How a Boston Woman Making $65K Really Lives

Even if you balance your bank account on the regular, it feels impossible to keep track of where every single dollar earned goes. That’s why we’re asking real women around the country to share the details of their spending habits over the course of a month. Next up, we’re talking with a recently married 27-year-old account manager working in tech in the Boston area. (Did we mention she’s also a part-time grad student and she and her husband just bought their first house?) Read on to learn more about how she spends her cash.

Her Annual Salary: $65,000 (plus, a performance-based commission of $165 to $1,600 per month)
Her Average Monthly Take-Home Pay: $4,500
His Annual Salary: $100,000
His Average Monthly Take-Home Pay: $9,000 (His work is commission-based, so his take-home pay varies.)

$1,181. The total cost per month is $2,362. Overall, we split everything we share down the middle. My husband has a bigger commission cushion than I do, so he pays to ensure we’re not late and then I pay him back.

Home Renovations and Repairs
$1,000. We moved into an old house that was flipped, so we expected to have very low renovation expenses. However, we’ve had a lot of unexpected issues. For example, we ran out of propane on day two of moving, our pipes froze on day three, we had water pouring out of the walls a month later from an improper installation. The list goes on. We’ve definitely saved a lot by doing things ourselves (my husband is very handy) and prioritizing what we need to do right now. We also put down a smaller down payment when we bought our home and kept a cushion of $10,000, which we had thought we’d put toward decor and fun improvements. Someday, when we have more money, we’ll do the “would be nice to do” renovations.

Home Decor
$100. Since we moved, we have “spent” about $5,000 furnishing our place, but a lot of it is financed. For example, Jordan’s Furniture offers five-year, zero-percent financing on purchases. We also saved gift cards that were given to us at our wedding, which has helped a lot. Still, setting a budget per month was important. I always get into trouble at places like HomeGoods, where everything is so cheap. The hardest thing about buying a home is that you immediately want to fill it and make it look like a Pinterest board before friends come over—but it’s unbelievably expensive.

$125. The total cost is $250 for the two of us, but it varies widely depending on how much propane we use. We would love to move to solar at some point but can’t afford the up-front cost right now.

$200. We both drive to work, so this money goes toward gas. (We budget about $400 total just to be safe.) Neither of our cars are particularly fuel-efficient, and we each spend between two to three hours a day commuting, so we fill up at least once a week.

$500. Thankfully, neither of us has any credit-card debt, but I have about $40,000 in student loans. I’m in school, so technically those are in deferment, which helps. I pay about $400 a month toward that and the other $100 goes toward my car loan.

$0. Sadly, nothing right now. I’m trying to pay down my loan as fast as I can and keep my head above water.

Hair Care
$250. But I’ve been known to go six months without a haircut or color simply because I can’t afford to drop a few hundred dollars on myself.

$450. This comes directly out of my paycheck.

$300. We budget about $150 a week, so the total spent between the two of us is $600.

Medical Expenses
$125. This covers monthly insurance and copays.

$0. I can’t remember the last time I went shopping without having a specific event to go to. When I do have a reason to shop—for example, a big trip, work clothes for a new job, etc.—I’ll spend between $300 to $500.

Pet Care
$375. (Total spent is $750.) Oh my gosh, all of our money goes to taking care of our dog. He’s a lab and he eats everything, so we spend a lot of time at the vet, which can run us $65 to $750. (That was a particularly bad day.) We spend about $45 a month on his insurance, $50 a month on his food and about $30 a month on treats and toys. (He destroys them so quickly.) We also spend $400 a month on daycare and are known to spend additional money on things like grooming and bow ties. Just looking at these expenses now makes me feel like I’m going to have a panic attack over how much we spend on him!

$100. We only buy for our immediate families, each other and friends when they have weddings or big events. (For example, they bought a house or got a promotion.) On average, we spend $50 for friends, $100 for family members and anywhere from $200 to $500 on each other for something like Christmas.

$400. I spend about $100 a week between lunch at work ($10 a day), Starbucks and getting dinner and snacks during class. My husband and I also tend to get takeout once a weekend.

Date Night
$0. We very rarely go out to dinner—maybe a few times a year. When we do, we spend about $150 to $200, but we tend to order in more than we go out because of the dog. As a result, we spend about $30 on takeout a weekend.

$500. We have a lot of travel coming up, but we’ve kept it mostly stateside to keep each individual trip less expensive. The $500 covers my airfare and half of the hotel, then we’ll budget $100 a day for whatever we do.

Cell Phone
$50. My husband and I are on a family plan with his family. We each contribute $50 a month to that.

$20. This is my half of the cost to cover our Netflix, Spotify Premium and Audible accounts. (We spend $40 total a month.)

$75. (Total spent is $150.) I try not to ever spend more than $10 per bottle. I’ll go up to $13 if I know it’s for a dinner party. We’re at a stage in life where we tend to have people over a lot for wine and apps (like fancy cheeses) or even dinner, so wine is always involved.

Charitable Giving
$25. No regular spending on this right now, but I will donate to a friend’s cause when applicable.

Unexpected Expense of the Month
$114. Our dog was sick for no reason all day on a Sunday. The vet was closed, so we had to take him to the emergency vet. The bill was $479, but insurance covered $251 of it. We split the rest.

Wild-Card Splurge
$150. I needed new face wash and makeup, so I hit up Sephora. I like to pretend it’s an investment in my skin.

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