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A Week In Northern California On A $145,000 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 digital marketing manager who has a joint income of $145,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Fly by Jing Sichuan Chili Sauce.
Occupation: Marketing Manager
Industry: E-commerce
Age: 26
Location: Northern California
My Salary: $85,000
My Husband's Salary: $24/hour (~$50,000-$60,000 a year)
Net Worth: ~$290,000 (Savings: $19,525, 401(k): $11,947.05, my husband's trust fund: ~$250,000 (we have no idea how much is available, that money has remained untouched), minus car loan. My husband and I share our finances. We have a joint account we contribute to for the majority of our bills (I pay our phone bill and streaming service subscriptions from my account) and our savings. We each have one separate banking account and a shared credit card that I mainly use to pay bills on autopay to help maintain good credit. We very much consider the other's money ours).
Debt: $9,848.62 remaining on our car loan.
My Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,312.12
Pronouns: She/they

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,820 (for a two-bedroom condo with my husband).
Car Payment: $297.24
Wi-Fi: $58
Disney+: $10.99
Hulu: $14.99
Netflix: We use my sister-in-law's.
HBO Max: We use a friend's.
Gas: $20-$65 (depending on the weather).
Electricity/Trash: $76
DoorDash: $9.99
State Farm: $273
401(k): $163.46
Donations: $50-$100
Dental: $4.52
Medical: $364.94
Savings: $400-$800
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?
My parents moved to my country of birth to study. For that reason, my siblings and I were 100% expected to attend higher education. I was the only one to go to grad school, and I ended up dropping out during my first year. I was lucky enough to have been born and raised in a big city in Europe. I attended a public university, which was very affordable, and I lived at home for most of my undergrad. My parents paid for my tuition and the large majority of my living expenses during my study abroad year. I ended up needing extra money at times for food and other basic necessities, so I babysat and freelanced as a translator for extra income.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents avoided involving us in conversations about money, they didn't tell us how much they earned or how much my rent was. I wasn't taught how to save, or anything about investing or saving for retirement. I had to deal with physical and emotional abuse when I blew through my allowance as a teenager. I was pretty clueless about how to manage my money when I moved out and spent my first year away from home struggling and very depressed about finances. Everything I know now, I've learned from the internet.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My very first job as a 13-year-old was babysitting for fun money. At 18, I started freelancing as a translator for extra money for food and clothing.
Did you worry about money growing up?
As a teenager, my main worry was about my parents finding out I was spending my money, or what I was spending it on. I was fairly clueless about money and was fortunate enough to have a comfortable life growing up. We went on family vacations, took music classes, and were always fed and clothed.
Do you worry about money now?
Like anyone who was sentient enough during the 2008 recession and has to take care of themselves now, I'm worried. I often worry about losing my job. However, I also try my best to not put too much importance on money. I know I'm very privileged to be able to have that mindset. My husband and I are lucky enough to live a comfortable life where we can pay for all our basic necessities. I don't have a lot of interest in investing and earning more and more money. I'm currently just saving for a house. We try to live within our means; my husband and I saw a significant bump in our income in the past year, but we're really trying to avoid any lifestyle creep and we're just adding in occasional vacations and being able to pay for medical procedures.
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 20 when I ran away from home. My husband's trust fund serves as our safety net, and we also know we have a few family members we could stay with if need be.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My parents paid for my undergrad tuition and living expenses for a year. And as mentioned, my husband has a trust fund.

Day One

4:45 a.m. — My husband, T., leaves for work. I can't go back to sleep. I stretch in bed while scrolling through Reddit and TikTok. I finally get out of bed, munch on homemade granola, put my workout clothes on, and run for about 30 minutes.
6:15 a.m. — Back from my run. I make myself a cup of raspberry tea and do my post-run stretch. I feed the dog, hop in the shower, change into jeans and a T-shirt and do my morning skincare, featuring an essence, HA serum, vitamin C serum, eye cream (I love the Sunday Riley Auto Correct), moisturizer, and SPF always. I get most of my skincare for free or at a steep discount, and it gives me a reason to indulge. Once I'm done, I take the dog out for his morning walk.
7:30 a.m. — I head to my home office. My work day begins. I go through my inbox, review some assets, and build some deliverables. I make myself a parfait with homemade granola and fresh strawberries. It's a slow morning, I'm just waiting on people to deliver assets. I sit on a boring project management call while scrolling on my phone and texting a few friends.
12 p.m. — Lunch break. I clean, dust, and vacuum my kitchen, living room, and dining room before hopping on a quick call with my boss. After my call, I mop the kitchen and living area.
2 p.m. — I review a few more things from designers and hop on a call with my team where a lot of snark ensues. I'm entertained. I close my laptop around 3:40 p.m. and take the dog out for about an hour.
5:40 p.m. — I mess around for a bit, before looking at my calendar for the week. I shift some of my workouts around because I'm in serious pain, I also look at my meal plan for the next two weeks and put together a grocery list. I then delve into the process of getting one of my passports renewed, since I just realized it expired two years ago. I only use this passport when traveling to a specific location so I hadn't realized the expiration date already passed, oops. The process is super confusing so I email my embassy for help.
6 p.m. — T. gets home. We chat and share a few cookies, before plopping on the couch to watch Search Party. I feed the dog dinner at some point.
8 p.m. — T. is passed out on the couch. He's not a morning person. I try to wake him up but it's not happening. I go to our spare room/office to do my physical therapy exercises and chill for a while.
10 p.m. — Do my nighttime skincare: essence, BHA toner, eye cream, hydrating serum, and facial oil. I wake T. up and we get in bed and cuddle. The dog is also there for some reason.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

5:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I eventually get out of bed for an ab workout. I love exercising my obliques. My workout is done. I stretch and feed the dog breakfast before hopping in the shower and doing my skincare routine, then head out with the dog for his morning business.
7:30 a.m. — Time to start work. I go through my inbox and review some assets from the designers. I work on reprioritizing some projects and building deliverables. I take a quick break to make myself a smoothie and throw in some chia seeds for protein.
9:30 a.m. — Quick break from work to tidy up our bedroom and do laundry. Tuesdays are for linens. We have a shared laundry room with two other units. I pay via an app with pre-loaded money. The app only works with the washer so I have to keep quarters on hand to use the dryer. I think the HOA does this on purpose. $1.25
10 a.m. — I get to work on campaign strategy for next quarter and drink some blackberry tea. I reschedule a therapy appointment for next week. My appointments usually fall in the middle of the day and I've found that trauma dumping on my therapist during my lunch break just isn't ideal.
11 a.m. — Grab some leftover chili and sourdough to eat while I work before my next meeting. I try to make a big batch of food every weekend so I have something easily accessible, and I'm honestly so excited some random Instant Pot meal is getting me through the week.
12 p.m. — I hang out with T. for a bit. We straighten up the apartment before he leaves for work.
5 p.m. — Finally done with work after sitting in a meeting for three hours. I'm hungry, so I snack on cheese puffs. Then, I take the dog on a walk. He's a creature of habit and unhappy that I'm an hour late. We get home, I brush his teeth, and clean the bedrooms and the bathrooms. My nerves are a mess from sitting on a call for so long; cleaning helps me unwind a bit, but after some time I still feel on edge. I grab a beer and sit on my porch. The neighborhood cat walks up to me to demand pets.
7:30 p.m. — I'm feeling antsy and overwhelmed. I would totally go for a walk but it's been dark for over an hour. Why can't it be spring already? I text my friend, U., and make happy hour plans for tomorrow.
8:15 p.m. — I finally muster the courage to vacuum and mop the bedrooms and the bathroom. I reward myself by plopping on the couch and listening to The Murdaugh Family Podcast while texting my friends.
9 p.m. — I make a quick dinner of couscous, roasted veggies, and tahini dressing and box up the rest for leftovers. I scroll through Facebook Marketplace to look for some spin bikes. I bought my spin bike with an Amazon gift card over a year ago and it's in rough shape. I feel ready to invest in a quality bike but can't bring myself to drop $900+ on a second-hand Peloton. I spend some time trying to fix my bike so it doesn't squeak excessively. Tomorrow is a spin day and I want to be able to work out without waking T. up with creaking noises.
10:30 p.m. — I make some overnight oats, clean the kitchen, do my nighttime skincare, get in bed, and read before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $1.25

