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A Week In Maine On A $195,000 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 market manager with a joint income of $195,000 per year who spends some of her money this week on an air conditioner.
Occupation: Market Manager
Industry: Automotive
Age: 33
Location: Maine
Salary: $135,000
My Husband's Salary: $60,000 (we share bills but have separate accounts)
Net Worth: $137,500 ($8,200 in savings, $3,500 in mortgage account, $7,000 in 401(k), $6,000 in stocks, $340,000 in my house, $6,500 in our car minus debt below)
Debt: $6,700 in credit card debt, $27,000 in husbands student loans, and $200,000 left on our mortgage
My Paycheck Amount (2x/month ): $3,205
My Husband's Paycheck (1x/week): $900
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $2,000
Husband's Truck: $1,200 (he pays)
Credit Card: $1,000
Student Loans: Currently on hold
Cell Phone: $265 (I pay)
Water: $70 (husband pays)
Electric: ~$70-$100
Condo Fee: $275
Netflix, Hulu, Amazon: $35
Experian: $199 (yearly)
Car Insurance: $150
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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?
Absolutely. My grandfather dropped out of school in eighth grade to support his family. My mom got her associate's and my dad was on track for his master's before he had to drop out to support us. So education in all forms (both inside and outside of the classroom) was very important growing up. My grandfather is my best friend and would always tell me "learn as much as you can in the classroom, but learn just as much if not more in the real world because you will find there are a lot of book smart people who are idiots in the real world." And how true is that! So I went to university at an out-of-state public school. I was encouraged to do business school but I hate math so instead I majored in history with a double minor in social anthropology and jazz voice. I know, funny mixture but I wanted to genuinely enjoy my college experience as I hated middle school and high school. I was severely bullied growing up due to my weight and I really wanted college to be different. Thankfully, my grandparents and parents set my sisters and me up with college funds from when we were born so we would be able to afford college without having to take out loans. I worked full time my entire time in college for any spending money and my living expenses (food, gas, car expenses, etc) and would pay for all of that to help keep the expenses off of my parents. I didn't feel they owed me anything more or that I should take advantage of their help.
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Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I feel like I had a much different experience growing up around money than even my siblings did. When we were very young, my parents were a typical lower-middle-class couple struggling to pay off my dad's high student loans. We knew we didn't have a lot of money from a young age but we never went without. My parents instilled in us that money didn't grow on trees and we had to work hard. However, they never really taught us about saving, budgeting, or any of it. My grandmother helped me get my first savings account at our bank in our small town when I was 9 and my grandfather taught me some here and there about earning and saving.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was cleaning my grandfather's office at 7 to earn a My Little Pony. I cleaned his office and bathroom until it was sparkling and he gave me $5 when I was done. I then asked if I could get more money if I cleaned more of his dealership. So, during the summers and any time I was with him, he would give me little projects around the store.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Always. In the back of our minds, money was always something to worry about. My grandfather is first-generation Portuguese and my grandmother grew up poor, so I think a lot of the money anxiety came from their upbringing.
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Do you worry about money now?
Always but breathing a little easier this week. I was over $150,000 in debt for years. After my husband and I got married, we made an aggressive plan to pay down our debts and get me to a better financial standing since I've always been the breadwinner but was in debt from my career and multiple moves across the country. This week I got confirmation that my last $52,000 loan payment was received. We took a second mortgage out to pay it off since the rates are so low and we had so much equity in our condo. I am beyond grateful to my amazing husband to have helped and supported me along the way.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself at 15. I worked nonstop throughout middle school and high school. As I mentioned before, I also worked throughout college. I helped to raise my younger sisters so I would often be taking them out to dinner on the nights my parents had to work. Either I would pay with the money I earned or would get money from my dad. My parents would never let us become homeless but they do not help us now. When we both lost our jobs due to the pandemic in April 2020, we had no financial help from our families.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I did receive $20,000 from a fund my grandparents started to help me with my first down payment on a house. I used that for buying my first house which I sold and then made $33,000 to put towards our next house. I supposedly have a trust from my grandparents that I will get when they pass but I have no idea the amount. I honestly don't care though because my grandparents are my best friends and I rather have them alive.
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Day One

