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A Week In Boston, MA, On A $61,642 Salary

Photo: Courtesy of Annie's.
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Today: an editor who makes $61,642 per year and spends some of her money this week on Annie's Mac and Cheese.
Occupation: Editor
Industry: Publishing
Age: 32
Location: Boston, MA
Salary: $61,642 plus an annual bonus, which was $18,594 this year.
Net Worth: $278,343 ($22,543 in regular checking/savings + $21,237 in HYSA + $13,240 in an IRA + $123,524 in a 401(k) + $386,000 in home value = $566,544 minus debt below).
Debt: $282,843 left on mortgage + $5,358 left on Mass Save loan.
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $1,463 after taxes/retirement.
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,838 (including property taxes).
Mass Save Loan: $78 (for a mini split AC).
Gas/Electric: $356 last month (varies wildly).
Internet/Land Line: $94
Cell Phone: $25
Gymnastics + YMCA Membership: $199
Water: $90 every quarter.

Annual Expenses
Netflix: $27 every six months (split with a friend).
Car Insurance: $991 annually.
Excise Tax On Car: $42 annually.
Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
Yes. I grew up in a town where "flipping burgers at McDonald's" was the threatened fate that awaited you if you didn't go to college. Most of us probably didn't even realize that there were other options. I always did well at school, though, so I was eager to go. My parents had been setting money aside for me and my brother since we were children; they paid tuition, room and board for both of us at private universities for all four years.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We didn't have too many sit-down conversations but my dad is an accountant and my mom (as a homemaker) managed the household finances so they would give us advice in passing. My mom opened a savings account for me and my brother when we were in elementary school, explaining that we would deposit all our birthday/Christmas money there to save up for big purchases like a car or a house. When we were older, she got us credit cards under her name so we could start building up a good credit score.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
Starting my junior year of high school, I worked as an office assistant to an attorney. My parents didn't pressure us to get jobs and they covered all our living expenses (plus sports and car costs) but the expectation was that we would pay for anything else that we wanted. So the job was primarily for spending money but also I had this internalized sense that I was "supposed" to get a job at my age and that it was good for character building.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Do you worry about money now?
Yes. Between my mortgage, associated house expenses and other costs of living, I usually spend more than I make each month, although the annual bonus puts me back in the green (still not a great feeling). I have a decent amount in savings but I worry that a major house repair or health issue could deplete them. Maybe I shouldn't stress about it as much as I do because I know my parents would be able to help me if something came up, but my mortgage and the current economic situation are definitely hanging over my head.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
At 27, when I moved into my house and became fully responsible for all of my expenses. I had previously been living rent-free with my parents, with the expectation that I would be putting my savings towards a down payment on a house. That being said, my parents would still help me if I needed it.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Unless you count birthday/Christmas money, no. However, I want to reiterate that my parents paid for my college education and allowed me to live with them rent-free for five years, which is the only reason I was able to save up enough money to afford my house.

Day One

7 a.m. — Happy Friday! I have a busy day today so I hit the grocery store earlier than usual and am delighted by how few people there are. I grab some vegetables, a salad mix, apples, berries, black beans, sour cream, half-and-half and brie, which comes out to $40.21. It's still the beginning of the month and I've already spent over $100 on groceries, which is stressing me out. Should probably swap that brie for a basic cheddar next time. $40.21
8 a.m. — Sign into work. I have a hybrid admin/editing job and unfortunately our department is seriously understaffed. I spent most of last year struggling to keep my head above water and most of this year catching up on everything that fell through the cracks while I was slammed. Just this week I've finally had some downtime, but my motivation and morale are shot.
10 a.m. — I have an appointment to get my car oil changed. I was planning to bring my laptop with me but I don't actually have any work right now so instead I bring a book. It's Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin; the characters are pretentious but I'm hooked. I use a $10 coupon for the oil change. $66.95
11 a.m. — Inevitably, the car technician gives me a list of additional repairs that my car needs: engine coolant exchange, brake fluid exchange, wheel alignment. As a woman, I always wonder if they're telling the truth or just squeezing more money out of me. In the end, I agree to move forward with the engine coolant exchange and deal with the other stuff when I return to get my snow tires off. Sigh. $219.69
11:45 a.m. — On my drive back from the auto shop (Daisy Jones soundtrack on full blast), I stop at Trader Joe's to pick up some salami and a salad. $9.68
1 p.m. — I've caught up on the work I missed while I was out so now it's time for lunch. I heat up some leftover chorizo stew and continue reading Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. A character just died and I am distraught.
4 p.m. — Slow Friday afternoons are the best. While monitoring my inbox, I chop vegetables for tomorrow's dinner, run a load of laundry, clean the downstairs bathroom and vacuum. The mail comes and delivers my Bose headphones ($320, already paid). They were a splurge after my company's annual bonus — I got about $12,000 after taxes and put $5,000 in my regular savings account and $5,000 in my HYSA. The rest is for fun and some hopefully minor electric work on the house.
7 p.m. — After finishing Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow (four stars on Goodreads!), I take a shower, then dig into the Trader Joe's salad while catching up on celebrity gossip online. Wild Friday night over here.
10 p.m. — I do some writing, then some journaling, and finally start my new bedtime book: The Belle of Belgrave Square by Mimi Matthews, a Regency romance retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I manage a few chapters and then it's time for bed.
Daily Total: $336.53

