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A Week In Salt Lake City, UT, On A $58,000 Salary

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Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We're asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: a higher education director who makes $58,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on an ovulation testing kit.
Occupation: Director
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 30
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Salary: $58,000 ($53,000 from my full-time job, plus a $5,000 stipend for adjunct teaching)
Net Worth: ~$115,500 ($40,000 in personal savings (including retirement), $15,000 in joint savings with my wife, $450,000 in our home value, minus our $314,000 mortgage (divided by two since we do not combine finances). I know my retirement for my age is low. Our college slashed our retirement benefits a few years ago, so I'm mostly doing it on my own. My wife and I keep our finances separate apart from owning our home together. We also have a joint savings account and two joint credit cards for bills and expenses.)
Debt: $314,000 owed on our mortgage
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $2,830, after 11% contribution to a Roth IRA
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $984, which includes my half of the HOA and Homeowner's Insurance. My wife pays the other half.
Health Insurance: my wife pays out of her paycheck
Utilities: ~$100 (my half)
Gym: $30
Spotify: $15
Streaming Services: $26
Phone: $60
NYT Subscription: $6
Savings: $850
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?
Yes, there was an expectation. My parents are both educators and worked at a university and expected all of us kids to go to college. I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood and fully acknowledge the privilege of growing up in a place where college was encouraged and attainable. I went to undergrad and grad school at the university where my parents worked. My first two years, I got a full tuition scholarship based on my grades and my parents paid for my housing and meals. My college fund ran out after two years, but I was fortunate enough to be selected for a scholarship for my last two years for both tuition and housing. I always had a job in college to pay for my food and other expenses. It helped me immensely that my parents got me an employee tuition discount. In graduate school, I taught classes for the university in exchange for free tuition and a small housing stipend. I am a HUGE advocate for getting the school to pay for your graduate degree!
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My dad works in finance and although my parents never had explicit conversations with me about money, I learned from their behaviors. They were very frugal and took money-saving measures whenever they could, and it definitely rubbed off on me.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked for my church daycare starting when I was 13. I then became a lifeguard at 16 and held a variety of customer service jobs through college. I got my first job more to satisfy the expectation of working than to save up money. My parents took care of my financial needs through high school.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes, but not because we didn't have it. My parents spent money so rarely on anything that I assumed we were far worse off than we actually were. We were not as well off as most people in my neighborhood, but we never experienced housing or food insecurity.
Do you worry about money now?
I do. My wife and I both work in education (and are women), so we're underpaid for our fields and our experience, but we also make enough to be comfortable. I worry a lot about what would happen if I lost my job. My wife and I tend to have different philosophies when it comes to money, so we keep our personal finances (outside of shared expenses and couple-y things) separate.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became mostly financially responsible for myself during the last two years in college. I had a job that paid my bills and a scholarship that paid all my college expenses. I stayed on my parents' phone plan and insurance until I was 26, and I took a small loan from them in grad school that I have since paid off. If we were ever in need, we could count on my parents for financial support.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My parents set up a college fund for me, which I used to pay for dorm housing during my first two years of college. It was around $13,000. I also took out a $3,000 loan from them in grad school that I paid off a few years ago.

Day One

6:45 a.m. — My wife is awake so I am too. Bummer. My wife, C., is working from home today, so we usually sleep in a little bit, but sometimes internal time clocks don't listen. I eventually roll out of bed around 8.
8:30 a.m. — I leave my house on time, but realize five minutes into my drive that I have forgotten my wallet. Quick detour.
8:40 a.m. — Wallet in hand, I leave again for the hospital. I have my fourth appointment for laser hair removal for my chin. Apparently, facial hair is some of the most stubborn to get rid of, and even zapping it with lasers (lasers!) takes a long time to show results. They estimate it will take eight more sessions to see results. I prepaid for six sessions, so nothing is due this time. After, I drive home to pack up my lunch and get ready for work.
10:45 a.m. — I finally get to work. My 10 a.m. meeting was canceled so I I have time to walk to work instead of driving in. I like the walk and I really love not using the gas!
2 p.m. — Little things pop up throughout the day, so the morning goes by quickly. Just as I settle into some emails, I notice my old coworker has stopped by to visit.
4:30 p.m. — Oops! We caught up a little too long and I leave work later than I wanted, but it's a nice day and the walk feels good. My wife and I are currently training for a mini baby triathlon and it's technically a rest day so I'm pretty tired when I get home.
7:30 p.m. — This past Christmas, I got my best friend tickets to see the traveling Broadway version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We go to a bar and get some ciders and dinner beforehand. I buy my cider but since I got the tickets, my friend, Y., treats me to dinner. Yay! $7.40
10:30 p.m. — Get home from the play. It was cute and fun. My wife and I both got COVID about a month ago, so we're riding that sweet COVID immunity as long as we can! It's nice to go out to gatherings and not worry about what I may or may not bring home. I read in bed and am asleep by 12.
Daily Total: $7.40

