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A Week In Boston, MA, On $25,000 A Year

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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.

Today: a journalist who makes $25,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on earrings.

Occupation: Journalist
Industry: Media
Age: 23
Location: Boston, MA
Salary: $25,000
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $752.77
Gender Identity: Woman





Monthly Expenses
Rent: $700 (I put $400 from each paycheck into my savings so that I don’t touch it, then move it once rent is due. $50 is utilities, whatever is left over stays in my savings)
Student Loans: $152 (I’m paid ahead until January, so I pay whatever amount I can, right now about $25 a paycheck.)
Car Insurance: $96
Health/Dental/Vision: $0 (Thanks mom and dad!)
Phone: $20 (family plan, I pay for my share of data)
Netflix & Hulu: $7 (My share, split between my roommates and I)
Amazon Prime: $0 (Dad loves his one-day shipping)
Savings: $25 (It used to be more when I lived at home, now it’s whatever I can do per paycheck)







Day One

8 a.m. — For once, my alarm wakes me up. My internal clock has been getting me up around 7:30, but I gladly take the extra half hour. I’m at my parents’ house in order to cover an event at 10. I pull myself out of bed and hop in the shower, taking my time with breakfast and a cup of coffee.

10:45 a.m. — After spending time with dogs for part of the morning, my allergies are already getting to me. (I covered a veterinary clinic reopening for the newspaper I work for.) It was small, mostly a photo spread, but a nice event none the less. I get on the Pike and make my way to an interview for a nannying position out in the city. I get to the Starbucks where I’m meeting the parents super early and I haven’t had lunch yet, so I grab an iced tea and a blueberry scone. $7.06

1 p.m. — My interview went well! At least, I think it did. The commute to my job is starting to get to me (it’s an hour and a half), so I’m looking at all sorts of jobs in the Boston area, including nannying. It may not be in my field, but I’m not really sure what I want to do anymore. I think nannying for a year or two would be a good time to think about where to go from here. I head back to my apartment in Boston and put all of my laundry away (perks of commuting to my job back home, I can do laundry for free).

3 p.m. — I’m in the downtown crossing area to check out a bookshop that I’ve always wanted to see. They have carts of books outside for sale for $5 and under. I reload my CharlieCard while I’m at the T station ($20) and realize I’m hungry again since I technically didn’t have lunch. I stop at a coffee shop and grab a sandwich and a water ($10.38). Although I don’t buy anything at the bookshop, I’ve discovered Primark. This place is HUGE and they have everything. I end up caving and buying a light cardigan, a scarf, earrings, and a cute mug ($17.90). I don’t feel as guilty since I didn’t buy any books, I have enough of those. $48.28

6 p.m. — It’s a night in for me. My friends and I went out last weekend and I paid for it the night of and the day after. I paint my nails and catch up on The Great British Baking Show. I end up ordering Chinese food since I have no food in the house, besides pasta, but I’ve had that most nights this week ($25). One of my two roommates, D., is sick, so I stay in my bedroom for the night. I end up watching Between Two Ferns: The Movie, and I laugh so hard the neighbors probably hear me. We also have to catch a mouse, no wonder the cat was sitting in front of the stove all day. I finally fall asleep after 11. $25

Daily Total: $73.28

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — Despite my body waking me up around 7, I forced myself to get more sleep. The light that comes into my apartment bedroom makes it insanely bright, so today’s task is to install curtain rods and light-blocking curtains. I make a breakfast sandwich and coffee and watch Will & Grace, then get ready to run errands.

12:30 p.m. — I’m finally home after picking some stuff up at Target: tissues, liners, and k-cups ($19.23), and Trader Joe’s ($38.02). It’s hard to buy food for packed lunches because I’m not at my apartment most nights during the week, so I’m trying to pack berries and granola, crackers and cheese, stuff that won’t go bad in five days like deli meat. I ended up buying berries, apples, bananas, crackers, a spinach and kale greek yogurt dip, chocolate ice cream, ricotta and lemon zest ravioli, a lettuce mix, tomatoes, cucumber, and some apple smoked chicken sausage. I spend most of the afternoon cleaning and watching the Patriots play. The NFL should just hand over our seventh trophy already. I have my leftover Chinese from last night for lunch, then find myself snacking. I tend to do that a lot of Sundays. Maybe it’s a football thing. $57.25

4 p.m. — Pats win! I celebrate by installing curtain rods, and of course, I have to call my dad for a little bit of guidance, but it turns out I was doing everything right. My apartment is like a billion degrees (yay for living on the third floor!), so I take a shower and feel ten times better. I watch some more Will & Grace and paint my toes. I finally get some gel polish off from my last pedicure, that was a pain to do.

