A Week In The Greater Boston Area On A $64,948 Income

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 teacher who makes $64,948 per year and spends some of her money this week on a sparkly tank top.
Occupation: Teacher
Industry: K-12 Education
Age: 25
Location: Greater Boston Area, MA
Salary: $52,448 (teaching) + $9,500 (side hustle working at a women's clothing store)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,336.49 + ~$350
Gender Identity: Cisgender woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $968 (split with one roommate for a two-bedroom / one-bathroom apartment (heat & hot water included))
Student Loans: $377 ($188 minimum: total owed is $50,000 for my undergraduate degree; my graduate degree was subsidized)
Car Loan: $141 (about $6,500 left on the loan)
Renter's + Car Insurance: $144
Electricity: $30 for this time of year (split with roommate, this amount triples in the summer when we run the AC units)
Internet: $47 (split with roommate)
Netflix/Hulu/Disney+: $19 (I pay for Hulu and Disney+, parents pay for Netflix)
Cell Phone: $0 (just trying to stay invisible on the parents' plan…)
Health Insurance: $205.64
FSA: $23.08
Savings: $140 minimum ($35 automatic transfer per week but usually closer to $300)
Pension: $563.28
403(b): $100 (pre-tax I'm looking to increase this in 2020.)

Day One

7 a.m. — I wake up naturally after a gloriously long night's sleep (early to bed, early to rise…) and laze around in bed watching Project Runway and checking social media for a while. I just started online dating again after letting my profiles lapse in the fall and respond to some messages I got last night when I was asleep. Online dating really made my anxiety spike so I decided to take a break from it. The break was good. The return...sigh.
9 a.m. — My roommate, H., made cinnamon rolls. Bless her heart. H. is my best friend from graduate school who is also a teacher and I feel super lucky that I get to live with such a close friend. My family lives about three hours away in New York, so my friends here in MA really have become my family. She reminds me that the internet bill is due so I Venmo her my half ($46.90 included in monthly expenses). I inhale three cinnamon rolls while chatting with H. and head back to bed.
10:45 a.m. — I have work at a clothing store today at noon so I start getting ready. I put on my contacts, brush my teeth, and put on SPF 50 sunscreen. Since I have the time, I put on a full face of makeup: primer, Tarte concealer, Bare Minerals foundation, Maybelline powder, Tarte bronzer, Tarte blush, E.L.F. highlighter, Urban Decay eyeshadow, Benefit mascara, and Urban Decay setting spray. It sounds like a lot, but it takes me ten minutes! I'm so pale that it honestly takes a lot of makeup just to make me look alive. I curled my hair yesterday so I touch it up and get dressed in a long-sleeved red blouse with ruffled sleeves, slightly ripped dark jeans, a white and gold pair of Trades of Hope earrings, and leopard print flats. Pretty much all of my clothes come from the store I work at since I get a 50% (!) discount. I listen to The Drop Out podcast while I get ready.
11:30 a.m. — I leave for work, which is about a 10-minute drive. I pick up a Starbucks mobile order, paid for with points, of a venti salted caramel mocha on my way! Before I clock in, I buy a sparkly tank top and a comfy long-sleeved shirt ($27 with my 50% discount) that I put on hold during my shift yesterday. $27
3 p.m. — Break time! I only take a 15-minute break instead of my usual 30 since I'm the only manager working right now and don't want to leave my associates alone for too long during such a busy day. I didn't bring lunch so I basically just sit, check social media, and deep breathe so I don't snap at customers. Working two jobs is starting to get to me and the holiday season is crazy!
6:30 p.m. — Finally done for the day! I drive home and make a quick dinner of pasta with jarred sauce, with a nice side dish of Advil because my neck and shoulders are killing me. I keep finding myself holding tension in my shoulders and I have to find some solution for that. I bought a bunch of groceries on Friday night but haven't cooked any of them because I've been so tired. After skipping lunch, I'm ravenous and wolf my pasta down.
7:30 p.m. — After cleaning up the dishes from dinner, I take a body shower, change into PJs, take out my contacts, wash my face with Simple makeup wipes and Cetaphil cleanser, and moisturize with Cetaphil daily moisturizer. I tried a trendy new skincare regimen earlier this year and it made my traditionally clear and easy skin go CRAZY with redness, whiteheads, and blackheads. The best solution for me was to totally detox and use the gentlest stuff available. My skin is finally getting back to normal!
8:30 p.m. — I decide that Disney+ is the only cure for the Sunday Scaries so I put on Get a Clue and snuggle up. I turn off the lights by 9 and toss and turn for at least an hour. Before bed, I take my allergy meds and birth control pill.
Daily Total: $27

