Money Diaries, Couples Edition: A Week In Durham, NC

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.
Oh, hey, did you hear we launched a podcast? Check out Money Diaries: The Podcast, and subscribe today so you don't miss any episode!
Leading up to Valentine's Day, we're talking about relationships and money. Today, we're excited to share the Money Diary of a couple living in Durham, NC. C. is a development coordinator making $43,650, and her husband, J., is a research scientist making $94,300. Together, they have a $137,950 joint salary. This week, they spend some of their money on Girl Scout cookies.
Advertisement
Ed. note: This OP mentions that she lost a family member to suicide. If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.

C.:

Occupation: Development Coordinator
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 30
Location: Durham, NC
Salary: $43,650
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $2,165 once a month

J.:

Occupation: Research Scientist
Industry: Engineering/Higher Education
Age: 31
Salary: $94,300
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $4,265
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,331 (This includes our home insurance and property taxes. We also pay an additional $500 monthly toward the principal.)
Car Payment: $350 (We pay an additional $250-$350 monthly toward the principal. We own our second car outright.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (C.: I received scholarships and grants for my undergrad, and my mom covered the rest. My grad-school tuition was cheap, so I didn’t need loans. J. received a full ride for his undergrad degree, and his PhD was covered in exchange for research and teaching.)
Utilities: $250
Internet: $67
Cell Phones: $60 for both of us
Netflix & Hulu: $24
Spotify Premium Family: $16
Security System: $15
New York Times: $13
Health, Dental & Vision Insurance: $100 for both of us
Parking: $34 for both of us
HSA: $35.83 for both of us
Life Insurance Premium: $31.08 for both of us
Retirement: $550 to C.’s Roth 403b and $1,200 to J.’s Roth 403b. Our employer contributes 8.9% of the first $64,000 of salary and 13.2% in excess of $64,000.
Savings: $1,000-$1,500 (Our goal is to save six months’ salary as an emergency fund, and then build from there. We have a separate savings account we use for travel.)
Advertisement
Annual Expenses
Car Insurance: $1,600 for both cars
Amazon Prime: $120
Headspace: $57
Charitable Giving: $500-$750 (We try to increase this amount each year.)
In a sentence or two, please explain your couples spending philosophy.
Our spending philosophy is very basic: save first, spend later. We use the snowball method for debt, paying off the smaller stuff first like credit cards (usually, we just use those for the reward points and pay them off monthly) and then push as much as we can toward the bigger stuff like the car and the house. We have a basic monthly budget we stick to, but we don’t deprive ourselves of anything if we can afford it that month.
We combined our finances when we moved in together nine years ago. At the time, it made sense, because I (C.) wasn’t working full-time during grad school, and J. was making a decent income from his PhD stipend. We’ve never had a problem with our finances, since we agree on the basics, and we’ll sit down a few times a year to go over everything together. It’s definitely an “our money” mentality with us.

Day One (C.)

7:20 a.m. — I turn off my alarm and roll out of bed. I have never been a morning person, and I don’t understand how people can pop out of bed ready for the day. I run through my morning routine: skin care, feed the dogs and let them outside, pack lunch, make breakfast, do makeup and hair. Today I make a smoothie to take to work with frozen banana and strawberries, Greek yogurt, almond milk, and a handful of kale. Dogs get treats and I’m off.
Advertisement
9:30 a.m. — I’m a creature of routine. I run my daily reports, make a cup of coffee from the office Keurig, and refill my water bottle. I’m ready to settle in and tackle my morning emails.
12 p.m. — Lunch! Today it’s leftover pizza, cauliflower with hummus, and strawberries. I watch Good Mythical Morning and catch up on other YouTube videos. (Looking at you, Amber Ruffin.)
2:20 p.m. — A coworker stops by my office to deliver two boxes of Girl Scout cookies I ordered from her daughters. I celebrate Girl Scout cookie season every year — I don’t understand why we don’t send greeting cards and decorate our houses in appreciation of Thin Mints. $8
5:05 p.m. — The parking lot is a 15-minute walk to and from my office. I usually walk with my husband (we work at the same university and carpool most days), but he’s out of town, so I call my dad to keep me company. J. and I live about 1,000 miles away from our families, so phone calls are key. We talk mostly about the weather and our dogs.
6:15 p.m. — I play with the dogs outside as soon as I get home. After taking off my pants and makeup (hello, 30), I make dinner while listening to My Favorite Murder. I’m cooking pasta with shrimp, broccoli, and sun-dried tomatoes. We eat mostly vegetarian, but about once a week we have fish or seafood. I don't stick to a strict diet of any kind because, duh, fried chicken. It's mostly about cooking healthy(ish) things that we actually like.
Advertisement
7 p.m. — I'm finally on the couch! I watch a few episodes of The Magicians while working on a cross-stitch project for a friend. J. is coming home tonight, and I’m excited to see him!
10 p.m. — After showering and my bedtime skin-care routine, I settle in for a meditation. I’ve been meditating for a few months, and I’m really enjoying it. My mom committed suicide in 2017, and it took a huge toll on me. My parents divorced when I was in high school, so my brother and I had to deal with everything on our own. I spent most of 2018 focusing on my mental and emotional health, and meditating has helped a lot with my sleep. I finish my book (Eternal Life by Dara Horn) and wait up for J.

