A Week In Tulsa, OK, On A $195,000 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 Regulatory Compliance Supervisor who has a joint income of $195,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Harry & David Christmas presents.
Occupation: Regulatory Compliance Supervisor
Industry: Pipeline (Oil/Gas)
Age: 28
Location: Tulsa, OK
My Salary: $75,000
My Husband's Salary: $120,000
Net Worth: $285,500 (Savings + Checking + House Value + Car Values + 401(k)s - Mortgage. All our accounts are joint.)
Debt: $180,000 (Mortgage)
My Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,888
My Husband's Paycheck (biweekly): $2,177
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,616 (my husband and I own our house together)
Savings: $1,000/paycheck per husband and I
Spotify: $14.99
Hulu: $4.99
Alarm System: $34.99
Electricity: $100
Water: $80
Gas: $60
Jewelry Insurance: $28
Scholarshare: $50 (This is an account for my husband's twin girls for college)
Cell Phone: $158
Car Insurance: $230
Note: Child support, health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, ESPP, 401(k), and life insurance are all removed from our paychecks pre-tax.
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. My parents did not have the opportunity and/or support to attend higher education in their early adult years, so this was an expectation they set for me from childhood. I am very fortunate that they paid for my undergraduate degree after my scholarships. I obtained scholarships that paid for my master's degree in full and I paid for my cost of living with my TA salary.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents were always pretty open about money, particularly when we were struggling and living paycheck to paycheck. As my dad started to make more money and we became more wealthy as a family, money conversations were fewer and further between. I feel that my parents were very transparent about finances, but did not necessarily educate me on them. They were learning a lot about their own finances throughout my childhood, as they were married early with a kid and my dad's salary grew quite a bit throughout that time. I did see them learn a lot of lessons themselves, which was helpful.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was an oil and gas internship as a geologist. My parents were adamant that they did not want me to work while pursuing my academic goals. When looking for a job post-graduate school, I worked as a bank teller and grew a lot as a person and had a perspective shift that made me wish I was able to work during my high school and early college years.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I did. My parents worried about money and I fed off of their energy. When we had more money during my teenage years, I was still in that mindset and often compared our situation with my friends' families. My anxiety certainly did not help this worry despite being taken care of and never having to worry about where my next meal would come from or if we would be displaced anytime soon.
Do you worry about money now?
I am obsessed with security. Since we paid off our consumer debts and saved up quite a bit, I feel less stressed for the most part. I think I will always worry about money. I do not know where it stops or when it will be enough. I often wonder about this.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself at the age of 24. My parents are a financial safety net, but this would have to be the very last resort. We have saved up well over six months of living expenses to avoid being put in this situation, but I know anything can happen and I do feel fortunate for that safety net.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I have not.

Day One

7 a.m. — Wake to test my blood sugar (I should mention now that I am 30 weeks pregnant and recently diagnosed with gestational diabetes or GDM) while M. lets the dogs out and feeds them. I try to go back to sleep, but I end up playing on my phone instead before deciding to go ahead and start the day. M. is not feeling well this morning, so I take the most restless of our three dogs with me and head to the kitchen.
8 a.m. — Brew myself a decaf coffee using our new Nespresso Vertuo machine (thanks Amazon Prime Day) and toast a bagel thin and top it with cream cheese spread and everything bagel seasoning. I decide I need more protein and fry up two eggs to put over my half-eaten bagel. I browse the internet for a bit, mostly mulling over my ~$400 Target purchase yesterday. Our current dining room chairs clash with our newly painted blue walls and midcentury modern décor. This, paired with the chewed-up wooden legs (thanks to the previously mentioned pup), finally pushed me to order six pink-velvet midcentury modern chairs with brass legs. I decide I made the right choice, for now at least, and leave the idea alone as I finish my coffee and breakfast while browsing Foodgawker and Pinterest.
