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A Week In Irvine, California, On A $197,000 Joint Income

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 personal trainer who makes $85,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Pineapple Spindrift.
All currency in USD.
Occupation: Personal Trainer
Industry: Health and Fitness
Age: 31
Location: Irvine, CA
My Salary: $85,000
My Husband's Salary: $112,000
Net Worth: $35,000 ($65,000 in joint savings and investments minus debt. My husband and I have joint banking accounts for all of our main banking. He also has an additional credit card for a credit line he has his car payment on, and I have an additional credit card that I only keep one charge on to avoid closing it. We are completely transparent about our finances and spending and run any larger purchases by each other before submitting. I am also in the first year of my doctorate of psychology program, and my husband and I plan to pay all of my loans together come 2025.)
Debt: $30,000 (student loans and cars)
My Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $3,500
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (2x/month): ~$4,700
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $2,250 including water and sewage
Car Loans: $1,000 for both of our cars
Student Loans: $0 (Repayment has not begun yet.)
Health Insurance: $680
Dog Health Insurance: $12
Gym Rent: $697 (I'm a personal trainer, and this is what I pay to use the gym space.)
Hulu & Netflix: $26
Electricity & Gas: $180
Meditation App: $29
Husband's Exercise Program: $50
Phones: $100 (My parents pay for mine, but my husband covers his.)
Liability Insurance: $100 liability insurance
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?
Yes, it was expected that I attend undergraduate college. Once I graduated, I swore up and down that I would never go back to school. Then, at 29, I decided to obtain my master's in psychology, and now I am completing my doctorate of psychology in applied clinical psychology. My parents graciously covered my undergraduate degree (all expenses), but I have taken loans out for my advanced degrees.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I had an allowance for as far back as I can remember. I would earn this by taking care of certain chores (I think it was something around $5 a week). As a young teenager, my parents opened a checking account for me and taught me how to balance my checkbook. My dad owned his own business, and my mom ran the books for him. I knew we were always comfortable although I did not have flashy things like many of those around me. My parents always discussed living within their means to save for older years. As I got older, I remember specific financial events, including when my parents popped Champagne after paying their mortgage off, and a number of times they told my brother and I that "dad had a good year." We certainly never wanted for anything.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
Working at a clothing store in high school. I was so eager to get a job as soon as I turned 16 so I could earn money to spend on lunches with friends and clothes. I was treated terribly in that first job but stuck it out for almost a year.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Nope, never.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes and no. My husband and I have worked our butts off to become much more financially comfortable in the past two years, but we live in an expensive place so it is always at the back of my mind. Plus, I will have to complete internships for school so I will not be making the income I make now after this year (for about a year), which causes me anxiety sometimes. We are trying to get our finances in order (e.g. buy a home and maintain a budget) so even when I am not working we will be fine. I know ultimately we will be okay, especially once I am licensed and practicing in psychology.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
Once I graduated college, I was on my own, minus my cell phone payment. My parents are very comfortable still, and I know that if we were ever drowning, they would be able to loan us money or house us for a while, which definitely helps ease anxiety.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My parents handed over an investment account with about $15,000 that they saved up for me as a child (leftover from my college funds). They also provided me with my cars until my mid-twenties. Lastly, my parents will contribute a nice portion to my husband's and my down payment fund ($30,000) although we have not bought a house just yet.

