A Week In Idaho Falls, ID, On A $130,000 Income

Photo: Sonny Meddle/Shutterstock.
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Today: a freelance writer working in media who makes $130,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Perrier.
Occupation: Freelance Writer
Industry: Media
Age: 38
Location: Idaho Falls, ID
Salary: $130,000
Paycheck Amount: I don't really have a typical paycheck. I invoice at the end of each month, and then the clients pay based on their net 15 or 30 status. My income doesn't vary a whole lot, though. It usually fluctuates between about $8,500 and $12,000 a month.
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,095 (I rent a 2,400-square-foot home that I live in with my son.)
Utilities: $120
Federal Student Loan Consolidation: $219
Gym Membership: $149 (But I'm seriously reconsidering this now that I'm back to full-time freelance.)
Hulu: $11.99
Spotify Family: $14.99
Netflix: $9.99
Internet: $113
Car Insurance: $167 for two cars (for me and my son) plus renter's insurance
Life Insurance: $40
Health Insurance: $347 (Bought on the state exchange, just for me, since my son is on his dad's insurance.)
My Son's 529 Plan: $400
IRA: $458
Travel Fund: $350 (I keep it in a taxable investment account.)
Short-Term Emergency Savings: $200 (I use a tiered strategy where after it reaches a certain level, the excess goes into a taxable investment account for long-term emergency savings.)
Allowance For My Son: $150
House Cleaner: $240
Lawn Care: $200

Day One

2:30 p.m. — My friend comes over with tools to help shore up our house's sagging deck. I don't want to pay to re-do the deck because I live in a rental, but I do want to be able to use it. My friend figures out how to reattach a support and takes care of it. I Venmo him the money to cover the tools and the short amount of time he spent making it happen. $50
6 p.m. — A load of firewood I ordered is delivered. Last winter, I discovered that using the fireplace throughout the winter could save me a substantial amount of money each month. So this year to prepare I ordered a full cord of wood. The guys deliver the wood, and I ask them to stack it. They charge $15 on top of the cost of wood and delivery ($250), and I'm pleased enough with their speediness that I add a little extra as a tip ($35). $300
Daily Total: $350

Day Two

12:30 p.m. — It's been a busy morning with two client calls and some work. However, my good friend is leaving tomorrow for a few weeks, so I make time for lunch — my treat. We head to a new downtown Indian restaurant and order dishes to share. He gets a beer, but I need to stay on top of my game so I don't drink. I'm chair of a county political party, and I need to hustle to get ready for tonight's event headlining our gubernatorial candidate and featuring other local candidates. $32.56
2:15 p.m. — I need a few things for tonight's event, so I head to Walmart. I don't usually shop there, but I need to find supplies fast, and the locally-owned craft store is on the other side of town. I buy some cute buckets with chalkboards for candidate donations, and a liquid chalk pen to write on them. I also grab some general office supplies, including paper for the campaign HQ printer and some sticker name tags, just in case candidates want to identify themselves. I decide to consider the purchase an "in kind" donation to the party. $53.20
Daily Total: $85.76

Day Three

2:30 p.m. — I wear lash extensions, and today is my day for a fill. We do a partial fill because I just had a full fill last week, but I'm going out of town soon, and my aesthetician also has a trip coming up. We worked it out so that I could do a partial fill this week and then come back for my regular appointment just before my conference so the lashes will last through her trip as well as mine. The cost is $25 plus tip. $32
2:55 p.m. — My son calls to tell me that the car has stopped working. He managed to make it to a friend's house, but can't get any further. He's had trouble with it since we took it in for tire rod end replacements, and we had planned to take it to a mechanic after school. He asks me to bring radiator fluid since it's dry. I stop at the store on my way to his friend's house to grab what we need. $15.83
3:35 p.m. — There's something wrong with the radiator (or hose, or head gasket, or thermostat), so we fill the radiator and head towards the mechanic, my son driving his car. It gives out three-quarters of the way to the shop in the middle of the road. A stranger helps us push it to a gas station and I call a tow, which doesn't arrive for 40 minutes. I buy us junk food at the gas station so we can bond over hardship. I get myself a frozen coffee drink, and he chooses an iced tea. We split a brownie and a bag of gummy bears while waiting. $7.63
4:50 p.m. — Time to pay the tow bill. I'm not thrilled that it cost $75 to tow the car a mile, but I didn't want to risk the car breaking down again and again as we tried to get it to the mechanic. We leave my son's car, get into mine, and head home. $75
6:30 p.m. — My son is safely at home, eating leftovers and FaceTiming with his father, sharing tales of the harrowing afternoon. I, however, drive 30 minutes to the state fair to volunteer at the party's booth. I get settled in with my boothmate and then announce that I'm going to grab dinner. I get a bottle of water for $2, pay $8 for a turkey sandwich made with thick slices of homemade bread, and leave $2 in the tip jar. $12
Daily Total: $142.46

