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A Week In Jacksonville, FL, On A $497,000 Joint Income

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Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We're asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: a communications director who has a joint income of $497,000 and spends some her money this week on kitchen scissors.
Currency in USD.
Editor's Note: This is a follow-up diary. Before reading this diary, we recommend you read the original diary from October 2019.
Occupation: Communications Director
Industry: Government
Age: 30
Location: Jacksonville, FL
MySalary: $135,000 + $27,500 VA Disability
My Husband's Salary: $362,000 ($197,000 base, ~$35,000 bonus, $130,000 in stock/year)
Net Worth: ~$747,000 ($72,000 in my Roth IRA, $83,000 in my husband's Roth IRA, $197,000 in my 401(k), $194,000 in my husband's 401(k), $25,000 in our savings account, $49,000 in our investment account, $30,000 in apartment upgrade fund, $440,000 in current home value minus debt. Our finances are completely joint.)
Debt: $298,000 mortgage
My Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $3,000
VA Disability (1x/month): $2,288
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $5,100
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,850 for a four-bed/three-bath home we bought in 2020 for $345,000; we rent out the two-bed/two-bath apartment above our garage for $1,100 per month.
Health Insurance: $239 (Covers family of four, soon to be five.)
Cell Phones: $45 (Husband's company covers his phone plan.)
Term Life Insurance: $52
Lawn Care: $150
House Cleaning: $300 (Every other week.)
Gas: $100
Nanny: $3,650 (40 hours a week at $20 per hour for two kids, soon to be three.)
HBO Max: $15 (Trade with my brother for Disney+.)
Spotify: $15
Kids Soccer/Swim Lessons: $55
Preschool: $300
Dog Care: $120
Holiday/Birthday Savings: $200
Vacation Fund: $600
Kids' 529s: $1,000 (Soon to be $1,500.)
Donations: $2,400 to various causes
Support To Husband's Grandmother: $1,000
Car Insurance: $1,215 every six months
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Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
While I'm the first from my family to go to college and graduate, I think my grandparents and family had an expectation that I would do so. I received a military ROTC scholarship which paid my tuition and fees at a public state school in exchange for four years of active duty service. I worked 30+ hours a week bartending and through the summer for living expenses and room and board. I graduated with about $25,000 student loan debt, which my husband and I paid off with his bonus.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents were paycheck-to-paycheck for the majority of my childhood — a situation that was exacerbated by their divorce. After they split, I lived primarily with my grandparents who tried to impart financial knowledge but knew nearly nothing about investing or long-term savings. I'm incredibly grateful for the frugal example they set, though, and have them to thank for not getting myself into heavy consumer debt in my early 20s.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was at a theme park working in the game booths. I got it to pay for school clothes. My grandparents set a specific budget for buying my clothes for the year, and I had to supply the difference if I wanted something outside of their budget. They also enforced that I save 20% of everything I earned, which I used to pay for books my first semester.
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Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes and no. My parents were and still are pretty irresponsible with consumer debt and money, but I knew my grandparents would always meet my basic needs and some of my wants. I knew we didn't have much beyond the basics, and learned quickly not to ask for extras if I couldn't pay for it myself.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes and no. I don't worry that we won't have any, but I do worry that my understanding of how to use the money we have is behind the power curve compared to others. My husband grew up in the foster care system, so we're both constantly learning how to regulate feelings of insecurity while simultaneously trying to plan effectively for our future. My husband's current salary is relatively new to us — he entered big tech a couple years ago. Prior to doing so, he was a government employee and former military as well. We're considering hiring a financial advisor to assist us, but feel overwhelmed in the process.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
18, when I went to college. I had to cover 100% of my expenses, though I was able to live at my grandparents' home on breaks/summers for free. My financial safety net consists of my husband. My grandparents/my husband's parents have passed away and I don't have a great relationship with either of my parents, so my husband and our combined resources is the extent of our net.
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Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
We rent out the two-bed/two-bath apartment above our detached garage for $1,100 per month. We anticipate at some point in the next year or two that my husband's grandmother will move into this apartment for more daily living support, so we are working to find a contractor who can make it more accessible (we will not be charging her rent).

