A Week In Boston, MA, On A $47,000 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 communication specialist working in higher education who makes $47,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Orange Sticks.
Occupation: Communication Specialist
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 26
Location: Boston, MA
Salary: $47,000
Paycheck Amount (Weekly): $561
Monthly Expenses
Monthly Housing Costs: $1,042.50 for my half. (I live with one roommate.)
Student Loan Payments: $0 (I'm deferring my undergrad loans right now, but I have around $7,500 left to pay off.)
Health Insurance: $140
Dental Insurance: $16
Car & Renter's Insurance: $140
401(k): $70
403b: $240
Work Parking Spot: $17
FSA: $10
Phone: $65
Spotify: $6
ClassPass: $15
Wifi: $27.89
Electricity: ~$15
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Day One

10:45 a.m. — I wake up from a wonderful night's sleep, which makes me very happy, since I didn't sleep well two nights ago. Today's the Boston Marathon! I check my phone and see a text from my friend, L., asking if I want to get brunch. Sounds great, but I turn her down since I have food that needs to get eaten before it goes bad. We make plans to still meet up and watch the marathon — L. and I live two minutes from each other, which makes impromptu plans sooo easy. I eat blueberries and Greek yogurt while chatting with my roommate, K., who's working from home. I make coffee to bring with me to the marathon, and add some hot chocolate mix and Kahlua to it for extra excitement.
1 p.m. — After cheering on the impressive runners for an hour, we can't feel our toes, so L. and I walk/jog back home, feeling inspired! I eat a hardboiled egg, baby carrots, celery with peanut butter, and two crumpets with butter and Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel Seasoning. (This seasoning is one of my proudest TJ's discoveries and I love sharing it with anyone who appreciates everything bagels.)
5 p.m. — I am feeling MEH. It seems to be a combination of antsy and apathetic. I'm thinking it's related to a dude situation: I had been amped for a recent date, but it didn't go quite as I had daydreamed. We still had a good time and got brunch in the morning, but for some reason, I didn't feel as *swoon-y* as I did after our first few dates. I try to take care of beginning of week activities to feel productive and positive…but it's not working. I realize I have a decent amount going on this week and may not make it to any of my favorite workout classes. I text my friend S. about going shopping tomorrow to find dresses for a school social event coming up this weekend. Then I get wishy-washy and wonder if I should go to yoga instead. I putz around my apartment a bit, tidying up and planning a couple of outfits for the week. For dinner, I mix barley I've already cooked with TJ's Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup.
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Daily Total: $0

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — Wake up, shower, have chocolate almond milk and blueberries, and get ready for the day.
9 a.m — I drive to my doctor's office because I need tests done so that I can volunteer at a hospital. I easily find street parking, which makes me happy ($1.50). $1.50
10 a.m. — Afterwards, I treat myself to coffee ($5.30) because I'm proud of how reasonable I've become about blood work. Two years ago it freaked me out so much, and now I trust that the technicians clearly know what they're doing. Plenty of people get their blood drawn every day and survive. $5.30
10:30 a.m. — Can't find parking for a while at work, but remind myself to chill because my boss is quite understanding of people needing to attend to personal things like doctor's appointments. I'll get to work soon enough and take care of what needs to get done.
12:30 p.m. — I finish some QA testing that I've been working on with developers for more than a month. It's exciting to finally wrap it up! I get a seltzer and a bag of Chex Mix from the free office snack collection to celebrate, and then move on to the next project.
2:30 p.m. — For lunch, I heat up an Annie's Broccoli & Cheddar Bake Bowl that I put in the work freezer last week. I'm still feeling meh and in such a funk, with little energy to be productive. I'm not sure what's going, but I try to sing “Just one of them days, don't take it personal” in my head to remind myself that this happens once in a while and it'll be temporary. I text S., one of my best friends, about shopping and continue to be indecisive, but offer to pick up salads from Sweetgreen if we decide to meet up. She says: "Let's do it!"
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6 p.m. — I pick up the salads and she Venmos me for hers before I can even object and tell her it's my treat. We meet at her place and sip grapefruit rosé that's funky at first but then gets really tasty. $10
7:30 p.m. — We go to the mall but don't find any dresses that are sexy enough and within our budgets. As we're about to leave, I find an amazing Free People skirt and a fun jacket on ridiculous sale, so I buy them both. I might return the jacket, though, because it's metallic and gives off a bit of an intergalactic vibe. $38.89
10 p.m. — I'm home, and so glad we saw each other. I don't get to see S. as much since she moved back home last fall (an hour away from where I live) and we're both busy with school. I feel so much better after seeing her.
10:30 p.m. — I go online to see if I can find the amazing Free People skirt in another size/color. The one I bought is blue and a bit big. I know it comes in a beautiful pink — but the store didn't have it in my size. I find the skirt online (still on sale, but not as inexpensive) and buy it in two sizes since I'm not sure what my size is, along with a pair of pants to get free shipping. I plan to return at least one of the skirts. I'm a return queen. $91.59
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Daily Total: $147.28

