A Week In Dallas, TX, On A Joint $450,000 Income

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Today: a vice president and CFP working in private banking who makes $186,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on cilantro jalapeño margaritas.
Occupation: Vice President, Certified Financial Planner
Industry: Private Banking
Age: 34
Location: Dallas, TX
My Salary: $155,000 base with a $31,000 bonus
My Husband's Salary: $189,000 base with a $75,000 bonus
My Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $4,360
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $4,588
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $2,436 for a 15-year fixed mortgage (My husband and I own a townhome. I also own four rental properties. Total rent for these is around $110,000/year, and total expenses are around $90,000 for a net estimated cash flow of $20,000. Of course this can vary a lot. Any rental cash flow is kept separate and saved or used to prepay the rental mortgages.)
Car Payment: $585 for my husband's car
Federal Income & FICA Tax: $8,393 (We adjust this frequently to account for rental and investment income to make sure we don't owe much when we file.)
401(k)s: $3,000
Husband's Deferred Comp Plan: $2,313
United Way Donation: $236
Health, Dental & Vision Insurance: $150
Utilities: $199
House Cleaner: $175
Home Insurance: $133
HOA: $100
Direct TV/Internet/Cell Phones: $336
Wine Club: $70
Gym Membership: $29
Kera & New York Times Subscriptions: $28
Netflix: $26
Savings/Brokerage/Real Estate partnerships: $11,000 on average
Annual Expenses
Property Tax: $12,500
Roth IRAs: $11,000
Health Savings Account: $6,850
Auto & Umbrella Insurance: $1,750
Amazon Prime: $99

Day One

7:20 a.m. — Wake up to the sound of my hubs, M., watering the plants on the rooftop deck. I didn't sleep well, but I walk the dogs and get ready quickly. I leave the house with a to-go cup of milk to stash in the office fridge. My employer provides free Starbucks coffee, but I hate the artificial dairy creamers they stock.
10:30 a.m. — After a meeting and some emails, I order a spinach, feta, and egg white wrap from Starbucks across the street. The app offered 40 extra stars if I buy two breakfast sandwiches in five days — mission accomplished! I use the walk to call a (fifth!) contractor to try to schedule a project at a rental townhome I own and manage. I have three other rentals under professional management, but this one is usually low maintenance and is in my neighborhood. I seriously hate dealing with this stuff, though. Luckily, the random countertop repair person I found with a quick Google search agrees to come out on Thursday. Fingers crossed. $4.06
12:30 p.m. — I get engrossed in work and realize it's too late to go to the gym for a workout. I decide I'm too lazy to drive to Eatzi's for the $12 brown rice salmon sushi roll I'm craving, so I heat up a Saffron Road lamb saag frozen meal I have in the office kitchen freezer. I skim my Financial Plans Excel file and update our projected cash flow through the end of the month. M. just confirmed that his bonus should be $20,000 this month, which will be around $14,000 after taxes. A quick check of our asset allocation on Personal Capital confirms that it should go to the money market to get our cash back up to our 3% target. M. spends $15.86 at Jersey Mike's for lunch. $15.86
3:30 p.m. — A friend texts to ask if I want to join her at a Soul Cycle class at 6:30. Hard pass. I get the appeal and have gone a few times, but it's so expensive. I have a subsidized gym membership through work and enjoy running and the occasional yoga class.
5:30 p.m. — My planned run does not materialize. Why am I so tired today? M. isn't home yet anyway, so I decide to walk the half mile to Whole Foods for groceries. Part errand, part exercise, part entertainment. I buy cottage cheese, avocado, sliced herbed chicken deli meat, a big tub of spinach, tomatoes, tortilla chips, a red pepper, and sharp cheddar cheese (all organic). $30.76
7 p.m. — M. has leftover pizza, and I make a whole wheat pita with avocado, tomato, green onion, two fried eggs, sautéed spinach, and red pepper. He forwards me an email from the principal investor in a real estate syndication that we put $75,000 into a couple of years ago. (Annoyingly, the emails go to M., even though it was my contact in the first place.) The property was sold last month, and they've identified a new apartment building they want to roll the proceeds into via a 1031 exchange. Our share is now worth $138,000, which is a lot to have in one deal, but we decide to invest in the new project rather than cashing out and paying the capital gains taxes. We watch The Bachelorette and hit the sack, though I toss and turn until nearly midnight.
Daily Total: $50.68

