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A Week In Seattle, WA, On A $150,000 Joint Income

Photo: Courtesy of Abercrombie & Fitch.
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 marketing manager who has a joint income of $150,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Abercrombie shorts.
Occupation: Marketing Manager
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 28
Location: Seattle, WA
My Salary: $62,000
My Husband's Salary: $88,000
Net Worth: ~$228,000 ($5,000 in checking, $18,000 in emergency savings, $22,000 spread across multiple sinking funds in high yield savings accounts, $62,500 in our combined retirement accounts, $2,000 in non-retirement investments, $163,500 in home equity, minus debt. My husband and I have combined finances. We share a checking account and savings accounts for emergency savings and sinking funds. We each have our own Roth IRAs but we contribute equal amounts to each and we each have a 401(k)/IRA through work. We deposit our paychecks into our joint checking account that we use for all expenses, except $600 each month that goes into our individual checking accounts for "fun money" that we spend individually on whatever we want).
Debt: We owe $674,000 on our mortgage, $5,000 on our car and $40,000 in student loans for my husband's grad school.
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $4,447 (mine and my husband's combined).
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $3,787
Car Payment: $138
Student Loans: paused.
Insurance: $267 (auto, earthquake and pet).
Utilities: ~$300
iCloud: $3
Savings: $920 toward house/car repair sinking fund, $400 toward travel sinking fund, $100 toward dog expenses sinking fund.
Roth IRA: $100 (we also contribute 3% of my paycheck and 4.5% of my husband's paycheck to our work retirement accounts, pre-tax).
Donations: $90
ClassPass: $65
Gym: $22
Streaming Services: $0 (we use friends' and families' accounts).
Cell Phone/Wi-Fi: $0 (these expenses are covered by a WFH stipend from my husband's work).
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, the community and school district I grew up in have very high college attendance rates and both my parents went to college so it was always assumed that I would attend college right after high school. I got my bachelor's degree and my parents paid for my college education in full. Being able to send me to college without taking out loans was a huge priority for them throughout my childhood and I'm incredibly grateful.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
While my parents didn't share a lot of specifics about their own financial situation, they definitely took many opportunities to share financial wisdom with me throughout my childhood. From explaining the taxes taken out on my first paycheck to walking me through salary negotiation and benefits during my first real job search to adding my siblings and me as authorized users on their credit cards to ensure we started adulthood with strong credit scores, my parents did a lot to help us launch into adulthood with solid financial knowledge.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I did lots of casual babysitting and tutoring gigs throughout my adolescence but my first real paycheck job was working at a frozen yogurt shop during my senior year of high school. I got the job for spending money and continued working various part-time jobs throughout high school and college for extra cash.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Not often, but my parents were pretty frugal with day-to-day expenses so I often assumed we had less money than we did. I remember my dad's stress after getting laid off during the 2008 recession, and my parents noticeably tightened up their spending during that time. As an adult, I realize that my family was a lot better off than I believed as a child.
Do you worry about money now?
Not in a major, existential way but I'm always super careful about budgeting our money and making sure our monthly expenses don't get out of hand. I often feel like I'm working with a different budget than many of my friends living in Seattle on tech job salaries, which makes me hyper-aware of my spending. I also worry about the amount we're spending on our mortgage, even though we made an intentional decision to stretch ourselves to buy a house now, given how quickly the cost of homes is rising in our area.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially independent after college when I got my first full-time job and got off my parents' health insurance. While I've been paying for my own expenses since then, my parents gave us a very generous gift that made buying a home possible for us. We do have a number of family members on both sides that could step in and support us with housing, interest-free loans, etc. if we needed it.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Yes, my parents gave us a very large gift of $200,000, which went toward our down payment and closing costs. We pay the mortgage but it would not have been possible for us to buy a house without this gift. They felt strongly about us being able to lay down roots in the Seattle area for the long term and wanted to make it possible for us to buy a house before the market got even more out of reach. They considered this gift an early inheritance.

