A Week In Southwest Michigan On A Joint $146,000 Income

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: an accountant who makes $23,000 per year ($146,000 when combined with her husband) and spends some of her money this week on Honey Nut Cheerios.
Occupation: Accountant
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 43
Location: Southwest Michigan
My Income: $23,000 between my two jobs
My Husband's Salary: $115,000 plus ~$8,000 bonus
My Paycheck Amount: $325 (biweekly) and $275 (2x/month)
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $3,300
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,797 for our four-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom home on one acre. I live with my husband, E., and two kids. Mortgage should be paid off in six and a half more years!
Car Insurance: $230 for three vehicles
Utilities: $200-$350
YouTube TV, Philo TV, Hulu, Netflix: $80
Internet: $89
Cell Phones: $160 for four lines
Life Insurance: $45
Health Insurance: $150 copay for a PPO with $6,5000 deductible, plus $350 to a HSA ($9,000 balance), pretax via my husband's job
Dental Insurance, Life, LTD, ADD: $150 pretax via my husband's job
401(k): My husband deducts 8% ($767/month) pretax, and gets 6% match and 4% gift. It has a $300,000 balance, and I have $100,000 from a previous job.
Savings: $500 to our kids' college fund, with $50,000 balance, and an average of $1,200/month to general savings, which has a $28,000 balance.
Personal Account Deductions: $400 for my husband, $200 for me. We use these for individual spending like meals/drinks with our friends, and my clothing and husband's sports/equipment.
Annual Expenses
Athletic Club: $875
Archery Club: $200
Golf Membership: $700
Church & Charitable Donations: $2,500
Vacations: $1,000-$3,000
Kids Sports & Camps: $2,500
Home Improvements: $5,000-$15,000

Day One

9 a.m. — Wake up and start putting away some of the laundry I did last night. My younger son, C., begrudgingly agrees to help sort socks — the ones that are his, anyway! My older son, R., gets up, lets the dog out, and gets cereal. He needs to get to school for a team practice at 10, and my husband, E., will take him. R. recently turned 16 and just finished the 50 required hours of "driving with a parent" to take his road test, but since he hasn't driven on snow/ice yet, we want him to practice that before getting his full license. After drop-off, E. treats himself to breakfast ($14) out before starting on yard work. It snowed early this year, so he needs to get lots of leaves up now that the snow has melted. $14
11 a.m. — I shower, get ready, and start making the 20 sub sandwiches we volunteered to bring to R.'s practice. I make two extras to leave for E. and C. and grab a KIND bar, apple, string cheese, and Project Seven water for myself to have in the car. I text R. as I arrive; he and a friend help me carry in the spread, which also includes lemonade, chips, and cookies. The group leader is very appreciative, and they all dig in. Instead of driving home, I browse at a nearby furniture store until R.'s pickup time. After meeting a savings goal for the year, we have maybe $3,000 available to spend on home improvement projects. We already purchased some Wayfair storage cabinets for our entryway, and now we want to upgrade some older chairs and furniture in our main living space. I take lots of pictures.
2 p.m. — I pick up R. and take him shopping to try on shoes for a Christmas present. He picks his favorite, and we take advantage of the BOGO 50% off deal to get him a pair of sale price winter boots, too, for only $32 more. I use the mall app to add a 15% off coupon ($133). In another store I buy a fuzzy blanket that C. admired earlier that I want to surprise him with ($16). $149
4:30 p.m. — We all leave for our athletic club. My sons are playing in a youth event, and E. and I plan to work out. I pay for the event fees and watch them for a while before starting my 45-minute workout — rowing machine, elliptical, bike, stretches, and treadmill. $10
6:30 p.m. — We eat dinner at an Italian place nearby. We usually eat out as a family once a week, but often it's just breakfast or fast casual, so tonight is a treat. We order pizza puffs as an appetizer, E. gets a draft beer to go with his sausage/peppers, the boys share a pizza, and I get a cocktail and mushroom risotto. We leave with lots of leftovers. $101
9 p.m. — I log onto work to record some financial batches for one of my jobs. E. has an event for work that he has to get up really early for, so he goes to sleep. The boys are playing computer games online with friends, and my dog is snoring at my feet. In between batches, I take a break and browse JCPenney.com — I want to get a few more of this athletic top they carry, and R. could use more fleece pajama pants in the hard to find size Mens Large Tall. I buy just enough to make the free shipping level. At midnight I let the dog out, brew Tazo tea, and turn in. $52
Daily Total: $326