Day Two

3:50 a.m. — I wake up to the dog barking. Usually I fall back asleep quickly, but at 5:45 a.m I give up and make a Nespresso latte with cinnamon. I sit in a daze on the couch and literally tear up like an exhausted toddler. I dread feeling like crap for my busy day of important meetings. When M. wakes up, we talk about where we would love to live and whether his job stress is worth the money. I complain about the hours per day that I spend in front of a screen or streaming podcasts for lack of anything better to do, how I love our neighborhood but don't feel part of a community, how my job is awesome but not meaningful, and how all this makes me think we should have kids — except that I am not sure I want kids. This is me on four hours of sleep (eye roll). I finally walk the dogs and listen to more news about the struggles of refugees worldwide. I really am grateful for everything I have.
8:15 a.m. — I eat a Kind Bar I swiped from the spa last weekend, pack a lunch, and drop off my small SUV for its 50,000 mile checkup. I have a cup full of free Goldfish from the lobby and mull over upgrading my vehicle. It's seven years old, and I'd love a different color and newer features. Besides, I've gotten several nice raises since I've owned it, and it's only worth about $11,000 (M.'s car is worth twice as much). But I like my make and model, and my commute is only three miles. Plus, I can haul plants or pets in it without worrying about wear and tear. I hop in the brand new loaner, and it doesn't look or feel very different. An upgrade is definitely not worth it. I pick up my dry cleaning on the way to work ($34.66). M. spends $2.11 at a coffee shop near his office. $36.77
12 p.m. — At my desk I wolf down the spinach, quinoa, black bean, onion, tomato, and avocado salad with cumin/lime dressing that I brought from home. I am still carb craving due to lack of sleep, so I follow the salad with a box of Frosted Mini-Wheats from the free snack pantry at work and the rest of the milk I brought yesterday.
4 p.m. — I raid the snack pantry for baked barbeque Lays.
6:30 p.m. — I make M. a chicken pita with veggies and treat myself to more of my quinoa/black bean salad with chicken. M. places an Amazon order for Nespresso pods, a flat iron my new hair stylist said I need, paper towels, bug spray, and kitchen sponges. $112.54
8 p.m. — I Skype with my sisters. One of them wants to buy the house we grew up in, which was gifted to us when my parents divorced. (One parent still lives there, but is ready to move on.) We talk about how to handle the contents and agree on a price. Then we talk about our parents, our jobs, and whether our kids should go to the same summer camp one day. I tell them if I don't have kids I'd love to take their daughters on summer trips when they're older, like to New York or London. My youngest sister responds, “Geez, how much money are y'all making?” I laugh it off and say it will really pile up eventually if we don't have babies to care for. We all have good jobs, but they have no idea how much M. and I make and save. I'm on such a high after catching up with them. I drift away into a deep sleep.
Daily Total: $149.31