9:30 a.m. — M. wakes up and makes a coffee from the Nespresso machine. We head out for a walk around the block with the dogs to take advantage of the weather since it is supposed to rain later.
10 a.m. — I need to have my first of three daily snacks, so I settle on some Wheat Thins with marinated feta and a couple of small pickles. I text with my parents to show them my snack and tell them how much I am currently obsessed with this feta. I try to stay motivated with my diet and exercise changes by keeping my family engaged. They assure me this does not annoy them, but my social anxiety makes me constantly apologize for these mundane updates in our group text. I feel like my life revolves around what I eat and testing my blood sugar — as if time during a pandemic was not already strange enough.
11:30 a.m. — M. decides he wants pancakes for late breakfast. We are very different people when it comes to breakfast and lunch preferences and we tend to eat these meals separately due to my dietary restrictions. I bake a whole wheat english muffin topped with Canadian bacon and cheese to go with my leftover creamy tomato soup and a small salad with marinated feta. I check our menu to make sure we do not need to go grocery shopping before the work week begins. We seem to be in good shape minus a staple or two (olive oil, in particular). I decide we can grab these sometime during the week and call it good.
1:30 p.m. — We go for a short walk with the doodle. When we get back, M. starts back up on a few house projects to help us prepare for baby (and to satisfy my extreme nesting) while I doze off for an afternoon nap. He stops in to update me and excitedly show me what he has been up to, and I sleepily respond and fall back asleep again on and off for the next two hours.
5:30 p.m. — I am starving and have been craving Chicken Salad Chick, so we decide on that for dinner instead of one of the meals we could and should be making at home. I am immediately crushed when I find out they are not open on Sunday and I proceed to tear up before shifting into a pregnancy- and hunger-driven bad mood. I offer instead to make breaded chicken stuffed with broccoli and swiss, fresh asparagus, and Birds Eye Vegetable Pasta Mac and Cheese. This ends up being delicious and good for my blood sugar, but I am still bitter. We decide to go for a quick walk after dinner, just the two of us this time, and end up getting drizzled on as we raced back to the house.
7 p.m. — Supermarket Sweep premieres tonight! We end up streaming this on our Roku via the ABC app using my parents' cable login information. M. and I have been watching the throwback episodes on Hulu for a few months now, so this is a big day for us. We settle into our couch and end up watching Who Wants to Be a Millionaire too before calling it a night.
9:15 p.m. — I head to bed to play on my phone for a bit before falling asleep while M. watches Card Sharks. He tries to update me on the happenings on the show by shouting them down the hall without realizing I am almost completely passed out. I assume he figures it out at some point.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

7:15 a.m. — Wake up and prepare breakfast while I log into my work computer and greet my team over chat and ask about their weekends. I repeat breakfast from yesterday. While documenting everything I have to track for this stage of pregnancy (baby kicks, blood pressure, blood sugar, and carb intake) and planning out my workday, I get a call from a coworker. I was supposed to present on an audit at 8 a.m. but I am not ready. Shit. Pregnancy brain is a real phenomenon for me, which is extremely frustrating as someone who typically prides herself in being relatively sharp and detail-oriented. I finish my breakfast and prepare the documentation that I am now scheduled to present at 10. I continue to apologize to my coworker who put together the audit schedule.
10 a.m. — Present my portion of the audit and it seems to go well. I am mostly happy it is over. Audits are always anxiety-inducing for me, despite having the utmost confidence in our processes and documentation efforts.
11:30 a.m. — Bake a low-carb tortilla pizza and spinach bites shaped like dinosaurs for lunch. M. and I eat lunch together and play with our middle dog, chasing her around the house while she plays keep-away with her toy. She displays signs of middle child syndrome usually, but is very playful and loving today so we take advantage of it and give her lots of attention.
