A Week In St. Paul, MN, On A Joint $165,000 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 to continue the conversation? Join our Money Diaries Facebook Group to discuss finances, share spending habits and saving advice, ask money- and career-related questions, and get access to exclusive content. It's a judgment-free zone.
Today: a corporate accounting manager working in manufacturing who makes $95,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on ice cream.
Occupation: Corporate Accounting Manager
Industry: Manufacturing
Age: 31
Location: St. Paul, MN
My Salary: $95,000
My Husband's Salary: $70,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,866
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,831
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $2,145 (includes P&I, HO insurance, property taxes, and flood insurance)
Car Loan Payment: $325
Student Loan Payment: $0 (Mine are paid off, and my husband's education was paid by the GI Bill.)
Electric, Gas, Garbage & Water: ~$200
Internet: $69
Life Insurance: $292 (includes a combination of whole life with cash value and term)
Car Insurance: $180 (for both cars)
Netflix: $12
Hulu: $10
Preschool/Childcare: $1,200 (for two children)
HSA: $100 (My employer covers premiums and contributes $120.)
401(k): 6% of my salary (employer matches 3%), and same goes for my husband
Savings: $1,000 automatic transfers into a brokerage account. (We keep around $50,000 in checking and savings accounts for liquid savings, travel, and home improvement projects.)
My Daughters' Savings Accounts: $100 into each daughter's account, in addition to any money they receive as gifts. (I want to switch these over to education savings plans, but have not done so yet.)

Day One

7:30 a.m. — It's Sunday! I wake up for the day, thanks to my daughters (four-years-old and 14-months-old). My husband is already gone, as he is dropping my parents off at the airport this morning. I get the girls dressed and fed, then load them up to head to the grocery store to pick up our weekly order. Every Saturday, I plan our meals for the week and place an online order for pickup on Sunday morning. It is a lifesaver with a toddler and a baby, and it's free with any order over $100. We typically spend about $130/week on groceries. I have saved so much money by not aimlessly wandering the aisles. This week I get ground beef, Italian sausage, mozzarella, chicken breasts, brats, juice boxes, applesauce pouches, guacamole singles, avocados, bananas, noodles, milk, buns, bread, chopped salad, General Tso's Chicken, rice, three veggie steamer bags, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, onions, green and red peppers, asparagus, sliced cheese, protein bars, yogurt, Diet Coke, and deli turkey. $112.73
9:15 a.m. — Arrive home to unload the groceries, and my husband is back home too. I give the girls a snack of Goldfish before putting the baby down for her morning nap. Then I prepare a homemade lasagna for one of my best friends who just had her second baby. I know how hectic things are right after having a baby, especially the second one, so I'm planning to drop this by her house during the week for her and her husband and toddler. It should last them a few days! Then I shower and blow-dry my hair, as I'm going to a show in Minneapolis with a college friend tonight.
11 a.m. — Old Navy is having a 40% off sale, and I love their basics. I order three tanks and a T-shirt for myself, two shirts and leggings for my toddler, and matching shirts for the baby and toddler ($91.80). I notice we're almost out of diapers, so I order more on Amazon ($30.59). $122.39
11:30 a.m. — I feed the girls lunch (macaroni and cheese and strawberries) and snack on cheese and crackers while doing laundry and mild cleaning. We load up the girls in the double jogging stroller and my husband runs and I rollerblade to a park a couple of miles away. It feels so good to be outside and have the girls run around and get some fresh air!
3:30 p.m. — I finish getting ready for the show tonight and make sloppy joes for my husband to eat for dinner while I'm out. My husband is an amazing father and so involved with our girls. He's always willing to watch them so I can get out occasionally, and I try to make sure he does the same. I head to Minneapolis to meet one of my best friends from college and a couple of her friends for dinner and a show.
5:15 p.m. — We decide on a brewery next door to the theater, since my friend broke her foot last night and can't walk very far. I order a Moscow Mule, cheeseburger, and fries. YUM. I usually cook dinner during the week and try to prepare relatively healthy meals, so I love splurging on the weekends. I'm glad we had this time before the show to catch up, as we live far from each other and are both busy with our families. $28.54
9 p.m. — The show is over and we loved it! It was the Cat & Nat Fun Show. They're moms who basically got famous from making hilariously honest YouTube and Facebook videos about the realities of motherhood. They are a hilarious duo. It's rapidly approaching my bedtime, and I'm happy to be on my way home at a decent hour for a Sunday night. Unfortunately, the parking lot is super crowded with only one parking attendant, so it takes me 45 minutes just to get out of there. I pay for parking ($13) and reimburse my friend for the show ticket ($66). Get home around 10:30, wash my face, and crash. $79
Daily Total: $342.66