Day One

5:30 a.m. — Fridays are usually early mornings for me; I have a regularly scheduled 6:15 a.m. in-home client. I begrudgingly roll out of bed and sneak into the kitchen to get the coffee going. Then I head quietly to the bathroom so I don't wake up my husband, P. I wash my face, brush my teeth, apply deodorant, concealer, and sunscreen. This client has a dog that my dog gets along with and they let me bring my pup whenever, so I get my dog ready with his harness and collar, grab coffee, take my vitamins, and get into the car.
7:45 a.m. — I head back home for a short break to make breakfast, drop the pup off, and tidy up the kitchen. Does anyone else feel like all they do is clean the kitchen? Just me?
9:15 a.m. — I pop into Hydration Room for a vitamin injection. I did these twice a week before my wedding (which was three months ago) to increase my immunity, and have continued roughly a few times a month. I switch between an immunity shot with vitamins D, C, B6, and glutathione, and an amino acid shot with a B-complex and others (that are too lengthy to type) to help with overall physical function. I get the latter today. $38.65
1:15 p.m. — My clients are done for the day, so I hop on the phone with a friend to catch up. We end up chatting for over an hour while I prep my crockpot chili for dinner tonight. This is one of my favourite recipes! My secret ingredients are chorizo sausage and shallots instead of regular onion.
3 p.m. — I head over to a friend's house to get in a quick workout and catch-up. We work out for about 45 minutes then crack a bottle of wine. Her birthday is tomorrow, so I bring her gifts over so I don't have to drag them to the restaurant tomorrow. She just launched her own business and is working her butt off, as well as spending a lot of time on her feet each day, so I got her an hour foot and back massage at a local foot spa, and she's thrilled! Self-care is the best care.
5:30 p.m. — I head home to meet P. and get ready to go over to a different friend's house tonight. They have a new baby that we can't wait to meet! We pack up the chili as well as a loaf of gluten-free sourdough, bowls, and a bottle of wine. I have been gluten-free for over eight years now (intolerance) and found this incredible gluten-free sourdough from a bakery in northern California. They use the cleanest, freshest ingredients and go through a 12-hour fermentation process that allows the bread to digest so easily. I order a few loaves a month. It's not cheap, but it is beyond worth it and P. loves it too.
10:45 p.m. — Oh my gosh, time flies! We have such a great time catching up with our friends, and I hold their baby girl most of the night. P. and I are in the early stages of trying for our own, so my baby fever is at an all-time high. We wrap up our evening, head back home to walk the dog, and hit the sheets.
Daily Total: $38.65

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — Up a bit earlier than I would prefer on a weekend. I'm currently in a doctor of psychology program and our classes run every other weekend during the semester. Due to the pandemic, we have remote class today. I drink water, take my vitamins, and let the dog out. Then, I throw turkey bacon in the oven to eat with a few slices of GF sourdough and tomatoes before class starts. I also get a load of laundry going.
11 a.m. — I have a hair appointment to touch up my colour during my one-hour class break. The salon is about 12 minutes from my house, so when the professor calls a break, I dash over to the salon and pick my Zoom back up in my car. I preemptively set my Zoom background as a generic office setting so no one will notice my changing background. Also, my hairstylist is a friend and is willing to be flexible today, which I am grateful for.
1 p.m. — My hair is currently wet, my colour is not done, and my next class is starting. This should be interesting.
1:30 p.m. — P. stops at the local pet shop to pick up more food for the dog. He grabs two bags of food, plus a handful of bully sticks and bones for him to chew. Our dog is expensive! $190
2:30 p.m. — Okay, this is easily one of the most chaotic situations I've dealt with. I keep flipping between showing my face and not, and my friend is speeding through trying to finish colouring and cutting my hair. I dash home during a break and am able to get resettled in my bedroom for the duration. On my last break, I flip the laundry once more. $175
5 p.m. — Class is done, so I jump up to finish doing my hair and getting dressed for my friend's birthday celebration tonight. P. had a big allergy attack today and is feeling pretty miserable. He can't stop sneezing and his eyes are consistently tearing. We hop him up on allergy meds for dinner and hope for the best. I take the dog out again, feed him dinner, and wrap my friend's gift.
7:30 p.m. — Dinner is delish! We go to a local Mexican spot with a group of nine of our friends. I have ceviche, a couple of skinny margaritas, lots of chips and dips, and grilled shrimp tacos. P. shares the appetisers with me and orders carnitas for his meal, plus a beer. The birthday girl's husband graciously picks the tab up despite us pushing to send him our share. They are some of our closest friends, so we mentally note to pick up the tab on the next dinner. We attempt to go to a bar next door, but the line is 30 people deep, so we head back to the birthday girl's house instead to keep the party going!
10:30 p.m. — P. is ready to go home (his medicine is wearing off), so we say our goodbyes and head out. At home, I go through my evening routine — makeup towel, rinse face with water, and scrub lightly with a baby washcloth, apply FactorFive stem-cell sensitive skin serum, Avene eye cream, Lashfood lash serum, Biossance squalene oil, brush my teeth with Boka Ela natural toothpaste, and floss. It's a lot, but I do it every single night without fail! I flip on our humidifier, smooch P., read a few pages of my book (currently reading Attachments: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell), and we both fall asleep pretty quick.
Daily Total: $365

