A Week In Bozeman, MT, On A Joint $3,482 Per Month

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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: a housekeeper and stay-at-home mom who makes $880 per month ($3,482 when combined with her husband) and spends some of her money this week on pizza.
Occupation: Housekeeper & Stay-at-Home Mom
Industry: Housekeeping
Age: 26
Location: Bozeman, MT
Income: $3,482/month on our joint income. My husband gets $2,602 per month for his military stipend, and I make $880 in cash per month.
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $884.50 for our two-bedroom apartment
Student Loans: $0 (We are proudly debt-free!)
Internet: $70.99
Electricity: About $45
Phone Bill: $90
Car Insurance: $100 for our car. We actually pay bi-yearly, but this is what it would be if it was monthly. We also own a truck, but my mother-in-law has a deal with my husband that she will pay his insurance as long as he's in school.
Spotify & Netflix: $0 because we are freeloaders.
Insurance: $0 (My husband has health insurance for free through school, and my son and I have free insurance through the state because we don't make much money.)
Daycare: $600 (This varies depending on how long my work days are, because I pay by the hour.)
Gym Membership: $35
Savings: About $100

Day One

8 a.m. — I wake up late, so I don't get my usual alone time to plan for the day before my two-year-old, G., wakes up. I drink two cups of super strong coffee from the French press that I have to dilute with water and cream. My husband, E., makes a carafe of what is essentially espresso. I try to get G. to play independently so I can just drink my coffee and play Design Home (an addictive interior-design game on my phone). I eventually start getting dressed for the day — my parents are coming to visit! I put on Lady Gaga on Spotify (which my brother-in-law pays for), and G. and I have a dance party in our undies and shake off the grumpies. One simply cannot be perturbed when listening to Lady Gaga. I do some light cleaning and organizing before my parents come, as well as tend to G.'s breakfast needs.
11:15 a.m. — We all go out to eat at a local Mexican restaurant. I have water, chips and salsa, and a carne asada burrito. G. actually does really well at the restaurant, though during the last ten minutes, he just sits on the floor by our table. My dad pays for lunch.
12:40 p.m. — Target run! My parents need to pick up a few things since there isn't a Target in their town. I buy some closet-organization pieces for my client whom I clean for. This is the second time I've done this, and it's intimidating because she's an interior designer, so I always spend a lot of time trying to pick things out and compare. I will be reimbursed the $76.65. I also buy a cake pop from Starbucks to keep G. happy while we shop. $1.95
1:30 p.m. — We all go to the mall for a little shopping this afternoon. G. runs out of Macy's and we can't find him. While I reprimand him, an old friend from work comes up and interrupts. She works at the mall, so she leads us over to give G. a free balloon. I'm pretty sure that just reinforced the bad behavior of running away. Afterward, we go to the food court, I change G.'s diaper, and we get some ice cream. I pay for my mom's as well. We then let G. play in the arcade for a bit to get rid of some energy. $4
3:30 p.m. — After my parents leave, I call the landlord on my downstairs neighbors who are smoking pot. I've been noticing it in the hall and haven't been bothered by it, but today it's so bad that it's wafting into our apartment. Mama bear is NOT happy. I sit in a quiet part of the apartment and scroll through social media.
5 p.m. — I work on my planner to get some things ready for the week ahead. I deposit $120 from work last week — and then 5% (or $6) into an account for G., 5% into our emergency savings account, and 5% into an account we use for giving. Anytime we make a donation or buy things to help people, it comes out of that account.
5:30 p.m. — Listen to my audiobook while starting dinner and cleaning up the kitchen. I use the Libby app to borrow books from my library. Tonight I listen to Girl, Wash Your Face, but I return it because it feels like just some rich woman with rich-people problems telling me super generic advice.
6 p.m. — Smoke alarms go off because of my cooking, and I'm super embarrassed and wondering what the downstairs neighbors are thinking of me. I wonder if they know it was me who called? Then I clear everything off the kitchen table except for our pretty flowers. I'm trying a new thing where I keep the kitchen table clean and cleared so that at least I can have one bastion of clean and comfort when the rest of the house is a mess. I eat dinner by myself because E. is out late studying tonight for his first set of board exams for medical school. I have a steak with special steak butter he made and some sweet potatoes, in the hopes that G. might try some new foods. He does not. E. returns home around 7 and we chat about our days while I make some bacon for G.
8 p.m. — Start a bath for G. I actually encourage him to play loudly just to piss off the weed-smoking neighbors downstairs. Then I read some Emily Dickinson poems from a collection of her work I keep in the bathroom for reading. When he's done, we start our nightly routine, which includes getting him into his pajamas, brushing his teeth, and reading for at least half an hour.
11:20 p.m. — Stay up late to finish Beartown by Fredrik Backman.
Daily Total: $5.95

