A Week In New Hampshire On A Joint $98,000 Salary

Photo: Getty Images
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 even more Money Diaries, plus $$$ advice from a kick-ass, all-female team of financial advisors, and tips on how to save more than $500? Pick up our new book: Money Diaries: Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Your Finances... and Everyone Else's. It's out now — order here!
Today: a communications associate working in healthcare who makes $50,000 per year ($98,000 combined with her husband) and spends some of her money this week on ballet shoes for her daughter.
Advertisement
Occupation: Communications Associate
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 38
Location: New Hampshire
My Salary: $50,000
My Husband's Salary: $48,000 plus overtime
My Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,325
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (Weekly): $750, but he also receives an additional monthly stipend of $800, which is basically an insurance buyout because he doesn’t take insurance through his job. Child support for his kids is paid through his personal checking account.
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,000 (I have two kids who live with us, and my husband, J., has four kids — one is an adult who lives on his own, one lives with us, and we have his twins every other weekend plus school vacations and most of the summer.)
Electricity: ~$75
Cell Phones: ~$340 (five on the plan plus data for iPad)
Internet: $70
Oil Pre-Buy Program: $355 per month for six months for 700 gallons, which should bring us through the winter
Car: $462
Debt Consolidation Plan: $226
403b Loan: $88
403b: $50
Medical Insurance: $166.32
Dental Insurance: $35.95
Disability & Life Insurance: $43.59
Netflix: $12
DirecTV Now: $40
Car Insurance: $122 (for two vehicles)
Joint Credit Card: ~$200
Kids' Lunch Accounts: ~$150
Office Cafeteria Account: $25/week
From My Personal Account:
Daughter's Dance Lessons: $114 every other month
Student Loans: I have $63,000 currently in deferment because I am still in school :(
Additional Expenses
Water Payment: $250 quarterly
Amazon Prime: $100/year
Renters Insurance: $150/year
FSA: $750/year

Day One

7:15 a.m. — Broke as a joke, and I got paid yesterday. Got to love back to school — kids are gone, but so is my $$$. I drop my daughter, S., off at the bus stop and see my gas light is on. I should have around 30 miles before empty, so decide to stop after work. My stepson, N., gave me cash to order him a few things off Amazon, which I order ($26) along with three new pairs of dance shoes for S. ($94). I text S.'s dad with the amount so he can pay me back for half. $94
Advertisement
11 a.m. — Coworker emails to say she's in the mood for Thai food. That's happening. We get Thai fried rice with chicken, and I eat every last grain of rice in the bowl with #noregrets. $10
2 p.m. — Desperately want to go home, but I still have a ton of work to do and it's quiet in the office. I make myself a cup of coffee with the office Keurig (we all take turns ordering K-cups and creamer) and vow to myself to leave no later than 3:15.
3:24 p.m. — Home. Nobody else is home, so I take the opportunity to lay down for a quick nap, as the Thai is not sitting well and I love to sleep. #Thisis38
7:30 p.m. — I threw a rack of ribs in the Crock-Pot this morning, and my husband picked up potato salad and coleslaw to have alongside it. I'm still not feeling great, so I pass on dinner. Then it's PJs and movie night...woo, Friday nights! We rent Tag on Amazon, which is hysterical. Isla Fisher's character makes the movie. Nick Miller and Don Draper for life. I head upstairs to bed around 10 and fall asleep reading my Money Diaries book. Dreams of being financially secure! $5.99
Daily Total: $109.99

