A Week In North Carolina, On A $248,800 Income

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Today: a research scientist working at a university who makes $73,800 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Banjanan top.
Occupation: Research Scientist
Industry: University
Age: 34
Location: North Carolina
My Salary: $73,800
Husband's Salary: $175,000
My Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $2,876.71 (After taxes, dependent care contribution, parking, health insurance, and retirement contribution)
Husband's Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $4,800 (after taxes and health insurance)
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $2,330 (Our home insurance + property taxes are rolled into this amount. My husband, B., and I have a five-bedroom house that we share with our four-and-a-half-year old, K., our almost two-year-old, D., and our dog.)
Loans: $0 (We paid off my hefty undergrad loans this year, and B.'s law school loans last year. Both of our cars are paid off.)
Health Insurance: $391/mo for me and the two kids (My husband has his own plan through work.)
Dependent Care FSA: $417
Parking: $53 for work parking
Nanny (her salary + taxes + payroll software): $3,600
Preschool: $395 (half-day program, 5 days a week)
Utilities: ~$200
Internet: $51
YouTube TV: $49.99 (SO much cheaper than cable in our area!)
Netflix: $12.99
Car Insurance: $128
Phones: $180
Cleaning Person: $240 ($120/visit for 2 monthly visits)
NPR/ACLU/Planned Parenthood donations: $100
Retirement: $1,590.91 (My employer contributes ~9.5% of my salary, which works out to be about $578/mo. B. also contributes the max to his and his employer matches 3%. Combined, we have ~$328k saved.)
Kids' 529s: $500 per month (We stepped this back when B. went in-house. We also dump bonuses into this as we're able. Combined, we have ~$45k.)

Day One

6:25 a.m. — Get up and do my quick morning skincare routine (vitamin C serum, Ole Henriksen banana bright eye cream, Atoclassic moisturizer, sunscreen), put on makeup (Skin79 bb cream as primer, Laura Mercier foundation, Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner and eyeshadow, Milani Lash Trifecta mascara, Glossier Boy Brow, and NARS orgasm blush), straighten hair, and get dressed. I wear my new favorite short sleeve Banjanan top because it's going to be 80 degrees today, and cross my fingers that I don't freeze in my arctic office. I bring my best bargain find of all time — a classic Vince tan leather jacket that I got on RueLaLa a few years ago for $90 — as a cold-office insurance plan. I grab my water bottle and some Diet Dr. Peppers (my addiction), kiss kids/husband goodbye, and cue up a podcast for my 45-minute commute. NPR in the Trump era stresses me out, so I switched to all podcasts and read the news online instead.
8 a.m. — I arrive at my office, immediately take an Allegra and Sudafed (thanks pollen!), then get started working on a paper that we're submitting next week. I write for an hour uninterrupted before a colleague comes in with a question. After some more writing, I take a break for breakfast (microwave oatmeal) and an email check. The Anthropologie "Fresh Cuts" email catches my eye, and I end up buying another Banjanan top I've had my eye on for two months that is now 50% off with the additional 25% off promo they're having today. Then I get back to working on this paper. $90
12:30 p.m. — I take a break to grab a quick lunch and run an errand. I drive through Wendy's for a junior hamburger, fries, and a Diet Dr. Pepper ($5.76) and then head to Target to get peanut butter for the dog, some more Diet Dr. Pepper for my office, and fruit snacks for my son to take for his preschool Easter egg hunt later this week ($10.12). I haven't had Wendy's in years, but it totally hits the spot for stress/convenience eating amidst intense paper writing. $15.88
1:15 p.m. — More writing while listening to my fave '90s/early 2000s hip hop station on Pandora (weird habit leftover from grad school). B. texts to ask if I saw this basket at Target that he was eyeing for his fiddle leaf fig tree, and I had already taken a picture while I was there to show him tonight! At $20, it was cheaper than the $150 one I found online earlier. We'll see if either of us ends up buying it, but in the meantime I tell him he's in my head, which results in us texting a bunch of Andy Bernard GIFs. At 4 p.m., I head home with a La Croix and a podcast to enjoy on my commute.
4:45 p.m. — I hand off with our nanny at home. I hear about K.'s day at school (a visit from a magician!) and D.'s continued baby shark obsession. I spend the next hour-ish making dinner (parmesan-panko crusted cod, roasted green beans, and orzo) while supervising D. playing with superhero stickers and helping K. spell various words. B. walks into chaos, and D asks to eat dinner on his lap. After dinner, we head upstairs for baths, stories, and bedtime. While B. bathes the kids, I throw in some laundry and lay out the kids' outfits for tomorrow.
7:15 p.m. — The kids are down, and we speed clean the kitchen together so we can relax! B. makes us mint juleps to enjoy while we watch our mutual guilty pleasure, Very Cavallari (he's a big Jay Cutler fan). I post some clothes the kids have outgrown on a Facebook group while we watch TV. We fold laundry, then I take a shower, do my nighttime skincare routine (CosRX face wash, Herbivore prism, Herbivore lapis oil, GrandeLash lash serum, Dr. Brandt eye cream) and dry shampoo in lieu of washing my hair. Then I read in bed for a few minutes before lights out at 10:30.
Daily Total: $105.88

