A Week On Long Island, NY, On A Joint $187,840 Income

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: a billing and collections specialist working in healthcare services who makes $23 per hour and spends some of her money this week on Justin's peanut butter cups.
Occupation: Billing & Collections Specialist
Industry: Health Care Services
Age: 27
Location: Long Island, NY
Income: $23/hour (I make about $47,840 plus overtime per year)
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): ~$1,518
My Husband's Salary: $140,000
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $4,231.16 ($2,100 gets deposited into our joint checking account and the rest gets deposited into his personal checking account.)
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $2,777.59 for our four-bedroom house
Student Loan Payment: $0 (My student loans are in deferment right now because I'm enrolled in school.)
Credit Card: $500 (I have about $9,000 in credit card debt that I'm working to pay off right now, which should be paid off by the end of 2019.)
Car Payment: $390.91 (We lease one car and own another.)
BarkBox: $32.59
Gym Membership: $0 (My husband pays this.)
Phone: I'm on my mother's plan and she refuses to take me off or accept money. My husband is also on his stepfather's plan.
Apple: $28.70 (This includes iTunes, job apps, and iCloud storage.)
Pet Insurance: $41.45 for two pets
Dog Walker: $400 (Sometimes more if we schedule extra services for late nights or weekends.)
Water: ~$92
Gas: ~$63
Electric: $300-$400 in the winter months
Cable/Wifi: $207.86
Joint Account: $1,500 ($750 of each of my paychecks gets automatically deposited into our joint account, which we use only to pay bills and save for vacations.)

Day One

7:02 a.m. — One of the dogs is barking and going apeshit. I'm up, I'm up. I head downstairs and let the dogs out. There's a man literally stopped in front of our house with his dog watching both of mine go crazy. He must think it's cute or something. I was hoping for a bit more sleep since it's Sunday, but I guess not. I feed the dogs and take my vitamins. Nothing crazy, just a B12 vitamin because I'm vegan and a prenatal because we're trying to get pregnant. I do a little picking up before I head upstairs to shower.
8:30 a.m. — All dressed with rollers in my hair, I head downstairs and quickly wrap my husband, L.'s, Hanukkah gift. Tonight is the last night, so we usually exchange smalls gifts, and a couple weeks ago I got him this cool wooden wrist watch. Since he's Jewish and I'm Catholic, we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. I set the kettle to boil while I wrap and then make my Chai tea. Neither my husband nor I drink coffee, but I'm a huge tea drinker. I set up at the breakfast table to do my makeup and dry my hair with the dryer. I'm getting headshots taken today. I've never had them taken before and I have an audition on Saturday for an agent, so time is running out. Thankfully, L. gifted me this photoshoot as my Hanukkah gift.
10 a.m. — L. and I head over to my photoshoot and it goes really well. I'm excited to have headshots! The photographer says he'll send L. the bill electronically this week.
11:45 a.m. — We're starving, so we decide to get bagels before we get a couple of Christmas decorations. Our favorite bagel spot is packed, so we head to one closer to the seasonal Christmas outlet. The bagels aren't as good here, but I get a whole wheat bagel with veggie Toffuti, tomatoes, and onions. L. gets an egg everything bagel with lox. We both get drinks and L. gets really excited about some rainbow cookies at the counter. He pays ($23) and we sit and eat, but I only eat half because I'm not in love with it.
12 p.m. — We head to the Christmas outlet and find lights for our bushes. L. buys them ($36) and then we head home to play with the puppies.
12:36 p.m. — L. and I head to Jersey to see my family. There are no tolls into Jersey, but there is one on the Throgs Neck Bridge. We have E-ZPass, and it's connected to L.'s credit card ($5.76).
3 p.m. — My mom orders Greek food for all of us. We sit around watching an Law & Order: SVU marathon as I do some homework and we all eat. My mom won't let me see how much the food is or let me pay her for it. She says: “Since when do I let you go hungry in my house?!”
6:30 p.m. — We say our goodbyes and head home. This time we have two tolls, since we have to cross the George Washington Bridge to get into New York. Charged to the E-ZPass again ($16.27).
7:40 p.m. — Put some laundry in wash and fold some that I left to dry before we left. I give L. his Hanukkah gift and he loves it. Then I make some Daiya bacon mac and cheese for dinner while L. heads upstairs to clean and answer some work emails. I don't finish it all, so I pack up the rest to eat for lunch at some point. I'm exhausted, but I have some homework to finish and some laundry to do still. I have no clean workout tights, so I have to at least finish this load tonight. L. bought one of those giant human-sized teddy bears last weekend, and the dogs are fighting over it. One is pulling fluff out of the leg while the other is humping it. God help me.
8:40 p.m. — L. comes downstairs and makes himself some boxed mac and cheese after seeing mine. He's not vegan, but seeing mine made him crave it. He only knows how to make mac and cheese from the box, though, and if you ask him to do anything else, he will look at you like you're crazy.
9:30 p.m. — I pack my gym bag for the morning and pick out my clothes. I kiss L. goodnight and head to bed. He stays up later than I do usually, so I cuddle with the puppies until he's in bed. I fall asleep to Impractical Jokers.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

