A Week in Texas on a $90,000 Salary

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

Today: a lawyer who makes $90,000

Occupation: lawyer

Age: 38

Location: Fischer, TX

Salary: $90,000 (approx. $3,462 per pay period)

Day One


My boyfriend and I recently moved in together, so I’m still unpacking and getting settled in the new-to-me house. The house has been in his family for generations, so it’s comfortable, but could use some updates. I noticed that the temperature readings are inconsistent, the temperature itself is irregular, and S.’s most recent energy bill is excessive for having lived here alone. After he gets home from work, it’s time for a presentation: “Babe, here are five signs your Fischer, TX, home needs a new thermostat.” As it turns out, it hasn’t been replaced since well before he moved in 15 years ago. I do some research and find a long-time family business in the area that works on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems and schedule an appointment for this weekend.

Total: $0

Day Two


I recently got my law degree, and I’m so grateful to S. for sticking with me through the LSAT, law school, the bar exam, and, most recently, getting my first real job at a law firm. He’d say something sappy about not needing a thank you, but I want to get him something special for his commitment to me through this whole new lawyer process. I have a few gift ideas in mind when I stumble across a list of gifts for your boyfriend online. He’d say something about me being the best gift he could receive, but I think an e-reader and weighted blanket—plus the cozy nights in they’ll facilitate—make for a pretty great gift, too.

Total: $325

Day Three


I’m feeling my age as I try to put in some hard work throughout the house today. The last few years have taken a lot out of me—becoming a lawyer after 30 is no joke! I push through some of my to-do list in the morning but decide to take it easy this afternoon. After three years of law school, it’s a good thing I didn’t forget how to relax! I order takeout for lunch, with lots of extra food to split with S. after work. Like the good Texans we are, it’s a BBQ night! He’ll have leftovers to take to the office tomorrow, too.

Total: $89

Day Four


Since I’m starting my first job after law school first thing Monday morning, today is dedicated to finding all the last-minute items I’ll need for the big day. I already have a nice briefcase—a gift from S. when I passed the bar—so I’m stocking it with some legal pads, sticky notes, pens, and pencils. Afterward, S. meets me at a nearby Italian restaurant, and we enjoy some classici italiani, lemonade, and a shared slice of cheesecake. A busy day, for sure, but a fulfilling one.

Total: $237

Day Five


After spending so much time working through my job search, balancing deadlines, and learning everything possible about my area of law since months before graduation, I’m taking the next few days to catch up with family members before dropping off the face of the earth once more with my new role. S. couldn’t take off today, so he’ll be staying home while I head up to Waco to catch up with my parents and some extended family members. I fill up my gas tank, grab a few snacks for the road, then drive about two and a half hours to my parents’ house. It’s always strange to be in my childhood home as an adult, but it’s extra odd knowing I’ll be working in criminal law in just a few days! Mom makes some of my old favorites for dinner—another perk of coming home—and we chat for a while before I get ready for bed. I call S. to say goodnight, then drift off shortly after.

Total: $49

Day Six


If being home in the first place isn’t strange enough, it’s especially odd when you wake up in your old high school bedroom for the first time in years! I head downstairs for some much-appreciated breakfast (more of Mom’s famous dishes—in this case, waffles, fruit, eggs, and toast with lots of toppings). We chat some more, and some other relatives stop by for the afternoon. My dad jokes that I’ll have to take over his will and estate. I remind him yet again that criminal law isn’t interchangeable with other legal issues. In his mind, though, I’ll just have to open my own practice and practice law of all sorts under one roof. Mom, meanwhile, is more concerned with remembering to tell her friends about her child being a lawyer, not just a law student. I guess this is an adventure for all of us!

Total: $0

Day Seven


This morning, I’m heading back to Fischer after another generous breakfast courtesy of Mom and Dad. Then, armed with a travel mug of hot coffee and a few Tupperware containers stuffed with leftovers, I hit the road once more, grabbing a refill along the way. I’m excited to see S., so we spend the early afternoon together before I get to work. After all, my first day at the firm is tomorrow—I have a lot to prepare for! With my outfit laid out carefully, my briefcase packed, and plenty of mental preliminaries, S. and I head to bed, and I’m as ready as I’ll ever be to start this new adventure.

Total: $7.50

Total for the week: $707.50

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