Day Two

5:45 a.m. — Wake up at my usual time to shower, get dressed, blow dry my hair, and do my makeup before my girls are up.
6:30 a.m. — Now the fun begins. I wake up the toddler, put on one of her favorite shows, and get her milk. While she wakes up, I pack her lunch for the day (chips and guac, tomatoes, applesauce, and grapes). Then I wake up the baby, feed her, change her, and get her dressed for the day. Next, I get the toddler dressed. She'll never let me help her get dressed until the baby is ready because, well, she's a toddler. You learn to pick your battles. I pack up my daughter's bags for preschool, grab a yogurt and protein bar for myself, and we are out the door.
8:15 a.m. — Arrive at work after dropping the toddler at preschool and the baby at daycare. I make a cup of hot tea from an assortment I keep in my desk drawer and drink that, along with the yogurt and protein bar from home. I settle in for a morning of catching up. I just started this job three weeks ago, and one of my staff members gave notice on my third day, so it has been a hectic ride trying to learn the company and both my position and hers before she left. Her last day was Friday, so now I need to catch up and focus on some things that have been on the back burner.
12:15 p.m. — I normally try to pack my lunch, but realistically, it only happens two or three times per week. Being a working mom can be a little crazy at times, so I try to give myself a break in this arena. Plus, I enjoy a good excuse to get out of the office a couple of times per week. I head to Subway (not my favorite, but the most convenient) and grab a turkey guacamole wrap, Baked Lays, and a Diet Coke. I bring it back to my office to eat while I work. $10.48
4:45 p.m. — After spending the afternoon reviewing and updating our capital expenditures and budget, I am ready to head home. I have my first meeting with the company owners on Wednesday to discuss this information, so I am trying to prepare as much as possible before then. I identified some glaring mistakes made by my predecessor, so I am sure I will have some explaining to do on some of the changes. But one rule that I always try to follow as I navigate my career is to do everything I can to avoid throwing anyone under the bus.
5:15 p.m. — Arrive home and start making dinner for the family. I'm craving Mexican food, so I make ground beef nachos with cheese, onions, green peppers, lettuce, and salsa. Then we get the girls in the jogging stroller and head out for a run. We do a two-mile loop, and the toddler gets out and runs with us for parts of it. It is so fun to involve her more as she gets older! She just loves it and is so proud when she can do the same things we're doing. Proud mama moment.
8 p.m. — Get the girls in their pajamas and in bed. They always want me to sing them a couple of songs before I leave the room. (They are literally the only two people in the world that enjoy my singing voice — I am the worst singer!) I relax with my husband and we catch up on our days before passing out at 9:30.
Daily Total: $10.48

Day Three

6 a.m. — Up later than usual and rushing to get ready. After I shower and get dressed, I blow-dry my hair and then set up the toddler with a TV show and her milk while I finish getting ready. I pack my lunch and breakfast for the day, and then wake up the baby to get her changed, fed, and dressed. My mother-in-law arrives because she watches the toddler on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We are so thankful for her and the close relationship they have developed because of this. I leave for the day with the baby on my hip.
8:15 a.m. — Arrive at work after dropping the baby off at daycare. Eat a protein bar and sip on iced tea. I get an email from HR telling me that the staff accountant I extended an offer to on Friday has accepted the position. This is such a relief and a weight off my shoulders! She'll be starting in two weeks, so I need to start developing a plan to get her trained and starting off on the right foot. This will be a challenge, since I myself have been here for less than a month. But I was very honest and upfront during the interview process that it will be a team effort for a short time until I get everything squared away. She seems ready and motivated, so I am happy about this hire!
11:30 a.m. — Well, that protein bar didn't tide me over for too long. I am always so hungry the day after I work out at night. I grab the lunch I brought from home — turkey and cheese sandwich, chips and mini guac, grapes, and a Diet Coke — and work my way through it while sending off a couple of emails.
5:30 p.m. — I stop for gas on my way home from work. I typically fill up at least once a week with all of the commuting I do. Our neighbor drops of her 17-month-old daughter because she has to teach a class tonight and her husband had surgery today, so we agreed to watch her for a few hours. My husband grills cheddar brats for dinner while I prepare an Asian chopped salad and watch the girls. After dinner, we take the three girls on a long walk around the neighborhood. $30.39
8 p.m. — Our neighbor picks up her daughter and we get the girls ready for bed and put them down for the night. I sneak a couple Double Stuf Oreos while I settle in to review my brother-in-law's résumé and cover letter that he asked me for pointers on. I finish up and shoot him an email with some tips. Husband and I watch an episode of Homeland before going to bed.
Daily Total: $30.39

