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A Week In Winston-Salem, NC, On A $202,000 Joint Income

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 payroll and benefits director who has a joint income of $202,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Hi-Wire's Hi-Pitch IPA.
Occupation: Payroll & Benefits Director
Industry: Tech
Age: 33
Location: Winston-Salem, NC
My Salary: $140,000
My Husband's Salary: $62,000
Net Worth: ~$225,000 combined (joint checking and savings: $48,000, my 401(k): $20k, husband's 401(k): $9k. We have substantial equity in our home after downsizing earlier this year: $113,000. The remainder is miscellaneous, i.e. jewelry collection, etc. All of our money is shared. My paycheck is split between bills and savings and my husband's paycheck is spending money during the week.)
Debt: $418,377.18 (remainder of our mortgage, two car loans)
My Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $3,889
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses:
Mortgage: $1,627.03
Car Loans: $1,154.13
Utilities: $351.77
Auto Insurance: $129.09
Life Insurance: $132.97
Internet: $55
Cell Phone: $226.78 (we pay for my niece and nephew's phones as well)
YouTube/Amazon Prime/Netflix/Peacock/Hulu/Disney+/ESPN: $77.94
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?
There was an expectation that I attend higher education even though neither of my parents did. I graduated with a BA in Psychology from a state college. Looking back, I should've gotten a degree in something more practical. My tuition was fully paid for by my mom's work. I am so grateful I don't have student loans.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents never talked about money, but my grandma, whom I was very close to and lived with while growing up, would always voice her worries about money. She had money, but grew up without it and didn't want to go without it again. I turned out to be the same as her. I spend a lot of time with money anxiety even though we make enough to support ourselves very comfortably.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was at a local diner when I was 16. My grandparents were friends with the owners and they gave me a job. I enjoyed having the extra spending money on top of the weekly allowance my grandparents provided me.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes, but my worry was unwarranted. We were very comfortable, especially during the years I was in high school. I didn't need to worry about money but I learned the habit from my grandma.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes. My husband and I were both laid off/furloughed during COVID-19. We had plenty in our savings account to get by, but it was very scary. I don't ever want to be in that situation again.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible at 25. My grandparents cut me off at that age and told me it was time for me to pay my own way. I no longer have a financial safety net. My husband and I are probably considered the financial safety net for the majority of our families, so it's a lot of pressure.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
When my great-grandparents passed away, they gifted me $10,000. I also inherited some very fine jewelry from my grandma when she passed as well.

Day One

8:15 a.m. — My husband, K., and I wake up to our three-month-old baby, F., crying. K.'s off work today because he starts a new job next week and is taking a few days off in between, so he gets F. up and changes his diaper, then passes him to me so I can simultaneously pump one side and breastfeed on the other.
9:30 a.m. — K. lets our dogs out and feeds them, makes coffee, and heads out on his daily run. F. dozes a bit and I cuddle in bed with him drinking coffee and reading my book. I'm on maternity leave and have a goal of reading 30 books by the end of the year. I only have a few left go!
10:30 a.m. — K. gets back from his run and waters the yard since he seeded it yesterday. I make a bottle, change F., then feed him. These days we are learning how to balance our household, careers, and social life while having a baby. It's a challenge, but K. and I make a good team. We have breakfast, I do my skin-care routine, and then I head out to the grocery store.

12:45 p.m. — K. helps me put away the groceries. We usually do three meals with a meal delivery kit and then I prepare other meals and/or we order out. Our box was delivered incorrectly this week so we never received it and I bought more groceries than normal. As a result, Blue Apron credited our next box so we'll get all of those meals for free next week. $177.77

1 p.m. — We spend a little time straightening up the house. Between three dogs, a baby, and two adults, it's constant maintenance and this is the smallest house we've owned. We purposely bought this smaller house as an investment property and plan to purchase another home in a couple of years in the mountains.

1:45 p.m. — I quickly put together a mini charcuterie board for lunch that consists of salami and muenster on rosemary crackers, bread and butter pickles, apples with brie, and yogurt. It's my go-to meal these days since I'm usually in a hurry. I pump while I eat and browse TikTok.

