Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: an Account Executive working in Financial Services who has a $120,000 joint income and spends some of her money this week on pumpkin spice seasoning.
Occupation: Account Executive
Industry: Financial Services
Location: St. Petersburg, FL
My Salary: $50,000
My Husband's Salary: $70,000 (We have a joint account and all monthly expenses are shared)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,800
Gender Identity: Woman
Mortgage: $1,500 (just closed on our first home a month ago)
Student Loans: $150 (minimum monthly payment, my husband paid off $35,000 in the last four years and we have about $5,000 left)
Utilities: $300 (electric, trash, water, internet)
Car Insurance: $337 (for two cars — both paid off)
Health insurance: free thanks to military
Cell Phone: $150 (for two phones)
Netflix: $0 (thanks to my in-laws!)
Savings: Both my husband and I contribute 10% of our gross income to 401(k)s, which are matched for the first 4%. We contribute 5% each month to a 529 plan for any future child(ren) and 5% into a Roth IRA. After that, we put $2,000 each month into our general emergency/savings fund which currently stands at $5,000.
5 a.m. — My husband, E.'s, alarm goes off and he continues to press snooze every 10 minutes until around 5:30. He's active duty military, so he works a unique schedule of 6:45 a.m. – 2:45 p.m. and after four years of service is basically immune to waking up before the sun.
7 a.m. — I typically like to exercise in the morning, but haven't found a solid routine yet (we just moved) so I get up at a “normal” hour and get dressed and make my breakfast smoothie — a concoction of spinach, protein powder, yogurt, banana, and almond butter that I've been drinking every morning for almost a year now. I love that it's one less decision I have to make during the day.
9:30 a.m. — Things are a bit slow at work, so I decide to start researching gyms in the area to join. I text E. about a few options and we decide the YMCA is the best and easiest for what I'm looking for. I fill out an application online for a single membership, which is $42 per month plus an initial $74 join fee: (E. has a free gym at work) $160
5 p.m. — I come home to find E. inside tending to a leak that has formed in our ceiling. We closed on our first home a few weeks ago, so this is less than desirable. We discuss possible problems and E. retreats to the couch to search for roof repair companies in the area while I start dinner.
6 p.m. — I know many people (ahem, my husband, E.) find cooking a chore and an overall time suck, but it's a super therapeutic activity for me. I grew up in a family that cooked every night, so it gives me a sense of comfort to be creating in the kitchen. Tonight, I'm experimenting with a chicken sausage and vegetable sheet pan dish. I also bake and shred six chicken breasts for lunches for both of us throughout the week.
8 p.m. — We start our tidying, showering, organizing routine before doing our nightly decompressing activities, which vary. It's been raining all night, so I make myself a cup of tea and retreat to bed to start my new book. Yes, I'm 80 years old at heart. E. stays in the living room to watch a movie on Netflix that he knows I wouldn't like. We are both introverts who spend time with people all day during our jobs, so this time apart at night is integral to allowing us to feel recharged for the next day.
9 p.m. — E. comes into bed and I finish reading. We are hoping to get our first pet this year, so we look at photos of dachshunds for adoption online and brainstorm names (Sonny? Rocky? Manny? Why do we only like names that end with Y?) and finally roll over to go to sleep.
Daily Total: $160
5 a.m. — E.'s alarm goes off and we continue to fall in and outside of sleep until around 5:45. E. gets in the shower and makes enough noise that I'm up and at 'em too. This morning, I have some additional momentum because I'm a brand new member of the YMCA! Woohoo! We both leave the house at 6:30. Him, to work, and me, to the gym.
6:40 a.m. — This gym is only half a mile from our house, so I'm able to make the most of my exercise time. This morning, I do some free weights and a series of squats before hopping on the treadmill for two miles. Even after just 20 minutes, I can feel the endorphins kicking in and my energy levels rising. Ahhh, the beauty of a morning workout!
