A Week In Central Ohio On A $172,000 Joint 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.
Today: an administrative assistant working in accounting who makes $37,000 per year ($172,000 combined with her husband) and spends some of her money this week on Trader Joe's cauliflower gnocchi.
Occupation: Administrative Assistant
Industry: Accounting/Finance
Age: 38
Location: Central Ohio
Salary: $37,000
My Husband's Salary: $135,000 (He works in sports.)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): ~$1,057, varies slightly depending on overtime. I also do some photography on the side, and make $75-$300 a month from that.
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (2x/month): ~$3,315
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Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,869 for the mortgage, taxes, and HOA on our three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom house. (My husband is the school district parent, so we pay $$ to live in a suburb with good schools for my stepkids.)
Student Loan Payment: $420, combined. (We're both still paying off student loans.)
Child Support: $500 (Negotiated due to having them at our house during the summer and after school every day.)
Credit Card Payments: ~$2,300, which is...not good. (We cut up almost all the cards except for one to keep for emergencies. We're working on it.)
Stepdaughter's Piano Lessons: $100
Horse Board/Upkeep/Training: Around $800. My parents subsidize some of this as an ongoing gift to me so that I can keep riding as an adult.
Car Payment: $268
Car Insurance: $86 for both cars
Phones & DirecTV Bundle: $350 (getting rid of this after MLB playoffs)
Utilities: ~$150-$200
Health Insurance: ~ $250 (The kids are covered by their mom. My husband and I are covered under his work, and I have free coverage from my work and a $1,500/year dental and vision allowance.)
401(k): I put in 3% in mine, and my work matches it. My husband's is on hold.
Netflix: $15
Hulu: $7
Texture: $10
Spotify: $13
Annual Expenses
Amazon Prime: $139

Day One

7 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I usually lay in bed for a bit to get myself more awake before trying to function, but today I straight up snooze.
7:09 a.m. — Alarm again. FINE. My cat, who was laying on my legs, stretches and comes to bat my face with her paw, asking me to let her under the covers. She is so sweet, and I snuggle her while scrolling Facebook on my phone. I'm so tired for some reason.
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9 a.m. — Two-minute commute to work. Still having trouble getting with it this morning. I drink my green tea faster and eat a peanut butter protein bar. We have free office lunch tomorrow, and someone requests Skyline Chili catering. Gross. I call them when they open, and they can't do catering on such short notice. Nobody is disappointed, so we pick something else.
11 a.m. — I take a look at our bank account and notice a $165 charge has been taken out, and don't recognize what it is at all. I ask my husband and find out he paid for the speeding ticket he got a couple weeks ago. Thanks for the heads up! Grr. Still starving, so I snack on some plantain chips and tamari rice crackers. $165
12 p.m. — Run home to eat a turkey sandwich and some chips for lunch, and then to the drug store to pick up a card for someone in my building whose son is in the hospital. I'm going to an EDM concert tonight, so I look through all the Halloween crap for glitter hairspray but they only have weird colors. I do find some glow-in-the-dark bracelets for cheap, though. 38 going on 22, right here. $8.71
2:15 p.m. — My coworker is on conference calls all day and talks about needing caffeine, so I offer to get her a Diet Dr. Pepper since I need to go get gas anyway, and she happily hands over cash. $35.75
5:30 p.m. — The afternoon goes by quickly while I do a bunch of busy work for my boss. Then I head over to CVS and find the elusive glitter spray! I look at neon eyeliner and decide against it. Too much work to remove late at night. $4.08
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8:30 p.m. — After a dinner of pasta with Italian sausage and red sauce with husband and the kids, my friends pick me up to go to the club. We are splitting a VIP table and bottle service with several other people. It's my friend's 50th birthday — she lives like she's 30 and I just love her! We get there and they aren't ready to open the doors yet, so they comp us all shots after we stand in the cold waiting. Oh boy. $100 for my share of everything, paid for with proceeds of the sale of tickets to a different concert we decided not to go to when I was not feeling well recently. $100
11 p.m. — The opening DJ is finally getting into a groove and the service for our table is excellent. My two sets of friends are getting along great and I'm so glad. I remember to have a glass of club soda in between vodka drinks, and try to forget how hard it will be to get up in the morning.
2:45 a.m. — Holy crap it's late. Finally home. One of my friends only had one drink so he drove. Yay for not having to pay for an Uber. Afrojack didn't go on until after midnight, but he was super fun. I eat some tortilla chips and drink a lime LaCroix for good measure, and pass out.
Daily Total: $313.54