Day Two

3 a.m. — E.'s phone goes off, and he goes down to his office. I text him a few times to see how it's going; it seems like it'll be an easier night. I play a game on my phone to stay awake until he's done — I know I don't have to do this but it seems almost traitorous not to! He finishes his tasks by 5 a.m., comes home, and we fall asleep soon after.
11 a.m. — Was hoping to go to church but slept too late to get there in time. So instead, my younger son, C., and I grocery shop. First at a traditional store that has a great salad/hot bar (which we get food from and eat in the car later) as well as amazing fresh squeezed orange juice. We also buy two salad mixes, bananas, meatballs, chicken breast, and lemonade ($37). Next is Trader Joe's, where we get more salad mixes (including my favorite corn and quinoa salad), cauliflower, pretzel bread for the boys, eggs, precooked bacon, milk, soup, salami/provolone packs, saucy scallops, spaghetti sauce, veggie/grain mixes, stir fry veggies, gingerbread bars, mini chocolate mousse cakes, chocolate mint shortbread cookies, and fresh flowers ($123). We also stop at another furniture store but don't buy anything yet. After we get home, E. takes C. to the archery club to shoot targets with their bows (free with our annual membership). $160
5:30 p.m. — I take the boys to their youth group Christmas parties. It's located near one of my jobs, so I hang out at work until their pickup time. An event is wrapping up and I chat with my boss a bit before doing some work. We get home around 9. I read blogs and Facebook, clean up the kitchen, heat up leftover risotto and pork tenderloin for myself (E. warmed up leftover pizza), start the dishwasher, let the dog out, and go to bed at midnight, after leaving the boys' lunch money on the counter for the week. $20
Daily Total: $180

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — E. and the boys are already off for work and school. Even though it's Monday, I am excited for the day: I don't have to work until late due to an evening financial meeting, and I'm seeing my longtime best friend for lunch. She's an RN who lives near our hometown; when she gets weekdays off that mesh with my semi-flexible work schedule, we try to meet in a town halfway in between. I shower, pick out a cute outfit for lunch, and pack a more business appropriate outfit to change into later. I put chicken breast with buffalo sauce in the Crock-Pot for the guys to have for dinner while I'm at work. I take the dog for a quick walk and get in my car. The drive north is relaxing — it's a sunny day with clear roads.
12 p.m. — I meet my friend at Applebee's. We bring in Christmas presents for each other, and she shows me proofs of her son's senior pictures. He's about to turn 18, and we can't believe that we're this old! We get salads, honey tenders, and mac & cheese ($12 with tip, from my personal account). The time goes by way too quickly, and soon I need to head back for my work meeting. I stop at an apple orchard on the way home — bringing home the kids' favorite donuts will make them forgive the fact that I had to work late ($11)! $23
4:30 p.m. — I arrive at work, run reports, and make copies for our evening meeting. It's over by 8:30, but I still need to run payroll. I snack on some squares of dark chocolate while I work.
10:30 p.m. — I get home and the boys are excited to see me and especially the donuts! E. is already asleep and the boys go to bed soon after, but I need time to turn my brain off before I can go down (my biggest struggle when I work evenings). I decide to make a photo calendar as part of our gift for my in-laws, using a "free" code (not really free after shipping and a size upgrade). I make hot tea, eat a donut, take the dog out, and finally fall asleep by 1:30. $14
Daily Total: $37

Day Four

9 a.m. — As long as I'm mostly caught up, Tuesday is often a day where I don't go into the office (but I may do a few hours of work from home). I get busy ironing a bunch of work clothes while catching up on three episodes of This Is Us on Hulu.
11:30 a.m. — E. texts that he's coming home for lunch (his work is close to our house, so he does this a couple times per week). I take a quick shower and swap my comfy PJ pants for comfy yoga pants and a cute hoodie. I make a Caesar salad for my husband topped with the last of the steak we grilled late last week. He has another overnight work project tomorrow night, and I remind him about C.'s band concert, so he plans to leave work around 2, nap early, and then attend the concert. After he leaves, I start wrapping presents for the box I'm sending to my in-laws, as well as things I've gotten for the kids.
3:30 p.m. — Both kids have after school activities today, but C. is able to ride the "late bus," so I only have one pickup. R. drives on the way home, but first we stop to fill his car up with gas ($42) and mail a package to the in-laws at Staples ($11). Then I start on dinner — on the days I don't go into work, I try to cook larger meals and make lots of veggies. I bake a big salmon fillet, boil cauliflower (some of which I leave as florets and then use the rest for cheesy mashed cauliflower), roast Brussels sprouts, slice zucchini, and warm up the last of the risotto. C. is picky, so he gets popcorn shrimp, zucchini, and baby carrots. After dinner, the kids do chores: R. washes the dog and carries the laundry baskets upstairs, and C. unloads the dishwasher and vacuums. I do two more loads of laundry, shower and wash my hair, and call it a night at 11:30. $53
Daily Total: $53

