Welcome to Money 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.
Money Diaries Month: a lobbyist who makes $78,280 per year and combines her salary with her husband's. This week, she buys paint supplies and dog biscuits.
Occupation: Lobbyist Industry: Nonprofit Age: 31 Location: Orlando, FL My Salary: $78,280 | Husband's Salary: $38,000. We combine all our finances. My Paycheck (Biweekly): $2,048 | My Husband's Paycheck: $497
Monthly Expenses Housing Costs: $1,687. We pay $1,187 for our mortgage, property tax, and insurance, and then we pay $500 extra per month on top of that. Our house should be paid off in 10 years. Car Payment: $269 Student Loans: $610. I owe $70,000 for grad and undergrad; my husband has no loans.
All Other Monthly Expenses: Gym: $62 for both my husband and me Utilities: $85 for electric, trash, and water. We don't pay for sewage as we have a septic tank. Car Insurance: $122 for two cars Cable & Internet: $165. We have a TV package that includes international sports like rugby and cricket. My husband isn't from the US and loves his home sports. Netflix: $11 Cell Phone: $50 for my husband's phone. We pay his parents to stay on their plan; my phone is covered by work. Health Insurance: $152 for my husband's health insurance, which is taken directly from pay. My insurance is 100% covered by work. S hort-Term Disability Insurance: $57 taken out of my paycheck Gas: $150 for both cars IRA & 401(k): 12% of both our income per paycheck is split between an IRA and 401(k). Our employers both match 3%. Savings: $1,000
8:30 a.m. — My husband and I got back home last night after a 10-day trip to Europe, and I feel super jet-lagged. I need to pull myself together to get our dog from boarding, so we stop at Dunkin' Donuts on the way. My husband and I get coffees, I get a turkey sausage breakfast wrap, and he gets a coconut doughnut. I'm not really a fan of Dunkin', but it's the only fast food chain around our house and we have no groceries.
$9.02 8:40 a.m.— I can't wait to see my beautiful rescue dog! We adopted our 40-pound baby about 10 months ago after I suffered a miscarriage. I was really depressed, and channeling my energy into taking care of an abandoned animal helped me overcome the situation. We have since decided to wait on kids and just enjoy the dog and traveling. Her boarding for 10 days is a steal at $191! I'm so glad it's affordable and that she loves her caregivers. We take our baby home and I head to work. My husband doesn't leave for work until 1 p.m., so he walks and plays with her every day before he goes. $191 12 p.m. — I come home every day for lunch to see my dog and husband (the joys of working three miles from home). I make a quick stop at Publix for lunch and essentials. We spend about $1,000 each month on groceries and entertainment. We try to eat an all-organic diet and it's pricey. (We also spoil our dog with treats and toys.) I head to the deli counter for fried chicken, corn bread, and a pre-made salad to share with my husband. I also grab dog treats, a bottle of cab, English muffins, organic salad mix, feta, sun-dried tomatoes, sliced onions, a dozen cage-free organic eggs, a few cans of chicken soup, a pizza, sweet potatoes, string cheese, tomatoes, stew beef, two cans of organic beans (pinto and black), green chili peppers, organic half and half, bananas, and cookies. $84.96 5:30 p.m. — I get home from work at about 5:15 and take the dog to the backyard to play; she stays in our bedroom with her toys and water while we are gone. Afterward, I have soup and a glass of wine and stream a few episodes of Embarrassing Bodies while I cuddle with the dog. I'm exhausted from traveling; the dog and I go to bed at 7:30 p.m. My dog sleeps in the bed and is allowed everywhere in my house. I wake up at 11:30 p.m. when I hear my husband come home from work. I join him on the couch for a Scotch night cap (a souvenir from our stop in Scotland) and watch an episode of Vice Essentials. Daily Total: $284.98
8:15 a.m.— I wake up feeling refreshed and leave my snoozing dog and husband in bed. I make coffee and have a buttered English muffin for breakfast. Before heading to work, I cut up tomatoes, green chili peppers, and throw them into my slow cooker with stew beef and beans. I turn the slow cooker on high and look forward to having chili later. My husband wakes up and says he will make sure to stir the chili and mow our lawn later. (Ten days of growth in Florida's summer weather means it looks out of control.) I give him a kiss and head to work.
