A Week In Madison, WI, On A Joint $202,000 Salary

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Today: an accounting controller working in manufacturing who makes $92,000 per year ($202,000 combined with her husband) and spends some of her money this week on tickets to see A Star Is Born.
Occupation: Accounting Controller
Industry: Manufacturing
Age: 34
Location: Madison, WI
My Salary: $92,000 (with a 5% bonus)
My Husband's Salary: $110,000 (with a 15% bonus)
My Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $2,014.54
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $2,632.50
Monthly Expenses
House Costs: $494 (We paid off the mortgage this year so this is only for property taxes and homeowner's insurance.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (Student loans are paid off.)
Phones: $109
Car Payment: $0 (Both cars are paid off.)
Car Insurance: $350 every six months for both cars
Internet & Cable: $153
Utilities: ~$150
Gym Membership: $77
Massage Membership: $60
Cleaning Service: $80 (every four weeks)
Health Insurance: $181 (HDHP with an HSA, dental, and vision insurance)
Netflix: $12
Annual Expenses
Roth IRA: $11,000/year (My husband, R., and I both contribute the maximum of $5,500.)
HSA: $6,450/year (The maximum contribution in addition to the $450 contributed by my employer.)
401(k): $37,000/year (R. and I both contribute the maximum of $18,500.)
Life Insurance: $384 (term policies for both of us)
Amazon Prime: $139

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I roll out of bed and find R. updating Mint in the office. We don't really have a budget, but we still track all of our expenses each month. We're both accountants, and we couldn't stop being number nerds if we tried. While R. finishes the updates, I start a pot of coffee, make green smoothies (avocado, banana, frozen pineapple, spinach, kale, cilantro, and almond milk), and fry some eggs. While we eat, we discuss our finances. We just finished paying off our mortgage, so we need to decide where to put our extra cash flow going forward.
10 a.m. — After breakfast, R. heads to our friend's house to check on her dogs and cats while she's out of town for the weekend, and I make a Target run. I switched to SheaMoisture African black soap in March, and it's time to restock. I love that the soap is so inexpensive, lasts for a long time, and makes my combination skin looks better than ever. I can't go to Target without making a lap through the entire store, so in addition to the soap, I end up with a decorative centerpiece and box of Sudafed. $24.25
11:30 a.m. — I call R. to remind him to stop at the wine store to buy a gift card for my aunt. We stayed with her and her husband last month, and they were wonderful hosts, so we want to send a gift with a thank you card to show our appreciation. I heat up some leftover chili for lunch, throw in a load of laundry, and spend the afternoon reading while R. watches college football. My hold list at the library got out of control, and I have a stack of eight books to work through over the next few weeks. $50
5:30 p.m. — R. and I make a cauliflower crust pizza from Costco for dinner before we go to the UW Badger hockey game with some friends. We thought they were going to cancel because they had a baby early last week, but the plans are still a-go. Our friends (and their new adorable baby) meet at our house, and we drive to the game together. They pay for parking since we drove.
8 p.m. — During an intermission in the game, R. finds a new hat ($30) and I buy a soda in a commemorative cup ($11.50). $41.50
9:45 p.m. — The Badgers won! We head home, say goodbye to our friends, and turn in for the night.
Daily Total: $115.75

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — R. makes pancakes for breakfast. I do most of the cooking during the week, and R. likes to make a special Sunday breakfast to show his appreciation.
10 a.m. — Normally R. and I grocery shop together every Sunday morning, but my sister and four-month old nephew are coming to visit today, so R. is on his own for the grocery shopping. He picks up our weekly staples and a few items we need for meals this week (bananas, spinach, kale, red peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, lentils, eggs, black beans, canned tomatoes, chickpeas, Brussels sprouts, tea, coffee, frozen vegetables, and canned sparkling water). $51.36
11 a.m. — My sister ran into some issues with her carseat and arrives an hour later than expected. R. and I spend some time playing with our nephew. He's starting to get more interactive and fun. Two days in a row with babies triggers my internal debate about having a baby. R. and I are on the fence about parenthood — I enjoy babies, and R. is great with kids, but we aren't sure if we want to go down that path. The older I get, the more pressure I feel to make a definitive decision, and the more conflicted I feel about it.
12 p.m. — R. heads to the office to catch up on some work. My sister, nephew, and I head to a sushi restaurant for lunch. We share four rolls and split a Sapporo. I'm pleasantly surprised to learn that the restaurant has lunch specials on Sundays. Because my sister drove to visit, I pick up the tab. After lunch, we do some shopping, but I don't buy anything. $39.07
2:30 p.m. — After my sister leaves, I throw in a load of laundry and turn on an episode of the Dr. Death podcast to listen to while I meal prep. I start a batch of lentil burrito bowls in the Instant Pot, make a batch of homemade hummus, and chop up a bunch of veggies (carrots, peppers, and cucumbers) for snacking during the week. After everything is prepped and individually packaged, I feel like I'm playing Tetris trying to fit everything in the fridge.
4 p.m. — I head to the gym for my normal Sunday night Body Pump class. R. heads out on a bike ride.
6 p.m. — R. makes salmon and I roast some Brussels sprouts for dinner. We discuss buying tickets for a concert in March but all the mid-level seats are sold out, so we look at re-sale tickets online and find two. The total price is $307.11 once you factor in the exorbitant processing fees. $307.11
10 p.m. — We watch an episode of Jack Ryan on Amazon and head to bed.
Daily Total: $397.54

