A Week In Ohio On A $150,000 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 hospital pharmacist who makes $150,000 and spends some of her money this week on baby aspirin.
Occupation: Hospital Pharmacist
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 34
Location: Ohio
Salary: $150,000
Net Worth: $233,000 ($165,000 in various retirement accounts, $31,000 in savings, $37,000 in home equity minus debt.) My husband and I don't share any financial accounts. He typically pays for our internet, electric, and water bills as well essentials from Target (he's obsessed with the Target Circle app). He also chips in $1,100/month for my student loan payments since he's paid off his. I typically pay for groceries and most home repairs. I have one credit card that my husband also uses — we use it only for restaurants, travel, and DoorDash to earn points, and we pay off the card each month (usually under $200 unless we travel). He usually gives me some money back each month to reimburse what he's spent on the card.
Debt: $476,000 (I have $88,000 in student loans for undergrad and pharmacy school. They are over 60% paid off now! COVID has actually been very beneficial in paying down the principal on these while interest rates have been suspended. We also have $338,000 remaining on the mortgage for our house.)
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $3,800
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,300 for 50% of our monthly mortgage payment — my husband and I split it 50/50 and we intentionally overpay by $170 total each month.
Loans: $1,686.29 to two different lenders, my husband pays an additional $1,187.66 to help pay them down. Car was paid for in cash.
Netflix: $15.08
Hulu: $6.46
Amazon Prime (plus HBO & Britbox): $23.60 (both my sister and father mooch from me)
Spotify Premium: $0 (I mooch from my sister)
New York Times Digital Subscription: $4
Continuing Education/Professional Society Fees: $37.92
Wine Club: $37.99
401(k): $288
403(b): $288
Savings Account: $25 automatically transferred each month
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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?
I was expected to attend college, although all of the educational and financial decisions came down to me. Both of my parents received degrees but didn't have to deal with student loans and were not equipped to help me. I earned a B.S. and a B.A. in four years from a private university using a combination of federal and private student loans, as well as a few scholarships. For in-state tuition for my four-year Doctor of Pharmacy program, I was able to use federal student loans and scholarships alone.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My mother taught me how to balance a checkbook, which was the limit of the financial education I received from my parents. Typically, my mother managed the day-to-day finances, but she became very ill when I was in high school and passed away when I was in college. After re-organizing some of his estate planning a few years ago, we confirmed that my father is fine financially, but he is very wary of modern banking and investments, including anything involving online transactions.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
At 15, I processed credit card applications for the company that my mom worked for. My mom encouraged me to get the job as a productive use of my time and so that I could start my own checking account to save for non-tuition expenses at college.
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Did you worry about money growing up?
No. My parents did a good job of sheltering me from their financial realities. We moved several times both in and out of state before my 10th birthday due to mass layoffs throughout the 1990s in my father's field of work. Only in retrospect as an adult was I able to understand some of the financial challenges my parents must have faced.
Do you worry about money now?
Certainly. We live in an older home that requires maintenance and sometimes unexpected repairs. This year, we've had several uninvited guests — a bat who got lost and flew out from under the dishwasher, raccoons attempting to hibernate in the chimney, and squirrels prying open the gutter guards...all of which resulted in traps, bat excluders, and a planned cleaning/re-insulation of the attic costing in excess of $5,000! I also worry about whether my husband and I are saving enough for retirement (currently in the process of interviewing investment advisors and wealth management companies) and whether we are financially prepared to have a child should we chose to.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
22. I no longer lived in my father's house after beginning pharmacy school, so my debts, bills, and day-to-day living expenses were my own. I worked 20-40+ hours a week during pharmacy school. Currently, my husband and I try to keep several months of savings in reserve and live below our means as much as possible. My father sometimes offers to lend us cash interest-free in an emergency (major car or home repairs) but so far we've only taken him up on it once.
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Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
During pharmacy school, my father gave me $400/month to help with rent. My father and my now-husband helped with moving expenses during my two years of residency (I moved across the country twice in two years).

