A Week In Westchester County, NY On A $525,000 Joint Income

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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 $525,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on flowers.
Occupation: Marketing Manager
Industry: Fintech
Age: 33
Location: Westchester County, NY
My Salary: $180,000 + $70,000 bonus
My Husband's Salary: $175,000 + $100,000 bonus
Net Worth: ~$1.24 million, which consists of about $552,000 in cash (we're getting ready to buy a house), $390,000 in retirement, $31,000 in bonds, $259,000 in the market, and $6,000 in cryptocurrency. We combined everything when we got married.
Debt: $0
My Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $3,892.43
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $3,845.20
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $3,800
Daycare: $2,600
Electric: $325
Medical/Dental/Vision: $0 (paid for in full by husband's employer)
Cell Phone: $0 (this is a little embarrassing but we're both still on our parents' plans. They say that it'll become more expensive to actually kick us off the plan, so we're staying on until they tell us otherwise.)
Internet: $40
YouTubeTV: $65
Netflix: $18
Spotify: $10
Peloton Bike: $53.33
Peloton Membership: $39
401(k): $1,650 (my employer matches up to $10,000 annually)
Husband's 401(k): $1,604 (no company match)
Forced Savings From Paychecks: $2,400
Additional Monthly Savings: $3,300
Amazon Prime (annual): $119
Car Insurance (annual): $1,090
Renters Insurance (annual): $202
Life Insurance (annual): $1,819
Dependent Care FSA (annual): $5,000, deducted from husband's paychecks
Chase Sapphire Reserve Fee (annual): $550
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, it was never even up for discussion. Both my parents attended college and it was assumed I'd do the same. I was always a very good student and my parents definitely put pressure on me to do well in school, in hopes that I'd end up going to a great college. I was fortunate enough for them to pay in full for my education — something I don't take for granted and have a whole new perspective on now that I have a child of my own.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We didn't have many conversations about money, but I did start earning an allowance when I was 5 or 6 for doing small household chores. My parents taught me the importance of saving for things I'd like to have in the future, and that they wouldn't always be able to support me financially. As I got older and did more legit chores, my weekly allowance increased.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
At age 14, I had two jobs. To me, the idea of working felt very grown-up and something I was excited to be old enough to do. But also, like many teen girls, I had become addicted to shopping and my parents told me I needed to start earning my own money if there were things I really wanted to buy. During the week, I helped out at my temple's Hebrew school tutoring students that were struggling with reading Hebrew. My family isn't religious at all and never has been, but I happened to be very good at reading Hebrew, so I was happy to do this. During the weekends, I worked at a family friend's dance studio helping out with kids' dance birthday parties (think: Lizzie McGuire-themed games and dance routines). Honestly, it was the most fun job and the tips were great. It taught me at a young age that work can and should be enjoyable, and I've carried this with me throughout my career.
Did you worry about money growing up?
For most of my childhood, no...that is, until my dad passed away just before my 16th birthday. Up until that point, I lived a pretty privileged life, which became more and more apparent to me as I got older...but because I lived in a town where nearly everyone was well-off, I couldn't appreciate it at the time. My dad was more or less the sole breadwinner and worked really hard to get where he was, and he also made really smart financial decisions before he died to ensure my family's life wouldn't have to change dramatically. Of course, I didn't know this and I remember asking my mom if we'd have to sell our house or if she'd have to get a job — neither of which had to happen. But my mom's spending habits changed, which had a big impact on mine as well.
Do you worry about money now?
All the time. That probably sounds surprising based on our income, but keep in mind, we live in one of the most expensive areas of the country. Yes, we could always pick up and move to a different part of the country with a lower cost of living and trust me, we've thought about it, but our families are here and we could never leave them. We are both pretty frugal and are major savers, so as a result, we are probably better positioned than most...but everything, especially real estate, is crazy expensive and we plan to have another child, so the idea of our childcare expenses doubling definitely stresses us out.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
After I graduated college, I was fortunate to land a great job pretty quickly, but I was paid poorly. Living in NYC is expensive and I knew once I moved out, I'd more or less be living paycheck to paycheck, so I lived at home the first six months to save as much as possible. My 1.5-hour commute in each direction started to suck the life out of me, especially because I worked long hours, so I moved into the city and immediately got cut off (with the exception of my cell phone). If necessary, my mom would be able to support us financially, as would my in-laws.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
After my mom sold our childhood home, she gifted me and my brother $15,000 each from the proceeds.