Day Three

5:50 a.m. — After my alarm wakes me up, I take a shower and start on breakfast. I start throwing together a green smoothie and realize R. forgot to buy avocados yesterday, so I make the smoothie sans avocado and pour myself a bowl of muesli. R. wakes up as I am finishing my morning routine. I throw a burrito bowl, a sparkling water, and an apple in my reusable lunch bag and turn on an episode of The Daily podcast to listen to on my drive to work.
7:30 a.m. — After I heat up some water for a cup of tea, I start my day by catching up on emails from this weekend. We're in the middle of the 2019 financial planning and budgeting process, so it will be a busy week.
12 p.m. — I reheat the burrito bowl in the break room and bring the food back to my desk. While I'm eating, I surf the internet and catch up on the news. Then I get outside for a quick 10-minute loop around our building. It's a nice way to get some sun and reenergize for the afternoon.
5:45 p.m. — On my way home from work , I stop at the gas station to fill up ($33.65) and at the grocery store to pick up avocados, a head of cauliflower, two bags of pretzels (they're on sale for $1 a bag), and a bottle of red wine ($19.29). $52.94
7 p.m. — R. calls and tells me our friends invited us over to watch the football game at their house. I have a headache, so I skip out, but R. heads over for the game. He stops at the liquor store to buy a six-pack of beer on the way. $7.37
9:30 p.m. — After a dinner of pretzels and veggies with hummus and a glass of wine, I spend the rest of the evening reading and then go to bed early. R. gets home after I fall asleep. He doesn't want to wake me up, so he sleeps in our guest bedroom.
Daily Total: $60.31

Day Four

6 a.m. — While I eat breakfast (smoothie and muesli), I do my daily French and Spanish lessons on the Duolingo app. I took French in high school, so I thought it would be fun to relearn, and the Spanish will be helpful for when I go to Mexico soon. I finish getting ready, pack my lunch, and drive to work.
9 a.m. — I woke up a few times last night, so the caffeine from my morning tea is not cutting it today, and I buy a cup of coffee. $1.04
12 p.m. — Lunch is the same as yesterday, but today's weather isn't great, so I don't go for a walk. My older sister texts me a screenshot of my niece's class photo. She looks adorable.
3:45 p.m. — I meet with my boss to discuss a potential work trip abroad. I usually travel twice a year, but this trip will be longer because we have some new financial regulations and software updates to implement. Work travel is not glamorous, and I'm not looking forward to a full week of it. After the meeting, I book my flight. ($851 expensed)
6 p.m. — I wrap up my work and head home. I planned to return two books to the library on the way home, but I realize I forgot to throw them in the car this morning. I'll have to go tomorrow instead.
6:45 p.m. — I make some harissa marinade and defrost a pack of chicken thighs. I throw the marinating chicken in the fridge while I head to the gym. I missed the class I usually attend on Tuesday nights, so today's workout is a 3.5 mile run on the treadmill.
8 p.m. — R. gets home from work as I am pulling the chicken out of the oven. We catch up on our days over dinner. His work has been stressful lately, and he vents about the recent issues.
10 p.m. — We watch an episode of Frasier on Netflix before bed. We've watched every episode of Frasier multiple times — it is one of my all-time favorite shows.
Daily Total: $1.04