3 p.m. — I strap F. to me, put a Lord Huron record on, and wash some bottles. I realize that I'm almost out of baby bottle detergent. I plan to order more from Amazon but ask K. if he needs anything and end up adding Sweet Sweat to the cart. $43.81

5 p.m. — I switch to a Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band record. They're from Asheville, NC, and are a super fun funk band. I feed the dogs and F. is ready for a bottle. K. comes inside to feed him so I can pump and start making chicken and dumplings for dinner. My in-laws come over to see F. and eat with us. We take a walk around our neighborhood and stop at the local bottle shop to see what new beers they have this weekend, then come back and have dinner together. We buy an IPA from Burial for K. and Good Gourd by Cigar City for me. $31.01

7:45 p.m. — We wind down from the day by sitting out on the front porch and listening to one of our custom YouTube Red stations.

9:15 p.m. — I change F. and get him ready for bed, then breastfeed/pump and put him down for the night. Next, it's me time and I shower and do my nighttime skin-care routine. K. and I eat popcorn and M&Ms and watch the most recent season of Southern Charm.

Daily Total: $252.59

Day Two

7 a.m. — I heard F. squirming more than usual and have been up several times to give him his pacifier since 5 a.m., but he's officially ready to eat now so K. changes him. I pump/breastfeed. He sleeps in a bassinet in our room for now. We'll probably keep him here for the first year. He's essentially slept through the night since he was born and we are so grateful for that! I drink coffee, read, breastfeed F. again, get him dressed, then do my skin care, throw on a bit of makeup, and get dressed.
9:30 a.m. — My friend, S., comes over and we head to the local farmer's market with F. I buy a carton of chai from my favorite tea pop-up. $23.54
10:30 a.m. — K. hangs back to continue working on the garage and ends up buying a few more necessities from Home Depot for his project. $306.06
11 a.m. — S., F., and I head to a local spot for brunch. It's super busy but we get there right as they open and snag a table outside. This is my first time taking F. out without K., and S. is super supportive. I have another cup of coffee and a delicious southern benedict with candied bacon, spicy collards, and sausage gravy on a brioche bun with a side of cheese grits. I also get a fried chicken sandwich to-go to take back to K. $43.85
2 p.m. — My sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and niece come over to see F. They bring him a cute little outfit and matching blanket. Our boy is so very loved!
3:45 p.m. — I heat up a leftover bowl of chicken and dumplings and a bottle of milk for F. We both eat, then I pump.
5:15 p.m. — F. is asleep, so I get some precious me time! I crack open one of the beers we bought yesterday. I rate it on Untappd — I'm a major type-A list lover and craft beer fanatic, so I enjoy keeping track of beers I've tried over the years.
7:15 p.m. — I make a white pizza for dinner tonight with store-bought crust, garlic, ricotta, fresh mozzarella, and pecorino romano. K. and I watch Southern Charm while we eat.
9:30 p.m. — F. is in bed asleep! I use my Dr. Dennis Gross facial steamer then apply a honey sheet mask I got from Amazon and pump while reading.
Daily Total: $373.45

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — K. and I wake up to F. giggling and kicking his feet in the bassinet. He's super happy and so sweet this morning. K. changes him, I pump/breastfeed, doze a little, then drink some of the tea I bought yesterday and get ready for the day.
12:30 p.m. — We head to a local brewery to meet S. and her husband. K. and I collect steins and want to snag one from here. We've already collected three others this season. We drink a few beers, play cornhole, and eat a charcuterie board. $94.53
5 p.m. — K. is tired of chicken and dumplings so we pick up Taco Bell. I eat two bites of my Crunchwrap and toss it. It tastes like cardboard. I'm not terribly hungry, so I eat popcorn and M&Ms as a snack. $17.31
8:45 p.m. — We bathe F. and get ready for bed. We're wiped! I browse social media after my shower and remember the full moon tonight so I write a list of things to let go of and a separate list of manifestations. Then I pour two cups of water, set each list in moonlight, and place a glass of water on top of each. Once I've charged my moon water overnight, I'll complete my ritual.
Daily Total: $111.84