1:45 p.m. — Our team staff meeting ends a bit early, so I decide to take a quick break and have a slice of the GDM-friendly pumpkin cheesecake M. made me two days ago. I feel spoiled because M. loves to bake and has taken on the challenge of making something both delicious and healthy. I also use this time to check in on my mom. She just had her annual physical and all seems well, which is welcome news. My dad was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer last year and has since been declared clear with regular surveillance scans, so medical appointments for my parents always make me a little more anxious than normal.
5:30 p.m. — We are done with work for the day. Monday afternoons are mostly staff meetings and data requests for me, so they tend to go by relatively quickly. M. and I redeem ourselves after yesterday's ordeal and order Chicken Salad Chick. I get a scoop of Buffalo Barclay with their broccoli salad, which has become my usual. We eat while starting Emergency Call — another show we were intrigued by yesterday. We take a mid-show break to walk around the block with all three dogs then continue our episode. My heart can only handle one episode, so I decide to browse Foodgawker while M. calls his mom. We miss his family, especially right now, but we are doing our best to stay quarantined due to my pregnancy, asthma, and high blood pressure putting me at high risk. $18.43
8 p.m. — This is the time of night I usually track my final blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and carb intake for each meal and snack. I record my blood sugar four times a day and blood pressure twice a day per my doctors' request. I am pretty sure this does not help with my brain fog, but I am sure it will all be worth it in the end.
9:30 p.m. — I head to bed to play on my phone and continue reading The Simple Path to Wealth. This book has been pretty good so far, but it can feel a little redundant at times. VTSAX. VTSAX. VTSAX. I am heavy into financial books right now. I recently finished The Millionaire Next Door per my boss' recommendation and was pleasantly surprised with it despite its old age.
Daily Total: $18.43

Day Three

7:15 a.m. — Reluctantly wake up and start the workday with another decaf Nespresso coffee with Fairlife milk and a dribble of pumpkin spice creamer. I decide to make myself a bagel thin with cream cheese and Everything But The Bagel seasoning and add some peanut butter on a spoon for some extra protein. First meeting of the day is our department leadership staff meeting, so I log into that and get situated at my dining room table “office” and test my blood pressure while I am waiting to be called on. M. is already working in the office, so we kiss and say good morning as he passes through the kitchen to prepare his breakfast.
10 a.m. — M. heads out to grab some grocery items that should allow me to increase my protein consumption during snacks and lunch, including cottage cheese, sunflower seeds, eggs, Fairlife Core Protein shakes, a pork loin and the fixings for carnitas, and a few other random items he found intriguing from the shelves. We try our best to go during less popular shopping hours to avoid unnecessary exposure and working from home provides us with more opportunities to do so. $79.38
11:30 a.m. — Work has been productive and I am ready for lunch. I reheat some leftover pasta e fagioli soup that I defrosted and have some cucumber slices tossed with marinated feta on the side. M. has a box of Kraft mac and cheese, and I give him some serious jealousy side-eye as he passes through the kitchen to watch Archer in the living room. After we finish our lunches, we combine the ingredients for carnitas into the crockpot and set it for 10 hours. I hope to use this meat for the rest of my lunches for the week.
4 p.m. — The glider for the nursery and our dining room chairs from Target arrive all at once! I feel so bad for the FedEx employee as she lugs the heavy boxes off of her truck and arranges them on our porch. I can hear her exhaustion through the front door. M. comes out of the office after his meeting to bring the boxes inside and set some chairs out for us to evaluate how we did with our choices. We love them all!
5:30 p.m. — I feel like I blink and the workday is over. I got into the zone and lost track of time. M. used the Instant Pot to cook some shredded chicken yesterday evening in preparation for tonight's dinner. He throws together green chile chicken enchiladas with low carb tortillas while I accidentally nap on the LoveSac. We eat dinner together and I cannot stop talking about yummy it was.
