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A Week In Alexandria, VA, On A $208,000 Joint Income

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Today: a customer success manager with a joint income of $208,000 who spends some of her money this week on an "I AM BUSY" photograph.
Occupation: Customer Success Manager
Industry: SaaS
Age: 27
Location: Alexandria, VA
My Salary: $85,000
My Husband's Salary: $123,000
Net Worth: $817,000 (Retirement balance: $325,000 (my husband, F., and I each having approximately half between 401(k)s and Roth IRAs). We've been contributing since we started working and began maxing 401(k) (pre-tax) three years ago. We also began maxing Roth contributions last year and have 4% employer matches. Home equity: $268,000. We bought our townhouse in 2017 with a down payment of $130,000 and we currently owe $297,000 on our mortgage. When we bought, our income was lower and we started with a 30-year mortgage; last year we refinanced to a 15-year and since then, have dumped an additional $40,000 and shaved two years off of it, so we are on track to have it paid off before I turn 40. Savings account: $66,000 in a joint high-yield savings account. This is our emergency fund. Checking accounts: $47,000. Need to move some of this into savings or investments. Non-retirement brokerage accounts: $111,000, about evenly divided into individual accounts for F. and me.)
Debt: $297,000 (This is our mortgage. No student loans and while we put most of our expenses on credit cards, we pay off the balances in full every month.)
My Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,704
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,708 
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $2,507
HOA Dues: $222
Property Taxes: $6,300 annually (we recently closed out our escrow account and pay taxes directly to the city)
Condo Insurance: $372 annually (this will sound low compared to those in fee-simple homes, but because we don't own our roof/the exterior of our townhouse it's quite inexpensive and our community's master policy covers the rest.)
Savings Contribution:~$2,000
Utilities: $140
WiFi: $81
Cell Phone: $35 (I am on my parents' plan and F. has a cheap Google plan.)
Gym: $14 (F. and I share a Peloton digital subscription)
Pet Expenses: $300
Car Insurance/Tax: $643 annually (for F.'s car only, my parent's purchased my car in full in my name and I am on their car insurance policy)
Home Security Subscriptions: $130 annually
Jewelry Insurance: $204 annually
Chase Sapphire Reserve Annual Fee: $550, but $300 of that gets credited back to travel, and with the other credits they have now for DoorDash and Peloton, the card almost pays for itself.
Entertainment Subscriptions: $0, we use F.'s parents
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?
My parents both have master's degrees and while I never saw college as optional, I never felt pressured to have perfect grades or to attend an Ivy League like them (I ended up going to a good state school). I have a bachelor's degree and was lucky to have college paid for by my family. My husband's parents paid for his undergrad and he did research for a professor to pay for his graduate degree. I have been encouraged to get a graduate degree, but the idea of working and going to school at the same time is too overwhelming to me (kudos to everyone who does this) and I don't want to give up my income, not to mention that in my current field it wouldn't mean any substantial salary bump.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents never talked about money and I give them a ton of credit for never letting on how comfortable we actually were — I think it taught me some important lessons that have translated into me budgeting fairly well and not feeling entitled. Most of my financial knowledge has been self-taught.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked at Abercrombie my senior year of high school, mostly so I could buy clothing there.
Did you worry about money growing up?
No, I knew that we had everything we needed.
Do you worry about money now?
Not at all. The only thing that somewhat stresses me out is that I want to provide my future children with the same headstarts our parents provided for us (college, wedding, down payment, help with random things as adults).
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I began paying for most of my expenses when I graduated from college, but I still get a decent amount of family help. I know that if we ever got into financial trouble, we could lean on our families.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I received about $100,000 from the estate of a grandparent who passed when I graduated from college. Every year since then, I have received $15-$30,000 from my living grandparents and/or parents. The initial $100,000 helped us immensely because it mostly funded our down payment. The subsequent annual gifts aren't something that we budget for, but they allow us to buy fun extras that we wouldn't feel comfortable spending on otherwise, such as traveling internationally frequently in non-COVID times.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — Happy first day of adult winter break! I barely used any PTO this year and as such am taking the last week and a half of the year off. The last time I had this long of a break was over a year ago and I'm excited. My husband, F., our dog, V., and I slowly get out of bed and get ready to go. Our cleaners are coming this morning, and for everyone's safety, we leave the house when they come. We hired cleaners starting when we first got V. — definitely a luxury but so worth it because I would otherwise be cleaning for 20 minutes a day. They come every other week. I leave a check on the fridge ($120 for their normal fee plus a $100 holiday bonus), unlock the front door, and the three of us get in the car. $220
8:15 a.m. — F. drops me off at our favorite breakfast restaurant where I order biscuits and coffee for us from their outdoor window. We haven't dined in a restaurant since February, but our local restaurants have done a great job of pivoting and creating options that allow us to support them and feel safe. $27.60
11 a.m. — Back at home, I clean up after the cleaners putting everything back in its correct place and start laundry. Since I'll basically be sitting in my living room for the next 10 days (as opposed to my home office — what a change!), I drive to the florist and pick up a beautiful arrangement of ranunculuses, roses, and other unidentifiable flowers. $53
12:30 p.m. — My mother-in-law stops by with our stockings and we talk in the driveway for a bit. F. has had to go into the office for the duration of the pandemic, so we unfortunately probably won't be spending any time indoors with either of our families for several months, despite both sets of parents living under an hour away, but we make do by meeting up outside.
5 p.m. — I plug in the heater in our garage and blast it to make my workout slightly more bearable. At the beginning of the pandemic, we had our garage floors and walls finished so it would feel like a real room that we would want to work out in vs. a dusty garage. I love how it looks now, but it is still as cold as any garage in the winter. I string together a few Peloton strength workouts. We don't have the bike or treadmill, but I am obsessed with their app and strength classes and never want to go back to an in-person gym.
8:30 p.m. — Call my grandparents who live about five hours away on FaceTime to catch up. The last time I saw them in person was probably a year and a half ago. I was supposed to visit them in May, but they are quite elderly so I decided not to take any chances with COVID. My grandfather's brother passed away a few weeks ago and I know they wish they could be spending more time with family these days, so I try to call them every couple weeks. After we finish talking, I take V. out for a pre-bedtime walk and we go to sleep.
Daily Total: $300.60