Day One

6 a.m. — I am at work and have been since 10 p.m. last night. As I jog down the stairs after delivering a medication to a patient's room, I start thinking about the grocery delivery for tonight. I add cinnamon raisin bagels for my husband to our Whole Foods doorstep delivery for tonight.
8 a.m. — I arrive home from work and check on my husband. He had a low-grade fever and chills yesterday, four days after his first COVID vaccination. Most people develop vaccine reactions within the first three days, so he immediately quarantined himself in our room with the cat. So far, I have no symptoms, but my first vaccine dose was three and a half weeks ago, therefore I presumably have more antibodies than him right now. I leave him a cup of coffee I made with our Bunn last night (still delightfully warm), a stroopwafel, and a can of cat food outside the bedroom door then head to the downstairs bathroom to shower.
9 a.m. — Husband has texted me a list of what he needs before I go to sleep: three cans of sparkling water, two cans of cat food, cat treats, a PB&J, and a piece of candy. He also has me put his coat, wallet, and work badge on the steps since he's going to get a COVID test later today. Fingers crossed that it's negative and his symptoms are a delayed vaccine reaction! He feels much better this morning and can still taste and smell so we are hopeful. I defrost some naan bread in the oven for his sandwich since that's what we're down to bread-wise, make the PB&J, stock him up with the requested supplies, and take out the trash from his quarantine room that he's put outside the door.
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9:30 a.m. — The smell of hot naan makes me hungry! I'd also like a bit of wine — last night was a little rough due to some staffing issues. Remember, this is essentially dinnertime for me! Red wine sounds nice, but I'm not feeling the malbec or mulled wine we have on hand…the only other thing is a Magnum of an anniversary blend from our wine club. After some waffling, I decide to open the giant bottle of wine and pour a small glass. I water my windowsill plant cuttings while the wine aerates for a few minutes. These poor plant babies have been ignored for a few weeks but at least five of six still look alive. After plant duty, I drink my wine and eat some chips and salsa. Finished with my snack, I blow dry my hair and go to bed in our guest room.
6:30 p.m. — Alarm goes off. I really didn't sleep well so I snooze for 15 minutes. By the time that rings, our groceries have been delivered. There's also a package of toothbrushes from Target on the porch (husband paid when he ordered them last week). I bring everything inside and text my husband a picture of the groceries laid out on the counter so he knows what we have. Everything we requested was available — yay! Cheese, yogurt, juice, applesauce, rye crackers, hummus, tortilla chips, olive oil, veggie burgers, bread, bagels, sandwich bags, and a LOT of bottled water come to $108.45 including tax and tip. Worth it for not having to go into a store, which we haven't done since March. $108.45
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6:30 p.m. — I throw some laundry into the washer, change the furnace filter (it was due for a change anyway but maybe will also help if my husband is COVID positive), and prepare husband's dinner. He gets the last portion of leftover cheesy Tex-Mex rice, a pear, and bottled water. We're now out of leftovers from the food I made before starting my stretch of seven nights on (I work seven on/seven off), but I'm not super hungry. Heading into night five of seven on an empty stomach isn't the best idea, so I heat up a mug of soup, open a can of sparkling water, and start customizing our produce order for next week. We were using a locally based grocery delivery company, but they kept delivering expired or spoiled products every week. Last week we used Misfits Market and were very happy with the results, so we plan to use that plus Whole Foods delivery until we're both fully vaccinated and feel comfortable shopping in person again.
8 p.m. — I put the laundry in the dryer and on drying racks, get ready for work, and watch about 10 minutes of an old Britcom (Waiting for God). After that, I pack my lunch for work: tap water with an immune support tab, two cans of sparkling water, a thermos of pumpkin cold brew to finish up the bottle in the fridge, PB&J, Cheddar Bunnies, applesauce, some chocolate, and the granola bar I packed yesterday but didn't eat. I also put away the dishes I washed last night. Husband says he only needs a plate for the cat's food, so I slide that under the door and tell him goodnight. Out the door by 9:15 for my 10 p.m. shift.
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Daily Total: $108.45

