A Week In Madison, WI, On A $112,000 Joint Income

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Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: a supervisor working in corrections who has a joint income of $112,000 and spends some of her money this week on an apple fritter.
Occupation: Supervisor
Industry: Corrections
Age: 31
Location: Madison, WI
My Salary: $67,000
Fiancé's Salary: $45,000
Net Worth: My fiancé and I only have about $2,000 in savings. When you look at our debt, our net worth is -$102,000.
Debt: $38,000 for my student debt. $58,000 for my fiancé's student debt and $8,000 for his credit card debt.
My Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $1,738
Fiancé Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $1,213
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,279
My Student Loans: $630
Fiancé's Student Loans: $552
My Car Payment: $171
Fiancé's Car Payment: $357
Credit Card Payment: $766 (We're working to pay these off by the end of the year. We'll also put some of our stimulus checks towards this debt.)
Parking: $75 (My fiancé works downtown and has to pay for parking)
Internet: $44
Cell Phones: $133
Utilities: $75
Car Insurance: $169
Spotify: $21
YouTube TV: $55
Renter's Insurance: $10
Health Insurance: $198 (taken out of our paychecks)
Life Insurance: $30 (taken out of our paychecks)
Retirement: $776 ($100 is paid into an account my fiancé manages and the rest is taken out of our paychecks)
Donations: $40 (taken out of our paychecks for a couple of local non-profits, one for children and another for domestic abuse victims)
Savings: $300 (we'll increase this once we've paid off my fiance's credit card debts)

Day One

7:15 a.m. — It's the start of my fifth week working from home. Luckily, my fiancé, N., and I have essential jobs we can do from home. I shower, get dressed, and do my morning skincare routine: Aveeno foaming cleanser, vitamin C serum, and Olay moisturizer with SPF. Then, I make some tea before a busy morning of emails, calls with staff, and completing reports.
11:45 a.m. — The morning flew by so I break for lunch — peanut butter on low carb bread. I rarely eat breakfast, so I've only had tea and water so far. N. and I watch The Office (our comfort show) while we eat.
4:30 p.m. — Once work is over, we take our dog out for a walk around the neighborhood. When we get back, I make chicken fettuccine alfredo for dinner.
6 p.m. — After dinner, we go through our bills and finances. N. and I just combined finances last week and it's the first time we've had to navigate the new system. We've combined everything except our separate fun money accounts. We use an app, Honeydue, to monitor our budget, bills, account balances, debts, and savings goals. I also track all our individual bill payments and our plan for each check in a separate Excel spreadsheet. After decades of managing my own money, it's an adjustment.
9:30 p.m. — I start my nighttime skincare routine: micellar water, CeraVe cleanser, Thayer's toner, Neutrogena hydro boost moisturizer, then a Curology formula meant to help with fine lines and pigmentation. I've only had Curology for about a month. I don't notice a huge difference yet, but I'll give it a few more months before deciding if it's worth it. We stay up talking and finally go to sleep around 10:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

7:20 a.m. — Quarantine has really messed up my sleep habits. I've been sleeping about nine hours each night and waking up barely before work. I check my phone and read the news for ten minutes before I grab my work laptop and cell phone to start my day in bed. I check in with my staff and complete our required morning report.
9 a.m. — I have a FaceTime meeting with one of my staff members to discuss her workload and check in. N. and I live in a one-bedroom apartment, so we're limited on space. When we have calls and meetings, one of us works in the bedroom while the other is in the living room. It feels so weird to spend big chunks of my day in bed.
12 p.m. — Our preferred grocery store has been booked solid for grocery pickup slots. Two weeks ago, I was lucky to snag a pickup for today. We live less than five minutes away, so I run over during my lunch break. I pick up our order of chicken breasts, rice, pasta, cereal, Diet Coke, sparkling water, tortillas, crackers, bread, strawberries, onions, peppers, broccoli, asparagus, butter, snap peas, cheese, salmon, almond milk, and water. $130.26
1 p.m. — After putting away all the groceries and answering work emails, I have a quick lunch of cheese and crackers. While eating, I get a call from my uncle with an update about my grandmother. She has COPD and was just diagnosed with lung cancer. She's in the hospital, and with everything going on, I'm constantly worried about her. Today, she's being transferred to a rehabilitation center. We'd been told to let her rest in the hospital, but I'll call her once she's settled at the rehab center.
4:30 p.m. — While I appreciate not having to deal with the stress of a commute, I really miss the separation between my work life and my home life. Usually, we take our dog on a walk to create some separation; however, in classic Wisconsin fashion, there's a snow/hail mix that came out of nowhere. So I start prepping dinner instead — roasted potatoes and leftover ham from Easter.
6 p.m. — After dinner, we spend the evening playing with our dog and watching the season finale of Ozark (!!). Then, N. watches his shows while I spontaneously decide to bake peanut butter cookies. What is it about quarantine that inspires non-stop baking?
9:45 p.m. — I do my nighttime skincare routine and brush my teeth. I fall asleep while N. watches YouTube videos.
Daily Total: $130.26

