A Week In Dallas, TX, On A $45,000 Salary

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.

This week, we're featuring moms and their spending during the back-to-school rush. Per Deloitte, in the United States alone, back-to-school season is the second biggest shopping season of the year, "touching 29 million households and accounting for $27 billion in sales." Since women are usually responsible for household purchases, wherever they are in the country or in the world, we wanted to see what it's like for women with children of a variety of ages, in a variety of locations.

Today: a homemaker who makes $45,000 per year. This week, she spends money on art smocks.

Occupation: Homemaker
Industry: Family Services
Age: 28
Location: Dallas, Texas
Salary: $45,000. This is my husband's salary that he earns as a teacher at a private school. It doesn't include his freelance work or the Etsy shop that I run, but it's the consistent salary we primarily budget from. When we got married, we started the process of joining our finances. After I gave birth to our three-year-old twins, we decided that I would stay home for our children's preschool years and we combined our money completely. We each have some savings accounts in our individual names, but our money is effectively joined in every regard.
Paycheck (Once Per Month): $3,750, plus about $500/month for side freelance work and my Etsy shop

Monthly Expenses
Housing: $1,400 rental home
Loan Payments: $0. We aren't carrying any debt at this time, as we paid off our student loans and cars off before having our kiddos.

All Other Monthly Expenses
Cell Phones: $120 for both my husband and me
Life Insurance & Short-Term Disability: $100 for both my husband and me
Car insurance: $130
Water, Gas & Trash: ~$60
Electricity: ~$100 — especially in Texas summer
Netflix: $10
Savings: We have about $35,000 in savings accounts, as well as each having 401(k)s from our past and current employers. We are on the hunt for a house right now, so our savings is being kept liquid to use as a downpayment.
401(k): $225 pre-tax. My husband's employer matches 3.5%.
Insurance: $350 for family insurance and share plan for kids and me. My husband is covered 100% by his employer.

7:30 a.m. — Wake up and nurse baby, shower, and begin getting the kids ready for the day. They eat a banana and a cereal bar.

9 a.m. — Head to see a friend who recently had twins. On the way, I stop by Starbucks and pick up coffees for us and pumpkin bread for me, using a gift card from one of my husband's students. Teacher perks! I help my friend with laundry, dishes, and tidying up, while our kids play and she takes care of the twins. After having twins myself three years ago, I know any bit of help can make a world of difference in those first crazy-town months.

11:30 a.m. — Stop by Babies "R" Us on the way home to buy baby shower gifts for a couple of friends who recently had babies, and are hosting a joint "sprinkle" tomorrow. I also buy a pair of swim trunks on super clearance for next summer. I use a $15 gift card from diaper rewards. $23.72

12:30 p.m. — A friend and her baby stop by on their way to the library while we eat leftovers for lunch: Pesto tortellini, grilled chicken, and grapes are on the menu. After lunch, my friend reads to the big kids while I play with the babies. It's so nice to have a good group of other mamas in this season of littles.

4 p.m. — Nap time (also known as two hours of dishes, cleaning, and dinner prep without littles afoot, plus my chance to listen to podcasts) ends, and we all play for a while. Sidewalk chalk, playing outside, and pretending with dinos are the top choices today.

5:45 p.m. — My husband, H., has a work dinner tonight, so I'm flying solo for dinner and bedtime. I chopped cabbage earlier and use that to make a family favorite of sausage and cabbage with boxed mac and cheese on the side from the grocery run earlier this week. I do my best to meal plan so that dinners are not complicated or hard to decide in the evening, especially when H. is not home in the evening.

8:30 p.m. — After a post-dinner walk around the block and bath time, all the children are tucked in and heading to dreamland. Now, I need to do dishes and prep a fruit pizza for the baby shower in the morning.

Daily Total: $23.72
6 a.m. — Wake up with baby and nurse, and then doze for a little while longer. H. had an early morning meeting with friends, but he didn't order anything for breakfast. He comes back home to get ready for the day as the bigs get up. We fix the big boys cereal and fruit that I snack on as well.

11 a.m. — Baby shower time! I bring my fruit pizza and other friends brings snacks as well. We chat and catch up as our kids all play together. It's a little chaotic but definitely worth it to spend time with these friends.

1:30 p.m. — We head home for nap time, which is rough to say the least. The marathon feeling of parenting hits me like a ton of bricks. I end up calling H. to vent as he drives home from work. I am so grateful to be able to be the primary caretaker of our kids at the moment, but gratitude doesn't make it easy.

6:30 p.m. — One of my husband's coworkers is over for dinner. We're having homemade tomatillo enchiladas with pico de gallo and corn.

11:30 p.m. — After putting the kids down to bed, we have a great conversation about the mission of their workplace and our summer adventures. We say goodbye and go to bed way too late.

Daily Total: $0
8:30 a.m. — After my rough afternoon yesterday and late night, H. lets me sleep in a little bit. When I wake up (feeling more refreshed), he is making blueberry pancakes for our crew. He's the best!

9:45 a.m. — I have follow-up eye appointment and a contact fitting since they have been bothering me. It only takes a minute and I'm headed back home. We paid our copay last week, so this one is free!

12:30 p.m. — After doing dishes and getting ready, H. and I are off! Part of his job includes chaperoning different events for his students, and today, we get to go to a music festival! Tickets were free for us, but we had to get a babysitter to watch the kids for the afternoon before the grandparents come to get them for the night. $20

1 p.m. — We stop to get sandwiches on the way to the school, where we will ride a bus down to the festival. I get a veggie sandwich with a pickle. $10.81

5:45 p.m. — The festival is awesome (and indoors, a major plus), but it's been a while since I've stood for hours on end like this. When part of the group wants to go grab dinner between bands, I am happy to help. We get fast food and I used an app to get my drink free. We split fries and chicken sandwiches! $8.53

12:30 a.m. — We arrive home happily exhausted and grateful for grandparents who host sleepovers with our kiddos every once in a while.

