A Week In Buffalo, NY, On A Joint $111,000 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: an administrator working in office technology who makes $36,000, per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on bath bombs.
Occupation: Administrator
Industry: Office Technology
Age: 35
Location: Buffalo, NY
My Salary: $36,000
My Husband's Salary: $75,000
Combined Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): ~$3,400. (Sometimes more if my husband gets overtime.)
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,400
Husband's Student Loan Payment: $156
Car Payment: $300
Cell Phone: $145. (My company reimburses me $75 of this.)
Cable & Internet: $160
Car Insurance: $185, for two cars
Electric & Gas: $140
My Husband's Gym Membership: $30
My Barre Studio Membership: $125
Lowe's Credit Card: $200 (0% interest credit card for 24 months, from our bathroom remodel.)
Netflix: $13.99
Apple Music: $14.99 for the family plan
My Son's Drum Lessons: $60 (He has one lesson per week.)
My Son's Taekwondo Classes: $112 (He goes three to four days a week.)
Health, Vision & Dental Insurance: $275, taken out of our paychecks
HSA Account: $25 per paycheck
Dependent Care Flex Spending Account: $35 per paycheck, pretax. (We use this to pay for summer camp.)
401(k): We both contribute 6%, which is matched by our employers.
Roth IRA: $200
Savings: $1,000-$1,500, depending on overtime and expenses. (We split this between an eFund, new house down payment, and travel accounts.)
Additional Expenses
Water & Garbage: $200/quarter
Amazon Prime: $99/year

Day One

5:30 a.m. — I'm up early today, because we have an event at work that I need to set up for. I pour myself coffee while our dog and two cats pace and beg for breakfast, so I feed them and then start getting ready for work. I wake up my husband, M., and our 9-year-old son, J., and get J.'s breakfast started before I leave. Since it's early and I have a long day ahead of me, I swing by Starbucks to grab more coffee. I text a coworker who is meeting me at the office to see if she wants anything. I get a blonde roast with cream for myself, and skinny vanilla latte for her. I use my app to pay. $7.29
11 a.m. — We have a lunch event today at work. Yay, free lunch! I have chicken, roasted veggies, a big salad, and a couple mini meatballs. The event is well-attended and since I came in early to set up, a few coworkers step up to break things down and clean up.
3:30 p.m. — I leave work a little early so I can stop at the grocery store before picking my son up from his after computer class at school. I go to Wegmans and get stuff for dinner and few things we're out of. Rotisserie chicken, lettuce, crumbled blue cheese, and avocado for Cobb salads tonight, plus yogurt, strawberries, turkey, provolone cheese from the deli, sparkling water, and milk. $44.52
4:30 p.m. — I have a little time before picking up my son, so I stop at Marshalls to browse. I find a pair of workout leggings that are on clearance and also get a tank. (I need a whole outfit, right?!) I pick up my son and when we get home, he does his homework while I prep dinner. I make homemade salad dressing, boil eggs, and cook bacon in the air fryer (best kitchen gadget, ever). M. gets home from work and takes the dog for a quick walk around the block. (Our pup is getting old and can only handle being out in the cold for a short time before his hips start really bothering him.) When he gets home, he helps me put the salads together and J. sets the table. We eat and clean up, and then M. helps J. with the rest of his homework while I take a hot bath. $28.25
9 p.m. — My son goes to bed and M. and I cozy up on the couch to watch Netflix. We want to start a new series but can't agree on one, so we end up watching Big Daddy on TV. While half paying attention, I look at my email and see our credit card statement has posted, which means we should now have enough points to pay for a good portion of our plane tickets for our trip to the Bahamas later this year. (We've already booked the resort for four nights.) I hop online and get three roundtrip tickets, and it only costs $203 after points. After the movie is over, I head to bed while M. stays up to watch the end of a hockey game. $203
Daily Total: $283.06