5:15 a.m. — I wake up and crawl out of bed over the dogs. I use the bathroom and brush my teeth and then one of the dogs sticks his head in. I head downstairs to let the dogs out. It's freezing, but they love it. We don't walk them because one has severe anxiety and the other is bad on the leash and barks at other dogs. He's not aggressive, he's just overly excited, and if you don't know any better, its kind of nerve-racking. I fill their bowls and pack my breakfast and lunch. Then I take my daily vitamins, grab some Greenies for the dogs, and head back upstairs to change into my gym clothes. I'm not in the mood to work out today, but if I don't go I know I won't go for the rest of the week.
6:15 a.m. — I hit the elliptical. I really don't know what I'm doing most of the time at the gym, but my pulmonologist is always on me to exercise to help my asthma. This is month two of consistent morning workouts four to five times a week, and I'm determined to keep it going throughout the year. Also, my best friend and I challenge each other every week to get the most steps on Fitbit, which makes me go harder just so I can talk shit. I lost last week, so this week I'm going in! After 45 minutes on the elliptical, I do a couple sets on the shoulder press and lat pulldown machines.
7:50 a.m. — After I take a lukewarm shower at the gym, I put in an order ahead for Starbucks: venti iced chai with coconut milk. I have a free drink on my account. Happy Monday!
8:30 a.m. — I get to work and answer a few emails before heading to the kitchen to put my lunch away. For breakfast, I brought the second half of my bagel from yesterday and an apple. My coworker tells me about her weekend.
11:15 a.m. — I'm getting hungry so I snack on Primal Strips vegan jerky.
1:15 p.m. — I clock out for lunch and head to my car. I bought some leftover zucchini pasta with eggplant meatballs from dinner with L. this weekend. I eat in my car because I can't use headphones, listen to music, or watch videos at work. We also aren't allowed to eat at our desks, and when I used to eat in the break room, my boss would make comments about how he didn't like the food I was eating. I sneak breakfast at my desk most days, but I don't risk it with lunch anymore. I only get a 30-minute break, so I queue up some YouTube videos (Game Of Thrones trailer? Yes, please) and rush through lunch like usual. It'll take me four minutes to walk back into the building and up the stairs and another two to log into my computer again, so really I get a solid 20-minute lunch.
4 p.m. — I put in a mobile order at Panera to pick up at 5. I won't have time before class to grab anything to eat and I'm already a bit hungry. I get half a Mediterranean veggie sandwich on focaccia with added avocado. $6.67
5 p.m. — I stop at Panera and pick up my sandwich, which I devour on the way to class. So good! I put on an Aziz Ansari comedy album during my drive and make it there with enough time to find street parking.
6:40 p.m. — Class starts. We're going over Baldwin's Notes of a Native Son, and it's our last class of the semester before finals. I drink the kombucha I brought from home during class. I took last semester off because I had a miscarriage last November, and when I came back this semester, I decided life is too short to do anything I don't love. So I changed major to English. I was worried at first, but I feel like I truly made the right decision and I actually enjoy coming to class now.
8:15 a.m. — Class dismissed. We have a paper due next Monday instead of a final test, and I have a pretty solid idea of what I want to do. I'm exhausted and ready to go home. I call L. and chat with him on the walk to my car. I play a Dane Cook comedy album on the drive home.
9 p.m. — I make it home and the dogs jump on me the minute I get into the house. L. is eating some microwave noodles we bought to try out, but neither of us are into them. I make myself a cup of tea and head upstairs to repack my gym bag and change into my pajamas.
10 p.m. — I'm all tucked in watching an Impractical Jokers marathon. The puppies and L. come to bed and cuddle with me, so it's not hard to fall asleep quickly.
Daily Total: $6.67

