A Week In Cleveland, OH, On A $115,000 Salary

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: an Executive Compensation Manager who makes $115,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on cashmere sweaters.
Occupation: Executive Compensation Manager
Industry: Manufacturing
Age: 33
Location: Cleveland, OH
Salary: $115,000
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $492 for half of the mortgage payment (My husband and I have half-combined finances. We bought our house before we were married or engaged and the splitting this has just continued. I make more money so I pay most of the expenses, he pays for his car and cell, and then we each have our of fun money. He spends his on golf, I shop, we are both happy.) Car Lease: $290
Car/House/Jewelry Insurance: $304
Cable/Internet: $181 (we really need to cut the cord seeing as we only watch local TV, HGTV, Golf, and now Disney Junior)
Benefits: $452 (for the family)
Cell Phone: $0 (I'm still on my family plan and I'm letting it ride out until they kick me off)
Donations: $25-$50
401(k): $1,150
Savings: $1,000
Son's 529: $750
Brokerage Account: $750 brokerage account (I have a fear that we're not saving enough, and I will have to work forever)
Company Stock: $150
Amazon Prime: $119/year
Credit Card Fee: $99/year
HOA: $390/year
Property Taxes: $6,254.88/year (ouch, these went up $700 for next year)

Day One

12 a.m. — My husband wakes me up from the rocker in the nursery. I fell asleep rocking the baby, P.
2:20 a.m. — Baby is up again. I stumble in, change him, feed him, rock him, and back down by 2:45. He used to go right down but now that he has been under the weather the whole process takes a little longer.
7 a.m. — Up for the day with the baby. My husband, L., is volunteering at a Breakfast with Santa so the baby and I are taking it easy since we are both battling a cold.
8:30 a.m. — We both eat breakfast. Waffles for the baby. Toast with peanut butter and strawberries for me. I give him some of my toast. He loves the PB, definitely my child! We play some more, he goes down for a nap around 9:15. I put a load of laundry in and take a nap too.
12 p.m. — Almost a three-hour nap for P.! THIS. IS. BIG. We play and eat lunch. I make a wrap and have some chips. P. has scrambled eggs, yogurt, and puffs all while eyeing my chips. I do some more cleaning and laundry. I finally work up the effort to make banana bread before the bananas go bad.
4:30 p.m. — My in-laws come over for dinner and my husband gets home at the same time from "breakfast." A long detour with his friends to the bar was also included. I hand them the baby and go up to shower. We watch the Browns game (uneventful) and eat the lasagna that my mother-in-law made. I make a salad and throw in some garlic bread and think how grateful I am that I have the easy job. The baby has some noodles, more yogurt, and puffs. We're already turning into those parents that only feed their kid what they like so we don't have to battle every time.
8 p.m. — In-laws leave and we get the baby ready for bed. I come back downstairs after he is peacefully sleeping and talk to L. about his day. He's into the game so I start scrolling Instagram. A Banana Republic ad pops up and I remember the sweaters I had in my cart and didn't buy. After coupon and rewards money it comes down to $70 for two cashmere sweaters. How could you pass that up? I later remember I was so close to a zero dollar day, oops! We head to bed about 9:45 and I fall asleep right away (as usual). $69.66
Daily Total: $69.66

Day Two

5:15 a.m. — Baby is up, 15 minutes before my alarm. He didn't wake up during the night so I am one happy girl! I nurse him, get him back down, and then I get ready. L. even has coffee waiting for me when I came downstairs. Very thoughtful on our anniversary!
9 a.m. — I have my breakfast at work — oatmeal, cinnamon, honey, PB, and banana (you'll see this again, it's my go-to). I finish up a presentation I was working on and organize myself. I check my Christmas list and see who else I need to buy for. Calendar for Grandma ($18.62 +$1 for American Lung Association), finishing up my brother and sister in law ($101.05 at old navy including two things for me because it was such a good deal), and two sweater dresses for my aunt ($76.01 + $1 for Boys and Girls Club). I always donate at least a dollar when that's an option, I don't understand why more people don't. Or maybe they do and I just don't realize it. $197.68
12:30 p.m. — I pump and eat lunch — leftover lasagna and a Cheryl's cookie from a vendor. The baby is nine months and I never thought I would nurse/pump this long but the doctor said at 11 months we can start the transition to whole milk so I have renewed hope that I can make it!
4 p.m. — Nothing eventful happens the rest of the day and I hit the road at 4:15, home by 5:40 with a stop for gas. I started a new job recently and the commute is much longer. I try to be in by 7:30 so I can leave at 4, but it changes day-to-day. I'm thankful that my department prioritizes family and I can have a flex schedule. I play with the baby and get in as many kisses as possible. $40.67
6:30 p.m. — My parents come over to watch P. L. and I go out to dinner for our anniversary! Cocktail, bottle of wine, stuffed calamari, Caesar salad, potato-crusted grouper for me, and rack of lamb for L. $251
Daily Total: $489.35