Day One

7:15 a.m. — I finally drag myself out of bed after snoozing the alarm way too many times. I have chronic migraines, which I'm on preventative medications for, so I take my morning meds and vitamins then quickly get dressed, brush my teeth and wash my face. I grab a granola bar and pre-workout that I prepped last night then head to the gym.
7:30 a.m. — I do an arm workout for about an hour at the gym.
8:45 a.m. — I'm home and open up my laptop to get the workday started. I always start the day slowly by reading email newsletters and enjoying my breakfast and coffee before getting into the more intense work. This morning I have overnight oats that I prepped last night for breakfast. I'm working on getting more protein in so I added protein powder, soy milk and peanut butter. My husband, W., made the coffee while I was at the gym and gave our dog her breakfast and daily meds.
12 p.m. — I heat up leftovers from the dinner W. made last night for lunch: roasted potatoes, broccoli and chickpeas.
2:30 p.m. — W. and I take a break from work to take our dog for a walk. It's a gorgeous spring day and it's so nice to feel the warmth of the sun after a long, rainy Seattle spring so far.
3:30 p.m. — Back to work and I snack on some Ellenos Marionberry Greek yogurt, yum.
5:30 p.m. — I heat up a Costco cauliflower crust pizza and roast some brussels sprouts for dinner while wrapping up work. While I'm working on dinner, W. researches hypoallergenic dog food that our vet has recommended since our dog keeps getting ear infections. We (painfully) make a purchase of very expensive dog food and some treats for her hypoallergenic diet trial we'll be starting soon. $308.53
6:30 p.m. — I head to my friend, N.'s, house to watch Love is Blind. We've been behind on it and desperately trying to avoid spoilers for the past few weeks!
10:30 p.m. — I get home, brush my teeth, do my skincare routine and set out my stuff for the gym tomorrow morning. I get in bed and scroll on my phone for a while before remembering that I need to give myself my preventative migraine medication, which is an injection I do on myself once a month. I drag myself out of bed to do the injection then get back in bed and read for a bit before turning off the lights around 11:30.
Daily Total: $308.53

Day Two

7 a.m. — I'm up and very sleepy. I take my meds and vitamins then get ready for the gym.
9 a.m. — I get home from the gym after an intense leg day. I warm up some overnight oats and pour myself coffee from the pot W. made then get started with work.
11 a.m. — After responding to some emails, I take a shower. It's a hair-wash day so I blow-dry and style my hair. Then I put on a little makeup (a rarity on weekdays since I started working from home).
12:30 p.m. — W. and I take our dog for a walk.
1 p.m. — Once we're back from the walk I make some mac and cheese and a salad for lunch. While the noodles are cooking, I call the pharmacy to refill my injectable migraine medication. Normally this would cost over $300 (after insurance) but luckily I was able to enroll in a specialty pharmacy service through my insurance that allows me to access copay assistance so the out-of-pocket cost for a three-month supply of the medication is only $5. Once I'm done with the refill and lunch is ready, I bring it to my desk and get back to work. $5
3 p.m. — I have a meeting with my boss to plan for a big project we're starting soon. The meeting runs 45 minutes over the planned end time and I leave feeling overwhelmed by my workload.
4:30 p.m. — I make a protein shake and snack on some tortilla chips while finishing work.
6 p.m. — I finish work and quickly whip together a salad to contribute to a potluck dinner for my book group tonight.
6:30 p.m. — I go to my friend's apartment for book group. We have a great time discussing the book and eating.
9 p.m. — I'm home and ready to turn in early. I brush my teeth and do my skincare routine then get in bed to scroll and read for a while.
Daily Total: $5

Day Three

7 a.m. — It's Friday! W. and I get up together today to go for a walk to the coffee shop before work. It's supposed to be a beautiful day so we're taking advantage of it by getting a little time outside before the workday starts. We walk a few miles and get iced lattes on the way. $13.90
8:30 a.m. — Back at home, I grab a bowl of cereal and start my workday.
11:30 a.m. — After cranking through some work, I grab some trail mix for a snack.
12:30 p.m. — W. makes us grilled cheese with tomato soup for lunch. I eat while reviewing some videos for an upcoming fundraising event at work.
2:30 p.m. — We take a break to take our dog for a walk in the glorious 75-degree weather!
5:15 p.m. — I finish work and clean up the kitchen a little then touch up my makeup. W. and I are grabbing drinks with a couple of friends tonight.
6 p.m. — We decide to call an Uber since we'll be drinking tonight. $24.99
6:30 p.m. — We meet up with our friends at a brewery in their neighborhood. W. and I both get a beer and he goes back for a second one before we close out. We also order burritos from the food truck outside for dinner. $50.46
7:30 p.m. — After the brewery, we head to a bar and get another round of beers and a soft pretzel with beer cheese. So good! $44.59
9 p.m. — For the last stop of the night, we go to a cute neighborhood bar that has great fresh citrus cocktails. The night gets away from us and somehow we end up getting three rounds of drinks there. $76
11 p.m. — W. and I get an Uber home. Once we get home, we hang out for a bit then head to bed around midnight. $19.82
Daily Total: $229.76

