A Week In North Carolina On A Joint $156,000 Salary

Welcome toMoney Diaries , where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

Today: a program specialist working at a university who makes $55,000 per year ($156,000 when combined with her husband) and spends some of her money this week on CosRX acne patches.

Occupation: Program Specialist
Industry: University
Age: 34
Location: North Carolina
Salary: $55,000
My Husband’s Salary: $101,000 + bonus
My Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $3,077.70
My Husband’s Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,239.72

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,500 (I own a four-bedroom house that I share with my husband, daughter, and two dogs.)
Student Loans: $0 (Paid off.)
Health/Dental/Vision Insurance: Coverage for my daughter and me is taken out of my paycheck, and my husband is on his company’s plan.
FSA: I contribute $80 a month for health expenses, taken from my paycheck
Parking: $29 to park at work, taken from my paycheck
Daycare: $1,491
Utilities: ~$200
Internet: $50
Netflix/Hulu/HBO/Amazon Music: $46
Car Insurance: $104
Cell Phone: $120
Retirement: I contribute 6% of my paycheck to my employer’s system. I’ll be vested next year. My husband has a 401(k).
Savings: I save about $1,000 a month. My husband puts in a variable amount. We have about $14,000 in savings now.

Annual Expenses
Amazon Prime: $119

Day One

5:30 a.m. — I wake up and hear my daughter, S., coughing in the other room. She’s got a bit of a cold, and she had RSV last year, so every cold hits her extra hard. She probably didn’t sleep well, poor thing. One of my dogs gets in bed with me for cuddles…and then throws up. I jump out of bed, turn on the light, and see that it’s definitely bits of something that used to be alive. He’s not a hunter type, so I’m assuming he found it. It looks awful. It smells awful. This has never happened before, and I am beyond disgusted. This is a great start to the week. I dispose of the disgustingness and immediately throw the comforter in the wash. I’ll wash it again when I get home.

6:45 a.m. — I get S. up. She’s very fussy. She definitely doesn’t feel well, but no fever. I debate staying home with her, but between her and me, I’ve already had to take 3.5 sick days this year, and it’s only February. I don’t have much of an appetite after this morning’s activities, so I eat a little cereal and S. eats some of a cereal bar. I take my coffee to go, drop S. off at daycare, and head to work.

9:30 a.m. — I get a notification that a Poshmark offer I made for a set of Static Nails pop-ons was accepted. Yay! I’m struggling with biting my nails, so I’ve been wanting to try these. $18.79

11:15 a.m. — I’m still having flashbacks to this morning. My brain doesn’t want lunch, but my stomach does. Thankfully, it’s leftover broccoli pesto and a couscous dish. While I eat, I pay an invoice from my counselor for yesterday’s online appointment. I do counseling every other week ($25, paid with my FSA card).

2:45 p.m. — I browse internal jobs. I applied to one over two weeks ago, but I haven’t heard anything back. I don’t find anything for me, but I see one that might be good for a friend, so I pass it along. I also change my federal tax withholding, adding an additional $80. We did our taxes yesterday, and where we got about $5,000 back last year, this year we owe $1,800.

4:15 p.m. — I pick up S. and go home. I accompany the dogs to the backyard to see if I can find the rest of that animal. The offending dog makes a beeline to the area behind the shed. I shoo him away, and sure enough, there’s a dead rabbit back there. I text my husband, E., who thankfully is almost home. He takes care of it.

6 p.m. — I make dinner (snapper with glazed carrots and rice) while E. deals with a very fussy S. The recipe doesn’t come out the way I want, and then S. dumps her plate on the table, which doesn’t put anybody in a good mood. After she goes down, I check the comforter after its second wash…and it’s still slightly stained with rabbit guts, so I wash it again.

8:30 p.m. — We watch Last Week Tonight, and John Oliver talks about the controversy surrounding NC’s ninth congressional district. Oh, North Carolina…I like it here, but we’re never in the news for anything good. I check the comforter after the third wash. It seems clean, but even if I’m wrong, I’ve done all I can at this point, so I put it in the dryer. I grab an extra comforter from the guest room, read, and go to bed.