Day Two

7 a.m. — Oh my god, am I alive?
8:20 a.m. — Make it to work and feel like I'm more tired than hungover, but it's definitely a bit of both. I make myself a large cup of tea and peanut butter toast and pour a big glass of water, promising myself I'll refill it at least once this morning.
9 a.m. — A woman arrives for an interview, and I hope that the smell of alcohol isn't seeping through my pores. I'm so glad I can mostly lay low and do easy monthly work today.
11:45 a.m. — A coworker and I go to a nearby wing place to pick up lunch for everyone (paid with her company card). I have celiac disease and this place has no options for me; but it's fine, I'm used to this. My husband is picking up clothes at the cleaners near a sandwich place that has gluten-free bread, so he kindly gets me some food and drops it at work for me. $27.10
2:30 p.m. — After eating that entire huge sandwich with a lot of mayo (I follow a four step hangover cure and it always works for me — hydrate, caffeine, carbs, and fat), I'm feeling okay, but SO sluggish. It's a sunny fall day out, so I go for a walk around the office complex. My horse's farrier texts me — he trimmed my horse's hooves (he does them every nine weeks or so), so I get on my bank's app and have a check sent. I'm thankful my horse doesn't require shoes, which would cost me three times as much. $50
4 p.m. — My coworker calls from an offsite meeting and invites my husband and I over for drinks after work. We have never been to his house and I don't want to show up empty-handed, so I send my husband to the store to get bourbon to bring, and he also gets a bottle for our house and Halloween candy. Adds up fast. $91.18
5:30 p.m. — I run home from work and change and eat a protein bar, and we go to my coworker's. He and husband have Manhattans, and he opens a bottle of Pinot Noir for me. Normally I'm all about a Manhattan, but not today. We take our beverages outside and enjoy the fire and chat. I'm fading fast, but it's a very enjoyable evening — he is a really good dude and I am lucky to have found this job a year and a half ago.
8:30 p.m. — We get home and my husband parks himself in the living room for the NLCS game. I make us some quick breakfast tacos with eggs, bacon, and cheese. I purposely make mine small-ish so I don't have to sit and wait forever for them to digest, because I am SO ready for bed. My friend who rode my horse today texts to let me know he was good. So glad I planned ahead for him to get some work.
10 p.m. — I get sucked into an article in Texas Monthly using my Texture app — it's absolutely worth the $9.99 a month for access to tons of mags on my Kindle. I lived in Texas for several years and most of my family is still there, so I try to keep up with what's happening down there. I wash my face and collapse into bed with two of our cats (we have four), and my husband stays up watching the game.
Daily Total: $168.28