Day Two

6 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I'm actually feeling well-rested. I make coffee, feed the animals, and get ready for work. M. gets up and makes J.'s lunch; he asks me if I want anything, but I have lunch plans with a friend today. I wake up J. and help him with his breakfast. We try to teach him independence, because when you have an only child it's easy to just do everything for them, but sometimes it's just faster to help! He wants a smoothie, so we make one with frozen banana, fresh blueberries, strawberries, oats, spinach, plain Greek yogurt, a dash of cinnamon, and drizzle of honey. He loves it and I feel good sending him to school with that in his belly, instead of the Lucky Charms he was begging for!
8:30 a.m. — In the office I play a bit of catch up, since I was busy all week planning for the event yesterday. The morning goes by quick and I've cleaned out most of my inbox. I head down to the cafeteria to grab coffee. There's free coffee in our building, which isn't great ... but it's free.
12:30 p.m. — I meet my friend for a belated birthday lunch (mine was over a month ago, but we've been busy!). We go to a new poke bowl place and I order a bowl with cauliflower rice, ahi tuna, cucumber, bean sprouts, avocado, and this delicious spicy ginger soy sauce. My friend pays as a birthday treat! I take a longer-than-usual lunch break, since we're busy catching up. Thankfully, my office is really chill, and as long as I get my work done, my boss doesn't care if I'm not there from exactly 8 to 5 everyday.
2 p.m. — Back at the office, I get an email from Ulta about a gift with purchase deal. I order moisturizer, add mascara, lipstick, and two bubble baths (buy-one-get-one 50% off) to qualify for free shipping. $58.15
5 p.m. — Leave the office to head to a barre class. I like to go four times a week, but I've been busy and it's only my first class this week! I get a good workout in (abs were killer today!) and head home for a quick shower before dinner. My husband works from home on Thursdays, so he's in charge of dinner tonight. He makes tacos and they are just what I need.
8 p.m. — M. is getting ready to go out and meet friends to watch college basketball. His alma mater is in the tournament, so he's pretty pumped. The game is on late, but he's off tomorrow, so he decides to go out. He stops at the ATM to take out $40 for drinks. I put our son to bed early, take a bath (this is my stress reliever almost nightly in the cold months!), and watch Top Chef. I'm not super into it, so I mostly text with my friend who is getting married this summer. I'm sending her bridesmaid dress ideas, because she isn't sure what she wants us to wear. $40
11:45 p.m. — M. texts me to say the game is over, and he Ubers home ($8.50). I'm in bed already sleeping, but I wake up when he gets home, and he's really excited about the outcome of the game. I really just want to sleep, because I signed up for a 6 a.m. barre class tomorrow and the alarm will be going off in less than six hours. He gets the hint and lets me go back to sleep. $8.50
Daily Total: $106.65

Day Three

5:15 a.m. — My alarm goes off and and I consider shutting it off and canceling my barre class...but I know I'll regret it. I get up, splash cool water on my face, and get my workout clothes on. I pour a coffee to drink on the way to the studio, but it's way too hot and I only have a sip before class starts.
6:45 a.m. — I make it through my workout and I'm happy that I didn't bail. But I need caffeine, so I stop at a local coffee shop. I order a bulletproof coffee (with grass-fed butter and coconut oil), a muffin for J., and a caramel latte for M. J. is off from school today, so M. is taking the day off to stay home with him. J. is wide awake and playing video games already when I get home, and M. is still in bed (and probably hungover!). I give J. his muffin and tell him to cool it on the games, since it's barely 7 a.m. Take a quick shower, dry shampoo the heck out of my hair, and head to work. $12.30
11:30 a.m. — I've been busy all morning and have to work on a project with a coworker. She stops by my office to discuss what we're going to order to eat (ya know, the important things), and we decide on salads from a build-your-own deli bar. We call to place the order, and I get a salad with a spicy buffalo chicken, blue cheese, celery, banana peppers, and balsamic dressing. She orders a salad with salmon, sprouts, cucumber, and feta. I head out to pick them up. I pay, but will expense it, since it's a working lunch. ($32.12 expensed)
3 p.m. — My husband calls me to see if we want to have another couple over for dinner tonight. He offers to shop and cook, and he's already cleaned the house, so I'm all for it! He runs to the store to get stuff for homemade pizzas – his specialty! I make the dough and he tops the pizzas. I know there are two dough balls in the freezer, so it will be easy. We have a bunch of stuff on hand, so we only need (more) cheese, red onion, mushrooms, and steak, plus stuff for a antipasto tossed salad (romaine, olives, ham, salami, pepperoncini, and canned artichoke hearts). He also grabs a 12-pack of beer ($55.20). I stop and grab two bottles of wine on my way home ($23.14). $78.34
7 p.m. — Our friends come over and we have drinks and catch up, and the guys watch basketball. My friend and I put together the salad and keep my son entertained. (They don't have kids yet...so J. has to hang with the adults tonight.) M. cooks the pizzas and everything is really good. I have too much wine before dinner, so I switch to sparkling water while everyone else enjoys a post-dinner cocktail. Our friends brought over cookies from a local bakery, so we each have a few for dessert. I put J. to bed and join the adults for more basketball-watching, though I don't really pay attention. They leave pretty late and I'm exhausted, since I was up so early today!
Daily Total: $90.64

