A Week In Holland, MI, On A Joint $66,000 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 millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: an administrative assistant who makes $66,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on takeout.

Occupation: Administrative Assistant
Industry: Real Estate
Age: 23
Location: Holland, MI
Joint Salary: $66,000 — $45,000 from my husband, $21,000 from me
Paycheck Amount (Bi-weekly): $1,940 combined ($1,340 from husband, $600 from me)

Monthly Expenses
Housing: $946.24 mortgage; we own our house.
Loan Payments: $272 for both of our student loans. I would really love to bump this up to $400/month one day.

All Other Monthly Expenses
Electric, Water & Gas: $122
Garbage Pickup: $18
Internet: $55
Cell Phone: $170.30 for both our phones
Car Insurance: $170.62 for both our cars
Health & Dental Insurance: $276. (My husband can stay on his parents' plan until he's 26.)
Church Donation: $261/biweekly

Day One

8:30 a.m. — I wake up being 100% cuddled by our three dogs and feeling so rested. My husband makes coffee and sits down to play video games. I make a latte and sit around lazily until the last possible minute to get ready for church.

12 p.m. — We are home again and both ravenous. Fortunately, we have leftover chicken and potatoes so it's a quick reheat.

5 p.m. — We head to the grocery store. We usually do one big trip per week on the weekends and since I cook six nights per week, there's a lot to get. We both had gym memberships before we were married but we've canceled them to cut back on spending, so my husband runs back home from the store for exercise. $100.22

6:30 p.m. — Every Friday night, we eat Chinese food and rent a movie. We had friends over Friday, so our tradition got pushed to Sunday. My favorite place is closed on Sundays but trying something new was a nice change. $22.54

9 p.m. — We're planning a trip to London next year and have a budget discussion. My mom and I are big into earning credit card reward points for travel, so my husband and I weigh the pros and cons of signing up for two new cards for their free hotel stay sign-on bonuses. We already have two out of six nights taken care of and conclude that tomorrow, I'll sign us up for one more credit card and we'll book a home vacation rental for three nights.

10:30 p.m. — We've been addicted to a game on our phones for about six months now and occasionally make in-app purchases. My husband is the culprit this time. We play a bit before heading to bed. $3.40

Daily Total: $126.16

Day Two

7:50 a.m. — My husband rolls out of bed to take the dogs out and water the lawn. He usually leaves work earlier than I do so he takes the first dog-walking shift while our newly-seeded lawn tries to sprout.

9:30 a.m. — I arrive at work half an hour after my husband. We work for the same company and it's a 45-second walk to each other's office.

11 a.m. — I sign us up for our new credit card and make the first payment on our vacation rental. It will end up costing us about $360 but the rest isn't due for more than a month. As much as I'd love to have a luxurious vacation stay, we decide on a budget-friendly but stylish studio in the city. $162.84

12 p.m. — My husband doesn't eat breakfast and usually just eats an apple for lunch. I don't know how he does it. I heat up leftover Chinese food from last night and offer him a few of my dumplings to supplement his fruit.

1 p.m. — My husband will be out of town next week so I'm trying to think of things to do without him. After scouring upcoming local events on Facebook, I decide to try a watercolor class next Wednesday. I already have some off-brand paints, so I message the instructor to make sure I won't be banished for not buying the recommended materials. That would be a deal-breaker for me. $15

3:45 p.m. — We moved from a big city last year where my commute was an hour in traffic each way and now I relish my 10-minute commute. I stop at the gas station on the way home because I don't think my car will start again if I don't. Our grocery store gives away gas coupons based on how much you spend that trip. Today, I'm saving $0.10 per gallon. $24.30

4:15 p.m. — I walk all of the dogs before my sister FaceTimes me. Every time she calls, I get motivated to clean while we talk.

5:30 p.m. — I make two portions of an Asian salad, eat one, and save the other for my husband, who has been coaching toddler soccer for a couple of months. We love Asian salads but this new recipe is mediocre. I'll delete it from my Pinterest board later.

7:30 p.m. — My husband is home and we are off to try a new swing dance class. I've wanted to get into it for a while and he's been a good sport. We tried learning from online videos a few months ago, but couldn't find a free option that didn't leave us completely overwhelmed. I've been keeping an eye on the swing dance community in the big city closest to us and they are offering a free introductory class tonight. We'll dance the night away there!

9 p.m. — Not quite what we expected. There were a TON of people because it was free, and it was organized so that I never got to dance with my favorite dance partner — my husband! After this class, we'd have to pay for the classes for the rest of the month and I don't think it's worth it. We stop at a grocery store on the way home because I'm on the hunt for hazelnuts. They don't have any but my husband suggested we buy cake for dessert ($5.45) and I stock up on dish sponges ($13.21) that are cheaper here than at our regular store. $18.66

Daily Total: $220.80

Day Three

8:55 a.m. — I really wanted to hit a coffee shop this morning for a latte but my budget conscience is getting the best of me. We have a latte machine anyway and I'm running on time for once, so I make one for my husband and myself.