Day One (J.)

6:45 a.m. — I wake up 15 minutes before my alarm in a hotel in Dallas. I’m here for a funding meeting for work. This is the final day of a three-day meeting, and it will be nice not having to go to another 8 a.m. presentation tomorrow. I get food from the breakfast buffet at the hotel restaurant before the meeting. ($16.52 expensed)
9:30 a.m. — We have a short break after the first set of presentations. I usually don't drink coffee, but these meetings make it a little necessary, especially on the last day. Luckily, there's free coffee in the lobby.
12:30 p.m. — We have a few hours before the last talk, so I grab some classic Texas BBQ with a couple of my coworkers. I get the BBQ ribs with coleslaw and potato salad. The ribs are very good and I'm considering bringing a rack back to our meeting, but some might call that unprofessional. We are intrigued by the “drive-thru daiquiri” place next door, but somehow resist the temptation. ($12.91 expensed)
Advertisement
2 p.m. — We stop at Dealey Plaza on the way back to the hotel to see the JFK memorial and historical site. It's one of those places you see in a lot of photos, and it's a little surreal walking around the area. I pay for parking. $7
5 p.m. — My coworkers and I call a Lyft to the airport. ($30.30 expensed)
6 p.m. — I’m walking around the airport terminal looking for some dinner before the flight. Despite my praises, my coworkers bail on Whataburger. Don’t mind me, I’ll just enjoy my burger in peace. ($12.43 expensed)
10:45 p.m. — We finally land at RDU. The flight wasn't too bad (nonstop flights are the best), but I’m ready to get home to see C. and the pups. It will be nice sleeping in my own bed. I’m not really looking forward to waking up early to go to work tomorrow, though.
11 p.m. — I take the airport shuttle to my car with a few other people, and I'm the first one to get dropped off! That never happens. It’s a nice surprise after a long day. I pay for parking and head home. ($20.40 expensed)
11:45 p.m. — I make it home without any trouble. After saying hello (and goodnight) to the dogs and C., I drop my things on the floor, take a shower, and hit the bed.
Daily Total: $15

Day Two (C.)

