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February 7, 2013

What It Costs to Be Me

girl with horse

Photo Credit: Nancy Newberry

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Jen Boulden, 39, Los Angeles, California

Occupation: Entrepreneur, green-living consultant

Annual income: More than $200,000

Home, sweet home: "I live in Silver Lake, the hipster area, in a three-bedroom house that I bought in 2009. When I renovated, I spent an obscene amount — $400,000, four times my budget! I was able to cash in some investments to cover it. Now my home office overlooks my chicken coop in the backyard."

Bills, bills, bills: "I pay $120 a month for my cell phone, $150 for cable, and $400 for a housekeeper. I've owned my Volkswagon Jetta since 2006; it gets 44 miles per gallon, so I go weeks without filling up."

Meal plan: "I have eggs from my chickens for breakfast and a smoothie for lunch. I go to an organic salad bar, about $12, for dinner."

The weekender: "I entertain a lot. On Saturday, I'm throwing a potluck dinner for one of my best friends. The guests will bring the food, I'll get the alcohol: 10 bottles of wine for about $100."

Only in Los Angeles: "Water's expensive here, and I wanted to reduce my consumption for environmental reasons. Xeriscaping, which uses native plants and drought-tolerant landscaping, cut my water bill 70 percent, to $75 a month."

Big splurge: "I own a horse, an Appendix named Lou; she cost $8,500. It's not for the faint of heart, this sport. Whenever little girls come pat Lou, I tell their parents, 'Run!'"

The shoe index: "I bought a pair of $850 Sigerson Morrison wedges for $250 on eBay. I love them, even though they hurt."

The view from the ground: "The recession hurt my business doing startup consulting and advising on green living; people were focused on putting food on the table. Going green for the sake of it doesn't fly; the changes need to be cost-comparable and convenient. My friends come over, see the tankless water system, and say, 'I want one.' It's not because they're green; it's because it saves money." —Lea Goldman

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