Day Three

1:30 a.m. — I get up to pee and put on a hoodie because it's so cold (my husband doesn't let me put the heat on upstairs because he's always hot) but I hear clicking behind me and realize a dog has followed me out of bed. He goes downstairs and sits by the back door, which is his way of saying he has to go out. Of course the minute I hit the stairs, the other dog is hot on my heels. They do their business and we head back to bed. Warm cuddles all around. No complaints here.
5:20 a.m. — I wait until the dogs won't let me stay in bed any longer. Every second counts, lol. I let them out, fill their bowls, and do some dishes. After I pack my lunch and take my vitamins, we all head back upstairs so I can get ready to go to the gym.
6:23 a.m. — I arrive at the gym a little later than I would like to start my gym session, but I'm here and that's all that counts. I do an hour on the elliptical and call it a day. I'm ahead in the Fitbit workweek hustle challenge, but my friend is literally a marathon runner. If he goes on a run today, I'll be way behind. I turn up the Beyoncé and put in that work.
7:50 a.m. — All showered and ready for work. I stop by Starbucks to pick up my mobile order. I still have money in my account, but I'll have to reload tomorrow ($5.70).
8:30 a.m. — I get to work, log in, and head to the kitchen to heat up my breakfast. I haven't had time to cook lately, so I just have some leftover marinated tempeh, half an avocado, and a tortilla with cheese. I eat it as I catch up on emails and run some reports. After my miscarriage, my husband and I thought it would be a good idea to have one of us work in Long Island instead of us both in Manhattan, since we have no family in the city. I was hoping to be pregnant by now.
1:10 p.m. — I finally get enough done that I feel okay stepping away for lunch. I have some leftover Daiya mac and cheese from the other night and an Asian cabbage salad that I bought from Costco over the weekend. I buy it in bulk and eat it throughout the week. So delicious! I pair it with a kombucha (also bought in bulk from Costco).
3:30 p.m. — The day is sort of dragging, but I was invited to dinner with some of my coworkers tonight. It's nice to be included and get a chance to interact with them outside of the office.
3:40 p.m. — I get a call from my OBGYN. Last week, L. and I had a bunch of fertility test done because it's been over a year and we can't seem to get pregnant. All the test come back positive! My doctor tells me to stock up on some ovulation kits and ramp up on the sex. Finally some good news! I have a quick happy cry in the stairwell and call L. with the good news! The only bad part is that L. is going away this weekend when I'm projected to be ovulating, but at least the pressure is off and we don't have it in the back of our minds that there's something wrong with us. It may not seem like much, but with a year of disappointment in the baby-making field, this feels like a win. God is so good!
5 p.m. — I head out and drive to the Chili's near our office. I order the black bean and veggie fajitas and a water with lemon. Their old manager picks up the bill, and the rest of us chip in for the tip. $4
8:20 p.m. — On the way home I notice my tank is getting low, so I stop to fill up on gas. $28.28
8:40 p.m. — L. and I spend the rest of the night relaxing and watching TV, riding the wave of good news we got earlier in the day. I make some tea and sit with him as he eats McDonald's and tells me he's going to go on a diet after his trip. Yeah, okay. We watch some TV for a bit before calling it a night and cuddling in bed with our pups. I'm asleep by 9:50.
Daily Total: $32.28

