A Week In Fort Lauderdale, FL, On A $170,000 Salary

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.
Today: an attorney who makes $170,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Taco Bell.
Occupation: Attorney
Industry: Legal
Age: 31
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Salary: $170,000 plus bonuses
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $5,195.92
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $3,396.72, split with my husband, N.
Student Loans: $700 (about to refinance)
Water/Trash/Sewer: Between $100-$150 (split with N.)
Lawn Maintenance: $95 (split with N.)
Pool Maintenance: $80 (split with N.)
Internet: $50 (split with N.)
DirecTV Now: $16 (split with N.)
Cell Phone: $35 (on family plan, but I Venmo my mom every month)
Car Lease: $428 (N. doesn't have a car, since he works from home.)
Wine Club: $55
Sweat (Itsines Workout App): $20
Gym Membership: $50
Dog Meds: $35
Amazon Prime: $100/year
HBO Go: Included with AT&T cell phone plan
Netflix: I steal my brother's.
Spotify Premium: I share a family plan with a friend and buy him a drink every time I see him as payment.
Health Insurance: $517.06 (I'm carrying insurance from the ACA marketplace. I had already paid too much toward my deductible for it to be worth switching to my employer's plan mid-year, but I'll start on it in January.)
Investments: I have ~$150,000 between Roth IRA and investment accounts.

Day One

7 a.m. — I wake up in bed with my dog, T., and husband, N. He's been away for a bit and just got home last night, so it's a nice change of pace. Also got my best night's sleep since he left, which was much needed. I get ready for work by showering, blowdrying, and straightening my hair and following my sparse makeup regime (Trader Joe's moisturizer, Crunchi Beautifully Flawless Foundation, Glossier Stretch Concealer under my eyes and over some red spots, Beautycounter eyeshadow, and eyeliner). I have cereal with fresh fruit for breakfast and grab my lunch from the fridge before heading out the door.
9 a.m. — I'm one of the first in the office. My firm is very laid-back — get your work done, and the hours you do it in don't really matter, which is a nice change of pace from the last place I worked. I have a very mini cup of coffee, as I'm 19 weeks pregnant and I'm trying to avoid drinking too much caffeine.
12:30 p.m. — I've been catching up on correspondence, working on an ongoing project, and doing some research all morning. I take a break for 30 minutes or so to have a salad from home at my desk with some fresh berries. I start the OITNB series finale, but it's 90 minutes long, so I'll need to finish it later.
5:30 p.m. — I finish logging my time for the day and head home to N. Fortunately, he got home just in time to receive delivery of our new dining-room set from Wayfair, and it's all waiting for assembly in what feels like a million boxes (six in reality). This was a pricey purchase for us, but we bought a new house a few months ago and are looking forward to hosting many dinner parties and holiday dinners at this table, so hopefully it will be well worth it.
7 p.m. — After building two chairs while N. showers and shaves (he likes to grow a beard during his summer vacation; I'm not a fan), we make ground beef to have taco night with a lot of toppings and settle in to eat and watch Vice News and then an episode of Big Little Lies (we waited till he got back to watch it together, so this is the start of season two for us).
10 p.m. — We wash the dishes together, and I make two taco salads for myself for lunch for the next two days at work. Then I build one more chair and start on the base for the table before calling it a night. I wash my face and brush my teeth before heading to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

