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A Week In Philadelphia, PA, On A $895,000 Joint Income

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Today: a compliance counsel who has a joint income of $895,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Mini Lady Dior handbag.
Editor's Note: This Money Diary was written in June 2022 and mentions an abortion.
Occupation: Compliance Counsel
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 35
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Salary: $145,000
My Husband's Salary: $750,000 ($400,000 base and $350,000 drawn at the end of the year)
Net Worth: $2.1 million (home value: $2 million; savings/investments: $500,000; 401(k): $600,000; HSA: $25,000 minus mortgage. Our finances are completely joint.)
Debt: Mortgage: $1 million
My Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $6,000
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $11,000
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $5,000
401(k): $1,250 each (my employer contributes another $12,000/year; my husband's firm another $20,000-$40,000/year)
Health Insurance: $430 for our High Deductible Health Plan and $400 for my mom's insurance
HSA: $100 (my employer contributes another $2,000/year)
Dependent Care FSA: $416
Utilities: $500-$1,000
TV/Internet: $300
Hulu/Disney/Netflix: $30
Car Insurance: $120
Parking: $400
Doggy Daycare: $600
Gym/Personal Training: $700
Mom's Allowance: $2,000 (spending cash for my mom so she doesn't dip into her savings, which she mostly spends on our kids)
Cell: $150
Cleaner: $360
Support For A Family Abroad: $200 (covers rent, groceries and school fees/supplies for a grandmother raising her grandchild)
Support For A College Student Abroad: $100 (covers school fees/supplies and extra spending money for a college student from a poor family)

Annual Expenses:
Real Estate Tax: $18,000
Home Insurance: $6,000
Local Income Tax: $27,000 (for my husband)
Private School: $50,000
Instacart: $120
Donations: $3,000-$6,000
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. As a child of immigrants, there was no question that I would attend college as well as graduate school. My parents divorced when I was in fifth grade and my mom barely could make ends meet, so there was no money left for sports or other extracurricular activities. I was expected to get good grades and test scores, as well as do (unpaid) volunteer work to boost my college application. I was accepted to a top public school on a full tuition scholarship and my parents (mostly my mom) helped with rent. I borrowed a total of $10,000 for the remaining living expenses and graduated college in three years to minimize debt. For law school, I went to a lower-ranked public school and took a full tuition scholarship. I made $10,000/year teaching during my second and third years of law school and borrowed an additional $40,000 for living expenses for all three years.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I did not receive any financial education from my parents other than to not spend more than I have. While my mom talked to me a lot about her finances, the extent of the conversation was that she had very little money and she couldn't afford whatever I was asking for.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked at a department store making $7.25/hour. I got the job for spending money.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes, incessantly. After my parents' divorce, my mom sat me down and listed our household expenses and explained how her salary couldn't even cover half of it. That was a lot for a 10-year-old to process. I remember her crying a lot over bills, which caused me to lose a lot of sleep. Growing up with upper-middle-class friends, I wanted a lot of things they had, but I knew better than to ask. Once I was in high school, things got better as my mom made more and I started making my own money. While I knew we still couldn't afford the luxuries that my friends had, I didn't worry that we would lose our house.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes and no. I know that we are very well-off, but old habits die hard. I obsessively check our accounts a few times a month to reassure myself. I rarely buy anything full price — I wait for a sale, use coupons, and/or ask for discounts (when appropriate). I also prefer things that are pre-owned. But do I worry the way I did as a child as to whether we can afford necessities? No.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
At 26. During law school, I paid for all my own living expenses but was still on my dad's health insurance and cell phone plan. Once I graduated law school, I paid for all my expenses. Because of our salaries and net worth, we are our own financial safety net and probably the safety net for our parents and siblings.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
No. My mother has some money saved, but I expect that she will exhaust all of it in her lifetime. I do not expect to receive anything from my father who is remarried and will leave whatever may be left to his wife.