Day Four

5:20 a.m. — I crawl out of bed. It's so cold that not even the dogs want to get up. Only one of them follows me downstairs. I do some random dishes and pack my breakfast and lunch for the day, making sure to pack a couple waters. I put food in the dog bowls and head upstairs to get changed for the gym. Then the other dog decides he wants to get out of bed. I take them out again and give them a treat to bribe them back to bed with L. I give L. a kiss goodbye and head out.
6:25 a.m. — I hate being this late to the gym because I won't get my full hour in. I check my Fitbit and I'm behind on the workweek hustle. Bestie must have gone on a run yesterday. I turn up Chance The Rapper and get to work.
7:50 a.m. — All showered and dressed, I head to Starbucks to pick up my mobile order: an iced venti coconut milk chai, a banana, and a pack of Justin's peanut butter cups (for later). I have a free drink but my card only has a little over a dollar on it, so I refill it using L.'s card ($25). I don't use his card often, but I'm low on funds because of all the doctor copays I had during last week's fertility testing. When I get there, they tell me they're out of bananas and all other fresh fruit, so they swap it with a That's It fruit bar.
8:30 a.m. — I log in to my computer and start answering emails. I have a bunch from last night and one from an angry client. I forward it to my boss. Unfortunately, it's out of my hands and above my pay grade, so he'll have to deal with it and find a resolution. I eat my cereal with cashew milk but make a mental note that I need to cook a batch of tofu scramble because this is not going to cut it for the rest of the week. It's freezing in the office and I kind of regret not getting a hot chai instead, even though it would've probably gotten cold on the drive over. L. texts me that he's working from home today because he didn't get much sleep last night. I did notice that one of the dogs was being a bit of a handful last night. I say a silent prayer of thanks that my husband let me get the little sleep I could. I love him so much.
9:30 a.m. — I get an email from the photographer that my pictures are ready. They came out so great! It's weird having to analyze which ones I like best because I'm so critical, but L. helps me pick out a couple that we send back for touchups. Once that's done, we'll have them printed for headshots.
12:45 p.m. — I grab some grilled veggies, rice, and a slice of Italian bread that a client sent to the office. Not the best, but free food is always good food.
1:25 p.m. — I break for lunch, and since I had some food earlier, I only eat some of the Asian salad I brought with me and none of my homemade tomato soup. I eat in my car while watching Ellen videos. I love her. She makes my heart happy.
2:40 p.m. — I buy a water from the vending machine (since the water machine is broken) to get me through the rest of the day. I snack on the peanut butter cups I bought earlier and try to mentally make the clock move faster. $1.25
3:30 p.m. — Another client sends us some gift baskets full of chocolates and crackers and such. My boss gives me a box of sea salt crackers and roasted garlic and onion jam, since I can't eat anything else. I've never had the jam before, but I'll bring it home for L. and try it out another time.
5:10 p.m. — I head out of work. I didn't preorder my usual from Panera and I don't have enough time to order now, so I head straight to class instead.
6:05 p.m. — Today is the last class before finals! I stop by the vending machines to get an iced tea ($2) and a bag of veggie chips ($1.50). The vending machine eats my change, though, so I head to class less 50 cents. $4
9:40 p.m. — And just like that, the last class of the semester is done! We get to email our final portfolio for this creative writing class, so I don't have to come into school for a final test. On my way out, my professor asks to speak to me. He tells me he would like to nominate me for a creative writing scholarship. If I win, I would get a year of paid tuition and an internship at a publication. YES! I'm just returning back to school and I just switched majors, so this is exactly the kind of validation I needed. I take it as a sign from God that I have chosen the right path in following my creative dreams. I do a happy dance all the way to my car as I tell L. all the details on the phone. I'm not sure how it will all work, but I will make it happen. I'm so happy right now.
10:50 p.m. — After talking to L. about our days and all the interesting tidbits, we head to bed. I fall asleep, like always, cuddling with my puppies and L.
Daily Total: $5.25

