A Week In Houston, TX, On A Joint $340,000 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.
This week a lawyer who makes $190,000 per year and spends it on fuzzy socks.
Occupation: Lawyer
Industry: Large Corporation
Age: 42
Location: Houston, TX
My Salary: $190,000
Husband's Salary: $150,000
Combined Paycheck (2x/month): $10,100 after 401(k), health insurance, and United Way contributions
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $4,000 for our mortgage and property tax. We pay a little bit extra to speed up paying off the mortgage.
Student Loan Payments: $300
Car Payment: $695 (This is the last year!)
All Other Monthly Expenses
New York Times Subscription: $3
Netflix: $12
Cell Phone: $170
Cable & Internet: $200
Childcare: $2,600
Evening Nanny: $600
Kid Activities: $200 toward swim, soccer, and music classes
Electric & Gas: $150
Water: $50
Lawn Service: $100
Savings: We move money into savings whenever there is a balance in our checking account over $15,000 after bills are paid.

Day One

8 a.m. —Wake up late; it's the weekend! My husband lets me sleep in while he makes coffee and finds cartoons on TV for my son. I jump in the shower, put in my contacts, brush my teeth, and moisturize. (I am trying to be consistent about skincare now that I am in my 40s. My dedication ebbs and flows; right now I am on a good run.) After I throw on my mom uniform (yoga pants, tank, sweater), I drink a cup of coffee while scrolling through my social media apps, make the bed, start a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, and wake up my daughter. I get her dressed and we eat breakfast together (i.e., I finish my coffee and steal handfuls of her dry Fruit Loops). She also eats a banana and drinks a glass of milk.
10:45 a.m. — My son has soccer at a local park. It's usually earlier in the day, but it's unseasonably cold here so they pushed the start time one hour. I watch him drill and then do a scrimmage for 25 minutes. He doesn't score but he does get two assists; he also shows improvement in stopping the ball and dribbling. I am proud of him! I chat with the other soccer moms and then we play at the playground for a bit.
12 p.m. — We meet my husband and daughter at The Raven Grill, our favorite neighborhood brunch spot. I order a mimosa and a grilled chicken sandwich with olive tapenade. My husband gets a fancy grilled cheese sandwich with an Arnold Palmer, and the kids get a PB&J, chicken strips, milk, and fruit ($66.94). I only eat about half of the chicken so we bring home; I'll give it to the kids as leftovers. We also stop by Picnic, the restaurant's fast-casual bakery and sandwich shop, for three loaves of cranberry-walnut bread ($24). We'll keep one, give one to my dad (who is here for a few months on a temporary assignment), and give one as a hostess gift later this evening. $90.94
1:30 p.m. — It's nap time! I settle in for a few hours of mindless Food Network and HGTV and text with a friend about an upcoming beach trip we are planning with our families. Since having kids, I've found that it's really nice to travel with friends who also have little ones. They entertain each other and there are extra adults who can make keeping an eye on everyone easier. I search potential properties on VRBO and send them to my friend for review.
3:30 p.m. — Nap time is over. I do laundry, clean up, and get ready to go over to our friends' house. I can't wait to see them; the plan is to order in and let the kids hang out for a while.
5 p.m. — With our friends. The kids play well together — there are tons of toys and lots of pets. We order a few pizzas and our friends pay. I deliver the gift and it is well received; they love Picnic bread!
7:30 p.m. — We stop by the wine store on the way home and I get a bottle of Mark West pinot noir. I decide to skip bath time and put the kids to bed. Settle in on the couch to watch the Patriots football game with my husband and drink a glass of wine (or two). $15
11 p.m. — I have been fighting a terrible cold and cough. I feel better but I'm still congested. Going to try to go to bed early.
Daily Total: $105.94