Day Four

7:45 a.m. — I wake up to happy sounds from F. again. I change him and breastfeed/pump. Today is K.'s first day at his new job so he's running around getting ready. I throw in a load of laundry, feed the dogs, vacuum a bit, pour a cup of tea latte, then get back in bed to cuddle with F. and finish my book.
10 a.m. — I breastfeed, go down and do another load of laundry, then make myself breakfast. I cook scrambled eggs with cheddar and green onions, cut up some apples with brie, and heat up a whole wheat cinnamon waffle. My smaller dog is always super excited when I make breakfast because he gets some of my eggs. He's always following me everywhere and I enjoy having time to spoil him. He's an old fella and I've had him since before meeting my husband and adding two more dogs and a baby to the mix.
10:25 a.m. — I come back upstairs with my breakfast, begin pumping, and give F. a small bottle while I eat and watch the latest episode of The Great British Baking Show. I get 18 weeks of fully paid maternity leave at my job, and I'm trying to savor every single moment. I go back to work in a little over a month and am not looking forward to it.
11 a.m. — K. calls saying his friend wants to grab lunch and plans to bring home his packed lunch to take tomorrow. $10.33
12:45 p.m. — F.'s awake! I change and dress him. Then I finish my moon water ritual by tossing the water on the let go list and drinking the water from the manifestation list with purpose. I feed F. and do more laundry.
1:45 p.m. — I put F. in the kitchen in his Mama Roo swing while I bake a loaf of cinnamon pumpkin bread. I barely finish the batter before he wants out of the swing. I quickly throw the batter into the oven, fix a small bottle, and grab F. I pump and feed him while I wait on the bread. Then I warm up my last bowl of chicken and dumplings for lunch.
3:45 p.m. — K. is home! Always the best part of our day. I eat a quick snack of yogurt and a slice of pumpkin bread. We head to the library to pick a new book and pick up dog food on the way home. $75.75
5 p.m. — I cook steak and lemon feta spinach for dinner. Then K. goes to the garage to clean up while I pump and watch the new Downton Abbey movie.
7:15 p.m. — K. finishes everything outdoors so we bundle up F. and head out for our evening stroll around the neighborhood.
8 p.m. — We're back from our walk. I clean up the kitchen from dinner while K. takes the dog out. Then it's bedtime for all of us.
Daily Total: $86.08

Day Five

8:15 a.m. — F. is awake! I change him, breastfeed, and pump.
9:45 a.m. — F. is napping so I let the dogs out. It's a challenge these days because we have to go outside and watch them since K. recently seeded the yard. I throw in a load of laundry and make my breakfast: scrambled eggs with cheddar and green onions, apple with brie, pumpkin bread with butter, and a tea latte.
10:15 a.m. — I finish cooking as soon as I see F. wake up on the monitor. Great timing! I go upstairs and pump/breastfeed, then eat my food while watching the most recent episode of RHOBH.
12:15 p.m. — I feed F. a bottle, do more laundry, put up clothes, clean up the kitchen from breakfast, make the bed, and vacuum. Today I'm feeling really overwhelmed with all the constant housework while trying to take care of F. I start pumping, which is my first opportunity to do both breasts at the same time today and F. immediately starts screaming. I'm pretty sure he's tired but I give him another bottle just in case. I eat a yogurt as soon as he's done then work on laundry again.

2:30 p.m. — I change F. and head out to the porch to rock him and start my new book. I notice my Blue Apron box was successfully delivered this week, so I unload the box and put everything away before getting settled on the porch.

3:15 p.m. — K. is home! We chat on the porch for a bit. Then he pours me a glass of pinot grigio and brings it to me before heading out on his run. I change F. and give him another bottle, then read some more. Once K. is back, I start dinner. We have pork chops with lemon mushroom sauce and pasta with butter and pecorino romano. We watch Southern Charm while we eat then I clean the kitchen afterward while K. changes and feeds F.

6:30 p.m. — I take F. upstairs and do some planks while I'm waiting. Last week, my doctor told me I needed to strengthen my core because I have a hernia. I can't do crunches because they could make the hernia worse, so she recommended planks instead.

7:30 p.m. — We head out on our evening walk. Before having F., I ran up until month four or five of pregnancy. After that point, I was so short of breath I could only do a brisk walk. I plan to work my way back up to running in the next couple of months but want to give my body plenty of TLC so it can heal first.

8:15 p.m. — We're back from our walk and I straighten up the kitchen from dinner and wash bottles. K. takes out the recycling and trash and puts laundry up while I get F. ready for bed. Time for Southern Charm and pumping.