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — This is sleeping in for me. I get up and head downstairs to freshly brewed coffee from J. and enjoy my weekend morning ritual of lounging and enjoying the quiet before the kids wake up (bless tweens and teens). I'm on the road by 9:30 with J. and the twins to babysit my nephews. My brother and sister-in-law just celebrated their wedding anniversary and my gift to them was kicking them out for an overnight somewhere while we babysit. We stop for breakfast on the way and J. pays from his personal account.
Advertisement
4:30 p.m. — After a day of playing and hanging out, we're all a bit stir crazy. We load the kids up in J.'s truck and head to the local apple orchard. $12 for a bag is insane — last year it was around $8 to $10. I hand the dude a $20 and he gives me back a $10. Discount, score! We fill the bag within 10 minutes and J. gives the kids money for a second bag that he pays for with his own cash and is charged full price, ha! Little kids with us means early dinner, so we swing by a pizza place for a large pizza and chicken fingers. J. pays. $10
7:30 p.m. — Kids are in bed by 8:30 and J. and I head to bed around 9:30.
Daily Total: $10

Day Three

6:45 a.m. — Up to the sounds of giggling and running around. We head home around 11:30 a.m. and stop at McDonald's for lunch. A cheeseburger and small fries from McDank's is my crack (that I only have once in a blue moon!). Again, J. pays and I realize how lucky I've gotten with not paying for things this weekend.
4 p.m. — I spend the afternoon napping and doing my usual Sunday chores of cleaning bathrooms, mopping floors, vacuuming, and loads and loads of laundry while grazing all day. S. comes home from her dad's house and we start the new season of The Great British Bake Off on Netflix. She gets inspired and makes cookies while I finish homework and meal prep for the week. Head upstairs, shower, and browse on my tablet until 10:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

6:20 a.m. — Up and ugh, Monday. Head downstairs to find S. has showered and fed the dog. I make myself a cup of coffee and turn on the news. I do my hair and makeup, make the bed, and get dressed.
7:15 a.m. — Out the door, and realize I haven't driven my car all weekend. Still on empty, dammit. I drop S. off at bus stop and am in my office by 7:25 a.m.
7:30 a.m. — I have my coffee and dig into email, read the paper, and update the intranet.
9:40 a.m. — I'm starving. I grab a granola bar from the office stash and cut off the coffee and switch to water. I feel a headache brewing, or maybe it's allergies starting.
12 p.m. — Head to the cafeteria to peruse the usual offerings. I make myself a small salad (cost is by the pound) from the salad bar, a cup of chicken and rice soup, and a bag of Sun Chips that are terribly stale ($2.36). I have a cafeteria account where any purchases up to $25 per week come directly from my paycheck. It gives me a budget to stick to, and I don't need to remember cash.
12:30 p.m. — I make the move on changing car insurance companies and end up with better coverage for $38 less a month. I pay the first month differential from our joint account and cancel the other policy, which will refund me $7.82. Considering this a win! $48.39
4:30 p.m. — Head out of the office and FINALLY stop to get gas before heading home to chaos. $27.01
6:15 p.m. — Drop off S. at the dance studio. Pay the first month of lessons ($114 for three separate classes) and the annual registration fee ($20). Her dad and I will alternate every other month of paying. Head home to make a soup with hamburger, peppers, onion, beef broth, a can of Rotel, and a brick of cream cheese. (J. is on a keto kick.) I leave it simmering so whoever is hungry can eat whenever. $20
10 p.m. — My son returns from his away football game. I run out to pick him up, catch up with him on his day, get home, shower, and pass out by 11.
Daily Total: $95.40