Day Four

12 p.m. — It's manicure day! I get a 45-minute mini-spa gel manicure. I really felt like I needed the self-care after yesterday. $37.50
1:50 p.m. — I'm starving — I haven't eaten all day because I had a packed morning before heading to the salon. I stop at my favorite downtown sandwich stop on my way to campaign HQ, where I need to take care of a few political things. I get a bottle of water for $1 and the lunch special (BLT with avocado on wheat, and a bag of salt and vinegar chips) for $10.95. I leave a $2 tip. $13.95
7:30 p.m. — A friend and his wife surprise me and show up to check out our political HQ as I'm closing up. They invite me to visit a cool little print shop a couple blocks away. We head over. The print shop features a 130-year-old hand press. The owner shows us how it works, and I decide to buy some handmade and hand-colored cards. They're expensive, but I love them because they'll go great with special occasion gifts for close friends and family. $75
9 p.m. — After leaving the print shop, my friends say they want to try the new Indian restaurant. I've already eaten there this week, but agree to go with them because I figure I can try something new on the menu, and we haven't had a good talk for a while. It's my turn to pick up the tab, so I pay for dinner, but they leave the tip. $63.82
Daily Total: $190.27

Day Five

1:30 p.m. — It's the first Friday of the month, so I meet with my county political party executive committee. I'm running late due to client work and giving an interview to a publication. We meet at a downtown bagel place, but because I'm late, I wait until after the meeting to grab lunch. I get turkey and provolone on a bagel and spring for a bottle of Perrier. The meal costs $10.75, and I leave a $2 tip. $12.75
4:30 p.m. — I have another shift at the fair booth, and this time my son and his friends are hitching a ride so they can go to the fair. On the way home to pick them up, I stop to fill up the car with gas. No one wants to be stranded on the side of the freeway with three teenage boys. $40
5 p.m. — Just before my son's friends arrive, I hand him a $20 bill. It's meant for food at the fair. He has to pay for his own rides and merch, but I'll make sure he's fed. Later, he uses part of the money to bring me a funnel cake at the booth. $20
7:30 p.m. — After a while at the booth, I'm bored and hungry. I take my turn to go get food. I spend $4 on a frozen strawberry lemonade and $6 on a corn dog. I leave $2 in the tip jar. As I walk back, I realize I've been slacking this week. I've been so busy with campaign stuff, work, and car-related crises that I haven't been to the gym — and I've done a lot more eating away from home than I usually do. $12
Daily Total: $84.75

Day Six

2 p.m. — After a political lunch event (that the party paid for), my son and I head to the grocery store. We've got our meal plan for next week and the needed ingredients, and we're both determined to avoid a week like what we've just had. We buy mostly produce, since the fish, pasta, and other entrée-related items we need are already at home. He's running low on the lightly-flavored water he drinks instead of soda, so we stock up. $84.73
3:15 p.m. — I check my email and see that my credit card has been charged for tomorrow's dairy delivery. Our milk, cheese, and eggs are on their way! $26.75
4:45 p.m. — My son and I decide to go to the local symphony's concert in the park. It's a free concert, but we decide to top off our week of bad eating with a stop to get fast food. We go through the drive-through and then eat our food at the park. $11.36
6:45 p.m. — After the concert, we realize we forgot to get dessert for tomorrow's dinner with my parents, so it's back to the store on the way home. My son selects brownies and then asks if we can get a couple of California rolls. No surprise — the fast food has left a growing and active teenager empty within two hours. I buy him grocery-store sushi, which he inhales in the car before we even get home. $15.54
10:30 p.m. — After we get home, my son announces that his friends are waiting for him online, so he heads downstairs to play his MMORPG. I receive a text from a friend inviting me out for a drink. I've got nothing else going on, so I meet her and her husband at a local wine bar. I have two glasses of wine and leave a tip after we shut the place down. (Yes, this is a drinking establishment that closes by 10 p.m. on a Saturday night.) I briefly consider heading to the pub, but it's been a long week so I just go home and go to bed. $23
Daily Total: $161.38

Day Seven

10:15 a.m. — I get up and realize that I need a few items for my home office, including a new mouse and some sticky notes. I've also promised my son that I'll get him a digital to analog converter as part of his gift for his upcoming birthday, so I go ahead and order those items online. $30.97
Daily Total: $30.97
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