Day Four

9:30 a.m. — I wake up, look at the clock, and am SHOCKED that I slept so late. I'm always up by 7 or 7:30, even on weekends. God bless my son, who woke up and fed the animals, which allowed me to sleep. (The kitten usually pounces on my bed in the morning when he wants to eat.) I don't even care that J.'s likely been up for hours playing video games. I planned to go to a 10 a.m. barre cardio class, but I don't want to rush around, so I cancel and schedule a class for tomorrow at 11. M. wakes up shortly after me (the man would sleep all morning if I let him!) and we talk about our plans for the day. He's going to the gym, doing a few projects around the house, and wants to get his haircut. I tell him he should take J., too. I'm just going to run errands today and then take J. over to my parents' house later for a sleepover. Looking forward to date night!
11 a.m. — I head out to make a few returns at Kohl's. I have a gift card from a Christmas return, and also a 30% off coupon. I buy sneakers for J. and a long cardigan and bra for myself. After the discount, return credit, and gift card, my total is only $7.18! $7.18
12:30 p.m. — Swing into Target for my biweekly trip. I get laundry detergent, Method spray cleaner, paper towels, tissues, Dove soap, cotton balls, Essie nail polish, a deep conditioning hair treatment mask, eye makeup remover, Advil, a couple clearance throw pillows for the living room, and a set of cloth napkins. I'm always happy when I make it out of Target without spending over $100! $98.45
3 p.m. — I get home and realize I haven't eaten. We have late dinner plans tonight with friends, and I know drinks will be involved beforehand. I make myself a late lunch so I'm not drinking on an empty stomach. Taco salad with leftovers from dinner the other night. M. calls to say the barber's credit card machine isn't working, so he asks me to Venmo his barber the money (he's a friend of M.'s). I send the $26 to cover the haircuts, and M. has enough cash to tip. $26
5 p.m. — My mom ends up coming to pick up J. for his sleepover, since she's in the neighborhood. M. and I finish getting ready and walk to a local bar to meet our friends for drinks before dinner. It's St. Patrick's Day AND the local college made it to round two of March Madness, so the first bar we go to is packed and full of drunk college kids. We get one drink each and decide we need to find someplace else to hang. M. picks up the round for the four of us. $33
6:30 p.m. — We find a quieter bar/restaurant across the street where we have a couple more drinks and watch the basketball game. The drinks are delicious (and not served out of plastic cups, like at the first bar!). I get a gin, elder flower liqueur, and grapefruit drink to start and then a champagne cocktail next. My girlfriend gets a couple mojitos, and the guys drink beer. Our friend buys the next couple rounds of drinks, and we cover the Uber to the restaurant. $18.55
8 p.m. — We arrive for dinner and our table isn't quite ready, so yet another round of drinks! The restaurant is really cool. The entire kitchen is open and viewable from the bar, so it's fun to hang and watch the action. Once we sit, we decide to share pickled shrimp as an appetizer. For my entrée, I order the truffle mac and cheese and a Caesar salad, which is enough to feed a family, so I share it with the rest of the table. My husband gets the burger and gives me half in exchange for some of my pasta. Everything is delicious. The desserts sound amazing, but we're all so full (of both food and alcohol!), so we get the check and call it a night. We split everything down the middle, since we all had similar items and drinks. Our half is $125, including about a 20% tip. Our friend gets the Uber and we head home for the evening. $125
Daily Total: $308.18