8 p.m. — M. lets me know his sister is ready to chat — she's helping us decide what benefits to choose. She walks us through our options and makes her suggestions after asking us a few questions. We chat a bit about financial advisors and other insurance options before she tells us she has to go, and we sign off for the night. M. suggests that we send his sister a gift to thank her for taking the time to help us with our benefits questions, so we send her a $100 Nordstrom gift card over email. $100
9:30 p.m. — After putting away the pork and washing the dishes, M. and I sit down to watch The Great British Baking Show for a bit before we decide to head to bed. M. continues to read this French baby book he ordered early on from a Buzzfeed listicle out loud until I pass out (probably just 15 minutes later). This is a little routine we do a couple of nights a week. The result has been a very slow read, but it is enjoyable nonetheless.
Daily Total: $179.38

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I force myself to wake up and promptly log into my work computer to begin my day. Before I get too deep into work, I make myself a Nespresso coffee with pumpkin spice creamer. I settle in with my coffee to check in with my team and start to knock out some emails while M. kindly offers to make us both breakfast — eggs, bacon, and a slice of toast.
11:30 a.m. — I decide it is time for lunch, so I heat up some of the carnitas we made yesterday and throw them into a couple of low carb tortillas with some feta cheese. I toss lunch back with a Diet Coke and remember it is my grandma's birthday. I ask M. to order her some flowers as this is his specialty and something he really enjoys. Meanwhile, I log into Shutterfly and order a print from our wedding with the two of us, my parents, and my grandma and late grandpa. We lost my grandpa suddenly this year, so I hope this will be a good memory for her to hang up in their house. $164.08
1 p.m. — M. comes out of the office after his therapy session (covered by his health insurance) and we discuss how it went and share our feelings about where we have come from and where we are headed. He started therapy a few weeks ago and it has already been a really rewarding experience for him. I am proud of him for taking this step. Following our chat filled with a few tears and laughter, we decide we need to get back to work and do so accordingly.
2:30 p.m. — We head to my OB appointment and are fortunate to have a short wait this time. Due to COVID restrictions, M. is only allowed to a few things surrounding this pregnancy — routine OB appointments are thankfully one of them. After a painful Tdap shot, the doctor listens to baby on the doppler and checks over my blood pressure and blood sugar levels, gives me the nod of approval, and sends us on our way.
4 p.m. — The doctor's office is next to Sonic, so we decide to pull in for a couple of drinks and M. wants a corndog ($3.71). We also stop by the CVS next door to pick up my prescriptions (covered by my health insurance). $3.71
4:30 p.m. — Last stop while we are out is the post office to mail the required documents for my name change (nearly an entire year later) to our local social security office. I hate to send such important documents via mail, but with COVID-19 and a trust in certified mail we ultimately decide this is our best and only option to take care of this before the baby is born and the birth certificate becomes complicated. $5.09
6 p.m. — M. and I reheat some leftover enchiladas from yesterday while we wind down in our separate spaces. Since we work from home together, we sometimes use this time to relax independently. This is probably driven more by myself than him, being that I am an only child. He chooses to watch Yu-Gi-Oh in the living room while I play on my phone in the formal just one room over.
9 p.m. — After dinner, M. joins me in the formal and puts together the rest of the dining room chairs while we talk and I play with the dogs. He is not quite sold on the chairs, but I think he will grow to like them once we get everything cleaned up and put together for the full picture. We head to bed around 11.
Daily Total: $172.88

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — I roll out of bed and criticize myself for not being one of those people who wakes up well before starting WFH to make themselves coffee and breakfast and ease into their day. Do those people really exist? Shamefully, I am not one of them. I immediately log onto my work computer to check my emails, greet my team over IM, and look over my calendar to get a feel for my day ahead. I take a break after orienting myself to make an iced coffee with the Grady's cold brew concentrate I bought a week or so ago and feel guilty letting go to waste. Breakfast this morning is cottage cheese and sunflower seeds. M. comes out from his office to have his breakfast and we decide to go for a quick walk down the block then get back to work. He has some grueling data cleanup to do, so he texts me after a bit to complain and we joke back and forth for a bit. Yes, we text each other in the same house.