Day Four

5:15 a.m. — Up early this morning to get in a strength training circuit before my normal morning routine. If I don't do it in the morning, it won't happen. I lift weights in the basement for about 30 minutes before showering and getting ready for the day. My husband leaves just as I'm finishing my workout. I pack lunches for myself and my daughter and get both girls dressed, fed, and ready. It's the usual routine, except the baby is glued to me this morning for some reason. I can't complain about the extra snuggles, though. We hit the road for drop-offs.
8:15 a.m. — Settle in at my desk with a yogurt I brought from home. I spend a good chunk of the morning preparing for my meeting later today with the owners and CFO. I also draft and propose my first process change to the team. I tend to err on the side of getting to know the company and the current processes well before proposing a change. This was one of the reasons I was hired though, and this is a minor change so it's a good place to start. Thankfully, everyone is open to my idea and willing to work through it together.
9:30 a.m. — Need a caffeine boost. I make hot tea from my desk drawer.
11:45 a.m. — Since I know I'll get hangry if I don't eat before my meeting, I grab my lunch from the fridge and dig in — sharp cheddar cheese and crackers, strawberries, raw green pepper slices, and Diet Coke.
4:30 p.m. — Head home for the day. I grab the lasagna I made on Sunday and drop it off with my friend who just had a baby.
6:30 p.m. — Home from my friend's house. Her new baby boy is so precious and perfect. Dare I say I want another one?!? I make General Tso's chicken, rice, and asparagus for dinner. Then I give the girls a bath and get them ready for bed while my husband cleans up the kitchen and does the dishes. I put the girls to bed while my husband goes on a run. When he gets back, we watch an episode of Homeland, and then I wash my face and pass out around 9:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6 a.m. — I sleep in today since my mother-in-law is coming, so I only have one drop-off. (My husband leaves early every morning so that he can get off work in time to pick up the girls.) I do my usual routine — shower, get dressed, blow-dry my hair, and do my makeup. The toddler wakes up around 6:30, so I get her settled in to watch her favorite show. The baby wakes up while I'm getting ready, so once I'm done I get her up, feed her, change her, and get her dressed for the day. My mother-in-law shows up, we catch up for a few minutes (we have a great relationship), and then the baby and I head out. I grab iced tea and a protein bar on my way out.
12 p.m. — I spend the morning with a coworker going through some tasks, and we discuss the reality of how ancient/inefficient many of the processes here are. I'm feeling a little stressed about everything that needs work, so I leave the office for a bit to get fresh air. I remind myself that I love a good challenge, and there is a great opportunity to make improvements here. I get a car wash ($10), and then grab a chicken Philly sandwich, Mrs. Vickie's kettle chips, and a Diet Pepsi (11.40). Head back to office to eat and get back to work. $21.40
5:15 p.m. — Home from work. We have a coupon for Panera that expires soon and it's beautiful out, so we decide to go pick up dinner and eat it at the park. I get a chicken Caesar salad, my husband gets a BBQ chicken flatbread and a Southwest salad, and we order a tomato soup kid's meal for the toddler. I bring snacks for the baby. We drive to the park and settle in to eat. Five minutes in, the baby grabs the toddler's cup of soup and dumps most of it out, which results in meltdown central and a huge mess. Sometimes things just don't go as you envision them with young kids. But, the toddler forgets about it quickly and is so excited to be at the park. She even makes a new friend. I love how friendly and social she is with other kids — I am not sure where she gets it! $19
7 p.m. — We're low on milk (which is a major crisis in our house), so we stop for two gallons on the way home from the park. $6
8:15 p.m. — Get the girls settled into bed. We wind down with an episode of Homeland, which I don't even make it through before falling asleep. I wash my face and head to bed at 9:30, and my husband is not far behind me.
Daily Total: $46.40