Day One

6 a.m. — While the time of day is more reasonable, our morning habits remain the same. My husband, J., wakes me up with coffee in bed, and I'm up to get our five-year-old daughter, B., and our three-year-old son, F., ready for school. I quickly get them changed, teeth brushed, and downstairs where I make a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, and toast for the kids. J. packs their lunches and then heads into the home office to begin working remotely. Our nanny, T., arrives to take our son to preschool and I watch our daughter get on the bus. Once the house settles down, I make myself some toast and cranberry juice and log in across from J. in the home office.
9 a.m. — I work through a few contract proposals and clear a few responses for media inquiries. J. and I discuss our plans to make the apartment above our garage more accessible for his grandmother. We have a virtual call with a contractor who came recommended by a friend, but he can't begin the project for at least nine months and J. worries that his grandmother will need the apartment and the support sooner rather than later. We decide to connect with a couple more contractors and see what timelines work for our needs.
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1 p.m. — J. makes us shrimp and veggie stir-fry for lunch, which we both eat at our desks.
4 p.m. — Both of the kids and T. are home from school/preschool and playing in the backyard. I get uncomfortable sitting and decide to take a walk while I also take my last meeting of the day. I'm six months pregnant with baby number three and constantly struggle with afternoon/evening soreness and heartburn. I shut down the laptop for the day when I get back and switch to mobile monitoring/responding to emails. T. has the kids working on cleaning up from playtime and getting their things ready for school tomorrow while I start dinner. We say goodnight to T. at 4:30 and enjoy our dinner of spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad. My son brings J. his plate into the office. I hear a lot of giggling and a short sing-a-long of the Bruno song from Encanto.
6 p.m. — The kids and I play, take our dog for a walk, and work on colouring some large prints they got for Christmas. At 7, J. emerges from the office to help get the kids ready for bed. We each read a book to the kids and they're asleep by 7:30. J. heads back into the office to handle an urgent task and I answer some emails that can't wait until tomorrow.
9 p.m. — I decide to take a bath to ease the soreness and have some frozen grapes while I soak and watch The Flight Attendant. I find our favourite swaddle blankets on sale and I have a 15% off coupon, so I purchase some for the new little one. J. comes in after he logs off and chats with me while I'm doing my evening skincare routine (wash face with CeraVe, put on HA from The Ordinary and First Aid Beauty moisturiser). We discuss the possibility of taking a vacation before the baby gets here, but can't decide what to do to stay socially distanced. We cuddle, have sex, and pass out around 11. $52.87
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Daily Total: $52.87

Day Two

4 a.m. — F. crawls into our bed, which wakes me up and I can't fall back asleep. I read a few pages from All That She Carried and finally fall back asleep.
6 a.m. — Alarm goes off, J. brings me coffee in bed and then we're up to get the kids ready and out the door to school. We swap today, so I pack lunches while he gets the kids dressed and makes breakfast of oatmeal with peanut butter and bananas. I braid B.'s hair after breakfast and watch her get on the bus. T. comes over and begins her work day with F. Today is zoo day for them and I'm feeling pretty crummy about not being able to go but I love that she does so many activities with him and enjoy seeing their relationship blossom. We've not previously had a nanny (in my last diary our kids were in full-time daycare), but with the pandemic and the new baby coming we made the shift to a nanny and have been so grateful for her expertise and support. At the zoo, T. buys both of them lunch and pays for F. to feed the giraffes ($24.18). We have a cash-back rewards credit card that T. uses to make purchases when out and about with the kids. T. also uses my vehicle when caring for the kids. $24.18
12 p.m. — I get hungry and wander into the kitchen to make toasted turkey, avocado, and cheese sandwiches for J. and me. I also eat half a cantaloupe and a yogurt, which I regret almost immediately because heartburn. It's J.'s turn to plan our bi-weekly date night, and he buys us outdoor comedy show tickets. $94
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3 p.m. — T. and F. are back from the zoo and F. is passed out for a late afternoon nap. B. gets home from school and T. takes her to the local library to return books and check out new ones. I check the mail and have medical bill for a copay. I pay it and then submit for FSA reimbursement. $25
4 p.m. — T. leaves for the day, we reset our things for the next day, and J. and I help the kids pick up their rooms. We all decide we want tacos for dinner so we place an order for shrimp tacos from our favourite local spot. J. heads out to pick them up ($54 +tip) while I put kids in pyjamas and feed the dog. We all eat outside in the backyard, kick the soccer ball around, and sing more Encanto songs. $64
7 p.m. — J. and I get the kids down for bed before he heads back to the home office to work. I call my sister and catch up, and then call my bestie and catch up. I sip some cranberry juice and do a TikTok free weight circuit that is "pregnancy friendly." J. finally logs off for the day and we curl up to watch The Flight Attendant. I do my nightly routine, apply new press-on nails, and pass out before 10.
Daily Total: $207.18