Day Three

5:50 a.m. — Emerge out of bed and hop on my spin bike for a 30-minute workout. Once I'm done, I feed the dog, stretch, tend to my plants, and hop in the shower for a quick co-wash. Out of the shower, I glide some coconut oil and Pattern leave-in conditioner in my hair. I style my hair with the Briogeo Coil Custard and braid it.
7:10 a.m. — Dog and I head out. Once we're back in, I make a cup of tea to warm myself up and start my work day.
8 a.m. — I work on some Photoshop edits and build deliverables, then prep for my one-on-one with my manager. I eat some overnight oats.
9:30 a.m. — I snuggle up in bed with T., it's so cold. I feel a bit more energized and get back to work. I hop on a quick call with my boss so we can plan new promotions. T. tells me he's heading out to skate.
11 a.m. — I am both feeling and looking tired. I apply some eye masks from Patchology and brew some tea.
12:30 p.m. — I want to scream at my computer for being so slow. This morning has been a bit chaotic, not necessarily bad, but I get overwhelmed easily. I've completed everything on my to-do list and am waiting on other people to confirm a few things. I make some avocado toast with an egg on top, then eat some chips while building more deliverables.
2 p.m. — I'm caught up on work. I do my hair and makeup — the most basic, with a touch of blush, mascara, and eyeliner. I pick out my outfit for happy hour tonight. I feel like I've been rotating the same outfits with a different graphic T-shirt.
3 p.m. — I hit up the empty trails by our apartment with the dog, so he can run around off-leash.
4 p.m. — I scatter a few treat dispensers and turn the TV on for the dog, and run out the door.
8:15 p.m. — I wrap up happy hour. U. And I split a pitcher or margarita and I got ceviche and a cider for myself. I'm stuffed. Luckily I get to walk home. I play an episode of Mile Higher Podcast that randomly pops up on my Spotify. $42
9 p.m. — I change clothes, clean the stairs, and chill with my dog. I scroll on TikTok for a good hour and finally stop after crying over senior dogs.
10:40 p.m. — Skincare is done. I get comfy in bed, read a book, and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $42

Day Four

6:20 a.m. — Slowly emerge out of bed and stretch my legs and hip flexors. I feed the dog and get to work. I have to handle an 8 a.m. launch. It could've been taken care of yesterday but I had to sit around and wait for my co-worker to do her part and set up everything needed for the launch.
8 a.m. — I take the dog out for a good 20 minutes while listening to Swindled Podcast, then make myself some tea and get back to my desk. I'm feeling tired. I do my morning skincare in hopes to wake up.
10 a.m. — T. leaves to meet up with some friends and gets coffee on the way ($6.15). I heat up a homemade frozen breakfast sandwich and sit on one of the top three most painful and uncomfortable calls I've had. I like to get stuff done and don't care about people making excuses for not doing their work so I ignore most of the conversation until I finally get to talk next steps. $6.15
3:30 p.m. — We take the dog to the vet for shots and to grab a six-month supply of flea, tic, and heart worm medicine. $284
4 p.m. — I get back to work for a quick minute. T. and I chill on the couch before taking the dog out.
5:30 p.m. — T. fills up the car. $20
6:30 p.m. — T. and I drive over to Walmart after I tell him we don't have Sprouts money in this economy. We get dog food, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and groceries for the next couple of weeks — including rice, couscous, tofu, bok choy, spinach, edamame, onions, garlic, apples, nectarines, baby potatoes, Brussels sprouts, ground beef, ground turkey, chips, lemons, tons of cheese, prosciutto, orange juice, teas, cake mix, ice cream, and a few snacks. I forgot a couple of things and couldn't find beef short ribs so I'll have to hit another store in the next week. $166.23
7:15 p.m. — We get home, feed the dog, and I start dinner. Today is baby potatoes and dijon mustard chicken. While everything is in the oven, I go through my meal plan for the next two weeks and look at my recipe dashboard. I also try to find out where I can get short ribs and make a plan to go at some point this weekend. Dinner is served. T. and I watch Search Party and cuddle.
11:45 p.m. — I make overnight oats, do my skincare routine, and lay in bed.
Daily Total: $476.38