Day One

8:10 a.m. — Much to my surprise, I sleep in. The house is quiet which means my husband, E., and our two-year-old son, J., must already be on their way to daycare. I check my work email on my phone and roll out of bed. It's "No Meeting Friday," which means I don't really need to put myself together. I throw my hair in a bun, put on a matching sweat set, head downstairs to grab coffee, and log onto my computer in our office. E. gets home shortly after and assumes his usual work from home spot at the kitchen table.
10:30 a.m. — I get a note from our CMO asking me to draft an email to send out to a few of our leaders about a new initiative I recently rolled out. My job's scope is a new focus for the company, and I only just started here four months ago, so she feels it's important to highlight this early win. She's the best. Separately, she asks me to put together some talking points about my strategy this year so she can speak to them on Monday in the weekly executive team meeting. I'm still amazed by the level of support for my work...I've never experienced anything like this before at any company.
12 p.m. — I head downstairs and grab a bowl of cereal and a clementine for lunch. E. and I work on an Instacart curbside pickup order, which I'll grab after picking up J. at daycare. It's pretty large since we haven't ordered in two weeks. We get milk, a bunch of fruits and veggies, yogurt, coffee, cereal, salmon, chicken, ground beef, chicken nuggets, snacks for us and J., brown sugar, butter, cheese, whipped cream, olive oil, beer, and spiked seltzer. $198.92
4:30 p.m. — I usually step away from work at this point so I have time to exercise before getting J. I do a 30-minute Peloton Full Body Strength class and a 10-minute Hill Climb ride. I don't leave myself enough time to shower, so I quickly jump in the car to get J. at daycare, and then grab our groceries from Wegmans on the way home. Curbside pickup for groceries is the best invention and something I plan to continue to do if I can post-COVID.
6 p.m. — I unload the groceries while E. gives J. a bath and dinner. I check my email on my phone and see a bunch of the leaders I had emailed earlier responded, all saying very positive things. And unbeknownst to me, my CMO forwarded my email to our CEO, who responded with "awesome." I smile to myself, as this is yet another reminder of how lucky I am to have landed such an amazing job after getting laid off in late April.
7 p.m. — We call in a dinner order from a place down the street. We get a ricotta dip, a bacon cheeseburger, and a chicken caesar salad. We read J. a book, put him to bed, and then dig into our meal. $45.52
8 p.m. — I hop in the shower while E. cleans up. We head over to the couch and put on Arrested Development, which we started from the beginning a few weeks ago and love so far.
10 p.m. — Since we both tend to sleep pretty poorly overnight, we go to sleep on the early side, even on the weekends. I fall asleep almost immediately.
Daily Total: $244.44

