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A Week In Miami On A $261,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We’re asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

Today: a program operations manager who makes $261,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a key lime pie for her daughter’s first birthday.
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Occupation: Program operations manager
Industry: Tech
Age: 36
Location: Miami, FL
Salary: $261,000 ($181,000 base, plus quarterly stock vests that usually end up around $80,000 annually).
Assets: Savings/checking: $148,000 (I know, I know...this is bad); HYSA: $97,000; brokerage: $173,000; HSA: $2,500; 401(k): $210,000. My husband, B., and I maintain separate bank and brokerage accounts but split all our expenses equally.
Debt: $0
Paycheck amount (2x/month): $4,000
Husband’s paycheck amount: B. quit his $180,000/year, in-person job so that we could move to Miami for hot, sunny weather, plentiful Spanish-speaking childcare options, and to be closer to family. He plans to job hunt again soon.
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: We live in a three-bed, two-bath, high-rise apartment with our 1-year-old daughter, M. Rent is about $4,050 per month, including water/trash/package locker.
Loan payments: $0
Gas/electric: ~$65
Internet: $76 (work reimburses this).
Daycare: $1,350
Baby swim lessons: $120
Spotify: $12
NYT: $4
Netflix/Peacock/Apple TV/?: $? B. manages all this and I honestly have no idea what he spends per month or really how to watch any of it.
Gym: $0 (I don’t have a routine yet since we’ve moved but need to get back into something soon for my health and sanity).
Phone: $0. Still on that fam plan. No shame.
Annual Expenses
Car insurance: B. takes care of this, I think it’s about $1,000.
Renter’s insurance: $130
Costco membership: ~$60. I’d rather not but it’s B.’s happy place.
America The Beautiful National Park Pass: $85
Duolingo: $85 (just started and I’m hooked).
Google storage: $20
Credit card fees: $245 (plus probably some that B. has).

Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I think I came out of the womb with my dad saying something about how important going to college was. My parents both have college degrees and were adamant that their three daughters would be able to support themselves financially without “relying on a man”. I ended up going to a good state school for undergrad where most of my tuition and expenses were covered by scholarships. My parents helped out here and there, and I took out one small loan that I repaid within a year of graduating. For grad school, I went to an out-of-state program and paid for it myself through savings and loans. I paid back the ~$85,000 in loans within about two years of graduation.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
From the moment I got my first quarter from the tooth fairy, my dad stressed how important it was to always save half of what I earned. He paid for college himself through part-time jobs and “a summer of mowing 600 lawns at $2 dollars a lawn.” He was certain we could do the same. Ha! So really, all the conversations were around the importance of saving money and living within your means. We did not talk much about investing or other money topics. Even though I have plenty, to this day I still have issues spending money on anything beyond our basic needs.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
Aside from babysitting neighborhood kids starting at about the age of 10 (why did they trust me to do this?), my first W2 job was at our city’s performing arts center, selling water and desserts during pre-show and intermission. I got it for spending money and because I got to sneak in and watch Broadway shows during the downtime.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Not really. We were upper-middle class in a very average small community. My dad had a well-paying, steady job and my mom went back to work teaching computer science once my youngest sister was in elementary school.

Do you worry about money now?
Yes and no. Despite B. not working for a bit, I earn a great salary and like my job. However, we have moved around a lot and value spontaneity and variety in our lives. I always want to have enough money saved up so that I’d feel comfortable quitting my job and doing something completely random for a while (getting another degree, pursuing a different career as a yoga instructor, joining the peace corps) but I always fret about the balance of doing this and being comfortable financially in the long run.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
My parents continued to help me and my siblings out here and there during and for a bit after college and are very generous, but for the most part I was financially independent when I graduated and moved to Japan to teach English. My parents would absolutely be my financial safety net if I needed it. My husband’s parents are well off and would do the same.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My parents gave each of their three children $20,000 to use towards college and $20,000 to use towards a wedding.