7:30 a.m. — I arrive back at home and am faced with the decision to scroll Instagram for 10 minutes or meditate using my Headspace app. I know deep down in my soul which option will be better, but Instagram wins today. 10 minutes inevitably turns into 15… then yikes, I'm late! Get showered, dressed, whip up my smoothie, and leave the house around 8:20.
9:30 a.m. — Work, work, work. This morning I'm in several trainings to learn our project management system. E. texts me to tell me that his team went to an offsite event and stopped for a fast-food breakfast after, where he treated. $32.19
11:30 a.m. — I head to the department staff meeting. Before we moved, I worked for a company of 12 and now I work for a company of about 12,000, so it's been a big adjustment. It's my first staff meeting, so I get publicly introduced in front of about 200 people, which is awkward, but I appreciate the sentiment.
12:30 p.m. — The company I'm working for assigns a mentor to new associates to help them get settled and answer any questions they might have during the first few weeks. I get lucky and hit it off right away with my mentor, so we make plans to grab lunch together today. I eat my leftover chicken sausage sheet pan meal, which I threw over some spinach with olive oil and lemon this morning.
5 p.m. — I head out of the office and back home. I arrive home to E. telling me that our dishwasher is no longer working. We do some tinkering and find that our kitchen sink drain is no longer draining either. Fun! We start researching plumbers and complain about the woes of owning versus renting.
6 p.m. — I use the chicken I prepped last night to make sesame chicken pasta and E. eats shredded chicken over some whole grain chips with melted American cheese. We didn't live together before we got married and were shocked to learn how different our eating habits were. About a month into our marriage, we decided we were both much happier cooking and eating our own separate meals, so that's what we do.
7 p.m. — I go to throw in a load of laundry and discover that it's in use by our renters. Our home has a detached one bedroom/one bathroom unit that we've rented out, but we have a shared outdoor laundry room. We've been super pleased with the decision to have renters (and to earn the extra $900 per month), but there are sacrifices as well. Laundry goes back into the bin for another day! As I'm cleaning up the kitchen, E. comments that it feels warm and goes to check our AC. 80 degrees. No bueno. Especially in Florida. We proceed to turn on all our fans and research AC repair companies in the area.
8 p.m. — We try to watch Netflix to distract ourselves from the rising temperature in the house, but it doesn't work and we end up getting into a heated discussion about who decided to purchase such a poorly renovated home (hint: we both did).
9 p.m. — I start to feel very overwhelmed with everything going on in our lives (new jobs for both of us, new house with issues, large emergency purchases), so I retreat to the bedroom to meditate while E. watches Netflix (his personal version of meditation). I started meditating after a surprising and severe bout with anxiety a few months ago and have seen it work wonders for my mental health during times of stress! I do a quick guided meditation and go back out to tell E. how I'm feeling. We eventually get out all of our frustrations and make a plan for how we will deal with these unexpected issues in terms of work schedules, finances, attitudes, etc. by cutting back on our “fun” budget and considering picking up second jobs to ensure we can pay for these house expenses without going into debt.
11 p.m. — Our heart-to-heart conversation, plus the heat, kept us up much later than usual. We eventually collapse into bed.
Daily Total: $32.19
5 a.m. — The alarm comes miserably early after a meager six hours of poor, heated sleep. Since it's so hot, it's useless to try to get more sleep, so we snooze until 6 and head to work and the gym.
8 a.m. — I leave a bit earlier than usual and decide to run by Starbucks to pick up coffee after our late night. I've replaced my daily coffee with decaf or green tea since the aforementioned anxiety flare-ups, but decide to make an exception today by getting a half-caf, to which I generously add creamer and several shakes of cinnamon and nutmeg. My Starbucks card has stayed stocked thanks to birthdays and Christmas, so the coffee is covered.