6:45 p.m. — Even though I snacked all day, I’m hungry for a light dinner. I cook some ricotta and lemon zest ravioli from Trader Joe’s and a baked potato. D. asks if I’ve ever watched Peaky Binders (we’re both Irish and proud of it). We end up watching the first three episodes, forcing ourselves to stop after episode three around 10 so we can both get a decent amount of sleep.

Daily Total: $57.25

Day Three

6 a.m. — The one thing I miss about back home is the silence. This morning I was woken up by a truck outside blasting its horn. I live right by a busy intersection so there’s always traffic. I hit snooze on my alarm and get another 45 minutes of sleep before my backup alarm wakes me. Well, kind of — I toss and turn mostly. I get out of bed and wash my face, make a bagel and cream cheese, and start getting ready for work while listening to a My Favorite Murder minisode. I need to be out the door by 7:30. Podcasts help the drives to work go by ten times faster. I pick the newest episode of Chicks in the Office and head out onto the Pike.

9:30 a.m. — I get to work a little later than I planned because of traffic, but it’s fine. When I first started my boss told me I could come in anywhere between 9 and 10, so I try to aim a little after 9. I get into the office and my boss tells me my deadline for one of the papers is bumped to Monday instead of Tuesday, so now I’m rushing to get a story done, which I lost paperwork for, yay! I email my contact to see if they can email it to me. I make some toast with raspberry jam and get to work before I head to the police station for 11:30 to look at the logs. That’s always a fun time, especially since I get along very well with the officer I work with.

1 p.m. — Finally it’s lunchtime. I’m the type of person where I like my lunch at noon and my dinner at five. I have a salad with apple smoked chicken sausage and a banana, and I watch an episode of Will & Grace (I think I watch way too much TV). I finish up an article and work on a press release for a pumpkin patch. I head down to town hall for an interview. The planning coordinator and I get along really well, so it’s an easy visit. When I come back to the office there’s strawberry shortcake! This Monday is turning out to be alright.

4:15 p.m. — I leave the office and head to Walmart on my way home. We’re in desperate need of a drying rack, and my roommates said they cost like $30. What? No, I find one for $12 easily, then pick up some feminine products because it’s about that time ($20.59.) I also fill up my gas tank before heading home ($15). $35.59

6:30 p.m. — FINALLY I’m home after being stuck in traffic. I thought everyone leaves the city after five, not heads into it. Oh well. I walk into my apartment and D. is home, watching another episode of Peaky Blinders, I think I’m going to have to restart that. Their accents are so thick and they talk so quietly most of the time it’s hard to understand them. I eat some of my leftover Chinese and apply to jobs in Boston. It’s been so hard, every place wants 3-5 years experience, which I have if you include my college work, but it seems like that doesn’t make a difference. I can’t give up though. I moved out here for a reason and there’s no turning back now.

9 p.m. — Early night for me, although this is when I usually try to go to bed. I watch a little bit of TV (Will & Grace, duh) and start the new season of Disenchantment. For someone who grew up watching The Simpsons, I’m all for this show. I look up new podcasts for my commute before I power down.

Daily Total: $35.59

Day Four

5:50 a.m. — These room-darkening curtains are a lifesaver, I feel like I’m back home. It’s second summer here in Boston, and my bedroom feels like a sauna, I had my fan blowing on me all night. I take a few minutes to wake up and catch up on my social media, then get out of bed to start getting ready for work. I’m out the door at a decent time and I feel like my shower did nothing because I’m already sweating (third floor remember?). I stop at Dunkin’s and grab an iced coffee. I regularly refill an old gift card so I can get points, and I did it weeks ago, so technically I didn’t spend today.