Day Five

5:45 a.m. — I snooze in bed for a while. I'm feeling a bit burned out these days and I feel like it's damn near impossible to take PTO because my team likes to take vacations for weeks at a time. I feed the dog and get back in bed to cuddle with T. until he has to leave for work. He gets coffee on the way. $7.15
7 a.m. — Time for the dog's morning walk. Once we get home, I gather cold brew coffee, water, and overnight oats and get to work while listening to the Embracing Apostasy podcast.
8 a.m. — I check my bank account and see that my passport processing fee has been taken out. $130
10:15 a.m. — My head is spinning from a meeting we just had. It's just hard to capture all the information and make pivots as needed when I'm in charge of executing those changes. I feel a bit overwhelmed and just need a few additional confirmations from the rest of the team so I can deploy our updates. I enjoy a nice break and scroll on my phone. I then settle on the couch and watch Abbott Elementary and How I Met Your Father while working on Photoshop edits.
12 p.m. — My computer is going through an existential crisis, which makes me want to scream while I'm in the middle of editing graphics. I put Love Is Blind on and eat leftovers.
1:45 p.m. — It's been such a chaotic afternoon. I cranked out so many things in the last hour and a half. I lay down for a bit to recharge before tackling the rest of my work.
2:30 p.m. — Okay, I'm done with my work. I really want to take a nap but have to keep an eye on team chats in case anything else comes up in the next hour. I haven't gotten out of my hoodie and sweatpants today, I don't have the energy to shower and change right now. I plop myself in front of Community instead in hopes that it helps me relax a bit. I get so tense when cranking out work, for no reason at all.
3:30 p.m. — I wake up from a quick nap. I lay on the couch and watch TV. I'm feeling a bit better. I finally get out of my sweatpants and braid my hair, then take the dog out. I listen to another episode of The Murdaugh Family Podcast.
5 p.m. — As soon as we get home, I plop myself on the couch. I get a few messages from work about stuff needing to be updated and I just don't have it in me. My boss takes care of it. I stew about work for a bit and at some point manage to get up to clean the living room and the porch, and clean all my windows. T. texts me to let me know he's going to hang out with a friend.
6 p.m. — I play with the dog, feed him, put National Geographic on for him, and walk to the grocery store. I get daikon radish, hash browns, butter beans, sun-dried tomatoes, heavy cream, orzo, pistachios, and parmesan. $37.29
7:40 p.m. — I swing by Target for a jar of Fly By Jing (on sale!) and my favorite scent of Mrs. Meyer's laundry detergent. $31.91
8:20 p.m. — I'm home. I run a load of laundry, then grab some leftover couscous and watch TV. $1.25
9 p.m. — I pickle some radishes and marinate some tofu. I do my physical therapy in front of the TV.
10 p.m. — I chill on my phone with It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia in the background. T. gets home, we hang out, and go to bed around 12:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $207.60

Day Six

8 a.m. — I'm up. Feed the dog and lay in bed for a while.
10 a.m. — I put on my best suburban mom outfit for a dog walk. T. goes out to get us coffee. $14.40
1 p.m. — We spend most of the day hanging out. I eat some leftover chili at some point.
2:45 p.m. — T. leaves for work and I'm feeling exhausted. I make avocado toast and hope for more energy.
4 p.m. — Go on an hour-long dog walk then get back home, change into my workout clothes and hop on my spin bike for about an hour, then stretch.
6:30 p.m. — Time to feed the dog. I lay down for a while. I grab the rest of my leftover shrimp scampi and eat a nectarine. I then head to my bathroom to cut my hair. My layers are a mess. I've been cutting my hair for over six years so I hope this does the trick.
7:30 p.m. — I grab a beer from the fridge to give me the strength to do dishes. I make some quinoa, sauté bok choy and tofu from last night, cook edamame, and put it all together in a container. This will be one of my meals for the next week.
9:30 p.m. — I make freezer breakfast sandwiches with egg, spinach, tomatoes, and turkey sausage. I cut a slice of lemon pie I made last weekend, with a scoop of Van Leeuwen caramel ice cream.
12:00 a.m. — After much scrolling on my phone, I do my skincare routine, get in bed, put some classical music on, and read.
Daily Total: $14.40

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — Up and at it. I feed the dog and lay in bed scrolling on my phone for a while. I eventually get up and take the dog for a walk.
9:20 a.m. — We're back home. T. is up, we chill for a bit and he asks for a coffee. I make some simple syrup to pour it into his coffee.
9:45 a.m. — I panic check on some work. We have a promo launching at 10 a.m. and I just want to make sure everything is good to go. I also check some creative for a new launch tomorrow, and I, of course, did not get what was needed from the designers. I guess I'll have to take care of it myself. I work on design edits. I know it's going to gnaw at me all day, I'll worry about getting this deployed tomorrow.
10:40 a.m. — Time for an ab workout. Then stretch.
11:30 a.m. — I whip up a berry parfait and chill with T. while he plays music, then I hop in the shower. It's wash day. After shampooing my hair, I use the TGIN hair mask in the shower, followed by Shea Moisture conditioner. Out of the shower, it's coconut oil, leave-in conditioner, and curl custard. My hair looks great! I do my skincare routine and put on some makeup.
2 p.m. — I fill a puzzle toy for the dog, feed him hemp treats and turn the TV on, then J. and I head out. We walk around downtown and end up in a coffee shop. We get coffee and a bear claw. $16.40
4 p.m. — I've been thinking about a good rack of ribs. We sit at a BBQ place and order two beers and a platter. $80
6:30 p.m. — Home and feed the dog. I take him out once he's done with his dinner.
7:30 p.m. — We chill with some cooking shows in the background and go to bed around 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $96.40
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