A Week In Boston, MA, On A $52,000 Salary

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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.
This week: an operations supervisor at a museum who makes $52,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on pizza.
Occupation: Operations Supervisor
Industry: Museum
Age: 24
Location: Boston, MA
Salary: $52,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,350 (after taxes, 403(B) contributions, and parking for work)
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $800 (I split rent with three roommates.)
Student Loans: $400 (I have $30,000 left from undergrad and $10,000 left from grad school.)
Car Loan: $238
Utilities: $50-100, depending on the season
Car & Renter's Insurance: $104
403(B) Retirement: $100 (My company matches with another $100/month. I want to increase my retirement contribution in years to come, but want to focus on loan repayments at the moment.)
Spotify: $11.99
Netflix: $14.99 (I pay for the whole family.)
Savings: $200

Day One

9 a.m. — I wake up to a beautifully clear and sunny day in coastal Maine. My boyfriend, F., and I are here for a wedding for one of his college friends. We mosey down to the hotel lobby and eat a complimentary continental breakfast, before dashing up to our room to get ready for the wedding and check out of the hotel by 11 a.m. The hotel room was prepaid for a few weeks ago. The wedding theme is Forest Formal (I had to Google it), which apparently means I can wear a blue floral dress and nude wedges and fit right in. F. and I shower and get dressed, I straighten my hair, and we are out the door.
12 p.m. — We have a couple of hours before the wedding ceremony, so F. and I explore this adorably picturesque town. We wander in and out of local art galleries, bookstores, and a coffee shop. I buy us two lattes that are perfectly adorned with frothy leaves. $10.69
1:30 p.m. — Still waiting for the ceremony, so we decide to grab lobster rolls — a true Maine endeavor. To our horror they end up being $25 each! As a native Mainer, F. is horrified that he didn't ask what the market price of the day was. We begrudgingly split the bill for two Coronas and the rolls. It's $39.38 for my half of lobster rolls, tip, and beer. $39.38
7 p.m. — The wedding ceremony is complete. Tears were shed while everyone is overlooking a spectacular Maine harbor. The vows really touched my hopeless romantic heart. It's time for cocktail hour, and F. and I chat with some of his friends from college. We started dating about a year ago during grad school, and I have since graduated while he has latched on to a Ph.D. track (good luck, man). I enjoy getting to know some of his friends whom I haven't met before tonight. Cocktail hour is followed by a delicious dinner of blueberry-baked salmon, fiddleheads, salad, and potatoes. (YUM!)
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1 a.m. — After dancing and a three-hour drive, we are finally back in Boston. The wedding was on a Sunday, so we had to dodge out early to make our trek back to the city for work. We both pass out at my place immediately!
Daily Total: $50.07

Day Two

7:15 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I am dragggiinnnggggg. I shower, slather myself in makeup, throw on a polka dot dress, make a sad salad for lunch, eat cereal, and say goodbye to F. for the week. He and his dad are going on a week-long camping trip, and he will be both out of the state and out of cell-service range. I begin my short 15-minute drive to work and am in the office by 9 a.m.
12:30 p.m. — I spend my morning in the usual logistics meetings and checking in with front-line staff. Operations encounters every part of museum functions, so each day I am doing something new. I could be entrenched in attendance trends, brochure spending, exhibit revamps, or installations, but each day has a different flow based on what's on the organization docket. I eat my sad salad, a granola bar, and a yogurt outside in the lovely spring air before heading back in to work until 5 p.m.
5 p.m. — I am FREE! I usually go to the gym after work, but I am so tired from our late night that I end up falling victim to an hour-long nap as soon as I get home. I quickly fry up some spaghetti in a pan with butter, zucchini, and tomatoes and head out the door to my friend's house around 7 p.m. I pick up a cheap bottle of wine on the way. $7.99
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10 p.m. — My best friend since first grade (essentially my ride-or-die) moved to Boston about a week ago with her fiancé. It is actually a dream come true to have her here. She's like a sister. We both grew up in a small town about five hours from Boston, and never in my wildest dreams did I think we would both end up here. We both drink some wine and watch the Bruins game with her fiancé before I head home around 10 p.m. Once home, I drink some water, take my makeup off, and crawl into bed in my favorite pair of lobster pajamas (yes, these PJs are as cool as they sound).
Daily Total: $7.99

Day Three

7:15 a.m. — Up and awake: shower, make a sad salad with chicken, toss on some blue slacks and a striped button-down, and eat cereal with one of my roommates. Out the door by 8:30.
12:30 p.m. — Today's exciting work tasks include an operations meeting to discuss who will take over what tasks in the interim between our old colleague leaving and a new one being hired, and getting paperwork together for new front-desk personnel. Although I can take my lunch hour whenever throughout the day, I seem to like the 12:30-1:30 timeframe — smack in the middle of the day.
5 p.m. — Time for the gym! I am a lucky duck because I work at a university museum, so I get to use all of the athletic facilities for $2 (that's right) a month. I walk the 10 minutes across campus to the gym and hop on a Peloton bike. It's always a toss-up as to whether or not these bikes will be available after the work day, since the gym is packed! The Peloton stars must have been aligned today, because there are two bikes available. I do a 30-minute Pop Ride — these workouts rock.
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7 p.m. — After a quick body shower, I make some Brussels sprouts and chicken. I catch up with my three roommates about work and life, and then settle in to continue reading The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney. The content matter is a little more superficial that my usual preferred reading genre, but it's a quick read. I am asleep by 10:45.
Daily Total: $0.00