Day Two

8:20 a.m. — Arrive home from night five of seven of work. It wasn't the wildest but it definitely had its moments. Hopefully, I sleep better today! Go straight downstairs to shower since I responded to lots of emergencies in the hospital overnight (one of my main job responsibilities) and had multiple close encounters of the COVID kind. I consumed everything from my lunchbox except the cans of water, applesauce, and half of the chocolate bar.
9 a.m. — Husband has requested the following supplies for him and our cat today: two cans of cat food, a plate for the cat, bottled water, alcohol pads (for wiping off the oral thermometer after use), forks/spoons, a piece of candy, a PB&J, granola bars, coffee, the next book in the series he's reading, and some granola. I brew coffee and jazz up the granola with oat milk and fresh blackberries, then slip everything that won't spill into the shopping bag we've been using to pass stuff back and forth and set the coffee and granola outside the door. Good thing we stocked up on disposable dinnerware around the holidays so we don't have to pass dirty dishes back and forth! After feeding my husband, I blow dry my hair, video chat with my husband for a few minutes, and tuck into bed by 9:45.
6 p.m. — Wake up to bad news: my husband's COVID test came back positive. He is still feeling fine with just some sinus mild congestion and got 7,000 steps today pacing our bedroom. I spend the next hour and a half contacting Employee Health for my work, scheduling a COVID test for myself (and rescheduling a meeting as a result), and texting my managers and colleagues I'm working with tonight. As long as I remain asymptomatic, I can still report to work. I also try to reach my gynecologist's office to see if I can keep my appointment for my IUD replacement in the morning.
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7:45 p.m. — I get ready for work while my husband orders two Currito bowls via DoorDash for our dinner — $29.67 to my credit card. He also places a CVS DoorDash order for baby aspirin (prophylactic blood thinner for himself), a thermometer (for me), three medium bags of Cheetos ($0, originally $31.22 to my credit card but they make an error crediting an out-of-stock item then allow us to keep the refund). $29.67
8 p.m. — I run the dryer to fluff the laundry from yesterday then toss that and the air-dried laundry into a basket. Text some friends and my sister to update them on my husband's COVID status. One of the friends successfully avoided getting COVID when her husband had it a few months ago (neither were vaccinated at the time). The only thing they did differently than us was wear masks inside the house, even with being in different rooms with closed doors, so we implement that immediately.
8:15 p.m. — I divide my Currito bowl into two containers and put one in the fridge. Put two cans of sparkling water, a large bottled water, the aspirin, a bag of Cheetos, husband's Nintendo DS, his Currito bowl, and a folding chair (he's tired of sitting on the bed) outside our bedroom. Shove a few bites of Currito into my mouth and put the rest in my lunchbox, along with some Neopolitan Bunny Grahams and two granola bars. To drink, I fill a bottle of tap water with an electrolyte tab and a mug with some coffee from this morning. Out the door by 8:50 for my 9:30 shift. Force myself to eat half a granola bar in the car. I'm very angry and worried for my husband. Angry because we have been so careful (no grocery stores, no haircuts, no one in our "bubble") since last March, and now someone at my husband's work who chastised him for being "too anxious" about COVID… has given him COVID. Allow myself a few rage tears in my car in the hospital garage before walking into work.
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Daily Total: $29.67

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — Finished with my shift, I keep trying to contact my gynecologist's office. No answer so I start driving to their office and call my sister on the way (she also works night shift). I park at the doctor's office and finally reach them by phone. I explain the situation and promise to wear an N-95 covered with an additional mask. They allow me to keep the appointment (no copay). Video chat with my husband — he is still feeling okay but now has an occasional mild cough.
9 a.m. — Everything runs smoothly for my IUD replacement. Husband and I were thinking of not replacing the IUD this year, but with all the additional risks COVID poses in pregnancy, we have decided to wait until after the pandemic to possibly get pregnant. I text my colleagues and ask to work at the psych building tonight so I can be seated for most of the shift. I eat the second granola bar while driving home.
10:45 a.m. — Arrive home and shower as quickly as possible. Take two cans of cat food, a plate for the cat, the cat's scratching post, a bottle of water, the leftover lunchbox chocolate, and a PB&J to the husband's door. Blow-dry my hair and collapse into bed by 11:30.
5:30 p.m. — I had set my alarm for 7…so much for that. I answer texts and emails for 15 minutes and decide I'm not going back to sleep. Video call the husband to hear about his day. He still feels the same but was able to reach our PCP for some recommendations. Two boxes from The Container Store arrive with the rest of the kitchen drawer organizers that I ordered a few weeks ago — hopefully a project for my upcoming days off.
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7 p.m. — I bake some vegan "fish" fillets and make my husband a salad with arugula, pear, cheddar, and homemade red wine vinegar-dill EVOO-black pepper vinaigrette. Set aside two of the fillets and 1/3 of the pear for myself. Husband DoorDashed the multivitamin and vitamin D the PCP recommended from Walgreens ($16.14 to my credit card). I take up my husband's dinner, vitamins (including some vitamin C lozenges we already had), toilet paper, Kleenex, three cans of sparkling water, hand soap, body soap, alcohol pads, and a fresh mask. Take out husband's trash bag that he put outside the door and then eat my dinner while finishing the Britcom episode I started two days ago. $16.14
8:15 p.m. — I get ready for work and make some coffee. I pack coffee, tap water with an electrolyte tab, two cans of sparkling water, the Currito leftovers, hot Cheetos, espresso Skinny Dipped almonds, a granola bar, and some loose-leaf ginger green tea (there's a kettle where I'm working tonight). Video call husband for a few minutes and out the door by 9:15. At work, I help myself to a bowl of espresso gelato from the coworker who generously put a dozen pints of treats in the freezer.
Daily Total: $16.14