Day Two

6:25 a.m. — My alarm goes off — both kids were up early, and thankfully B. got up with them. I do the usual morning skincare and makeup routine, get dressed (Joie blouse and dark J Brand jeans), and hang with the kids for a few minutes before I run downstairs to pack my lunch and head out. I eat an apple and listen to a podcast on my drive, which is better than I expected given the rain!
8 a.m. — I arrive at the office and talk to a colleague about this paper we're working on, go over a budget with my boss, and prep to teach at 10. I take a quick break to buy a gift for a birthday party my son has in a few weeks. It's a no-gifts party, but I hate going empty-handed, so I get a five-minute stories book (huge hit with the beginning reading crowd in my experience) ($10.01). Before I head out to teach, I quickly eat breakfast (microwave oatmeal again — I keep a box in my office). $10.01
10 a.m. — I'm teaching a stats course this semester, and this is the last class of the semester where I actually have to teach (next week we have class presentations). I don't usually mind teaching, but I'm so preoccupied with other projects at the moment that I'll be glad to not have to prep anything else. When I get back around noon, I deal with a few urgent items from my boss and then eat a salad I brought from home. While I'm working, I get a Venmo notification that someone purchased one of the items I posted last night — score ($18)!
5 p.m. — I'm home and hear about K.'s costume day at school. I play with the kids and make them dinner (quesadillas with ground beef/black beans/corn and avocado, sour cream, fruit). We aim to eat dinner all together about three nights a week depending on schedules, and then the other nights I just sit with them and have a drink while they eat. B. arrives home, and we head outside to do chalk art on the driveway until bedtime.
7:15 p.m. — Kids are down for the night, and I take the dog for a walk while B. cooks. Dinner tonight is Thai turkey lettuce cups from Sun Basket — delicious and quick! After we clean up dinner, we settle in with a glass of wine to watch our other fave guilty pleasure, Vanderpump Rules (a show for geniuses). I shower, do my nighttime skincare routine, and get in bed. I intend to read, but get distracted by a Venmo notification that another thing I posted sold ($15), and end up scrolling through Instagram until 11.
Daily Total: $10.01

