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December 16, 2010

What It Costs to Be Me

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two women drinking coffee

Photo Credit: Mark Leibowitz

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Heidi Dickson, 26, San Francisco, California

Occupation: Project manager for a health-care company

Annual income: $102,000

Average income for a woman in the U.S: $36,278

Home, sweet home: "I live in a 900-square-foot two-bedroom in Russian Hill with high ceilings, big windows, wood floors. We even have a washer/dryer in the bathroom, which is rare. The rent is $2,800 per month, which I split with my roommate."

Bills, bills, bills: "Though I have a BlackBerry for work, I also own an iPhone — can't live in San Francisco without one — which costs me $95 per month. Pacific Gas & Electric is $75 per month, as is cable. My student loans are $150 a month, but I'm paying $200 so they get paid off quicker."

Meal plan: "For lunch, I grab a salad from a café, which costs between $9 and $14. After work, I'll head to happy hour, have a few drinks, maybe buy a round for friends, then go out to a restaurant. I'll take a cab there and back. A night out like that costs me between $75 and $100."

The weekender: "Last week I went on an art crawl. On Saturday night I hit the bars. Last call is at 2, and then we'll grab a bite to eat. If I go over $150, that's a bad night."

Only in the U.S.: "I grew up on a farm in North Dakota. When I first got to college and saw that you could order pizza without driving 30 miles to get it, I went crazy. We used to have family dinners at home; my mom would cook them, and they were great. But now I'm all about going out."

Shoe index: "I own a pair of cute leather Hispanitas boots that were originally $300, which I got for half that because a friend of mine worked in the store. I do not spend a lot of money on shoes. The only thing I'll spend real money on is jeans. The perfect pair makes you feel amazing."

The road to recovery: "The recession hasn't affected me at all. Same for my friends. Restaurants are still open, people are still going out. Have I changed my behavior? Nope."

Checks and balances: "When I first joined the working world, I got into $4,000 worth of debt. Paying it off was horrible and took the fun and joy out of my new job. I promised myself I would never do that again. Now I rarely ever have more than a $100 balance on my card."


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