Day Six

3:30 a.m. — Up with a crying baby. I normally let her cry for a few minutes because she usually falls back asleep, but this morning it continues to escalate, so I give in. I feed and change her and put her back to bed. Then I fall back asleep.
5:15 a.m. — It takes every ounce of my willpower, but I get up to get a workout in this morning. I do an upper body strength training circuit. Then the usual routine — shower, get dressed, blow-dry my hair, put on makeup (primer, foundation, mineral veil, mascara). I make my daughter's lunch for preschool while she watches TV. The baby isn't up yet, so I wake her, and she does NOT want to wake up today. (Gee, I wonder why, Miss 3:30 a.m. snack!) I get them both ready and we head out for drop-offs. TGIF!
8 a.m. — I stop at the gas station on the way to work for a sugar-free Red Bull and a donut (breakfast of champions, I know). $5
12:15 p.m. — After a productive morning, I leave the office to grab a chicken sandwich and a Diet Coke. $7.87
5:15 p.m. — Home from work. I ordered the new Fitbit Versa Smart Watch last week, and it arrives today! I got a deep discount through my company's wellness program. I've never had a Fitbit, so I'm curious to see if it'll actually encourage me to move more throughout the day.
5:30 p.m. — Our neighbors invite us over for an impromptu pizza party. I pack up food for the baby and the diaper bag, and we get the girls in the stroller to walk up there. It's about a half mile walk. We spend the evening relaxing, chatting, and eating pizza, salad, and strawberries, while our girls play with their daughter. They pay. We trade off hosting dinners with each other, and usually whoever is hosting provides the food.
8:30 p.m. — Home from our neighbor's house to get the girls ready for bed. The baby seems to be running a low grade fever and has a runny nose. I really hope she isn't sick all weekend. I have a feeling she might be cutting a tooth, but it's always hard to know for sure, because those symptoms can be very similar to cold symptoms. I get the baby in bed and snuggle with the toddler for a little bit before putting her to bed. We watch an episode of Homeland while I get my Versa watch all set up! I am loving it so far. Head to bed around 10. Wild Friday night y'all!
Daily Total: $12.87

Day Seven

12 a.m. — The baby wakes up crying. I had a feeling this would happen with the condition she was in at bedtime. Thankfully, my husband gets up, feeds her, and changes her, and she goes right back to sleep.
6:45 a.m. — The toddler wakes up and comes in our room. Surprisingly, she is requesting that Daddy get up with her (oh, darn!). I stay in bed for another hour or so, and then the baby wakes up. I go grab her and we join my husband and the toddler. The baby is a little warm, and her nose is runny, but she is happy. It is such a beautiful morning! We live on a river and the water is so calm as the sun rises this morning. There have been rare pelicans in the area all week, and this morning they're hanging out right in front of our house! They are huge and so cool to watch!
8 a.m. — Breakfast time! My husband and I each eat a bowl of Raisin Bran. I make the toddler a bowl of oatmeal that she devours and cut up a banana for the baby. I love a relaxing Saturday morning after a long week! I spend the morning cleaning, doing laundry, and playing with the girls while my husband does some work on the basement. The baby goes down for nap at 10:30.
11:30 a.m. — Lunchtime! My husband eats leftover sloppy joes, I have a bagel, and the toddler has yogurt and a bagel. The baby wakes up around noon and I feed her turkey and cheese.
1 p.m. — The girls are in desperate need of new shoes for spring, so I take them out shopping while my husband continues to work on the basement. We head to Kohl's and I find matching Nikes for them (so cute!). My toddler loves them too, which is a bonus. The girls are behaving really well, so I decide to browse the women's section. I'm in search of a particular pair of pants, but they are wiped out of sizes. We don't get out shopping very often, so I seize the moment and grab quite a few items to try on. I end up buying an open front sweatshirt, a floral shirt, a lavender cardigan, and a workout tank ($150.23). We stop for chocolate Frosties on the way home — one for me and one for the toddler ($3.41). $153.64
4 p.m. — My husband and I are meeting another couple for an early dinner, so we drop the girls off with my mom and dad. We're very fortunate to have both sets of parents close by to watch the girls when we want some time away. Our friends suggest a local scratch kitchen that we've never been to, and it does not disappoint! I have two glasses of wine and carnitas tacos. My husband has two Old Fashioneds and short ribs. This was a spendy dinner for us, but we really enjoy the relaxing evening catching up with our friends with delicious food and drinks. It's worth every penny! $75.24
8 p.m. — We aren't quite ready for the night to end and we've had enough cocktails, so we decide to head to a local ice cream parlor. We each get two scoops. We treat, since they paid for an appetizer at the restaurant. Time to pick up the girls and head home. Our date nights just aren't as late as they used to be! But I am grateful for a night of fun and relaxation. $16.50
Daily Total: $245.38
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:

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series