Daily Total: $18.79

Day Two

6 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and a few minutes later I hop in the shower. While I’m putting my makeup on, S. wakes up and starts crying. I quickly finish and go in to get her ready. She still doesn’t feel well and mostly whines, cries, and screams at me. When she constantly makes noise like that, it really sets me on edge and I start to lose my cool. I actually leave her in her high chair and go upstairs for a few minutes, where I can’t hear her. I’m not proud of this, but it’s something I’m working on. When I come downstairs, she’s suddenly in a much better mood, and we both eat breakfast.

11:30 a.m. — After a meeting with my boss, I heat up leftovers from last night for lunch, microwaving everything except the fish because I’m not a monster.

1:15 p.m. — I get a text from E. S.’s daycare called and said that her eyes are goopy. Another child got sent home with possible pink eye, so they’re going to check her again when she wakes up from her nap. I noticed her eyes were goopy, but I thought it was just related to her cold.

2:30 p.m. — Daycare calls and says that they can’t diagnose her with pink eye, but they need her to be out for 24 hours after she starts eye drops. I try to call her pediatrician to get her in for an appointment, but they transfer me over to the nurse advice line, a.k.a. the person whose job it is to convince you not to bring your child in. I leave a voicemail explaining that I do actually need to see someone. I was also supposed to go tour another daycare this afternoon because S.’s is closing soon, so I call to cancel that appointment and then pick up S.

3:45 p.m. — I clarify the pink eye policy with daycare, straighten things out with the doctor’s office, talk to E. about who can possibly stay home with S. tomorrow, and then straighten out a completely unrelated issue with the pharmacy regarding S.’s inhaler. I take S. to the doctor on the off chance they say it’s not pink eye and she can go to daycare tomorrow.

4:45 p.m. — Not only is it pink eye, but her cough/wheezing is worse, so they want to do a round of steroids. It’s a good thing I brought her in ($10 on my FSA card). I go to the pharmacy to get her inhaler and to wait for her steroids and eye drops. The eye drops aren’t in stock, so I ask E. to go to the other pharmacy while I wait here. He says he’ll pick up dinner as well, since he won’t be able to cook. I pick up her two prescriptions and head home ($32.87 on my FSA card). I start to get a stress headache. I knew my dog puking in the bed was a bad sign for the rest of the week…

6 p.m. — S. and I get home, and E. follows shortly with Mexican food ($19.98) and S.’s eye drops ($5 that I’ll get reimbursed from the FSA). $19.98

7:45 p.m. — After S. gets to bed, we’re both wiped. We finish season three of Stan Against Evil. Well, I do. E. falls asleep on the couch. I get ready for bed around 9, read, and go to sleep.

Daily Total: $19.98

Day Three

6 a.m. — My alarm goes off and E. is still sleeping. He usually gets up at 5, but he’s staying home with S. today. When he gets up, he says that he thinks he’s catching S.’s cold. This is unusual, as it’s usually me that gets sick. As I’m finishing up my cereal, S. wakes up and starts crying. I get her dressed, and she’s in a horrible mood. E. and I manage to get her to the breakfast table, but she doesn’t want to eat. I wish E. good luck and head out with my coffee.

10 a.m. — I submit a claim to my FSA for the $5 that E. paid for S.’s eye drops yesterday. I really over-budgeted my FSA last year and had to scramble at the end of the year to spend it all (anyone need some Chapstick? I’ve got a ton!), so I want to make sure I’m on top of it.

11:15 a.m. — I’m going to an event at noon, but I’m not sure if there will be food, so I eat some leftover couscous before going, just in case they don’t have anything.

11:45 a.m. — I drive to the event. I miss a good parking spot because a guy in a huge pickup truck is tailgating me. I eventually find one. They do have some snacks at the event, so I have some artichoke dip and a mini cupcake.

2 p.m. — The event was good — an all-women panel, which is unusual in academia. I got permission from my boss to work from home this afternoon, and I got all of my really essential stuff done this morning, so I head home. When I get there, S. is awake, which is surprising because it’s usually prime nap time. E. said she woke up after 45 minutes and wouldn’t go back to sleep. I say I’ll watch her for a bit so he can go take a nap. While I try to work, S. keeps wanting to get in my lap, which is fine except she won’t stop touching the computer.

3:30 p.m. — E. comes down and makes the two of us some tea. After extreme protest, S. takes a very short nap.

7 p.m. — I make dinner (eggplant and pasta), bathe S., and put her to bed…or try to, but she keeps fussing. I go check on her, and she’s peed through her PJs and needs water. I know it’s the steroids, so we oblige and put her back down. Eventually she calms and falls asleep.