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — N. and I wake up and discuss the bizarre dreams we've been having in quarantine. After giving N. all the details of my nighttime adventures with Ariana Grande (so bizarre), he takes care of the dog while I hop in the shower. I definitely do not shower every day, and some days, I don't bother to change out of my pajamas. But today, I shower, do my skincare routine, and get dressed in normal clothes. I haven't worn any makeup or styled my hair since we started working from home four weeks ago and today is no exception. I figure the break is good for my skin and hair.
11:15 a.m. — I've had a busy morning approving staff work and answering emails. I've also been catching up on some mindless tasks that are usually at the bottom of my to-do list. It's tedious but I'm so excited to finally cross them off my list. I take a small break to make some tea and grab a cookie.
12 p.m. — I break for lunch but just end up stress eating more cookies while M. and I discuss our wedding. We were supposed to go to NYC next month to elope and then have a party here the following month. We canceled the party and we're discussing when to reschedule our elopement. We already paid deposits to all our vendors (photographer, officiant, hair and makeup artists) in NYC, so we're still set on going there. Plus, we're in love with the idea of having photos of us all dressed up with the skyline behind us. As we discuss, we decide to pay our photographer the remainder of our bill. She's a gig worker in the epicenter of this pandemic, so the money might be more helpful now rather than later. $418.80
4:30 p.m. — No snow today, so we take our post-work walk with the pup. It's freezing out so we're only gone for about 25 minutes. After we get back, N. gets dinner ready. I usually make all our meals, but tonight, he makes Key West chicken and rice.
5:30 p.m. — While N. is finishing dinner, I get a call from our wedding photographer. After touching base earlier, she wants to chat about our plans. We determine that waiting until August is a safer bet. After dinner, I work on emailing our other vendors to see if they're available for the new date.
9:30 p.m. — N. and I spend the night vegging. He plays videogames and I read Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino. Before bed, I do my skincare routine and brush my teeth. Then N. and I snuggle and talk about how selfish it feels to mourn our wedding when others are struggling with their jobs, health, and finances. Nevertheless, we acknowledge how disappointed we are that we can't get married next month. On the bright side, at least we still like each other after a month of quarantine.
Daily Total: $418.80

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and check my work phone. There was a bit of a crisis so I spend the morning frantically sending emails and completing reports. Consequently, it's one of those days where I don't bother changing out of my pajamas.
11:45 a.m. — We break for lunch and I have some plain Greek yogurt with strawberries. I read a New Yorker article about Sally Rooney in preparation for a virtual book club meeting I have tonight. We read Rooney's most recent novel, Normal People, just in time to watch the Hulu adaptation.
1:30 p.m. — The governor just announced our shelter in place order is extended until after Memorial Day. I'm not surprised and I understand it's necessary. Nonetheless, I am exhausted thinking about another five weeks of this.
4:40 p.m. — We head out for our daily walk. While we're out, N. says he's craving pizza. He's also feeling particularly cooped up today, so he places a curbside pickup order at a local pizza place. Since it's not groceries, this will come out of our fun money. $22
7 p.m. — Book club time! This is one of my favorite quarantine activities and I really hope it continues post-lockdown. We decide our next two books are Trick Mirror (which I'm already reading) and In The Dream House by Carmen Machado. I find In The Dream House on Amazon and download it for my Kindle. I have a credit from buying my last book so I get a great deal. $2.90
10:30 p.m. — We stay up a bit later than usual reading and playing video games. Then skincare, teeth brushing, sleep.
Daily Total: $24.90