12:10 p.m.— I get a text from my husband before leaving for lunch asking me to bring home Gatorade. He is parched from yard work and walking the dog. I stop at CVS and get two bottles for $3. I notice my tire pressure light has come on and I let my husband know when I get home. I tell him our yard looks amazing and clean. While I serve the chili, he fills my tires with a portable pump. I notice he hasn't packed his dinner yet, so I pack his (more chili and salad) to save him time while filling the tires. Afterward, he heads off and I let the dog out before settling her in for the rest of the afternoon. $3.56 3:30 p.m. — After a long conference call, I decide to check my bank and credit card balance to see the damage I did in Europe. I had to use my Visa card a few times at places that didn't accept Amex. I have a balance of $407 on the Visa and decide to pay it in full. I will pay the Amex on payday; we pay both the cards in full each month. $407 5:30 p.m. — I come home from work still feeling awake and decide to take the dog for a walk. We get caught in the rain and have to run home, but she seems happy to be all wet. I put towels in the dryer and warm them up to dry her; she loves a warm towel. I notice a large laundry pile from our trip and add a load to the washer. Afterward, I decide I don't want chili for dinner, so I heat up a turkey burger patty and frozen broccolini. I also decide to load my coffee maker before bed and boil eggs for later. I find pulled chicken in the freezer and put it in the fridge to defrost. I end up giving the dog some of my turkey burger along with her dinner, and we relax on the couch while I read the news on my phone. We head to bed around 9. Daily Total: $410.56
7 a.m. — I wake up early and make myself coffee and an English muffin with a hard-boiled egg. I notice my husband has dried and folded the laundry I started last night. What a nice surprise! I make sure to tidy the living room and kitchen before I start the dishwasher.
12 p.m. — I come home for lunch and make a big salad topped with sun-dried tomatoes, onions, feta, pulled chicken, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. I grab a string cheese and put it in my purse for a snack. My husband and I have coffee together before he leaves for work, and we sit on the patio and watch the dog chase lizards. After he goes, I decide to write a thank-you card to his family for hosting us in Europe. I also have a small package I need to mail back to Scotland. I bring both to the office, as I work across the street from a post office. 3:15 p.m. — I start to get a headache at work and feel lethargic. I hope I'm not getting a post-travel cold, and decide to make rooibos tea with honey from the work kitchen. I remember the string cheese I took from home eat that, in case it's low blood sugar. 4:45 p.m. — I leave work early and head to the post office before they close at 5. I post the cards and package and decide to purchase a gift for my husband. Tomorrow is our five-year wedding anniversary and I have not picked up his gift yet. We buy traditional gifts for each year and five years is the "wood anniversary." There's a wood sign at a local shop that is hand-carved with "Adventure awaits" and holds photos. Unfortunately, the store is closed when I get there and my plan is ruined! $9.45 7:35 p.m. — I stop at several stores and finally find something similar at Target. I buy a small wood sign that reads "You are my greatest adventure" and find a somewhat matching wood frame. This will have to do. I also decide to purchase more dog treats and ice cream (two pints of Häagen-Dazs for $7! Yes, please!). I head home and make myself a single serving of angel hair pasta with a cut up turkey burger and steamed spinach. The dog and I watch more Embarrassing Bodies. I have no idea how I can eat and watch this show at the same time. I wrap my husband's gift, write him a card, and wait for him to come home. We have a glass of cabernet and ice cream before bed. $51.77 Daily Total: $61.22
8 a.m. — My husband wakes up early with me and we exchange our cards and gifts. He got me a bottle of Balvenie DoubleWood Scotch and the sweetest card. I commend his choice of a non-literal wood gift. We have coffee and English muffins before I head to work.
9:45 a.m. — I get an email about work meetings in Miami. The date of the meeting has changed; I need to rebook my flight ASAP. I had originally planned to fly down on Tuesday and fly back that afternoon. Now, I will do the same trip on Monday instead. I am able to rebook my flight on Delta with no fees. Unfortunately, I am flying back on American and either need to pay for a new ticket, $109, or pay a $200 change fee. I pick the lesser of two evils and remember to only book with Delta from now on. ($109, expensed.) 12 p.m. — I head home for lunch and remember it's payday, so I decide to check my Amex balance. It's $3,000! I decide to pay half this payday, and wait two weeks to pay the rest. I am not too worried about the high balance; we had an amazing holiday and I have the funds to pay it before it accrues any interest. Plus, I'll get SkyMiles! I tell my husband my thoughts on paying it and he agrees. We decide to cook the frozen pizza for lunch and have salad. We also add the sweet potatoes we bought to the oven for later. I play with the dog, grab a string cheese to go, and head back to work. $1,500 5:15 p.m. — I'm feeling lazy and have leftover pizza as an after-work snack. I watch Embarrassing Bodies and decide to take the dog for a walk around 7. The sun is setting and it's finally cooling off. We come home an hour later — I have a toasted English muffin and a glass of wine. I tidy the house and then settle down to download a book from my local library about minimalism. I'm a big fan of KonMari and want more inspiration. 11:30 p.m. — My husband comes home at 11:30 and we decide to have the Balvenie as a night cap. We stream Reggie Yates Outside Man and watch three episodes about South Africa. We head to bed at 1 a.m. Daily Total: $1,500
10:20 a.m. — We sleep in and have coffee and eggs. My husband heads to work at 12:30 (he works Tuesday-Saturday), and I get started on staining our patio picnic table. It's raw pine and has been rained on a few times since we bought it last month. I don't want to leave my dog cooped up inside while I work, so I fill her baby pool and put it in the shade on our patio. I get out the sander and a face mask, and get to work. The dog doesn't seem scared of the noise; she enjoys her pool and chasing lizards. It's unbelievably hot; I decide to take a break around 1 since I have a salon appointment at 2.