7:40 a.m. — I stay in bed for as long as possible before forcing myself to brave the cold. J. and I catch up on his trip and our dogs’ adventures while we get ready for work. I have a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios for breakfast and pack my lunch. Let’s go!
Advertisement
9:40 a.m. — There’s a fire drill as soon as I arrive, so my morning starts later than usual. After the drill ends, I buy a small caramel latte. I don’t buy a lot of coffee since we have a Keurig at work and a Nespresso at home, but sometimes I treat myself. $4.72
11 a.m. — I get a call from my brother, which immediately makes me think someone has died. (We usually communicate via GIFs.) He asks if I’ll write a letter of appreciation to his wife for a women’s retreat she’s attending. I immediately agree because 1) I love her, and 2) I think it’s important for women to empower one another. I make a mental note to write it this weekend, and also to text her about protein powder.
11:45 a.m. — My brother texts me a GIF of Barack Obama. I text one back of Michael Scott. We get each other.
12:15 p.m. — Break for lunch. I heat up pasta from last night and start on a new book (The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood). My reading goal for the year is 45 books, so I try to squeeze in a read whenever I can.
1:20 p.m. — I’ve been meaning to try protein powder in my smoothies, so I text my sister-in-law about her recommendations. She’s a dietician and a retired competitive CrossFitter (a.k.a. total badass), so I trust what she says. Sure enough, she delivers and gives me a coupon code for 20% off. I order a two-pound bottle of vanilla whey protein, which I assume will last until the end of time. $49.85
Advertisement
4:05 p.m. — It’s a quiet day and I’ve finished my work, so I do some research on Scotland. J. and I are taking a trip there in May with two of my best friends, and I CANNOT WAIT. Travel is really important to us, and we try to take a big trip every year with little trips sprinkled throughout. I also see that the government shutdown has ended (for now). It’s about damn time.
6:30 p.m. — We got paid today, so I pay bills and make our meal plan and shopping lists while J. makes dinner. I actually really enjoy working out our finances, since such a big part of my job deals with money. We veg on the couch watching The Great British Baking Show. We recently discovered that J. loves baking shows and are burning through this series.
10:15 p.m. — I shower and go through my skin-care routine (treating myself to an overnight face mask tonight), then browse on my phone and read my book until it's lights out. I'm so glad it's finally the weekend!

Day Two (J.)

7 a.m. — Yep, waking up early after late travel is not great. Silver lining: It's Friday. Also, I get to sit on the couch with the pups while I eat Honey Nut Cheerios. Definitely could be worse.
11:45 a.m. — Slightly early lunch today. I almost always bring lunch from home. Today I have leftover pasta and an apple. I need to eat fairly quickly, because I have to run to our other lab location to grab some supplies before a meeting back on campus at 2.
Advertisement
4 p.m. — The first day back after a trip is always slow, especially when the weekend is on the horizon. We're getting some things done in the lab, but as the day winds down, I'm looking forward to a quiet night in with C., the pups, and sweatpants.
5:50 p.m. — We make it home from work and spend the remaining sliver of daylight playing with the pups in our backyard. After a week of eating out, I'm looking forward to a nice home-cooked meal. I'm making polenta-baked eggs with corn, tomatoes, and fontina from a Smitten Kitchen cookbook. First time making it, hope it goes well!
8:40 p.m. — The TV remote quit working. I tell C. the story about how the first TV in my bedroom growing up didn’t have a remote, so I used a yardstick to change the channel from my bed. We’d need a bigger stick for our living room, but luckily Amazon carries the same model and it will get here on Sunday. It’s not like we watch anything besides what we stream with our Chromecast. $6.70
10:30 p.m. — While C. gets ready for bed, I snuggle on the couch with the dogs and watch some Super Mario World speed runs on YouTube. (I swear it’s relaxing in its own way.) Tomorrow I get to sleep in for the first time in a couple of weeks! Assuming the dogs don’t want to get up early, which they probably will.
Daily Total: $61.27
Advertisement

Day Three (C.)