Day Five

8 a.m. — I wake up feeling pretty decent considering the amount of alcohol I had last night. I drink a big glass of water and take a couple Advil and a vitamin while I brew coffee. Even though I feel pretty good, I'm not feeling barre, but I don't want to cancel again. I see there are spots open for the 9:30 class and decide to switch to that one and just get it over with. If I wait until the 11 o'clock class, I'll likely to park it on the couch and not move all afternoon!
10:30 a.m. — Sweating out the alcohol was a good choice, and I feel even better now. When I get home, M. is just getting out of the shower and asks if I want to go to brunch. I'm always up for brunch, but we spent a lot of money last night, so I offer to cook at home instead. We agree that's probably a better idea. I take a quick shower while M. makes us Bloody Marys. I make a sweet potato and brussels sprout hash with bacon, onion, and a couple poached eggs on top. It's really good and cures the rest of my hangover.
1 p.m. — We head over to my parents to pick up J. from his sleepover. I stop into Whole Foods on the way because I need to get more of my probiotic. We also get a multivitamin for J. and a few bath bombs. $45.50
3 p.m. — After visiting with my parents for a bit we stop at Wegmans to stock up for the week. I decide to make shepherd's pie for dinner. We get ground lamb, boneless chicken thighs, bacon, eggs, milk, half and half, butter, sour cream, orange juice, a brick of cheddar cheese, cauliflower, potatoes, onion, carrots, a cucumber, cherry tomatoes, spinach, apples, bananas, blueberries, ham, Swiss cheese from the deli, ranch dressing, mayo, apple juice boxes, tomato paste, Goldfish, oatmeal, bread, creamy peanut butter, canned tuna, Halo Top ice cream, a bag of frozen peas, and a few cans of cat food. $117.63
4:30 p.m. — Settle in at home and put away the groceries with J. (This is one of J.'s chores, and he's naturally complaining.) M. starts laundry while I prep dinner and boil eggs for the week. (We all love hard boiled eggs!) Once dinner is in the oven, I sit down to read a little bit, but can't get into the book I started so I end up playing Mario Kart with J. and M. I lose, badly...like always!
6:30 p.m. — We eat dinner and clean up. I made two big pans of shepherd's pie, so we'll have lots of leftovers for lunch this week. I package up a couple single serving containers for both myself and M. J. gets in the shower and M. makes tuna salad for J. to bring for lunch tomorrow. (He's on a big tuna sandwich kick, and they're a pain to make in the morning while we're all rushing around, so we like to prep the night before.)
8 p.m. — J. goes to bed early. (He's always exhausted after sleeping over at grandma and grandpa's.) M. and I decide to start watching Sneaky Pete on Amazon, and it's pretty good. We watch two episodes before heading to bed. I play around on my phone before I fall asleep and see that I got 40% coupon from Gap in my email. J. needs new school uniform pants because all of his are getting short, so I order him two pairs along with a spring jacket (if spring weather ever comes to Buffalo!). I earn $20 in Gap Cash. $52.69
Daily Total: $215.82