Day One

6 a.m. — My younger kid, H., wakes up and asks for her babies. I search for her two dolls in our family bed, which is filled with me, my husband, T., our two kids, and their dolls. Our dog sleeps on the bench at the foot of our bed. I can't wait to get our bed back, but I also love being surrounded by all my kids. I go back to sleep as H. plays with her babies.
6:30 a.m. — H. is still happily singing to her babies when my older kid, S., wakes up. We snuggle with the girls for a few more minutes, then get up and get ready for the day.
7 a.m. — T. has an early call, so I serve the girls bagels and cream cheese with a side of berries while I have a glass of water with lemon. Then I bring T. coffee and a bagel to eat while he's working.
8 a.m. — T.'s still tied up with work this morning, so I take the four-legged kid to daycare while my mom takes the two-legged kids to school. While I'd love to save the $600 monthly fee, our dog is so happy when she gets to play with other dogs (and cuddle on someone's lap for the better part of the day) so we continue paying.
8:30 a.m. — I meet my personal trainer for 30 minutes of strength training. Then I run for 30 minutes before heading home.
10 a.m. — I shower, pull on my J.Crew cashmere lounge set, then hop on a meeting. While I'm listening, I eat a bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter, bananas, and chia seeds along with a protein/collagen shake. I put in an Instacart order from HMart for marinated galbi (I prefer to make my own as it's cheaper/better, but I buy pre-marinated short ribs when I don't plan ahead), bean sprouts, spinach, red bell pepper, mushrooms, tofu, and brown sugar boba ice cream bars. $95
10 a.m. — I also order a birthday present for our friend's daughter from Amazon. $30
2 p.m. — I notice that T. worked through lunch, so I make him a turkey and avocado sandwich. I get hummus with carrots and a small piece of dark chocolate for myself. More emails and more meetings.
3:30 p.m. — I wrap up work, then prepare bibimbap for dinner. In the meantime, my mom picks up H. and heads to the playground. I love that my mom helps raise my girls, just like her mom helped raised me. When S. was born, I struggled with postpartum anxiety. My mom held me and my relationship together as she helped with the baby, cooking, and cleaning. I went back to work at three months postpartum and I wouldn't have been able to continue that career without her. Once H. was born, I made the tough decision to walk away from my firm to be in-house counsel because it wasn't sustainable anymore. But there are days I really miss being a lawyer.
5 p.m. — I pick up S. and we chat about her day on our walk home. We eat dinner while watching Flamenco videos. We're going to Barcelona this fall and have been trying to introduce the girls to Spanish culture. While the girls eat their boba ice cream, I bring T. his dinner so he can eat while working.
7 p.m. — My mom cleans the kitchen while I play with the girls — S. wraps a scarf around her waist and performs Flamenco by stomping around the living room and I read a book to H. Then bath for the girls and more stories. T. takes a break to say goodnight and goes back to work.
8:30 p.m. — After the girls are asleep, I prep school lunches. H. gets sticky rice and chicken, steamed broccoli, a cheese stick with raisins, popcorn chips, and jackfruit. S. gets gimbap, cucumber, jackfruit, and quail eggs. Because she stays at school until 5, she also gets a snack box filled with a cheese stick, apple slices, dried apricots and kiwi, two mini chocolate chip cookies, heart-shaped strawberries, and beet chips. I grew up eating free school lunches because my mother was too busy working multiple jobs, so now I make the lunches I wished I had as a child — that's kind of how I parent, which I know is a bit unhealthy. I spend some time making their lunches extra pretty — I shape the sticky rice into a kitty's face and cut out facial features from nori.
9 p.m. — T. is still working so I bring him apple slices, cheese, and coconut water. I get a glass of water with lemon for me. I do 10 minutes of ab exercises then put on a face mask. I look through some work and prep for a few meetings I'm leading tomorrow. Once T. finishes work, we have sex, watch an episode of Sex Education, and go to bed by 11.
Daily Total: $125