Day Five

5:20 a.m. — I linger in bed a bit before getting up with the dogs. We head downstairs where I let them out and fill up their bowls. I wash the dishes, mostly plastic lunch containers, and pack my lunch for the day. I take my vitamins and the dogs and I head back upstairs where I get ready for the gym and they go back to sleep. I kiss L. goodbye and then I'm off. Thank God for remote start, because it's freezing today.
6:20 a.m. — I put in a solid hour of mostly cardio because I notice my bestie is on my heels for the workweek hustle. Here's hoping he's not running today.
7:45 a.m. — I head to Starbucks to pick up my mobile order, an iced venti coconut milk chai and a plain bagel with avocado spread. I charge it to my account and make my way to work ($8.80).
1:23 p.m. — I eat lunch in my car. The last of my salad, an apple, and a miso soup that was left over from takeout we got I don't know how long ago. I didn't have the energy to cook last night and this was all that was left in my fridge. I don't have enough time to eat the apple, so I bring it back to my desk to eat.
2:39 p.m. — I'm lagging. I whip out the Hu crunchy banana dark chocolate bar I brought from home and pray it gives me the energy to finish the day. I pair it with some ginger lemonade kombucha and power through the rest of the work day.
5:07 p.m. — I clock out and head straight to my car. Thanks to remote start, it's nice and warm already, which is great because it's been snowing and raining all day so it's cold and wet out. I have a couple hours before class, so I head to a Target nearby to do some Christmas shopping. I get a classic Nintendo for L., which I pay for ($86.89). I also get two sweaters and a pair of earrings for one of my sisters, a dress and earrings for the other sister, and two $100 Delta gift cards for my brother and his fiancé. I'm hoping they can use them for their honeymoon. I pay with L.'s card ($290.51). $86.89
6:39 p.m. — I stop by the pizza shop next to my acting class. I found the class because I was going to the pizza shop one day after a movie with L. and I noticed that the acting studio had just opened. Life is too short to not at least try to go for your dreams. So I took a free trial class and then signed up for six more classes. Tonight is class #3, and we're working on a monologue I'm using to audition with on Saturday. At the pizza shop, I buy a slice of vegan pizza and a water bottle. It's hard to find a good vegan slice in Long Island that's close by, but this place is a godsend and I take advantage while I'm here, since it's a bit of a drive. As I'm eating, I see on social media that my cousin is having his third child. I forward the post to L. after sending my congratulations. We have a conversation about how happy we are for them and how a couple of months ago, this would've put us over the edge. I'm thankful for the blessings I have in my life, and another baby in the family is always a blessing. $4.26
11 p.m. — Class ends later than usual because almost everyone is auditioning on Saturday for the agent. I call L. and let him know I'm on my way home. He's been staying up waiting for me.
11:45 p.m. — I get home and tell L. all about my class. I got an email from the photographer that my photos are ready, so I put in an order for my headshots at CVS to be picked up tomorrow, and then it's off to bed. L. let's me practice my monologue to him in bed and I'm asleep by 12:30.
Daily Total: $91.15

Day Six

6:35 a.m. — No gym for me today since I got home so late and I really needed some sleep. The dogs and I practically crawl out of bed and head downstairs. I let them out and fill their bowls. I do some dishes that are in the sink and pack my lunch. I realize that I don't really have anything to eat for breakfast, so I quickly cook a pack of vegan black pepper steak and use half for my breakfast. I take a shower, get dressed, and place my Starbucks mobile order. I spend a couple minutes longer than usual saying goodbye to L. because he's leaving for the weekend for a trip with his friends. I'm kind of sad because I feel like I've barely seen him at all this week, but at least starting next week I'll have a much lighter schedule. I still try to guilt him into staying on my way out lol, but it doesn't work.
7:50 a.m. — I leave my house and head straight to Starbucks to pick up my venti iced coconut milk chai, which I charge to my account.
8:35 a.m. — I get to work five minutes late, but whatever it's Friday, I'll make up the time at the end of the day. I clock in and answer a slew of emails before going to the kitchen and heating up my breakfast. Half an avocado, a tortilla with some Daiya cheese, and some of those vegan black pepper steak bites.
1:28 p.m. — I clock out for lunch and head to my car. Today, I brought the left over fajitas from Chili's and an apple. I watch some interviews with Jason Mamoa and fellow Lin Manuel Miranda (who I completely adore and look up to). I lose track of time and clock in two minutes late.
5:10 p.m. — TGIF! Finally! I'm out of work. It's drizzling outside, but I don't mind. I head to CVS to pick up my headshots that I ordered last night.
5:40 p.m. — After getting the headshots, I have to use the bathroom so badly. I rush home, let the dogs out, and finally relieve myself. Now I can relax! I put a load of laundry on and get to work on my final essay due on Monday about the themes in Waiting for Godot. $17.34
6:10 p.m. — My father has been telling me how good the Impossible Burger sliders are at White Castle, and to be honest, they've been on my mind all week. I order four sliders, fries, and a drink through DoorDash. $18
7:14 p.m. — I see that the delivery is pulling up, so I let the dogs out and close the door behind them. My dogs are super friendly and like to jump up and greet people, but I don't want to freak anyone out who doesn't like dogs. Since L. is gone, I have to put them out for a second while I grab the bags but usually I would just hold onto their collars as L. signs for the food. The burgers are amazing, but one has cheese on it even though I requested no cheese. Luckily, three is enough.
8:17 p.m. — I take an essay-writing break to switch laundry loads and make a chai tea. I'm so tired, though, and am considering going to bed early. Tomorrow is a busy day.
10:20 p.m. — I head to bed after making sure to check the locks twice. I hate sleeping in this house alone, and the dogs get jumpy thinking L. is coming home every time they hear a noise. One lies directly on top of me while the other snuggles up to my side. I'm asleep within 20 minutes. Thanks goodness for my fur babies.
Daily Total: $35.34

