A Week In New Orleans, LA, On A $135,000 Salary

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Today: an attorney who makes $135,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on sparkling wine.
Occupation: Attorney
Industry: Legal
Age: 39
Location: New Orleans, LA
Salary: $135,000
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $2,990
Gender Identity: Female
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $2,905 (I live with my husband, J., and two dogs. My mother lived with us until a year ago, when one of my brothers bought a small place for her near him.)
Loans: $0 (I finished paying school and auto loans.)
Electricity: ~$150
Water: $80
Water Filter: $40
ADT Security: $57
House Cleaning (4x/month): $135
Printer Ink: $11
Internet and Media Subscriptions: $197.50
Cell Phone: $175
Credit Monitoring: $5
Gym Membership: $60 (For both J. and me)
J.'s Guitar Lessons: $198
My Spanish Classes: $120
Disability Insurance: $112
Accident Insurance: $47
Auto and Property Insurance: $456
Mom's Car Insurance: $42
Supplement For Brother: $300
Charity: $310
Savings: $5,200
Retirement: $1,726

Day One

7 a.m. — I wake up, brush and floss, and take medications. I put on exercise clothes, intending to walk the dogs. I sit on our deck throwing the ball for the dogs, drinking coffee, and chatting with J. An hour passes, and oops, no walk.
8:30 a.m. — Arrive at the office and eat three clementines I previously purchased from Costco. I complete and file our taxes — federal and two states — using TurboTax ($330.74). We owe around $9,500 in federal taxes, offset by about $3,000 in state refund, but I schedule the payment for April 15, so I'm not counting it for today. I feel so grateful to be in a financial position where it's a little bit of a bummer to owe thousands of dollars in taxes but not devastating. We owed over $23,000 a few years ago, which we didn't have, and so I didn't file our return. I finished paying that off last year, and it only cost us thousands of extra dollars in interest, penalties, and fees in addition to the taxes. Pro tip: Don't be like me. $330.74
10 a.m. — I speak with someone I contacted via VRBO about renting her house on the Chesapeake for two months this summer. She says her assistant will email me a quote later today.
11 a.m. — I apply online for a mortgage for the purchase of an investment property. We have over $90,000 in a savings account earning zero interest. We've been wanting to do something with this money for a while, but we're scared to lose it, so it has been sitting there collecting dust. We are renting out the house we lived in before we bought our current place and thought it might make sense to buy another rental property with some of the money in our savings account.
12 p.m. — While attending a training on ethics in mediations, I eat lunch (salad, soft taco, and four mini brownies) supplied by my law firm.
6:30 p.m. — I drive home and eat a dinner of lentils, rice, asparagus, LaCroix seltzer, and one Sanders caramel-filled dark chocolate with sea salt. We purchase the chocolates at Costco, and they are amazing.
7:30 p.m. — I take the dogs for a walk. I recently started wearing an Apple Watch, and my challenge for the month is to close my rings on 19 days. The challenge is working; I took the dogs for a walk because my rings weren't closed for the day. While on the walk, I chat with the owner of the Chesapeake Bay home, and we settle on a rental price of $8,000 for June and July.
Daily Total: $330.74

Day Two

7:20 a.m. — I wake up, brush and floss, and take medications. It's storming out, so no walk for the dogs this morning. I drink coffee and throw the ball for them inside the house. I shower without wetting my hair, because I'm getting a color and cut later this afternoon. I get dressed for work in new black crepe trousers, a black wrap blouse with flowers, a coral beaded necklace, Chloé Susanna booties (my favorite and a recent splurge, purchased used), and a London Fog trench coat.
9:10 a.m. — I drive to work in my car, which I purchased new in 2015 and finished paying off in 2016 with the proceeds from the sale of our house. I'm contemplating buying another vehicle because I'm feeling that this car isn't quite as "luxurious" as I want. The superego, FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) part of my personality chimes in that my car is completely adequate, while the id, profligate spender part of my personality tells me to Treat Yo Self.
10 a.m. — I send the Chesapeake Bay homeowner $2,000 for a deposit on the summer rental. I eat some blueberries and raspberries and drink coffee while sitting at my desk. A little later, I eat two clementines. $2,000
1:15 p.m. — I eat my lunch of leftover lentils and rice from home mixed with some leftover ground beef and refried beans from yesterday's work lunch. I also eat leftover corn tortilla chips.
4:30 p.m — I go to my regular salon for partial highlights and a haircut. Together the services come to $165, and I tip $33. Although J. and I discussed maybe going out for a burger for dinner, my appointment takes longer than expected and we decide to eat at home instead. While at the salon, I ask J. to put a sweet potato in the oven. I eat that with butter and sour cream when I get home, and have a mocktail of cherry juice and a LaCroix seltzer. Sometimes I feel bad about drinking canned seltzer because of the environmental footprint, but J. and I have cut waaaay back on our alcohol consumption over the past year, and drinking seltzers is one of our strategies. So I give myself a pass for now. $198
9 p.m. — I spend a long time scrolling through The RealReal on my phone while in bed. Lately, I've been drawn to diamond eternity bands, and although I have J.'s blessing to buy one, the same battle is waged between my superego and id about how unnecessary it is and how diamonds are overpriced because of monopolistic/oligopolistic market manipulation. Also, how buying diamonds supports human-rights atrocities in Africa. And yes, buying used might not be as bad as buying new, but it still props up this screwed-up and ultimately unfeminist manufactured desire...and my id says Okay But Sparkly. It's a joy to have a view into my head.
Daily Total: $2,198