Day Two

7 a.m. — I get out of bed and get my son dressed to watch the Houston Marathon. The route goes right through our neighborhood and we are at a mile marker, which means top-40 music and an announcer have been blaring for the last 30 minutes. I make coffee and grab a cereal bar for my son and we head over to the course to cheer on three friends who are running. It's freezing but my kid loves it. We high five the runners and try to yell inspiring words. There is music, police cars flashing sirens to encourage the runners, friendly dogs, and neighbors. Forty-five minutes later, my fingers are numb. My son doesn't want to leave so I bribe him with the promise of hot chocolate and cartoons.
10:30 a.m. — I take my son to a bookstore café. I buy books for him ($55.07) and get a chai latte with almond milk, plain milk for him, and a croissant to share ($9.42). I bring my own paperback, The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty. I've been reading her books since I watched Big Little Lies last year. We hang out and read — my favorite way to spend an hour on a Sunday. $64.49
12 p.m. — I like to bake on Sundays, so today I decide to try Alison Roman's salted butter and chocolate chunk shortbread cookies. They are all over the internet and I figure a million Instagram influencers can't be wrong! They are super easy and require only a few ingredients (all of which I have on hand). I place them in the refrigerator to chill. My husband is taking our daughter for a walk, so I play with her and fix lunch until her nap time at 1:30.
12:30 p.m. — I take my son to the grocery store, an expensive one that's always empty. I hate fighting crowds and my favorite, cheaper store is packed on Sundays after 9 a.m. I buy a ton of food including snack food for the kids, potato chips, dip, salsa (football Sunday!), flour, sugar, vegetable oil, red wine vinegar, carrots, peas, bananas, potatoes, avocados, grapes, apples, cauliflower, broccoli, blueberries, milk, sour cream, butter, cheese , yogurt, frozen pizza, frozen hash-browns; fresh tortellini, ground beef, venison sausage, prosciutto, Chik'n nuggets, diapers, and six bottles of wine. (I buy in bulk to get the 10% discount.) I remind myself that this store is way too expensive and promise to wake up early to go to the other store next weekend. I also buy my son M&Ms for being such a good helper. He eats half and says he wants to save the rest for later. I need willpower tips from him! $373.02
1:30 p.m. — I hit the drugstore next and buy three cans of shaving cream for my husband, Band-Aids, several types of cold medicine for me, and three deodorants. My husband likes to stock up and we usually buy through Amazon, but I am trying to do less of that. $75.54
2 p.m. — Unload groceries and prepare mac and cheese, peas, and a banana for my son. I clean up around the house, start dinner, and bake my cookies. My dad comes over to watch football with my husband and I savor the quiet time while the kids are napping. Where has the day gone?
4 p.m. — Work on preparing dinner for the kids, my husband, and my dad. Tonight, it's turkey meatloaf, mashed potatoes, fresh cauliflower and broccoli, and chocolate chip cookies for dessert. The cookies are amazing.
6 p.m. — Give the kids baths and tuck them in. Can't wait to relax and watch mindless television.
12:30 a.m. — Fell asleep on the couch. I drag myself to the bathroom to brush my teeth and fall into bed.
Daily Total: $513.05

Day Three

6 a.m. — Wake up. This is early for me, but I have to be at work no later than 7:45 and my commute is 45 minutes long. I shower, throw my hair in a bun, slap on some makeup, and get dressed. I make coffee at home and hit the road, listening to Pod Save America on my commute. The hosts are hilarious and listening preserves my sanity.
7:45 a.m. — My commute involves a toll road that I think is faster and safer. It's expensive but I think it's worth it to get to work and home without risking an accident. $4
8 a.m. — I am part of a team interviewing for a mass hiring program at my company. I grab tea and meet up with my interview partner to divide our tasks. I am still fighting a cold and cough and hope that if I hydrate, I can get through the interviews without hacking up a lung.
12 p.m. — They provide us with a boxed lunch. We finish our morning interviews late so the only option left is tuna salad sandwich on a croissant. This is totally unappealing but I am starving. I eat the tuna salad (avoiding the limp croissant), chips, and a cookie. I have a diet Dr. Pepper, which is also gross. The only other option is Pepsi products, which I do not like, so I skip. I grab a bottled water and get ready for the next round of interviews.
4 p.m. — We are finished with the interviews. I catch up on emails and phone calls and then head out around 5:15. It's MLK Jr. Day, so traffic is fortunately light.
6 p.m. — I arrive home and my husband is already feeding the kids dinner — Newman's Own cheese pizza, roasted carrots, and fruit. He is a rockstar. I am so lucky to have such an amazing partner. I sit with the kids through dinner, eat pizza, and drink a glass of wine. I play with the kids for a bit and then help with baths, stories, and bedtime.
9 p.m. — The kids are in bed. I log back onto my work computer for an hour or so to answer emails I couldn't get to during the day. My husband and I hang out and chat until it's time for bed. I am still feeling under the weather and hope that if I get to bed early, I'll start feeling healthy. The weather service is predicting icy rain tomorrow (a non-starter in Houston) so there is a high likelihood the kids' daycare will be closed. I prepare myself for a day of trying to entertain them while working from home.
11 p.m. — My attempts to go to sleep early are thwarted by a group text from two of my good friends. There is major gossip and despite my best efforts to get a good night's sleep, I am sucked in for 45 minutes. Finally, brush my teeth and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $4

