A Week in Merritt Island on an $80,000 Salary

Welcome to Spending Notes, where we do a weekly deep dive into how our readers spend their cash.

Today: a freelance journalist who makes $80,000 per year

Occupation: freelance journalist

Age: 37

Location: Merritt Island, FL

Salary: $80,000 (approx. $3,077 per pay period)

Day One


Lately, I’ve been really grateful for my job as a freelance journalist, if only because it lets me work from home. Some days, I can even work from bed! Today, though, I’m up, dressed, and working at the kitchen table, since I’ve got a contractor coming by to work on the roof. I spent weeks searching “Merritt Island roofing contractor” before settling on this company to inspect and repair my roof. Since I decided to hire Pro’s Choice Roofing, I‘ve been pleasantly surprised—who knew that a contracting group could be so easy to work with?

Otherwise, I spent the majority of this Monday working on article assignments. I had some leftovers for lunch and made a quick quesadilla for dinner with ingredients I already had on hand. Besides paying my credit card bill, I didn’t have to spend much at all today!

Total: $94

Day Two


Today, I’m interviewing a representative from Alamos Gold, a Canadian gold mining company operating three mines across North America—the Young-Davidson and Island Gold mines in Northern Ontario and the Mulatos mine in Sonora, Mexico—and developing projects in Canada, Mexico, Turkey, and the United States. In particular, my piece is focused on Alamos’ sustainability efforts and commitment to environmental and social responsibility. With these subjects in mind, I made my way to the nearest vegan eatery for dinner. Little steps add up to saving the planet, right?

Total: $23.50

Day Three


On Wednesdays, I typically check in with my various editors, so I’ve got a lot of Zoom conferences on my calendar today. After a few hours of back and forth, I’ve got an updated to-do list of deadlines, revisions, and new projects waiting on the horizon. Which reminds me—I’ve got to renew my subscription to my favorite task management software. I’ve been using this particular program for a full year now, and it hasn’t failed me yet. So, it makes sense to splurge on a lifetime membership instead!

Total: $300

Day Four


Besides my typical workday, today is my least favorite day of the month: my student loan’s due date. After shelling out so much of my paycheck, it’s hard to spend money on much else for a day or two—it just seems like an unnecessary toll on my budget. So, I stick to another at-home favorite: my mom’s bean soup recipe.

Total: $1020

Day Five


As a freelancer, I don’t have to stick to a conventional Monday through Friday, nine to five schedule. So, this week, I’m taking Friday off, since I’m caught up on my various projects and commitments. I use the time to catch up on some personal to-do list items, like my growing pile of clean laundry, clearing my nonwork email inbox, and organizing the fridge. I start the morning by heading out for a fancy coffee, then get home and dive in.

Total: $7.50

Day Six


I spend a few minutes this morning ensuring there are no urgent messages in my work inbox. Then, with no fires to put out, I give myself permission to relax a bit. I put on the latest season of my favorite Netflix series but quickly realize I’ve forgotten how the previous episodes ended. So, I decide to rewatch from the beginning—a great choice as I lose myself in the story all over again. My friend, M., drops by in the evening, and we order pizza and split a bottle of wine while catching up on one another’s lives.

Total: $17.50

Day Seven


Usually, I spend my Sundays preparing for the week ahead, and today is no exception. I run to the grocery store, then do a bit of meal prep before updating my budget and Google calendar. To finish off this week, I give my grandmother a call, and we chat for about an hour before I head to bed.

Total: $72.50

Total for the week: $1,535