A Week In Austin, TX, On A Joint $87,200 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.
This week, we're looking at Money Diaries during the (often expensive) holiday season.
Today: an administrator and executive assistant who makes $52,000 per year. She spends some of her money this week on a bandana for her husband.
Occupation: Administrator/Executive Assistant
Industry: Tech & Semi-Conductor Facility
Age: 28
Location: Austin, TX
My Salary: $52,000 plus $6,250 annual bonus
Husband's Salary: $29,000
Paycheck (2x/month): $3,120
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $1,480 mortgage. It's me, my husband, and our two dogs. We've owned our home since June and are hoping to refinance to a 15-year loan once my husband has a full year of job history.
Loan Payments: $980 total for my car, my husband's car, and my husband's motorcycle
All Other Monthly Expenses
Car Insurance: $180 (combined)
Cell Phone: $90
Solar Power: $158. We just got solar installed at our home!
Vivint Home Monitoring: $90
Hulu & Netflix: $20
Health Insurance: $32. My company has GREAT insurance and the majority of this is FSA contribution.
401(k): $160. My company matches 4%, so I contribute that amount. I received a very large inheritance last year after the deaths of my grandma and my father (within three weeks of each other). It has all remained invested as it was previously and will serve as the bulk of my retirement. Based on projection, I'll be able to retire, happily, before I'm 55.

Day One

7:15 a.m. — Stop for gas on my way to work. I knew I should've gone over the weekend, but I really hate doing so for some reason. (I tend to ride it out until I'm genuinely afraid my car will die.) Ideally, I'd drive a more fuel-efficient vehicle, but I love my SUV and all the space. Our dogs fit comfortably, and once we have kids, it'll fit the whole family. Plus, once the Model 3 is available, we're getting one for my husband, and that will ease my gas mileage guilt. $42.67
9:45 a.m. — H-E-B offers curbside pickup for groceries and it is amazing. I go online to their website and order our groceries for the week. They charge more than in-store prices, but since it keeps me from impulse shopping, I've saved quite a bit in the long run. I pick out chicken, shrimp, ground turkey, mushrooms, romaine, tortillas, 2% cheese, waffles, Lunchables, enchilada sauce, buffalo sauce, other produce, wine (DUH), paper plates, new Holiday glade plug-in refills, and Skinny Cow ice cream. I pay for everything and I'll pick it up on my way home. $97.25
11 a.m. — Lunchtime! Everyone in my department goes to lunch at 11 a.m., something that took getting used to when I started this job in June. Now I can't imagine eating any later and at 10:55 — my tummy is growling. I walk the quarter-mile from my building to the onsite cafeteria and browse through the choices. It's underwhelming, so I opt for the deli line. I get a turkey-chicken wrap with avocado, baked Lays, and a bottle of water. Lunch is expensed because my company deposits $30/month onto our badges for use in the cafeteria; they also match the $30 I contribute, so I end up with $90/month for only $30; it's a great deal. It's almost the end of the month, so I have about $22 left. Only one more day and I'll get another $30, so I'm not worried. ($4.75 expensed)
2:15 p.m. — I should learn that when I get the deli line food, I always end up hungry in the afternoon. If it weren't such a long walk, I'd go pick up fruit or a healthier snack, but that walk is brutal and it's unnecessarily hot and humid today, so vending machine it is! I get Goldfish crackers and eat them at my desk while I browse the internet. $0.75
2:45 p.m. — I love my job and the people I work with but to be honest, I could do my job in 20 hours a week or less. I've expressed this to my boss and he's working on getting me more to do. Until then, I spend the majority of my day browsing the internet and getting paid good money to do it; could be worse! I end up on Wish, a shopping site that's my weakness. Everything is so cheap and I've always liked what I've ordered. My sister-in-law's birthday is the day before Thanksgiving and she has wanted studded-heel booties for a while; I find the pair she likes for half the normal price and add them to the cart along with cute kitchen gadgets I can put in my mom's stocking. I also add a sweet necklace for my husband's grandmother and a necklace for my sister-in-law. I enjoy buying Christmas gifts early! Makes me feel ahead of the game. $36.75
3:15 p.m. — We are hosting our first Thanksgiving this year and I am determined to make it beautiful. My best friends are flying down from Dallas (yes flying — that drive is literally the worst) and that has increased our guest count to 10. I only have eight cute napkins and napkin rings, so I go to and order one more set of each. I also decide to order cute wifey and hubby coffee mugs because I'm a newlywed and am a sucker for all things husband/wife. I browse all their holiday collections but decide to wait and go in person with my husband. $47.50
5:30 p.m. — Made it to H-E-B and they had to substitute a few items, but luckily the price difference was super minimal. They load everything in my car and I head home. I'm greeted by my sweet husband and our two adorable dogs. I pour a glass of wine and sit on our patio while they run around and play. I turn on the grill because tonight we're eating grilled buffalo chicken sandwiches. My husband brings everything out so I can keep playing with the pups. They're both rescue dogs and are truly the light of my life. Anything I can do to make them happy fills my heart with so much joy. Of course, this means they get some of the cheese I'm putting on the chicken. Spoiled doggos. $1.72
9:15 p.m. — As we get ready for bed, my husband mentions that he wishes he had more bandanas for work. He only has two and he hates wearing them multiple days in a row. His job is all manual labor and the bandana helps keep him warm when it's cold as well as helping collect sweat in his hard hat. I tell him to order some but he reminds me that I'm the one with the Amazon Prime info, so I hand him my phone and places the order. We combined our finances long before we were married. I have always made more money than him, but I also spend significantly more money than he does, so it has never bothered me to combine things. I sometimes feel guilty because he ALWAYS asks before he buys things and I never do. I don't know if that'll become a point of contention once we are out of the honeymoon phase. Time will tell. $15.42
Daily Total: $242.06