Day Two

10 a.m. — I'm working from home today, and since I have no meetings, I let myself sleep in. My office recently decided to let staff use health and wellness hours as time off for mental health, so we can mentally recover from the past year. Working in education during the pandemic has been really rough, so I try not to guilt myself too much over setting boundaries and actually taking the time. My cat, P., comes over and lays on my chest as I get to work answering some emails.
12:30 p.m. — Break for lunch and to play with our cat. She had a sad and traumatic first year of her life (before we adopted her), so her trauma brain makes her a funny and weird cat in some ways. I give her extra love, then heat up some jop chai leftovers for lunch.
4 p.m. — I end work for the day. It was a slow day and I definitely dilly-dallied, but I got all of my tasks done and I'm caught up on email, so why do I feel bad about it?! I do the dishes in the sink, fold the laundry in our room, and round up all of the trash since tomorrow is trash day. My wife and I are trying out the Fair Play method for the division of labor in our home (I highly recommend the book by Eve Rodsky!), and doing this catches me up on household tasks for the day. While I'm folding laundry, Y. texts me to let me know that his Saturday night has freed up. We make plans to go to a mutual friend's burlesque show. Since he paid for dinner last night and because I'm the one who suggested it, I buy the tickets. Oof, they are not cheap! Y. is really generous and good at switching off, so I'm sure he will treat at the bar. $49.60
6:30 p.m. — C. comes home to make dinner, but we are feeling too lazy to make the enchiladas we planned. Instead, I fry up some black bean burgers and serve them on buns with avocado and mayo. We feel guilty about the lack of vegetables, so I roast up some garlic chickpeas and make a veggie Caesar salad. Delicious! C. has softball tonight, so as she leaves I promise her and myself that I will exercise while she's gone (to stick to our "triathlon" training schedule! Yes, those air quotes are intentional). I go over my Fair Play cards before going upstairs, to make sure I am being a good partner to my wife (who truthfully has shouldered the majority of household mental labor for years).
10 p.m. — I definitely have not exercised… I decided to take a shower and wash my hair tonight instead. Luckily I took the day off of work tomorrow, so I can have an extra-long bike session then (narrator: as you will see, she did not, in fact, do any of that). I settle in with my current YA book and a few episodes of Psych. C. comes home twenty minutes later and lights out by 11.
Daily Total: $49.60