Day Three

7 a.m. — Wake up after nine hours of sleep feeling like a new person. I chill on the floor with the cats as M. showers and talks about a deal he's been worried about. We're both in banking (we met at a previous job), and it's great to be able to bounce ideas off each other and have overlapping professional networks. But we probably talk about work way too much as a result.
8:15 a.m. — I get to work early (for me) and make green tea. Our boss is out of town for the rest of the week, so predictably, I'm the only one here so far. I relish the quiet. I'd love an excuse to walk to Starbucks for breakfast, but I have cottage cheese and a half banana at my desk that I brought from home.
11 a.m. — I check Mint to categorize recent transactions and notice extra hotel charges and refunds from the hotel M. stayed at last weekend for a bachelor party. I text him to make sure they're legit; he's not as good as I am at double checking. He calls and explains he upgraded his room to be on the same floor as the other guys, but since he didn't have my card which we'd used to prepay, they had to refund me and charge him in person. He was fine with the extra $60 charge but didn't realize that would make us also lose the $60 rebate we'd gotten for booking on my card. UGH. I know we make enough to not stress about this, but not managing to use discounts and coupons I have really irritates me.
12 p.m. — Free lunch is catered in today at work, and I have green beans, salad, and a small chicken enchilada. Not my fave meal, but I can't pass up free food. I need to get in some steps though, so I walk around the shopping center by my building afterwards. I get organic half and half from a grocery store ($3.49) and briefly consider a pair of earrings from a shop, but put them back. M. buys a wrap from Salata for $10.83. $14.32
4 p.m. — After an interview with a great candidate I hope we hire, I munch on roasted edamame at my desk while I clear my inbox. Then I head out to pick up my car. The price seems high for an oil change, tire balance/rotation, and state inspection. I never have car issues, though (knock on wood), and at least they gave me a “free” car wash. $399.43
6 p.m. — I walk the dogs and end a brief two-mile jog at Whole Foods. I wander around picking up what looks good and/or is on sale: two peach whiskey pork chops, two mango habanero tuna burgers, mushrooms, an onion, frozen edamame, lima bean hummus, an apple, grilled chicken breast strips, a frozen Annie's burrito, and a bag of cherries (mostly organic). The cashier refuses to sell me a bottle of chardonnay because I don't have my ID. I leave seriously annoyed, but $15 richer than I would have been if I'd bought it. $45.98
7:30 p.m. — I munch on cherries and a couple of slices of gouda while I cook the tuna burgers along with a cauliflower rice medley and crispy brussels sprouts. I drizzle a soy/garlic/honey glaze over the veggies and pop open a bottle of wine from my wine club subscription. M. is hard at work on his laptop, so I clean up and go to bed early to let him focus.
Daily Total: $459.73

Day Four

8:40 a.m. — I arrive at a local club for a half day of CFP continuing education with a small group of investment managers. I load up on watermelon and berries from the buffet, along with bacon and scrambled eggs. The event sponsor runs an oil and gas fund I'd love to invest in, and I meet an employee of one of my clients and see an old friend. I learn some things but come away unconvinced that managed futures need to be part of my portfolio. M. buys coffee for $2.11. $2.11
12:15 p.m. — We wrap up the presentation and hit the lunch buffet. I have a few bites of tilapia, braised greens, cornbread, poblano mac and cheese, and Greek salad. Yum. I stop by M.'s office on the way out, since he works in the building. We chat about his problem client; I feel bad he's had a rough few weeks. He spends $10.81 at Pei Wei for lunch. $10.81
2 p.m. — Back at my office, I grab free filtered water and add lemon wedges. My friend calls and asks me to happy hour, but I'm supposed to meet the contractor at 4 p.m. I have a feeling the guy will be a no-show, but I hope I'm surprised. I update my net worth spreadsheet (which I do far too often). We're up $31,000 this month, which is about average over the last two years. 10% of that is loan amortization, 25% is retirement investment and matching, 42% is other saving and investing, and the remaining 23% is from market appreciation. Currently we save 48% of gross income, or 60% of after-tax income. Reviewing this makes me feel calm and in control, which is why I do it so frequently.
3:45 p.m. — My tenant texts and says he can be there to meet the contractor! I leave early anyway and hit the gym, where I do 40 minutes on the elliptical while reading Money Magazine. I text the contractor to tell him the tenant will meet him, confirm which pieces of the counter they need to remove, and agree to pay $250 to cut away the countertop “shelf” that extends from the vanity over the toilet. $250
5 p.m. — The contractor is finished, so I walk from my house to pay. I chat with my tenant (who I've never met), and he says he'll get me the renewal lease and pay the $500 nonrefundable pet deposit next week when his new puppy arrives — a Golden Retriever. The dog lover in me smiles, but as a landlord, I wince.
5:30 p.m. — I meet my best friend at a wine bar around the corner, where we've been going for about 10 years. I have white wine and a champagne and buy her red wine, since she Ubered to meet me. Then we walk to a restaurant bar and each have two cilantro jalapeño margaritas, which are delicious. $49.80
8 p.m. — I head home and quickly cook the whiskey peach pork chops with spinach, onion, and mushrooms. I add a side of the quinoa black bean mix, and dinner is served. M. talks to me about obscure MLB statistics that I don't understand, and I make the mistake of admitting that I don't understand, which only prolongs the discussion. Then, we watch a nature documentary while researching hotels for our trip to Budapest later this summer.
Daily Total: $312.72