9:15 a.m. — I walk into the office and am immediately bombarded by voicemails from concerned citizens — a great way to start the morning. I chug my iced coffee and get to work on those police logs, taking one thing at a time.

12 p.m. — Time for lunch! I have more leftover Chinese. I finish up the police logs and have a phone call about a job I applied for, yay! This one pays well so hopefully they like me enough to have me in for an interview. I watch Will & Grace and once I’m finished head down to town hall to speak to the town manager, then to that local vet that reopened to take a picture of a mural. I spend the rest of the afternoon finishing up advances and calls.

3 p.m. — Another job interview set up! I head home, and by home I mean my parents’ house. I have a night meeting to cover so I crash at their place because they can run late and I have to write the article as soon as I get home (Tuesday is also a deadline day). I tell my parents about the interviews and they’re excited, but also bring up nannying, asking what I’d commit to first. I’m overwhelmed and end the conversation. We have chicken pie and mashed potatoes for dinner and my parents start talking about whether volunteer firemen get paid or not. Another round of small-town drama. I leave for my meeting around 6:30.

10:45 p.m. — I am FINALLY done with my work. The town I’m covering has been going through some fire department stuff the past couple of months, so that was the main topic of the night. I get back to my parents’ house around 8:30 and make nachos. Toy Story 2 is on, so I watch a little bit of that before I get to work. The article takes me about an hour to write and I’m about to submit it when I accidentally exit out. Thinking the cloud saved my butt I go to open it back up, but can’t find it. Great, 1,000 words down the tube. I end up finding it in a folder I never use (Macs are weird sometimes), and hit send. I finally go to sleep around 11.

Daily Total: $0

Day Five

9:10 a.m. — I love Wednesdays. I get to sleep in and work from home. All of the editors are in one of our other offices putting the papers together, so there’s no one in my office. My boss is fine with me working from home and kind of being on call. I take my time getting out of bed and then get in the shower. My parents are at work so I’m in no one’s way. I make a bagel with cream cheese and a cup of pumpkin coffee. As soon as I turn on the TV everything is about Trump. I zone out and scroll through social media instead.

12 p.m. — I go to the supermarket I used to work at in my hometown to sort out a paycheck problem. I got paid for my last shift but didn’t get my sick time back. My former boss says she’ll straighten it all out and to go ahead and cash the check I received. I go to the bank and drop it in my checking account — gotta pay off that jacket I bought with my credit card last week. Oops. I pick up some cream cheese and pesto for dinner tonight. $9.58

1:30 p.m. — I’m finally back at my apartment. My roommate, H., has a cat and he’s all over me when I walk through the door. I unpack my stuff and get a chicken breast out of the freezer to defrost for dinner. I’m trying to learn how to cook things besides pasta. I have some berries and cheese and pretzels for lunch before I start my work.

5:30 p.m. — Dinner was a success! I made chicken with a cream cheese and pesto mix then sprinkled mozzarella on top. It came out well! I also forced myself to have a salad with it to use up some veggies. I’m very proud of myself for how it came out. I’m an okay cook, but I’m better at baking. D. and I find Harry Potter on TV and we watch while we eat our dinners.

9:45 p.m. — Does anyone else watch This Is Us and New Amsterdam? I started the new seasons and I’m SHOOK! These shows make me shed a tear every episode. After catching up on the season premieres, I brush my teeth and head straight to bed.

Daily Total: $9.58

Day Six

6 a.m. — I wake up 15 minutes before my alarm went off. Don’t you hate that? I try to sleep for another 15 minutes, but the urge to pee doesn’t help. I get out of bed once my alarm goes off and had to the shower, the cat running straight into my bedroom once I open the door. I’m usually the first one up, which is nice cause I hate feeling like I’m in people’s way. I eat my morning bagel while I get ready for work, make a coffee to go, and am out the door by 7:30.