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — I took the day off to do some household chores. Since I'm not working today, I head to the coffee shop to get breakfast for C. and me. At the coffee shop, I pick up one egg and sausage croissant and hazelnut latte with an extra shot for C., and a London fog with oat milk for me. I put the order on our shared credit card, which I will pay half of at the end of the month (for all shared expenses on here, I'm just putting my half). $8.50
12 p.m. — The exterminator comes to let us know if the brown bugs we're seeing are a problem. Good news: They're just common ground beetles and the exterminator very kindly tells us the spray to buy at Home Depot rather than the more expensive version he would use. He doesn't even charge us! C. drops me off at Home Depot before she goes to work. I panic because I haven't researched which brands are pet-safe and I end up buying some diatomaceous earth for the ants and an organic spray that I'm convinced will not actually do anything. After, I take the bus home. My work gives me a public transit pass and so does C.'s, which saved us a lot of money and allowed us to save for a house down payment. We lived for almost five years without a car, so public transit is still my jam! $11
2:30 p.m. — While eating lunch at home (protein smoothie and snacks), I check on the status of my genetic testing, but it's still processing. In a few months, C. and I will be starting the process of fertility treatment through IUI and we're waiting for my results before picking a sperm donor. This reminds me that I need to pick up some more ovulation tests. I settle on digital ones (expensive but easy to read) and I also decide to buy a very sophisticated ovulation kit that will tell me my whole month cycle. Before you see the below number, yes that is CRAZY expensive for ovulation tests, but I have PCOS and this kit is designed for people with irregular cycles. I've been saving money for this process for three years, so I pull it out of my "baby savings" fund, and remind myself this is what I saved hard for. $220.88
4:30 p.m. — C. gets home and we pack up our kitty for the vet. She is very unhappy and is sure to let us know it. We finally get to the vet and realize we mixed up the dates. We haul back home and the cat is so angry. Y. texts me. We were supposed to go to a play together tonight but I'm not in a great mood after the vet debacle and I spent a lot of money today already so I bow out and let him know I'll see him tomorrow.
6 p.m. — I make dinner while C. puts on Peaky Blinders. I make a Caesar salad and veggie burger for C. and a basil avocado pasta for me. My meal is… not good. I'm going to say it — there are some things avocados should not go on. Pasta is one of those things. I somehow manage to choke down half of it and throw the other half away. For dessert, we have cookie butter blondies.
11:00 p.m. — After wasting time on our phones (TikTok and phone arcade games), we go upstairs where I read from my book and C. meal plans in bed. I fall asleep around midnight.
Daily Total: $240.38

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — Sometimes our cat decides that we can't sleep in on the weekends anymore. Because I didn't get to sleep until late last night, I can definitely sense a nap in my future.
9 a.m. — C. heads off to do her household tasks (groceries and a stop at the post office) while I get started on cleaning. On Saturdays, I clean both bathrooms, our bedroom, our upstairs landing, and the stairs. I get through everything but the stairs. C. comes home and we unpack our groceries: cauliflower, broccoli, orange juice, pasta, iced coffee, oat milk, eggs, potatoes, avocados, lemon vinegar, celery, onion, and a bagged salad. $28.50
11:30 a.m. — Tomorrow is my dad's birthday but we're going up to see my parents today and go to a car show that my dad loves going to every year. We stop by Costco first to fill up the car. $20
12 p.m. — Get to my parent's house and we go out to a Greek café by their house, my parent's treat (despite my repeatedly telling them we're paying; it's his birthday!). I have the veggie gyro with fries, but I steal bites from my mom's dolmades. We head off to the car show. C. and my dad love looking at the cars. My mom and I love our spouses, so we politely nod and ooh and ahh at old cars. We leave about two hours later.
3:30 p.m. — We get home and promptly fall asleep.
5 p.m. — Wake up from my alarm because Y. and his boyfriend are coming over to play games and have dinner before we go out to the burlesque show tonight. As if sensing that we're in a hurry, the cat runs under our bed to vomit up her lunch. I quickly move the bed and clean up of the cat vomit. Y. and his boyfriend come over and we order takeout. C. and I pay for the meal since Y. and his boyfriend brought over dips, snacks, and drinks. $22.70
7 p.m. — We leave for the show without C. (burlesque is not really her thing), and pick up some friends on the way. After the show (our friend did so well!!), we all go out to a gay club for some drinks and dancing. I buy one cranberry vodka. $6
12:30 a.m. — In bed and lights out!
Daily Total: $77.20

