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Why you love reading other people’s money diaries

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Sometime in the past few months, a lawyer in Chicago spent $8.21 on tacos from Chipotle after breaking up with her boyfriend. Around the same time, a woman in Minneapolis who works in human resources paid $7.48 for a shower curtain. And at some point, a digital strategist in Boston spent $58 on “ground chicken, kale, broccoli rabe, parsnips, chickpeas, steak tips, salsa, bell peppers, and a bag of honey-roasted chickpeas I keep in my desk to snack on.” 

This information is all incredibly boring. So why did I devour it like it was a TMZ column?

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Though the era of the personal essay has ended, the age of the “budget diary” is alive and well. These days, the foremost example is Refinery29’s Money Diaries section (though there are also a fair number of diaries on Man Repeller), in which anonymous diarists reveal their salaries and monthly bills, then track each of their discretionary expenses for a week. Some of the diaries (from the people who make high salaries, specifically) feel fun and aspirational, even fantastical. If the diary week falls during some kind of lavish vacation, even better!  Read more…

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