Day Two

7 a.m. — Up early for an 8 a.m. Pilates class, which is part of my YMCA membership. I tried yoga so many times and just could not get into it but Pilates is much more my speed. Once the class is over, I go home, get another load of laundry going and start breakfast: an open-faced chorizo and egg sandwich with hot sauce and some fruit on the side.
10:30 a.m. — I head to the mall for another potential splurge: Lululemon leggings. I've been looking for something better to wear to gymnastics and I've heard so many people raving about them. They do feel great but they're also very thin and you can see a lot of underwear lines. For $128?! No thanks. I also pop into Abercrombie & Fitch because I have a gift card but the selection is limited and I feel extremely old next to all the teenagers.
1 p.m. — After wandering in and out of some other stores and not finding anything, my back is sore, I have a headache and I'm so done with people for the day. I head home, pop some Advil and heat up the last of that chorizo stew.
3:30 p.m. — I've spent the last two hours decompressing online but now I really should get up and do something. I start the last load of laundry, finish the vacuuming and return Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow to the library, picking up The Push by Ashley Audrain for my next lunchtime read. I also put some gardening items into a shopping cart on the Lowe's website for curbside pickup but I hold off on purchasing them because I won't have time to do anything for another week or two.
7 p.m. — I start preparing dinner, a Cajun-inspired creamy parmesan pasta soup from Closet Cooking. It turns out nice and spicy. My mom texts me a link to a fridge on sale at Costco for $499.99, which includes installation. My fridge is on the older side and will absolutely need to be replaced when I redo my kitchen but I've barely started the planning process for that and I'm not sure what I'd do with the fridge in the meantime.
10 p.m. — I work on my writing project, a trashy sports romance novel, then finish the dishes, put away the laundry and read several more chapters of The Belle of Belgrave Square before going to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

9:30 a.m. — I head over early to my parents' house. My dad is helping me with my taxes. I got a 1099-NEC for a part-time job that lasted all of one month and while I've figured out that I need to put it on a Schedule C to put it on a Schedule 1 to put it on my 1040 (I'm exhausted just writing that), I have no idea how to fill out a Schedule C. Why is this all so complicated? My dad breaks it down for me; as usual, the feds giveth ($726) and the state taketh ($144). I'll submit everything later.
11 a.m. — We take my grandmother and her sister out to lunch (my parents pay). Unfortunately, while I'm in the bathroom at the restaurant, someone bursts in and starts puking their guts out in the sink. Probably the only time I've ever left the bathroom without washing my hands.
4 p.m. — Since it's so sunny out when I get home, I decide to do some gardening. Last year I gave up and let the weeds take over but now I'm back, bitches! Afterward, I enjoy a snack of Cheez-its and coffee ice cream. Then I procrastinate on responding to text messages by scrolling through Reddit and watching cat videos on Instagram.
8 p.m. — Dinner is a salad with black beans, cheddar cheese and pickled onions, eaten while starting the third season of the Baby Yoda show. Followed by some more writing, some more reading and bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — It's one of those mornings where I have zero motivation to get out of bed so instead I just lie there for an hour, telling myself I should get up but not actually doing it. Luckily I work remotely and our schedules are flexible so it doesn't matter what time we start or what time we finish, as long as the work gets done. Eventually I pull myself out from under the covers and discover, to my great relief, that I somehow only got three emails over the weekend.
1 p.m. — It's 60 degrees and sunny so I eat my Cajun soup leftovers on the porch while reading the first few chapters of The Push. It's intriguing but I'm not gripped yet.
3:30 p.m. — I sign off early for an appointment with my therapist. As is probably the usual with therapy, I started it a few months ago thinking it was just about one thing (feeling down a lot), but turns out it's actually a whole bunch of things: low-level depression, OCD and hella mommy issues. We mostly discuss OCD today and my therapist suggests some strategies for me to try. A copay is charged to my credit card. $20
4:30 p.m. — I take a walk to unwind after therapy, then sit on my porch with some ice cream and jot down some notes about the session. Everyone's outside today and I end up chatting with my neighbors for several minutes. Sadly, most of my ice cream melts while I'm doing this.
8 p.m. — Mondays are no-cook nights because of therapy so after showering and changing into my PJs, I have leftovers from the Easter lunch and read up on the Taylor Swift/Joe Alwyn breakup. I never understood why she called him a “magnetic force of a man” when I couldn't even pick him out of a lineup.
9:30 p.m. — I try one of the OCD strategies during a writing session (my OCD is related to writing) and it completely ruins the entire session and makes me really upset/frustrated. Or maybe it's not supposed to be easy and I'm just catastrophizing. Either way, I'm not in a good mood when I go up to bed so I angrily journal about it, then throw my journal onto the floor like a mature adult woman. Goodnight, I guess!
Daily Total: $20