Day Two

10:15 a.m. — I don't think I've slept this late since college, but we have nothing to do today so I take my time getting up. As we get dressed, I hear the doorbell ring with what is probably our millionth package since Black Friday. It's a printer! We have been living the millennial lifestyle of not owning a printer ever since our last one broke a year or so ago. When I worked in an office it was fine because I would just print everything there. We finally decided something needed to change when I made a Poshmark sale last week and had to drive to my parents' house to get the shipping label because our library (the other place we would usually print) is closed.
11 a.m. — After setting up the printer and rolling around on the floor with V. (normal dog mom activity), I make myself eggs and an English muffin, my usual breakfast. I generally do not enjoy cooking at all, but my parents got us the Caraway cookware set for Hannukah and it is a dream to look at and use so I've been in the kitchen much more than usual the last couple of weeks.
12 p.m. — Tonight is Christmas Eve, so we're doing Chinese food over Zoom with my family. I order our dinner from a much-acclaimed restaurant that we've never tried for an early afternoon pickup to avoid all the other Jews picking up their dinners. $56.32
12:15 p.m. — After placing our order, I peruse my Pinterest wishlist, which is what F. and I use to buy each other gifts, to see what's leftover from the holidays. I pull the trigger on a cute and comfy-looking Varley sweatshirt. Since I started working from home in March, I've worn athleisure every day, so pricier brands are worth it to me. $109
1 p.m. — I pick up our dinner and listen to an episode of This American Life to pass the time in the car. When I arrive at the restaurant, I'm happy to see that this early in the afternoon the pickup table has a huge number of orders.
4 p.m. — I knock out a killer 45-minute full-body strength workout, courtesy of Adrian Williams. The garage is warmer today, so I only wear a sports bra on top. Aside from not having to travel to a gym, the fact that I can feel comfortable wearing whatever I want is one of my favorite things about working out at home. I shower and don my Christmas eve attire of Align leggings and a cashmere sweater (AKA the same general outfit I wear every other day of winter).
6:30 p.m. — We meet up with my family on video chat and enjoy our Chinese takeout. I am fairly picky and went with my usual order of tofu with broccoli and a side of fried cauliflower. After eating, we play a bunch of rousing rounds of Skribbl (online Pictionary-type game) until everyone is ready for bed.
Daily Total: $165.32