Day Five

9:45 a.m. — Now that's what I'm talking about! My ideal sleep number is around nine hours, and I finally got it this week. Because I had a few drinks last night, I have a slight headache (thanks 30s!). I pop some ibuprofen and we make breakfast — avocado toast with sliced pickled beets and a fried egg on top. We usually only eat breakfast during the weekend, but it's one of our favorite weekend habits.
11 a.m. — We head to the pharmacy so C. can pick up a prescription. The meds are covered by insurance, but we also pick up Kleenex, Tums, and allergy meds. $5.50
2 p.m. — Once home, we sit at the dining room table to go over our household task delegation. We review our tasks from the week, praise each other for our successes, and talk through what next week holds in store. Then, I watch a lot of YouTube videos to figure out how to change our car tail light that's out (success!) and how to caulk our patio door (fail, I'll have to call my dad over to teach me how to do this better). While I'm doing this, C. sprays down our outdoor couch covers and sweeps the patio.
5 p.m. — We make dinner for tonight: the enchilada bake we've been putting off all week. It is absolutely delicious! After dinner, we head out for a run. After running, we settle in for a few episodes of Peaky Blinders and games on our phones.
10 p.m. — Before we go to sleep, I look over my finances and notice that our friend has not charged us for our shares of the phone plan. I Venmo her my amount (included in monthly expenses above) and text her to check in. Lights out by 11:30.
Daily Total: $5.50

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off. C. has the day off work, but she kindly agrees to drive me to work. I quickly dry shampoo my bangs to look somewhat presentable and pull my hair back in a ponytail. I put on dark charcoal slacks, a green blouse, and pink sneakers for a pop of fun. I start my day off early with a professional development session on strengths.
12 p.m. — I heat up the leftover enchilada bake (still delicious!) and do some quick work.
2:45 p.m. — Head to a coffee shop to meet C. and go to Costco. I'm ending work early, but plan to do some work at home. We pick up cashews, veggie bouillon, caesar salad, and a pre-made lasagna for C.'s coworker who recently had a baby. $24
6 p.m. — We change into our swimsuits and head to the pool at my school's gym. We swim for 30 minutes and I try to teach C. the freestyle stroke. She grew up in a hyper-religious cult (long story) where swimming wasn't allowed. We come home famished and make orecchiette with arugula pesto and steamed broccoli.
8 p.m. — Some more Peaky Blinders, then shower and wash hair. After drying and straightening it, I settle into bed with a new book. C. comes up around 10 to excitedly show me her plans for our belated honeymoon. One of her household cards is travel plans and I am SO excited I don't have to take the lead on it. I'm bad at it and C. loves planning out trips.
11 p.m. — Though lights are out at 11, I don't fall asleep until around 12:30.
Daily Total: $24

Day Seven

9 a.m. — Out of bed! I quickly make a London fog with oat milk and then catch the bus to work. On the bus, I open up my email to a pleasant surprise — my genetic testing results are here! I am not a carrier for anything, meaning we can pick any sperm donor we want! I log into my account to pay the rest of the balance after insurance, but my bill is not ready yet. I think about a conversation I had with my best friend where we discussed wanting kids but also wanting to keep the magic independent spark that we love in ourselves as vibrant women. While I'm excited that we are starting the process of hopefully growing our family, I really hope I get to keep a part of myself that's just for me.
12 p.m. — For lunch, I have more enchilada leftovers.
1:30 p.m. — I'm having trouble with workplace motivation today, so I make a to-do list and quickly check off my first two items.
2:30 p.m. — To-do lists are a magical thing! I have a hyper-productive hour where I check off almost everything I need to do today, which is good since the last two hours of my day will be meetings. Does everyone feel like most of your workday productivity happens within a couple of hours? Or is that just me?
5 p.m. — I end my day with meetings then take the bus home.
7 p.m. — When I get home, we pack up the Costco dinner and drop it off at C.'s coworker's house and see the new baby. On our way home, we stop at the grocery store to pick up sausage, red curry paste, coffee gelato, vegan chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, and vegan mint chocolate chip ice cream. $12

7:30 p.m. — We fry up sausage to add to the orecchiette and eat while watching Love, Victor. We take a quick break for a half-hour bike ride in the park (rough start to the week, but we're finishing it out strong!), and return to stretch and keep watching Love, Victor.

10:30 p.m. — Three episodes later… it's happening! We're doing it! We're officially purchasing three vials of sperm. OH MY GOD! I pull the money out of my savings to put into checking and then purchase the most expensive thing I've bought since our house. $4,095

11 p.m. — We get in bed and celebrate our huge life decision with some fun times in bed. Night routine and then lights out!

Daily Total: $4,107
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