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — On my way to work and running a little late so I take the toll route. I'm trying to cut back on how much I pay the toll, but it makes a huge difference in time. I also am always okay taking the toll when my husband and I carpool. We aren't carpooling today though because it's HALLOWEEN! Trick-or-treating starts at 5:30 p.m. in our neighborhood. I won't be home by then, but I wanted my husband to get back in time to start handing out candy. It's our first Halloween with trick-or-treaters and we are so excited! $2.77
11 a.m. — Lunchtime. It's Taco Cantina Tuesday: two tacos, rice, and beans. I look forward to Tuesday lunch every week! I still have money on my badge, so it doesn't cost me anything.
2:30 p.m. — I walk to the cafeteria and pick up a little container of fruit (also covered by my badge). I proceed to walk around the site and eat my fruit. It's kind of cold and drizzly, but I'm wearing the right jacket and it doesn't bother me.
5:55 p.m. — My husband calls and tells me about the groups of trick-or-treaters coming down our street, and that a house on our cul-de-sac turned into a haunted house. He also says he was a little heavy-handed with the first few groups and we will need more candy. I stop at Walgreens and pick up two more big bags. I get Reese's because that's what I would want and I fully intend to enjoy some. I also pick up a bottle of red wine because all I got from H-E-B yesterday was white wine and it's chilly out. $27.40
9:30 p.m. — We blew through five large bags of candy tonight and still had to turn our porch light out early. It was so much fun. We sat in our front room and played Jenga, drank red wine, and passing out candy. Our dogs were less than pleased that they couldn't give kisses to every little kid, but they managed to get a few in. We enjoy a few pieces of candy and head to bed.
Daily Total: $30.17

