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June 22, 2011

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

woman in food truck

Photo Credit: Clayton Hauck

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Jennifer Green, 26
Los Angeles, California
Occupation: Chef, co-owner of the NomNom Truck
Annual income: $70,000
Average income in Los Angeles: $42,818
Home, sweet home: "My boyfriend and I share a three-bedroom house. We split the $2,000 rent. He takes care of the utilities, and I handle the food, which is about $100 a week for groceries. We have a pretty good-size backyard for our Hungarian vizsla, Bailey."
Bills, bills, bills: "I pay $200 a month for my Internet and cell phone, and another $150 for my car. My goal is to pay off my student loans — I've got about $15,000 left — within the next two years."
Meal plan: "I get free food when I meet with suppliers. My bread vendor gave me enough chocolate croissants to last for two weeks. And I don't eat out that much because I like experimenting with new ingredients and recipes. I've got a black truffle someone gave me in the freezer as we speak!"
The weekender: "I work on Saturdays, driving around with the truck to a couple of locations. On Sundays, I like to get organized at home, maybe hit a farmers' market. Then I'll go to a karaoke bar, where I usually spend $100 on the room and drinks. My 'Bohemian Rhapsody' is a crowd-pleaser."
Only in Los Angeles: "It's etiquette among all the trucks to share their food with each other. So I rarely pay for lunch when I'm working. But I do try to limit how much of it I eat — a lot of it is pretty fattening."
My big splurge: "The steam and oil from the grills suck my skin dry. So I use argan oil on my face. It costs $30 a bottle but is totally worth it."
The shoe index: "I got these very cool Rachel Comey cowboy boots for $220. Most days I wear jeans and sneakers."
The view from the ground: "People don't have a lot to spend, so I've tried hard to keep the prices low. But food costs are rising across the board, and my business is often squeezed. It's a real battle to make it all work."

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