Day Five

7:20 a.m. — I have a weekly Zoom meeting with our management team every Friday so I need to look presentable. I shower, do my skincare, comb my hair, and put on clothes that aren't pajamas. I then spend too long choosing a fun background for our pride-themed meeting.
11:45 a.m. — After our meeting, I break for lunch. Once again, I have yogurt with strawberries while I watch The Office. I'm a creature of habit.
1 p.m. — Our favorite local donut shop is doing a curbside pickup and N. is so excited. We run out to get two fritters, one apple and one cherry. I initially think $5 for a fritter is a bit steep but it turns out these are massive. Literally the size of my head! I can only eat a quarter of mine. $12
4:30 p.m. — After work, I'm cranky and tired (probably from the sugar crash), so I take a quick nap. Every Friday, we choose a different local restaurant to support. So while I'm napping, N. calls in a pickup order at a local Thai restaurant. $39.76
6 p.m. — After picking up our food, we catch up on Brooklyn Nine-Nine while we eat. N. and I then spend the rest of the night reading endless online articles and reviews of sneakers and skincare products, respectively. Are there real adults who have perfected their skincare? I ponder this until I do my semi-satisfactory skincare routine and pass out around 10.
Daily Total: $51.76

Day Six

8:45 a.m. — People who keep their same sleep schedule on weekends are magic. I am incapable. Instead, I do my usual Saturday morning routine: sleeping in then laying in bed for several more hours reading and snuggling the dog. We snack on leftover fritters for breakfast.
12 p.m. — N. and I head to N.'s mom's house. We bring her some food and check-in to see if she needs any other groceries or anything. She's 64 and a cancer survivor, so we're making sure she's not going out into the world for anything. We wear masks and stay outside, but honestly, I still feel uncomfortable about the visits. N. and I argue a bit about the risk.
3 p.m. — On our way home, N. stops for gas ($10). I run inside to grab a few snacks since it'll be our only chance for junk food until I go grocery shopping in a week or two. I get soda, Doritos, beef jerky, and licorice ($19.66). $29.66
4 p.m. — I call my grandma. She tells me she's exhausted from doing physical therapy. We only chat a few minutes before I tell her to go take a nap.
5 p.m. — We heat up leftover chicken and rice for dinner. N. convinces me to watch Olympus Has Fallen on Netflix. The plot is ridiculous, but it's entertaining enough. We get sucked into watching the two sequels. One's on Netflix but we have to rent the other. After our quarantine binge, we pass out around 11:30. $4.21
Daily Total: $33.87

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — Lazy Sundays are my favorite. There's no urgency to anything we do. I get up and make some tea while N. runs the Roomba. I make the same DJ Roomba joke every time. I imagine that's what N. will cite as the reason for divorcing me someday (jk, hopefully).
1:30 p.m. — We spend all morning just lounging around, reading, snacking, watching The Office, and napping. It's a balmy 50 degrees out, so after a bit, we decide to go outside and enjoy it. We head to a local dog park that's big enough to easily avoid other humans. I stuff my pockets with sanitizer, wipes, and dog bags.
2:45 p.m. — We take my car to the dog park and on the way home, I stop to get gas for the first time in over a month. It's crazy cheap ($9.62)! At the gas station, N. runs in and buys a pack of IPAs from a local microbrewery ($12). We're low on beer, and as true Wisconsinites, this is an essential purchase. $21.62
3:30 p.m. — I decide I should be slightly more productive. I start the laundry and change our sheets. N. is in charge of cleaning and dog duties while I handle the laundry, cooking, and dishes. We rarely argue about chores and we each think the other one does more. It's an ideal setup.
5:30 p.m. — Since it's still nice, we decide to grill. Our apartment has several grills so we head out with burgers, asparagus, and disinfecting wipes.
9:30 p.m. — We spend the evening drinking and watching The Last Dance, an ESPN special on Michael Jordan. N. is obsessed with basketball and still heartbroken over March Madness, so this is the best he can get during quarantine. Afterward, it's my nighttime routine and bed.
Daily Total: $21.62
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