K. and immediately do my evening skincare. We start organizing the puzzle pieces (edge pieces first, is there another way?).
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6 p.m. — Break for meatloaf sandwiches for dinner! I realize this probably sounds equal parts retro and disgusting. K. puts his on sourdough bread with cheese, I thought that was overkill and just put mine on regular sandwich bread. As usual, he was right and his sandwich is leaps and bounds better than mine. Because he's the nicest human alive, he gives me half of it and takes half of my inferior sandwich. What a guy.
7 p.m. — More puzzling and watching The Great British Baking Show, then our usual 9 p.m. bedtime.
Daily Total: $49.08

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — Fri-yay! I am taking today as my work-from-home day this week — my division has been trying to have everyone take one day at home each week during this crisis because our hours have been much longer than normal and we're working a lot of weekends. So, today is mine. I didn't set an alarm but wake up in time to summon the dog back to bed to snuggle while I dial-in to the 8 a.m. call. After the call, I get up, make coffee and the same egg bites. I'm not expected to be fully working today but I am staying on top of emails and texts from my staff.
9:30 a.m. — Break to get dressed and go get groceries. I try to get groceries during the week whenever possible because the grocery stores are so much less crowded, particularly during this COVID time. I grab my cloth face mask and head out. There is no line at Trader Joe's (there always is on the weekend now) this morning so I get right in. I grab eggs, bacon, bread, milk, yogurt, several kinds of cheese, chicken breasts, ground beef, zucchini, broccoli, salad greens, apples, limes, tomatoes, salsa, avocado, tortilla chips, pretzels, frozen rice, the cereal bars K. likes, cocoa almond milk (for coffee and highly recommend), and probably more stuff I now can't remember. $146.56
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10:45 a.m. — Grocery shopping always makes me so sad now because it's such a stark reminder of how different life is now and how far from normal we are. I also get annoyed with people using PPE (personal protective equipment) inappropriately in the store. Guys, it's really unnecessary to wear gloves in public — it makes you feel safe, but you are actually more likely to touch things and less likely to wash your hands well, which is what really protects you. Also unnecessary to wear respirator masks and when you use these things, it contributes to health care workers (who DO need them, desperately) not being able to get them. I'll climb down from my soapbox now. Anyway, I arrive home, J. helps me unload the car and put the groceries away, and I wash my hands thoroughly and then do my shower/skincare/etc routine.
12 p.m. — I make K. and I lunch. He gets a grilled cheese on sourdough and I make myself a quesadilla with the last of last week's tortillas. Then back to email/calendar/task management, this time while watching Grey's Anatomy in the background. I have recommitted to Grey's during social distancing. I was a loyal watcher from the very first episode through about the first five years then tapered off. I'm one of those nurses that loves medical TV even though I am constantly a little salty about the portrayal of the nursing profession.
5 p.m. — K. and I have our monthly Family Budget Meeting! We review our expenses for the month, which are super low (except groceries) since we haven't been going anywhere. I note that I got a $950 refund for a conference I was supposed to attend in March that was canceled. He suggests that I use part of the refund to buy the Apple Watch I've been wanting for a while. I am floored by the suggestion because my husband is the most frugal man in existence. He points out that we are exceeding all of our savings goals and it's good to #treatyoself sometimes (yes, he does use the Tom Haverford reference). Background, I had about ~$15,000 in credit card/student loan debt when we met. I worked hard (lots of overtime) to pay off all of my credit card debt and did so in under a year. I then started aggressively paying off my loans and did so right after we got married in the fall. I am innately more of a "spender" than he is and I have some guilt around that—- all mine, he has never made me feel that way.
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6 p.m. — Dinner time! We have nachos and homemade margaritas. Side note, watching K. do margarita math (from a single serving to a pitcher) was great. Paper towel calculations were involved. I make the nachos and as we eat K. comments on how delicious everything is. I love food and cooking and it really makes me smile when he loves something I cook.
7 p.m. — Settle in to work on the puzzle and watch the Parks and Rec special! It's kind of cheesy but I love it. K. and I both love Parks and Rec because we identify heavily with Leslie and Ben. Nauseating, I know.
9:30 p.m. — Both of us are exhausted from the tequila (sad but true). We do a very brief straightening-up in the kitchen. We're both asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.
Daily Total: $146.56