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — Home from work and very tired. I shower, scavenge for clean clothes from all the closets not in the quarantine room, then take up the following to my husband: bagel, PB&J, coffee, orange juice, bottled water, cream soda, and both wet and dry cat food. I eat some sliced cheese, pecan nut thins, and orange juice while my husband and I watch the inauguration; video calling and texting commentary throughout.
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12:40 p.m. — Truly need a nap. I was supposed to help my father today — we've been going there once every two weeks (with masks, distancing, and ventilation) to help clean out his basement in preparation for some critical home repairs. Husband agrees to call him and explain why we're not coming. My father had texted my sister and I during the inauguration asking about coffee makers. Turns out his is broken so my husband orders him a new one from the Target app (husband pays). I nap on the couch with the inauguration parade on low volume in the background.
3:45 p.m. — Finally mostly awake from my nap. Husband finds a tick on the bedroom floor — SUPER gross! Our cat doesn't go outside and I haven't been hiking in over a week. What the heck?? I slide a dose of the cat's flea and tick treatment under the door to him and leave clean bed linens outside the door so he can change the bed and make sure there's nothing weird in there. Get ready to head back to work to receive my second COVID vaccine dose. Eat the granola bar leftover from my lunchbox. Leave for work at 4:25 p.m. and take a bottled water and face shield in anticipation of staying at work if they need pharmacists to help vaccinate.
4:55 p.m. — Second COVID vaccine dose completed! Clinic is well-staffed today so I head back home. No charge for the vaccine.
6:30 p.m. — Make some soba peanut noodles with cabbage and tofu for dinner and leave some outside husband's door. He leaves me a laundry basket with the bed linens so I throw those in the wash. (Contrary to popular belief, COVID does NOT jump off of surfaces into your lungs…and I always wash my hands after touching dirty laundry, anyways.) I eat some of the noodles and have a ginger ale with a splash of gin. I watch Bling Empire on Netflix (much-needed mental junk food) while waiting to put the laundry in the dryer.
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9 p.m. — I'm very tired so I run the dishwasher and get ready for bed. Asleep by 9:30 on the couch (I'm trying to sleep there tonight since it's two stories away from husband instead of two rooms away). At 12:30 a.m. I wake up and realize I haven't taken my evening temperature (I'm supposed to take it twice daily since being exposed to husband). Still afebrile, so I try to go back to sleep but end up tossing and turning, worried about whether my husband will be okay. Days 8-10 are when people seem to get completely better or take a turn for the worse with COVID (even if they've previously been doing well) and we're just heading into day six. My arm is also much sorer with this vaccine dose than the first one.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

5:30 a.m. — Get up and get dressed to go…back to the hospital. Per my work's policy, I am to be COVID tested 5-7 days after my last exposure to husband. After that, I'll be teaching a colleague how to use a staffing software program. Leave husband three cans of sparkling water, a grapefruit, OJ, PB&J, two cans of cat food, and cat treats outside his door. I throw an immune support tablet into my bottled water from yesterday, put that and a granola bar in my purse, and leave for my COVID test by 6:20 a.m. There is no charge for the COVID test.
8 a.m. — Start training my colleague on how to use our scheduling software program (from a distance with separate computers). However, I'm starting to feel kind of "off." I step away to drink some water and eat a few bites of granola bar but nothing is helping. After about an hour, I decide to take my morning temperature and it's 101.5 F! I immediately clock out and leave. Hopefully, this is just a vaccine reaction!
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10 a.m. — I arrive home, shower, throw my wet hair in a bun and wrap it with a towel — too wiped out to blow dry. I'm having some low back pain as well, unsure if it's from the fever or sleeping on the couch but the hot water helps. I take two Tylenol, grab a bottled water, force myself to eat an applesauce packet, and bundle up into the guest bed with a heating pad. Turn on sleep music from Headspace since I've been having trouble falling asleep (full app access is free with my professional society membership).
6 p.m. — Husband calls to wake me up. I'm feeling better, so I go downstairs with intentions of addressing the growing pile of dishes. This turns out to be too ambitious; I'm still not feeling right. I take my husband some leftover peanut noodles and a bottle of water. Take my temperature and I still have a fever, although it's a little lower than before. Husband orders aspirin (in case I also have COVID), Tylenol (the supply I had in my purse is gone), and a six-pack of SmartWater since we only have five bottles left via DoorDash from CVS ($26.28 to my credit card). I make tea (green tea for my husband and turmeric with honey and lemon for me) and force myself to eat some saltines. When DoorDash arrives, I take two Tylenol and go back to bed. $26.28
Daily Total: $26.28