Day Three

6:10 a.m. — I slowly find myself half awake and faintly hear a cat chirping. The only cat of ours that makes this particular sound is one who we NEVER shut in the bedroom with us at night, so I jump out of bed and let her out before she starts zooming around being an asshole. She must've camped out under the bed all night! Husband gets up and I get back in bed, but I can't really fall back to sleep. Oh well.
8:20 a.m. — Arrive at work. It's the last day for two of our accountants. I will miss one of them, but I was not the biggest fan of the other. I just hope today isn't awkward and that people aren't too stressed out finding their replacements. I get on Spotify and shuffle through my Release Radar playlist. I discover Rüfüs Du Sol has a new album out and put that on repeat for a while. Love them!
9:50 a.m. — I remember that my husband's favorite singer is releasing a live album today and hop on his website to purchase a special edition yellow vinyl of it. This will be a fun surprise! At the same time, husband texts that he snuck out to Trader Joe's and snagged their new cauliflower gnocchi I've been wanting to try — every time I go they are out of it! We're such thoughtful spouses. He also buys soup, spinach, chicken breasts, limes, and green beans, and gets gas while he's out. $115.39 between the two of us. This is shaping up to be an expensive week... $115.39
10:25 a.m. — Work work work...I ate my protein bar right when I got here, and I'm hungry again. I couldn't figure out what I wanted my snack to be, so I brought some dry cereal (Sunrise Crunchy Vanilla, yum). One of the accountants who is leaving drops a huge pile of monthly financials in my box that have probably been sitting on his desk all week. Thanks, dude.
12:30 p.m. — Home for lunch, and I make the gnocchi for us with some leftover red sauce and shredded gruyere. It's as good as I had hoped! Yay! I supplement with a few olives and plantain chips.
4:30 p.m. — This is the most boring Friday afternoon at work I've had in a while. One of my coworkers runs to the gas station nearby to get some lottery tickets; Mega Millions is up to $1 billion, which is just insane. I put in $2, why not? $2
5:30 p.m. — Home to change, and then my friend comes over and we walk to the nail salon to get pedicures. We both do dark red — summer is definitely over. Then, we go to the restaurant next door for some dinner. They have lots of gluten-free options, but my husband and I don't go that often because the service isn't always good. I get a chicken sandwich with gouda, avocado, and an addictive red pepper sauce with a side of risotto and a glass of wine. $71.88
8:30 p.m. — We get back to my house and watch the Brewers' hitters destroy the Dodgers' starting pitcher. He recovers and lasts a few innings longer than expected. Eventually my friend goes home and I head up to bed around 11, while my husband stays up to watch the end of the game.
Daily Total: $189.27

Day Four

8 a.m. — Wake up to my cat mewing and scratching (as much as she can sans front claws) at the bedroom door. I do not want to get up yet, so I become the ultimate lazy person and text my husband, who comes up and lets her out. I lay in bed for another hour or so with no real interest in getting up. I'm kind of dreading the stuff I need to do and the plans I've made today.
9:30 a.m. — Finally up, and my husband starts breakfast. We love to make huge breakfasts on weekends when there's time. I forgot to take a package of bacon out of the freezer the other night, so we only have two pieces to make, but we have plenty of scrambled eggs with cheese and some hash browns. I hope this will cheer me up, but it doesn't really. We vaguely meal plan and my husband goes to the store because I can't deal this morning. He gets some cartons of soup, veggie stock, spices, crackers, ingredients for chili and kid's lunches, protein bars, brussels sprouts, steaks, a bottle of wine, onions, grapes, limes, eggs, bread, and potatoes. He really is the best dude. $166.03
12 p.m. — I spend the rest of the morning on the couch reading. I still feel like garbage but I have shit to do, so I get dressed, get my camera gear together, and head to the barn. I'm doing a yoga for equestrians class and then taking a few photos of my friend.
3 p.m. — The yoga class was tough, but good ($10). I did yoga several times a week for almost a year a couple years ago, and it was great for me. I really need to get back to it. The weather isn't that cold but it's extremely windy, and I'll be surprised if I get more than one or two good photos out of the ones I took. I need to get in the bathtub and back on the couch ASAP. $10
5 p.m. — I get home and have a small meltdown about not feeling well. Poor husband gives me hugs and heats up some homemade carrot ginger soup, and I get in the bath. I feel a little better afterwards, and we make grilled chicken to go with the soup for an early dinner. We decide not to go to a comedy show we had tickets for. Instead we watch the first episode of The Romanoffs (better than I expected), and game seven of the NLCS. I wander up to bed around 10 and miss the end.
Daily Total: $176.03