2:3o p.m. — I get a text from my hair stylist that she is running late, and I decide to stop at the hardware store to pick up supplies to finish the picnic table. I stop at Miller's Hardware (I try to shop locally when I can) and get a paint tray, roller, brush, and drop cloth. I realize I need Rid-X for the septic tank and see that it is $11! I refuse that pay that much and make a mental note to buy it later. $15.96 4:15 p.m. — My hair stylist is still working on her previous client, so I read my e-book and enjoy a glass of Chardonnay. We get settled in and she colors and cuts my hair. I have halo style removable extensions and have her trim them as well. It's a steal at $132, including tip). I quietly wish I had finished my picnic table earlier. I don't want to mess up my fresh hair with a DIY project. $132 9 p.m. — It took me three hours to stain the table! Drenched in sweat and with a headache, I take a cold shower and note all the wood stain patches that I need to scrub off my feet (barefoot DIY for the win). I put the dog on our bed, leave her a treat, and head to Publix for a pumice stone. My husband and I decided to go to the beach and a dog-friendly brewery to celebrate our anniversary, so I pick up snacks and groceries for the rest of the weekend. I scan the aisles and decide on Rainier cherries, chips, salsa, pretzels, salami-wrapped cheese, Dogfish Head beers, and ingredients for enchiladas and banana bread — since we still haven't eaten the bananas from my last grocery shopping trip. I come home and cook the enchiladas, but decide to have a small quesadilla and salsa for dinner. I don't want something so heavy late at night. I wait up for my husband and he is very impressed with the table. We watch Reggie Yates Outside Man and head to bed around 12. $64.53 Daily Total: $212.49
10 a.m. — We pack up the cooler, beach gear, and dog, and head to the beach. Our dog loves to swim and play fetch in the water. After a few hours of running in the surf and swimming, she is content to lie under our umbrella. We pack up around 3 and stop at the brewery. The brewery is almost out of dog biscuits but we packed our own for own for the beach. We both try a cask-conditioned ale and head home after one beer.
$20 6 p.m. — We unpack from the beach and heat up the enchiladas and rice for dinner. We talk about our next trips while eating. (We are going to California in the fall, and Colorado in January.) The dog sleeps soundly and we enjoy the quiet time. We head to bed around 10. I have to be up early to fly to Miami for work the next day Daily Total: $20
5 a.m. — I'm up early to fly to Miami for work. My flight is at 7, and I have to leave the house by 5:30 to make it to the airport and through security. When I arrive at the airport, the lines are long and I only have time to buy a bottle of water before my flight takes off. Forty minutes and part of my e-book later, I land in Miami. The early morning trip is worth not having to drive four hours. ($3.99, expensed.)
8:15 a.m. — After deplaning, I buy a one-day Easy Card and take the metro to my meeting downtown. It's faster and cheaper than Uber during rush hour. ($5.65, expensed.) 9:30 a.m.— I have time before my meeting, so I stop at Starbucks and get a flat white and a reduced-fat turkey bacon sandwich. I pop a mint in my mouth, then head to my meeting. ($9.63, expensed.) 12 p.m.— I grab a burger and a glass of wine at Shula's before my flight. It's the only decent place to eat in the airport and I am not full from my early breakfast sandwich. ($35, expensed.) 3:45 p.m.— I head home and cook turkey sausages and oven fries for dinner. We take the dog for a walk around a local lake where my husband fishes for bass until the sun sets. We go home and relax with a glass of cabernet, and head to bed around 11. Daily Total: $0
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