Day Two

6 a.m. — Same drill with H.
7 a.m. — Breakfast is homemade granola cereal with bananas. S. requests scrambled eggs and H. requests extra bananas.
8 a.m. — T. takes the dog while my mom and I take the girls. Then to the gym for 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of weights.
9 a.m. — After a shower, I hop on some meetings. I multitask by answering some emails and ordering groceries from Sprouts — catfish filets, a watermelon, Persian cucumbers, Greek yogurt, tomatoes, jalapeno, avocadoes, corn tortillas, cilantro, scallion, and onion. $60
1:30 p.m. — On Fridays, I work a half day, so I log off. T. texts to say he can do lunch together, so we walk to an Indian restaurant. I order a non-vegetarian thali, while P gets mutton dosa and a mango lassi. We chat about work. $55
3 p.m. — I see that Roe v. Wade is overturned and I burst into tears. I wouldn't have the life I have today, including two daughters when I wanted them, without having had an abortion at sixteen. This decision will not affect people like me — wealthy women who can travel anywhere for a safe abortion — but it will be a death sentence for poor women who must resort to unsafe abortions because they cannot miss work, get childcare, and/or travel. It will also be a death sentence for many women who will be murdered by their boyfriends and husbands because of their unwanted pregnancy. We'll make a big donation at the end of the year, but I need to do something today, so I donate $2,500 to the Abortion Liberation Fund of PA, which provides direct cash assistance to those seeking abortions. $2,500
4 p.m. — After pulling myself together, I make ca kho. I also slice cucumbers and watermelon. My father's family is from Vietnam, and we eat a lot of fruit dipped in a braising sauce made of fish sauce and sugar. It makes me so happy that my kids love it.
5 p.m. — I pick up S. and then the girls and my mom have dinner together. I sit to chat with them but I'm not eating, as T. and I have a dinner reservation later. For dessert, they have homemade avocado ice cream with crushed peanuts.
7 p.m. — T. finishes work in time for bath and stories with the girls while I shower, do my hair and makeup, and change into a floral DVF dress, white Hermès slides, and a white Chanel flap bag.
8:30 p.m. — After the girls are asleep, we walk to a local fish restaurant. We order a dozen oysters, gulf shrimp aguachile, grilled sardines, crispy octopus, roasted dorade, and panna cotta. T. has a cocktail and two glasses of wine, while I drink water with lemon. T. tries hard to hide his annoyance that I'm not drinking with him. We discuss the Dobbs decision and the court's flawed legal analysis. Dinner was very good, except for the aguachile, which was disappointing as it had no heat. $315
11 p.m. — We're home and I'm still distressed so I make chicken pho for tomorrow's breakfast. In Vietnam, soup noodles are normally eaten for breakfast. Pho is also what we eat when we're sick, and my heart is sick right now. T. asks if I want company and I decline, so he does some work while I finish cooking.
Daily Total: $2,930

Day Three

6 a.m. — Same drill.
6:30 a.m. — While T. gets the girls ready, I head downstairs to heat up pho. Everyone, including me, has a large bowl.
8:30 — T. takes H. to ballet. Afterwards, they eat Shake Shack before heading home to nap. After cleaning up the kitchen, I head to Barry's while S. watches Moana with my mom. $25
10:30 a.m. — I shower then change into a BR Factory white shirt dress and tan leather belt, white Hermès slides, and a Louis Vuitton Noe BB in Damier Azur. Then my mom and I take S. to her ballet class.
12:30 p.m. — After class, S. and I head to Nom Wah Tea Parlor for dim sum. We order chicken feet, siu mai, harkow, scallion pancakes, taro cakes, shrimp and chive dumplings, and shrimp rice rolls ($50). I offer S. chicken feet, but she says she still doesn't like it after taking a bite. I tell her that I appreciate her keeping an open mind and trying again. I've accepted that my biracial kids will likely not be able to speak my language (while they understand a lot, they refuse to speak it), but I'm determined to be able to pass down my food to them. After lunch, we stop for ice cream. S. orders banana and my mom gets coffee ($10). $60
3 p.m. — Back home just as H. wakes up. I change into a blue H&M smock dress which I still pair with my Hermès slides and LV bucket bag. Before heading to my friend's daughter's birthday party, I wrap the birthday gift and help the girls sign their names on the card. At the party, T. watches the kids while I socialize. The kids feast on pizza, ice cream, and cake for dinner.
6:30 p.m. — T. starts bedtime early because our dinner reservation is at 8:15 on the other side of the city. Meanwhile, I make two loaves of banana bread as well as a butter mochi cake.
7:30 p.m. — After the girls are asleep, T. and I take a quick shower and have a quickie. I run downstairs to take the banana breads and mochi cake out to cool then go back upstairs to change. I'm wearing a green Dolce & Gabbana midi dress, paired with Masriera bee earrings that were a push present, gold Zara leather sandals, and a pink Dolce & Gabbana box bag embellished with lilies. Before heading out, I cut some mochi cake and run it upstairs to my mom; it's her favorite dessert. Then we go to dinner at an omakase restaurant. T. orders a bottle of our favorite sake. We talk about vacation plans — I want to go take the kids to see my sister and T. wants to take the kids to visit his cousin and her kids. We don't reach an agreement and agree to discuss later. $675
10:30 p.m. — We walk to a bar for a glass of wine. I'm still annoyed with T. for not agreeing to go to California, but being at the bar where we had our first date gives me the feels so I tell him that I appreciate how hard he works so that we can have the life that we have and he reciprocates the sentiment. He suggests, again, that I consider staying at home to take some pressure off me, and I tell him, again, that I don't feel comfortable with that arrangement — I watched my mom, who didn't have any formal education or valuable work experience, almost kill herself working three jobs after her divorce. While I'm in a much different position, and while I wholeheartedly believe that T. wouldn't try to dodge his child-support obligations like my father did, I just don't feel comfortable potentially putting myself and my kids in such a vulnerable financial position. Plus, I personally need to be more than a wife and mom (which just means that I need a few hours of escape each day). $65
Daily Total: $825