Day Four

5 a.m. — I wake up and learn that daycare and work are closed due to heavy ice. Houston and ice are a very dangerous combination. I log on to my computer, answer some emails, and have a cup of coffee. The kids get up around 7 a.m. and we feed them breakfast, get them settled with cartoons and toys, and try to work remotely. We also call our housekeeper; she comes once a week and I do not want her to have travel in this weather. We reschedule for Friday. This means I need to start the kids' laundry; my son is on his last pair of pants.
9 a.m. — My son needs new shoes. I go to Amazon and present him with two options; he chooses the cheaper ones! I also throw in a few of pairs of fuzzy socks for myself. (I normally would randomly order a pair of socks, but I love them. Especially during this cold snap.) The purchase is $70.89, but we have an Amazon credit card, so I am able to pay with points. I continue to answer work emails and keep the news on in the background. The highways are very icy and the mayor is asking everyone to stay off the roads. I hope it's better tomorrow but it is doesn't look like it will be at the moment.
12 p.m. — Make lunch for the kids and nibble on salami and crackers for me.
1 p.m. — Take several conference calls and try to cram as much work in as possible during my kids' nap time. I also log on to the Harris County Toll Authority website to pay a toll I missed last week. (I was driving my husband's car and he does not have an E-ZPass.) It's $3.25 ($1.50 + a $1.75 surcharge); so that this does not happen again, I sign him up for an E-ZPass and put $40 in the account. They'll send us the pass in the mail. We've been in Houston for almost 10 years; it's time! $43.25
5 p.m. — For dinner, my husband made a meat sauce with pasta and roasted carrots. It was delicious but I am exhausted and overwhelmed. I give the kids a bath and then we have an impromptu dance party in the living room when my son asks Alexa to play one of his favorite songs. It's awesome to blow off some steam and the kids have a blast.
11 p.m. — I go to bed. Everything is closed again tomorrow and I am dreading trying to work and manage my kids who, understandably, are suffering from major cabin fever. Finger's crossed that I make it. I have always respected moms who stay at home with their kids (read: work at home!), but that respect grows immeasurably when I have to do it myself. Reminder to be less grumpy at work...
Daily Total: $43.25

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — We are still iced in. I'm dreading trying to work and watching the kids at the same time.
12 p.m. — Make lunch for the kids, counting down the minutes until nap time. I've been trying to field work calls and emails while simultaneously entertaining the kids. I hope I can squeeze in a few hours of productive work during nap time while the kids are asleep. I also secure a babysitter for Friday night. We have an event related to my husband's job and I do not want to have to cancel. Proud of myself for being proactive!
5:30 p.m. — Our nanny is available to help out. We pay her $20 per hour and she is amazing. She takes the kids outside and my husband makes hotdogs and peas for the kids. We eat dinner, play, and have bath time. Nanny stays for two hours and helps us through dinner and baths; she's a lifesaver. I handle stories and teeth brushing for my daughter. My husband does the same for my son. We somehow get everyone into bed before 8 p.m., but my son's not asleep and I fear he'll resist bedtime. $40
9:00 p.m. — Kids are finally asleep. I text with a friend who's a foodie, trying to decide on a restaurant to celebrate my dad's 75th birthday in a few weeks. I settle on a super-fancy Italian place that has rave reviews. I peruse the dessert menu and see cannoli, one of my favorites. I am sold! I book the reservation. I must remember to get a babysitter!
Daily Total: $40