10:30 a.m. — I settle on a snack of healthy pumpkin cheesecake a la M. after testing my blood sugar. I save my more protein-heavy snack option for the time between lunch and dinner because I feel that is when my brain needs it the most. I log into a meeting that takes place over lunch and end up feeling a little silly when I have a brain fog moment in front of a VP of Operations. This was probably nothing anyone will remember or even thought twice about, but my anxiety gets the best of me and I fixate a bit before deciding to move on, but not before messaging my boss and a coworker, who are also on the call, to attempt to clarify and probably make things more confusing.
12:30 p.m. — After the lunch meeting, I decide to actually make something for lunch. I once again have carnitas on low carb tortillas with some cream cheese spread, salsa, and cheddar. I chase this down with a Diet Dr. Pepper and realize I am feeling extremely full. I am not sure if this is because of how much I ate or the fact that my organs are being compressed by the small child growing inside of me. M. and I take another walk around the block, hoping this will help with the full feeling and give my blood sugar a little boost in the right direction.
5:30 p.m. — I sign off of work for the day and start cleaning the house as M. heads out to Home Depot (we prefer the ethics of Lowe's, but need a particular brand of paint to match what the previous owners put on our walls). I want to clean the house before my parents come in tomorrow to visit for two weeks and throw us a virtual baby shower. M. buys some soil to toss over the bare patches of dirt in our yard that were just over-seeded and some paint for touchups and the hallway. $98.61
6 p.m. — While M. is out, he also graciously picks up dinner. I get a chicken salad with ranch and he gets tenders and potato wedges. I stare at him with bitter envy as we eat our dinner. $19.51
7 p.m. — M. heads to my parents' house nearby to drop off some items they had delivered here over the past few weeks. While he is gone I finish cleaning as much as I am physically capable and sit down to rest for a bit before he returns.
10 p.m. — Shortly after he returns from his errands, M. decides he wants to vacuum and steam clean the carpets in the rooms that get the most action from the dogs. He starts on that venture while I do my evening testing of my blood sugar and blood pressure, log my meals, and count baby kicks. The carpet looks incredible! I am so grateful that he finds this task satisfying. We decide that tomorrow will be for dusting, sweeping, mopping, and painting while the dogs are at the groomers. We head to bed around 10:30 and do our little reading routine before I swiftly pass out.
Daily Total: $118.12

Day Six

7:15 a.m. — Slowly wake up to my snoozed alarm. I do not know why I kid myself by setting it for 6:30 every morning, knowing very well that I will snooze it until the last minute. M. heads out to drop the dogs off for grooming and doggy daycare for the day. This is something we splurge on, but I love to spoil the dogs once a month and it helps keep our doodle from becoming a matted mess. I take my blood sugar and blood pressure, answer a call from my team about weather delays affecting our schedule, and grab a quick breakfast of cottage cheese and sunflower seeds and make the same iced coffee from yesterday. I also refill my pill case, because being pregnant with hypertension and mild anemia means all of the medicine! Finally, I settle in to put my thoughts together about our schedule to make sure we have a contingency plan to get through the weekend.
10 a.m. — I get the idea to buy Harry & David Holiday gift boxes for friends and family for Chrismukkah this year and I decide to take a break from work to go ahead and take care of this task. I can be a bit impatient and with our baby's due date being Christmas Eve (and even more likely sometime before), I do not want to be stressed about sorting out gifts for much longer. I buy 18 gift boxes of delicious looking treats, set them to be delivered to all 18 different addresses any time the week before Christmas, and call it a success. Following this impromptu decision, we now only have to buy nine more gifts for immediate family which feels much more manageable. I look at our budget to determine if I need to pay for this from our savings, but I determine we are in good shape to pull it from our monthly budget. $626.16
12 p.m. — M. and I work half-days on Friday, so we start to make ourselves lunch around noon. I make a repeat of yesterday's lunch before realizing the salsa I have poured all over my carnitas has gone bad. Instead, I make a quick black bean and cheddar quesadilla that does the job and tastes much less like I am being poisoned. After we down our lunches, we continue cleaning the house before my parents get into town. I am in charge of dusting and cleaning the counters and M. tackles the sweeping and mopping.