1 p.m. — I heat up my lunch of sesame chicken pasta and browse some of my favorite online stores. My new work environment is business casual, with an emphasis on business so I need to up my game a little bit. I find my way to the sale page of VICI Collection and order a snakeskin cami, a pink blouse, and olive green pants. They are offering 20% off of the sale items too, so the total comes to $57.15. Seems like a great deal to me! $57.15
4:45 p.m. — I sneak out of work and meet E. at a local market to pick up flowers and a card for his mom's birthday. We drive over to my in-laws house to see her and deliver the birthday treats. After living far away from both of our families during our first year of marriage, I take a moment to appreciate how awesome it is to live close to one set at this time in our lives. $14.25
6:30 p.m. — I heat up leftover sesame chicken pasta for dinner and E. heats up a frozen pizza. We catch up on our days while eating on the couch because we don't have a kitchen table yet — hello, new homeownership!
7 p.m. — I place an Amazon order for a few household and personal items we need and tell E. before I do, in case he wants to add anything to the order. This begins a discussion that I should've seen coming about E.'s disapproval of Amazon. He thinks we're becoming “too reliant” on technology and tries to convince me to go to the store to get the items instead. I try to persuade him with my argument that Amazon's prices are better and I will inevitably spend way more frolicking the aisles of Target than I would placing a single order on Amazon. He gives up on the argument and I place the order for Swiffer wipes, concealer, lip gloss, and Elderberry vitamins. $36.17
8:30 p.m. — Exhausted from last night, we get into bed early, cuddle a little, and pass out.
Daily Total: $107.57
5 a.m. — Alarm goes off and we are both feeling extra ambitious apparently and get up after only a couple snoozes. There's a 6 a.m. spin class at the Y that I've had my eye on and I feel excited that I've made it up in time to go.
7 a.m. — Finish the spin class and feel great! Head home, shower, get dressed, make my smoothie, and drop off dry cleaning on the way into work.
12 p.m. — E. calls during lunch of leftover sesame chicken pasta to say the roof repairman, plumber, and HVAC company came to look at the house. The damages: roof leak patch, new garbage disposal installation, and an HVAC duct patch. I have a mini-heart-attack when I hear the total, but try to remember that these are emergency purchases and won't be occurring often. We pay them all that day with money from our emergency fund. $1,000
5:30 p.m. — Thursday nights are small group night at my church. We are still relatively new to town so I'm making a conscious effort to be involved as much as possible. I meet some girls in my group for dinner at a nearby restaurant. $10.73
9 p.m. — I get home and chat with E. about small group while we get ready for bed. E. says he's having trouble winding down, so I offer to give him some of my YoungLiving essential oils. I decided to pull the trigger on getting a starter kit a few months ago (spurred by aforementioned anxiety episode) and have been having fun experimenting with them. I have no interest in selling them or even purchasing them frequently as they're pretty expensive, but I will say that after using them, I'm a skeptic turned believer. After some complaints, I convince E. to let me put a few drops of lavender on the soles of his feet before I do the same for mine. We both pass out in under 10 minutes. Success!
Daily Total: $1,010.73
5 a.m. — Alarm goes off and we both snooze excessively until around 6:30. That Lavender oil really works! E. scurries around as he's semi-late and we both head out the door around 6:45.
7 a.m. — Since I have less time this morning, I mix it up and do a walking incline on the treadmill for 30 minutes while watching the TODAY show. It's not super strenuous, but enough to work up a sweat. I also read in a magazine that walking a minimum of one mile per day eliminates the chance of Alzheimer's by 70%. I don't know if that's 100% true, but I always feel accomplished if I can get my mile in!
12:30 p.m. — We're out of leftovers, so I head to the cafeteria to grab a salad for lunch. Typically, I like to make my own meals, but their salad bar is incredible and super inexpensive for what you get. I get a spinach and quinoa salad with chicken. E. texts me to tell me he picked up Chick-fil-A. $14.25
4:30 p.m. — Everyone is heading out early for the weekend, so I join them and swing by to pick up our dry cleaning. I never had anything dry cleaned until I started my first big-girl job (per E.'s suggestion), so this cost always annoys me, but I understand it's an essential adult activity. $47.17
6:30 p.m. — As a part of our debt-free plan, we decide to turn on our Uber Eats App while we heat up a frozen pizza and wait to see if we get any hits. The first year of our marriage, we decided to tackle E.'s student loan debt pretty aggressively and found that driving for Uber Eats was a great way to earn extra money while still being able to spend time together!
