A Week In Central Valley, CA, On A Joint $165,000 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.
Want to continue the conversation? Join our Money Diaries Facebook Group to discuss finances, share spending habits and saving advice, ask money- and career-related questions, and get access to exclusive content. It's a judgment-free zone!
Today: a part-time attorney who makes $75,000 per year ($165,000 when combined with her husband) and spends some of her money this week on a summer hat.
Occupation: Part-Time Attorney
Industry: Law
Age: 32
Location: Central Valley, CA
My Salary: $75,000
My Husband's Salary: $90,000
My Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $6,100
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $2,021
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,590, including property taxes and insurance, for our three-bedroom/two-bathroom home on a half-acre lot
Student Loan Payment: $0 (We paid off $233,000 in combined student loans.)
Childcare: $1,700
Utilities: $580, including home services like pool cleaning, etc.
Auto/Umbrella Policy: $130
Internet & Phones: $127
Husband's Union Dues: $66
Recurring Monthly Donation: $25
Medical Insurance Premiums: $425
Husband's Pension Contribution: $990
Daycare & Health Flex Savings Accounts: $460 (deducted from my husband's paycheck)
Additional Expenses
Amazon Prime: $99/year
Credit Card Annual Fees: $600/year
Recurring Freelance Expenses: $1,300/year

Day One

6:40 a.m. — My husband left town early for work this morning and bought breakfast ($7.63). (He works from home but travels several days a month, and I also work from home, as a freelance lawyer.) Both our kids are awake by 6:40 a.m. this morning, so I get them changed and then give my son oats with raisins. He fishes out the raisins to eat and loudly proclaims he doesn't like oats (yesterday he loved oats, LOL). I make myself a couple of shots of espresso with our Nespresso machine and froth up almond milk for a faux latte. I take sips of my coffee between trying to coax more breakfast into my son and spoon-feeding baby food to my daughter. $7.63
8:30 a.m. — I put the baby in the stroller, and we walk my son to preschool. I walk back home with my daughter, nurse her, and play with her for a while before our part-time nanny arrives to watch her. Then I head to my "office," which is our guest bedroom. I started working from home this year, and my life is approximately a BAZILLION times better now than it was when I had a full-time office job. I used to make three times as much money as I make now, but I would never go back. I probably lost 10 years of my life from doing that job, particularly after I had a kid. I feel like I have my life back now, and I wake up grateful for it every single day.
9:30 a.m. — I log onto my computer and see an email from Sephora that today is the last day of 10% off for Beauty Insiders. I'm out of moisturizer, shampoo, and conditioner, so I place a big order (First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream, Caviar Moisture Shampoo by Alterna, and DevaCurl One Condition Decadence Conditioner). This should last me 12 to 15 months, but (gulp) it's expensive. I get 2.5% cash back on this order through Ebates. I'm that person who always prowls for a coupon code or cash-back opportunity with every purchase. My husband and I are both from families that had no money growing up, and even though we make enough to pay our bills and put money aside, I still have money anxiety. $120.24
12 p.m. — I work for a couple of hours and then heat up leftover brown rice with kale and white beans, which I eat topped with a couple of fried eggs. It's delicious and healthy. I text with my husband while I eat. We're trying to decide when to fly out to see some of his family this summer, so we're comparing airline prices so we can figure out how to see his family without spending a fortune.
3 p.m. — I need to get a few groceries, but my daughter needs to nap. Every parent knows the nap conundrum. To avoid having to get her in and out of the car if she falls asleep, I decide to walk her in the stroller to the grocery store instead. It's two and a half miles roundtrip, and I'm a sweaty mess by the time we're done, but she naps and I get milk, chicken breast, bananas, celery, and bread. After I put away the groceries, I peel a grapefruit from my fridge and eat half as a snack. $25.65
5 p.m. — We pick up my son and head home. I get started on a chicken, rice, and vegetable stew for dinner, using the chicken and celery I just bought along with rice, onion, carrots, and homemade stock I already have at home. I blend some of it up for my daughter as baby food and save the rest for tomorrow's dinner, because it won't be ready until after my son's dinnertime tonight. My son requests an egg and meat burrito, so I quickly make one for him. I forage in the fridge and see that my Swiss chard is on its last legs, so I sauté it with some spinach from my garden and sad-looking red leaf lettuce from the crisper drawer. I eat the greens with a salmon burger patty and some bread. It's a pretty random meal, but I absolutely hate throwing away food, so I try to use up whatever I have in my fridge before it goes bad.
7:30 p.m. — After the kids and I play for a couple of hours, I get my daughter changed, nurse her, and put her down, hoping she'll fall asleep easily so I can get my son ready for bed without hassle. No such luck. She's screaming bloody murder, so I alternate between tending to her, getting my son changed into PJs, reading books, and getting him down in his room. My husband texts me that he's done with work. (He had to pay for parking today ($12.50) and got a burger for dinner near where he's staying ($11.70).) This time around, he's crashing on a friend's couch, so we don't have to spend the 100-something bucks for a hotel room. We chat on the phone for a couple minutes about our days and laugh about our toddler's antics. $24.20
10:30 p.m. — I drink a pot of mint tea. I'm exhausted, so I get in bed with my phone (mistake!). I catch up on the news — so much terrible stuff going on. My mind is racing. I know, I know, never look at your phone in bed, especially when the world is a garbage fire. Working on it.
Daily Total: $177.72