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — Miraculously my early-bird husband has slept until now. Thanks, tequila! He gets up and puts on jeans to walk the dog (evidently, unlike me, he is not okay walking the dog in his PJs). I wake up slowly with my best friend Instagram. Then it's time for coffee and yogurt on the couch while we read the news. K. eventually gets up to wash the dishes but I keep reading on the couch with my coffee and the dog in my lap. It is heaven.
9 a.m. — Get dressed and do a barre class with my studio via Zoom. I miss the in-studio community so much but the workout is almost as good at home. The times really aren't convenient to my work schedule so I try to do one or two classes a week on my days at home. I have also learned from experience that if I build the dog a nest (his bed, draped in his favorite couch blanket), he will not come lick my face during floor work. Our dog is definitely going to be really bummed when social distancing ends.
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10:30 a.m. — Finished with class and extremely sweaty. Brush the dog, which he hates, and get enough hair to make a second dog. Then shower, skincare, and clean leggings/shirt. Athleisure is the name of my quarantine game. K. had Cheez-its for lunch so I make myself a PB&J (try it with raspberry jam... delicious). I watch an episode of Grey's Anatomy while I eat.
1:30 p.m. — K. and I don our masks and walk the mile and a half to Target to pick up my Apple Watch! It's a gorgeous day and the sun is so warm! We both definitely overdressed for this walk and are sweaty. I ordered the watch online so I just pick it up behind the Plexiglass guard, then turn around and head home. I'm so excited! $353.27
3 p.m. — Arrive home and start prepping dinner. I cook pretty much every night over the weekend so that I don't have to do much during the week, especially now when I'm frequently home too late to make an involved dinner. Tonight I'm making Smitten Kitchen's arroz con pollo! I make the marinade for the chicken and get it going in the fridge, all while watching more Grey's.
6:30 p.m. — Dinner! The arroz con pollo is delicious and generates a TON of leftovers, hooray! K. and I enjoy the leftover margaritas from last night with dinner. Then we work on the puzzle while watching older episodes of Parks and Rec — last night's special clearly left me wanting more.
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10 p.m. — I was mentally done with the puzzle quite a while ago but now K. is too. Take the dog out, then bedtime!
Daily Total: $353.27

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — Two days in a row!! Still in bed. This morning I offer to walk the dog — K. has done nearly 100% of dog walks and care since he has been working from home. I am, of course, still in my PJs and enjoying the beautiful morning outside. Springtime in Boston is fast becoming my favorite time of year. We usually have some kind of special breakfast on Sundays, so when I get back from walking the dog, I make bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit sandwiches. Rave reviews from the husband.
9:30 a.m. — I decide to get started on my housework/meal prep early and start with laundry. We are lucky to have free, though shared, machines in our basement.
10 a.m. — Sunday is another heavy cooking/meal prep day. Today I am making chicken pot pie for dinner and leftovers this week, egg muffins for breakfasts, and millionaire's shortbread (like a homemade Twix bar) because my husband saw it on The Great British Baking Show and begged me to make some. I start by removing the pie crust from the freezer, chopping veggies, and making the shortbread crust. The rest of the morning into the afternoon is full of switching loads of laundry, folding, and putting away.
1:15 p.m. — The owner of my barre studio reminds me to come pick up the bracelets I bought. I take a quick shower, then decide on a whim to bring the dog with me to drive over and get them. We then take a short drive around our neighborhood — it reminds me of before I got married when my dog was my constant copilot. He's spoiled rotten but I love him to pieces.
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2:30 p.m. — Home and back to the cooking grind. I make the caramel for the millionaire's shortbread while I catch up with a friend on the phone. It's so good to talk to him. At one point I have my AirPods in, whisking the caramel with one hand and holding the thermometer with the other. I've never been so glad to reach 225 degrees. Pour the caramel over the shortbread and let it cool, then make the chocolate ganache for the top. It looks awesome — hopefully, it tastes the same!
4 p.m. — Finish the laundry and get serious about the chicken pie (it's the Sally's Baking Addiction recipe and I 100% recommend it!).
6:30 p.m. — Feast on the completed chicken pot pie. It is as delicious as always, but the gravy wasn't as thick as usual so it leaked out of the crust a little. Not as Instagram-worthy as previous, boo. Following dinner, I convince my husband to start the dishes while I make egg muffins so we can be together and listen to a podcast (Brené Brown's Unlocking Us, the episode with Vivek Murthy. Highly recommend). We finish cleaning the kitchen and putting the food away. Then it's couch time for an episode of The Great British Baking Show and the first taste of the millionaire's shortbread. It is delicious but a little thick — would definitely make again, but in a bigger pan so the layers are thinner. K. loves it!
9 p.m. — You know the drill by now. It's a school night. Goodnight to our first and probably only zero dollar day!
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Daily Total: $0