Day Five

8 a.m. — Up and dress quickly to get going for an 8:45 work breakfast. I enjoy eggs Benedict (paid for by the company) before returning to the office. I work on assigning charge-to accounts for all last month's credit card purchases, and then do bank reconciliations. I don't eat lunch due to the big breakfast, but do sip on an "emergency" Bubly sparkling water from the stash I keep in a desk drawer. I leave work by 2:30 since I need to take C. to a dentist appointment.
3:30 p.m. — C. is in the chair and I am texting with the mom of one of his friends about another athletic club event this Saturday. She volunteers to drive there, and E. and I will pick up and bring home. I make plans to have dinner with just E. that night, with some furniture shopping together after. Just as C. finishes, I get a FB message — my teacher friend's district has a half day on Friday and she's wondering if I can meet her for some shopping? It's been way too long since we've gotten together, so I jump at the chance to see her, even if it means working both jobs tomorrow so I can take Friday off. C. finishes the appointment with no issues, which means no out-of-pocket charges.
5 p.m. — Dinner is salad kits and leftovers: apple/cheddar/spring mix with the remaining pork tenderloin for me and E., and tenderloin, pretzel bread, and apples for the boys. C. gets dressed for the concert and we leave with R. driving. The sixth graders, who have only been playing their instruments for three months, are up first. It's cute. Seventh graders are an improvement, and the eighth graders actually sound really good.
7 p.m. — On the way home R. mentions he is out of body wash , so after dropping E. and R. off at home, C. and I go to Target. In addition to the body wash, we get Goldfish, granola bars, milk, Honey Nut Cheerios, Vitamin Water, two dog toys to give as Christmas presents, two storage bins, hand soap refill, and packing tape. We get home around 8:30, and I watch a little TV with C.: two episodes of Malcolm in the Middle and one of We Bare Bears. The kids go to bed, and E. does prep work for a work update that goes live just before 11. $55
2:30 a.m. — The session concludes with no major issues. I made chocolate coffee drinks for E. and myself around midnight to help us stay awake, and it takes a while for them to wear off, even though I'm exhausted since I didn't sleep earlier in the day like E. did. I run a bath and the soothing lavender stuff I put in it helps a little.
Daily Total: $55

Day Six

9 a.m. — We get up and get ready for work. I grab a prepared salad and a variety of snacks and drinks to take with me. I drive to my first job and then spend several hours preparing checks and deposits. Then I head to their bank, and eventually arrive at my other job. I eat string cheese and a Clif bar and drink Vitamin Water in the car on the way.
2 p.m. — I begin running payroll. Once everything is complete, I eat the salad, yogurt, and apple I brought. I get a phone call from my dad, who had a car maintenance appointment at the dealership in town. He is done earlier than expected and wants to know if I would like him to stop by my house and take the boys out for Chick-fil-A. This is great timing, as I probably won't get home until 7 or 8, and I know from E.'s texts that he took the afternoon off to play golf with friends (yes, they are crazy, but it's 45 degrees and sunny — it may rain or even snow again tomorrow). I text R. to let him know that his grandpa will be coming by. The boys are very happy with the news, and I know the dog will be glad to see one of his favorite people as well! My mom passed away many years ago, but I am still lucky to have such an involved father. He is a great influence in my boys' lives.
7:30 p.m. — After running a larger than normal amount of checks for the week, I'm on my way home. I miss seeing my dad, but find the chicken nuggets and frozen lemonade shake he left for me :). E. gets home around 8. His golf was free with his course membership, but they stopped at a restaurant after for a couple beers and nachos ($18 from his personal account). We fall asleep around 11:30. $18
Daily Total: $18

Day Seven

9 a.m. — The kids head off for their last day of school before break, and we turn off the second alarm to fall back asleep. I take a long shower, wash and straighten my hair, put on my favorite skinny jeans, a tunic top, and suede boots, and go downstairs to make some breakfast. We enjoy fried eggs with sautéed grape tomatoes and mushrooms on top of wheat bread with melted provolone. Then I head out to meet my friend. E. is on vacation until the new year, so he works on a home improvement project — we have been ridding our main floor of the previous older carpet and installing wood floors, but it's been in "not quite done status" since his last stretch of time off.
1 p.m. — I meet my friend at Loft. She returns a pair of pants and buys a sweater, and I get a skirt ($17 from my personal account). Then we visit a sporting goods store, where I. buy $15 athletic shorts for C. and an $18 polo for E., and American Eagle, where I buy a $10 t-shirt for R. I help my friend pick the perfect sparkly sweater from Banana Republic to wear to a party she's going to. We part ways at 4, as she needs to get to Meijer before taking her daughter to an event later in the evening. I find a text from R. asking if he can have a friend over. I let him know I'm on my way, and as I pull into the driveway, he jumps in my car to go get his friend. Dinner is tacos, and I break out some Not Your Father's Root Beer from the garage fridge (and A&W for the teens...) Happy weekend to us! $60
Daily Total: $60
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