9:30 a.m. — I don’t usually wake up this early during the weekend, but I’m awake, so here we are. Today is an errand day, since we’ve been filling our weekends with fun things and we’ll be out of town next weekend.
11:20 a.m. — Oh no. There are Girl Scouts outside of Petco. I buy a box of Caramel deLites because they are So. Damn. Good. $4
12:45 p.m. — We can’t avoid it any longer. We have to go to...the mall. We stop by Paper Source first, to pick up Valentine’s Day cards for my lady friends. It has been really important for us to build a strong group of friends, and every year I send out love notes to my people. I pick up a box of cards by my favorite illustrator, Jane Mount, and a nice set of writing paper by my other favorite illustrator, Anna Bond. I also pick out Valentine’s Day cards for J. and my dad. $43.86
1:15 p.m. — Our next stop is Victoria’s Secret. I need to buy some new underwear, and I’m reminded of how much I hate this place. I pick them out as quickly as possible, with poor J. trailing behind me. $30.64
1:35 p.m. — On a whim, I go into Lush for some free samples. I’m trying to buy more cruelty-free products, but it’s harder than I expected. I’ve heard Lush has good shampoo, but I don’t want to pay $30 to find out. (My hair is very temperamental.) Luckily, the woman I talk with is amazing and hooks me up with three shampoos and a conditioner to try. J. waits outside because the smell gives him a headache. He’s starting to droop. Our next stop is Michael’s, where I quickly get thread and a photo frame. $14.35
Advertisement
3 p.m. — Thank the heavens, we are home. We put away everything and take the dogs outside for a good romp. Our dogs are ready, and they go nuts. One of our priorities when we were shopping for houses was a big fenced-in backyard, and this house really delivered. We groom one of them until he is fluffy and fabulous, while the other basks in the sun like the goddess she is. I seriously love my family.
7:15 p.m. — We get dinner with a friend at a Mexican restaurant, and then J. and I head over to DSW to continue our crazy day of errands. I want to get some “tennis shoes that aren’t tennis shoes.” After what feels like forever, I find some Converse All Stars that are surprisingly comfortable. I get a pair in burgundy and a pair in dark gray. J. finds a pair of actual tennis shoes from Nike that he likes, so we get those, too, along with Steve Madden boot socks for me and some Adidas crew socks for J. I have a coupon that gets us $60 off, and we somehow get an extra $10 off on top of that. $156.84
10 p.m. — I’m exhausted, and I have some laundry I need to fold before bed. I take a shower and do my skin-care routine — cleanse with Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash, moisturize with Vitamin E Nourishing Night Cream, and apply Drops of Youth Bouncy Eye Mask, all from The Body Shop. I stay up too late reading my book.
Advertisement

Day Three (J.)

9 a.m. — Thankfully, the pups let me sleep in a bit this morning. This is about as late as I like to sleep in on any given day — I’m definitely more of a morning person than C. is. I get up, let the dogs out, and give them some breakfast.
10:30 a.m. — We have brunch at one of our favorite weekend spots, The Refectory Cafe. We like it because it’s never too busy on a weekend morning and their specials are always delicious. C. and I both get the stuffed breakfast burrito, mine with pork and hers without. I could eat a million of these and never get tired of them. She also gets some coffee to jumpstart the day. $32.37
11:15 a.m. — We head over to Petco to pick up dog food. The dogs go through a bag every couple of months. Gotta pay the puppy tax. $40.99
11:30 a.m. — Target is next door (yay...), so we stop in to pick up a few things. Somehow we are focused today and don’t deviate from our list. We get shampoo, face wash, eyeliner, contact solution, and a new pillow for C. I pick up the new Super Mario Bros. game for the Nintendo Switch with some of my fantasy football winnings #humblebrag. $117.33
12:15 p.m. — I haven't washed my car in who knows how long, and it desperately needs it after the wintery weather and cross-country driving we did over Christmas. We stop at the automatic car wash on our way to the mall. $8
Advertisement
12:40 p.m. — While C.’s not looking, I pick up a nice Valentine’s Day card for her at Paper Source. $6.40
2:15 p.m. — After surviving the mall, we head to our last stop, Harris Teeter, for our weekly grocery shopping. C. typically makes the list and I run to the store on weekend mornings. Today we tackle it together. We pick up produce (greens, bell peppers, cauliflower, mushrooms, tomatoes, avocados, fruit, and edamame), canned beans, shrimp, tortillas, eggs, coconut oil, cereal, and cheese. $67.22
5:30 p.m. — An early-ish brunch plus a full day of shopping means we need a big early dinner. We meet one of our friends at a Mexican restaurant and order irresponsibly large burritos (steak fajita for me and vegetarian for C.), a 36 oz. beer for me, and a strawberry margarita for C. We pay for our friend’s dinner as well. We see him often enough that it will even out at some point. $64.35
8:20 p.m. — We stop by Home Depot on the way home to get some new bolts and washers to fix a leaky toilet tank. This is the second one in our house to have this type of leak. It’s an easy fix and something I don’t mind doing. $5.89
Daily Total: $592.24

Day Four (C.)