Day Five

5:50 a.m. — Why do I wake up at this ungodly hour? I look at R. snoozing away next to me and wish I had his morning routine. I shake up my smoothie routine and make a chocolate peanut butter smoothie with chocolate protein powder, peanut butter powder, a frozen banana, and almond milk.
7:30 a.m. — I have a morning conference call with my international colleagues that starts at 7:30, so I rush into the office and run directly to the conference room.
12 p.m. — Lunch is leftover harissa chicken and vegetables. I usually plan our meals so that we have enough leftovers for lunch. The fewer times I need to cook during the week, the better! It's sunny today, so I get outside for a lap around the building.
5 p.m. — My boss wants to discuss pay increases for my staff. The company is making some changes, and these conversations can be hard, but I need to be an advocate for my staff.
6 p.m. — I bought some tinted moisturizer at Ulta last week. I've been trying to reduce my makeup usage, and the moisturizer is supposed to replace my regular foundation. But apparently I'm not confident enough to pull off the minimal coverage look, so I return the moisturizer to Ulta and buy my normal foundation. The net cost is $12.16. $12.16
6:40 p.m. — I have my library books today, but not enough time to stop at the library. I rush from Ulta to the gym for my core strength and conditioning class. In the middle of class, I realize my tank top is inside out. I roll over the bottom few inches so the tag is covered and hope that nobody else notices. I've gone to the gym in inside-out clothing more times than I care to admit, so you'd think I would be more observant by now.
7:30 p.m. — I snack on some chopped peppers and carrots while putting together chickpea and cauliflower tikka masala. R. has a late night, so I eat dinner by myself. After I pack up the leftovers, I do some online shopping for two upcoming baby showers. I know eight pregnant women right now, so I'm a baby shower pro at this point. I review the registries (side note – why do so many baby shower registries include lotion?) and order swaddle blankets, a hooded towel, and a book from one mom-to-be's Target registry. The other registry is pretty limited, so I'll pick up a Target gift card before the shower. $52.93
10:30 p.m. — R. gets home as I'm getting ready for bed. He needs some time to decompress, so we watch an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver before heading to bed.
Daily Total: $65.09

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — I'm attending a conference with my coworker today, so I don't need to make breakfast or pack a lunch. I download some Planet Money podcast episodes for the drive. There's nothing like an economics podcast to get me in the right mood for a day of financial reporting and tax updates.
7:45 a.m. — I arrive at the conference and find my coworker. We grab some breakfast (bagels, fruit, and coffee) and take our seats.
11:30 a.m. — We get through the morning sessions and break for lunch. I chose the vegan option (butternut squash ravioli) because I'm lactose intolerant, and I don't want to risk a miserable afternoon if I accidentally eat dairy. After lunch, we walk around the sponsor booths, and I restock my supply of free pens and chip clips (score!).
4:30 p.m. — On my way home, I stop at an open house for a new development in town. R. and I just paid off our mortgage, so we're not looking to buy a new house right now, but a lot of our friends are upgrading to bigger, nicer houses, and it's fun to imagine doing the same. Instead, I remind myself of our financial goals and get some ideas for upgrades we can do to the house we own.
5:30 p.m. — After the open house, I finally make it to the library. Despite having a sizable stack of books to read, I cannot resist the Buzz books section. I find a couple of recommendations from my book club (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Where the Crawdads Sing). After the library, I head to the gym for a 3.5 mile run on the treadmill.
7:30 p.m. — R. is home from work, and we have leftover chickpea tikka masala and talk about our days. After dinner, he shows me a Kickstarter campaign for a beer brewing machine he's interested in. He invested in a different Kickstarter home brewing machine a few years ago and still hasn't received the product, but he is feeling confident about this new one, so he pulls the trigger ($387). We've spent almost $1,000 between these two machines, so I hope at least one will come through! $387
10 p.m. — We watch the most recent episode of The Good Place and then head to bed.
Daily Total: $387

Day Seven

5:50 a.m. — I turn off the alarm and comfort myself with the fact that today is Friday. It's back to the normal routine with a green smoothie and muesli for breakfast.
10:30 a.m. — It has been a busy morning. I make myself a second cup of tea and snag a donut that someone brought in.
12 p.m. — Lunch is leftover chickpea tikka masala. While I'm eating, I look up movie showtimes. R. and I want to see A Star Is Born, and this is a good chance to check out the new movie theater in town. I text R. to confirm, and book two tickets for the 6:45 showing. $23
2:30 p.m. — I spend the afternoon meeting with some department managers to review budgeted expenses for 2019. The department managers submit a preliminary budget, and I help them make the adjustments so that the overall company budget is reasonable. My company is doing really well right now, but we still need to be fiscally responsible.
5 p.m. — R. and I plan to get dinner before the movie, so I head home early.
6:15 p.m. — R. was delayed at work, so he just gets home now. Fortunately, the theater brews beer onsite and serves food. We head to the theater, order two beers (IPA for R. and Oktoberfest for me) and two burgers, and settle in for the movie. R. is a huge Gaga fan, and the movie does not disappoint. $42.09
10 p.m. — After the movie we head home and go to bed. I'm at the age where my favorite Friday nights include an early bedtime.
Daily Total: $65.09
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