Day One

7:45 a.m. — Wake up. It’s B.’s birthday today so I give him a smooch and we enjoy a cup of coffee together before baby M. wakes up.
8 a.m. — I feed M. breakfast and B. takes her to daycare.
8:45 a.m. — I walk to Walgreens to print a couple of photos and buy birthday candles ($9.38), and stop by a Portuguese bakery for a few birthday pastéis de belém ($15.81 with tip). $25.19
10 a.m. — Back home after a gorgeous sunny walk. B. and I have birthday sex, shower, and I make a raspberry-banana smoothie for breakfast before I get to work.
10:30 a.m. — I’m on East Coast time but most of my coworkers are part time, so my days generally start out later and slower. It’s nice to have a few hours in the morning for heads-down work or to catch up on emails. It’s also a slow week in general since it is school break and a lot of my coworkers have taken time off while their kids are out of school.
12 p.m. — B. heads out to do some birthday errands (I guess that’s a thing?) and spends $138.85 on random household supplies at Target, plus some unknown sum on his own credit card to treat himself to a drink, wings and mac ‘n’ cheese at the local Liverpool bar. $138.85
1 p.m. — I take a quick break to make couscous and kale for lunch before my daily meetings start.
5 p.m. — B. comes home and we have a discussion about how to handle a situation with our moving company. Our stuff is about to arrive in Miami but they’re now quoting a final weight and price about three times higher than the original estimate we signed. They also want this entire payment before delivery and unloading. We are flabbergasted.
5:30 p.m. — B. picks up M. from daycare while I finish my last meeting. I scarf down some of B.’s leftover mac ‘n’ cheese and make a bottle for M. for dinner.
6:15 p.m. — We all metro to the U of Miami (using prepaid cards, it’s $2.25 each way) to watch a basketball game (B.’s birthday celebration of choice). He bought tickets earlier in the day. I thought he used our shared card but I see he did not. I think they were about $100 total with fees. I’ll make a bigger payment on our card to compensate later. B. buys a beer at the game. He pays $16.88 (ouch!). $16.88
8 p.m. — It’s halftime but M. is tired and the game is a blowout, so we head back home.
8:30 p.m. — We put M. to bed and further discuss our moving company predicament but don’t really come to a resolution. Ugh.
9:30 p.m. — I get in bed and read a few pages of my book, The Socrates Express: In Search of Life Lessons from Dead Philosophers, before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $180.92

Day Two

5:30 a.m. — Woken up by a crying, hungry baby. I give her a bottle and she falls back asleep.
7:30 a.m. — Wake up (again), this time to a happy, cooing baby but hungover husband. Evidently he stayed up drinking red wine and watching TV to continue his birthday celebration long after I went to bed last night. At least he’s gotten M.’s morning going though.
9 a.m. — Back home from dropping off M. at daycare and I try to do heads-down work while B. deals with the moving company.
3 p.m. — It’s been hard to focus and B. and I have spent about five hours or so on the phone with pushy people at the moving company, trying to argue our right to reweigh our shipment and not pay the inflated amount they are quoting us until that’s complete. It’s so exhausting and unnecessary. I think I snack on and off, but definitely don’t remember what I eat.
4 p.m. — Not sure what happens but suddenly the moving company lets B. know that the driver is planning to be at the weigh station nearest to our house in 30 minutes. If we want to witness a reweigh, we have to meet them there right now or forgo it. I’m not sure what else we can do so B. hops in the car and drives to the weigh station, which is going to take him 75 minutes in traffic. Meanwhile, I try to sweet-talk our apartment management into leaving the delivery gate and moving elevator open for us past the usual 7 p.m. closing time, because this process is definitely not going to finish before then. Luckily, they are wonderful.
5 p.m. — I walk to M.’s daycare to pick her up and call my parents on our walk home. At least the weather is beautiful.
7 p.m. — The movers show up with our stuff. They refused to do the reweigh first, and hold our stuff in the truck until I pay them $5,863 plus an additional $647 for a “shuttle” they supposedly had to use but never informed us of. I try to call the moving company again to tell them this is not what we agreed on but (unsurprisingly) get no answer. I want to cry but pay the money and baby-wear a 20lb M. for two hours while I guide the movers from our parking garage to our unit and B. waits up at the truck weigh station to ensure no tampering with the truck. $6,510
9 p.m. — The movers leave and I put M. to bed.
10 p.m. — B. meets the movers back at the weigh station where he has been waiting all evening to weigh the empty truck and finalize the reweigh of our items. As we expected, the weight comes in at nearly 4,000lb less than what the moving company had tried to quote us.
11:30 p.m. — B. makes it back home and drinks a beer to calm down while we discuss whether or not we are actually going to see the ~$4,500 refund we deserve.
Daily Total: $6,510