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — Start the day off with my usual cup of coffee with cream. G. and my husband run around the apartment roughhousing and playing loudly, and I make no effort to quiet them for the sake of our downstairs neighbors. Yes, I know I'm petty.
9:30 a.m. — Go to church with the boys. They offer free coffee there, so of course I take some. After church I feel like I should apologize to the downstairs neighbors for immediately calling the landlord instead of just going down there and talking to them myself. It was a really good, thought-provoking service. E. and I talk about it on our way to the grocery store.
11:30 a.m. — G. and I stay in the car while E. buys some meat on sale for $135, or $2.15/lb. for 60 pounds. Sixty pounds of meat, you ask? Yes, because E. is on the carnivore diet, where he eats nothing except for meat, eggs, and a bit of cheese. It is exactly as weird as it sounds, but he's always been into experimenting with weird food diets. He is the ultimate hipster in terms of health; he did the Bulletproof coffee thing years before people opened their minds to putting butter in coffee, and he has been doing ketogenic experimentation since before our favorite celebrities endorsed it. Now I pretty much do the carnivore diet, too, because E. is the one who cooks almost every single night, and I hate cooking, so I just take what I can get. $135
12:10 p.m. — Eat some leftover steak for lunch with steak butter.
1 p.m. — Go to Starbucks to get some alone time, like I do every Sunday. I use my gift card and pay the remainder — $4.50 plus 50 cents in the tip jar. I'm trying to limit myself to spending only $20 a month on coffee (including treats for G. when he comes), but I just blew through a $15 gift card and now $5. They forget about my cup of decaf and I have to wait in a long-ass line again. New Year's resolution #6: Be forgotten less often in restaurants. Resolution #7: Don't feel on the verge of tears when I'm forgotten. I drink my nasty decaf with cream and eat a brownie, which I definitely don't need. I'm distracted by the people next to me having an intense conversation about MasterChef. I decide to just come back home early because I'm starting to get a headache. $5
7:20 p.m. — E.'s friend from school and his wife come over, and we enjoy a delicious meal of carne asada, rice and beans, and salad. We all have a good time and laugh as little G. shows off some moves and chatters about anything and everything. He takes a cherry tomato and drives it around the living room like a toy car. We don't get our bedtime routine started until about 10.
Daily Total: $140

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — Drag my lazy butt out of bed and put on a Sephora resurfacing mask that I got from a white elephant party. It feels sooo good! I pour half a cup of coffee with half a cup of water in it, and I drown it in some cream. Then I clean up the dining room from last night and enjoy screen time with my cup of coffee. I pay my neighbor $30 for watching G. last week and for watching him later today while I'm at work. $30
9:30 a.m. — I drop G. off at my friend's house before I go to work. Once there, I listen to my new audiobook on loan, The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. I enjoy listening to audiobooks while I do housekeeping. I feel like I'm twice as productive because not only am I creating a sparkling-clean home, but I'm also making progress on a new book. I make $50. I pick up G. and we have some leftovers for lunch.
1:45 p.m. — I get all of G.'s library books rounded up from around the apartment so we can go to the library to meet one of my friends and her kids. I am really dragging from last night's interrupted, short sleep. I make coffee to take with me. Normally, I would just buy a cup there at the library coffee shop, but I am trying really hard to save money. There's a trail that runs right by our apartment complex, so I bundle G. up in the stroller and we walk to and from the library in the crisp winter air.
7:15 p.m. — Eat dinner by myself because E. is at his Brazilian jujitsu class tonight. I have steak with steak butter and some green beans. After reading G.'s new library books to him, I go to bed listening to my audiobook. I'm not very far into the book, but I love it so much already. I turn it off at 9:30 and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $30

Day Four

7:20 a.m. — Wake up and enjoy my usual cup of coffee with cream before G. gets up. We listen to some Spotify music while getting ready for the day. I am forever grateful to my brother-in-law for this subscription, because it's amazing.
9:30 a.m. — I take G. to work with me so I don't have to pay for childcare today. He just hangs out downstairs, watches Paw Patrol, and eats some of their snacks from the pantry. I brought snacks, but of course he doesn't want those, so I give him a handful of Goldfish, Lucky Charms, and some Saltines with the hope that they won't notice any missing. I sneak a couple of his treats, too. I work upstairs organizing the linen closet and the master bedroom closet while suffering trauma firsthand via my audiobook. When we get back home around 3, we are both exhausted, so we take a nap together.
6:20 p.m. — Start a load of laundry. We have a coin-operated laundry room behind our building. $2.25
6:30 p.m. — Pay the internet bill for $70.99. This is such a rip-off, because we can't “bundle” for a lower price. We don't even own a TV. We watch Netflix that my mother-in-law pays for on our laptops, but only every once in a while.
7 p.m. — E. and I have a giant steak for dinner with steak butter. I give G. a bath and do his bedtime routine. We're all in bed by 9:30.
Daily Total: $2.25