Day Two

5:35 a.m. — Sigh. Not emotionally prepared for today to be Monday. I sit on my phone for 10 minutes before brushing my teeth, putting in my contacts, and putting on sunscreen. I clip up the top half of my hair and do my modified makeup routine — primer, concealer, powder, highlighter, and mascara. I get dressed in an orange shirt and lightweight navy pants because it's supposed to be fairly warm today and the heat in my school is broken so it's either off or at 85 degrees…
6:15 a.m. — I pack my lunch and I'm off. I drive about 55 minutes to school in the morning. I work at a low-income elementary school as a reading intervention teacher working with some of our neediest students in grades 1-5. I actually find my commute pretty relaxing usually because it lets me ease into the day. Today it is pouring rain and foggy so it is not that relaxing...
7:15 a.m. — I arrive at school after stopping at Dunkin' for breakfast. I get a medium iced coffee with mocha swirl, cream, and sugar along with two wake-up wraps and hash browns (paid for with money I pre-loaded on the app a few weeks ago).
7:30 a.m. — Meeting time! I'm contracted to start every morning at this time and we have different meetings or assignments each day. Mondays and Tuesdays are common planning time so I choose one grade-level team to meet with each day; I don't have my own classroom or team anymore — it's pretty lonely on common planning days. I check in with the teachers about the kids that I work within their classes and their progress. We are all counting down the days to Christmas vacation. Check in on your teacher friends because we are NOT OKAY.
12:20 p.m. — Lunch! I made my schedule so that 75% of my classes take place before lunch, which was a great idea in theory... The weather is crap today and all the kids are grumpy and tired (how tired can you be when you are seven years old?!), which is making me grumpy and tired too. I eat my packed lunch of half a ham sandwich, tortilla chips and guacamole, and a brownie while I check email and set up for my afternoon classes.
3 p.m. — Leave school to head to the allergist for my 3:45 p.m. appointment. I've been getting allergy shots for about seven months now; I used to go twice a week but now I'm down to every other week until next May. The time commitment is serious but it's an investment in my health. I don't owe any co-pay because my shots are completely covered by my insurance, which is nothing short of a miracle. I have to stay for thirty minutes after my shots to make sure I don't have a reaction so I read magazines at the office until it's time to go.
5:30 p.m. — I am finally home! I stopped at a local chocolate store to pick up a few little holiday gifts. I may or may not have picked up one of their homemade peanut butter cups for myself. It was absolutely pouring rain and zero visibility because of fog so I'm honestly just happy I'm home in one piece. $11.96
6 p.m. — I am one of those people who changes into pajamas literally the second they walk in the door at the end of the day so I am contacts out, makeup off, and pajamas on within fifteen minutes. I make pasta and sauce again because Monday got me super wiped. I know, I know, I need a vegetable. I have a glass of wine alongside.
7 p.m. — My college friends and I start texting about the weather forecast for our long weekend to Austin, TX this weekend! The weather will be so perfect — 70s and sunny and I'm here for it. Even though we all live within an hour of each other, we don't see each other much because we're so busy (it's my 2020 resolution to up the social life a bit) so I am very, very excited for this trip. I've planned very little of it so I'm just going to show up and have fun!
8 p.m. — In bed with Project Runway. Eventually, I turn off the TV and start my new book — When by Daniel Pink. I use my library card to download books from the online library, which saves me a ton of money. Lights are out by 8:45 after I take my meds!
Daily Total: $11.96