2:30 p.m. — My parents text that they have made it to their new house, so we pack up the dogs and head over there for the rest of the day. We are both so excited to see them that it feels like Christmas morning. Maybe we are a little socially deprived because of COVID-19. We give mom her belated birthday gifts (she is a mid-October baby) and they give us some clothes that they picked out for the baby.
3:30 p.m. — M. offers to run to the store to get some supplies for dinner tonight, since he has to run by Lowe's to get some more supplies for our house projects that he forgot the day before. He grabs gold spray paint and another bag of soil from the hardware store. $21.31
4 p.m. — M. stops by the grocery store to grab some buns, low-carb tortillas, and a salad kit for dinner. $39.66
4:30 p.m. — M. remembers he has to go pick the dogs up at 5:30 and the place is about a half-hour away, so he rushes to my parent's house to drop off the supplies before booking it to the dog groomer/doggy daycare place. The total for all three dogs comes out to $161 with tip — the doodle being the priciest of them all. $161
6 p.m. — We continue catching up while my mom heats up the smoked brisket they brought on ice and I prepare the Caesar salad to accompany it. Everyone else eats brisket sandwiches and I put mine on a low-carb tortilla with a healthy portion of salad on the side. We compliment my dad on his brisket and enjoy our first dinner together of their visit before starting a game of spades in which I completely destroy myself by repeatedly overbidding.
11 p.m. — M. and I decide to head home, as I am completely exhausted and he is wanting to play some Mario on his Nintendo Switch before bed. When we get home, I have a protein shake and head directly to bed while M. gets ready for his late-night gaming session.
Daily Total: $848.13

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I wake up and check my phone to see the time, deciding that I have had enough sleep to start my day. M. decides he has not (likely due to his late-night Mario adventures) and heads back to bed for a few more hours. I make myself a Nespresso coffee and cottage cheese and sunflower seeds. I know this seems repetitive, but I am learning that repeatable meals makes my blood sugar fairly regular and keeps me and the baby safest. I spend the rest of the morning relaxing with the pups and playing on my phone until M. wakes up to join me.
11 a.m. — My mom texts me to ask if I would like to join her to run some errands at Academy and Target. I debate because I believe in masking up and other people make me nervous because I cannot control their actions, but I decide I could use the activity. She picks me up and we head to Academy first. She has a specific list of items to get to help my dad smoke some pork butts and is finished almost as soon as we walk in. We head to Target next and I decide this is a good time to get our groceries for the week. I grab a variety of vegetables, chicken breasts, ground beef, dairy products, as well as three Essie nail polishes with a few new nail files and a buffing block and we check out. There is a Raising Cane's in the parking lot, so we decide to stop there to grab lunch for all of us to bring back home. M. requests a four-piece box combo and I order a kid's combo. My mom generously offers to buy our lunch. $205.08
2 p.m. — M. heads home to work on some projects around the house while my mom and I go for a walk around the block. Their neighborhood is full of hills and I immediately regret my decision but stick with it.
3:30 p.m. — I test my blood sugar and grab a quick snack before my mom and I head to Southern Agriculture. She is convinced the dogs are too cold and wants to buy them some sweaters. I intend to spend nothing, but instead, I buy two “indestructible” toys knowing very well that our dogs will destroy them within mere days. $22.22
6:30 p.m. — Time for dinner! We sit down to shredded pork, mom's homemade mac and cheese using protein noodles, and a healthy serving of steamed broccoli. I convince M. to go for a quick walk with me right after dinner even though it is pitch black outside. We make it home safely and I feel good for staying active.
Daily Total: $227.30
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