Day Three

7:20 a.m. — I wake up, wash, brush, and floss. I walk the dogs for two miles and then have a breakfast of coffee and an espresso, fish-oil vitamins, my medications, and a clementine. I shower and dress for work in a short-sleeved DVF wrap dress with a black long-sleeved tee underneath and a gray suede pair of the same Chloé Susanna booties (also bought used at a steep discount).
10 a.m. — One of my favorite websites puts out a request to donate for Cyclone Idai relief in Mozambique. The creator of the site is Canadian, and the Canadian government is matching donations. I intend to donate $500 U.S., but the donation is actually for $500 Canadian, which I find out from checking my account balance later is $386.58. I eat some blueberries, raspberries, and a clementine. $368.58
11:30 a.m. — I email with two other members of the planning committee for a fundraising gala. In January, I bought two tickets to see the Rolling Stones, who were scheduled to perform at Jazz Fest just after our auction and gala. I thought they might fetch a lot of money in the auction. The Stones had to cancel, so we discuss what to do.
12:45 p.m. — I eat lentils and rice and drink a regular Coke, mostly just because several cans were sitting on the counter in the kitchen where I heated up my lunch. At 3 p.m., the office has cake to celebrate all of this month's birthdays. I eat two pieces.
4 p.m. — I sign up for a mat Pilates class for tomorrow morning. $7
6 p.m. — I leave work. At home, I head outside into the backyard with the dogs. It is a gorgeous evening, and I spend some time weeding and checking on my fledgling garden (mostly just Swiss chard at this point). J. and I drive to our favorite burger place. In line, I mention to J. that I was contemplating ordering a milkshake but remembered that I ate a lot of sugar already today. I say I might order a beer instead. J. reminds me that beer has a lot of sugar, too. Damnit, I hate it when he's right. I decide to get a grilled cheese with a fried egg and pickles, and water to drink. J. gets a burger and fries and water. We trade bits of our sammies, and I eat a couple of his fries. Restaurants are a lot cheaper when you don't order alcohol. Dinner costs us $20.66, plus $4 tip. $24.66
7:30 p.m. — After dinner, we head home. J. stretches on a foam roller, and I work on a 1,000-piece puzzle of the Kandinsky color study of squares with concentric circles. It is very hard and I'm making slow (no?) progress. We watch an episode of The Great British Baking Show and are in bed by 9:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $400.24

Day Four

6:50 a.m. — I wake up and wash, brush, and floss. I drink a cup of coffee and head to Pilates. Turns out that I didn't complete my purchase of the class yesterday online, so I pay for it this morning and head to the class.
8:40 a.m. — After class, I go home and eat granola, blueberries, raspberries, and milk and drink a second cup of coffee. Then I take the dogs for our long loop walk to the park and around it. Sometimes the walk measures a little over four miles, but today my watch says it was only 3.75 miles. The difference must be because we usually walk a bit extra to get to the water fountain at the park. I talk to my mom on the phone for 15 minutes while finishing up the walk. We get along a lot better now that she doesn't live with us.
11 a.m. — My brother messages me asking if I can pay his therapist for this week's session. I'm willing to do this because J. and I aren't hurting for money, and I want my brother to thrive. He has gone through a very difficult period, including more than one hospitalization, and we both became estranged from my father and stepmother after they essentially washed their hands of my brother when he was in his most dire point of crisis. So J. and I stepped up and paid for many of his treatment costs to the tune of several tens of thousands of dollars. I don't know the exact figure, because it's not important to me. I tell my brother that he's worth it, whatever the amount, and it was a bargain to get rid of our unsupportive family. $90
11:15 a.m. — Costco trip! We do most of our staple grocery shopping at Costco these days. We buy seltzer, individual yogurt cups, cat food (trying to get a stray to trust me), Pirate's Booty, coffee beans, those amazing chocolate caramels, potatoes, chuck roast, blueberries, half and half, two packs of boxers for J., bananas, raspberries, granola, avocados, and Brussels sprouts. We have a game of guessing how much the trip will be, and we were both way low this week. Last week, I guessed the number exactly ($164). I didn't add up the items; I just looked at the basket and thought, that seems like about $164 worth of stuff. Today I do the same thing and am off by $100. $170.94
1 p.m. — I spend some time weeding in the front yard and then eat a lunch of lentils and rice and half an avocado, a stroopwafel cookie, and cherry juice plus LaCroix.
4:30 p.m. — I tell J. I need to head to my "therapist," a.k.a. T.J. Maxx. I find combing through the aisles and shelves looking for treasures to be incredibly soothing. I can do it for hours. I buy a bralette, some Chuckit! balls for the dogs, two makeup sponges, and I can't even remember what else for a total of $55.17. J. asks me to pick up some rawhides for the dogs while I'm out ($16.56). $71.73
6 p.m. — I fill the car up with gas. $28.04
6:40 p.m. — J. cooks the chuck roast in the slow cooker and adds some of the mini potatoes at the end. We grill asparagus, carrots, and red onions and eat outside on the deck. We watch a couple episodes of the new season of Arrested Development to see if we like it. I don't think either of us laughs once over three episodes. It just seems like exposition, which is sad because I love AD.
Daily Total: $360.71