Day Three

5:35 a.m. — Up again after another restless night. My anxiety has really kicked up recently and I'm finding myself tossing and turning all night worrying about different things. I think I might need to add talking to my PCP about medication and therapy to my 2020 resolutions. I do my normal morning routine and modified makeup routine before getting dressed in a lightweight pair of pants, a short-sleeved tee-shirt, black flats, and a gray polka dot cardigan! I dressed for layers because it was scorching hot at school yesterday.
6:30 a.m. — I get gas from a station near my apartment. $23.69
6:45 a.m. — I stop at Starbucks for a double-smoked bacon, cheddar, and egg sandwich along with a grande iced caramel macchiato with blonde espresso. My app is low so I reload it. $35
7:30 a.m. — Another morning meeting! This morning the team I'm meeting with is super grouchy and spends most of the meeting complaining. It's tough for me to strike a balance between commiserating with other teachers and staying positive about my own workday…It is so hot in my school that I have changed from my flats into flip-flops...sigh.
12:20 p.m. — By this time of day, I tend to be desperate for adult social interaction so I make several pit stops for socializing and before I know it, half of my break is gone! I spend what's left of my lunch reading my book and eating half a ham sandwich.
3:30 p.m. — When I get home, I find two packages that I've been waiting for! I got a pair of Loft black jeans with a sparkly stripe down the side of the leg and a homemade photo calendar that I made for my mother on Shutterfly for Christmas. The calendar turns out so cute! It's about 95% pictures of our dog, which is exactly how she likes it. She spent 24 years without a dog because of my allergies so as soon as she was confident that I had flown the nest, she and my dad rescued our sweet pup!
5 p.m. — I'm starving again so I start dinner early — The Pioneer Woman's Pesto Chicken Skillet! There's a million veggies in it, which I need desperately, but I also add pasta to it because #balance. It turns out great and there's enough for at least four more servings, which is always nice because I find it very difficult to make time for cooking. H. and I also decide it's a good night for make-and-break cookies, so I make those after dinner.
7:30 p.m. — My best friend from college, D., FaceTimes me to gossip and talk about our trip this weekend. H. eventually joins us after hearing me talking from her bedroom; H. and D. have become good friends too and let me just say, nothing in the world makes me happier than my two favorite people loving each other too. Lights out by 9 after meds and a quick body shower. I sense another restless night ahead of me — it's been so warm in Massachusetts today that I just can't get comfortable in bed.
Daily Total: $58.69

Day Four

5:35 a.m. — No alarm for me this morning but still awake. I slept HORRIBLY. I was up practically every hour and could not get comfortable at all. My throat is starting to hurt which is always my first “getting a cold” sign. I chat with H. a bit while she gets ready and then go back to bed just to chill since sleep appears to elude me.
7:30 a.m. — Don't you love when you're ahead of schedule but then you screw around and all of a sudden you're behind schedule? Yeah, me too. I clean the apartment a bit, watch a little Today Show, pick out a few things from my closet to pack for Austin, and then all of a sudden, I have to MOVE. I put on a full face of makeup, put my hair in a messy bun, and dress in a pair of high-waisted skinny jeans and a sparkly plaid button-down with the classic L.L. Bean winter boots before leaving at 8:30.
10:15 a.m. — Bah humbug, that drive was terrible! A normally 55-minute trip took me closer to 90 and I was white-knuckling it the whole way. (I did, however, make time for a grande hot salted caramel mocha from Starbucks, which I paid for with yesterday's app reload.) A few coworkers pop in to check on me since they know I live far away. I had a really hard time making friends at this school when I started last year so it's nice to know that I'm starting to build those relationships.
12 p.m. — Late-arrival days throw off my schedule entirely so I eat lunch at a different time than usual so I can eat with teachers that I like a lot. I eat the pesto chicken skillet leftovers from last night and TWO other teachers comment on how good it looks. I feel accomplished.
3:40 p.m. — The transportation woes of this day will never end. I get locked into the school parking lot (it has a chain that's locked during arrival and dismissal for the safety of students) and I have to wait for ten minutes for a custodian to come and unlock it. Ergo, I am ten minutes late for my shift at the store.
7:30 p.m. — Shift over! It was actually a pretty chill shift with coworkers I enjoy talking with, so not a terrible way to spend a Wednesday evening. I head home to body shower, change, and eat more pesto chicken skillet. I watch Project Runway before meds and lights out around 8:45.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