Day Five

7:40 a.m. — It's Friday! I put on workout clothes and walk the dogs to a coffee shop, where I get a plain coffee and free dog treats. I sit outside greeting other dogs and chat with my neighbor and his adorable toddler daughter. $3.98
8:10 a.m. — I get home, and the house cleaner is already there. I throw a work dress and makeup bag in my gym bag and get out of her hair; I feel weird being home while she cleans. I walk around the neighborhood listening to podcasts: Death, Sex & Money, Marketplace, and Think. I pass the girl I saw earlier at the playground with another neighborhood baby and their nannies. I can't imagine having a nanny, when I feel weird just paying someone to wash my sheets. But I can't imagine staying home with kids either.
9 a.m. — I meet the plumber at the rental and ask him to lock up when he leaves (I've worked with him for years and trust him). Now that the counter/shelf is gone, they can install the new toilet. I throw the dogs in the car and drop them at the groomer; I get them cleaned about every six weeks and love doing it on days when the house gets cleaned too. I get to the gym and decide to take a heavy weight training class. Throwing weights around makes me feel so powerful. I leave, pay the plumber over the phone ($739), and head to work. $739
12 p.m. — I have lunch plans to meet a client at a fancy steakhouse, so I hit the bank on the way to get cash for the valet. I rarely carry cash, so I can track all my spending better on Mint. We both order the green pozole soup to start, followed by the Copper River salmon (apparently it's only available five weeks a year), served with roasted asparagus and cauliflower. We chat about increasing his loan and helping his kids learn about investing. I pay and will expense it ($149.38 including tip). I tip the valet $5 and give the client $5 for his valet tip as well. (M. spends $9.36 at Jersey Mike's). $19.36
2:30 p.m. — I grab a free grapefruit La Croix from the work fridge and message my work bestie to confirm our weekend plans. Then I read the Wall Street Journal and field a few phone calls. It's a slow day, thank goodness, though I'm procrastinating on non-urgent items. I renew my car registration online. $73.75
5 p.m. — I pick up the pups ($123 including tip) and head home. M. is meeting a friend for drinks at an upscale sports bar (he spends $40) so I change and pitter around the house. It's too hot to walk to Whole Foods, so I open a bottle of wine out of boredom. I finish off the cherries and more gouda, along with a few nut crackers and a dollop of hummus. I go to and use a $40 reward to buy Office for the new Mac I got a few weeks ago when my six-year-old computer finally bit the dust ($110 after the reward). $273
7:30 p.m. — M. is home, so I cook a frozen Frontera Chicken Taco Skillet bag and serve it over quinoa with diced avocado. M. is amped up and talking about one of his clients, who is in a dangerous situation, and gets defensive when I tell him he's stressing me out. We bicker for a bit. A friend texts and asks if we want to get dinner tomorrow before a party my bestie is throwing, and we bicker more when M. is unenthusiastic. I express frustration about the thought of being bored at home on a Friday night or having to drag him along the one time we have something to do socially together. He apologizes and promises to be a good sport tomorrow. I polish off the wine and make a reservation at a nice steakhouse that sent us a deal in the mail recently. We agree it's too late to watch a show, and head to bed.
Daily Total: $1,109.09