10 a.m. — I roll out of bed, put in my contacts, and snuggle with J. and the dogs on the couch while we plan out our day. We have some friends coming over tonight, so we need to pick up the house and put away all of the crap we bought yesterday.
Advertisement
11 a.m. — After yesterday, I’m looking forward to a day at home. I cleaned the house last weekend as a surprise for J., so we don’t need to do much today. (We split chores 50/50, but he had a deadline at work and I had podcasts to catch up on.) I throw in a load of laundry and do some ironing while listening to Myths and Legends. I spend most of the day picking up around the house, doing laundry, and writing a letter to my SIL. I try my hand at the new video game J. bought, and it’s pretty fun.
5 p.m. — Our friends arrive! We have a close group of friends who are in similar situations (no families within an eight-hour drive), so we try to see each other pretty often. We’ve been working our way through the Harry Potter movies, and it’s time for Order of the Phoenix. Our dogs get some belated Christmas presents from their dog BFF, which they immediately start to destroy. One couple brought dinner and the other brought snacks, and everyone brought beer. We chow down on pesto tortellini and a variety of dips while we watch the movie.
9 p.m. — We catch up with our friends a little more. One of them is defending his dissertation soon, which is exciting, but it’s likely that they will move within the next few months, which makes us all sad. The hardest part about being in grad school (or being friends with grad students) is that life can feel very temporary. Even now we don’t feel 100% settled, although we’re both out of school and working full-time. After they leave, I head upstairs to take a shower and snuggle in to read. I’m not ready to go back to work tomorrow!
Advertisement

Day Four (J.)

8:50 a.m. — The dogs tried to get me up earlier, but I was able to calm them back down and sleep in for an extra hour. I head downstairs to get a bowl of Life cereal for me and a bowl of delicious dog food for them.
10:30 a.m. — I fix the leaky toilet in the master bathroom. Although it's just a minor fix, I love getting to do something hands-on and productive around the house. Even if I complain sometimes about the typical home maintenance, deep down, I enjoy it.
11:45 a.m. — C. and I clean out the fridge for lunch. I have a couple of slices of cheese pizza while she finishes off the pasta. We catch up on some YouTube videos by Sorted Food and The Try Guys.
2 p.m. — After vacuuming and cleaning our shower, I take one dog for a long walk, hoping that she’ll wear herself out before our friends arrive. She loves guests, but the other dog is still getting used to people. We adopted him about six months ago from a rescue, and we’re still trying to convince him not to be scared of everything. He stays home to keep C. company and play with his toys.
10 p.m. — Everyone seemed to have a good time this evening. It’s always nice having good company and good food. I clean up the kitchen while C. goes upstairs to shower. I suppose it’s time to get ready for bed and start a new week tomorrow. Weekends are never long enough.
Advertisement
Daily Total: $0

Day Five (C.)

7:40 p.m. — Oh no, my alarm is already going off. I struggle out of bed and through my morning routine. I have a bowl of Oatmeal Squares and pack my lunch. Mondays.
11:20 a.m. — Another coworker drops off two boxes of Girl Scout cookies I bought from her granddaughter. This is getting a little embarrassing. $8
12:30 p.m. — Lunch is short today because I needed to finish up an editing project. I eat the soy “chicken” sandwich that I brought in with Wheat Thins, carrots, cauliflower, and hummus. Then I flip through a Scotland travel guide and browse Target’s website. I buy a pair of ankle rain boots because they didn’t have my size in the store. $25.52
2:45 p.m. — This day has flown by, mostly from putting out the Monday fires. My boss and I huddle for an impromptu meeting after we get the news that we’re expected to raise more money next fiscal year than we originally intended. I drag myself to the kitchen for a cup of terrible coffee, and (surprise, surprise) someone has left a box of Girl Scout cookies to share. I snag two. I feel no shame.
6 p.m. — J. and I debrief on our way home. I love carpooling because we get a little more time to spend together away from distractions. It’s my turn to make dinner tonight, and we’re having beer-roasted cauliflower tacos with coleslaw and guacamole. We also finish off one of those terrible but addicting cheese dips left over from last night’s movie dinner. I listen to an episode of Dear Hank & John and have a glass of wine while cooking to celebrate the end of a Monday. The dogs play with their new toys while we finish an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
10 p.m. — My skin has been feeling kind of blah, so I put on one of my favorite charcoal masks (again from The Body Shop) while listening to the latest My Favorite Murder. We're going to D.C. this weekend to see them live, and I'm so excited! I shower, then pamper my skin with Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate under my moisturizer. That stuff is magical. I settle in for a meditation, then read until I'm sleepy.

Day Five (J.)