Day Two

7:15 a.m. — We get woken up to the sounds of J. talking to himself. He loves being in the crib so we generally don't rush in to get him, especially since he sometimes falls back to sleep.
8:15 a.m. — E. heads out for a run, and I grab J. and make breakfast for him. He requests an English muffin and strawberries, and I make the same for myself...but of course, he'd rather eat mine than his, so he eats about half of my food and all of his. He's unusually happy to stay seated in his chair, so I take full advantage and play different animal sounds for him on my phone while he identifies the animals. He finds this to be the most hysterical thing ever.
11:10 a.m. — My mom comes over to watch J. while E. and I go see a house we may want to buy.
12 p.m. — Sooo...we love the house. This took us completely by surprise, as we aren't in a huge rush to buy since we moved to a bigger rental recently. E., especially, would be happy renting forever. Before COVID, we were actively looking and bid on a house in a different town at the end of February that we ultimately didn't get. We were bummed, but in retrospect, this was for the best since I lost my job two months later. Plus, we love this house and town way more. We drive over to a local park to debrief further and start outlining what we want to say in our personal note to the sellers that will accompany our offer to make it more compelling. We place an order online for salads for us and my mom from Sweetgreen ($43.21), which we remember opened nearby recently and we miss from our days of working in the city...even though it's so overpriced. $43.21
1 p.m. — J .is asleep for his nap, so we eat our salads and discuss the house further with my mom. As insane as the housing market was before COVID, it's gotten even more competitive now, with so many people now looking to get out of we know we need to act fast. I text our realtor to see if we can get back into this house this afternoon with my mom so she can see it too, and she says yes!
2 p.m. — E. tells me he's doing a box pool for the Super Bowl through work and Venmos his coworker who's running it. We can use all the extra cash we can get right now, so my fingers are crossed he wins! $40
4:30 p.m. — Back at our hopefully future house! We love the house just as much the second time, and my mom loves it too. E. and I talk to our realtor about putting in an offer at the full asking price. Because the house hasn't hit the market yet, she needs to feel out the listing agent to see if the sellers would be willing to take a deal now and not list the home and says she'll let us know.
6:30 p.m. — E. and I sit with J. while he eats dinner and we place a pickup order for ourselves. We order two lamb gyros from a nearby Greek spot that we love. Usually, I cook on Saturday nights and we order in on Sundays, but because I'm cooking a feast for the Super Bowl, I give myself a break tonight. We have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and that gives us $60 in Door Dash credits, which we haven't used yet this year, so our meal ends up being free. We get a text from the realtor saying the sellers want to give it a week, which means they are going to move forward with listing the house. We feel a little defeated, but also realize it would've been too easy if things worked out this perfectly. Hopefully, we don't end up in a bidding war.
7:30 p.m. — I go out to pick up dinner while E. does the bedtime routine with J. I'm super annoyed because the last time we ordered from this restaurant, they offered curbside pickup and it was really easy. This time, they've taken their phone off the hook and I see people coming in and out with takeout I guess I'm going in. People aren't remotely social distancing in here, which makes me really uncomfortable.
8:15 p.m. — After we finish eating, E. and I pour ourselves some red wine and eat the last two cookies of the batch I baked last week. I discovered early on in quarantine that I actually find a lot of joy in baking, so since mid-March, I've baked nearly every week. I also chalk this up to being unemployed for five months so I had more time to experiment with baking and cooking.
10:30 p.m. — Bedtime!
Daily Total: $83.21

Day Three

6 a.m. — I wake up because I'm very congested. I typically have spring allergies, but a few years ago I developed a dust mite allergy so they can be pretty bad in the winter too. Once I'm up, I can't get back to sleep because my mind is of course racing over this house. I eventually fall back asleep.
8:45 a.m. — Wow, we slept for longer than we thought. I check my phone and see I have a text from our realtor. She thinks if we love the house we should go ahead and submit an offer since we'll be first and it shows we really want it. We spring out of bed, get J. from his crib and bring him down for breakfast...the sooner he's seated, the sooner we can submit the offer! I quickly make him some pancakes.
10 a.m. — We fine-tune our letter to the sellers and get ready to send to our realtor with our mortgage pre-approval letter...only to discover that there's an error with our address on it. We send a frantic email to the bank to fix it. How did we miss this?! E. gets upset and worries that we won't have the updated letter until tomorrow, and another offer will come through before then. That's when I realize he actually loves this house as much as I do.
11 a.m. — I play with J. in his room. His new favorite hobby is dressing in multiple layers of clothing. While J. continues his fashion show, E. goes outside to shovel. We got 26 inches of snow (!!) earlier this week and we are supposed to get another six today, and it's already really coming down. Remind me why we don't live somewhere warm?? While he's outside, I hear from our realtor that the error on our pre-approval letter isn't a big deal, so once he comes in, we calm down and submit everything to her. She tells us our letter to the sellers is great — fingers crossed it makes the difference!
12 p.m. — E. takes over J. duty, and I sneak out so I can squeeze in a Peloton workout. I finish just in time to give J. a kiss and help tuck him in before his nap.
1 p.m. — I shower and head downstairs to start prepping for our Super Bowl meal. I'm making garlic knots, teriyaki glazed chicken wings, beef nachos, and a chickpea, avocado, and feta salad. I take the pizza dough out for the garlic knots to let it rise (sorry I'm not sorry for taking a shortcut) and mix up the wing marinade. I text my mom to see if she is still coming over today to watch the game. She says yes, but I'm really hoping she reconsiders. Our neighborhood is built on a huge hill and the roads look terrible so I worry about her driving.
2:45 p.m. — E. shovels the driveway again while I prep the beef mixture for the nachos. He brings J. down after his nap. Since my mom is on dessert duty and I want to plan in case she can't make it here, I start whipping up my go-to chocolate chip cookies. Can't possibly watch the Super Bowl without having dessert to eat!
5 p.m. — The snow has stopped and the roads seem like they've been cleared, so my mom ends up coming over (oh well, guess we'll just have extra dessert!). E. realizes we're out of salt and probably should get more before everything freezes over tonight, so he drives down to the gas station to buy some. $17.32
6:30 p.m. — E. puts J. to bed. I set up the food buffet-style on our kitchen island. We fill up our plates and head into the living room to watch the game.
9 p.m. — The game is pretty boring, and I'm only somewhat invested because of the box pool. My mom goes home in the middle of the 4th quarter, and we head upstairs to go to bed right after the game ends.
Daily Total: $17.32