Day Three

7:15 a.m. — Ugh, another early weekend morning. I don't actually tend to sleep past 7:30 or 8 on the weekends, but it feels very different to have to wake up to an alarm versus waking up naturally. Once my eyes open, I grab my phone and order a week's worth of groceries with Whole Foods delivery (through Amazon Prime) while I get my brain going. I would normally go grocery shopping myself and avoid the $10 delivery charge, but class is eight hours today and I don't feel like rushing. I order organic spinach, frozen shitake mushrooms, green beans, cilantro, cucumbers, shallots, pineapple, melon, strawberries, bananas, gluten-free pasta, tomato sauce, grass-fed ground beef, ground lamb, chicken sausage, deli turkey, a dairy-free and gluten-free key lime pie to try, almond flour tortillas, pineapple Spindrift, peanut butter protein bars, chicken bone broth, and organic ketchup. $225
7:45 a.m. — I finally get out of bed and throw on a sweatshirt and sweatpants, rinse my face with water and apply serum, quick brush of the teeth, apply concealer, make a Daily Harvest strawberry smoothie (from an order delivered a few weeks ago; I add Whole Foods vanilla plant-based protein, Thrive Market collagen powder, and Ora Organics green superfood powder) and log on to Zoom for class. P. gets up a few minutes later and is feeling pretty crummy still, but nonetheless brings me a steaming mug of coffee before he heads out for a few morning clients.
11 a.m. — We break for 15 minutes, so I throw in a load of laundry, put away the groceries that were delivered, take my vitamins (Garden of Life raw prenatal, an adrenal supplement, Jarrow CoQ10 ubiquinol, fish oil, and NAC) and make a quick meal of grain-free tortillas, smoked salmon, a kale mix, and a mayo-based sauce. My kitchen is a mess and giving me low-key anxiety, but I will wait until my lunch break to tackle it. Zoom class at least means I can get chores done around the house over the weekend, which is nice! I also jump on Amazon and order a new bottle of CoQ10 ubiquinol supplement, which is one I am using to balance out my hormones after so many years on oral birth control. $44.46
12:20 p.m. — Over my lunch break, I turn on Maid on Netflix while I clean up the kitchen, wipe the counters down, run the dishwasher, sweep and mop the kitchen floors, strip the bed to change the sheets, throw in another load of laundry, fold the clean towels, and order coffee for pick up from Philz ground coffee beans for P. to pick up on his way home. $44.70
4 p.m. — My professor let us out an hour early, hallelujah. I flip the laundry and grab the dog to take him on a walk around our neighbourhood while I turn on my Superhuman walking meditation. The weather is gorgeous, and I feel myself releasing anxiety immediately.
4:45 p.m. — Before I dive back into work, I allow myself a break. I pour a glass of chardonnay and turn on last week's episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County. I'm obsessed with Heather! I love a woman with boundaries. Don't @ me.
6:15 p.m. — P. and I head to pick up food for dinner. I find a local Indian spot that labels their gluten- and dairy-free options, which makes things much easier for me, and I've been dying to try it. We order a lamb dish, two chicken dishes (one curry and another I've never tried), garlic naan for P., and a butternut squash masala. Once we get home, I quickly make the dog his dinner and serve myself a plate with a little of everything (besides the naan). I also have one more half glass of chardonnay with the food. Man oh man, it is SO good! We will definitely be going back. $108.23
7:30 p.m. — As I watch a two-hour video for one of my classes, I nod off on the couch and end up falling asleep for over an hour. P. is an angel and finishes cleaning the kitchen, makes up the bed with new sheets, and takes the dog out. Once I wake back up, I finish folding the clean laundry, get ready for bed (same nighttime routine plus Ilia Lip Wrap), and get in bed to read. Early rise tomorrow for Monday; let's dooooo this.
Daily Total: $422.39

