A Week In Jersey City, NJ, On A Joint $220,000 Income

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Today: a nurse practitioner/assistant professor working who makes $102,000 per year ($220,000 combined with her husband) and spends some of her money this week on Terra chips.
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Occupation: Nurse Practitioner/Assistant Professor
Industry: Healthcare & Education
Age: 29
Location: Jersey City, NJ
My Salary: $96,000 plus $6,000 for teaching
My Husband's Salary: $108,000 with a ~$10,000 bonus
My Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,884.56, plus $610 for four months for teaching. I teach once a week, one class a semester.
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,823.80
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage/Taxes/Home/Flood Insurance: $4,162.05
Mortgage/Taxes/Insurance (for rental property): $1,751.46
FSA: $104.17
Transit: $75
Health Insurance: $92
Cable/Internet: $110
Heat/Electric: ~$230
Water: $46
Hulu: $0 (I still use my former roommate's account.)
New York Times Subscription: $0 (I share my parents' account.)
Netflix: $10.99
Phone: $0 (I'm currently on my family's account, but my husband and I are researching new family plans and will switch soon.)
MealPal: $50 (I joined with a discount but may cancel at the end of the month.)
Charitable & Political Donations: ~$100
Savings: $2,000
Annual Expenses
Malpractice Insurance: $1,086 (Although I need this in order to work, my company doesn't pay for it.)

Day One

7 a.m. — Wake up and lounge in bed for 15 minutes. I shifted my work hours on Mondays because I'm teaching a class at night, and that means waking up an hour earlier.
7:45 a.m. — I assemble a PB&J for breakfast and eat it on my walk to the PATH. I use my unlimited monthly pass and get a seat on the train. Now that I'm getting to work earlier, I can avoid the rush. At least for today.
12:30 p.m. — I'm done seeing patients for the day, and head out to pick up my lunch. It's a MealPal day and I reserved a fancy grilled cheese and soup combo from a restaurant nearby that I've never tried. I opted for the 12-meal plan, and it is very satisfying to walk into a restaurant and pick up a full-sized lunch without exchanging money. I take the meal back to my desk and start on notes.
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1:30 p.m. — My boss comes in to offer me fruit from his garden and my officemate offers me a cookie. I may not make the salary I could elsewhere, but one of the things that keeps me in my current job is my coworkers — they're fantastic.
3:30 p.m. — Leave work early and make my way uptown to teach my first class to doctoral students. I was asked to teach the class by the doctoral program director, and I am super excited but also nervous. It's a big class — 75 students! It's also late, three hours long, and probably not a direct interest to the students who are becoming nurse practitioners. (It's an epidemiology class.) I stop at a deli and grab a grapefruit La Croix and a bag of Terra chips in case I get hungry tonight. $3
6:30 p.m. — Short class, since it was just an introduction. I think they could tell I was nervous. No matter what, this is a big opportunity for me. Head home, and tell my husband to wait for me to have dinner.
7:45 p.m. — Walk in the door to a surprise cake from my husband. He baked one to celebrate my first day teaching. He's the absolute best. He also throws together quesadillas with turkey and rice for dinner. What a wonderful way to be greeted.
10 p.m. — Get in bed and watch Netflix for a bit. I usually fall asleep around midnight.
Daily Total: $3
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Day Two

7:45 a.m. — Alarm goes off, and I stay in bed for a while browsing the internet. I've been really bad about getting up for work lately.
8:30 a.m. — Finally out of bed. I make my standard half PB sandwich and head off to work.
10 a.m. — Today I'm giving a presentation to some of our social workers about medical conditions that our clients have so that things don't feel so foreign. The lecture goes well.
12 p.m. — I grab a quick $1 pizza slice on the way to our mobile medical clinic to see patients. I spend one to two days each week on this bus seeing kids in some of the outer boroughs. I don't love the mobile unit because I'm less connected to the team, but having a rotating schedule keeps things interesting. On the way there, I reload my MetroCard using my pre-tax transit money. $1
6:30 p.m. — I get home from a long afternoon of seeing back-to-back families and immediately go on our elliptical. If I don't do it right when I get home, there's no way I'll work out.
8:30 p.m. — Husband's home, and he wants a fancy burger tonight. We decide to go to White Star, where at my husband's insistence, I get a fried pickle burger. He gets a double chili cheese burger and an Old Fashioned. I'm both impressed and grossed out by how much food he can put away. Once we get home, we watch TV until bed. $50.62
Daily Total: $51.62