Day Four

7:50 a.m. — Wake up to the sound of J. fighting with E. because he doesn't want to put his socks on. I check my work email and scroll through Instagram before forcing myself to get out of bed.
12:15 p.m. — I finish up a morning of calls. I head downstairs to eat lunch with E. Pre-quarantine, I used to always eat breakfast, especially since at my last job, we had a fully stocked kitchen. Now I find I don't wake up that hungry, so I usually eat for the first time at lunch. The tray of nachos I made last night was massive and there are a ton of leftovers, so I reheat some. They were much better last night. We continue to discuss the house and determine we probably won't hear back on our offer until the house officially goes on the market at some point later this week.
1:15 p.m. — I get an automated alert that the house we put the offer on is officially on the market, which really surprises us. We didn't think it was coming on until later in the week so naturally, we start speculating and wonder if our offer is what prompted them to list it sooner.
3 p.m. — I'm finding that I'm having a more productive afternoon than I expected, only to see that I get another alert for a house that's come on the market in the same town we want. It's a little over our price range, but in looking at the photos, we think it might be overpriced, even in this crazy competitive market. I ask the realtor what she thinks. She agrees and says she thinks we should go see it. We make an appointment for tomorrow afternoon.
4:10 p.m. — I sign off for the afternoon. Today was pretty quiet so I hop on the Peloton earlier than usual. I take my sweet time in the shower and even shave my legs...only to find when I get out that I have a massive clump of conditioner in my right ear. I can be such a hot mess sometimes.
5:30 p.m. — I mix together the marinade for the honey garlic glazed salmon and cut up the broccoli I'm making tonight before running out the door to get J.
6:30 p.m. — I make dinner for J. and get started on cooking ours. Then, we sit down to eat as a family.
7:30 p.m. — We put J. to bed, and I relax on the couch and answer some work emails with one of my chocolate chip cookies in hand. The Bachelor comes on shortly after (highlight of my Mondays!), and I half pay attention while I look online for a baby gift. I pick out a cute one-piece from a kid's clothing site that we have a gift card from that we still haven't used, so it doesn't cost us anything.
10 p.m. — I head upstairs to get in bed after The Bachelor ends, and E. joins a little later. We snuggle for a few minutes and then it's lights out. We're tired!
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