Day Four

6 a.m. — Same drill.
7 a.m. — Breakfast is banana bread with yogurt and honey, as well as scrambled eggs. While everyone eats, I head to the gym for 30 minutes of cardio and 45 minutes of weights. On the way home, I stop by Target to pick up a tub of air-dry clay. $10
8:45 a.m. — After I shower, T. does some work while I help the girls make a few bowls with their clay. After their pottery is finished, they move on to watercolor. Meanwhile, I have a protein/collagen shake with half an apple.
11:30 a.m. — I set each kid up with a mortar and pestle to make guacamole while I fry tortilla chips to go with our shrimp tacos. Then they help me make mango pico de gallo. During lunch, S. chants that her mommy is the best cook in the world and H. joins in — they're so stinking cute.
1:30 p.m. — I put H. and myself down for a nap while T. takes S. to the playground.
3:30 p.m. — We get up just as T. and S. get back. The girls play together for a bit while T. and I chat about the coming week. Then T. helps the girls change while I put on an Anthropologie midi silk dress with Zara gold leather sandals and a pink Chanel flap. Then we head to dinner.
5 p.m. — As we sit down at the restaurant, my mom walks by on her way home from shopping, so she joins us for dinner. As usual, she bought a bunch of clothes for the girls (“all on sale,” she proudly reports). We order watermelon gazpacho, roasted beets, head-on shrimp, BBQ octopus, stuffed eggplants, roasted branzino, and lamb steak. $200
6:30 p.m. — We skip dessert and walk to get ice cream, which my mom treats us to. Then home for bedtime, which I handle so T. can do some more work.
8:30 p.m. — I prep the girls' lunches — they both get star-shaped ham and cheese sandwiches, watermelon, green and red grapes, and cheese crackers. H. gets sautéed mushrooms and broccoli, while S. gets carrots with ranch. I add chocolate milk cartons. S. also gets a snack box filled with yogurt pretzels, yellow and green kiwi, dried apricots, and beet chips. I add a note to each their boxes with some stick figure drawings as they can't read yet.
9 p.m. — I order apple, grapes, eggs, pork chops, portobello mushroom, cabbage, and broccoli from Sprouts. We finish the last episode of Sex Education, have sex, then start Conversations With Friends. In bed by 11. $45
Daily Total: $255

Day Five

5:30 a.m. — H. is up but it's too early, so I tell her to close her eyes. She falls back asleep until 6:30.
7 a.m. — S. requests egg sandwiches, so I make egg, bacon, and cheese sandwiches. After breakfast, my mom drops the girls off while I head to personal training.
10 a.m. — T. texts to ask if I want to grab lobster rolls. I order for pickup: two lobster rolls, slaw, clam chowder, and a blueberry soda. I have cherries and almonds to hold me over until I meet T. $60
12 p.m. — T. and I pick up our lunch then head to a nearby park. We chat about our travel plans but still do not come to a resolution.
2 p.m. — I check Rakuten and see 10% cash back for Nike, so I order three sets of leggings and matching sports bras and two pairs of sneakers for the girls, all on sale. I always check Rakuten before making a purchase online and will often wait to make purchases until there's a good cash-back offer. I use my category credit card to get an additional 3% cash back for all online shopping. $290
4 p.m. — I make katsu curry with cabbage slaw for dinner. When I finish, H. walks through the door with my mom and declares she's hungry so I plate their dinners before heading out to get S.
5:30 p.m. — T., S., and I eat dinner, while my mom and H. play together. Once S. finishes her dinner, the girls play tea party while I clean.
7 p.m. — T. handles bedtime tonight. I cuddle with the dog for a bit. I remember to order two unicorn watches for the girls, per S.'s request (H. is too young to tell time, but old enough to want whatever her big sister has). I also order a few more puzzles for the girls. Then I prep lunches. $55
8:30 p.m. — While T. is working, I look online at cars. While we really could use a bigger car, we're trying to hold out given the current inflation on cars. I email two potential listings to T. then catch up on texts with my sister and best friend.
10 p.m. — T. is still working so I grab him a coconut water. After doing 10 minutes of ab exercises, I head to bed.
Daily Total: $405