Day Two

5:59 a.m. — Well, my daughter woke me up four times last night, and now my son wakes me up for the day. Feel like I was hit by a truck. He wants to cuddle, though, so that makes me happy, and I gladly cuddle him for a few minutes. My daughter is up shortly after that and we repeat yesterday's morning routine. A couple espresso shots and almond milk for me, waffle with PB&J for my son, baby food for my daughter.
7 a.m. — We're having cement work done outside our house and the cement guys are here. I let them into the backyard. The estimate for their work was $3,300, so it will be painful later in the week when we write that check, but we don't have much choice but to get this work done because the house has drainage/grading problems and we can't let rainwater keep pooling into the base of the house every time it rains. Until we bought this house last year, we'd been lifelong renters, and I really appreciate how easy renting was. I'm still not convinced owning a home is necessarily worth it.
9 a.m. — Walk my son to school. He's happy at dropoff and waves goodbye to me as he runs off to play. Heart bursting. Get home and the nanny is here, so I go to my office and start work. I snack on the rest of the grapefruit from yesterday. My husband had to pay for parking again today ($12.50). $12.50
9:40 a.m. — Take a break to nurse the baby. Back to work. Client calls and drafting discovery all morning.
1 p.m. — Another break to eat lunch and nurse the baby. I eat leftover buckwheat groats with pan-sautéed ground beef and onions. I also grab a small piece of chocolate that a friend brought me as a souvenir from Iceland. I update my work to-do list after lunch before hopping back into work. In addition to being a coupon-hunter, I'm a list-maker. To-do lists up the wazoo, for work, house projects, kid stuff, vacations. You name it, I'll make a list for it.
3:30 p.m. — Done working. I play with the baby and then unload a box of groceries from Sun Basket that just arrived. (We're charged $58.93.) We've been trying a few meal delivery subscription boxes with discounts this month to see if they're worth it. This is my fourth and last one. Even though it's nice not having to think about what to buy and cook for dinner, it's too expensive per meal, so I confirm that the subscription is canceled after this week. My husband texts me that his work trip went really well, so we exchange celebration GIFs. That's modern romance for you. He'll be home in a few hours. Yay! $58.93
5:30 p.m. — Get my son from school and then we play at home. I heat up the chicken stew I made yesterday and the puréed version for the baby. My son loves it and asks for crackers to go with it. I eat a bowl and am still hungry, so I microwave some store-bought frozen mini soup dumplings. They're pretty good. Then I clean up and we play more. My husband bought a chicken dish from a food truck for his dinner before hitting the road ($14.11). $14.11
8 p.m. — Husband just got home, and I'm exhausted. My daughter's been crying and fussing for over an hour since I tried to put her down to sleep, and my son is throwing tantrums left and right. I haven't been able to tend to either kid for two minutes without the other one screaming and needing me. I tell my husband to deal with our son so I can finally get the baby to sleep.
9:15 p.m. — Both kids are finally asleep. I'm dead. I hop in the shower to rinse off the day and it feels so good.
11 p.m. — After hearing more about my husband's work meetings and catching up on the NBA playoffs, we go to sleep.
Daily Total: $85.54