8 p.m. — I try on some clothes I just got in the mail from Shein. They had an awesome T-shirt with a naked banana that I NEEDED to own. I added some stuff to get free shipping, and then went a little overboard because everything was so cheap…out of eight items, I’m returning four. But the naked banana shirt fits! I also decide to return a pair of boots I got from Thredup last week. They’re exactly what I was looking for…except they’re too small. I’ll get about $82 back after those returns are processed. I pack up the returns, read, and go to bed.

Daily Total: $0

Day Four

6 a.m. — I get up and shower. S. is awake and crying by the time I finish getting ready. She proceeds to scream at me pretty much until we leave the house, pausing briefly to eat breakfast.

8 a.m. — It’s payday! I pay my credit card bills and move $1,200 into savings.

10 a.m. — I got a few emails about the whole daycare situation. Long story short: my employer is closing it suddenly, with no alternative plan in place. I’m lucky because I think I’ve found S. a good spot not far from our house. I send an angry email suggesting that they give parents the ability to visit other day facilities without using their leave time, because I know some parents are already struggling. Literally the least they could do.

11 a.m. — There are a bunch of food trucks on campus today, so I walk over and get some beef sliders with provolone and chimichurri sauce. Very tasty! $10.72

1 p.m. — I am agonizing about whether to follow up on that internal job I applied to. I know I shouldn’t, but it’s been three weeks, and according to the application page, my materials aren’t even under review yet. I write a short, polite email but don’t send it.

4 p.m. — I go to daycare to pick up S. E. is home when we get there. He’s still not feeling well, so he worked from home in the afternoon. S. wants me to read her ALL THE BOOKS.

6:30 p.m. — We head out to a casual restaurant to meet some friends for dinner. E. and I both get local beers, I get a personal pizza, and E. gets a chicken sandwich. S. gets a kids’ mac ‘n’ cheese and applesauce, but the waitress accidentally puts her food on our friends’ check. E. offers to pay them back, but they say not to worry about it. $34.27

7:30 p.m. — S. goes down for bed without a fight, which I hope is a sign she’s on the mend. E. and I watch Ken Jeong’s Netflix special and head to bed around 9.

Daily Total: $44.99

Day Five

6 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I hear S. awake already, so I get in the shower. She’s still making noise when I get out, so I quickly get dressed and blowdry my hair (she’s afraid of the blowdryer). She is yet again extremely fussy and whiny. I’m prepared for it this morning, though, so I don’t lose my cool. She loves looking at pictures on our cell phones, so while she’s crying at the breakfast table, I pull up Timehop and show her some old pictures. She immediately smiles, starts pointing people out, and eats breakfast. She even asks for more food. Magic. I wish I’d thought of this on Monday. We’re out of cereal, so we both have cereal bars for breakfast. We go back upstairs so I can put on my makeup, which can be hard to do while wrangling a toddler.

8 a.m. — I’m in the office. HR said they got approval to let us tour alternative daycare facilities without using our leave time. I forgot that a new Hellboy trailer dropped overnight. I AM HYPED. Hellboy is my favorite comic, and this trailer is much better than the first one. I cannot wait.

10 a.m. — I get an email from Ulta about 7x points on select products, so I get a Beauty Blender and Urban Decay’s setting spray. I also decide to try some Dermablend setting powder and CosRX acne patches. $93.91

11:20 a.m. — My blood sugar drops suddenly, and I feel like I’m going to be ill if I don’t eat something immediately. This is why I eat lunch so early! I heat up leftover eggplant pasta from the other day.

1 p.m. — STOP THE PRESSES. I sent out my weekly email to a list I manage, and someone actually thanked me, saying that my list is very useful to them. Thanks of any kind is extremely rare, and I take a moment to appreciate it.

4:15 p.m. — I leave to get S. Traffic is bad because it’s raining, and she spends the entire ride back crying for her daddy. I text E. at a red light and jokingly warn him that he better be home soon.