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — H. is still sleeping! I have an early class at Barry's so my mom and T. will handle breakfast and drop off.
8:30 a.m. — After a shower, I change into a navy Tahari dress and slip on my Ugg knitted slip-ons for my 35-minute walk to work. At work, I change into Jimmy Choo nude pumps.
1 p.m. — After back-to-back meetings, I walk to a Mediterranean place and order hummus with extra cucumber slices and an egg. $16
4 p.m. — More meetings and more emails. I don't cook on the two days I'm in the office, so I put in a delivery order for nam tok, sai kok, pad see ew, green curry, and pladuk pad ped. I have a $10 off code. $90
5 p.m. — I pick up S. on the way home. She reports that a classmate hit her and she hit him back. We discuss the use of words over hands to resolve conflicts. She comments that it's not fair to only respond with words when someone hits you and I give her a big hug.
6 p.m. — We eat dinner without T. While the girls munch on apple slices with cheese for dessert, I bring T. his dinner.
7:30 p.m. — Bath, stories, then I prep lunches — H. gets mini waffles and chicken nuggets, grape tomatoes, steamed broccoli, green and yellow kiwi, and popcorn chips. S. gets a croissant egg sandwich, grape tomatoes, green and yellow kiwi, and apple chips. She also gets a snack box with a yogurt pouch, dried apricots, popcorn chips and strawberries.
8:30 p.m. — I show T. a new handbag I want — a pre-owned red mini Lady Dior from Fashionphile. While I love the boutique experience, I love a handbag in excellent condition that is 25% off retail even more. He tells me to get it as he knows I've been wanting to add a mini Dior to my collection. I decide to sleep on the decision for now. T. is working late again tonight so I go to bed early. I lie down browsing social media for another hour before actually falling asleep.
Daily Total: $106

Day Seven

6:30 a.m. — H. sleeps until 6:30 again! Today is my rest day, so I take my time making pancakes, eggs, hash browns, and bacon for breakfast.
7:45 a.m. — I change into a Reiss white shift dress and walk with my mom to drop off the girls, then walk to my office.
1 p.m. — Back-to-back meetings, then I take a break to get bun thit nuong, a Vietnamese grilled pork noodle bowl, from a food truck. $10
5 p.m. — I pick up S. and two pizzas on the way home. $45
5:45 p.m. — T. takes a break to join us for dinner. Per the kids' request, we eat on our front steps so they can say hi to everyone who walks by. When T. heads back to work, the girls help me make Rice Krispie treats, which they have with mixed berries for dessert.
7:30 p.m. — I do bedtime. After the girls are asleep, I make a Basque cheesecake as it's my mother-in-law's birthday tomorrow. While the cake is baking, I order groceries for tomorrow's tapas dinner: shrimp, octopus, bacalao, parsley, lemon, potatoes, eggs, onion, shishito peppers, tomatoes, Manchego, jamon, almonds, olives, and chorizo. Then I prep lunches — they both get salmon fried rice, cherries, nori, vegetable sticks, and fruit gummies. S. also gets a snack box with apple slices, a cheese stick, shortbread cookies, and a yogurt pouch. $120
8:30 p.m. — I do some light reading for tomorrow's meetings. Once I'm finished, I decide to purchase the Dior handbag — it's a good deal and the exact color combo I want. I'm in a great mood after I check out and offer to go visit my husband's cousin instead of my sister for vacation. Now we're both in a great mood, and after T. finishes work, we have sex then continue Conversations With Friends. $3,990
Daily Total: $4,165
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