Day Three

6:15 a.m. — My son is awake, but I've been awake with the baby four times in the last six hours, so it's my husband's turn to get up with my son. I go back to sleep until the baby wakes me at 7:05 a.m.
7:30 a.m. — Husband made our son a PB&J for breakfast, which he eats with milk. I eat the two bites he leaves uneaten along with my espresso and almond milk. The kids run around while I straighten up around the house a little bit. The baby is fussy so I nurse her, but she doesn't want me to put her down. I've noticed in the past couple of weeks that her separation anxiety is through the roof. It's developmentally normal, so I just try to give her extra loving.
9 a.m. — My husband takes both kids in the stroller to walk my son to preschool and I get 20 minutes of peace to drink my now-cold coffee and eat a banana. I think about the day ahead. We'll have the leftover chicken stew for lunch and then I'll cook up one of the Sun Basket meals for dinner. I have to find a way to get exercise in today. My husband might be taking the day off today to work on house projects, so maybe after I'm done working and the nanny is gone, he can take the baby so I can work out.
11:45 a.m. — After working for a few hours, I'm super hungry and need a break. I heat up chicken stew leftovers and add in the last of the buckwheat groats for an extra boost of fiber and protein. I wish I was having a big sloppy burrito instead.
4:05 p.m. — Done working. Husband and I decide to go to Costco with the baby to check out their fruit tree and flower selection. Guess I'm not exercising today. We don't end up liking any of the plants, but we pick up a couple of organic whole chickens, eggs, applesauce, and beer ($60.28) along with summer clothes for the kids, a summer hat for me, and non-toxic bug repellent for the family ($79.93). $140.21
5:30 p.m. — Pick up our son on our way home. Usually we all eat together, but my husband suggests we let our son eat now and have adult dinner when the kids are asleep. I heat up the last of the chicken stew for my son and the baby, and then my son has applesauce afterward. After they eat, we play with the kids and I chat on the phone with my mom for a bit.
7:30 p.m. — Kid sleep time is a cluster**** per usual, and I'm so glad my husband is home to help.
8:45 p.m. — The kids are finally asleep. I make dinner from our Sun Basket (chiles rellenos with sirloin steak strips, onions, pinto beans, and romesco) and we eat, partially collapsed, on the couch. We drink blonde ales that we got at Costco and try to turn on the latest episode of Atlanta, but the FXNOW app is literally the worst and it won't play. We eventually get it working and watch the episode about Al/Paper Boi and his Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (no spoilers). Great episode. All the actors on this show are good, but Brian Tyree Henry is a breakout star.
9:30 p.m. — Aaaaand the baby is awake again. My husband goes in to try to make her fall asleep without me having to nursing her. She screams intermittently for an hour until he gets her asleep again. Meanwhile, I'm feeling a migraine coming on.
11:12 p.m. — Yup, the migraine is official. My husband and I finally lie down to sleep.
Daily Total: $140.21