Day Three

4:15 a.m. — P. wakes up, I go in and nurse him. He is tired but not sleeping, I put him in his crib and hope for the best. After five minutes of wailing, L. goes in to rock him. I have a massive headache, so I take some magic pills and snuggle up with the pup. He lets me full-on spoon him which he hasn't let me do recently and I love it. Perfect hangover cure. I think L. is jealous.
6 a.m. — I get out of bed late, shower, and get ready. Go downstairs to pump, make breakfast and coffee to go. It's snowing today so the commute takes a little longer than normal, I get to work at 8:20. Breakfast of oatmeal, cinnamon, honey, PB, and banana. Work through more details of a presentation I am working on.
12:45 p.m. — Time for a break. I walk down to the cafeteria and get a turkey wrap, chips, and a pickle. The cafeteria is not the healthiest (based on my food choices) but it's super convenient, and cheap! $4.54
2:45 p.m. — Check emails while I am pumping. Loft is having a sale. I look for work pants and end up buying jeans, two dresses, a jean skirt, and tights for $82.37 +$1 to St. Jude. I need to stop buying things for myself. I grab a handful of dark chocolate almonds on the way back to my desk to make me feel better. $83.37
4:30 p.m. — Head home for the day. I am greeted by a wagging pup and a smiley little boy, life is good! I nurse P. and then change into some comfy clothes. We go to my brother's house for dinner every Tuesday and the menu tonight is deep-dish pizza and salad. Yum! I play with P. and my little nephew most of the time we are there.
8:30 p.m. — Home and get a quick bath in for P. then get him into bed. He is exhausted from playing tonight. While cleaning up at my brother's, I remember that I forgot to buy a drying rack for my sister-in-law (super exciting Christmas present). Thank you, Amazon for being able to get it to me tomorrow. We head to bed around 9:45. $17.16
Daily Total: $105.07

Day Four

12 a.m. — P. is up… I feed him and we snuggle. I fall asleep in the rocker again but don't even realize it until I go back into my room and the clock reads 1:30. Hmmm.
6 a.m. — I snooze for half an hour and then finally get up, shower, and make breakfast and coffee to go, and I am on the way out the door. I'm driving L.'s car today while he takes mine for an oil change (first year is free) and to pick up his new bike. Two minutes into the drive and I already miss my car. LONG commute because it's snowing and there are tons of accidents, I get to work at 8:30.
9:30 a.m. — I go to pump and do a mediation app instead of shopping today. I feel proud of my choice.
12:30 p.m. — My stomach is growling. I get the same wrap as yesterday plus a Diet Coke and a Ghirardelli square. I leave work at 4:15 to get ready for an event we have tonight. $5.81
6 p.m. — The babysitter comes (family so it's free!), but I feel bad leaving P. for the night again this week. We get to the event — it's the Christmas party for a volunteer group that my husband is in. (The dinner was $100 a couple that L. paid already.) I have salmon, he has steak, and the drinks are included ($10 tip for the bartender at the beginning of the night). We also purchase a brick with the family name on it that will go in the center of town ($40). I knew we would be seeing a friend that is the president of a group I used to be in, so I bring him a $50 donation check. 'Tis the season of giving, right? $100
11 p.m. — We get home to relieve the sitter. P. wakes up and we take turns comforting him. Pretty sure L. ends up falling asleep in there for a little while. This happens more than one would think.
Daily Total: $105.81

Day Five

6:15 a.m. — I snoozed way too long. And I feel like death. Why did I take a shot last night? I pump, take a quick body shower, and get ready. Ponytail it is today. Make breakfast to go and grab a Diet Coke, this is going to be an interesting one.
10 a.m. — I meet with my boss to go over some of the materials I have been working on. My brain is still a little hazy. We meet for about an hour longer than scheduled.
1 p.m. — Next meeting. I grab a salad with grilled chicken that was leftover from someone else's meeting and head in. When the meeting ends, I take two buckeyes from the cookie tray and head back to my office. If you've never heard of them, it's basically a Reese's in ball format. I never turn down peanut butter.
4 p.m. — I meet with my boss one more time before heading out since he will be out until the first full week of the year. When I get home from work, P. is just waking up from a short nap. I nurse him and then we play upstairs while I clean his room and my closet and put the basket of folded laundry away.
7 p.m. — We head downstairs to make dinner. We're having stir-fry and I load it up with chicken, carrots, broccoli, asparagus, red pepper, mushrooms, and water chestnuts. I throw in some mixture of sauces and hope for the best. All the ingredients were purchased during Saturday's grocery run (last week, but for reference, the total was $167.30). We have it over udon noodles. The baby loves slurping them. I'm blown away by how good he eats. He also has some banana bread and yogurt.
8:15 p.m. — L. finishes cleaning up the kitchen and I take P. upstairs for a bath. We're running a little late so only a couple minutes of playtime today. L. finishes cleaning as I'm getting P. in his jammies. He snuggles him for a couple minutes before I nurse him. P. is asleep by 8:45. We watch the ending of Four Christmases and start another Christmas movie I have never heard of. We head to bed around 10:15 and I fall asleep at the first commercial break. Shocker. ZERO DOLLAR DAY FOR BOTH OF US!
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