Day Five

7 a.m. — We make coffee and drink it on the deck while throwing the ball for the dogs and doing the NYT crossword. At 9:30 a.m., I do the long loop again with the dogs.
11:55 a.m. — I walk through the French Quarter to meet up with a new friend for brunch and stop to listen to a busker playing the violin. It is beautiful, so I put $3 in her case. I'm feeling cute in a new cornflower blue blouse, paper-bag-waist pants, and black sandals. $3
12 p.m. — I invited my friend to brunch at a classic New Orleans restaurant in the French Quarter. She works for a nonprofit doing immigration work for children, and helped me tremendously with a pro bono case I was working on. I want to thank her for the help, and plus I think she's cool and could be a friend. We both have a glass of sparkling wine while waiting an hour for seats to become available. Then we order and share two meals: poached eggs with hollandaise over a fried green tomato and creamed spinach and crawfish scrambled eggs. We both have two more drinks — sparkling wine for me and some sort of milky rum thing and a coffee drink for her. The meal is $111.55, but I have a $50 gift card, so the total comes to $83.55 ($61.55 plus $22 tip). $83.55
4 p.m. — After brunch I head to the office to work on some discovery responses with an upcoming deadline. I eat a Twix and four mini Krackel bars from the office supply while I work.
7:30 p.m. — I head home and eat two vegetarian stuffed peppers with an avocado and a seltzer. We watch The Great British Baking Show and one episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia before heading to bed.
Daily Total: $86.55

Day Six

6:45 a.m. — Wake up; wash, brush, and floss; play with the dogs. I arrive at the office at 9:24 a.m. (my goal is to arrive before 9:30 a.m.) and eat some blueberries and raspberries.
10:30 a.m. — My brother asks for a loan to buy supplies to finish repairing two boats he is restoring for sale. He is trying to find ways that he can contribute to his household financially (his wife pays the bills), and I want him to know that I believe in him, so I agree. It's the time of the month that I typically send them $300, so I Venmo my brother's wife $1,500. $1,200
12 p.m. — I eat two clementines. I'm feeling a lot of anxiety today, probably the aftereffects of yesterday's alcohol in conjunction with nervousness about the fact that I'm giving notice at my current job. I hate disappointing people. I heat up my leftovers for lunch and only realize once I take the container out of the microwave that I did not bring the power greens, rice, and leftover brisket I had packed for lunch, but instead brought the container of plain rice. Fail. Luckily, there is a work event, so I grab leftover lunch from that.
5 p.m. — I give notice to my supervising partner. He is very understanding about the whole thing, particularly because I'm staying another month so that I can clear out a bunch of projects. I work until 7:30 p.m. and then head home to eat the leftovers I packed up for my lunch. I continue to work until 11:30 and then head to bed for a few hours of rest.
Daily Total: $1,200

Day Seven

4:30 a.m. — I wake up very early to finish a draft of the discovery responses, which are due next week and need to be reviewed by a partner at my firm, another firm also representing the client, and our in-house counsel. I work until 6:30 a.m. and then walk the dogs for 45 minutes. I make and drink a smoothie with frozen banana, frozen berries, yogurt, whey protein, power greens, and cherry juice and drink more coffee. After getting back from the gym, J. drinks the smoothie even after I tell him that it contains greens, and gives it a thumbs up.
12:30 p.m. — I work from home until 12 p.m. and send off the draft. Then the dogs and I go outside, and they play fetch while I mow the lawn with a reel mower. I spend a couple more hours working, and then use one of my Audible credits to purchase the audiobook Billion Dollar Whale. Around 5:30, I leave the house to pick up a prescription ($6.45) and the Rolling Stones tickets (for which I will get a $401 refund). $6.45
6:30 p.m. — I drive to our favorite pizza place, which is all the way across town (but still only 15-20 minutes away — this place is amazing), to pick up pizza and Caesar salads. I have a glass of red wine while waiting. The food and wine come to $42.98, plus a $7 tip. When I get home, we feast but each eat two pieces rather than our typical three so we have half a pizza left over. J. watches the end of the episode of The Great British Baking Show while I work on the puzzle. We go to bed around 9 p.m. $49.98
Daily Total: $56.43

The Breakdown

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