Daily Total: $39.34
9:30 a.m. — Wake up ready to face the day, and glad to have slept in again! I make spinach and feta omelets for breakfast, and then H. starts working on freelance projects while I clean the bathrooms in preparation for guests coming to see us.

12:30 p.m. — We meet up with the grandparents at Costco after church to grab staples using their membership, and pick up the kids. We also buy freezer orange chicken for easy meals, eggs, canned black beans, and chicken nuggets. I grab our kids a slice of pizza for lunch and also buy my parents' lunch of pizza and hot dogs. It's the least I can do after they kept our kids and had a wakeful night with the baby. $41.77

2 p.m. — All the boys are down for naps after a fun night at the grandparents. While H. does more freelance work, I run to grab birthday presents for my young cousins' party tonight. I get them some shirts, which will be great for the new school year, using a gift card I have in my wallet. I also buy a couple of shirts and pairs of shoes for my kids that are on clearance. $29

5:30 p.m. — Birthday party time. We meet my aunts, uncles, and cousins at a local pizza place. Husband orders two medium pizzas for our family to share but they dropped a piece of one, so we got an extra small pizza for free. $16.47

9:15 p.m. — After the kids are in bed, I run to the grocery store to get ingredients for tomorrow night's dinner. My cousin is stopping through on her way to Nashville and asked if we could get together with other family. I am hosting at our house and making ingredients for a burrito bar, so I get chicken, cilantro, limes, tomatoes, rice, jalapeños, bell peppers, lettuce, tomatillos, red onion, bananas, strawberries, and blueberries. We'll be able to eat off the leftovers later in the week. $29.12

Daily Total: $116.36
6:30 a.m. — Get up with the baby and nurse. Everyone else starts getting up and I make yogurt and fruit bowls, as H. heads back to work prepping for the new school year.

10 a.m. — Call my grandma to firm up plans for the day, but she's not feeling well. My cousin loves gardens and our arboretum is gorgeous with $1 days right now because it's so hot. We finally arrive after picking up my sister and dropping by a bakery with the most delicious chocolate croissant Dallas has to offer; my sister pays. Between my sister and my cousin's memberships, we all get in free, including the children's garden and parking!

12:30 p.m. — After exploring, observing, and wrangling for a while, we head to a nearby restaurant to meet my mom and grandma for lunch. We usually meet them on Mondays so they can see the boys, and my grandma almost always covers. Today, we have the most delectable rotisserie chicken, with creamed corn and spinach. Thanks, Grandma! My two big kids have been potty training and reached a new milestone at the restaurant, so I get them each a chocolate chip cookie as a special treat. $3.24

6 p.m. — I make fajita veggies, corn salsa, tomatillo salsa (I'm on a kick!), and guac in preparation for tonight's dinner. Cousins are here! The baby gets into my cousin's duffle bag, which has honey in it, so after cleaning him, myself, and the carpet up, we feast!

9:30 p.m. — After catching up, reminiscing, and eating the best ice cream money can buy (courtesy of my cousin) — we say goodbye. Love family-filled days!

Daily Total: $3.24
6:15 a.m. — Up and at 'em with the baby this morning, in time to see my cousin hit the road for Nashville!

9 a.m. — Get the big boys up and ready for the day with cereal bars and bananas. One of the bigs is spending the day with my MIL, so after dropping books off at the library and redeeming a free iced coffee coupon, we head that way.

10:30 a.m. — The baby falls asleep during the drive to the grocery store, so I drive around and look at houses our realtor has sent us that fall in our requested parameters. There are so many options, but we are waiting until we get pre-approved to see how much exactly we intend to borrow.

11:30 a.m. — Grocery store run for the rest of the week: I get bananas, garlic, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, lemons, ground beef, tortillas, hamburger buns, yogurt, cheese, and other odds and ends to complete my meal plan. $85.92

12:45 p.m. — Make it home to unload groceries and eat leftovers from earlier in the week. I make sure to give the kiddos strawberries they can't get enough of. I would consider our children fruitaholics.

6 p.m. — Using the leftover burrito bowl ingredients from last night and tortillas, I make quesadillas for dinner. My parents are joining us for dinner, and are watching the boys while we go to a small group meeting from our church. I do my best to show my deep appreciation for all that our parents do to keep us emotionally and spiritually healthy, like watching our kids.

Daily Total: $85.92
7:30 a.m. — After a tough night with the baby and my husband being the amazing daddy he is, we get up and face the day. I give all the boys bananas and make a batch of scrambled eggs. H. fills up his tank with gas on the way to school. (We each end up filling up about once a week.) $40.29

8:30 a.m. — A new friend and her baby boy come by to spend the morning together, and another friend drops off her one-year-old girl while she takes her son to the doctor. It's a little crazy but mainly fun — and my new friend and I get a surprising amount of convo in while caring for the littles.

12:45 p.m. — Friend comes back by to pick up her little girl and brings me a chai latte as a thank you! I heat up pizza leftovers for my children with grapes for lunch.

2:30 p.m. — The big boys are starting preschool in a couple of weeks at the private school where H. teaches (full scholarship?!) and we got our official acceptance today. I work on paperwork and find the school supply list...eek. Hop on the lovely search engine to price compare before grabbing the boys' art smocks for preschool, as well as roller bottles and spray bottles for essential oil blends. $28.68

Daily Total: $68.97
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