Day Six

8:15 a.m. — I finally roll out of bed after the fifth dog bark and discover piles of poo in the guest room where the dogs sleep; one of them must have gotten a bug from the groomer. I clean it up, walk them, water the plants, and wish I'd remembered to buy milk for a latte. I chug ice water and spit up a piece of plastic, which has happened before. Apparently we need a new ice maker. I try to download the Office suite I bought last night and am informed that my operating system isn't compatible. I give up and head to the coffee shop.
9 a.m. — I splurge on a latte, tip $1, and sit outside with the dogs reading the WSJ. Lots of neighbors/strangers stop to chat and pet them. My sister group texts to ask what furniture we all might want from the house. I let them know that M. and I are creating a will and that I'll send them a copy soon along with a list of accounts, passwords, and other contact info. I get a free refill and dog treats and feel better about my morning. $5.25
11 a.m. — At home I fry two eggs and eat them with a scoop of the black bean quinoa salad while I spend 45 minutes chatting online with Microsoft tech support. I spend $40 to exchange the PC software I bought with the correct Mac version, and a guy (who I hope isn't a Russian hacker) takes my credit card info and accesses my computer to install it for me. $40
3 p.m. — I run, shower, and nap. M. buys two quarts of Simply Lemonade on his way home ($5.82) and then I make us a plate of sliced apples, turkey, and cheese for a snack. $5.82
5 p.m. — It's 99 degrees, but I brave the heat and walk a few blocks to get a basic manicure and deluxe pedicure. $65
7 p.m. — Our friends pick us up for dinner. I have my ideal steakhouse meal: dirty martini, bleu cheese salad, filet mignon with bacon wrapped scallops, loaded baked potato, and key lime pie. We all split a $99 bottle of red wine with dinner. The other couple opens up about financial issues — she pays the bills and gets a steady paycheck, while he gets commissions a few times a year and pays his share of expenses up front every month. She has to ask him for more money frequently, which makes him nitpick her spending. We urge them to combine income and expenses and eliminate the constant expense renegotiation. I point out that if they get divorced, then everything will be considered community property anyway. Separate accounts are a real hassle and can cause competitive spending. Plus, what are you going to do, have different lifestyles because you earn differently? I'm thrilled with my meal, but the price reminds me why we don't go out more (we tip 20%). $266
9 p.m. — We get to a rooftop party at my best friend's house. I have two glasses of champagne and M. has a couple of beers as we catch up with people we haven't seen in awhile. We Uber home around 11 p.m. and talk more about the dinner conversation. M. says he can't understand why people get married if they don't want to combine finances. The whole point of marriage to us (other than raising a family together) is combining the risks and rewards of life: cancer, disability, promotions, entrepreneurial ventures, raises, layoffs. We don't know who will make more or struggle more over time, but we sure aren't going to spend our lives keeping score. Plus, we know we save so much that even if we divorce, we'll both end up richer than we started. $11
Daily Total: $393.07

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — I walk the dogs to Whole Foods and tie them to the bike rack while I grab organic whole milk, cherries, blueberries, apple, hummus, Dave's Killer Bread, and frozen chicken nuggets. I buy non-organic avocados, turkey, and ridiculously expensive but amazing Mediterranean feta salsa that they haven't had in stock in ages ($67.94). M. stops at McDonald's ($5.51) for breakfast on his way to play golf. $73.45
10 a.m. — I water the rooftop plants, enjoy two Nespresso lattes, and have blueberries, cottage cheese, and a handful of cherries for breakfast.
12 p.m. — I head to my coworker's house out in the ‘burbs for the first time. I'd planned to pick up Veuve champagne since her birthday was last week, but I forgot about Texas's law banning alcohol sales before noon on Sundays, so I show up empty-handed. She grills chicken and serves it with chickpea and corn lettuce wraps. We sip sangria in the pool and gossip about work for several hours.
6 p.m. — I throw together a cobb salad for M. with chicken nuggets, spinach, peppers, cheddar, tomato, mushrooms, and onion. I have some feta salsa on a Wasa cracker, and he knocks out chips and hummus. We watch 60 Minutes and an episode of Sneaky Pete and then go to bed early. It's been a long week, and we need to rest up for the next one.
Daily Total: $73.45
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