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A Week In Boston, MA, On A $90,000 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.

Today: a data engineer who makes $90,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a West Elm dresser.

Occupation: Data Engineer
Industry: Retail
Age: 23
Location: Boston, MA
Salary: $90,000
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,239




Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,850 (my half of a one-bedroom with my boyfriend, R.)
Loans: $0 (Scholarships and my parents helped cover undergrad, and I paid for grad school in cash with the help of work-education assistance.)
401(k): ~$500
Adobe Creative Cloud: $21.24 (for freelance graphic design)
Spotify Student with Hulu: $4.99
Utilities/Internet: ~$70
Patreon: $5 (I give this to a YouTuber I follow who lost her job.)
Netflix: $0 (thanks, Dad)
Health Insurance: $0 (thanks, Dad)
Renter’s Insurance: $197/year









Day One

9:30 a.m. — Up and ready to go. My boyfriend’s parents and grandma are coming into the city for church and brunch, and we need to do some serious cleaning before they come up.

12:30 p.m. — Church is out, time for a Frank Sinatra jazz brunch. His grandma is a big Sinatra fan and wanted to check it out. I order corned beef hash and eggs and a coffee. The live jazz makes me feel like I’m on a cruise, but brunch is surprisingly good. R.’s parents pay.

3 p.m. — We hang out with R.’s family on our roof deck, then start on Sunday chores when they head out. I order Prime Now groceries (tomatoes, arugula, pico de gallo, lemons, limes, kale, peppers, potatoes, broccoli, almond milk, whole milk, butter, eggs, Brie, jam, blue chips, ruffled potato chips, crackers, prosciutto, bacon, chicken, ground beef, chicken sausage, chili mac, pasta sauce, beans, rice, chicken broth, tortillas, and cold cuts) ($83.36 with tip for my half), then browse for furniture. We moved in together two months ago and are still working on decorating. Floor lamp and salt-and-pepper shakers from Target, ordered ($60.01 for my half). Then we pick out a bed set from West Elm, which we’ll wait for Labor Day sales to buy. $143.37

6 p.m. — I’m on a productivity roll, so I head down to the gym. I do 2,500 steps on the StairMaster while watching a Vice documentary about MLMs (distraction is my key to cardio) and an arm workout.

8 p.m. — We grill chicken, make a salad (kale, beans, corn, pico, and blue chips) and have dinner together on the patio. It’s a beautiful night that leaves me feeling extra lucky.

10:30 p.m. — Night routine: Fresh Soy Face Cleanser, glycolic acid toner, lactic acid, a retinol serum, and moisturizer. I have had pretty bad acne on and off since middle school. I’ve been on Accutane twice, along with tons of other treatments. A couple years ago I got tired of taking oral medicine and have been experimenting with my own routines. This one caused a major purge at first, but has been working well.

Daily Total: $143.37

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — I wake up to an email about a free yoga class in our building. I love this place. When I get out of bed, I do my standard makeup routine (Bare Minerals powder foundation, NARS blush, BareMinerals bronzer, Anastasia brow gel, and Clinique mascara), then eat Frosted Mini Wheats with cherries and almond milk.

8:30 a.m. — Ten-minute walk to work, where I make iced coffee, then start on a code review.

12 p.m. — Lunch (rice with leftover beans, corn, chicken, and pico) outside on the patio with coworkers. So nice to get some midday sun.

1 p.m. — Thank God some of my afternoon meetings are canceled. Continue on the code review.

3 p.m. — I’m getting hungry and a bunch of fresh fruit just got delivered, so I buy a packet of peanut butter from the snack closet and eat it with a banana. $0.97

5 p.m. — I log into an old 401(k) that I need to roll over to my IRA, and all the money is gone. What the hell? I call the company, which directs me to the company my former employer moved it to, which directs me to yet another company where my money supposedly is. They send me a ton of forms to get the IRA transfer through.