Day Seven

3:02 a.m. — One dog wakes me up to go out, so all three of us head downstairs and I let them out. I give them a treat for going potty and we all head back to bed. I find it hard to go back to sleep at first, but end up dozing off around 5 a.m.
8 a.m. — And we're up! Now it's the other one's turn to wake us all up. We head downstairs and I let them out and fill their bowls. Then I switch out the laundry, do the dishes in the sink, and make a big batch of tofu scramble. This will be my breakfast for the rest of the week. I'm excited by just the thought of being able to come straight home after work next week because of classes being over. I cook up some onions and garlic, add kale and mushroom, and mix in my tofu and spices. I leave it covered on the stove when I'm done.
9:30 a.m. — After I shower, I put rollers in my hair, head back downstairs, take out the dry clothes from the dryer, and put in another load. Then I serve myself some of the tofu scramble, the rest of the vegan black pepper steak, and some avocado, and some chai tea. I put the hair dryer on (it's a cap connected to my blow dryer) and eat while I fold the laundry and work some more on my essay. The dogs spend their time playing with the giant bear and spreading fluff everywhere.
11:30 a.m. — My hair is naturally very curly, so it takes a bit of effort to get it all straight. I take out the rollers and flat iron the rest. Then I put on some makeup and get dressed for my audition before putting in a Starbucks mobile order (charged to my account). I give the dogs kisses before rushing out the door.
1:15 p.m. — Traffic is especially heavy. I wanted to get to the studio early, but it looks like I might be late. Halfway there, I pass a pretty bad accident. I say a prayer for everyone involved and try to calm down. I got this.
2:05 p.m. — I literally run into the studio, but luckily I'm right on time. I do a quick Q&A with the agent and then we're all sent outside to wait. I'm last on the list of 30 actors, which sucks but it gives me time to run my lines and get ready. But also more time to freak out.
4:15 p.m. — Audition is done and I think I did pretty well! Because it's a workshop and audition, regardless of whether the agency picks me for a callback, I'll get a feedback sheet about my audition. Either way, there is nothing I can do about it now. I head home to let the dogs out before I meet up with the wives club (the wives of all the other men going on the trip with L.) for dinner.
5:45 p.m. — I get to the restaurant, which is at this awesome Greek place. We catch up over dinner and drinks. L. already offered to pay for my dinner, so I put his card in. I only got apps and a glass of wine, but we split the check four ways ($55.91 including tip).
7:30 p.m. — One of the wives leaves, and the remaining three of us decide to get some beer and snacks and head to one of their apartments. As conversations flow, I find out that one of the couples had the same fertility testing that L. and I did, and one of the other women is considering it too. We talk in depth about it and the struggles of trying to get pregnant, and we're all a bit relieved to not be alone in it. We settle in and watch Christmas Wedding Planner on Netflix while we drink and snack and laugh at how ridiculous the movie is. $6
11:45 p.m. — I'm finally home, and the dogs are so excited. We spend a couple of hours playing around and I let them tear up their bear as much as they want. I miss L., but thankfully he'll be home tomorrow. The pups and I head to bed, but one of them spends the next hour and a half jumping up and down and chewing my arm. Eventually we all fall asleep around 3 a.m. while watching Selena.
Daily Total: $6
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