Day Three

8:02 a.m. — Up with my alarm today. I often set alarms at random times before or after a round number. I'm not sure why I do it, but I find it more relaxing to wake up at 8:02 than 8. That's two extra minutes of sleep!
9:30 a.m. — My coworker brought bagels today because we have a new nurse starting in our department. I grab a blueberry bagel the size of my head, slap on cream cheese, and call it a day. Seriously, I've never seen bagels this large. She apparently got them at a bagel place in Astoria. Then I head into a morning full of meetings.
1 p.m. — Finally done with meetings and run out to grab lunch. Another MealPal credit. This time a Lebanese salad with grilled chicken. I bring it into the nursing office where I chat with a few nurses about my bad mood. I'm not sure what's wrong — maybe just the stress of this new teaching gig on top of some outstanding notes I have to write. Either way, I feel better after venting.
7 p.m. — Finally leave work for the day and head out to Brooklyn to see my best friend's new apartment. I lived with her for a total of seven years before I moved in with my now husband. We were college roommates, and I've known her for over a third of my life. Her boyfriend is making us pizza tonight. On the way, I realize I should bring a housewarming gift, and stop at a nursery to grab a succulent. I feel a bit pressured to spend more than I was intending, but I'm in a pinch and this works. $43.55
12 a.m. — Finally home! The pizza-making took much longer than expected, but I had a lovely time with my friends. They got a new cat, too, and they were trying to get me to warm up to him. I'm just not a cat person. Once home, I quickly get ready for bed and try to fall asleep, though it takes a while.
Daily Total: $43.55

Day Four

7:37 a.m. — Wake up and quickly head to work because I have a student coming today to shadow me, and I need to get to the office to prep charts before she arrives.
2 p.m. — Hoo boy, those were some intense case conferences. I run to Fairway to grab some tuna salad and throw it on a bagel leftover from yesterday. I have to scarf it down because a couple patients have come, and I don't want to fall behind. $3.30
5 p.m. — I successfully convince five of the nurses to go to a bar next door for Wine Thursday. One of the nurses and I typically go on Wednesdays, but we were both busy yesterday, so Wine Thursday it is. We each grab a glass and then realize we should have just split a bottle, so we get a bottle after. I pay and they Venmo me their shares. $20.50
7 p.m. — I call my husband when I'm finished with drinks to ask what he wants to do for dinner. He's feeling Cuban food, so we meet at Hard Grove. We each get an order of empanadas (beef for me, shrimp for him) and split a steak quesadilla. He also has two margaritas, but I decide my wine was enough alcohol for me for the night. $46.23
9 p.m. — Finally get home after the long day to find that my first Stitch Fix has arrived. I immediately try everything on. For the most part, the style is right but the sizing is off. I keep a pair of work pants and a cardigan but decide to ship the rest back. Then it's TV and bed. We just started watching Animals. on HBO. It's weird, but I'm liking it. $96
Daily Total: $166.03

Day Five

7:45 a.m. — Up again, PB again, and I'm out the door in a hour.
12:50 p.m. — I take part in a strategic planning group to discuss our agency's long-term vision. It's very interesting and full of departmental directors. I'm waiting on the official word about a promotion to Assistant Medical Director. It's all set, but the raise isn't finalized yet. I'm not expecting much, though — that's nonprofit work for you. I run to grab another MealPal meal: chickpea curry with rice, root veggies, greens, and shallots.
3 p.m. — Step out with a coworker while she buys lunch. While we're at the deli, I see a box of Hello Pandas, which I haven't seen since I was studying in China. She buys them for me, and I pay her back once I'm back in the office. $2
7 p.m. — Once I'm finished with work, I meet up with a friend for dinner. We stumble into Society Cafe because it's near the PATH, and we get short rib poutine, kale caesar salad, coq au vin ravioli, and roasted baby carrots to share. The food is delicious, but it turns out the ravioli is filled with pâté and it's sooo rich, so I don't eat much of it. My friend grabs the check since I'm lending her my ukulele (which is why we met up in the first place). Totally unnecessary for her to pay, but I'll take it. On my walk to the PATH, I pass Pinkberry and can't help but get a small cup of pomegranate yogurt with pineapple, raspberry, and yogurt chips on top. $6.80
9:30 p.m. — Once I get home, my husband and I start the new season of BoJack Horseman on Netflix. The show is amazing and so smart and heartbreaking. Between this and Animals., we are really filling out our time with shows about animated animals. We binge a few episodes and then hit the hay.
Daily Total: $8.80