Day Three

6:40 a.m. — V. jumps off the bed to signal that it's time for his morning routine to start. I take him outside to pee, feed him breakfast, change his water, and then we get back into bed and sleep for three more hours.
10 a.m. — Christmas morning isn't a big deal around here, but it seems like a good excuse for cinnamon rolls. I walk 20 minutes in the cold to the only grocery store nearby that's open to pick up a can of Annie's. We have a car, but since I began working from home and therefore moving less, I've been trying to be mindful about using errands within ~1.5 miles from home as an opportunity to get some steps in and enjoy the outdoors. $6.14
1:30 p.m. — I review our bank accounts and notice that our checking account (which earns virtually no interest) has way more than what we like to keep in it due to some recent bonus payments from my work and a check from my grandparents, so I decide to apply $10,000 to our mortgage as an extra principal payment, which takes five months off of it. $10,000
3 p.m. — I do 30 minutes of core exercises in the garage and then take a shower, after which I proceed to give myself a very sad pedicure, no paint. Even with professional help, I do not have the most beautiful feet, so given the fact that I have not gone to a salon in 11 months, they are currently a slightly terrifying sight.
6 p.m. — F. and I put the new Wonder Woman on TV and half-watch it. They filmed it around the D.C. area and a chunk was filmed a mile from our house, so it's cool to recognize spots we're used to dressed up as movie sets. I make a simple dinner of sauteed broccoli and ravioli.
9:15 p.m. — After we finish Wonder Woman, I waste some time online and discover that a photographer whose work I love is having a 20% off sale. I spot a framed photo print with balloons spelling "I AM BUSY" and think about how it would be a great addition to my video background in my home office. I go back and forth on whether it's too sassy since I work with clients, but decide to go for it before calling it a night. $319.43
Daily Total: $10,325.57

Day Four

9:30 a.m. — We start our day with a couple of episodes of Bridgerton on Netflix. I was thinking a period piece romance was going to be a me-only show, but F. is surprisingly down to watch.
11:30 a.m. — While I'm getting dressed (switching my leggings and sweatshirts), I see that V.'s overflow toy basket in our closet is getting quite full and decide to do something about it. F. and I pick out 10 or so of his least-loved toys for donation. When he was a puppy, we had a BarkBox subscription, but as he got older and stopped destroying toys, we ended up with way too many and I figure that they would be better off going to some pups in need. It's a beautiful day, so I bag them up and take a scenic trail walk to the animal shelter a couple of miles away. The shelter and the city recycling station are right next to each other, so I also bring our empty glass bottles and jars.
12:30 p.m. — Back at home, I make myself eggs for lunch. I'm a creature of habit, what can I say? This is a money diary, not a food diary, but I know my palate is bland.
2 p.m. — I'm sitting in the corner of the sectional in the living room. V. comes over and curls up literally on top of me…I guess he's decided it's joint naptime. I have other things I sort of need to do but cannot handle how cute this is so I accept my fate as his lounge chair.
5 p.m. — F. prepares zucchini and Trader Joe's cacio e pepe for dinner and we watch another couple of episodes of Bridgerton. A few hours later, we finally decide that we should get off our butts, so we take V. on a short and painfully cold walk before F. retreats to the den to play video games while I tidy up the house.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — My morning to take V. out. He jumps off the bed right on time, we go outside for a bathroom break, and then pile back into bed. How am I going to get back into the habit of actually starting my day at this hour when my vacation is over?
10:30 a.m. — I eat Honey Nut Cheerios for breakfast and hop on a video chat with one of my oldest friends who I've known since middle school. She lives overseas now, so I haven't seen her in person for well over a year. We catch up on life during the pandemic — it's interesting to hear how differently (read: better) other countries are handling it.
1:30 p.m. — I drive into the city to go biking with my dad. I know there's free parking somewhere near where we're supposed to meet, but I'm directionally challenged so I pull into the first parking lot I can find and start a parking session on ParkMobile. My dad finds free parking, and after yelling at each other for 15 minutes on the phone, we finally locate each other and start biking. About five minutes in, I realize that I cannot feel my pinky fingers or toes at all, and we decide to call it at a measly four miles. $5.74
2:30 p.m. — I make a pit stop at Whole Foods on the way home to pick up a variety of random snacks — dark chocolate, popcorn, granola bars, yogurt, etc. $39.75
6 p.m. — I throw together a homemade pizza for dinner. After we eat, I spend some time organizing our closet in an attempt to feel productive…I am not great at just relaxing. After I've run out of things to move around, I kill some time on Reddit, take V. out for a nighttime walk, and go to sleep early.
Daily Total: $45.49