6:30 p.m. — Friends come over, bringing takeout Mexican food. (E. ordered and they picked up and paid him for their portion.) After we eat, E. puts S. to bed. We chat for a while and play Mario Party. At the end, Bowser was far ahead with seven stars, and then got both bonus stars, bringing the total to nine. And by Bowser, I mean me! Woo! Our friends leave around 10, and we go to sleep. $20

Daily Total: $113.91

Day Six

6:45 a.m. — S. is awake and making noise. E. feels really congested, so he jumps in the shower. I let the dogs out, feed them, and then get S. up. She’s in a better mood than she’s been in the rest of the week. E. takes over with S. and gives her breakfast so I can get ready. We’re up a bit earlier than usual, so I take advantage of the time and do a chemical peel and a face mask. While I’m waiting for the mask to dry, I wash the pile of makeup brushes I’ve accumulated on the bathroom counter.

8:30 a.m. — We go out to a coffee shop for breakfast (second breakfast in S.’s case). Between the three of us, we get two flavored lattes, a slice of crumb cake, a chia pudding, yogurt, and a banana. We also get some coffee beans to take home. I take S. because E.’s not feeling well. She’s pretty well behaved. $38.79

10 a.m. — We go to Target. My skin is always oily, but lately it’s been extremely oily and extra breakout-prone, so I get two packs of oil-absorbing sheets and a Differin retinol cream. We also get two jugs of laundry detergent and a coloring book for S. I pay with a RedCARD so I save 5%. $73.59

11:30 a.m. — We eat the last of the leftover eggplant pasta for lunch and put S. down for a nap. While she naps, I get some chores done.

4 p.m. — We go out to a nearby shopping center with a park to meet some friends and their daughter, who’s a bit younger than S. They’re awkward toddlers, but I think they have fun. Then we shift over to a Greek restaurant for dinner. We get an appetizer, a kids’ meal, two sandwiches, and a glass of wine for me. We forgot to repack the diaper bag with S.’s bib and placemat. Oops! We use a napkin as a bib and she manages to not make much of a mess. $47.83

6:30 p.m. — When we get home, I give S. a bath and put her down for bed. This is her last dose of steroids, so she should be more manageable in a few days. E. still doesn’t feel well, so he wants to watch a movie we’ve already seen, in case he falls asleep. I pick Spy, and he falls asleep like 10 minutes in. At 9:30 I wake him up so he can go to bed upstairs. I read a bit and then go to bed, too.

Daily Total: $160.21

Day Seven

7 a.m. — S. wakes us up. E. goes downstairs to heat up some waffles for breakfast. I get S. up and ready, and she is in a terrible mood, especially when she realizes she needs to wait for breakfast. Constant screaming. Then when we get to the breakfast table, she doesn’t even want to eat. Ugh.

8:15 a.m. — I dye my hair a new fun color. After I rinse, it looks pretty much like a normal red, so I’m a bit disappointed. At least it doesn’t look bad, though!

9 a.m. — After planning our meals for the week, we head out to the grocery store. We spend about half the time wrangling S., but we usually go about the same time every week, so she’s very popular there. We buy cereal, milk, and everything we need to make dinner for the next four nights (spaghetti with sausage, catfish and green beans, rice bowls, and charred Brussels sprouts salad). $101.88

11:30 a.m. — We eat leftover Mexican/Greek food and put S. down for a nap. While she sleeps, we watch Workin’ Moms on Netflix and I put on my Static Nails. I think I may have gone a size too big on my middle fingers, but I don’t think anyone will notice or care. I forget how my fingers are supposed to work for a while.

2 p.m. — S. wakes up a bit early from her nap and is all over the place. Since it’s raining, we can’t take her to the park or anything. E. says he’s feeling a bit better, so he takes S. to the mall, just to get her out of the house and let her run around. I really don’t want to do more chores…but I should. So I set an alarm for 20 minutes from now, and once that goes off I get up and vacuum.

4:30 p.m. — E. says S. was fine at the mall, but soon after they come home, she is showing the telltale signs of not feeling well. Her temperature is 103.7! Poor baby! We give her some medicine, and I hold her while we watch Sesame Street until dinner is ready.

7:30 p.m. — After we eat dinner (spaghetti with meat sauce) and put S. to bed, we discuss our plans for tomorrow. Unfortunately, E. and I both really need to be at work, but S. obviously can’t go to daycare and the doctor had said to call if she developed a high fever. We work it out. As the evening goes on, I start to feel some congestion in my nose…so now I think all three of us are sick. Joy. I go to bed around 9 and wait for sickness to take me.

Daily Total: $101.88

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