Day Three

6 a.m. — It's Saturday, so of course my kids have not slept in. I'm woken up by F.. asking for help wiping (oh joy) and J. graciously agrees to take one for our team and wipe. I get B. in the shower and braid hair while J. bathes F. We decide on Mickey Mouse waffles and bacon for breakfast, which J. starts while I take a work call.
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8:30 a.m. — We head to the park to let the kids run around and throw the frisbee for the pup. I walk laps and listen to music. When I finish, I swap with J. who does a sprint workout while I keep an eye on the kids. Our dog has decided he's done with the frisbee and falls asleep. We finish up and there are no tears on the way to the car!
11 a.m. — I make potstickers, jasmine rice, and steam-in-a-bag green beans for lunch, while J. and the kids pick up the house a little bit. We eat outside again and end up playing for awhile afterwards. The kids are tired so we head back in to rest with a movie but both kids fall asleep. J. and I tiptoe out, head to a different room and have sex, and then watch a football game until they wake up.
5 p.m. — Our date night sitter, N., arrives as we're plating dinner of honey garlic chicken, mashed potatoes, and broccoli. I throw on a dress and sandals, mascara, and lipstick and J. and I head out for date night. We go to a sushi spot where I order two spicy crab and avocado rolls. He orders a couple of raw rolls and we split miso soup and edamame ($82). We enjoy the comedy show but wish more folks were masked up. We get home around 11, venmo N. ($100), wash up and go to sleep. $182
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Daily Total: $182

Day Four

6 a.m. — I wake up to coffee in bed from J. and hugs from the kids. We read for awhile in bed and then get up and get ready while J. walks the dog. We make egg and sausage breakfast tacos for dinner, then head out to B.'s soccer game.
12 p.m. — J. and F. visit the snack bar and buy some gatorade and chips that we all share. F. scores her first goal of the season and she's so proud of herself! We get home and do some more colouring after egg salad sandwiches for lunch. J. and I discuss our schedules for the week and J. works on an urgent task for work that pulls him into the office for a few hours. $6
4 p.m. — I'm sorting through F.'s clothes when I realise that he's nearly outgrown his shoes. I search a couple different stores and find two pairs on sale with a free shipping coupon. I fold laundry while J. runs a few loads and we encourage the kids to put their clothes away with a game. $72.95
7 p.m. — J. makes us lasagna for dinner while I braid both kids' hair. We're watching Encanto for the 87th time this month and at this point J. and I know the words to every song (which we sing loudly and off-key). We ask the kids what they'd like to name their new baby brother or sister, and their offerings include Tater Tot and Princess so I suspect J. and I will name this little one on our own. We work together to get them bathed, lotioned, pajama-ed, read to, and in bed by 8.
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8:30 p.m. — J. is on the phone with his brother, catching up and I purchase a gift from his cousin's baby registry and have it sent to her. J. sends me a calendar invite for another call with a contractor, and I unwind by reading more of my book and doing my skincare routine plus a charcoal face mask. I fall asleep for the night around 10. $47.99
Daily Total: $126.94