5:30 p.m. — I head home, grab a book, and head down to a park down the street to read by the harbor. When the sun goes down, I move to the bonfire across the walkway. I wish I didn’t just find out about this park.

7:30 p.m. — I get home and make cauliflower gnocchi with R. I read a bit more on the couch and fall asleep early.

Daily Total: $0.97

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — Wake up, makeup, and try on a new dress and pair of pants that were delivered yesterday. The pants are so cute, but the dress makes me look like Ms. Frizzle. Definite return. Cheerios with cherries and almond milk and do some dishes before I head out the door.

8:30 a.m. — I get to work and pour myself a big glass of water. Let’s see if I can skip coffee today.

10:15 a.m. — That’s a definite no. I make an iced coffee.

12 p.m. — I eat a salad outside with coworkers. Cannot stress enough how important this break in the sun is for me.

3 p.m. — Tons of meetings today. I snack on some Fig Newtons and work through setting up the dev version of our app on my phone.

4 p.m. — Warby Parker emails me that they need one more measurement to fill my order. I broke my glasses last week and am sick of wearing contacts every day, so I do the measurement right away. It involves holding a credit card under my nose and moving around in my webcam — I hope no one in the office is looking at me.

5 p.m. — Head out on the T so I can get to Cambridge in time for a tech meetup. I never go to these, but this one is so on the nose for me, I feel like I can’t pass it up. Strange mix of attendees, but the presentation is great and I get some free pizza. I think about staying around to talk to the presenter after, but he is surrounded by people and I feel like I’ve been productive enough for the day, so I leave. $2.50

7:30 p.m. — It’s my friend’s birthday, so I walk across the river to meet her at a bar. The sunset over the city is unreal. I’m a bit early and hungry, so I pick up kale Caesar and peaches from Dig Inn. $7

8:30 p.m. — At the bar I get a drink and try to buy my friend one, but the bartender won’t let me get two drinks at a time. I end up getting another drink for me and Venmo her $10 to get a drink on me next time. $32.10

11 p.m. — I Lyft home, where I fall asleep on the couch and skip my night routine. Oops — maybe a night off from all the acid is a good thing. Definitely a good enough excuse for my sleepy self. $10

Daily Total: $51.60

Day Four

6 a.m. — Why is my phone buzzing this early in the morning? I open it to see a dozen Slacks from a remote QA engineer in a different time zone. I’m so thankful she’s there to validate my work, but it’s hard to remember that when you’re woken up at 6, having your mistakes pointed out. I star the messages to deal with later and go back to bed.

8:30 a.m. — In the mood for a chocolate croissant this morning, so I stop at a café on my way into work. I don’t see any so I go for a bacon one, then turn the corner and see the sweet pastries in a different case. Too late, oh well. I also get a coffee. $8.77

12 p.m. — Lunch interview! Interviewing used to be my least favorite part of work, but I’m getting better and love a comped lunch. ($47.06 expensed)

4 p.m. — I have a full afternoon of meetings and training people, and I am wiped.

5:30 p.m. — We break out into a Nerf gun fight, and eventually I head out. When I get home I do laundry, have a snack, and call West Elm to see if the stores are running any discounts on the dresser set we want. Then I FaceTime my mom for a while to catch up and talk about weekend plans.

7:30 p.m. — R. gets home right as I head out for a free massage (again — I LOVE this building) and then to the gym. I do 1,700 steps while watching Bon Appétit Gourmet Makes and then arms. I skip my stretch because it’s just me and another man in the yoga room, and I am getting mildly weird vibes. R.’s dinner smells so good when I get back, so I ask him to save me some and take a quick shower. I have a bite of his food, then an egg, tomatoes, toast, and arugula with Everything but the Bagel seasoning for dinner.