Day Five

7:05 a.m. — Wake up refreshed, but as soon as I get up and walk into the bathroom, I feel very dizzy and off-balance. I have some herbal tea to help with the pounding headache and dehydration. Then I barf and go back to bed for two hours. E. watches G. and his little friend who came over to be babysat. My friend's babysitter fell through for the day, so I agreed to watch her son.
10:20 a.m. — Have a cup of coffee and just kind of sit there. Eventually, I'm able to start working to get caught up on my journal and planner. I'm interrupted multiple times by G., who has now decided that since I got up, he no longer wants to play with his friend. I take the boys outside for a sort of recess. It feels so good to get fresh air, and I almost immediately feel better. They climb some snow piles and try to ride a little tricycle around the parking lot. When we come back inside, I set them down in front of the iPad so I can listen to my audiobook and get caught up on some stuff. This audiobook is interfering with my life right now. I love when a book can do that.
12:45 p.m. — My friend comes to pick up her son and brings me a mocha as a form of repayment for babysitting. For lunch, I have a bit of the cheesy broccoli rice casserole I made earlier for the boys, which G. refused to try and G.'s friend didn't stay over for. After lunch, I finish my audiobook! The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah — go read it.
2:30 p.m. — Drive across town to take G. to the Fun Zone ($6). It's a place in a warehouse-type building filled with bounce houses, a foam pit, and other things for kids to climb on. I was hoping he would take a nap today (even though he almost never does), so I thought it would be good to take him here to get his energy out so I can put him down early tonight. He needs a snack break, so I buy a granola bar for each of us, which costs me $2. It physically hurts that the amount of time it took for me to pull the cash out of my wallet equals the amount of time it takes to eat those tiny-ass granola bars. I reflect on the times I would go with my mom to barrel races and rodeos and how much money she must have spent on me at expensive concession stands. $8
5 p.m. — Get home and let G. watch TV on his tablet while I try on some old clothes I had stowed away under the bed. I'm currently trying to get rid of 100 things this month, so I want to go through some old clothes and decide if they “spark joy” or not. Of course, while doing this, I rock out to some music in front of my mirror and act ridiculous. Is there any other way when going through old clothes? Then I take a shower because I worked up quite a sweat dancing around my bedroom.
6 p.m. — I eat dinner by myself again. Usually, I only eat by myself once a week, but E. has been gone more than usual this week. I have some of the broccoli casserole, and of course a steak with steak butter. E. comes home after I'm done eating, and we talk about our days and about my migraine and the fact that I barfed this morning. I've been on an IUD for more than two years now, but we both manage to convince ourselves that I might actually be pregnant. E. buys a pregnancy test. I try to read and get some sleep, but I'm very restless. Nervous and excited at the thought of maybe being pregnant. $5
Daily Total: $13

Day Six

8 a.m. — Wake up pretty late considering it's a work day for me. I pee on a stick first thing, then make my usual coffee with cream and double-check the negative test result. I'm surprised by how disappointed I am about it.
10 a.m. — After dropping G. off at daycare, I stop for a coffee and use a gift card for my $3.50 Montana Morning latte. I add a $1 cash tip. I hate my weak-willed self. Work is nice, though, because I talk to my friend on the phone for about an hour, and it's very refreshing. $1
4:15 p.m. — Pick up G. from daycare. We go straight home, where I meet my mom, who is spending the night with us so she can go to a real estate continuing-ed class in the morning. It's nice to hang out after starting off the day on a not-so-great note.
5:30 p.m. — Since E. is going to have another late day, Mom and I take the boy out for dinner at Old Chicago. I have a gluten-free pizza, G. has a kids’ meal, and we have a scoop of ice cream for dessert. Our waiter asks us if we've ever been to an Old Chicago before. Maybe he thinks we're too fancy and upscale-looking to have been to one. Or, more likely, he thinks we look like little uncultured country mice who only get out to the “big city” a couple times a year. Who, exactly, are the types of people who have never been to an Old Chicago? Mom doesn't pay for dinner like I was secretly expecting, so we each pay $25 even, including tip. We don't have sales tax in Montana, so that's why so many of my purchases are almost exact change. $25
7:30 p.m. — I enjoy a nice mug of Tazo mint tea while hanging out with my family. I crawl into bed around 9 and read a few chapters of Michelle Obama's book before turning out the light.
Daily Total: $26

Day Seven

8 a.m. — Get up, even though I was woken up earlier at 6:30 by our upstairs neighbors creaking all over our ceiling. If only there were a way that the weed smokers could move above us so the smoke won't waft into our apartment, and the cement-slippered neighbors upstairs could move below us so only the ground could hear their stomping. I grumpily drink my two cups of coffee.
9:45 a.m. — Take Mom and the boy shopping before she has to leave for her class. We go to TJ Maxx and Bed Bath & Beyond. I see so much stuff I want to buy, but I don't get anything, and I am proud of myself.
10:30 a.m. — We stop at the City Brew drive-through. I treat. It costs $13 and something, but I hand over $15 and let them keep the tip. I get another Montana Morning latte. $15
12:15 p.m. — I work some knots out of my back with a lacrosse ball by lying down with the ball between my back and the floor. I eat all the slices of leftover pizza. I hope I don't regret this later.
1:30 p.m. — G. and I stay in the apartment all afternoon, playing together, watching shows, and sewing.
6:10 p.m. — I enjoy a small cup of the “cowgirl chai” my mom and I made to give as Christmas gifts. About half an hour later, I have steak with steak butter for dinner. I start our bedtime routine early so I can get into bed, read, and turn out the lights at 9:45.
Daily Total: $15

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