Day Three

6 a.m. — D. wakes up early yelling from her crib for cereal — not at all surprising given she barely ate dinner last night. B. takes her downstairs while I go through my usual skincare and makeup routine and get dressed (a Rails plaid shirt and Frame skinny jeans). K. and I head downstairs, and I'm suckered into a game of "hide and seek, mama!!!!" D. is at that adorable phase where she thinks we can't see her if her eyes are covered, and K. thinks her "hiding spot" of putting her face against the dishwasher is hilarious. Eventually I leave and head out to get gas (44.84) and start my commute. $44.84
8:15 a.m. — Arrive at work a little later than usual. I chat with my boss about the analyses I did yesterday and our strategy for finishing up this paper, plus more talk of budgets and other administrative stuff. I take a quick break to eat breakfast (oatmeal again) and waste a few minutes looking at Instagram. I also text B. to send me a copy of our nanny's March paystub so I can submit a reimbursement to my dependent care FSA.
1 p.m. — I didn't pack my lunch today so I grab a chicken Caesar salad from a local restaurant/bakery ($12.84). It's kind of expensive for a salad, but it's delicious and comes with a giant piece of fresh-baked focaccia bread and homemade dressing. I call B. on the walk over — usually I would go with my work BFF, but she's out of town this week. I pat myself on the back for resisting one of their giant sprinkle-covered cookies and then head back to the office, where I work on this paper for a few more hours before heading home. $12.84
4:45 p.m. — I'm home and decide to take the kids to the park down the street since the weather is gorgeous, albeit very pollen-y. We discover several friends/neighbors had the same idea and I let the kids run off some energy while the adults chat. I make plans to meet a friend for drinks at our neighborhood bar next week. B. stops by on his way home from work, and we head home to get the kids fed and bathed.
7:15 p.m. — The kids are down and we tag team making dinner (fajitas from Sun Basket). After we clean up the kitchen, I vacuum and stuff the Easter eggs for K.'s egg hunt to send to school tomorrow. Then I paint my nails and listen to some of the new Vampire Weekend releases — going to see them in June and cannot wait! — while B. walks the dog. I head upstairs early around 9 to do a sheet mask and read while B. watches TV in bed. Then I shower and do my alternate nighttime skincare routine which involves subbing in Beautycounter overnight resurfacing peel for the Herbivore products. I hate MLMs, but this product is legit. (I buy direct through their website.)
Daily Total: $57.68

Day Four

6:15 a.m. — I wake up a few minutes before my alarm goes off. B. goes in to get D. while I do skincare and makeup and get dressed. B. and the kids eat breakfast and then come back up to see me while I finish getting ready. I then head downstairs to let out the dog, feed her, and head to work.
8 a.m. — Arrive at work and am finally suckered into the Shopbop sale. I buy two pairs of sandals — I couldn't decide between them, so I quickly ordered both and will return one. I get to work on this paper (yes, still) and track down relevant citations to add in throughout. $194.76
9 a.m. — I have a meeting with my boss and some students doing research with us. We talk about a few ongoing research projects and plan for an upcoming project which I'm really excited about. I realize halfway through the meeting that I never ate breakfast. I answer a few questions about analyses related to the stats class I teach, then quickly make some oatmeal and eat that while I keep working on my paper. B. emails me and reminds me to submit the dependent care FSA reimbursement, so I quickly do that before heading to lunch.
12 p.m. — My boss and I go to lunch at a local Mexican restaurant — I have enchiladas, rice, and beans (he pays). It's a working lunch, and we spend most of the hour strategizing edits to this paper. Then it's back to the office where I make some final edits to the paper, so I can send to my boss by 3 p.m. I get a text from B. that he did a return at Madewell for me ($17.53 refund for a blouse that fit really oddly), since his office is right by the mall, so he doesn't mind running over there during his lunch break .
3:15 p.m. — I organize my desk, which is absolutely scattered with analysis print outs, papers, and hand-written paper edits. I sneak out a little early since I'm just waiting on edits from my boss. I snack on a Clif bar and a La Croix on my commute while listening to my favorite podcast (SUP!). I get a notification that another item I listed on Facebook earlier in the week sold ($8).
4:30 p.m. — I'm home with the kids. They both had great days and end up playing really nicely together, which is so nice. We play a rousing game of Simon Says and then I make them a quick dinner of Trader Joe's fish nuggets, carrot fries, berries, and avocado. While they eat, I drink a beer and hear about their days. B. gets home, and we play outside/chat with our neighbors for 30 minutes before bedtime. D. insists we all sing the Jimmy Fallon/Roots version of the Sesame Street theme song for her bedtime song — we are two for two on our children being obsessed with this particular rendition.
7:30 p.m. — The kids are down, and B. makes dinner (Sun Basket Sichuan dan dan noodles with pork and kale) while I answer emails, clean up a bit, and print labels/package two Amazon returns. Dinner is delicious but the portion sizes are huge, so I pack up some leftovers to bring for lunch tomorrow. We clean up dinner, pour some wine, and settle in to watch some HGTV. We switch over to Million Dollar Listing and, thanks to more wine, end up in an internet rabbit hole looking up real estate listings in Beverly Hills. We go to bed on the late side for a "school night" (11) because wine.
Daily Total: $194.76