6:30 p.m. — We get a hit and end up driving until around 11. We have a well-oiled system where he is the driver and I am the runner. It's very efficient because we don't have to worry about parking so we can pick-up and deliver in record time. I secretly love doing it because it's a fun way to discover new restaurants and new parts of town that I've never seen! We earn $100 without subtracting for gas, which will be around $5-10.
11 p.m. — We're exhausted from a busy night and pass out immediately.
Daily Total: $61.42
7 a.m. — After waking up at 5 every day, we don't do sleeping in very well, so we wake up around 7 and snuggle and until I roll out of bed at 7:30 for my spin class at the Y.
9 a.m. — I go to my class and come back to find that E. has brought me a bagel from a bagel shop down the street, where he also picked up coffee and a bagel for himself. He scarfs down his bagel, while I scramble eggs with spinach to put on mine with some mashed avocado and Everything But the Bagel seasoning. I find a strange amount of joy and satisfaction in turning an average food item into something extraordinary with a few small touches! $8.12
11 a.m. — We eat and make our plan for the day which includes various trips around town to stock up on things we need for the house. We stop at a local charity thrift store to drop off a bunch of clothes we no longer wear, then to Bed Bath and Beyond where we buy a shower curtain, bath mat, drawer organizers, and drying rack. We use a 20% off coupon that we received in the mail. Yay! $52.15
12 p.m. — Next, we head to Target to scope out furniture. I try to convince E. that we should wait to find more unique items, but he is anxious to get the house in order and claims that chairs are a necessary purchase. We find a pair of non-antique/unique chairs for our desk and vanity. I find a couple of throw pillows on sale and a pair of shoes I need for work, as well. Oops…Target does it again! $142.78
1 p.m. — We're both a little hungry and realize we don't have much at home, as our scheduled grocery run is tomorrow, so we splurge on two juices at the new juice place in town. The cashier tells us that if we download their app, we get an additional 10% off. $20.15
3:30 p.m. — I get a call from a random number and decide to answer on a whim. It's my best friend's boyfriend…. this can only mean one thing. He tells me he's planning to propose in a few weeks! They have been dating for over four years and are an excellent couple — I'm so excited for them! He invites E. and I to the proposal party where they live in Texas and I tell him we will talk about it and try to make it.
3:45 p.m. — I tell E. the news and we both try to justify the cost of flying and attending the party, but decide that between all of the emergency house costs and a wedding we just flew to this past month, it would be financially irresponsible to do so. We both marvel at how easy it is to fall into credit card debt because saying no to fun stuff sucks. We're both bummed, but try to comfort ourselves by getting excited about the actual wedding.
4 p.m. — E. heads outside to do some yard work and I text my in-laws to ask if we can come over to watch college football, as we still don't have our cable hooked up yet. They say yes and then ask us for our pizza order…. YAY!
5 p.m. — We shower and head out to pick up a six-pack of local beers to bring over. We hang out and watch football while lamenting about our house woes. I find some Trader Joe's Cookie Butter in their cabinet and have a few spoonfuls for dessert. Nobody judges me. Life is good. $9.99
Daily Total: $233.19
8:30 a.m. — We didn't get home last night until around midnight and are both useless without seven or eight hours of sleep, so we “sleep in” until 8:30. We made plans to meet some new friends at church at 9:30 and debate skipping and snuggling in bed all morning (read: having sex), but eventually drag ourselves out of bed and get ready.