Day Six

5 a.m. — I wake up feeling more normal. Scroll through my phone, eat a granola bar, and take my temperature — no more fever! That makes me hopeful that the fever was a vaccine reaction. I turn the lights back off and rest for a little while longer.
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7:15 a.m. — I shower and start addressing the dishes. A friend calls while I'm washing dishes so I stop and chat with her for half an hour. During the call, I eat the remains of yesterday's granola bar from my purse. I make coffee and work on finishing the dishes.
10 a.m. — Husband slept in a bit but is now ready for food. I take him a bagel, PB&J, a chocolate orange, bottled water, cat food, coffee, and five more granola bars to refill his snack stash.
11:30 a.m. — I have some cheese, chips and salsa, a stroopwafel, coffee, and sparkling water for lunch. For the rest of the afternoon, I do continuous laundry and watch The Americans.
2:15 p.m. — Check my work email — my COVID test was negative!! Vaccines DO work!! I video call my husband and text some friends and family that are in the loop to update them. My friend from this morning calls back and we chat for a bit more. At 6:30, I wake up from half an hour nap and video chat with my husband to discuss dinner. We decide on frozen potato and cheddar perogies with sauteed onions and peppers to minimize dishes and also to use up some vegetables before more arrive by mail tomorrow. I also make tea: cherry coconut black for my husband and Harney & Sons Paris for myself. I take up his dinner, tea, and a bottle of water.
8:15 p.m. — Husband and I synchronize and watch several episodes of Good Eats: Reloaded and Father Brown (the one with Mark Williams aka Mr. Weasley) and text each other commentary throughout. I have a few pieces of a chocolate orange and sparkling water for dessert. We both go to bed around 12:30.
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Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

5:30 a.m. — I'm quite awake so I try a Headspace meditation exercise of counting backward slowly from 10,000. Make it to 9,800 and decide to go fold all the laundry from yesterday instead. I pour a glass of apple cider and turn on my favorite episode of Outlander instead (Claire and Jamie's wedding). The cider tastes VERY nasty (it's still in-date, WTH??) so I dump it and have some tap water, an applesauce packet, and a few saltines instead.
8:30 a.m. — Husband should be awake soon so I bake some Annie's cinnamon rolls and make coffee in an attempt to make this feel more like a "normal" weekend. I slice up a pear and serve half with my husband's cinnamon roll and half with mine. I bring him his food, coffee, water, and OJ. I take up the cat's daily two cans of food, too.
10:30 a.m. — It's below freezing, but I haven't gone outside in two days so I head out for a walk, eventually winding up at a park with a scenic overlook. Along the way, I debate whether to call a friend but opt for music instead: Philip Glass and Takénobu. I think of how my husband should be going for his long run today and hope he doesn't have long-term heart or lung damage from COVID (yes, that can happen even to young, previously healthy people). There are still rose petals scattered in one of the park pavilions from someone else's celebration. I hold back tears, trying not to feel bitter and broken. During the 4.25 mile trek, I only see two other people wearing masks.
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12 p.m. — Arrive home immediately prior to our Misfits Market delivery. We get zucchini, yellow squash, onions, grapefruit, apples, turnips, parsnips, oranges, spaghetti squash, cauliflower, blackberries, sunchokes, Meyer lemons, popcorn, two canned tea lattes, two canned coffees, peanut bites, two boxes of granola bars, maple roasted cashews, Skinny Dipped almonds, quinoa, and two chocolate bars. I put the groceries away and make tea (green for husband and turmeric for me), then take the tea along with leftover noodles, two cans of sparkling water, and a fresh mask to my husband. $64.45
12:45 p.m. — I eat the leftover perogies from last night but am still hungry so I scavenge the pantry and end up with the rest of the hot Cheetos from day three, a packet of seaweed snacks, a stroopwafel, and sparkling water. Being physically separated from my husband for so long is really wearing on me today. I spend the rest of the afternoon watching House Hunters International and Bling Empire instead of being productive.
6:30 p.m. — Wake up from a 90-minute nap and video chat my husband to discuss dinner. We decide to order Panera delivery. We get a blueberry-peach-almond milk smoothie and a half chicken-less Fuji apple salad for me and the broccoli mac and Mediterranean veggie sandwich for my husband ($27.35 w/tip). I make more tea. $27.35
8 p.m. — Some friends have organized a Zoom game night. After the obligatory showcase of everyone's pets, we play several rounds of Jackbox games. It's so good to hear my husband laugh, even through a mask! I have bottled water and a glass of red wine. Husband and I stay up talking with a friend until 1 a.m. Hopefully this mental health boost will make what is hopefully the last few days of my husband's quarantine go well.
Daily Total: $91.80
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