6 a.m. — I wake up to the sound of my husband getting out of the shower for work. I get up and feed the cats. I make my husband (D.) an everything bagel with butter. I then realize we have no more food and order a small amount of food via Amazon's delivery from Whole Foods. It's easier and it helps me buy less than if I go in person. $58.75
9 a.m. — As I get started with work, I check the stocks I have on E*TRADE. I read an article about a new stock and decide to buy a few shares. I transfer $200 into my app and buy the stocks. I try to keep them as long as possible unless they're really tanking hard. Investing is a good way to make your money last longer. $200
11:30 a.m. — I am HUNGRY. Why do I get like this? I'm blasting through emails and reports today and realize I still have no food since the Amazon delivery won't get here until 2. I DoorDash a Subway sandwich because I just don't have time before my next Zoom call to go get it. Spend way more than it should be but I'm also trying to tell myself that my sanity and peace is worth more than it would be to go get it. $23.50
2 p.m. — I get an email from Chewy.com that my quarterly order for the cats is coming in a few days. Sweet. One less errand I have to run during the weekend! $58.34
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4 p.m. — I have a chronic illness and I get notified that my check has cleared for my last OBGYN appointment. Awesome.... welcome to America where healthcare costs an arm and a leg. A majority of the debt I had was due to medical bills so I try to make sure I pay medical bills ASAP now. $307.91
7 p.m. — My husband gets home from work and doesn't want to cook. I agree as I have been nonstop all day with work calls. We decide to go to one of our favorite places for dinner — Longhorn! He gets the rack of ribs and I get the Parmesan-crusted chicken. I always get the 12 oz, eat half and bring the rest home for my lunch the next day. $45.94
Daily Total: $694.44

Day Two

6 a.m. — Another morning, another cat wake up. After my husband leaves for work, I realize we have fresh breakfast food thanks to me so I whip up a muffin and OJ for myself.
6:30 a.m. — I quickly shower and get ready because I need to travel for work today. Thankfully my car and gas are benefits of my job so no expense there but I buy myself a quick coffee to start my two-hour drive. $5
9 a.m. — I finally get to Massachusetts to see two of my dealerships. The first one calls and says that the manager had a family situation and is coming in later than our scheduled time so they ask if I can come then. I say no problem and decided this is the perfect time to find a car wash. The one I find is expensive, but I like my car clean, so I cough it up. Going through, I take some selfies because car wash lights are the original filters. (If you didn't know, now you do. You're welcome, my friends!) $28
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12 p.m. — Since I have some downtime, I go to one of my old favorite sushi spots that has been closed for over a year due to the pandemic. The owner and sushi chef take very good care of me. I have a miso soup, hamachi jalapeño, and two rolls. It comes to $30, and I give them a $20 tip as I appreciate them and are happy they have reopened after so long. $50
1:45 p.m. — This one isn't on me, but I buy a catering sandwich and salad lunch from Panera for the first store I'm seeing. They crushed it last month and delivered 35 new cars. We made a deal if they did over 33, I'd buy them lunch. Money well spent and I'm so happy to reward them! ($295.78 expensed)
7 p.m. — After a crazy day of traveling, I have dinner with my parents and grandparents. It's great to see them since I'm finally fully vaccinated and haven't had a meal with them in six months. I buy a $10 scratch ticket when I'm gassing up at my old hometown gas station to see if I have any luck left in this town. Jokes on me because it's a dud but can't say that surprises me. This town never got me anyway. $10
Daily Total: $93

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — My husband lets me sleep in since I didn't get home until 11 last night. The cat must realize I need the sleep too because he's just curled up next to me. He's damn cute sometimes... I am laying in bed with absolutely no motivation to make breakfast so I order from our best local breakfast place. I get a BEC breakfast sandwich, hash browns, and an OJ. I make peace with the fact I spend a majority of my money on food and enjoy it. $27.88
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9:30 a.m. — I just started going to the chiropractor for adjustments since my back has been messed up for a long time. Mainly due to my constant driving for work but also due to two bad car accidents I had in the last 12 years of my career on the road. The chiropractor works wonders for my back and it costs $88. I'll pay that all day if it means no debilitating back pain. $88
3 p.m. — I get back from the chiropractor and start to marinate chicken thighs for dinner tonight. Couple that with some pasta salad I got from Whole Foods and it's a quick 20-minute dinner. I decide to relax for a little bit as my back is bugging me a tad.
Daily Total: $115.88