7:10 a.m. — I snooze my alarm once this morning, which is pretty typical for a Monday. I get the pups up and we head downstairs for some breakfast. It’s another cold and dark morning, which is not the best motivator for a productive Monday. I sit next to our fireplace with a bowl of Life cereal and think about what I need to do today.
12:15 p.m. — The morning went by surprisingly fast. I had quite a bit of admin work to do, so I was mainly in my office this morning. Lunch today is leftover chicken patties, an apple, and some trail mix.
1:30 p.m. — I head downtown to meet with the rest of my research group.
4:30 p.m. — I’m back on campus. I need to wrap up a few things in my lab before heading out.
7:45 p.m. — We settle in after dinner to watch The Great British Baking Show. I think we might be on the last season. I was inspired enough a couple of weeks ago to bake an applesauce cake with cream-cheese frosting from scratch. I was “star baker” for the week! We surround ourselves with the spoils of our Girl Scout cookie collecting and join in on the critiquing of pastry.
Daily Total: $33.52

Day Six (C.)

7:45 a.m. — J. has to come rouse me out of bed. I am not recovering well from our time off for the holidays. It’s the usual morning routine, but this time I make a smoothie with my new protein powder! Tastes the same. And I’m in awe of how soft my hair has been after using the Lush shampoos. And it smells like pineapples!
12 p.m. — This morning has been a wash with trying to catch up on emails and juggling projects. I’m desperate for a break, so I heat up my leftover cauliflower tacos and watch Good Mythical Morning. Note to self: Cooked cauliflower is not as good on day two.
5:10 p.m. — The rest of the afternoon is full with a design meeting and another impromptu meeting about a project. There aren't many women in my department, and I usually don’t notice until days like today, when I’m casually treated as an assistant by a coworker. Nope. I finally finish up a few things on my task list before leaving for the day. Luckily, J. is picking me up, so I don’t have to walk in the rain.
6:30 p.m. — J. is making me dinner tonight, so I take off my makeup and put on some sweats. My skin is super sensitive and gets oily really easily, so I’ve been trying to take better care of it as I get older. My morning and afternoon cleanser is a really gentle, unscented one, which I follow with a Grown Alchemist day cream. I make sure the dogs are happy and then read through more of my Scotland guide book. I am so exhausted after this day.
10:15 p.m. — Tonight has been super low-key, mostly reading about Scotland and watching random YouTube videos while working on my cross-stitch. I have a big snuggle sesh with J. while the dogs play with their toys. These are my favorite kind of evenings, especially after a day like today. I shower, meditate, and crawl into bed with my book.

Day Six (J.)

7 a.m. — Another day is greeted with another alarm. I have a feeling it’s going to be one of those weeks that drags on. It feels like Wednesday, but I know it’s only Tuesday. The dogs and I go through our morning routine of food (more Life cereal for me) and going out in the backyard.
11:50 a.m. — Welp, the morning went by quickly. I didn’t get as much work done in the lab as I’d hoped, but there’s always tomorrow. I feel like a lot of what I do is troubleshooting various issues with our system. It’s always two steps forward, one step back. My lunch today is leftovers: roasted cauliflower tacos with slaw and a banana.
12:30 p.m. — I have a doctor’s appointment on campus today. I can usually walk over from my office, but I am going to be running late for a meeting downtown afterward. I move my car from my normal parking spot to a paid garage next to the doctor’s office. This should save me about 20 to 30 minutes of walking time. $4
2:30 p.m. — I make it to my meeting downtown, where I’ll be for the rest of the afternoon. My energy is draining fast, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to pay full attention to the meetings. They are for people in our research group to present what they've been working on recently and for us to offer suggestions or help. I’ll do my best to stay focused.
5:45 p.m. — We stop at a gas station on the way home to fill up the car. $22.10
6:15 p.m. — I am making a sun-dried tomato and spinach frittata served with pears and toast for dinner this evening. Breakfast for dinner is one of my favorite meals, and I’m excited about branching out from our typical grits and eggs or waffles. I’ve never made a frittata before, but it’s starting to look just like a thick omelet.
10:30 p.m. — I talk to my mom a bit this evening. I try to catch up with my parents about once a week. We don’t get the chance to visit in person much, but I try to go back at least once or twice a year outside of Christmas. It’s tough, because flights to their place are very expensive, since they don’t live close to a major airport. It’s the same for C. and her family, too. We do the best we can while still making time for vacations for the two of us.
Daily Total: $26.10

Day Seven (C.)

