A Week In Vero Beach, FL, On A $40,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a content marketing specialist who makes $40,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on foam animal magnets.
Occupation: Content Marketing Specialist
Industry: E-Commerce
Age: 28
Location: Vero Beach, FL
Salary: $40,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,197.60
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $500 (We rent from a family member who charges us roughly the cost of their mortgage while Z., my husband, is in school)
Student Loans: $0 (full scholarship, plus my parents covered living expenses while I was in school)
Internet: $64.99
Cell Phone: $160 (My half is expensed by my employer, so actually it's about $80)
Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon, Hulu, ESPN+: $45.52
CANVA (I use this for work, haven't had the courage to fight to get it expensed): $12.95
Health Insurance: $250 each paycheck (Covers my husband, two kids, and me)
Savings: $25 automatic transfer to savings. I know it isn't much, but for now this is all we can afford.

Day One

7:14 a.m. — Wake up and hear the twins chatting away in their room. Z. and I get up and get started on the morning routine: he prepares bottles while I pick up the playroom and grab diapers. We get the twins out of their cribs. Z. showers while I play with the twins for a bit and then we switch. He makes breakfast for the twins while I shower. I work from home so I have a super lazy morning routine. I just shower, throw on comfy clothes, and put my wet hair in a scrunchie. I don't blame having twins on getting lazy with my appearance, it's really working remotely that is the culprit!! Once I'm done, we clean the twins up and get them dressed for the day. This whole process takes about two hours every morning.
9:15 a.m. — My mom and sister watch the twins for the day once a week and that day is today. Toddler free! Z. packs his lunch then leaves for class and I get to work on a big project.
11:57 a.m. — I get a huge chunk of my project done and leave my desk for a lunch break. I heat up leftover ribs Z. made for dinner last night and a piece of chocolate cake for dessert. I watch New Girl and read Money Diaries while I eat.
12:40 p.m. — I make a cup of coffee and get back to work.
3:30 p.m. — I take a break to sit outside with my dogs and cat. My mom and sister return with the twins while I'm sitting outside. I help my sister get settled in the playroom before getting back to work.
5 p.m. — I submit what I have complete to my boss for notes and call it a day. I get the twins dinner ready — chicken, Brussels sprouts, potato with cheese, and peaches.
5:45 p.m. — Z. is hanging out with friends tonight playing Pokémon Go so my sister is staying to help with bedtime and have a movie night afterwards. The twins finish eating and we get started on our bedtime routine — bath, books, bottle, and bed.
7 p.m. — Twins are in bed asleep. My sister and I order delivery. I get a poke bowl and crab rangoons. She pays this time. We watch Witches of Eastwick (rented via Amazon $4.52) and True Blood. $4.52
12:10 a.m. — When I finally get to bed after hanging out with my sister, Z. is already asleep.
Daily Total: $4.52

Day Two

7 a.m. — Morning routine as usual! Also yay, it's payday. We pretty much live paycheck to paycheck while Z. is in school, but it's helping us set up okay habits. We have to limit shopping and fast food, something I spent a ridiculous amount of money on before being the sole breadwinner. It also teaches us how to budget and survive on one check. When we have two incomes, we can use that money for savings and retirement. We always pay our bills as soon as our paycheck comes in. Z. is responsible for remembering to pay for phone and internet. I pay rent and lawn service. This helps us know exactly how much money we have until next payday and we never get behind on bills.
9 a.m. — Z. doesn't have class today so he takes over fully with the twins and I move into my office to work.
10:30 a.m. — I take a 10-minute break to help Z. put the twins down for a nap
12:45 p.m. — I feel like if I have to stare at this project for one more minute I might explode. I finish up and send it to my boss for notes/directions on the second batch of graphics. I also let her know I have to run a few errands. So thankful for the flexibility this job provides. It means I can run errands with Z. and spare him the stress of taking the twins out on his own.
1 p.m. — My boss calls me to tell me she's super happy with my project and that she doesn't have any changes/notes for the second batch. I feel like Nick in New Girl: “NO NOTES!”
1:15 p.m. — Z. and I get the girls dressed after they wake up from their nap and we head to Walmart. We go grocery shopping every paycheck for groceries to last us for two weeks. Our goal is to definitely keep it under $200, but ideally around $100. This time we had a lot of basics to replenish so the total is $152.43. We qualify for WIC, but our card hasn't been working and I just don't have the time or energy to go in every single month or spend time calling them to figure it out. After this trip, we decide we'll probably quit the program since our card continues not to work. It was a lifesaver while the twins were on calorie-supplemented formula for being born prematurely because the formula they needed was very expensive (over $400 a month!!!), but now that they're eating solids we think we can afford their groceries. $152.43
2:45 p.m. — We get back home and I help Z. feed the girls a late lunch and then I get back to work.
5:30 p.m. — I play with the twins while Z. makes them dinner (chicken nuggets, Brussels sprouts, loaded baked potato, pears).
6:15 p.m. — Bedtime routine starts: bath, books, bed!
7 p.m. — Twins are asleep and it's time to RELAX. Z. makes us dinner (steak, potatoes, and Caesar salad). After dinner, Z. and I play video games, it's our way to escape and relax. I lay in bed playing Sims 3 (I love it too much to switch to Sims 4 just yet) while he plays Final Fantasy.
10:45 p.m. — We finally get off our games to cuddle and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $152.43