11 a.m. — The church we attend is downtown, so we decide to walk around to find a brunch spot. We choose a casual crepe place with awesome outdoor seating and order one crepe each with one sweet one to share. Mine is eggs, mushrooms and caramelized onions, which I proceed to smother with hot sauce. E. gets chicken, brie, apple, and spinach and we split one with peanut butter, bananas, and honey. E. pays with our joint debit card and adds a tip. I'm not usually one to tip at a fast casual restaurant (I know, shame on me) and always appreciate this quality in my husband when I see him do it! $42.14
12 p.m. — During brunch, we decide to knock out our grocery shopping before heading home. I tell E. I want to make a Trader Joe's run as well, so we stop there first. We make a split second decision to just do all our grocery shopping there. Twist my arm! We grab carrots, spinach, berries, four bags of frozen vegetables, frozen sweet potato fries, chicken breasts, chili lime chicken burgers, butter, pumpkin muffin mix, black beans, white beans, chicken broth, crackers, brie cheese, spicy dill pickles, ginger tea, hemp seeds, green peppers, pumpkin spice seasoning, umami seasoning, macro bars, and kombucha. $101.20
1 p.m. — Stuffed from brunch, we arrive home, put away the groceries, and lounge on the couch before going over our weekly budget for the upcoming week. E. leads the charge on this venture, but we are both responsible for ensuring financial responsibility. This is when we outline our meal plan for the week to ensure we bought enough food, communicate about any meals out we may have planned, and discuss any purchases we need to make outside of essentials. While this may sound strict to some, we've found that it gives us the freedom to spend money we earn without any guilt!
2 p.m. — We know that talking about our financial goals makes us frisky, so we finally cash in on what we missed out on this morning!
3 p.m. — E. says he needs to go to Lowe's and asks if I'll join. Let it be known that E. asking me to visit Lowe's is like me asking E. to go on an all-day shopping venture to an outlet mall. Thankfully, I'm told on this trip we will stay safely in the outdoor area. E. is a man with a plan and we buy enough plants, flowers, mulch, and rocks to fill up a giant cart. E. spots a display of pumpkins and says we should get one. I've been holding out for a real pumpkin patch experience, but E. says no such thing exists in South Florida, so we make do. We pick out a big orange pumpkin and two smaller white ones for our front porch. $142.14
4 p.m. — Back at home, we put on our gardening gloves and get down to business! We rip up and plant 10 new plants in front of our front porch and around the side. We're almost halfway done when E. comes across a garden snake hiding in the mulch which signals it's my time to go inside.
5 p.m. — I check to see if the laundry is free and it is…. small victories! I quickly throw a load in and put in headphones to call my parents. We chat about their jobs and the nice weather in Tennessee while I start prepping dinner. I decide to get wild and throw together a little fall-inspired charcuterie board with snacks we got a Trader Joe's. I lay out pumpkin seed crackers, a handful of cashews, sliced brie, and the spicy dill pickle chips. I'm so pleased with my creation!
5:30 p.m. — I'm re-energized from my snack and conversation, so I decide to power through the rest of the chores for the day. I fold and put away E.'s and my laundry, make the bed with fresh sheets, vacuum the house, Swiffer the house, and clean the bathroom.
6 p.m. — Cleanliness is E.'s love language, so he's over the moon when he sees that I've tidied up while he was outside. We have tried to implement a habit of thanking each other for doing large and small tasks, even when they're necessary. I start to whip up dinner while E. hops in the shower. We had leftover pre-made meatballs in the fridge that didn't get eaten last week, so I use those, pasta, and marinara sauce to make spaghetti and meatballs. I use spinach, chopped green pepper, olives, and cashews to make a small green salad. Our realtor gave us a bottle of wine as a house warming gift when we closed, so I decide to open that as well.
7 p.m. — We settle into our dining spot on the couch and I win tonight's watching war. The new episode of Modern Family, it is! Yes, I realize I'm 12.
8 p.m. — D. cleans up in the kitchen while I procrastinate my nighttime routine by scrolling through Instagram. I silently berate myself for not asking E. to take a picture of me at brunch because I thought of a really clever caption. I spend five minutes being bummed about it and then realize this is why I have also considered deleting my Instagram indefinitely.
8:30 p.m. — I put on a quick face mask, hop in the shower and crawl into bed beside E. We watch some funny videos on YouTube together before snuggling and falling asleep around 9:30.
Daily Total: $285.48
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