Day Four

5:20 a.m. — Alarm goes off, and I take 10 minutes to wake up. I finally jump out of bed, brush my teeth, wash my face, start the coffee, get dressed, and take the dog to the bathroom. I'm out the door by 6:17.
1:20 p.m. — I'm finally back home from my morning stretch of clients. I was able to get a workout in, too! I throw some beef chorizo sausage, brown rice, and leftover squash masala into a pan and cook it up together. I top it with cabbage and mixed veggies and call it a lunch. I throw our duvet cover into the wash, turn on Maid for an hour or so while I eat and decompress, then get to work on homework.
5:10 p.m. — I finish with clients for the day, mobile deposit a check from my client, and grab the pup to take him on a 30-minute walk.
6:30 p.m. — I pause watching a video for school to make dinner. I throw together ground turkey, black beans, and bell pepper with Trader Joe's taco seasoning. Then top it over brown rice, add shredded veggies, and call it a day. P. gets home and plops on the couch with dinner to watch 1883 while I put my headphones in to finish the video for school.
8:30 p.m. — It's a client's birthday tomorrow. I jump online and order a gift card for her to her favourite fast-casual healthy restaurant and have it delivered to her email. Another trainer will bring fruit and candles to celebrate while we sing to her tomorrow morning $25
9:15 p.m. — Normal nighttime routine after and bed by 9:30.
Daily Total: $25

Day Five

5:20 a.m. — It's early. I roll out of bed after two snoozes, get dressed, go through morning routine (wash face, serum, facial oil, brush teeth, put contacts in), grab coffee, a Sans peanut butter meal bar, and an apple, and head out the door.
1:15 p.m. — What a chaotic morning. The good news is we received the email with our official preapproval letter, so we can start house hunting! I immediately send my realtor a text, and she responds with excitement and starts sending listings over. This market is absolutely bonkers, so we're managing expectations but also know we have to be aggressive, so here goes nothing.
2:30 p.m. — I make turkey and veggie roll-ups in almond flour tortillas, plus a Daily Harvest flatbread for lunch. I was hungry. I catch up on The Bachelor, fall asleep for a few minutes after, then work on an assignment before my afternoon clients.
3:30 p.m. — I get word that my realtor made an appointment for tonight to look at a listing. P. can't make it, but I'll take videos to show him.
6 p.m. — My realtor meets me at the gym, and we go together to look at the listing. On the way over, my dad calls and invites us to a last-minute dinner. We accept. The house is great! I definitely want P. to see it but it could be a contender.
7:10 p.m. — P. and I end up getting to the restaurant around the same time, but my parents are already there. They order a bottle of red wine and pour a bit for each of us as I fill everyone in on the listing and show them videos. We order deviled eggs, escargot (barf, I don't eat this), and a salad for appetisers. For dinner, I order a pan-seared fish dish and share steak and frites with P. He orders a beef stew, mom gets French onion soup and mussels, and my dad gets French meat stew. It is an absolute feast and absolutely delicious. Parents pick up the check, which is very generous.
9:30 p.m. — P. and I get to bed a little later because when we get home we get into the mood… if you know what I mean. After, we walk the dog and get ready for bed and catch up on our days. I read for 20 or 30 minutes then fall asleep. P. is out immediately, which is his superpower. It's pretty unbelievable how fast he falls asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