5:35 a.m. — Another day, another early wake-up call. I go about my morning routine and get dressed in a gray cowl-neck dress with black tights and black flats. Today is parent-teacher conferences so I want to look professional and nice! I do a modified make-up routine of primer, concealer, powder, blush, highlighter, and mascara.
6:30 a.m. — I think I need to add “stop going to Starbucks” to my list of 2020 resolutions. I get a piece of lemon loaf and a grande hot salted caramel mocha ($11.59 on my pre-loaded app).
7:30 a.m. — No meetings today! I get planning time on Thursday and Friday mornings. I won't be at school tomorrow because I'm taking a personal day for our Texas trip so I hustle this morning to get my planning and prepping done for next week.
11:30 a.m. — Kids get dismissed early so that we can meet with parents. I have a half-hour lunch scheduled but I'm not hungry. I'm definitely getting sick and my throat is killing me. Not for Texas!! I spend my lunch finishing up materials for conferences.
4 p.m. — Finally done! A bunch of my conferences didn't show, which was extremely frustrating. On my way home, I hit up CVS where I buy a box of Barilla pasta, travel-size Cetaphil cleanser and contact solution, a birthday card, and Simple make-up wipes. I also stop by an ATM to take out $100 in cash for the trip. $32.32
6 p.m. — I am running around like a maniac trying to get ready for this trip. I take a shower and blow-dry my hair then make pasta with marinara sauce and turkey meatballs for an easy and quick dinner. H. and I make packing for this trip an extreme production and I am v. stressed by the time we're done.
8 p.m. — Our wake-up call tomorrow will be painfully early so I hit the hay equally painfully early after meds.
Daily Total: $32.32

Day Six

2:30 a.m. — Oh good God, wake-up calls like this should be illegal. My alarm is actually set for 3:05 but I wake up at 2:30 and know that if I fall asleep again, I'll be awoken in the middle of a sleep cycle so I play on my phone to stay awake. I wake up with a crazy sinus headache which makes me super nervous with flying so I take a few decongestants that I find in H.'s medicine cabinet and some ibuprofen in the hope that my eardrums won't rupture on the plane. I get up, change into comfy yoga pants, a long-sleeved t-shirt, and slides for the plane, and check my bags 1,000 times. I'm a bit of an anxious traveler...
5 a.m. — H. and I arrive at Boston Logan airport — she drove in exchange for me paying 70% of the parking fee. I won't pay for parking until we leave the parking garage on Sunday night. We get ourselves on the shuttle, into the terminal, through security, and to Starbucks. I get myself a tall iced caramel macchiato and a breakfast sandwich and I get the bougiest order ever for my best friend D. who will be here soon. $16.39
9:30 a.m. — On the plane, I buy an episode of The Office (Pam and Jim's wedding episode!!) for entertainment. I read my book, watch some downloaded shows on my Kindle, and talk to D. during the four-hour ride. We're moving in together with H. next summer and we are already stupid excited. $1.99
10:30 a.m. — Wheels down in Austin! Our flight was smooth and all nine of us are here in Austin. We hustle into our Ubers (covered by a friend — it'll all even out by the end of the weekend) and to our hotel to check-in. Our rooms aren't ready yet so we change and do our makeup in the hotel lobby bathroom. I change into a short-sleeved teal swing dress and a light Old Navy cargo jacket with flats. Our hotel costs and flight costs were already paid prior to this trip.
12 p.m. — We walk to a restaurant for lunch near our hotel and we are all ravenous. We split appetizers of sweet potato nuggets and biscuits and I get a grilled chicken sandwich with avocado, cheese, and fire-roasted tomatoes with sides of mac n' cheese and more sweet potato nuggets. I also get two spiked lemonades. We are planning to put all the restaurant costs on one credit card (our friend A. wants the points!) and he'll Venmo-charge us for all of it at the end of the trip. I'll admit, it does streamline things.
4 p.m. — We explore the neighborhood of our hotel for a bit and stop at a few random bars along the way; I have one tequila shot paid for by D. We all head to a group tour of a wicked cool media site location here in Austin and we're there for about an hour; I expect to pay for the tour but it ends up being free!
6:45 p.m. — After the media tour, we head to a local bar for drinks and apps. It has a super cool speakeasy kind of vibe to it. I'm not hungry quite yet so I just get one of the happy hour champagne drinks ($9). We stop at the liquor store on our way back to the hotel for drinks for the Pedal Tavern we'll do tomorrow ($8.65). $17.65
9 p.m. — We all head out to dinner after a few hours rest at the hotel (as it's 10 p.m. Boston time, I've been awake for 20 hours at this point…). We get to a cool rooftop bar and order tacos for dinner along with drinks. I get a brisket taco and a carnitas taco along with a glass of sangria. Both the tacos and the sangria are extremely disappointing. A. puts it on his tab. We head out to the bars afterward.
11:30 p.m. — I am all done after a day of traveling, drinking, and socializing. I walk home from the last bar with D. after not drinking anything but water — my head is pounding and my sinuses are feeling very stuffy again. The rest of the group will stay out for several more hours. Makeup off, meds taken, and PJs on and it's time for bed!
Daily Total: $36.03

