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June 22, 2011

What It Costs to Be Me: U.S. Edition

couple at bar

Photo Credit: Clayton Hauck

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Tashanea "T." Whitlow, 27
Boston, Massachusetts
Occupation: Event emcee and actress
Annual income: $55,000
Average income in Boston: $53,713
Home, sweet home: "I rent a $1,500-a-month, three-bedroom duplex near downtown, which I share with my younger brother. I have a walk-in closet, a patio off my bedroom, and enough space to have 10 friends over for cocktails every so often."
Bills, bills, bills: "Because I'm basically a freelancer, I have a lot of overhead. I pay $120 a month for my BlackBerry — which I absolutely need for work — another $200 per month for utilities. My car costs me $350 a month, and I owe about $15,000 in student loans, which is killing me."
Meal plan: "I entered the Miss Massachusetts pageant last year, which required that I maintain a really disciplined diet. I still try to keep that regimen — only five small power meals a day. I buy everything in bulk, so I only have to go food shopping every other week. All told, I spend roughly $300 a month on groceries."
The weekender: "I'll usually start a big night at my boyfriend's favorite cigar bar. My drink of choice, Sapphire & ginger, costs about $14. But since I know many of the bartenders, I usually get free drinks. Even still, it's not uncommon for me to drop about $250 on a Saturday night."
Only in Boston: "By law, if you live in Massachusetts, you need to have health insurance. But it's still too expensive for me. I haven't been penalized yet, but I know I need to take care of that ASAP."
My big splurge: "My hair, definitely. My extensions cost $250, plus another $200 to have them put in. I get that done every few months. Being beautiful doesn't come cheap."
The shoe index: "I bought a pair of Gucci kitten heels for $350. I only wear those for business."
The view from the ground: "Last year, when everyone was complaining how bad things were, I had my best year ever. I was booked for radio, acting gigs, and conventions. This year's been slower, but I'm still getting steady work."

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