Day Three

8 a.m. — Wake up after many snoozes, quickly rinse off (I sweat intensely at night) and get dressed for work. I eat a cup of blackberries while putting on makeup, and then drive to work.
9:10 a.m. — I do my usual morning routine: check emails while drinking coffee and eating a crunchy granola bar, both compliments of my office.
12:30 p.m. — Head out for my lunch break to continue the search for a dress for the weekend event. I check out a consignment store and TJMaxx, but don't find anything I like. I'm hungry, so I stop by Whole Foods and get an everything bagel, Fiji tuna salad, and a container of sprouts (because I recently saw a picture of a veggie sandwich on Pinterest with sprouts and it looked nice). Interesting combination of flavors, but it turns out pretty good and I'm really full! $7.05
5:30 p.m. — After working on ongoing projects, it's time for the work day to be over, and I head to therapy! I started with this therapist about two months ago and found out last week that she's being relocated, which is a bummer, because I've really enjoyed her therapeutic style. Seems like I'll be paired with another therapist for future sessions. I normally pay with my FSA debit card, but I misplaced it this week, so I pay the copay with another card. $25
6:45 p.m. — I catch up with my roommate and heat up a mug of barley and tomato roasted red pepper soup to have with wine for dinner. Then I explore my closet and try on combinations of dresses and heels that I already own to see if there's anything I can make work for this weekend. I have a decent option, but still want to find something fun if possible before Saturday. I spend the rest of the night browsing random things on the Internet before going to bed around 10:30.
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Daily Total: $32.05

Day Four

7:45 a.m. — I wake up after many snoozes, quickly shower, and get dressed for work. I braided my hair last night before bed so that it'd be crimpy today, which I like doing once in a while to switch up my look with minimal effort. I eat a few blackberries and throw sad carrots and a wrinkly red pepper in my bag and drive to work.
9:10 a.m. — I check emails while drinking coffee and eating the usual crunchy granola bar. Notice a few texts from someone I went on a couple of dates with last month; I'd thought things were done! Hmmm...
11 a.m. — I have a bit of a stressful morning meeting. I need to come up with crafty, more automated solutions for a colleague to lessen her workload. I have a seltzer and bag of Chex Mix (courtesy of my office kitchen) after the meeting to get energized to work on the project.
12 p.m. — I find out that we're ordering lunch in! This happens at least every other week, and I'm always grateful when it does. I get a Greek salad with tuna. I usually try not to eat too much tuna, but I'm a pescatarian, so my lunch options with protein from the places we mostly order from are limited . I really enjoy eating lunch with a few of my coworkers — on some days, work drags me down, but on other days, like today, I laugh so hard that my stomach hurts.
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1:30 p.m. — I head back to the hospital for a follow-up read from Tuesday. I again find parking relatively easily and pay the meter. After my appointment, I speed-walk through a store across the street because I still have 10 minutes left on the meter. I look through their dress selection quickly, but don't find anything exciting. $1
2:15 p.m. — I have class tonight and realize on my drive back to work that an afternoon coffee sounds pretty ideal. I try a new-to-me iced coffee flavor that's nice enough. $2.35
4:30 p.m. — I head to class. I work at the university where I take classes, and receive tuition remission as a benefit. I would not be able to afford school right now if it weren't for this benefit. Whenever I hear people questioning how to finance their higher education, I suggest that they check out whether they can work at the school. The degree I'm working on now would cost $120,000 in credits. The part-time route is taking me longer than it would an average student, but the time sacrifice feels very much worth it to me.
6:30 p.m. — After class, I swing by AutoZone to buy gas-line antifreeze ($4.24). I talked to my dad the other night about proactive care for my car, and he recommended this (and a few other things) since I drive short distances regularly. I fill up my tank at a gas station down the street ($33.65). I really don't have as intense as of need for my car as I did with my work/school/internship schedule last year, but I still drive almost every day for work and errands. Even though I live in a city with decent public transportation, I really cherish the freedom and alone time that I get from having a car. $37.89
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7 p.m. — I go to Trader Joe's and buy bread, yogurt, goat cheese, masala simmer sauce, figs, frozen naan, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, blackberries, an onion, and Dark Chocolate Orange Sticks. $30.88
7:45 p.m. — When I get home, I'm not super hungry, but I have a feeling I won't want a full dinner later, so I blend frozen bananas and almond butter to make a bowl of imitation ice cream to eat. I cook a bunch of lentils and wild rice and add masala simmer sauce, which I then divide into leftover containers. Woohoo — lunches and dinners for the next few days! My rice usually turns out super mushy, but I found a tip online to cook it more like pasta, with excess water that you drain once the texture is right, and it turns out great.
8:30 p.m. — I Venmo my dad because I asked him to pick up flowers from me for his wife's birthday yesterday. Seemed like a better idea than ordering flowers online to be delivered (they live in Texas). He was happy to help and she loved them! $20
9 p.m. — Check in on work emails and Craigslist. I'm trying to find a new place to live for this coming September. My roommate got into business school in California, so she's moving there at the end of the summer. I'm hoping to find a perfect spot that's convenient for the different directions I'll be going in next year (for work and school) with fun roommates. I'll feel like I won the lottery if I find a place with a washer and dryer in-unit too. Boston can be a tricky and competitive place to find apartments, so I'm stalking housing posts to find myself a gem.
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10 p.m. — I get ready for bed. I'm aiming to get some quality Zzzs tonight.
Daily Total: $92.12