10 p.m. — My last grad-school class starts next week, so I take a final look at available classes I can use for my elective. Right now I’m signed up for a twice-a-week night class about statistics, but I notice a research seminar that meets for an afternoon every other week. I really want to take this class, so I register for both to save my spot and set a reminder to ask my boss if I can move around my schedule and swing the afternoon class when he gets back from vacation. I call my sister, talk to R. for a while, then head to bed.

Daily Total: $8.77

Day Five

7:50 a.m. — Wake up and cuddle for a while, then start my morning routine. No mascara for me today, because my eyes are so dry and desperately tired of contacts. Warby Parker, where are you? I make a smoothie, do laundry, then put dirty dishes into what I realize too late is definitely a clean dishwasher. Oops. I run that again and head out.

9 a.m. — Only realize at 8:58, when I am walking in, that I have a 9 a.m. meeting today. Yikes. For the rest of the morning, I work on some stats for an A/B test and make myself an iced latte.

11 a.m. — I do another two interviews. I seriously love doing coding tests, especially for men more senior than me. It’s fun to make people sweat a bit.

12 p.m. — I take my laptop outside for lunch (leftovers from yesterday) while reading Money Diaries and monitoring jobs.

3 p.m. — I’m going to a conference in Vegas in a couple months, so I book my hotel ($600.93 expensed). Those leftovers are not doing it, so I get a salami-wrapped cheese stick and pretzels from the snack closet. $3.29

4 p.m. — Warby Parker sends me a charge for my glasses — that means they’re coming soon! $145

6:30 p.m. — Home. I grill broccoli and potatoes, then heat up the last of the corn and beans from earlier this week. There are fireworks in the park tonight, so I pack up my dinner and head down to watch them. I text R. to bring the friends he is out with to watch, but they are still at dinner. Watching fireworks alone makes me a bit self-conscious, and I regret not thinking to text my friends to come over earlier, but they are beautiful and I get over myself quickly. When they’re over I walk home and meet up with R. and his friends to sit out on the roof and enjoy the rest of the night.

Daily Total: $148.29

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — Morning routine and out the door. When I moved in with R., my lease on my old apartment had another three months on it, and it is up tomorrow. I’ve had a subletter in my room for the summer, and she moves her stuff out today, but I need to get my furniture after she’s out. I haven’t been in the apartment all summer, and neither have the two roommates I am friends with, and I’m a little nervous about what I will find.

9:15 a.m. — Bagel Friday! I get through some work before meetings.

12 p.m. — I’m presenting at a lunch and learn for marketing, which means free Dig Inn. I have a bowl with chicken, broccoli, cauliflower, and the kale Caesar (my FAVE). I had no idea it was vegan — my only complaint about it was all the cheese, and it’s been cauliflower this whole time.

1:30 p.m. — My coworkers can see how stressed I am about my move, so I head out early to just get things going. When I get to the apartment, which I expected to be empty, two of the bedrooms have random people’s belongings in them. What the hell is going on? My roommates all moved to different cities this summer, so I feel like I have to manage the move-out, and I did not see this coming.

3 p.m. — One of my roommates, C., is here from D.C. to close things up and has figured out who is in one of the rooms. One of our subletters let someone else stay when she moved out. Not cool, but we text her and tell her she needs to leave tonight. Now just one mystery squatter. My subletter hasn’t moved her stuff out, so I can’t start moving my furniture yet. After cleaning out everything in the common rooms, I feel like there’s nothing left I can do, so I head out to run some errands.

4 p.m. — West Elm is doing a Labor Day promo for their credit cards that gives you 20% back on top of the 25% off. I apply in store, call R. to confirm we want to go for it, and buy the dresser and desk. We spring for assembly on both, for the sake of our relationship ($691.32 for my half). I treat myself to a mini scoop of vegan s’mores ice cream ($4.75) before taking the T home ($2.50). $698.57

6 p.m. — Quick nap on the couch, then regroup with R. on our moving plan. I get an email from Zipcar saying the cargo van I rented for tomorrow has been changed out for a VW Golf. There is no way my queen bed, ottoman, and rug are going to fit in a Golf, and R. calms me down and takes charge. He thinks it’s better to move tonight than have to deal with August 31 in Boston (if you know, you know). I cancel the Zipcar, set a reminder to make sure they give me a full refund, and we head out to grab some dinner before our midnight move.