7:40 a.m. — I roll out of bed as cheery as ever, and it’s the same morning routine. I make another smoothie to drink at work. My skin has been looking better lately, so I go pretty light on my makeup (just undereye concealer — bags for days — with foundation and mascara). I dress warmly because it is frigid out there.
10 a.m. — We have our weekly staff meeting, and before it starts, I check with my boss about my raise. I asked for it a few months ago, since I didn’t get much of one when I was promoted (my benefits changed pretty drastically, though, so it worked out in my favor). He agreed, but it will have to be part of the next fiscal year. Working for a university has its downsides, and this is one of them. Our budget is always really tight, so I was worried this would get cut, but he confirms that it’s still included in the final version. Win!
1 p.m. — Lunchtime! I have (you guessed it) leftovers from last night: frittata with carrots and hummus and a banana. I watch the most recent episode of Good Mythical Morning and read a little more about Scotland. (Do yourself a favor and Google images of Quiraing — I can’t believe places like that exist in real life!) I have to run a deposit over to another building on campus, so I ask J. if he wants to tag along for an afternoon walk. We do this every once in a while, which is really nice. There are definite benefits to working in close proximity to each other.
3 p.m. — I’m feeling a little droopy this afternoon. I make a cup of coffee from our Keurig and snack on an apple and coconut-cashew butter. I could live on that stuff. I spend the rest of the day finishing some admin so I can prep for my next project that will begin next week. The best part about my job is that it's very calendar-based, so I know exactly what needs to happen at any given time.
6 p.m. — Home at last. J. volunteers to make dinner so I can get in a workout. I do five miles on the stationary bike and finish with some stretches. Our families have experienced some health issues over the past few years, and it's made me incredibly conscious of my own health as I get older.
9:30 p.m. — A lovely episode of The Great British Baking Show reminds me of my time in Denmark. I'm definitely starting to catch the travel bug again. We spent last year in London, and I'm so excited to get back to Europe. I have some laundry to fold before our trip to D.C. this weekend, so I go upstairs a little early. Shower, tea tree oil face mask, meditation, reading, lights out. Good night!

Day Seven (J.)

7:10 a.m. — Apparently, I snoozed my alarm this morning but have no recollection of this. This must be a sign that I should stay in bed for the day, but there is work to be done. I leave the warmth of the bed and make my way down to the cold kitchen. Someday we need to replace a lot of the windows in our house to help with the heating efficiency, because today it’s a little chillier than I care for.
12:30 p.m. — After working on a few things in the lab, I head to my office for lunch. I’m having leftover frittata, some carrots and hummus, a banana, and some trail mix. I’m still feeling pretty groggy, so hopefully the afternoon doesn’t go by too slowly.
3 p.m. — I’ve spent most of the afternoon working on revisions to a paper I’m trying to publish. I’ve been working on this publication for a while, and we’ve gotten edits from reviewers for the first submission. I’d much rather be in the lab, but I like the sense of accomplishment when a paper gets published. I’m snacking on trail mix to keep my focus and energy up. Just a few more hours!
6 p.m. — I’m making Frito chili pie for dinner! This is one of my favorite winter meals. C. and I had some friends over a few weeks ago, and we made this for them. Apparently, Frito chili pie is a regional thing? They had never heard of it before, but we had this all the time growing up. For those of you who don’t know, it starts with a layer of Fritos in a bowl. Then you pour chili over it (vegetarian in our case), then comes cheese, and then the family secret is a dash of mustard on top. Don’t knock it ’til you try it!
9:30 p.m. — The trash and recycling gets picked up tomorrow morning, so I brave the cold weather and take the bins out to the curb. I’m hoping to get to bed a little earlier and make some progress on the book I’m reading. I’m about halfway through The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. It has kept my interest, but it’s tough when I only read before bed and can only get through five pages before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $0
Weekly Total: $728.13
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here. Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs
Have you been working for at least 8 years and seen your salary increase or fluctuate? If so, fill out this form for a chance to be featured on our Salary Story series!
Advertisement

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series