2 a.m. — Up to feed P. and get him back down. I'm back in bed within 25 minutes.
5:45 a.m. — Thank goodness it's Friday! I shower, get ready, and decide on a more casual outfit since it'll be slower. P. wakes up as I finish getting ready so I get him out of the crib, change him, and play for a couple of minutes before we go downstairs. I grab my leftovers from yesterday, make breakfast and coffee to go, and I am on my way! P. was born at 41 weeks and today he is 41 weeks old! I reflect on how much he has grown and learned in that time. Those pregnancy hormones are crazy things, I swear I still tear up at the littlest thing.
9:30 a.m. — I eat my oatmeal from home and go on a search for decaf coffee. I switched to decaf when I was pregnant and it just kind of stuck. I check on my bank accounts and credit cards while I eat. I paid my CC bills last week but I have been pretty loosey-goosey with the spending so I want to see the damage. Pleasantly surprised!
12:30 p.m. — Productive day but nothing too exciting is happening. I eat my leftover stir-fry and re-do my to-do list so I can ask my boss any last-minute questions before he is out for two weeks. I have a 2:30 conference call, then I am hoping to get out early.
4:15 p.m. — I didn't get out as early as a hoped but it's the weekend! I call my mom to see how the baby is doing (she watches him Fridays). She says he's rubbing his eyes and needs to go down for another nap. We're celebrating my brother's birthday at my parents' house so I tell her I will just run home to take the pup out and grab the present. She asks if I could stop at the grocery store for shrimp. I run to the store to grab two pounds of shrimp and then go home. I get to my parents' house around 5:45. I chat with my dad while we wait for everyone to get there. $17.97
6:45 p.m. — The house is now chaos — kids running around and everyone trying to talk over each other. We end up sitting down to dinner around 8, presents at 9:30 and cake at 10. I'm stressed out because the baby is now an hour and a half past his bedtime so we head out. P. is sleeping by 10:20. L. and I go to bed not too much later.
Daily Total: $17.97

Day Seven

2 a.m. — P. wakes up, I change him and nurse him and he is back to sleep. I swear you love your child even when they wake up every night.
6 a.m. — Guess we are waking up for the day. Same process — change and feed P. We go downstairs to take the dog out and play. P. is babbling up a storm, I love it. By 8, he is back down for a nap, woke up way too early for little guy.
8:30 a.m. — I really want to stop for Starbucks on my way to my therapy appointment, but I decide to make a chai latte at home instead. Pat on the back for me! No co-pay for this appointment, I get billed directly. It takes about a month to get the invoice but I know it'll be $55 in the future.
10 a.m. — I leave feeling refreshed. I was dealing with some postpartum anxiety, but I feel like I am in a better place. On the way home I stop at the bank (to deposit Christmas money into P.'s account) and the post office ($4.62). We make brunch when I get home — bacon, egg, and cheese on an English muffin with a hash brown patty. P. eats a little bit but is not very interested, I nurse him when we are done. $4.62
12 p.m. — We spend most of the day watching Christmas movies and playing with P. There was a more feeding of the baby, a nap, and showers for L. and I somewhere in there.
5 p.m. — We finally have our act together to go to the grocery store. L. and I each get a Christmas ale while we shop. We go with a list to get stuff for Christmas Eve (Brussels sprouts, red skin potatoes, Caesar salad, steak), Christmas day (frozen chopped potatoes, cream of mushroom soup, cheese, and sour cream), and part of L.'s present to his Secret Santa (pizza dough, sauce, cheese, pepperoni, and sausage to go with his cast-iron skillet. If you haven't tried deep dish pizza in your cast iron you are missing out!). We start off good and things go off the rails when L. buys $40 worth of lobster tails for Christmas Eve. From there we end up with a bunch of off-list extras: Red Lobster biscuit mix, edible cookie dough, replenishing puffs and crackers for the baby, baby yogurt, frozen waffles, wine. The list goes on, I am sure I am forgetting things. Total damage is $220.43. Yikes! $220.43
7 p.m. — Dinner is made — pork tenderloin, broccoli cheddar rice, and the red lobster biscuits. Not happy about no veggies but I can't have that battle every night. The baby eats a little of what we have plus some yogurt. I continue to try to get him to eat, we settle on some veggie puffs.
8:30 p.m. — P. is now sleeping. L. and I grab another drink and start with the present wrapping. I thought it would be a good idea to get a giant roll of craft paper for wrapping so that I could decorate all the presents. Turns out I am not as artistic as those on Pinterest but they still turn out pretty cute. Only a couple more to wrap that still haven't arrived! We head upstairs around 11:30 … good thing we went to bed early. Ha!
Daily Total: $225.05
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.
Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series

Button: Register To Vote