Day Four

7:15 a.m. — You know my routine by now: shower, breakfast, makeup, make lunch, and out the door. Today I am wearing black slacks, half loafers, and a white lace shirt.
12:30 p.m. — After a check-in with my boss and a meeting, I take my usual lunch time. I try so hard to pack my lunch every day to save money, but today I am not feeling my salad at all. I contemplate buying a cheesesteak from the food truck down the street, but I remain resolute and eat my prepacked lunch. GAH! As I eat, I listen to The Daily podcast from The New York Times. This podcast does an amazing job of helping general listeners break down and understand the complex new topic of our time. Props, Michael Barbaro.
7 p.m. — The Peloton stars are not aligned today, so I settle for an elliptical at the gym. Afterward I shower, eat a dinner of Trader Joe's shrimp stir-fry over rice, and read The Nest again. I am so tempted to ask one of my friends to grab a drink tonight, but I try so hard to save entertainment costs for Thursday-Sunday, so I ask my friend if she wants to grab drinks tomorrow (which is Thursday), and she agrees. One of my roommates ends up bringing a guy back from a date around 8 p.m., and I suddenly miss F. Just four more days, and he'll be back on the grid! Counting down!
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Daily Total: $0.00

Day Five

7 a.m. — Up and at 'em a whole 15 minutes earlier today. I have to walk to work because staff parking is being reserved for an event. We are therefore "encouraged" (aka forced) to walk or take the T. Luckily, it's the quintessential beautiful spring day! It takes me about 40 minutes to walk to work. In the spring and summer, I will walk to work about one to two times per week. I'm currently living in a transportation dead zone for the T, so the nearest stop is about a 25-minute walk from my apartment, which is why I end up driving a lot of the time to work. I know car pollution is bad, but when I move in September, my new place is a short two-minute walk from the T, so I will be joining the T commuter team again!
12:30 p.m. — The museum is nuts today due to this event, and I spend my day running around trying to iron out small logistics, such as pamphlet placement, staff lunches, comped admission, etc. Nevertheless, lunch maintains its 12:30 time. Sad salad, peach, yogurt, and granola bar! Woohoo!
6 p.m. — I am home after my two-mile walk, and I heat up another TJ's stir-fry. I decide to clean the bathroom in our apartment. Not gonna lie, I feel like I am the only one who cleans this weekly, but four people sharing a bathroom calls for a weekly clean. I am definitely the Type A neat freak of my apartment. In fact, I have pretty bad anxiety surrounding perfectionism. It's calmed down since grad school but still persists at times, especially when I think about student loans, career trajectory, and spending in general.
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8 p.m. — I walk to a bar down the street to meet my friend from grad school for drinks! It's great to catch up about relationships, our first year out of school, and life in general. I definitely don't see her enough, so we agree to see each other more in the future. I pay for two beers plus tip. $15.00
Daily Total: $15.00

Day Six

6 a.m. — I decide to change it up a bit today and go to the gym before work. A Peloton awaits me! I crank out a 45-minute country ride, shower, down a Larabar, and head to work by 9 a.m.
5 p.m. — Work is slow and typical for a Friday, so as soon as 5 p.m. hits, I bounce out the door. On my way home, I order two medium pizzas for my friend, her fiancé, and the fiancé's brother. I head straight to their apartment with pizzas, my bathing suit, and a change of clothes for tomorrow. We eat pizza and drink beer while sitting in their hot tub. Yes, a hot tub in a Bostonian apartment. They live a life of luxury that my museum self may never know. $25.48
9 p.m. — We decide to Lyft to a local brewery. One of the brothers pays for the ride there. My friend and I split a flight, and then we each have two more beers. I am more than tipsy at this point, but we are having an amazing time. Around 12, I call a Lyft for all four of us. We get back to my friend's apartment, eat more pizza, and fall asleep on the couch. A well-spent Friday night. $15.23
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Daily Total: $40.71

Day Seven

7 a.m. — Slightly hungover, but I need to get home for an optometrist appointment. I bid the crew from last night goodbye and head home to chug water, shower, and change.
11 a.m. — I finish up my eye appointment. I apparently need full-time glasses, which I have never needed before. I select a style that I love, and it ends up being a little pricey. The total is $220, but I can use a health savings account that my employer contributes to to cover the cost. I realize how lucky I am to have this insurance plan. My employer contributes a sum to my HSA that covers any kind of deductible, so I never have to pay for a visit or prescription pre-deductible limit. I pay the $220 from the HSA account, but it is not my own money, so I don't count it as a personal expense.
1 p.m. — I need to do my weekly grocery shop. I try to keep this around $50 per week. I head over to TJ's for some shawarma chicken, pesto chicken, peaches, zucchini, broccoli, tomatoes, milk, eggs, frozen shrimp stir-fry, pea-crisp snacks, coffee, bread, lettuce, and cereal. $57.18
2 p.m. — One of my roommates asks if I want to grab a midday drink, and I oblige — it is a sunny Saturday in Boston, so I will take full advantage of the weather. I end up getting a sour, and then we walk around for a bit. We pop in a bookstore, and I get my dad a Father's Day gift. It's the new book Sea Stories by Admiral William McRaven! He'll love it! $8.99
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5 p.m. — I decide to go to Saturday night Mass instead of Sunday morning Mass this week. I was raised in a very Catholic family, and my spirituality is very important to me. One of my brothers actually recently came out as gay, which in the Catholic community is often looked down upon, but my tight-knit family has found meaning in remaining faithful in our beliefs while 100% supporting my brother and his sexuality. We do not necessarily apply strict Catholic dogma but take things in a more spiritual context rather than a dogmatic context. I feel refreshed after Mass. I put $5 in the collection. $5.00
10 p.m. — After Mass, I make a dinner of shawarma chicken and broccoli at home before heading to the bar down the street with my roommate. I only get one beer and then head home because I'm tired. I fall asleep by 11 p.m. Two more days till F. gets back!!!! $10.00
Daily Total: $81.17
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