Day Three

7:25 a.m. — Taking the toll today because we are carpooling. I enjoy riding to work with my husband because it gives us a chance to chat and hold hands. I always drive so I'm a little distracted, but it's still nice to start my day with my hand in his. $2.77
11 a.m. — I always go to lunch at 11 on the dot. If I could go at 10:55 to beat the rush, I would — but that seems a little too eager. It's the first of the month so I put $30 on my card. I get in the pizza line, which is notoriously long and slow, but the pizza is good and worth the wait. Twenty-five minutes later, I'm sitting down for lunch. My department always has two to four tables pushed together and we eat as a group. It's such a nice change from my last job where I would eat alone at my desk. $30
5:25 p.m. — The day flew by because I had an afternoon full of meetings. I wasn't able to do any internet shopping, so that's for the best! On our way home, we decide to go to a game shop and pick up Reaper Minis, little game figurines that are typically unpainted. I'm not going to use them, but I'll enjoy painting them with my husband. He plans to use them for when he plays Dungeons & Dragons. He's a gamer and I'm not, but we find small ways to do things together and painting little warriors sounds fun. We will order the paints on Amazon tonight. $26.40
7:30 p.m. — We sit down for dinner and look through Amazon to find the right paint set and place the order. After, we curl up on the couch and watch Game of Thrones. We totally missed the bandwagon on this show but decided to start watching it and now we can't stop! We watch two episodes before bed. Lights out before 10. $37.61
Daily Total: $96.78

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — Not carpooling today, so I stop to get Starbucks! Venti iced soy chai it is. My husband calls while I'm driving to work and we chat about the episodes we watched last night and exchange theories about what we think will happen. $5.52
10:30 a.m. — A friend of ours works at a local restaurant and messages me about a wine night event they're having. She isn't working that day and wants to see if my husband and I want to join her and her boyfriend. Tickets are $30 each and include snacks and wine. She sends me the link so I can buy our tickets. These friends are our only "couple" friends and we really enjoy hanging out with them. I'm looking forward to this next week! $60
11 a.m. — Thursday is build your own pasta day, but I'm not feeling it. I opt for a salad and a big cup of soup. The total is less than $5 and I'm very pleased with my choice. I sit with coworkers who are mostly talking about work today. I'm an admin for a department of engineers and do not have much to contribute. I have no clue about what their jobs entail, but I'm trying to learn so I can help them more.
4:05 p.m. — My husband sends me a message with a link to a Christmas tree for sale on Facebook Marketplace. Our house has vaulted ceilings and I told him how much I wanted a tall Christmas tree this year. I also mentioned how bummed I was that they're all so expensive. The link he sent is to a 12-foot tree for only $225! I'm sold and so excited. It's a great price and will look stunning in our front room. We plan to put our old, dinky, five-foot tree in our den. Two Christmas trees to decorate; I can hardly contain my excitement. I tell him how happy I am and thank him for even looking. I message the seller and agree on the price. We will pick it up Saturday morning. I go to the ATM onsite and get the cash. I'm glad USAA reimburses ATM fees otherwise I'd be annoyed by the $3 fee they charge. $225
5:30 p.m. — We both enjoyed that red wine from Halloween so much that I stop and pick up another bottle; we're watching more GoT tonight. When I get home, I dance around the front room daydreaming about the huge tree that will be here soon. I start to wonder if it would be weird to have it up for Thanksgiving. My husband says yes, but that we can put it up the day after our Thanksgiving feast. I agree and cry a few happy tears. My husband is an incredible person who appreciates my childlike joy around Christmas. $10.07
10:15 p.m. — We are about to shower when I notice we are almost out of soap. I tell Alexa to order more. We buy it in mega-bulk so, this will last at least six months. Technology is amazing. $15.12
Daily Total: $315.71