7 a.m. — I wake up but didn't sleep as well last night because T. was restless. Of course, now she's sound asleep but wasn't around 4. She's definitely going back to sleeping in her own bed tonight. We've been breaking down and putting her on the bed because she's old and mostly blind and keeps getting lost in our new house in the middle of the night. We're going to try putting her bed in a big cage tonight to see if that helps with the wandering.
8 a.m. — I choose my outfit carefully. I still haven't told my firm that I'm pregnant — I'm not really sure what their reaction will be, since I only started a few months ago and I'm still trying to prove myself. I don't have much of a tummy yet, so a pair of high-waisted pants with a belted bow around the middle works perfectly. I apply my makeup and have breakfast quickly. I'm running a little ahead of schedule, so I resume work on the dining-room table for a bit before I leave. N. points out that one of the base pieces has a big chip/crack in the side. It's only superficial and won't show much once we have the table assembled, but I'm going to see if we can get some sort of refund for it, given how much we spent on the dang thing.
8:40 a.m. — I'm at the office after my 15-minute commute. I commuted for about an hour and a half each way for a few months, so I'm VERY grateful to be in this new office. I quickly hop on the phone with Wayfair to ask if a refund is possible before building out the rest of the table. They agree to give us 20% back for the inconvenience instead of replacing the entire thing. N. will be really happy to hear it — he wasn't a fan of spending our money on a table at this point; I kind of twisted his arm.
12:30 p.m. — Eat my taco salad at my desk while multitasking with some mindless work. I don't love leaving the office for lunch during the summer — it rains constantly and is miserably hot. I try to eat at my desk four days a week and then do lunch out on Fridays with some of the other attorneys in the office.
5:30 p.m. — I head home to resume building my table and chairs! First, we walk around the neighborhood before getting back to the construction project. Still brutally hot at 6 — our walks will need to wait until 8-ish from now on. After making good progress on the table, we make a Caesar salad and spaghetti and meatballs for a quick dinner. I make meatballs every few months and freeze them for an easy weeknight meal. We settle in for another episode of Big Little Lies before heading to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8 a.m. — Night one of T. sleeping in the cage went as horribly as I expected. She went to sleep just fine until she woke up at 1 and then 2 and then 3. I get ready quickly, wearing a dress with a loose cardigan on top to hide my little bump. I'm out the door by 8:30 and at my desk well before 9.
11 a.m. — I take a break from drafting an amended complaint to quickly buy flights to NYC for my friend's wedding next month. I want to make sure to buy them before the prices shoot up. I manage to get two round-trip tickets for a good price and put the purchase on our shared credit card. We're still trying to figure out how to best handle our finances after getting married nine months ago. We opened a shared credit card a few years ago that we pay off 50/50. Individual expenses go on our own credit cards, though we're good about discussing high-dollar purchases before we pull the trigger. $254.20
12:30 p.m. — Day two of desk taco salad — pretty good still, but the greens from Publix definitely don't last as long as the ones from Whole Foods.
5:30 p.m. — I rush home from work to meet a buyer from Facebook Marketplace. I bought some driftwood chargers for my wedding, and I've slowly been selling them off for $7 each. My cost was $12, and the florist charged $15 each to use hers, so I figured $5 back each was well worth it. The buyer shows up on time — she's super nice and doesn't haggle the price at all. She buys 12 and gives me $84.
6 p.m. — I get a call from one of the senior partners to discuss draft revision. I get some great feedback. I'm looking forward to working on it again tomorrow.
7 p.m. — Our power has been out since I got home from a late afternoon summer storm, so dinner at home is out. We head to Lowe's to pick up a few things for N.'s home-improvement projects. We have $135 in Lowe's rebate cards from purchases earlier in the year. Our items cost $106, so we have a little bit left on one of the cards for our next visit (and we'll be back, that's for sure). My car needs gas, so we stop and N. pumps for me. $32.64
8 p.m. — After running errands, we're still not sure if the power is on at home, so we stop at a local pizza joint for dinner and split a pepperoni pizza. $24.26
Daily Total: $311.10

Day Four

6 a.m. — Early start today: We have a contractor coming at 6:30 to do some work on our dock (during low tide), and we have our anatomy scan at the perinatal center at 7:30. I hop in the shower with my hair in a bun (my hair is super thick and can go five days without a wash, easily, even with the humidity down here). I quickly put on some makeup and make a yogurt parfait to eat on the road with nectarines, strawberries, and blueberries, topped with granola. I know N. hasn't eaten because he's talking to the contractor, so I grab him a water and Perfect bar to eat at the appointment.
7:30 a.m. — We're right on time for our appointment, and we're the first of the day, so we get right in. The anatomy scan takes about an hour, and everything looks great! This is our first baby and we've both been really nervous, but every appointment makes us feel much better.
9:30 a.m. — We get home right as the contractor finishes with the dock. The house we bought is on a canal (Fort Lauderdale is the Venice of the United States — canals everywhere), and we had this company perform an inspection for us before we bought. The dock is older and needed some maintenance, which we knew from the start. We were hoping to wait a year or so, but the pilings weren't wrapped and were getting eaten away to nothing. This company cleans and wraps them all and uses concrete to reinforce some of the more damaged ones. It looks great and the guy says they should last about ten years, so it's a relief not to have to worry about it. He said we should also stucco the seawall to reinforce it a bit, but that can wait a year — so we put it off for now. N. negotiated down on the price a lot and secured an additional discount for paying cash. $845
9:45 a.m. — I head to the office, stopping at Dunkin' Donuts for a decaf iced coffee and maple doughnut. Maple doughnuts are rare down here, so I chalk that up as a win. My family is from Boston, and maple DD doughnuts taste like home. $3.78
12:30 p.m. — I break for lunch with my coworker at a café. We both get salads so that we don't fall asleep at our desks this afternoon. We have a long convo about our student loans. We have about the same amount in loans, but very different income levels. I'm about to refinance my loans and start making aggressive payments of around $5,000 per month, but I waited to do so until I had already gotten married, had a decent amount of money saved up, and bought a house. I'm hoping to pay off my loans entirely in five years. $13.11
4:30 p.m. — I split a bit early and head home. N. and I hang out around the house a bit, planning some short-term and long-term projects that we'd like to accomplish. We go for a walk around the neighborhood (one loop with/carrying T. and one a bit faster without her). I want to go check out a new record store up the street and a brew pub close by that supposedly has great food.
7:30 p.m. — We make it to the record store 30 minutes before closing, and it's such a great place. All of the used records are $3 each. Neither of our parents will let us take their old record collections (despite the fact that they haven't seen the light of day in 30 years), so we're doing our best to slowly build our own. I pick out a record of Mother Goose rhymes and the Sound of Music soundtrack, because I have it in my head that we'll play baby records and make it a family affair. N. sticks with his ’60s/’70s obsession and picks up records from The Eagles, The Mamas & the Papas, Doobie Brothers, and Bruce Springsteen. We have a $50 AT&T rewards card, and we use $19 of it on these six albums.
8 p.m. — We stop at the brew pub for dinner. The menu looks fine, but not as great as I expected. I guess it's good for bar food. We order loaded tater tots and a carnitas quesadilla. N. gets a beer, and I'm stuck with warm brewery water. Breweries/craft-beer bars need to step their game up for non-drinkers. This is the second one I've been to that doesn't even have good drinking water — really disappointing. We use the rewards card again for $26.
9 p.m. — We stop up the street at a nitrogen ice cream shop and split one small ice cream (cake-batter ice cream with a brownie, Butterfinger, and hot fudge). $6.72
9:30 p.m. — We're at home and I put on a movie. N. lasts about an hour before going to bed —he's getting up early to play tennis. Our Friday nights have REALLY changed, but I don't hate it.
Daily Total: $868.61

