A Week In Orange County On A $40,000 Joint Salary

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Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennial women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar. (Thanks, New York mag, for the inspiration.)

Today, a woman in Southern California raising two kids.

Industry: Education
Age: 30
Location: Orange County, CA. I’m a born-and-raised beach girl and couldn't imagine living away from the ocean! However, we definitely pay the price to live in a beautiful and affluent area — rent prices are sky-high, and it’s tough to make it on a private school teacher’s salary.
Salary: Our joint salary is $40,000. My personal salary is about $22,000. Since having my baby in August, I have returned to work part-time for this school year. We’ve had to live extra frugally since my income is half of what it used to be. Our usual joint salary used to be $60,000.
Paycheck Amount (Every 2 Weeks): Joint paychecks are $1,600 — mine is usually $1,100. Husband is trying to get a small business off the ground, but he works at Trader Joe’s on the side so that we have health insurance and a 401K. He also does freelance graphic design and plays music gigs in addition to his business (which is barely starting to turn a profit), so we can rely on approximately $3,000 profit per year from these additional sources of income.
# of roommates: 3 (husband and two kids). I’m raising my two boys, (6 years old and 5 months old) in my hometown with my surfer-artist husband, where we aim to live simply, save enough to pay off debt, and do a little traveling. In order to avoid the conundrum of high childcare costs, my husband and I have staggered our work schedules so that one of us is home with the baby while the other works. We make little sacrifices, and we try to resist the pressure to keep up with the Joneses.

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,500 (Crazy-cheap for our area, but our two-bedroom apartment is tiny. We estimate we’ll have to move once the baby is mobile.)
Loan Payments: $150
Utilities: $70
Transportation: Gas for both cars: $100 + insurance on both cars: $120 = $220. Both cars were paid for in cash, so no car payments.
Phone Bill: $90
Health Insurance: $300 for all four of us (already taken out of husband’s paycheck)
Savings: $100 or more, if possible
Groceries: $400
Netflix: $20 (we use this instead of having cable)
Gym Membership: $0 (at a basic, no-frills gym, covered by husband’s company)