Day Five

6:45 a.m. — I wake up a little later than usual (B. is already up with the kids because he is awesome) because we have something at K.'s preschool this morning so no early commute for me. I throw in a load of laundry, then head downstairs to make myself some eggs (the kids steal half of them). After eating, I shower, do makeup, and get dressed. Our nanny arrives around 8:45, and B. and I head out with K. for his school's family morning of donuts and a book fair. I buy K. a book on space, his latest obsession. The child is not lacking for books, but the school gets a cut of the profits so win-win. $16.08
10 a.m. — I finally get to work — my boss sent me those edits last night so I get to work incorporating them into the paper draft. I have to go to a talk at noon, so I take an early lunch break at 11:15 — those leftover noodles from Sun Basket are really delicious! At the talk, I have a small cinnamon chip scone which was amazing. I work for a few hours and then send the draft to another collaborator before heading home.
5 p.m. — Finally home — traffic was insane because of rain. Unfortunately also thanks to the rain, K.'s first t-ball game of the season is canceled. He's a little upset, so we decide to take the kids out for dinner to their favorite restaurant (a local bar with amazing food and a great kids menu) to distract him. B. and I get a round of beers, and we each have the special — a spicy chicken sandwich on brioche; the kids have mac and cheese and fries ($53.42 including tip). Then we head home for baths and bedtime. $53.42
7:30 p.m. — We straighten up the house and go through the mail. I realize I need to order a pillow insert for D. — I got her a Sesame Street pillowcase to go in her Easter basket, but forgot the insert until now ($12.62 on Amazon). B. opens a bottle of wine, and we enjoy it on the couch while watching two episodes of The Assassination of Gianni Versace. (Yes, we are super late to watch this, but those Bravo shows and live sports won't watch themselves, so we are behind on hour-long dramas!) We head upstairs around 10 and lights out by 11. $12.62
Daily Total: $82.12