Day Three

7 a.m. — Morning routine as usual. This is consistent pretty much every day. Routine is a HUGE part of surviving first-time parenthood, especially with twins.
9 a.m. — Today is Friday, which means work is typically slower. The majority of the people I work with are remote like me and I think it's just a universal understanding that Fridays are for wrapping the week up. I mainly use Fridays for correspondence and updating my task list. My task list is extremely long which has me a little stressed and I resolve to work this weekend to get ahead of next week.
10:30 a.m. — As usual, I take a break to help Z. put the twins down for a nap.
12:58 p.m. — Twins wake up from their nap and we have to run another errand today to get our friends a baby shower gift (I promise we don't run errands like this every day normally, it's just an especially busy week). We head to Target and buy a few things off their registry. We also buy an Elmo toy for the twins. We only get one because they seem to be sharing it okay through the store. Most of the time we have to buy two, so this is a rare blessing. $86.65
2 p.m. — We get Chick-Fil-A on our way home. My sister would be so disappointed in me, but it's right here. They forget to give us the kids meal so that makes the decision for no more Chick-Fil-A even more solidified, bad politics plus bad service = not worth the money. $21.49
2:45 p.m. — When we get home, my sister is there with my cousin who wanted to meet the twins. It's my grandma's birthday this weekend and there's a huge party/family reunion (which means drama! So much drama on this side of the family). They play and distract them while Z. and I get their lunch ready and then I head back to my office to get a little more work done.
5:30 p.m. — Z. gets dinner ready for the twins, tonight is lazy — peanut butter and jelly, bananas, and pears.
6:12 p.m. — Bedtime routine: bath, books, bed. Fairly smooth routine tonight, minus Twin A pooping on the floor and Twin B trying to play in it. Oh, joy.
7:20 p.m. — I immediately fall asleep as soon as I lay down for a nighttime power nap. Honestly didn't know these were a thing or even possible until I had children. While I nap, Z. makes dinner: steak, ravioli, and Caesar salad. By the time I wake up, it's ready and I'm starving!
8 p.m. — I lay in bed watching New Girl and feeling absolutely lazy with zero energy to do anything else (I have to remind myself that it's okay to not feel productive 100% of the time. I have major anxiety over whether or not I am doing enough in any aspect of my life. Work, raising kids, relationships. Trying to work on staying present and not stressing so much).
10:40 p.m. — Z. comes to bed. We have sex. I try to initiate sex at least once a week if he hasn't already. I know it's not super romantic to schedule, but with everything else going on it's so easy to forget about the person next to me working just as hard to raise two toddlers. I want him to always feel like I find him attractive and appreciate all that he's doing as a stay-at-home parent.
Daily Total: $108.14

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — I wake up early today for some reason, but the twins are still mostly asleep (one is playing in her crib happily and the other is snoozing). I let the dogs out and try not to wake Z. up.
7 a.m. — Everyone else is up and we get started on our routine. We try to give the twins their milk in a sippy cup instead of a bottle and it fails miserably. Like “two crying toddlers clinging to you and you can't move” failing. We give in and give them their bottles. Not sure how we're going to ween them off bottles, we're a few months past the recommended age.
9 a.m. — Today's morning routine is going a little slower since it's Saturday. While Z. showers, I make breakfast and coffee. I eat while the twins eat and then I shower while Z. watches the twins. I come out of the shower to find that Z. did the dishes even though it was my turn. Yay!
11 a.m. — The rest of the morning is full of playing with the twins, getting the baby shower gift and my grandma's birthday gift (a painting I did) wrapped, then getting the twins down for their nap. Once they're asleep I make a cup of coffee and relax for a little bit of peace before the absolute chaos of the day ahead.
12:30 p.m. — My sister arrives to babysit while Z. and I go to the baby shower. She is our go-to baby sitter and I have offered to pay her, but she refuses. She loves hanging out with her nieces.
3:30 p.m. — We get back from the baby shower — it was super cute with yummy food. We immediately get the twins cleaned up and in their cute matching outfits (I'm not one of those twin moms that absolutely HAS to match their outfits, but it's cute to do every now and then) and then we head to my grandma's 85th bowling birthday bash.
8:30 p.m. — The party was soooo much fun. Open bar, surprisingly good food, and bowling. Plus the twins did AMAZING with all the family and most surprisingly of all NO DRAMA! As soon as we get home we get our extremely tired children to bed.
10 p.m. — My body aches from wrangling two toddlers at a bowling alley all night and I have zero energy, I lay in bed watching New Girl while giving Z. back rubs until we both pass out.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6 a.m. — It's daylight savings so we all wake up an hour earlier. It takes a bit to adjust to the time change, but I much prefer this one to the one in Spring. We get an earlier start to the day without feeling tired. Z. and I skip breakfast but make the girls some wheat toast with bananas.
9:30 a.m. — We have a lot of family stuff today as well. First is a BBQ at my parents' house. We head out after the morning routine.
1:30 p.m. — Z. drops me off at home to get some work done. He heads to his dad's with the twins. Sometimes I work on Sundays or at nights to meet deadlines or to get ahead of the week, which means I can have a little more flexibility during the week to run errands or watch the twins. I make coffee and get right to work.
5:30 p.m. — Z. is back with the twins. We make them a small dinner since they ate at their grandpa's. We feed them turkey, wheat toast, and bananas. They don't eat much since they aren't super hungry.
6 p.m. — Bedtime routine, the usual: bath, books, and bed.
7 p.m. — Z. and I are feeling super lazy for dinner tonight so we heat up some frozen mini tacos and chicken nuggets in the oven. So healthy.
10:30 p.m. — We play video games for a little bit then fall asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