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I wake up after a somewhat restless sleep. Am I the only one who struggles to sleep in an unfamiliar environment? I body shower and get ready for the day before hitting up Starbucks with H. and D. (D. pays since I got hers yesterday at the airport.) I get a grande iced caramel macchiato with blonde espresso.
11 a.m. — All nine of us meet in the hotel lobby to head to brunch. Brunch is at this super hipster place downtown — I get a ham, cheese, and onion omelet with breakfast potatoes and a cranberry mimosa. Yum! A. puts it all on his card again.
1 p.m. — There's a Francesca's across the street from brunch so obviously the girls head over because who can resist Francesca's? I'm an earring FIEND and literally cannot leave that store without at least two pairs ever. I buy two pairs of dangly gold earrings and a hair barrette. $27.08
1:45 p.m. — After Francesca's, I head over to CVS to get more decongestants and a saline nasal spray — can't be stuffy for the rest of our busy day! $11.13
2 p.m. — We arrive for our Pedal Tavern reservation (paid for several months ago). I am slightly panicking about the idea of being on the open road on a glorified bike?! It takes me some time to get used to but I eventually relax (with a fair amount of shrieking when we go over bumps). We stop at three bars during the tour. I get a Lemondrop shot at the first (paid for by D. because she gets a kick out of her straight-laced BFF taking shots), a free cucumber-lemon shot at the second bar (free with all drink purchases and my friend didn't want hers), and a water at the third. I sip on one of the rosé drinks I bought last night for the rest of the afternoon. It ends up being a super fun afternoon!
5 p.m. — The Pedal Tavern tour is done and most of the group is DRUNK (myself excluded — tried to take it easy because of the decongestants). We decide to go somewhere for appetizers because we desperately need some food in us. Drama ensues for the better part of the next few hours — you didn't think nine twenty-somethings could have a weekend with no drama, did you? Happy hour goes on A.'s card — we get braised short rib nachos, zucchini cornbread, and chips with guacamole, queso, and salsa, and I get a margarita.
7 p.m. — After happy hour, we all head back to the hotel to nap and get ready for dinner. I change into the sparkly tank top I bought on Sunday with distressed jeans and taupe shoes. We Uber over to dinner for our 8:30 p.m. reservation (someone else pays, not really sure who TBH). I am negative amounts of hungry because I'm feeling so sick — I think this head cold wouldn't be that bad but the last few days have been exceptionally long and we've been doing a lot of drinking. I order a side of mac n' cheese with pulled pork but only take a few bites. A. pays.
10:30 p.m. — Wave the white flag! I am in no position to stay out so I Uber home with D. who is also battling a head cold. It's a bummer we're not feeling great but today was honestly such a blast that I'm not mad about it. We get back to the hotel, do our nighttime routines, and fall asleep by midnight. $7.87
Daily Total: $46.08
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