Day Three

6:15 a.m. — I hear B. awake in the living room and packing up the couch we had bought off Wayfair that, despite decent reviews, was WAYYYY too uncomfortable to keep. I hear M. cry but roll over in bed, hoping B.’s got it.
7:45 a.m. — I wake up and have a cup of coffee before M. gets up.
8:30 a.m. — I walk M. to daycare and stop to get bananas on my way home. $0.68
9 a.m. — Make myself overnight oats for brekkie and sit down to work while B. unpacks the apartment.
10:30 a.m. — After a few more phone calls it seems like the moving company will grant us the $4,500 refund we deserve! We’re still holding our breath since it won’t process on our credit card for a few days, but are hopeful.
12 p.m. — Make myself rice and kimchi for lunch.
5 p.m. — Pick up M. from daycare and get a notification that the Amazon packages I recently ordered have arrived (a new stroller, baby swimsuit, hair ties, “1” birthday candle and a Liverpool shirt for B.). I have never had an Amazon Prime membership and find that 95% of the time, I can plan ahead and be okay with things getting delivered a week or so after I place an order. Famous last words with a 1-year-old though.
6 p.m. — We take M. out for a walk in the new stroller I bought but it is missing a shoulder strap and generally doesn’t ride very smoothly. I’ll return this soon. Our goal was to stop by the taco food truck our apartment is hosting tonight for dinner, but it seems the truck is having issues and won’t be coming after all. We settle on frozen pizza from our freezer.
7 p.m. — Put M. to bed and try my best to stay awake until 8 p.m.
Daily Total: $0.68

Day Four

5:30 a.m. — M. wakes us up crying. B. gets her but I can’t really go back to sleep so I play on my phone in bed for a couple of hours. I end up ordering a king-size quilt for our bed, which B. has been bugging me to do for at least three years. $88.26
8 a.m. — M. wakes up for real but B. is now fast asleep. I grab her and play and then take her to run an errand to grab some yogurt for my breakfast. I make M. some oatmeal, banana and egg pancakes for her breakfast, which she loves. Score! $4.98
10 a.m. — I pay a recent medical bill ($307.81 out of my HSA) and pack up the stroller to return (will get an $89.45 refund once it processes). $307.81
12 p.m. — Eat a rice bowl with eggs and beans for lunch, while B. heads out to run errands: Home Depot for a furniture dolly and door mat ($38.52). We also get a Starbies gift card for our incredibly sweet apartment manager who helped us big time with our moving situation ($25), and a total wine assortment ($45.34). $108.86
1:30 p.m. — My SIL texts about splitting the MLS season pass. It’s $99 ($33 for our share) and we easily agree. $33
2 p.m. — B. gives me a choice between unpacking the last of our boxes (that are strictly my things) and doing our taxes. I do our taxes. I use FreeTaxUSA, it takes about an hour and we owe $2,071… Not bad. I schedule the payment to process just before tax day.
4 p.m. — I walk down to our apartment lobby to deliver the Starbucks gift card and our property manager almost wells up in tears. She also tells me about a German movie screening event going on this evening in the park nearby. We drive down to the park, let M. swing, watch some volleyball and then try to corral her on our picnic blanket while the movie fails to start due to some technical issues. Eventually she is too unruly and we call it quits.
7:30 p.m. — Back home it is dinner, bath and bedtime for M. I make myself pasta but feel too sick to eat much of it. B. makes himself Trader Joe’s General Tso’s Chicken but smashes a light bulb all over the counter and into the sauce while the chicken is baking. He cleans up and eats it with sweet Thai chili sauce instead. I lie down in bed to read until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $542.91

Day Five

3:30 a.m. — M. wakes us up crying but we are able to fairly quickly get her back down to sleep.
7 a.m. — I wake up and consider buying tickets to the Miami Open. I text B. (who has been up for a bit and hanging out in the second bedroom doing some Duolingo) my preferred option for date/time.
7:30 a.m. — I am sick of moving pillows and furniture around to keep M. out of the kitchen so I order a baby gate I think will work on Amazon ($58.34). I also grab a phone holder for my bicycle ($8.44). $66.78
8:30 a.m. — I make myself yogurt and oats for breakfast and play with M. while B. goes out for a run. A rarity for him, and I want to support this!
10 a.m. — Our stuff arriving in Miami means I’m finally reunited with my road bike! B. is happy to stay home with M. and watch soccer while I head out for a much-needed, de-stressing ~15 mile ride.
11:30 a.m. — I’m back home and ravenous. I eat some leftover Korean dumplings and rice cakes with peanut butter.
1 p.m. — I’ve found a couch on Facebook Marketplace that I want to buy and have been texting with the seller. B. and I rent a U-Haul ($36) to drive across town and pick up the couch (no easy feat when you have to carry an infant with you, too). Upon seeing the couch in person, it is nearly twice as big as the pictures looked, the apartment complex won’t let us park the U-Haul for pick-up, and there are quite a few stains on it. We politely decline the transaction and return the truck. So much unneeded hassle but at least we have “saved” $500 for now. $36
3 p.m. — Hang out at home and finally get to some of my unpacking. Where did all this stuff come from? I don’t even want it anymore.
4 p.m. — Head to Publix to shop for weekly groceries, which typically include staples of whole milk, bananas, yogurt, bread, oats, salad, whatever fruits and veggies look good, whatever B. talks me into from the frozen section, and foods that we think M. might eat. Today’s haul is $90.14. $90.14
5 p.m. — Make chicken tacos at home for dinner, which is a crowd-pleaser for everyone, and FaceTime my parents to say hi. Only my dad is home but he gets to catch M. in the act of standing up on her own for the very first time!
6:30 p.m. — It’s M.’s first birthday in a couple of days. We’re not doing a party because we just moved and don’t really know anyone yet but I want to do something special. I decide on ordering her a key lime pie from a supposedly famous place down the road. Seems appropriate for a Florida baby.
7 p.m. — I put M. to bed and hop on my computer to prep a few work things for the week, while B. goes to get gas ($35.87) and some hangers for our closet ($14.95). $50.82
9:30 p.m. — I get in bed and read until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $243.74