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — Apparently N. leaving for tennis at 8 means he decided (unilaterally) to set his alarm for 6:30, and I'm not too pleased. I make him stay in bed an extra 15 minutes or so to cuddle before we get up. I make a quick egg sandwich with an English muffin and cheese. N. isn't big into breakfast — he grabs a Perfect bar to eat on the way to tennis. I settle in at our kitchen table to get a few hours of work done while he's gone.
10 a.m. — I finish up work for the day and start cleaning the kitchen and getting ready for the day. We're going down to Miami, and I pack a bag with towels and swimsuits, in case we decide to go for a swim.
10:45 a.m. — N. is home from tennis and ready to hit the road after a quick shower. We drive down to Miami to make it in time for his 11:30 haircut. He's been going to the same stylist for ten years or so — he really needs to find one in Fort Lauderdale, but for now driving works just fine since we can arrange it around other things to do.
11:30 a.m. — I drop N. off for his haircut and head to the car wash. I bought a package of 40 washes about four years ago, and I still have a few left.
12:30 p.m. — Car is clean, and I picked up Taco Bell for a quick lunch. Completely my guilty pleasure, and I don't have any shame about it. $9.87
12:50 p.m. — I pick up N. from his haircut, and we head to Nordstrom to check out some baby items. We're debating between a few strollers and want to see them in person before making our decision. $45
2:30 p.m. — After an instructional time spent in Nordstrom, we stop in at Anthropologie to return a top that's been in the back of my car for a few months and head to Miami Beach to meet a few friends for a BBQ.
3 p.m. — Our friend is completely late (no surprise there), so we stop at Publix to grab some chips and kombucha for a snack. $7.52
4 p.m. — Our friend is STILL late, so we walk around TJ Maxx to kill a bit of time. I start getting tired and cranky, and I snap at N. for eating chips loudly and too close to me (ridiculous, I know, but hormones are real, folks). We go back to the car, and I recline my seat and proceed to nap for 20 minutes — much needed.
4:30 p.m. — We decide to swing by CVS while we're waiting, so that N. can buy some toothpaste. $3.48
4:45 p.m. — Our friend is finally almost home, so we park nearby and walk to Whole Foods to meet him and pick out food to throw on the grill. We end up with a few chorizo sausages and beef skewers. N. buys beer, and I grab a water with cucumber and mint. We split the items up between us and our friend. $30.63
7:30 p.m. — We have a great time grilling, but the boys run out of beer, so N. walks back to Whole Foods (less than a block away) to refill and grab me a cookie or two. $12.69
9 p.m. — I'm finally exhausted beyond limit, and we still have to drive 45 minutes home, so I call it a night and drag N. back to the car.
10 p.m. — We're home and I'm DEAD. I go straight to bed after brushing my teeth, and N. stays up a bit to snack on some leftovers because he's a little drunk.
Daily Total: $109.19