1 p.m. — It's been a busy day but my husband and I planned a lunch date. He has a punch card for “free noodles for a year” at Noodles & Co. (It's really just buy one bowl, get one free once a month for a year, so we go once a month.) We usually do their online surveys for a free appetizer each time we go but I forgot this time; we order the pot stickers anyway ($9.45). He drove so he fills up on gas ($40.83) and picks up a video game he had preordered ($52.33) while we're out. $102.61

3:30 p.m. — I head home, but not before realizing that we got a small foreign transaction fee when we booked the vacation rental. I make a mental note to look into foreign transaction fees and how I can avoid them while abroad. $4.88

5:30 p.m. — My husband is coaching soccer again so I settle in for a few hours of Gilmore Girls. I don't usually have the attention span to binge-watch shows, but I can't get enough of Rory's love life.

7:15 p.m. — My husband is home and showered just in time for me to finish making turkey burger patty melts with fries. I freeze enough turkey burger meat to make one more for myself when he's out of town next week.

10:30 p.m. — My husband plays video games while I read my library book for a few hours. I make us tea and heat up pumpkin cookies I stored in the freezer last week before we go to bed.

Daily Total: $107.49

Day Four

9 a.m. — It's a rainy morning and I can't fight the urge to get a coffee shop latte. It was so worth it. $5.57

12 p.m. — It's a CRAZY busy day at work. I scarf down the last of the leftover chicken and potatoes (I follow the one-week rule for leftovers and it hasn't failed me yet) before my boss calls me back into his office to type a few emails.

1 p.m. — My husband pops into my office, excitedly about our favorite author's newest book release. We don't seem to share the same feelings about libraries. $15.89

4 p.m. — After the hectic day I just had, a trip to the dentist's office is actually relaxing. I get an exceptionally chatty hygienist, which makes the cleaning go faster. This is the first year I've had dental insurance in awhile and I'm really glad I do. $21.80

5:30 p.m. — We're both starving so I get our Mediterranean chicken and veggies going. It's an easy meal to make and I watch Gilmore Girls while it cooks. My husband goes out for a run — he is way more disciplined than I am.

7 p.m. — After eating and watching a show with our free Hulu trial, I suggest we use a coupon that came in the mail to get milkshakes. $4.76

10:30 p.m. — We both spend the evening reading before hitting the lights. Tomorrow is going to be a long day.

Daily Total: $48.02

Day Five

7:45 a.m. — I leave a little earlier on Thursdays and Fridays so I take the dogs out and get an egg and toast going.

9 a.m. — I am amazingly bad at getting up early enough to fully get ready. I literally ran out the door to get to work on time and I settle in for a lot of paperwork.

12:30 p.m. — I pull out my leftover Noodles & Co. for lunch. I am an expert at making single servings last several meals.

1 p.m. — My husband was traveling for work for the day and spotted a Chipotle. He gets lunches reimbursed when he travels so it was on the house! ($9.69 expensed)

6 p.m. — Husband and I settle in to eat spaghetti and watch YouTube videos. We spend a little too long afterward being lazy.

7:10 p.m. — I failed to get off the couch in time to get ready so I'm flying around last minute figuring out what to wear. We're watching my brother-in-law play a concert about 30 miles away. My in-laws are very generous about paying for us when we're out and they covered our tickets.

11 p.m. — Our backs are killing us and I'm glad to be sitting in the car again. Our post-concert tradition is always getting fast food on the way home; my chicken sandwich hits the spot. $7.39

Daily Total: $7.39

Day Six

9 a.m. — I thought I was going to be late but miraculously, I hit my desk right at 9, homemade latte in hand.

12 p.m. — I always try to hold off for lunch until noon or later, so I reheat my meager portion of Mediterranean chicken and veggies and glance at the newspaper. We considered getting newspaper delivery to our house but borrowing them from work (and stealing the crossword section at the end of the day) is much cheaper.

1 p.m. — My husband noticed that one of our sprinklers broke this morning so he went to Menards to get lawn watering paraphernalia. $39.41

5:30 p.m. — I meet my husband at home and we start our Friday night movie and Chinese food ritual. $22.95

8 p.m. — We have tea and pumpkin cookies while my husband plays video games and I read. I also make our bi-weekly donation to our old church.

Daily Total: $62.36

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — My husband is up early to watch a soccer game. We both love lazy Saturday mornings spent in front of the TV with caffeine in hand and sleeping dogs on our laps.

12 p.m. — I've planned a surprise date to the zoo! One of our first unofficial dates was a trip to this zoo and it's the first time either of us has been back. I waited until the off-season started so tickets are cheaper. $14

2 p.m. — We are starved but nothing sounds good, so we finally decide on Applebee's. Contrary to most of my Applebee's experiences, the pasta I chose today was pretty disappointing. $22.34

4 p.m. — We finish our date walking around downtown for what we thought was our town's fall festival, only to find out that the bulk of excitement happened this morning.

6 p.m. — Since we've run out of leftovers, we do our weekly grocery trip to have something to make for dinner. $111.56

9 p.m. — I do a little tidying up and gather laundry for tomorrow so we can finish the night watching YouTube videos before heading to bed.

Daily Total: $147.90

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