Day Four

7 a.m. — Baby had me up three times last night. Husband woke up with our son at 6:15 a.m., and I get up with the baby at 7. My son is in the backyard watching the concrete guys pour cement, and he is absolutely enchanted with the whole process. He thinks it's the coolest thing he's ever seen. I had the idea to have all four of us stamp our handprints in the concrete while it's wet to create a permanent mark of our family in this house, so we're waiting until the cement is juuuuust right before we do it. We give my son oatmeal and milk, and he eats most of it. Baby food for baby girl.
9:30 a.m. — The nanny is here, and it's just about time to stick our hands in the cement. It goes off without a hitch — all four of our handprints look good, and we run inside to wash the cement off our hands (because it's caustic). I go back out to scrape in our initials and the year with a nail to seal the deal. Looks awesome! I hope 50 years from now someone lives in this house and looks at the handprints and the "2018" imprint and wonders about us. Maybe we should bury a time capsule, too. Is that still a thing?
10 a.m. — Son is at preschool, and I'm at my desk, eating a couple of eggs on toast. Still have a migraine, so I really don't feel like working, but mama's gotta bring home the bacon. My husband and I quickly go over our house repair priority list. Now that the concrete work is done, we have to budget for the next thing. There's always a next thing, we're discovering.
12 p.m. — Well, I haven't been very productive. Texting with a friend about her baby shower that's in a couple days. We live a few hours away from each other and don't get to hang much, so I'm excited to see her, her family, and her baby bump :). My husband heads to the hardware store and buys what he needs to finish fixing the clogged drain in the front yard. $42.67
3:30 p.m. — I have to go to J.C. Penney to pick up an online order of swimsuits for the kids and my hubby for our family vacation to Hawaii next month. The option to pick up from the store was $9 cheaper than getting the order shipped to my house. $67.75
4 p.m. — The tank in my car is almost empty, so I stop at Costco to get gas on the way back. I make a mental note that both cars need oil changes as soon as possible. $32.68
4:15 p.m. — I also pick up Costco food court goods for dinner ($8.09). Hot dogs and a chicken bake. $8.09
4:30 p.m. — While I'm out, the concrete work is finished and my husband writes them a huge check. GULP. $3,428
6:05 p.m. — After dinner, we go over to my parents' house to hang out for a bit. We have lemon pie and play with the kids before heading home.
8:45 p.m. — Both kids are asleep. We've been shopping for outdoor furniture for our backyard for months, and we finally settle on the patio set we want. I order it online. $808.17
10:45 p.m. — Baby is awake again, so husband goes to try to get her to fall asleep.
11:45 p.m. — It's not working. The crying is eating away at my soul. I give in and go nurse her. This baby is never, ever going to sleep through the night, and I'm never, ever going to sleep longer than two hours in a row again.
Daily Total: $4,387.36

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — Up with the baby two more times last night. My husband got up with the kids and let me sleep in. Love that guy. Coffee for me, and PB&J sandwiches for hubs and son.
8:45 a.m. — Husband walks with the kiddos to take my son to school, and I organize my to-do list for the day. Other than work, I need to get my friend's baby shower gift wrapped before tomorrow, so I look in the garage cabinets to see if we have any non-Christmas gift wrapping paper. I also need to do a load or two of laundry so that the baby and I will have something cute to wear.
11 a.m. — Take a quick break from work to cook up egg whites, which I eat with a couple slices of deli turkey breast in a wrap. Back to work.
4 p.m. — Just finished working, so I crack open a beer. My husband is taking one of the cars for an oil change, and he takes the baby with him to see if she'll nap in the car. We get free scheduled maintenance for the first couple of years since it's a Toyota, so it doesn't cost us anything. I wrap my friend's gift and start on dinner from Sun Basket. It's braised chicken with artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes, which I'm serving with rice I cooked a couple days ago. I finish my beer and feel relaxed.
6:05 p.m. — After dinner, we head over to my parents' house to play and hang out for an hour until it's bedtime for the kiddos. My mom cuts up some strawberries for everyone.
9 p.m. — Both kids are finally asleep. We're wiped. Husband and I collapse on the couch, catch up on the day, and then watch an episode of Homes by the Sea, a British home tour show. I officially want to move to Cornwall.
11 p.m. — Every night we say we're going to sleep earlier than 11 p.m., but our night owl tendencies are hard to defeat. Sleep time.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