Day Six

5:45 a.m. — Monday is the one day I can't be late, as we have our weekly sales meeting. Typical routine of coffee, dealing with the animals, and taking a quick shower. I wake J. up and he pours himself a bowl of cereal. M. gets up and I kiss him goodbye as he jumps in the shower. I actually make it out of the house early today, so I decide to treat myself to Starbucks. I order an herbal tea and pay with my app. $2.66
8 a.m. — I try not to fall asleep during the meeting. These things usually last about 45 minutes, or an hour max, but everyone is chatty today and we're in the conference room until almost 10 a.m. I have a call I need to be on at 10:30, so I rush to gather my notes. After that's over, I decide to take an early lunch break because I have errands to run and want to beat the lunchtime traffic.
11:15 a.m. — I run to the mall because I have a sweater to exchange at Banana Republic, but they don't have it in the size I need. I pick out a different top and get a pair of socks that are on sale near the register. The difference is only $2.87. I then return a coat at Sears that I ordered from Lands End. I really like the coat, but the zipper is a pain in the butt. (I read this in the reviews and should have listened!) The girl who does my return said they've been getting so many returned for the same reason. My credit card will be credited $100.55. While at the mall I have to stop by LUSH for a couple bath bombs. They are my weakness. Since I take baths almost nightly, I can't afford to use them all that often, but I like to buy a couple and save them for splurge nights in the tub! I get three and it sets me back $24.85. $27.72
2 p.m. — Back in the office, I finish up my leftover shepherd's pie at my desk. My husband texts me to remind me that we need dog food. I go online to Chewy.com to place an order and decide to get cat food too so that I reach the $50 threshold to get free shipping. I forgot that I have a $20 coupon on my account for a lost item in my last order, so the total is $41.15 after the credit. (Chewy has amazing customer service! Not only did they issue me a refund to my credit card for the lost item, they also gave me a $20 credit for the inconvenience.) $41.15
3:45 p.m. — I leave early to get my son off the bus. The bus is late, per usual. Once J.'s home I make sure he eats a good snack, since he has taekwondo at 5:30 and won't eat dinner until after. He has a banana, yogurt and peanuts, which should tide him over for a bit. I drop him off at the gym and go to a local coffee shop to read. (Sometimes I stay at the gym and watch him, but it's always really loud and I have a bit of headache, so I need peace and quiet.) I order a tea ($2.12) and sit by the window. It's freezing outside, but the sun is warm and the vitamin D lifts my mood and helps my headache! $2.12
6:45 p.m. — Back home I make omelets for dinner for myself and J. (M. works late on Mondays, so he won't be home until after 8). I put spinach, mushrooms, and Swiss in mine, and ham and cheddar in J.'s. We eat them along with bacon and blueberries. We almost always have breakfast for dinner ("brinner") on Mondays, since it's quick after taekwondo. I clean up while J. does homework. When he's done, I let him play video games for a bit if he reads for 25 minutes first. I break out one of my LUSH bath bombs and relax in the tub.
8:30 p.m. — J. gets ready for bed while I fold laundry. When M. comes home from work, he hangs out in J.'s room and chats with him before bed. We retire to the couch and watch last night's episode of Homeland. I'm ready for bed early, but since M. worked late, he's still wound up from the day, so he heads down to the basement to play guitar.
Daily Total: $73.65

Day Seven

6:30 a.m. — I get to sleep in a little today! I have a doctor's appointment at 9, so I'm going into the office late. I make coffee, feed the animals, and let the dog out. J. wants oatmeal for breakfast, so I help him with that. We make a double batch so M. can have some too. I put mashed banana, cinnamon, honey, and vanilla in it. M. wakes up and is appreciative of his hot breakfast. M. leaves to take J. to school and then head to work, and I finish getting ready and head out myself.
9 a.m. — I get to the doctor on time and wait in the waiting room for a good 20 minutes before being called. Everything is good and I schedule my appointment for my next yearly physical, so I don't forget or skip it! On my way to the work, I stop at the gas station and fill my tank. $26
1 p.m. — My officemate and I head down to the cafeteria to eat lunch (more leftover shepherd's pie). We chat about her recent trip to Spain, and I make a mental note to discuss with M. a savings plan to get to Europe ASAP!
4:45 p.m. — Get ready to head out for the day and change for barre class in the office locker room. I'm taking a quick 40-minute express class at 5:15. M. will pick J. up from his after school club and we should all get home around the same time. While I'm waiting for class to start, I check our bank account and see that M.'s expense reimbursement ($268) was deposited from last month. He was traveling a bit, so had more expenses than normal. We use our joint account for almost everything, but each keep a separate card for work expenses, gifts for each other, and other things like that. I text him to tell him to pay off his card. (I keep track of all of our spending and do 99% of the bill paying, but don't have a log-in for his individual card.)
6:30 p.m. — I pull in the driveway and see that the neighbor's dog is running down the street. He comes running up to me, so I'm able to grab him and walk him home. The owners are so grateful and had no idea that he got out through the fence, AGAIN. Back at the house, the boys have started dinner. We're having leftover chili and cornbread muffins.
9 p.m. — My BFF texts me that she got her credit card bill from when she bought us Justin Timberlake tickets (the concert isn't until October), so I Venmo her what I owe ($150). M. and I decide to not just veg out in front of the TV for once, so he pours us each a glass of wine and we sit and chat and research a long weekend vacation destination for the summer. We're thinking either Chicago or Montreal, but then table that discussion, because we decide to include J. in the planning. We also want to start planning an adults only, all-inclusive trip for next spring, since M. will turn 40 next year. After looking at beautiful resorts for an hour and reading a bunch of reviews, we've narrowed it down to three. I email a friend who's a travel agent to see if she has any thoughts or other suggestions, and ask what kind of prices she can get us. $150
11 p.m. — We head to bed to dream about palm trees and white sand beaches! I wash my face, do my nightly skincare routine, and fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.
Daily Total: $176
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