Day Six

9:30 a.m. — Wake up, stumble down the stairs, and eat Honey Nut Cheerios for breakfast. V. comes downstairs, stares at me until I go to the couch to cuddle with him, and I hang out with him on my lap.
11 a.m. — Tomorrow is trash day, so I go around the house consolidating trash cans. I then throw our towels in the laundry. The time at home not working is starting to drag and I have six more days, so I order Codenames Duet from Target to pick up later today. $16.95
2:30 p.m. — I return from Target and check the mail to discover that our escrow refund check is on the way, woohoo! It's F.'s turn for errands and he goes to Harris Teeter to pick up vegetables and dinner foods. We have a very piecemeal grocery shopping strategy — we buy about a third of them at HT, a third at Whole Foods, and a third at Trader Joe's. $50.68
4 p.m. — Another great workout where I use almost all of our weights. When F. stopped going to the gym in the spring, he insisted on getting a ton of free weights for our garage, and while at the time I was skeptical about how necessary it was, we now have enough equipment that anyone except for a bodybuilder could easily get a great workout in.
5:30 p.m. — Dinner tonight is hot dogs and homemade fries. We unpackage the new game and settle in at the dining room table for a couple of rounds, and once we're done, I do a thorough kitchen cleaning.
8 p.m. — I binge a few episodes of John Oliver on YouTube. As you can probably tell, I am running out of activities to amuse myself with. F. tells me that he has purchased "shoe cream," whatever that is. His quarantine spending habit has been on fancy shoes and shoe care items, which feels odd for a time when he is wearing nice shoes less than ever, but whatever. $25.43
Daily Total: $93.06

Day Seven

5:45 a.m. — I am rudely awoken by F.'s alarm — why he decided to work on this random Tuesday during the holiday week, I do not understand. Luckily V. is not disturbed by the alarm and stays cuddled up next to me under the covers.
6:30 a.m. — F. leaves for work and is not particularly gentle with the door, so V. gets up to investigate. Before getting up to take him out and feed him, I check my email and am dismayed to see that V.'s lifelong grooming spa is closing; not because they don't have enough business, but because they have too much business and not enough employees. Such a strange year for the pet industry…vet waitlists these days are also many weeks long because so many people have adopted during the pandemic. I make a mental note to look into alternative groomers.
8:30 a.m. — I do some research on end of year banking promotions. When we opened our Ally savings account the interest rate was 1.2%, and since then has shrunk to .5%, so we are thinking of moving our savings elsewhere for the time being. I spot a Citibank promo that will give us $700 if we park $50,000 in it for a few months, which is about $500 more than we would get from Ally in the same time period. I bookmark the page for us to look at together over the weekend.
11 a.m. — I vacuum the house with our Dyson Animal. I detest cleaning (this is why we have cleaners) but this stick vacuum makes me inexplicably happy, so I use it in between the cleaners' visits.
12 p.m. — Settle in on the couch with V. in my lap for an episode of Below Deck. I am slightly overwhelmed even opening Bravo because I have three episodes of RHSLC that I need to catch up on. I grew up without cable TV and having access to all these shows now honestly stresses me out because it feels like a never-ending to-do list. I know that's a really odd way to think about entertainment…
3:30 p.m. — I've barely moved today, so I bundle up for a walk around the neighborhood (without V., he is useless for long walks when it's less than 50 degrees). I'm a bit nervous because this will be my first time crating him in a couple of months, but I know it's important to do this from time to time so that he doesn't develop any separation anxiety. When I come back, I open the crate and am thrilled that he decides to stay in there and continue relaxing. It makes me so happy that he still loves his crate!
5 p.m. — F. is home from work and neither of us feels like cooking, so I offer to pick up Chipotle. I get a tiny burrito without meat that they charge as two sides, and F. gets a steak burrito. Another few rounds of Codenames and a family walk before bed. $12.38
Daily Total: $12.38
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