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — I wake up, shower, and dress, then wake up the kids, get them dressed, put bananas in their backpacks, and leave to drop them off at daycare. I help them get breakfast from the school buffet; the school charges $1 per child for breakfast. Everyone is settled and I am relieved that life is getting back to normal. $2
7:30 a.m. — I need to get hardwood floor cleaner for my housekeeper. I purchase the cleaning supplies, she cleans the house, and when she runs out of something, she leaves me a note. I figure the stores will empty this time of day and I can knock it out quickly. I purchase the floor cleaner and also pick up a few essentials: bananas, yogurt, yogurt smoothies, salami, tortilla chips, cover up for a pimple on my chin, a loaf of bread, and fruit and croissants to share with my colleagues. I race home to drop off the groceries and head to work. $50.30
8:55 a.m. — Take the toll road to get to work. The roads are filled with sand to combat the ice and a rock flies up and hits my windshield, leaving a crack. Argh. I'll have to try to find a glass repair place this weekend. Arrive at the office, very glad to be back in my routine. We have a cleanup day scheduled, so in between phone calls and emails, I sort through my files and decide what to recycle and what to keep. I munch on a croissant for breakfast. $4
11:30 a.m. — My boss orders in Chick-fil-A as a reward for our cleanup day. I wolf down two chicken strips, a lemonade, and fruit before going to a meeting at another site.
3:30 p.m. — My meeting is over and I have approximately 30 minutes before my next round of conference calls. I chat with some of my clients and get a craving for chips, so I go down to the convenience store on the first floor of the building and buy Ruffles chips and a water. At least I avoided soda! $3.32
7:30 p.m. — I wrap up my work and go home. I do not usually work this late but this week has been crazy and I needed quiet time to do deep-thinking work. I take the toll road again and call my husband on the way. Our nanny is there helping with the kids and my dad has stopped over for dinner. We agree to order Chinese food and we will have dinner when I get home. $4
8:20 p.m. — I put my son to bed (he's still up) and then join my dad and husband for dinner. We share crab puffs, steamed dumplings, General Tso's chicken, beef with asparagus, and rice. My dad and I open a bottle of sauvignon blanc and my husband has a beer. $52.73 (including tip)
9:30 p.m. — Half of my Amazon purchase has arrived; my fuzzy socks are here! I call my brother, we chat for a while, and I go to bed. I have a super early day tomorrow.
Daily Total: $116.35

Day Seven

6 a.m. — I wake up early because I have an 8 a.m. conference call and I have to get myself ready, help my husband with the kids, and be out the door by 7 a.m. if I am going to be on time. We have a jeans day today, so at least that part is easy. I also wear my favorite boots, a sweater, and a scarf; it's still freezing here. Everyone is dressed, show-and-tell items are selected, and I toss bananas in the kids' bags. I grab a Diet Coke to drink on the road. I don't have time to make coffee and I need the caffeine.
7 a.m. — I'm on the road and I take the toll road again. I listen to Stay Tuned with Preet Bharara, one of my favorite podcasts. He's the former U.S. Attorney from the Southern District of New York and always has an interesting take on current events. Today, he's interviewing the producer of a new Netflix series about corporate white-collar crime. I'll Google it when I get home; it sounds like something I would love to watch. $4
7:40 a.m. — Arrive at the office and spend the next two hours on teleconferences.
10 a.m. — I have another meeting at 10:30 but I am feeling sluggish, so I decide to run down to the Starbucks in my building and get a chai latte. I usually get regular milk but given my lactose issues, I ask for almond milk instead. I did not mind it when I tried it last weekend but when I go back to my desk and taste it, it's disgusting. I try a few more sips and still hate it. It must be the brand of almond milk. I toss it and head to my next meeting. $5.10
12 p.m. — My coworker asks if I want to eat lunch. I have yet another meeting at 1 and I should stay at my desk to answer some emails, but I decide I need a break and we agree to meet in the lounge area in 10 minutes. I run back down to the Starbucks and order a breakfast sandwich and a Diet Coke. (I realize I have a problem.) I love breakfast anytime of day! When I get to our lunch spot, I discover that the barista gave me two sandwiches. So nice. I probably should not eat both of them, but I do. Yummy, but I feel a little ill. $6.45
5:15 p.m. — Leave the office. My husband and I have a party with his coworkers tonight and I want to get home and help him get the kids fed and ready for bed. I listen to the news on the way home because I am interested in whether the pundits think the government is going to shut down; Congress has until midnight tonight. I take the toll road. It's raining and traffic is terrible, and I do not get home until 6:30. $4
7 p.m. — I get the kids settled in front of Moana, their current favorite. I like the movie but at this point, the music is making me crazy. The babysitter arrives, I attempt to make myself look cute, and we head out the door. The party is fun, complete with a jazz band and delicious desserts. We mingle and before we know it, it's almost 10 o'clock. We head home and pay the babysitter for three hours of work. $60
10:15 p.m. — My BFF calls. She lives on the West Coast and also has a small kid, so we have to coordinate if we're going to chat. (Sometimes I want to actually talk instead of text — Gen X.) She tells me about a job she is thinking of applying for and I give her the lowdown on my week. I miss her so much. We sign off and I watch the countdown to the government shutting down. We're on Central Time, so at 11 here, it's midnight in D.C. and Congress couldn't get it done. I decide to go to bed. This week was crazy exhausting but we made it!
Daily Total: $79.55
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:
Tell Us Your Salary Story: It's one thing to look at your current salary in isolation, and quite another to understand how it has ebbed and flowed over time. We want to talk to hear about your salary trajectory over time, from the biggest drops to the biggest increases — and in honor of Black History Month, we're keeping an eye out for submissions from black women in February! If you've been in the workforce for at least 10 years,

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series