8 p.m. — After dinner ($17 for my half), we head over to my old apartment and start moving. Still no sign of the mystery roommate, but I decide that is a problem for tomorrow. I will not miss living in a sixth-floor walk-up. $17

1:30 a.m. — After two trips and a very carefully tied mattress-on-the-roof situation (thank God I date an engineer), we are home and in bed. Moving our temporary furniture out of this place will be a future project.

Daily Total: $715.57

Day Seven

9 a.m. — Up and ready to see what my old apartment has in store for me today. I don’t even bother to brush my hair or put on makeup before heading out to get breakfast. I get a breakfast sandwich, a latte, a thank-you pastry for R., and an apple croissant for later ($29.07). I take the T over ($2.50) and watch people going to the Straight Pride Parade. Ugh. $31.57

10 a.m. — Whoever is in this room has not moved or packed anything. I text the roommate who lived in that room, K., asking what the plan is, and she thought this girl had moved out. This is not good. I find her on Facebook and send a message, then do some final cleaning of the common areas. Doing what I can.

11 a.m. — Still no word. I call my dad to ask for advice and end up crying on the phone with him. I really want this security deposit back and have no idea how to proceed with dealing with a stranger’s laptop, clothes, and other personal belongings, besides leaving them for the building to throw away.

12 p.m. — I reach out to this girl’s friends on Facebook, add her on LinkedIn, follow her on Insta. I’m determined to get in contact with her, but it’s not working. K. says she texted her but hasn’t sent an update. A friend comes to pick up some of the common-room furniture, and talking through it with someone calms me down a bit.

1 p.m. — The apartment is fully cleared out besides this room. I’ve been hanging out with the cleaning ladies the building hired while they wait to be able to clean, and feel bad that they can’t do anything. They’re enjoying the forced paid break. I take another look into the room and notice there are a few designer purses in the corner. Who is this person? Where is this person?

2 p.m. — One of her friends gets back to me and lets me know she is on her way. Phew. Still so many questions.

2:45 p.m. — She’s here. We’re supposed to be out by 5. We will see how this goes.

3:30 p.m. — There’s not much I can do, and I am getting a little dizzy, so I walk to Whole Foods to make a salad ($9.52). On the way I grab a free ice pop from Comcast. Loving this marketing strategy. When I get back, I put in my change of address with USPS ($1.02). They charge for this? $10.54

4:30 p.m. — She’s out but did not take any of the furniture in the room, which K. told me she would. This is a joke. R. drives over to help with the mattress while I sprint up and down the stairs to bring it all out to the curb. I’ve been subconsciously preparing for this all month with my StairMaster/arms kick at the gym. I don’t have time to be mad right now, but know I am going to have a whole slew of emotions roll over me once I hand in these keys. I hand them in with minutes to spare. I text C., and we talk about how pissed we are about how this all went down. She Venmos me $10 to buy myself a drink.

6 p.m. — Sitting on my couch in a robe drinking a glass of wine. Not planning on moving until I have to go back to work on Tuesday.

8 p.m. — R. persuades me to get up so we can get dinner. We walk past a public tango event on the way and stop to dance. Today has been a roller coaster.

9:30 p.m. — After dinner ($9.50 for my half), we head back to the apartment and some friends come over. We drink beers on the rooftop and compare moving stories. I set myself a reminder to make a donation to Pine Street Inn, a Boston-based shelter, tomorrow. My moving situation, though definitely unique and mildly stressful, reminds me how lucky I am to have a place like this to come home to. $9.50

Daily Total: $51.61

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