Day Five

8 a.m. — TGIF! I forgot my waffles at home, so I walk over to the cafeteria. I'm not feeling the greasy breakfast tacos, so I get mixed fruit and a Cherry Coke Zero. It's back to being overly hot for November and I'm annoyed that I'm sweating when I get back to my desk. Really glad I went for the fruit.
11 a.m. — A coworker asks if I wanted to go offsite with her today for and I accept. I rarely do this, so I don't feel bad about spending the money. We go to Freebirds, get nachos, and catch up on the latest work gossip and discuss upcoming office moves. It's going to be very stressful for us both, but I'm looking forward to having new office furniture. She's looking forward to moving to the main building because they have WAY better bathrooms. (Unfortunately, I'll still have our old, outdated bathrooms with terrible AC.) $8.75
3:45 p.m. — I've been pretty busy until now. With absolutely nothing to do, I proceed to browse all of the internet. I wish this were the kind of job I could leave early from on Fridays but this it isn't. I miss the schedule of my last job — and literally nothing else.
6:30 p.m. — It's Friday and I don't feel like cooking dinner. I convince my husband to get Mexican food and margaritas. We head to our favorite place and get seated right away (part of why it's our favorite). We share queso, I get a fajita melt, and he orders chimichangas. We both get two margaritas. It's pricey, but we don't eat out much and really enjoy margarita date nights. $87
8:30 p.m. — We get home and contemplate watching GoT, but the tequila makes us feel indifferent about sitting around and watching TV. Instead, we play with our dogs, sit outside laughing, and have a good time. We eventually go upstairs and finally go to sleep around 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $95.75

Day Six

9:30 a.m. — It's Saturday! I wake up after more than 10 hours of sleep and I feel awesome. I throw on comfy clothes and head to my mom's, stopping at H-E-B and pick up bagels and smoked salmon. My mom lives about 20 minutes away and it's great to be able to spend time with her so regularly since we are close. Today, we plan on sitting on her new couch and working on the Thanksgiving menu. She's a great cook and I appreciate any guidance she can offer. $9.75
2:45 p.m. — After spending the morning planning Thanksgiving, I take a nap at my mom's. I wake up a little before 3 and decide to go home.
6 p.m. — My husband convinces me to order pizza for dinner and Dominos is on the way. We start another episode of GoT while we wait for our food to arrive. I pour a glass of wine, finish it a little too quickly, and throw caution to the wind and pour another. When the pizza arrives, I give them a $5 tip. We chow down, snuggle up, and binge watch until I can't keep my eyes open anymore. Lights out around 11:30 p.m. $32.15
Daily Total: $41.90

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — Wide awake and getting ready for brunch with my best friend. We never get to do this because she always works on Sundays, but she's off today. I'm so excited to catch up with her.
11:30 a.m. — We opt for a bottomless mimosa brunch buffet since we plan on being here for a while and getting our fill. She knows several people who work here, so no one will mind that we plan on holding this table for at least three hours. When it's finally time to head out, I pay for both of our meals and drinks. She's been going through rough times and I'm happy to cover it. $65
3:30 p.m. — My husband calls to ask when I'm coming home. He woke up with allergies from hell and could use tissues and meds. I tell him I'm coming home now and will stop at Walgreens. Poor guy! Allergy season in Austin is terrible. So, I get him the good Puffs (with lotion), allergy meds, and his favorite candy (Sour Patch Kids). $12.15
5:30 p.m. — Husband is feeling better and we decide to take our dogs for a walk. We lived in apartments for so long and now that we are in a house with a huge backyard, we forget how much our dogs love going for walks. We touch their leashes and they cannot contain their excitement. We walk through the neighborhood for about 45 minutes and talk about our plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our family is local and we have family in the DFW area also. I hate the drive up, but he thinks it's silly to fly. I suggest that he drive and he changes his tune! He to look at flights after I explain I have plenty of miles to cover it.
7 p.m. — We are looking for flights and realize there are no good times to book with miles and the prices are steep, but it'll so much less stressful that we book it anyway. I didn't even realize we could get a flight home on Christmas Eve at 7 p.m. Now I'm trying to of ways to share the holiday spirit with the flight crew working that day. I'm also grateful for our friends in the DFW who are letting us borrow a car during our short 24 hours there. $530.48
9:30 p.m. — I say it's bedtime and my husband gets grumpy because he REALLY wants to watch one more GoT episode. I remind him that tomorrow is Monday and we both sigh and discuss how much we wish we could just be stay-at-home dog parents. That's the dream!
Daily Total: $607.63
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