Day Six

6:45 a.m. — K. is up and comes in our room. I get up with him, hear D. starting to wake up, and head in to get her. I take them downstairs for breakfast and to play — it's B.'s turn to "sleep in" (past 7 is sleeping in with small children). He gets up around 8, and I make us both French toast with Dave's Killer Bread. We get the kids dressed and then B. takes them to the hardware store and garden store while I stay home and shower, do my makeup, get dressed, and vacuum. Being home alone feels indulgent even if I'm just doing chores. I always hated vacuuming until we got our Dyson stick — best Costco purchase ever!
10:45 a.m. — I take K. to swim lessons. He's really improving, and today the other kids from his class aren't there, so he ends up having a private lesson. I text with a friend and read on my phone while I watch him. I get an email that my dependent care FSA reimbursement went through and the funds will be deposited in our checking account on Monday, which was faster than usual!
12:30 p.m. — After lunch, I leave the kids with B. and head out to run errands. First I head to a local furniture consignment shop to scout out pieces for my sister-in-law. They just moved into their new house, and she wants me to help pick out furniture and decor. I end up finding a bunch of good options and take lots of pictures to show her later. Next, I go to the UPS store to drop off my Amazon returns, my Shopbop return (I decided to return one of the pairs of sandals and will eventually get $75.50 back for those), and a package I'm mailing to a friend. I run to the grocery store for a few necessities for the week — we are heading out of town for Easter weekend so I don't need much. I get shredded cheese, cereal, pizza sauce, baby carrots, green beans, milk, coffee creamer for B., chicken thighs, tomato sauce, hot dog rolls, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, bread, and greek yogurt. While I'm driving around, my dad calls and we chat about upcoming Easter plans. $62.15
3:30 p.m. — D. wakes up from her nap, and we head to my brother and sister-in-law's new house. We bring them a bottle of wine from our stash — the housewarming gift I ordered them hasn't arrived yet, so this works for now. I show my sister-in-law the pictures, and we make a list of everything she needs and take a ton of measurements. B. and his brother watch the NBA playoffs and D. and K. run around exploring the new house. The adults drink a few beers and everyone eats a ton of chips and salsa. I'm pretty sure the kids will eat almost nothing for dinner after snacking this late — oh well!
7:15 p.m. — Kids are down for the count! B. and I make our dinner — egg roll in a bowl (ground pork, coleslaw mix, mushrooms, carrots, green onions). After dinner, B. takes the dog on a quick walk while I clean up the kitchen. I should do some work tonight, but instead we drink wine and watch more basketball while I source furniture for my SIL. All of this browsing furniture and decor has me itching to buy stuff, but we really don't need anything so I resist the urge to shop for myself. We head to bed around 11.
Daily Total: $62.15

Day Seven

7:45 a.m. — Today is my day to "sleep in," and for once I actually take advantage! I had the worst early-morning insomnia while pregnant with D., and I often still have trouble sleeping past 6 a.m., not that I have many opportunities to do it! I make eggs and toast and then play with the kids while B. goes for a run and then showers.
9 a.m. — B. takes the kids to our local kids' museum (we have a membership so no additional entrance fees), so I can get a few hours of work done. I rarely work on the weekends so I don't feel guilty per se, but I'm super grateful to B. for making it happen. I work on my paper for about two hours and make a ton of progress. I get to a stopping point and get dressed, put on makeup, and do some laundry until B. and the kids get back around noon.
1 p.m. — Once D. is down for her nap, I head out to run a few more errands while B. naps and K. watches a show. I hit Trader Joe's for a few more necessities for the week (honeycrisp apples, fish nuggets, pepperoni for English muffin pizzas, and turkey for sandwiches) ($16.25). I then run to Costco for Diet Dr. Pepper, makeup remover wipes, Clif bars for the kids, and Dave's Killer Bread. I stick to my list and only spend $57.80, which is basically nothing at Costco. $74.05
3 p.m. — D. is up from her nap, and my brother comes over to hang out. We play baseball and soccer in the backyard with the kids while catching up. It starts raining, so we head inside to catch a little of B.'s favorite baseball team's game on TV. While they watch and play with the kids, I prep dinner (roasted chicken thighs with herbes de provence, roasted green beans, and rosemary/olive oil bread). My brother can't stay for dinner, so when he heads out, we eat dinner with the kids.
7 p.m. — Kids are down, and we clean up the kitchen. I take the dog for a quick walk while listening to a podcast. When I get back, B is watching the NBA playoffs and talking to his parents on the phone. After he hangs up, we make a few final plans and restaurant reservations for our upcoming trip to Charleston, and I start writing up a packing list for the kids. (Postscript: we loved Little Jack's Tavern, Leon's, and Edmund's Oast for kid-friendly restaurants with killer food.) We head upstairs around 9:30 and then fold laundry before I shower and do my nighttime skincare routine. I read in bed for half an hour while B. watches basketball, then lights out around 10:30!
Daily Total: $74.05
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