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — Waking up early on weekends is not my jam, but I'll do it for the $$. I have two photo sessions booked at the barn where my horse lives, and it's really cold out. At least that'll probably make the first one go faster. We make GF pumpkin pancakes from a mix so I am fueled for the day, and I pack a protein bar and bag of chips. Very relieved that I'm feeling better. Wondering if I got "glutened" the other night at the restaurant (celiac term for accidentally eating gluten). It can affect me for days when that happens, sadly.
10:30 a.m. — First session goes well even though it's so cold — my friend's horse and dog were well-behaved. While I wait for my second appointment to show up, I clean my horse's bridle and two of my pairs of boots.
11:30 a.m. — Second shoot is more challenging. It's another friend, her husband, and their two kids. The kids are not happy about putting on and taking off jackets constantly, and they want to drive all over the farm in the Gator (like a golf cart for more challenging terrain) in order to get photos at specific spots. My hands are freezing and I keep having to stop and wrap them around hand warmers.
12:30 p.m. — Finish up with the family feeling pretty confident we got some good shots, and finally get my horse out to take him for a long trail ride. I eat a protein bar while scrubbing the dried mud out of his coat. I don't have anybody to go with me on this ride, so I text a friend who is working at the barn and let her know I'm heading out and to come looking for us if we don't get back in an hour. My horse is a bit bratty and silly at first since it's so chilly out, but he settles in and we have a nice ride. It's good to be back on after several days off.
2 p.m. — Put the pony away and have a glass (well, reusable plastic cup) of wine with my friend — we don't cross paths at the barn very often, so it's nice to catch up. Another friend arrives and by now, the sun is out and it's much warmer, so we get our horses back out to let them graze and continue chatting. I dilute my wine with berry-flavored sparkling water, which turns out to be a very wise choice.
4 p.m. — Yet another friend arrives to ride, and she and her husband and son join us for our impromptu hangout. I text my husband and find that he's done with errands (haircut and Costco trip, where he gets La Croix, bagels, apples, green beans, base layers for hiking, paper plates, and lint rollers). He comes out to the barn to enjoy the improved weather, and I switch to water. Eventually everyone's ready to head out. I can't believe I've been at the barn almost eight hours, but it was nice to spend the day there. $135.07
5 p.m. — I take a quick shower and my husband preps dinner. Steaks, roasted potatoes, and green beans. Sunday Steak Day! I keep an eye on the potatoes and cook the beans while he grills, and it's delicious. I wind up sharing part of my steak with him because it's too much for me. I love to have red wine whenever I have a steak, but God knows I've had enough wine today, so I also give part of my glass to my husband after I'm done eating.
7 p.m. — I notice the record I ordered arrived, and I have husband open it. He's so excited! I'm pleased. We spend the rest of the evening watching stuff on Netflix and go to bed early.
Daily Total: $135.07