Daily Total: $0

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — F. is awake! I change him, pump/breastfeed, and K. brings me coffee before heading out the door. F. and I cuddle and giggle together for a while. He is the cutest! He falls asleep and I read.
9 a.m. — F. is awake! I change him, breastfeed, let the dogs out, start another load of laundry, and eat a quick breakfast of yogurt and pumpkin bread.
10:45 a.m. — I give F. a bottle and pump, then get him dressed and we're out the door. I'm going to pick up a library book and see my mom and grandpa.
12:45 p.m. — We stop for a bite of lunch at a local spot. I have a blackened salmon salad. My mom picked up the bill and my grandpa left the tip. They always fight to see who can pay first so I don't even attempt to grab the bill with those two!
3 p.m. — I get home and pump. K. arrives shortly thereafter. We chat about our days and F. falls asleep in his arms. I start making another loaf of cinnamon pumpkin bread, but I double the recipe this time and add chocolate chips. F. wakes up so I make a bottle and feed him and we listen to YouTube Red.
5:30 p.m. — I make dinner from our Blue Apron box. We have ginger pork meatballs with bok choy and white rice. It's delicious! We hadn't tried a box from them before but we've used several other similar boxes. We watch the Southern Charm reunion. Over the past month and a half, we've binged all eight seasons of the series.
6:30 p.m. — I pack K.'s lunch for tomorrow and set the coffeemaker for the morning. Then K. cleans the kitchen and does laundry as I pump and give F. a bottle. K. runs to the store quickly to grab his go-to nighttime snack of chips and queso. He also grabs a four-pack of Hi-Wire's Hi-Pitch IPA. $27.76
8:30 p.m. — F.'s bath time! He's super tired so I breastfeed him a bit first. I do my planks and K. gets him ready for bed as I shower. I breastfeed again, snack on a piece of chocolate pumpkin bread (it's better with the chocolate chips), and we finish Southern Charm.
Daily Total: $27.76

Day Seven

6:30 a.m. — K. accidentally wakes up F. as he's getting ready for work. F. fusses a bit before I get him because I've woken up very tired with a migraine forming. I felt it coming on last night and took my meds, but they apparently didn't help. I'm super frustrated because I just got over a week-long migraine. Due to breastfeeding, I can't take my normal preventative migraine medication nor can I take all of the meds I need to combat a migraine once it's started.
7:30 a.m. — I run downstairs to pour my coffee, get F. up, change him, and pump/breastfeed. Then my mother-in-law arrives to watch F. so I can run errands and do some much-needed self-care.
9:15 a.m. — I go to the grocery store for a few breakfast and lunch staples plus two dinners. I plan to make moussaka for the first time, which requires several ingredients I don't have. I'm excited to try it! $101.97
10 a.m. — I eat a minimal breakfast consisting of apples with fresh mozzarella, blueberry chia pudding, and a small piece of chocolate pumpkin bread. Then I have a virtual session with my therapist. $41.80
11:45 a.m. — Facial time! I haven't had a facial in six months, so I'm super excited. I get a hydrating facial with Living Libations products in addition to a 15-minute LED add-on treatment. I leave an 18% tip. $170
1:45 p.m. — I'm back home to cuddle with F. I missed my morning pump session because my therapy appointment ran a bit late, so I'm eager to empty my breasts, but I can tell F. missed me and I missed him so I just sit and hold him for a while first. Once he's asleep, I pump and make myself lunch. I eat an apple, fresh mozzarella, two boiled eggs, two strips of bacon, yogurt, and a tiny piece of chocolate pumpkin bread. I was super hungry! K. gets home and takes F. so I can nap off my migraine.
5:30 p.m. — I wake up. I pump and feed F., then cook a Blue Apron meal. Tonight we have za'atar spiced cod with harissa mayo, roasted potatoes, and marinated onion. It's unlike anything we've had before and we enjoy it.
8 p.m. — We head out for our nightly stroll around the neighborhood and are ready for bed as soon as we return. K. gets F. changed and in his pajamas, then I breastfeed/pump while K. showers. After he's done, I shower and we watch part one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reunion.
Daily Total: $313.77
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