Day Five

6 a.m. — I wake up to my daily coffee offering and we work to get the kids ready for school. I work quickly today because I have a virtual VA appointment at 7. I dial into the meeting, discuss my medications, and jump right into work afterwards. T. arrives to take F. to preschool and J. brings me toast and cranberry juice as he settles into work.
9 a.m. — T. fills my gas tank on the way back from preschool drop-off ($53). I snack on celery and PB. $53
11:30 a.m. — J. and I take the dog on a walk around the neighborhood for lunch, and he gets a call from our tenants/neighbors in the apartment that one of their toilets is leaking. J. calls our plumber who agrees to come out today and make the repair. He arrives within an hour and charges us $25 for the visit and $8.50 for the part. This is discounted because he's a friend of J.'s from the military and they play pick-up ball together fairly regularly. J. texts the neighbors to thank them for letting us know so quickly. $33.50
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3 p.m. — B. gets off the bus, T. gets home with F. from school, and they're all outside playing in the pool. I'm working on approving web tickets and finalising a campaign design but can see them from the window and have a quick cry at my desk. J. consoles me and reminds me that we're doing what we can and they know how loved they are, and I feel a little better. I take my laptop outside and sit and watch them play for awhile. J. preps a sheet-pan meal of chicken fajitas and I put it in the oven when he gets hit with an urgent task. We say goodbye to T. and get everyone cleaned up and in PJs for dinner.
7 p.m. — Kids are asleep and J. and I clean up from dinner and move laundry around. We talk about the renovations some more and consider adding a ramp/elevator in case his grandmother may eventually struggle with the second story entrance. We watch another episode of The Flight Attendant and then J. plays a video game while I read more of my book. We both do our evening routines and we're in bed by 10.
Daily Total: $86.50

Day Six

6 a.m. — Same old routine. F. doesn't have preschool today, so T. takes him to the park while J. and I work in the home office. We break away from work to do another call with a contractor, but this one is charging 35% more than the last quote we received and can't start for four to six months. We're not ready to throw in the towel so we call another professional for a phone consultation.
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12 p.m. — J. and I have been buried in work, but I'm hangry so I make us some leftover chicken fajitas for lunch. T. takes the dog for a walk with F. and I switch over laundry.
3:30 p.m. — D. gets home from school and T. helps her and F. get ready for soccer practice. T leaves at 4:30 and I take the kids to practice. I'm too tired to cook and J. doesn't want to either so I stop at Panera and pick up a family feast meal for dinner: sandwiches, salad, and cheddar and broccoli soup. The kids devour their dinner, and J. and I get them into bed by 7:30. $43
8 p.m. — J. and I wrap up work for the day and we decide to make brownies for dessert. While they cool, we pick up the house quickly and turn on a football game. J. cleans out lunchboxes for tomorrow and I reset for the next day. We talk/catch up and realise that our at-home waxing kit finally came in. I convince J. to let me wax his nether region (real love) and it ends in both of us crying-laughing.
10 p.m. — I read more of my book then bring myself to get up and do my skincare routine and fall asleep by 10. J. stays up to watch the new Spider-Man movie and text his friends about it.
Daily Total: $43

Day Seven

6 a.m. — Same old routine. We tag-team getting the kids fed and out the door, and to the office we go. Both of us work through the morning while T. takes F. to preschool.
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12 p.m. — J. makes us ramen for lunch. I take an urgent call during lunch and have to get camera ready, so I run upstairs and apply some tinted moisturiser, mascara, a tinted lip balm, and fix my hair. I change into a work top and keep leggings on the bottom and do the interview from the home office. J. takes his calls outside by the pool so he's not disturbing me, but when I finish up, I find him in the pool with T. and F.
3 p.m. — B. gets off the bus and immediately jumps in the pool. I finish up a call then I jump in too. We say goodbye to T. early and order pizzas for delivery from the pool ($36 +tip). We all eat outside, play with the dog, and invite our neighbours out to help us finish the pizza. We all hang out for awhile and then bring the kids in to shower and get ready for bed. $46
8 p.m. — The kids are in bed and J. and I are on the couch doing work from our phones. I place an order for a new pair of kitchen scissors, a stuffed elephant dog toy, and more prenatal vitamins on Amazon. J. and I watch the final episode of The Flight Attendant, have sex, and fall asleep by 10. $37.25
Daily Total: $83.25
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