8:45 a.m. — How the hell did I sleep in so late? I have a 9 a.m. call so I spring awake, put on eyeliner and concealer, throw on leggings and a top, run downstairs to fill up a big mug of coffee, and get back upstairs with two minutes to spare. I decide I still look like a zombie, so I opt to leave my camera off.
9:30 a.m. — My call wraps up and I peruse Amazon for Valentine's Day cards for J. I pick out a cute set of dinosaur valentines. When I go to check out, I'm surprised to see that we have an Amazon gift card so the cards come out to $0.
11:11 a.m. — I make a wish that we get the house.
12:30 p.m. — I head downstairs to have lunch with E. We make our usual "yogurt parfait" lunch, which is a Chobani greek yogurt, a scoop of peanut butter, and some chocolate chips. While we're eating, my brother texts me to ask if we want to chip in on flowers to send to my mom for Valentine's Day. My mom recently split up with her long-term boyfriend, so we thought this would be a good way to cheer her up. $33
3 p.m. — We head out to go see the other house with our realtor. It's in a completely different neighborhood, with a very different vibe. The house is nice but outdated, it looked much nicer in the photos than in person, and we decide we still love the other one much more. We're in and out pretty quickly, so we spend the rest of our time chatting with her about what's happening with the other house now that it's listed. She still feels good about us getting it but warns us it could go to a bidding war, which is exactly what we were trying to avoid.
4:30 p.m. — After the showing, I crank through some more work at home and then sign off to get a Peleton ride in. I quickly mix together the spice blend for the chicken thighs I'm making later and prep the string beans so E. can put them in before I get home with J. And I'm off! Always rushing...
6:45 p.m. — I get back with J. and we have dinner and then I put him to bed.
7:30 p.m. — I finally take a shower. I head downstairs to help clean up and then make a batch of banana muffins. I FaceTime with a friend while I bake.
9:15 p.m. — E. and I get in bed and watch a few episodes of Arrested Development before going to sleep.
Daily Total: $33

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — We get woken up to the sounds of J. alternating between screeching and laughing...he's so strange sometimes. E. takes him to daycare and gets gas ($29.27) on the way home. I check Instagram and my work email in bed, put on another matching sweat set, grab coffee downstairs, and commute upstairs to the office. $29.27
9:30 a.m. — I get a call from the mattress retrieval company that they'll be here in 30 minutes. We ordered a king mattress from an online retailer with a free 100-day trial a few months ago, and it was way too firm for us, so we decided to return it and get a different one (which we love!). COVID really backed things up so they said it would be four to six weeks before they could come pick it up, and today is finally the day. We're VERY excited to get this mattress out of our bedroom, as it's been propped up against our wall this whole time. Not to mention, we're happy to get the refund...mattresses ain't cheap!
12 p.m. — As I'm wrapping up a work call, I see my brother is calling me, which is very unusual for midday. I call him back and he tells me that he just heard about a pop-up COVID vaccination site in the Bronx, where they're taking walk-ins only and they'll vaccinate anyone, even if you're not eligible. I have been pretty adamant about waiting until it's our "turn" to get the shot and have been pretty critical of those who have found loopholes or lied to jump the line...but the way it's explained to me, this site is intended for Bronx residents, but not enough residents were showing up for the shots, so there's been a ton of excess that have been thrown out. We're told to be prepared to wait for hours in line in the cold, but we decide it's worth a shot (literally). By 12:30, we're bundled up and in the car.
1:30 p.m. — We park a few blocks away from the vaccination site, feed the parking meter ($4), and join the back of the line. The line doesn't look THAT bad, but it doesn't take us long to realize it's barely moving. We call my mom and ask her to get J. at daycare and bring him back to our house because we're unsure if we'll be back in time at this rate. $4
3 p.m. — We get word from someone inside that they have plenty of shots still, so we start to feel good about our chances of getting one today. We needed this positive boost because our toes are starting to go numb and we haven't made much progress on the line. We get a message from J.'s daycare that he's running low on diapers, so we place an order on Amazon. We still have this mysterious gift card on our account so we end up just needing to pay the difference! $6.41
3:30 p.m. — We hear that the vaccination site is staying open until all of the vaccines allocated for the day are given, which gives us hope, although my toes don't seem to get the memo. E. goes to add another two hours to the parking meter. $4
5 p.m. — We're nearing the front of the line, and we hear from a worker that based on where we're standing, we should be able to be vaccinated today...that is until they start pulling only Bronx residents from the line to go to inside. I totally get it, the whole reason the site is set up is to vaccinate this population, but they haven't done this once the entire afternoon and we can't understand why now. We eventually move up in the line and end up eight people from the front, only to hear at 5:27 that they are done for the day, which feels like a cruel joke. They have us sign our names on a list and tell us we *should* have priority tomorrow if we come back early, but we are very skeptical. We head to the car upset and freezing and debate whether it's worth coming back.
6 p.m. — We're on our way home and I realize that the leftovers I had taken out of the freezer to eat tonight won't be enough for three of us, now that my mom is at the house and staying for dinner. We feel like eating our feelings so I call in an order for pickup from a local pizza spot for a caesar salad and a large vodka pie. $34.57
7 p.m. — We all eat dinner together. We decide that we're going to go back super early tomorrow to try to get the vaccine and J. will sleep at my mom's, which he's thrilled about. They pack up and E. and I sign back on to do work for a few hours since we're way behind after our little adventure this afternoon.
10:30 p.m. — Done working for the night, and off to bed...big day tomorrow!
Daily Total: $78.25