Day Four

6 a.m. — Another day, another 6 a.m. wake up. But today is Fri-yay! I blast through my morning emails, have two Zoom calls, and then I can do anything I want. I get to work! Thankfully, it's an easy day which is a nice way to wrap up this crazy work week. I also do laundry, vacuum, dust, and general cleaning as breaks throughout the day to help get some chores done. I make a list of things we need for the week so I can slowly chop away at those too.
12 p.m. — You got me again guys... I DoorDash a Subway sandwich because I cannot muster up the energy to make food right now. I get all the laundry in and will need to fold the first batch once it's done. I eat and continue to work. Once the laundry is done, I fold it all and put it all away. $23.50
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4 p.m. — It's towards the end of the day and I got a lot done! Work has been a whirlwind but I'm so grateful to have this job. When my husband and I lost our jobs in April 2020, we both really buckled down and cut our budget from $10,500 down to $6,000. I was unemployed for eight months before landing this job with my dream company. Thankfully, I had a severance that helped keep us alive during that time, but it was very hard to go from a double income of over $250,000 to a single income of $120,000 and high expenses. We cut out a lot, sold our home in MA, and moved to ME into the condo my husband bought and rented out. It took our entire savings ($15,000) to fix it up after it had been destroyed from the renters we had. I still feel guilty sometimes now when I order DoorDash or go get a coffee (like right now) because I didn't for almost a year. I literally gave up all of my self-care in order to help us survive. My husband and I also sold a bunch of stuff. As I roll through the Starbucks line, I remind myself that I deserve this little treat after surviving one of the worst years of my life. The sun is shining on me and I feel better. I decide to go down by the beach and practice gratitude for the life I get to live now.
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Daily Total: $23.50

Day Five

8 a.m. — My husband has this Saturday off which is nice. We get up and have breakfast together. We realize it's about to be a heatwave so we decide to put the air conditioners in today. We have one already for the downstairs but we have to buy a new one for the upstairs. We both take showers and get ready to go to Lowe's.
10 a.m. — Well, Lowe's is already jammed packed! Us New Englanders love summer but hate the heat and it is evident from how many people are buying fans/ACs. It surprises me how many homes in Maine are built without central air. We find a stand-up AC unit for our bedroom. It's a lot ($520) but we know it'll be worth it. We buy a few accessories needed for it, and almost $700 later, we now have to go install both. Yay... $696.78
12 p.m. — We busted our butts getting both ACs installed. We bicker through it, but at the end of it all, we say how we are a good team. After we are done, we are both sweating and want to get out of the condo for a minute so I treat both of us to some Starbucks passion tea lemonades. We take a quick ride around in the truck and enjoy the beautiful day in the comfort of AC. $10.90
Daily Total: $707.68

Day Six

8 a.m. — We sleep in a bit and decide to go to our favorite little breakfast spot this morning. We get our usual and spend $25. I realize the flip-flops I've had for three summers are about to break so I order two new pairs from Nordstrom. $128.47 later and I should have them by next week. $153.47
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11:30 a.m. — We are heading to our good friends' baby shower today. We stop at Target to get a bag and card. We end up also getting them a gift card. We already got them a bunch of stuff off of their registry but we wanted to give them something to open. We are super excited for them and cannot wait to meet the little guy! $137.85
12 p.m. — We have to stop for gas for the truck and we fill it up. Good ole American F150 with a V10 equals $100+ fill up every time. It's worth it though as I know my husband loves it and he doesn't ask for much. $100
7 p.m. — We are both exhausted today from running around. My mother-in-law and stepfather-in-law (who I adore) invite us over for dinner. We grab some chips, hot dog and hamburger buns, and some drinks and head over. We have a great night eating and relaxing. We are all vaccinated now so it's great to just hang out without masks on. $30
Daily Total: $421.32

Day Seven

6 a.m. — Back to the grind of a new work week! Our cat wakes me up this morning by laying directly on my face. New bold tactic, sir. Don't do it again though if you want to be fed! I get up, feed the cats, make my husband breakfast, and help get him ready for work. I decide to go back to sleep until 8 as I have my first call at 9:30.
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9:30 a.m. — Looks like my 18 dealerships had a great weekend which is what we needed! I'm psyched and start emailing out updates. It isn't easy for a woman to be in such a male-dominated industry but I love it.
12 p.m. — Lord, no idea what's gotten into me today but I am craving Taco Bell like no one's business. I decide to drive to the one next to us and get a taco and a quesadilla. It's delicious and filling. Random cravings gotta be met sometimes. $10.50
1 p.m. — I am on my weekly estimate call with my boss and team when I get a text from my older sister saying my dad's biopsy came back negative which is the best news I've gotten since his surgery two weeks ago. He had spots on his liver and lungs so it was a nervous two weeks waiting for the results. I order a coffee that I'll pick up after my call as a treat and reminder that life is too short to not enjoy it! $5
3 p.m. — Another chiropractor appointment! This time I crack like a glow stick at a rave. Good god, that was needed! $88
Daily Total: $103.50
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