7:15 a.m. — Up and at 'em. My husband plays with the kids while I shower and finally wrap my friend's baby shower present. I gather up everything I need for the baby, since we'll be gone for several hours. Sweet husband makes us all breakfast. Egg and turkey bacon burritos. Yum. Finish getting myself and my daughter ready.
9:30 a.m. — Baby and I are on the road. The baby shower is a couple hours' drive away. I'm praying she naps part of the way, since it's her nap time anyway.
10:30 a.m. — Hahahahahahaha. She's been screaming for an hour nonstop, and I've already pulled off the freeway twice to soothe her.
11:30 a.m. — Hahahahahahahaha. She's been screaming for two hours nonstop, and I've pulled off the freeway four times to soothe her.
2:30 p.m. — That was a beautiful baby shower. So good to catch up with my friend and her family and celebrate her sweet baby who's coming so soon. I check in with my husband and he says he took our son to get free hamburgers and play in a bounce house at a local shop in town that was hosting a grand opening party. Time to get back on the road.
4:40 p.m. — Yay, the baby napped for an hour and then was content the rest of the way back. On the drive, I get a phone call from another friend who is also pregnant and whose baby shower I offered to throw. We chat for 40 minutes.
6 p.m. — I pan-fry some salmon with sautéed kale, shallots, celery, and chickpeas. We throw it into tortillas and call it salmon veggie wraps. Pretty good.
8:40 p.m. — Kids are finally asleep. We kick up our feet with beers and watch an episode of Grand Designs, a different British home tour show.
11 p.m. — Hi again, 11 p.m. Sleep time.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7:20 a.m. — Was up with the baby three times last night. My husband is letting me sleep in and taking the kids somewhere. Back to sleep.
9 a.m. — Awake. That was glorious. Head into the kitchen to grab coffee. We decide to head over to my parents' house to hang out. I put on my running shoes and tell my husband I'll meet him there. I jog there and stretch.
10:15 a.m. — Time to watch Game 7 of the Cavs-Pacers series. My mom loves Lebron so much. I decide to root for the Cavs, even though I'm not a Lebron fan myself. Plus, my mom threatens that none of us can come over to her house ever again if we root against Lebron. LOL, my mom is so extra.
12:30 p.m. — My mom cooked us tri-tip, pilaf, and salad. We all eat and decide to put our son to sleep for nap time so we can keep hanging out.
1:10 p.m. — Lebron wins, so my mom is happy and we're allowed to come over in the future. And I'm happy she's happy.
4:30 p.m. — My son has outgrown his shoes and needs warm weather PJs, so we head out to find some. We scour Marshalls, Ross, and Target, and get shoes and PJs for him, a new summer dress for me, and flip-flops for my husband. $108.96
4:45 p.m. — I also order several packs of diapers for my daughter while they're on sale. $80.14
5:30 p.m. — We're home, and I let my son have a PB&J for dinner. Hubs and I are still full from lunch, so we don't eat anything.
9 p.m. — Both kids are asleep. Bedtime routine was a mess as usual. With rum and Cokes in hand, we watch two episodes of Grand Designs and laugh about the weekend's antics.
10:45 p.m. — Sleep time.
11:23 p.m. — Just kidding. Baby was up and crying. Now it's sleep time, at least for a couple hours until I have to be up with baby again...
Daily Total: $189.10
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.
Have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Right now, in addition to our ongoing diaries, we're looking for potential diarists along the following theme:
Your Spending In Your State: We want to run one Money Diary from a different state each week. Want to rep your state? Submit here!
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here:

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series