Day Six

7 a.m. — T. wakes us up, so I put her outside to pee and then into our bed, so we can sleep another hour or so.
8:15 a.m. — We all slowly wake up. N. starts to catch up on things on his computer while I lie in bed and read some news.
9 a.m. — I really want to go out for pancakes, but we have some frozen TJ's hash browns and shakshuka that need to be eaten, so N. starts whipping up a quick breakfast. I help a tiny bit but not much.
10:45 a.m. — After breakfast we lounge around for a bit before I need to leave for my nail appointment. I get a manicure every two weeks and a pedicure once a month, and it makes me feel really put together — total self-care. $30
12:30 p.m. — N. and I decide to go check out a nursery to get some plant ideas for our yard. We have some beautiful palms back there, but very neglected hedges that need to go, so we're basically starting from scratch. We look around, but it's about 98 degrees in the shade, so I pull the plug relatively quickly. For some reason I'm wearing jeans? We go to Lowe's to pick up a few more items — some succulents to plant in a decorative planter and felt pads to go on the bottom of some furniture. We use the same Lowe's card from earlier in the week.
1:30 p.m. — We head home for lunch before going grocery shopping. We dig in the freezer a bit because we're running low on food and have a healthy lunch of Totino's pizza rolls and pork gyoza (no judgment).
2:30 p.m. — After lunch we go to Trader Joe's to do our grocery shopping for the week. We're going to go out to dinner at least once with friends, so I try not to buy too much. I drive home every night past TJ's and Whole Foods, so it's always easy for me to swing by and pick up items later in the week if need be — I hate getting too much and wasting food. We buy some items for me to make my desk salads this week (greens, olives, tomatoes), some sparkling water, chicken thighs, bone-in pork chops, fresh OJ, six organic eggs, a head of cauliflower, zucchini, avocados, Honeycrisp apples, a pallet of peaches, some pantry staples that we needed restocked (tomato paste, canned tomatoes, Israeli couscous, harissa), and an aloe vera plant that N. really wanted. $70.34
3:30 p.m. — Home from the store and I'm beat. I unpack the groceries and lie down for a nap. I wake up to the sound of N. absolutely demolishing a concrete pad on the side of the house. I start making pierogis using the NYT recipe I've used before. They're labor-intensive but really delish, and I love a Sunday cooking project. I make the potato filling and dough, and N. comes in and asks if I want to take out the kayaks. The dough needs to rest for 30 minutes, so I'm in.
7:30 p.m. — We kayak for about an hour, and the conditions were so perfect. We got a great view of our newly wrapped pilings, too. I could have gone for another 30 minutes or so, but I'd like to eat before midnight, so we head home. I start rolling out the dough and forming the pierogis while N. (my sous-chef) cuts up the onion and bacon to cook the pierogis in. He boils them and pan-fries them until they're golden brown. We cook about a third of the ones that I made — we'll probably freeze some later. They turned out so good. N. says maybe the best ever, and that's high praise coming from him. I forgot to defrost the cabbage rolls that we bought last month at a Polish store to serve alongside them. They're a little delayed, but are ready when we're almost done with the pierogis. N. has a bit and saves the rest for his lunch tomorrow. I make two desk salads for Monday and Tuesday and clean up all of the dishes while N. loads the dishwasher.
9:30 p.m. — With the kitchen clean and our food put away, we sit down on the couch for another episode of Big Little Lies. We head straight to bed after the episode is over, around 10:15.
Daily Total: $100.34

Day Seven

7 a.m. — Up after a pretty terrible night of sleep, between my weird vivid dreams and T. waking us up crying. As N. says, good practice for a newborn! I shower and wash my hair, blowdrying it straight afterward. I make a bowl of yogurt with fruit and granola for breakfast before heading to work.
9 a.m. — In the office, working on this same response motion as last week. I'm hoping to get a good second draft out before the end of the day.
1:15 p.m. — I finally crawl out of a revision hole to realize it's already 1. I send out my second draft for revision and break for my desk salad. I look for some recipes with chicken thighs for inspiration for dinner tonight and find a good one on Half Baked Harvest, but it sounds like we're going out to Indian with some friends tonight instead, so I table it for tomorrow night. I spend my lunch hour catching up on this weekend's Money Diaries.
5 p.m. — I clear out to make it to the gym before heading to dinner. I do an hour-long bodyweight circuit workout before heading home. I brush out my hair and throw on a pair of forgivingly stretchy green jeans with a white tank top and cheetah-print espadrille mules.
7:45 p.m. — We meet our friends for dinner at a new Indian place up the street. They're expecting a baby less than a month after us, so our convo mostly revolves around that all-consuming part of our lives. $69.01
10:30 p.m. — Home after dinner, and I get ready for bed by washing my face and brushing my teeth.
Daily Total: $69.01
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