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — I wake up and curse myself for that last cocktail last night, I've got a rough hangover. I shower and go back to bed for a while to try to get rid of this hangover ASAP because we have friends coming over for afternoon margs on our deck later today.
10 a.m. — W. goes to Trader Joe's to buy stuff for our gatherings this weekend and stock up on groceries for the next week or two. We tend to do a big grocery shop every couple of weeks. He buys a bunch of limes, a jalapeño, oranges, lemons, mixed greens, zucchini, broccoli, asparagus, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, cream cheese, sour cream, ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, tequila, beer, frozen spinach, pasta, tomato sauce, tofu, garlic powder, Greek yogurt. The total is $141.39. $141.39
10:30 a.m. — While W. is out, he fills up the car with gas at Costco. $45.87
12 p.m. — I finally drag myself out of bed and do my hair and makeup then get started cleaning up the house. I do some dishes, then W. and I prep a batch of margs and make a layer dip for this afternoon.
2:30 p.m. — Our friends come over to hang on the deck and enjoy the beautiful weather. We eat the chips and dip and enjoy spicy cucumber margs.
6:30 p.m. — After our friends head out, W. decides to make us one more round of cocktails and whips up some whiskey sours. We drink them on the deck, soaking in the last few hours of warmth before the rain comes back. We're both feeling too lazy to cook so we decide to order pizza delivery. $27.11
7 p.m. — After we finish dinner, we plop on the couch and watch Murder Mystery 2 on Netflix and eat some ice cream. I fall asleep for most of the movie.
10 p.m. — We're both pooped and decide to head to bed on the early side.
Daily Total: $214.37