Day Five

10:30 a.m. — Another slow day at work, thank God. I catch up on some time-consuming tasks, unload the dishwasher and pop out to a grocery store that has a sale on Annie's mac and cheese for 99 cents a box. I don't eat mac and cheese that often but when I do, it's Annie's, so I stock up on 10 of them ($9.90). I stop by another grocery store on the way back to pick up a salad for dinner tomorrow ($3.75). $13.65
1:30 p.m. — I make a quick salad for lunch and eat it on the porch while reading some more of The Push. It's one of those books where everything keeps getting worse and to be honest, I haven't really been in the mood for that since Trump was elected. I keep putting the book down and staring off into space.
5 p.m. — Once work is done, I hang out with a neighbor and her adorable baby. We talk about the dating scene around here (yikes on bikes) and workout class options at the YMCA. Afterward, I file and pay my Massachusetts tax return ($144) and try to finish my federal tax return, only to realize that maybe I was wrong about the Schedule C for the Schedule 1 for the 1040. Gah. $144
8 p.m. — Screw it, I'm filing. The 1099-NEC amount is reported; maybe it's on the wrong line but it's also $218 so does anyone care? I stuff everything in an envelope (don't ask me why this can't be done online) and remind myself to bring it to the post office tomorrow. I make mac and cheese for dinner and eat it while scrolling mindlessly through social media.
10 p.m. — I get ready for bed and read a few more chapters of The Belle of Belgrave Square. The sex scene is fade to black, what's the point of that?
Daily Total: $157.65

Day Six

9:30 a.m. — After breakfast and emails, I step out to the post office to mail my federal tax return, paying a little extra for certified delivery and tracking ($5.02). Back home, I hunker down to update some department documents but I keep getting distracted by my phone. Those cat videos have me in their adorable little claws. $5.02
1 p.m. — Lunch is leftover soup and another push at The Push (heh). The main character keeps getting dismissed by her husband and feels increasingly trapped by society's expectations of motherhood, which hits a little too close to home in a post-Roe v. Wade society. I read books to escape, not feel depressed. After looking ahead to see how it ends, I decide to abandon the book.
4:30 p.m. — Cheez-its and chocolate, afternoon snack of champions. While I'm out on the porch, two 9-year-olds on bicycles zip down my driveway and start poking around in the garden. When I ask them if they're looking for something, they say “no” very unconvincingly and scamper off. Maybe it was a Pokémon? I have no idea what children are doing these days.
6:30 p.m. — I have the salad I bought yesterday and then it's off to gymnastics. I've been doing the sport since I was in elementary school and luckily there's an adult class not too far from me with a pretty solid group of people. I spend most of my time on the balance beam — now that I'm not competing anymore and don't have to worry about falling in front of the judges, it's my favorite event.
11 p.m. — Back from gymnastics and making another attempt at using one of the OCD strategies during a writing session. I decide to screen-record the Word document so my therapist can see just how long it takes me to write a single sentence (it's genuinely painful). Since she asked me to email her my thoughts/reactions after doing the exercise, I do that, which of course also takes forever. I don't get to bed until after midnight.
Daily Total: $5.02

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I haven't even had breakfast yet and work is already a shitshow. I'm in the process of handing over a major project and replacing about half of my workload with half of someone else's workload, while managing the new person who's going to be taking over my old workload. All of this is supposed to happen by the end of the week aka tomorrow. I am not okay.
12:30 p.m. — Shovel down some leftovers in between meetings. At least I get to eat on my porch, because it's somehow 85 degrees out?! What is New England?
3:30 p.m. — Jesus, I am so done with work today. I take a short walk to pick up some Christmas decorations from a neighbor — arranged via our neighborhood's Buy Nothing group on Facebook — and then hang out on the porch all afternoon, writing and eating ice cream. It is so nice out!
6 p.m. — I call my grandma and we chat about her upcoming trip to a casino. Then I put together a grocery list for tomorrow, which my grocery app predicts will cost $47.98.
8 p.m. — I shower, have a random dinner of beans, toast, fruit and an egg, then browse the Abercrombie & Fitch website for linen pants. Nothing I want is in my size, though there is a cute romper for $60 (and I have a gift card that would cover it). But I've never worn a romper in my life, do I really want to start now?
10 p.m. — After another writing session, it's time for some bedtime reading. I've been slowing down on The Belle of Belgrave Square now that we're in a silly plotline about the hero's mysterious (and yet very predictable) past. I push through a couple more chapters and then turn off the lights.
Daily Total: $0
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