5:20 a.m. — I slept SO hard last night, I wake up confused as to what day it is. P. and I get up and proceed through normal routine. I take the dog out. While I'm walking the dog, I eat a GoMacro bar and a banana. Then, I load some equipment in my car and I'm out the door by 6.
10 a.m. — I'm finishing my own workout with a friend and I am so hungry, I don't think I can make it until I get home. I order a tuna sandwich on gluten-free bread with a side pickle from my favourite little café to be delivered. I eat this on my break. $22.99
12:10 p.m. — I get home and immediately head into the bathroom to take a pregnancy test. P. and I got married a few months ago and started trying to conceive immediately. I was on the pill for over 15 years, though, so I know it may take a few months for my hormones to balance out, but each month feels excruciatingly long. As of today, my period is three days late, so I take a test to see what's going on.
12:15 p.m. — It's negative. Everything says that if you have not had your period but it is showing negative, take another test in 48 hours. It's a crapshoot, though, so I refrain from thinking too much into it. I grab a cinnamon applesauce, plop onto the couch, turn on Summer House, and finish one of my school discussion posts.
6:15 p.m. — Home after my afternoon run of clients. I start packing. We're leaving for a long weekend in Tahoe tomorrow! I have a zillion things to do before we leave so I work for an hour to get them done.
7:10 p.m. — I realise P. is going to be home soon so I throw dinner on the stove. Tonight I'm making gluten-free pasta with Rao's arrabbiata sauce, ground lamb, spinach, and mushrooms. I don't want to wait another 30 minutes to eat, so I toast up gluten-free sourdough toast with salted ghee and finish off three slices while I'm cooking. Dinner finishes up a few minutes after P. gets home. We grab a big bowl and plop down on the couch with Friends while we eat.
8:30 p.m. — Walk the dog, clean the kitchen, get ready for bed, and I am asleep by 9:45.
Daily Total: $22.99

Day Seven

5:50 a.m. — I roll out of bed, wash my face, brush my teeth, pet the doggo, get dressed, grab a piece of fruit and coffee, and head out the door for my first client. I have a break after this so I can walk the dog later.
7:45 a.m. — When I get back home, I shower, reorganise my luggage for Tahoe, make breakfast (almond flour tortillas with organic chicken-apple sausage, tomatoes, and spinach with hot sauce, and an apple), then take the dog out before I leave.
8:30 a.m. — P. texts me that our bank account has magically increased by quite a bit. I look and realise my stipend from my student loans has hit. I usually send the money right back to not increase my loans, but we are trying to buy a house so we decide to let this money sit tight to contribute to the down payment because it will be a lower interest rate. Plus, who knows, maybe student loans will be forgiven by the time I have to pay them in a few years?! Come on, Biden.
1:30 p.m. — I have one more hour break before my last client, and we head to the airport. I am hungry again so I throw bacon in the oven and make a savoury oatmeal bowl — oatmeal, bacon, tomatoes, spinach, Everything but the Bagel seasoning, and hot sauce. I have two full bowls. Between the no period, my increased appetite, and my skin freaking out, I don't know what to think other than my hormones are having a field day.
3:30 p.m. — After a slightly stressful exit, we have all of our luggage and head to the airport.
4:15 p.m. — We make it in time for a drink. I order a glass of sauvignon blanc to calm my anxiety from the day, but only drink half along with a half-bottle of water. P. gets a coffee. $30.65
5:20 p.m. — See you soon, Tahoe!
6:50 p.m. — Grabbing our checked luggage and getting the rental car is as easy as it could be. We hit the road, but P. is so hungry he needs to stop before we make it into town. We pull over at a Chipotle and both order food. I get a bowl with brown rice, black beans, steak, mild salsa, lettuce, and corn, and P. gets a steak burrito. $25.44
8:30 p.m. — We make it to town and grab a seat at the bar inside of a burger restaurant. I order a club soda and pineapple, and P. orders a beer. I order six chicken wings and some coleslaw and another pineapple club. P. orders another six wings and a Texas-style burger with sweet potato tots. He also has a second beer while we're there. I'm full now. $74.22
9:10 p.m. — We head across the street to the grocery store to pick up essentials, snacks, and dinner. We are staying in Tahoe with my best friend and her family and offered to buy and cook dinner tomorrow night (when they arrive). At the store, we get coffee, creamer, fruit, gluten-free tortillas, turkey, gluten-free pretzels, potato chips, salsa, dried apples, gallons of alkaline water, almond milk, oatmeal, and a couple bottles of good wine. The steaks look bleak so we're going to have my friend pick some up at Costco on her way in tomorrow and we'll venmo her back. $200.97
10:15 p.m. — We make it to our Airbnb finally and it is SO cool! Very clean, rustic, and tech-savvy (heated floors, timed fireplace, etc.). We crash after watching a few episodes of Ink Master.
Daily Total: $331.28
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