Day Six

6:20 a.m. — Up and at 'em. Shower, skincare, get dressed, and despair at the state of my hair. I wear my hair very short and normally get at least a trim every four weeks. We're now entering week nine since the last haircut and it looks terrible pretty much all the time. I am about one scissors' length away from letting my husband trim it — not sure how much worse it could get. I decide today is my day to wear regular clothes so I choose black dress pants, a white V-neck shirt, and a black and white striped long cardigan. Paired with my leopard Rothys loafers again — they are SO. COMFORTABLE.
8 a.m. — At my desk with my packed breakfast egg bites, dialing in to the morning update call. It's been getting progressively shorter as we adjust to COVID being the new normal, so as of today we are moving to having the call every other day. I dive into my email and other computer work for a while.
12 p.m. — Zoom call about the status of the pandemic. I am out of one of my moisturizers (Skyn Iceland The Antidote) so I rebuy from DermStore while listening. This stuff is pricey but so good for the summer — it's super light and has a cooling effect so really good for my skin's redness tendencies. 15% off for signing up for emails that I will later unsubscribe from. We all do this, right? $41.54
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1 p.m. — Haven't eaten lunch yet and one of my work friends texts that they have an abundance of pizza. Being a sucker for both free food and pizza, I decide to eat that and eat my packed lunch tomorrow. Also, the pizza lunch is a celebration for one of our nurses — she won a nursing excellence award here that was to be presented at a big party for Nurses' Week. Obviously, the party got canceled because of COVID, so this is our temporary celebration for her.
2:15 p.m. — Get a post-lunch Diet Coke as I walk back to my office for the afternoon calls. Back to emails and computer work, as well as catching up on some of my new nurse evaluations. Fortunately, mine are all fantastic (knock on wood), so they're easy to write. Round again on the unit — everything is quiet right now. My colleague calls to ask if I'd be interested in writing a piece for the nursing journal she helps edit. I agree — I've been looking for an opportunity to publish! Start brainstorming ideas. $2.05
4:30 p.m. — I have a wicked headache and there's nothing keeping me in the office, so I head home a little early. Change into PJs immediately upon arrival home, take some ibuprofen and do my skincare, then watch more Grey's Anatomy on the couch while snuggling the dog. I notice that my official name change document FINALLY came — hooray! I changed my middle name to my maiden name, not knowing that doing so means I need a legal name change in the commonwealth of Massachusetts. It was not a fun discovery while trying to change my driver's license.
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6 p.m. — Reheat yesterday's chicken pot pie for dinner tonight. Still delicious and, following 24 hours in the fridge, the filling is a little more willing to stick together! Nom. Tonight I am grateful for delicious leftovers, lunch with my coworkers, and the dog snapchats my husband sent me.
7 p.m. — K. and I decide to watch two episodes of Baking Show. During the second episode, we enjoy another piece of millionaire's shortbread. The additional fridge time has served it well — equally delicious and easier to eat! We also discuss his brother's upcoming wedding, it was supposed to be in late May, but was moved to September as a result of COVID. They're still getting married on their original wedding day, though, so we decide to send them their gift now. We pick out their fancy Tencel bedspread from their Pottery Barn registry. $214.98
9 p.m. — Bedtime except I can't sleep and am up reading until a little after 11. Sigh.
Daily Total: $258.57

Day Seven

6:45 a.m. — Up and usual routine. Shower, skincare, scrubs. More despair about my hair and I briefly consider buzzing all of it. Text my group of friends to ask if they think it's a good idea — the only one to respond is surprisingly supportive of the idea!
8 a.m. — Arrive at work and immediately go grab coffee with a few coworkers ($4.45). First iced latte of the season! $4.45
11 a.m. — In-person (woohoo!) meeting to discuss some changes to clinical care of COVID patients. It turns from a 30-minute huddle to an hour and a half discussion. All good things. We social distance appropriately (masks on and each of us six feet from anyone else), but it is so nice to be in person for a little while. At the end of the meeting, one of my friends says she's ordering Chipotle and asks if anyone wants in. I am easily persuaded, especially since this friend insists it's her treat since I bought her lunch last week. I buy at Diet Coke to have with lunch ($2.05). We have been ordering lunch at work at least once a week since the COVID outbreak started. All of us are working longer hours and I think we want something to look forward to. It isn't normal for us, though, and I need to dial it back a bit. $2.05
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2 p.m. — Zoom call about infection control changes related to COVID. Then dial into a Zoom call with the local chapter of my professional organization to discuss COVID-related issues and solutions across health care institutions in several New England states. I find these types of calls so helpful — it always helps to hear that others are having the same problems we are, and some of them have found creative solutions. I've been active in professional organizations since I was in nursing school. I'm a huge believer in the power of these organizations for networking and professional development. I'd encourage anyone in any profession to look into getting involved!
4 p.m. — Round on my nurses again to share some updates with them from the day. I had hoped to have a staff huddle but everyone's pretty busy so I hang out and catch them one-by-one or in smaller groups. Then I translate that information into an email so it reaches the nurses that weren't here today.
6 p.m. — I do one last email and then head out. I catch up with my mom and grandparents on the phone as I walk home.
7 p.m. — Leftover arroz con pollo for dinner with a beer on the couch. We start early with The Great British Baking Show because we're close to the season finale! We end the evening with another piece of millionaire's shortbread.
Daily Total: $6.50
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.
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