Day Six

7 a.m. — Woof, I am tired. I think I slept too long. I guess that's better than not enough. Two cats snuggle with me and make it very hard to get out of bed.
8:30 a.m. — My friend texts that her car died. I let her know we'll figure out a way to get her to our planned group happy hour tonight. Thankfully she can walk to it from work, and one of us will get her home after. She has a toddler so it can be hard to plan these nights, and I don't want her to miss out.
9:45 a.m. — I need to get working, but after doing yoga over the weekend, I'm feeling a little more motivated to start going to classes again. I check out studio schedules and mentally keep track of some possibilities depending on how the week goes. I will unfortunately need to figure out how to pay for this. My photo money is going towards new tires, and the $70/month yoga cost should be going to our huge pile of debt. I'll talk to my husband about it soon.
12 p.m. — Home for lunch. I make a turkey sandwich and heat up leftover carrot soup, then head back to work right away because I'm leaving a little early.
2:30 p.m. — One of the programs I need to do my work isn't functioning and IT hasn't gotten back to me yet, so I go for a walk. It's more windy than it was earlier, so I don't last very long. When I get back I eat a spoonful of peanut butter with a couple M&M's on it. Pure class.
5 p.m. — Time to head out! I'm meeting a few friends at a restaurant/winery. I check Google Maps on my phone as I get in the car and see it won't take much longer to go the back way, which avoids the stop-and-go of the freeway at this hour. Plus it's mostly a pretty, tree-lined drive.
7 p.m. — The evening takes on a somber mood, as my friend tells us that her father-in-law has just been diagnosed with cancer. None of us had any idea this was happening. She decides to skip dinner and go home after we're done with the wine. I contribute extra to the tasting server's tip — all four of us put in some cash — she was on top of things and pleasant even though it was busy. $5
8 p.m. — My friend and I walk around the corner to a taco place instead of eating at the winery, which can be pricey. She has a margarita and I stick with water since I'm driving her back to my house so her husband can pick her up. I get a taco bowl with chicken, this amazing jicama and cabbage slaw they made, salsa verde, and rice and beans. On the way out, I run into Sephora to grab the toner I am almost out of. They only have the small bottle which is a rip off, but I'll take what I can get for now. $34.41
9 p.m. — I get home and learn husband had a rough night. The chili he attempted for himself and the kids in the Instant Pot was a disaster, so he wound up getting Wendy's. He's also upset because a letter from a lawyer showed up, a collection on some medical bills of mine. I have a lot of health and pain issues, and despite having two insurances, the bills just pile up and I have trouble keeping track. I feel bad that I somehow missed it and it got to this point, but I cannot re-open the conversation about using credit cards. I promise to call them and try to set up some sort of payments. It's frustrating when you have enough money coming in to afford so much, but can barely get by because of past mistakes. $12.91
10 p.m. — We get in bed to read and I am falling asleep almost immediately browsing Thanksgiving recipes in magazines. I tell husband I'm sorry for arguing about the money. At least everyone in our family is healthy and generally doing well. He agrees, but I can tell he's still worried. I can barely keep my eyes open, so we will discuss this some more later.
Daily Total: $52.32

Day Seven

6:45 a.m. — Wake up after a somewhat restless night. Blame the wine and late dinner. Resolve to do less of the booze thing for the remainder of the week.
10:30 a.m. — Plugging away at work and I remember it's Mega Millions time again tonight. Nobody won last week and it is up to $1.6 billion. I am sure that even a tiny percentage would cover our looming debts, so I put in money again and remind my coworkers I need their cash for a pool. $2
12:15 p.m. — Luuuunch. Sandwich and chips and maybe a cookie or two. Tate's GF chocolate chip cookies are SO good. I consider going to see the horse after work but my hip is hurting from yoga the other day (why now??), and I need to edit the photos I took Saturday. I remember a friend's horse is having issues currently, and I text her to see if she wants to get on mine. She does...score! I am happy to let people ride him for free sometimes if he'll stay in shape. He is a pretty even-keeled dude considering I tend to ride only two or three times a week. Thankfully he is turned out in his own field every morning so he's not stuck in a little stall 24/7.
4 p.m. — Deadline for coworkers to drop off their money. I have enough cash for 29 tickets, so this guarantees we win, right? I'm sure it really ups our chances...probably not. I run over to the gas station across the street and there's a line of people with the same idea, but it goes quick. ($58 expensed)
6 p.m. — Home from work and realize I never bought a new mouse for editing photos (Whenever I spend a decent amount of time trying to do it using the touchpad on my laptop, I get tendonitis.) I don't want to bug my stepson to use his because he's constantly on his computer, so I call husband, who is taking my stepdaughter to piano, and he has time to grab me one at a nearby store. I seriously don't know what I'd do without this dude, especially this week. $16.11
10 p.m. — After making chicken tacos for dinner using the packaged guac and cilantro that didn't get put on the failure chili last night (I guess I ate a version of tacos two nights in a row. Not mad about it!), I settle in and sift through/edit photos. After a few hours my eyes are bugging out of my head, so I wash my face and head to bed.
Daily Total: $18.11
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