6 a.m. — Up earlier again today because of the time change. We do our usual morning routine but it's also trash day so Z. takes out the recycling and trash and I clean the litter box.
9:45 a.m. — Z. has classes for most of the day today so I am taking care of the twins by myself. He packs his lunch again today. I'll most likely get very little work done, but I worked yesterday and I'll work more tonight to make up for it. We do this every Monday and my boss is okay with it as long as I get my projects complete.
10:30 a.m. — I put the twins down for their nap by myself, which is a huge accomplishment. We still rock and cuddle them until they're ready to lay down and honestly we probably will for however long they're okay with it. Screw those judgmental mommy forums that say it's a bad habit! It does make solo nap time difficult though because lifting two sleepy toddlers out of a rocker at the same time and placing them one at a time in their crib without bonking their heads and totally waking them up is a challenge. I am successful today though! While they nap I go through my email and then I take a little nap as well because toddlers are draining.
1 p.m. — Twins are up and Z. is back because his second class was canceled, yay! I make tuna melts with wild rice and carrot soup for all of us to eat for lunch.
2 p.m. — After lunch, I play with the twins for a little bit while Z. does work around the house.
2:30 p.m. — Z. takes over in the playroom, I quickly clean the kitchen and load the dishwasher then I head to my office to get some work done before dinner/bedtime. While I'm working Z. buys a few household necessities from Amazon: toilet paper, latex cleaning gloves, air filters, and dishwasher detergent. $41.38
5 p.m. — Z. and I get the twins in their stroller and take the dogs on a walk before dinner.
5:30 p.m. — I make dinner for the twins: ravioli, mixed vegetables, ham, and mandarin oranges.
6:30 p.m. — Bedtime routine: bath, books, and bed.
7 p.m. — I make dinner. It's salmon, sautéed portobello mushrooms, and rice.
8 p.m. — I get a little bit more work done and schedule a meeting with my boss for tomorrow morning.
9 p.m. — I play Sims and watch New Girl then get back rubs from Z. until we fall asleep.
Daily Total: $41.38

Day Seven

6 a.m. — Wake up and get started on our morning routine.
8 a.m. — Z. makes the twins breakfast: pumpkin purée, pears, and mixed vegetables.
9 a.m. — A cleaning service comes to our house every Tuesday (an amazing baby shower gift from my mom for the first two years). We decide we want to pack up and head to my parents' house for the day to avoid the cleaning chaos. On our way there we drive through McDonald's for breakfast. Z. gets a breakfast sandwich meal and I get the burrito meal, but end up only eating one of the burritos and I give the second to Z. $12.51
9:30 a.m. — My 9:30 meeting gets pushed to 10.
10 a.m. — Then the meeting gets pushed again to 10:30.
10:50 a.m. — Still no word from my boss... so I decide to call her but the call is declined. She must be caught in another call.
11 a.m. — My boss finally calls. She was having issues with some renovations going on at her house. We talk a little bit about the stress of working remotely and not being able to escape personal-life happenings during the day since you're home. I personally wouldn't have it any other way because I get to be a huge part of the twins' life, but I do miss the focus of going into an office, getting your work done, and clocking out. We go over my task list and plan to meet in person next week for lunch to go over the holiday marketing plans.
12:45 p.m. — Z., the twins, and I meet my mom for lunch. I order tuna poke, Z. gets chicken wings, and it's corn dog nuggets for the twins. My mom treats.
1:45 p.m. — We take the long way home so the twins can nap in the car. While Z. drives I get some work done via my phone.
3 p.m. — I get back home and go to my office to get more work done while Z. entertains the twins.
5 p.m. — Twins dinner time, it's leftover corn dog nuggets from lunch as well as beans, rice, and peaches. As we're getting dinner ready for them, they play with the magnets on the fridge and are having a blast. I peruse Amazon while they eat and purchase some cute animal foam magnets for them to play with. $16.99
5:30 p.m. — Bedtime routine: bath, books, and bed.
6:45 p.m. — My sister picks me up to go to dinner and Sam's Club with her. I don't need much since we get all our grocery shopping for two weeks done on payday. I mainly go to keep her company and talk about her new job and love life. Before we shop, we get Chinese food from the mall food court nearby. $11.28
7:30 p.m. — After we eat, we head to Sam's and I get apple juice, eggs, and bread. The necessities. $14.86
Daily Total: $55.64
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