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — I wake up early on my own and spend a couple hours doing prep work for my class in bed.
10:45 a.m. — I grab half a PB sandwich (of course) and then my husband and I head out to the AT&T store to set up a new phone plan. We've been married for a few months and have been meaning to do this for a while now. While we're waiting to speak with the AT&T agent, my husband runs to Best Buy and picks up a Roku, since our current one is on its last legs. $56.81
12:30 p.m. — Well that took a while! Now it's off to Home Depot for two shades with mounting hardware for our office, caulk remover, clear silicone caulk, and a six-pack of lightbulbs. We bought our home five months ago and are mostly settled in, but it still needs the finishing touches. $108.70
1:30 p.m. — I'm dragging when we leave Home Depot and tell my husband to expect me to walk slowly until I get food in my belly. We pull out of the parking garage and he pulls into the liquor store across the street with a big smile on his face. I wasn't thinking we needed booze, and tell him I'll wait in the car while he gets what he wants. He tells me that I need to get out because we're going to the 7-Eleven next door so I can get a Coke Slurpee since I'm in need of energy. I have a weird nostalgic fondness for Coke Slurpees and once again appreciate his very simple thoughtfulness. He grabs a chicken taquito while I fill up my small Slurpee. $3.07
2 p.m. — We head to a street festival going on in celebration of our neighborhood. It's huge! While there, I get a pork bun from one stand ($5) and a pickle at another ($1). I also give a $5 donation and spin a prize wheel, where I win 20% off at a local pizza spot. Then I finish the afternoon off with a slice of ice cream pie ($5). $16
4 p.m. — Once we get home, we decide to hang our new shades we just bought at Home Depot. Unfortunately, we discover that one has a slit cut into it and both of them are super cheaply made. My husband puts them in the car so he can return them on his way home from work next week.
5 p.m. — The tenants from our rental property stop by to drop off their rent for the month. Currently, we just about break even on the condo, but this year there was a tax reassessment and the property taxes are going up such that we will be losing about $100 each month, but getting much more than that in equity. After this year, we may end up selling if the monthly loss is affecting us too much. If we do, the equity will be applied to our home's down payment so our monthly will be lowered. We've already put 27% down, but more can never hurt.
6 p.m. — We binge more BoJack, and afterward I do more prep work for my class. I also scramble a couple eggs for dinner, since I'm not terribly hungry.
10 p.m. — My husband is still downstairs playing video games. I finished my work, so I grab one of my banjos and practice for a bit. I used to practice much more, but at least it's coming back to me pretty well. When my husband comes up, we watch one more episode of BoJack and then try to sleep.
12:45 a.m. — My husband and I both smell something burning. We try to find a source but can't, so we get back in bed a little uneasy. 15 minutes later, we see flashing lights outside and there's a fire truck. My husband goes out to ask what's going on, and it turns out a neighbor called 911 because of a burning smell but no one knows where it's coming from, so the fire department is investigating every home in the area to make sure everyone is okay. We go to bed feeling reassured that our house isn't burning down.
Daily Total: $184.58

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — Again I wake up early without an alarm set. And again I stay in bed longer than I should.
11 a.m. — I'm frantically cleaning because I really stayed in bed too long, and we have six friends and one of their toddlers coming over in two hours for a BBQ. While I clean, my husband runs out for hot dog and hamburger buns, two Chinese eggplants, one zucchini, four bell peppers, one red onion, one pineapple, macaroni, two blocks of sharp cheddar, one tub of hummus, two bags of chips, two packages of cookies, one tomato, one head of lettuce, one box of chicken bouillon cubes, one jar of peanut butter, a couple sodas, lemonade, and iced tea. Mostly for the BBQ (we have the burgers and hot dogs already), but also a couple things just for the house. $100.10
2:30 p.m. — Our friends arrive, and we get right to grilling. One of my friends brought her new boyfriend, and he is so lovely. My best friend is here from Brooklyn, too, and I'm super happy she made the trek all the way out here. Especially given the horrible weekend PATH service.
8 p.m. — The last of my friends leave and we clean up. Husband does his own video game thing while I intermittently prep for my class for tomorrow and play banjo. Followed by BoJack and then bed. It'll be another long day of work and teaching tomorrow, and this time there won't be celebratory cake.
Daily Total: $100.10
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