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — I wake up and make W. and I oat milk lattes with our Nespresso machine. I get back in bed and have a leisurely morning reading and chilling with W. before he gets up to play video games.
10:45 a.m. — I finally get out of bed to get my day started, I've got a lot of chores to catch up on today. I start a load of laundry, change the sheets on our bed and swap out the duvet for a lighter summer comforter.
11:30 a.m. — I heat up leftover pizza for lunch and work on budgeting and paying off our credit card bills. We have sinking funds for several categories including pet expenses and home/car expenses. I transfer money from sinking funds for a couple of larger purchases we made this month, including our dog's new hypoallergenic food for the diet trial, car accessories and gardening tools. We went way over our grocery budget this month, in part because we did a big Costco run, which we only do every few months. I'll be strategic about meal planning next month to try to use up more of the random ingredients we have sitting in our pantry.
12 p.m. — I make some bread dough for garlic knots for dinner tonight. While the dough is rising, W. and I prep stuffed shells.
2 p.m. — We're done with food prep and kitchen clean-up. I vacuum, dust the house and fold some laundry. Then W. and I take our dog for a quick walk around the neighborhood.
4 p.m. — My parents and sister meet W. and me at some tennis courts near our house. We recently got a pickleball set and my sister has been taking lessons so she teaches us all the basics and we play a few games. It's my first time playing and I really like it!
5:30 p.m. — We all head back to our house for dinner. We serve the stuffed shells, garlic knots and a salad. My mom brought blueberry lemon cake for dessert.
7 p.m. — My family heads home and W. and I finish cleaning up the kitchen. W. plays video games for a while and I read my book.
10:15 p.m. — Time for bed!
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8 a.m. — I snoozed my alarm one too many times and missed my chance to get to the gym before work. I finally roll out of bed at 8 to get coffee and cereal for breakfast and settle in at my desk.
10:30 a.m. — After working for a few hours, I leave for a bikini wax appointment. I started getting them about a year ago and have found it's worth it for me to keep up with them throughout the year for a smoother bikini line in the summer months. $54
11:45 a.m. — I get home and heat up some leftover stuffed shells for lunch, then get back to work. I log into my bank account and transfer a few hundred dollars to a travel sinking fund. I've been trying to save a few hundred per month in that account to have money available for some bachelorette parties coming up.
3:30 p.m. — After a few more hours of work, W. and I head out for our daily dog walk. Once we get home, I grab a Greek yogurt for a snack and get back to work. I think it's going to be a long workday today. I have tons of meetings the next couple of days so not much time to actually get work done in between.
6:30 p.m. — I prep some lemon herb tofu and leave it to marinate while I finish work. Sadly my to-do list is still LONG even after a focused day of work.
8 p.m. — I bake the tofu and eat it on a salad with mixed greens, bell pepper, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds.
8:30 a.m. — I finally call it quits on work for the night. Usually I'm really good about setting boundaries with work-from-home hours and not working into the evening but this is a particularly busy time for my organization and team, so I'm making an exception. I watch a couple of episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
10 p.m. — While I'm watching TV, I get sucked in by a 25% off coupon in my email for Aerie and decide to buy a pajama set I've been eying for a while ($45.21). Once I'm in the online shopping mood, I find myself browsing Abercrombie for denim shorts. I finally pick a pair and am about to check out when I notice that I'm only about $30 away from free shipping and I'll have to pay $7 in shipping if I don't hit the minimum. Logically I know it's a terrible practice but of course I go back to browse for something else to get me to the $100 minimum. I end up buying a bodysuit too ($119.40). $164.61
11:15 p.m. — With a little bit of buyer's remorse but also excitement for a few new summer clothing items, I head to bed.
Daily Total: $218.61

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and W. gives our dog her regular meds and extra anxiety meds because we're taking her to the vet to get treatment for her ear infection this morning. Our dog is super anxious and needs to be sedated for all vet visits so it's a whole process. The meds we give her now will hopefully take the edge off and then they'll further sedate her when we arrive.
8 a.m. — After lounging a bit, I take my meds, wash my face and brush my teeth. I pour some coffee and make Trader Joe's protein oats. I check some emails before we leave for the vet.
9:30 a.m. — We arrive at the vet. W. and I always do trips to the vet together so that he can bring our dog inside and I can stay in the car and make sure to pull it up close to the door when they're done so our dog doesn't have to walk far while high on sedatives. It's quite the process that makes ALL of us anxious. After dropping them off, I need to pee so I walk across the street to a coffee shop. I grab a chai and sit in the coffee shop for a bit to use their wi-fi and get some work done while I wait. $5.69
10:30 a.m. — The vet appointment wraps up and the charge is $491.55 — yikes! This covers the office visit, ear cleaning for both ears, labs to test samples to confirm the type of ear infection, month-long ear medication, and sedation. Luckily we have pet insurance, which has paid for itself many times given our dog's high medical costs. We'll submit the invoice to insurance and hopefully get a good chunk of the money back, though we are close to the end of our plan year so we've maxed out some categories already. If the insurance doesn't reimburse enough, we'll tap into our dog sinking fund to cover the rest so we don't go over budget for the month. $491.55
11 a.m. — We get back home and the dog is very out of it from her sedation. I join a staff meeting, the first of several meetings today.
12:30 p.m. — I have a short break between meetings. I heat up some leftover stuffed shells for lunch and continue working.
2 p.m. — Between meetings, I grab a snack of some takis and Greek yogurt. I stare into the abyss for a few minutes before my next meeting — feeling very Zoomed out after three back-to-back meetings.
6:30 p.m. — I finish work and rush to change into workout clothes, then head to a barre class that I booked through ClassPass (included in monthly expenses).
8 p.m. — I get home from barre and eat the dinner W. made while I was gone: pasta and asparagus. I watch some TV and search online for a graduation gift for my sister. I decide to buy her a gift card to one of her favorite local restaurants ($120) and a cute card from Etsy ($5.52). $125.52
Daily Total: $622.76
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