Day Seven

6:15 a.m. — I'm up before my alarm and ready to go get my shot! I vow to be better prepared for the cold today and I throw on a pair of fuzzy socks over my regular socks to ensure I don't lose feeling in my toes again. E. takes a quick shower and I place an order over the phone for two coffees and a muffin from a cafe down the street to grab on our way to the Bronx. We're on our way by 7:20! $11.38
8:15 a.m. — We are easily able to find a street parking spot, which means not needing to worry about a meter this time. I hear from my brother, who got here an hour earlier, and he tells me there's been someone walking up and down the line asking for people who left their name on the list yesterday and bringing them to the front. I'm shocked, as I really didn't think being on this list would mean anything. We hustle over from our parking spot and walk up just in time to see the worker who is checking names on the list. He immediately brings us inside, even though they aren't set to begin vaccinations until 9. We end up sitting in a waiting room of distanced-but-not-really chairs with about 25 other people. Everyone is masked, but we wish we were able to wait outside instead, as there's no circulation in the room, and we're going to be here for a while before they start.
9:15 a.m. — They start bringing us in from the waiting room and now ask us to form a socially distant line (better late than never?) to go into the vaccination room. Within 15 minutes, we're registered and vaccinated, hooray! We're in awe that we managed to get vaccinated feels like we've won the lottery.
10:50 a.m. — Back home just in time for my 11 a.m. call. It snowed a couple of inches last night, so E. heads out to do his new favorite activity...shoveling!
1 p.m. — I finish my back-to-back calls and head downstairs to have my usual yogurt parfait for lunch. E. and I debate whether to bug our realtor for an update on the house...we know there probably isn't one, but sitting here without an answer on our offer is driving us insane. We decide to hold off.
2:30 p.m. — My brother and I get a text from my mom telling us that our grandmother (my dad's mom) is very sick and in the hospital with COVID and pneumonia. I call the hospital to speak with her, but I'm warned by the nurse that mentally she isn't in a good place and has been screaming and incoherent all day. I witness this firsthand once she's on the phone with me and the nurse hangs up the phone quickly.
4 p.m. — I've been trying to get work done but I'm too distracted about my grandma to focus, so I switch gears and write out the Valentine's Day cards for J.'s class, which just arrived. I get annoyed when I see the cards all say "Your dino-tastic" instead of "You're dino-tastic." Really? Someone couldn't have checked the grammar before printing them? Good thing two-year-olds aren't the grammar police like I am.
4:45 p.m. — I do a 30-minute Peloton ride. I head out to get J. right after it ends.
6:45 p.m. — Since I'm only reheating leftovers for us, I manage to time dinner properly and the three of us are able to eat together. Then, we put J. to bed.
9 p.m. — After doing an hour or so of work, we close our laptops and put on the latest episode of This is Us. At this point, we realize that both of us have very sore arms from the vaccine and hope this is the only side effect we encounter. Despite the discomfort, we both fall asleep quickly.
Daily Total: $11.38
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