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — Wake up and shower. I eat toast with Everything But The Bagel seasoning, blackberries, and Dark Chocolate Orange Sticks while putting together a lunchbox. Then I put dry shampoo in my hair and and get dressed while jamming out to Lizzo before driving to work.
9 a.m. — Go through emails and drink the office coffee.
12 p.m. — Tea, carrots, and Chex Mix break. Have to turn down an invite from S. to get lunch, even though it sounds like a dream to get burritos and sit outside.
2 p.m. — I've made great progress on the tricky project from yesterday! I go outside for a quick walk to get fresh air and a few sun beams on my face. I warm my lentils and rice and get back to work.
6 p.m. — I'm taking a weekend seminar class that meets a couple of times each semester, and this is our final weekend meeting for the spring! The professor gives us a couple of short breaks and doesn't mind people eating during class. I enjoy my sprout, goat cheese, and cucumber sandwich and catch up with classmates who I haven't seen in a month.
8:30 p.m. — Home finally! Eat more Dark Chocolate Orange sticks with lime tortilla chips and enjoy rosé while trying to decide on a Netflix comedy to watch. Can't find anything I'm in the mood for, so I go to bed by 9:30 p.m.
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Daily Total: $0

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — I take a shower, make a quick lunchbox and coffee, and drive to class.
9 a.m. — It's an odd feeling being at school early on a Saturday morning! But I like this schedule better than meeting every week at night. The professor is amazing, as a teacher and as a human — he brings us bagels on Saturday mornings, so I enjoy an everything bagel with veggie cream cheese.
12 p.m. — We get a lunch break and I eat carrots, yogurt, cherries, and a sprout, goat cheese, and cucumber sandwich again.
3 p.m. — After class, I stop by HomeGoods for a couple of things but realize that I don't have my wallet on me — definitely a reliable money-saving tactic!
3:30 p.m. — I take a walk to my public library to pickup a book my therapist recommended last week. Turns out I put the book on hold at another location by mistake! Decide to keep the walk going and call my mom to see how she's doing. It's so glorious outside, and I'm pumped after catching up with her. I have an email offer for 50% off a coffee at a nearby coffee shop, and have a small amount of money left in credit at the place, so I get an afternoon pick-me-up. I leave a dollar in the tip jar, because the guys behind the counter are very cheery. $1.35
6 p.m. — S. comes over to get ready for the school social event and we order takeout sushi from down the street. I have $10 off from Grubhub. We order seaweed salad, two substantial sushi rolls, and miso soup. S. brought over wine, so we have ourselves a lovely little dinner. We catch up and do our traditional jam out to "Can't Stop The Feeling!" by JT while realizing that our outfits match in a hilarious way. $18.36
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8:45 p.m. — We head to the event downtown. S. gets the a Lyft Line ($12) there. The event turns out to be super fun, and includes free drink tickets!
12 a.m. — After a few hours of dancing, we need to change shoes. I get us a Lyft back to my neighborhood and text L. to see if she wants to meet up with us and continue the night. $21.78
12:15 a.m. — We're considering a few different spots, and decide on a dive bar with food. We each get a sour and share sweet potato tots and pretzels. I put the food and my drink on my card while S. leaves a cash tip. $31.57
Daily Total: $73.06

Day Seven

10 a.m. — S. and I walk to a wonderful donut shop down the street. It's finally nice outside, and it's amazing. We run into a friend of a friend and have our donuts and coffee with him at an outside table — life is a dream. It's a pricey spot for just a coffee and donut, but we haven't been since last summer, so I enjoy the luxury. $7.96
1 p.m. — I drive to meet up with friends from college at a trendy lunch spot on the other side of town that I rarely get to. It's nice to see them, but it's also a helpful reminder of why I don't see them more often. (I don't leave lunch feeling that great about myself.) But the black bean sandwich I got was delicious! $18.16
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3 p.m. — I'm feeling inspired by the amazing weather, and go to a garden store that I've been meaning to check out. My sister and I recently traveled to the Netherlands and stayed with an adorable Dutch couple at a bed and breakfast. They had a “string of pearls” plant in their kitchen that was also adorable, so I buy a plant like it to remind me of them and the time we spent there. $21.23
6 p.m. — I'm sore from dancing and drinking. One of my favorite instructors teaches a Sunday evening restorative yoga class about a mile from my apartment, and it's wonderful. I use ClassPass credits to take it. It's a perfect way to wrap up the weekend.
8 p.m. — By the time I walk back from class, I'm pretty hungry, so I have rice with tomato and red pepper soup and a couple of dark chocolate peanut butter cups. I lay down on the couch and check out social media and random articles. I eventually get off the couch to shower and get to bed around 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $47.35
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