Day Six

2:30 a.m. — M. wakes us up crying. Diaper change, milk, rocking and back to bed.
4:30 a.m. — M. wakes us up crying (again). Diaper change, milk, rocking and back to bed.
7 a.m. — I wake up and feed M. I’m headed to the DMV this morning to exchange my license so I prep a smoothie to take along for the ride.
8 a.m. — Drop off M. at daycare, stop by a neighbor’s house to grab a couple end tables that she posted on Buy Nothing and make the 30-minute drive out to the DMV. Approximately one hour and $48 later, I am an official FL resident and registered voter. $48
11 a.m. — Back home and I sign into work. I have a long day of training today.
1 p.m. — Break to eat a rice bowl for lunch.
5 p.m. — Log off for the day and run to pick up M. at daycare while B. is busy with another couch-acquiring adventure ($30 for truck rental). $30
6 p.m. — I walk with M. down to the shop to pick up the key lime pie for her birthday tomorrow ($33 including tip). $33
6:30 p.m. — We all make it back home around the same time and I help B. unload the couch from the U-Haul. It’s nice! $300
7:30 p.m. — B. returns the U-Haul and brings home Taco Bell for dinner ($20.48), plus some sparkling water I requested ($5.32). $25.80
8 p.m. — Put M. to bed and after a few false starts, she has drifted peacefully off to la-la-land. I always wonder what 1-year-olds dream about.
8:30 a.m. — I’m off to read in bed before falling asleep. I don’t make it far.
Daily Total: $436.80

Day Seven

6:30 a.m. — M. wakes up after a 10-hour stretch of sleep. Miraculous. We let her play for a bit and open a couple family gifts for her birthday. She is 1 year old today. Where has my baby gone?
8 a.m. — B. takes M. to daycare and I start work after having some oats and yogurt for breakfast.
10:30 a.m. — Weekly meeting with my boss and I finally tell her I’m pregnant with baby #2. She tells me how happy she is for me, even though I’m sure she’s crying inside.
12 p.m. — B. meets a neighbor in the hallway and is given a bottle of LeBron James tequila.
1 p.m. — I take a quick break for lunch and eat a cheese/avocado/egg sando. I also run to the grocery to buy icing to write on M.’s birthday key lime pie later. They don’t have it but I do talk myself into buying frozen berries, a coconut, and sun butter. $15.45
2 p.m. — Back to work while B. goes to get our car tags updated ($450 because we’re transferring between states and he sprang for the marlin designer plates). $450
2 p.m. — B. also brings back a Cuban sando and hot dog from some food truck which I don’t really want but could end up sampling later on. $15
5 p.m. — Done with work and go to pick up M. from daycare. Find out they’re concerned she has pinkeye and tell us we need a doctor’s note or we can’t bring her tomorrow. Gah!
6 p.m. — Head out to the beach to let M. play in the sand.
7 a.m. — Back at home, we light candles on M.’s birthday pie, sing and let her get messy. Everything delivers and I take a million pictures and videos.
8 p.m. — Bath and bedtime for M., and then I eat about a third of the key lime pie for dinner. Order M. some shoes but I might return them later. $60.84
9 p.m. — Lights out for preggo me while B. stays up to watch a couple hours of TV. Per usual, I am exhausted and fall asleep immediately.
Daily Total: $541.29

The Breakdown

Weekly Total $$ Spent: $8,456.34
Food and Drink: $263.08
Entertainment: $33
Home and Health: $7,465.17
Clothes & Beauty: $60.84
Transportation: $599.87
Other $34.38
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