10:30 a.m. — One of my coworkers made pancakes and French toast, so it’s a second breakfast day! I have chocolate chip pancakes, bacon, and sausage. I look at my day ahead — I have an interview at 3 with a new business in town and I need to set something up with people from my hometown’s town house (or town hall, as most towns call it). The place is falling apart, and it’s nice that they’re trying to do something to fix it up, but my town is full of big dreamers.

12:45 p.m. — I’m still a little full from that second breakfast, but I munch on the berries and Cheese Itz mix I brought in for part of my lunch. My boss asked me to cover an event this evening and I have to say yes. I think about if I want to stay at my parents’ house tonight, but remember I have a job interview in a town closer to Boston tomorrow morning. The event is at 5:30, and I’ll probably be there for about an hour, so I’ll just get back to my apartment late. I save the rest of my lunch for later so I don’t starve. Ten bucks says I buy Taco Bell, though. I have nothing to do until my interview, so I poke around Pinterest and YouTube for a couple of hours.

4:30 p.m. — My interview is short and sweet. There’s a new spiritual shop in one of the towns I cover and the owner is super nice. I’m interested in that kind of stuff, but don’t practice it myself. Everyone leaves the office so I call my mom. I end up crying over the phone frustrated by the job hunt and having to make the choice about nannying. She’s understanding, but is also like “you need to make up your mind.” In a nice way of course. I end up at a restaurant across the street and get a pizza and pumpkin cider, which is surprisingly good. I head to my event, an open house at an elementary school. I love kids and it’s mostly photos so it’ll be an easy assignment. $20

6:30 p.m. — I can finally head home. I fill my car with gas, yet again ($24.55), and I buy a candy bar since I’m still hungry ($2.19). The Pike is terrible. It’s not raining anymore, but all of the mist coming from car back tires is making the drive worse than it already is. I’m getting tired too. I stop at the Natick plaza and buy a water ($2.29). I get to my apartment around 8 and call my mom as I walk down the street. I’m still not used to walking around my neighborhood at night and I’m not sure I ever will. I get ready for bed straight away and I’m out like a light. $29.03

Daily Total: $49.03

Day Seven

6:15 a.m. — I try to sleep in a little bit, but it doesn’t work out. It’s finally cooling down in Massachusetts, which is wonderful because I hate the heat — Fall is my time to shine. It takes me a while to get out of bed because I’m so warm and cozy. I have my job interview today around 9, so and I have plenty of time to get ready. I enjoy my bagel and coffee on the couch and watch the news. Again, all about Trump, but also a gas leak in Lawrence. I straighten my hair and do my makeup, and I’m ready super early. I leave around 8:30.

9:45 a.m. — Welp, that was a waste of my time. Unfortunately, it was a sales position, not marketing like I thought. Am I getting my definitions mixed up? When I think of marketing I think of helping a company sell its product and coming up with campaigns, not going to people’s houses trying to sell them a product. Whatever, they said they’ll call me by the end of the day if they want me for a second round, but I’m going to decline. I’m not that desperate for a job. I head to my office, finally getting there a little past 11.

12 p.m. — I have a sad lunch today. I have leftover crackers and spinach dip, plus a granola bar I find in my bag. I’m not in the best mood after that job interview, so having that as lunch doesn’t help. One of my coworkers asks if I want anything from a local diner, and I jump on it. My other coworker brings me a grilled chicken sandwich and says I owe him $5. Fridays are the worst for me. I’m so bad when it comes to procrastinating and it’s twice as bad at the end of the week. Two of my coworkers decide to go to a restaurant across the street for ciders and I decide to join. It’ll kill time before the event I have to cover at 5:30. I end up paying for my coworker who brought my lunch as repayment. $14.18

7:30 p.m. — Well, the event was at 6 and not 5:30, so I sit in my car for half an hour playing the new Mario Kart app. It’s okay, but I never really got into that game. I have to cover a pep rally event at the local high school, cheerleaders and all, as well as a bonfire. There’s a huge football game against a rival school, so it’s the event of the weekend. I stop at Taco Bell to grab something to eat. I get a quesadilla and a loaded potato ($10.56). I stay up and catch up with my mom while watching TV, then head to bed around 9:30. $10.56

Daily Total: $24.74

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