Day Five

8:15 a.m. — Kids are off from school today, so I leisurely drink my coffee and watch the news before getting ready and heading into the office. I decide to get some breakfast (which I don't always eat) from the cafeteria. Ham and cheese egg scramble and salted caramel coffee ($4.25).
12:15 p.m. — Actually get some things accomplished, and then have a disappointing lunch of chicken salad on a piece of wheat bread and small bag of Smartfood ($2). Blah.
4:15 p.m. — Leave work at 4:15 p.m., which is early for me. My daughter has dance at 5, and I walk into the house to find the kids still in their PJs with the house a mess and a sink full of dishes. (I may or may not have lost my sh*t.) Get S. to dance after a long chat of me being DONE with all of the kids being lazy and not doing anything but expecting everything.
6 p.m. — Start dinner: beef and broccoli in the Instant Pot with brown rice on the side. Steak is frozen, so it's easier to cut into strips. I realize I used all the beef broth last night, so chicken broth it is!
7 p.m. — Pick up my son from practice and my daughter from dance. Then, I wake up J. and everyone sits down to dinner. #Winning ... despite a soupy beef and broccoli for forgetting cornstarch to thicken it up. I help S. with studying her vocab words and get her hopes up by looking at hedgehogs online ($250…most likely not happening!). Shower and in bed reading by 10:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — In my office after hustling kids up and out. Make a mental note that the dog is almost out of food.
9:30 a.m. — Forage in my desk for something to eat after three cups of coffee and find a pack of apple and cinnamon instant oatmeal. It'll do. I start a grocery list so I remember to restock office snacks. In between a morning of meetings and organizing my work to-do list, I knock off a few personal to-do items — I make eye doctor appointments for both my daughter and me for early next month and finally get around to rescheduling a dentist cleaning for her.
12 p.m. — I get a scoop of homemade mac and cheese, a small bag of Doritos, and two white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies for lunch. Delicious, but will regret later.
2:45 p.m. — Regretting my lunch choice, but not enough to forego my afternoon cup of coffee. It's my turn to order K-cups, so I make a note to order from W.B. Mason tomorrow. $5.25
5:30 p.m. — Last minute plans to have dinner out with friends. I wake up J., who has a night shift later, and then head to the restaurant for adult beverages, delicious food, and laughter. My friend knows the restaurant owner, so we just split the tip. $14
8 p.m. — J. goes back to sleep for a quick nap before work. I start season two of Atypical on Netflix and burn through a couple (more like five) episodes before heading upstairs to bed a little on the late side (after midnight).
Daily Total: $19.25

Day Seven

8:15 a.m. — Decide to treat myself to breakfast, and grab egg scramble and home fries from the cafeteria ($2.90). Have the cashier print me a receipt to see what I have left for a credit. Sometimes by Thursdays, it can be tight, especially since I've gotten breakfast a couple of times. $9.06 left to get me through tomorrow without dipping into my "office cash" (which is like $3 random bucks in a drawer). Doable.
12 p.m. — Grilled cheese and BBQ chips for lunch ($4.09).
1 p.m. — Review Amazon cart and decide to only buy my daughter a leotard and a pack of three pairs of convertible ballet tights. Everything else can be saved for another day. $31.90
5:15 p.m. — Bounce from work and pick up a prescription at the pharmacy. $20
5:30 p.m. — After a depressing afternoon of compiling my debt snowball worksheet, I can't deal with Walmart. I head to another local discount department store that's adjacent to the grocery store to get better deals on some things. I pick up microwave popcorn, a jar of spaghetti sauce, snacks for the kids, cereal, sugar, pasta, cream corn (for chowder I'm making), deodorant, a bar of soap, and a bag of apple cider granola that catches my eye. $33.23
6 p.m. — Next, grocery store. Our chest freezer in our basement is chock full of hamburgers, steaks, ham, bacon, sausage, and roasts from my stepson's farm, and I recently did a huge BJ's run, so my grocery bill has been DRASTICALLY reduced. This windfall has essentially halved our monthly grocery expenses and this is the first "non-essential" run I've had to do in a month. I get two bags of Goldfish, more snacks for the kids and for my office, dog food, rice cakes, Gatorade, pie crusts, vegetables, milk, half & half, orange juice, juice boxes, tater tots for a breakfast casserole I like to make, eggs, deli meat, potatoes, and two Newman's Own pizzas for dinner. I get home and have dinner with J. since the kids are all out. He goes back to bed at 7:30 and I settle in to the season premier of American Horror Story: Apocalypse followed by more Atypical. Head to bed around 11, feeling thankful tomorrow is Friday! $80.65
Daily Total: $165.78
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! In particular, we're looking for diaries from Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and Mississippi.
Calling all entrepreneurs: We want to hear from you! If you’re a freelancer or self-employed, we’d love to feature your Money Diary. Submit here.
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs

More from Work & Money

Watch

R29 Original Series