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A Week In Indiana On A $48,415 Salary

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Today: A project director working in the non-profit sector who has a $48,415 salary and spends some of her money this week on doughnuts for her toddler.
Occupation: Project director
Industry: Non-profit
Age: 33
Location: Indiana
My Salary: $48,500 (I’m hourly, and I took home $37,000 last year, but my projection for this year is closer to $48,500. My husband’s salary is ~$63,000. We own our home together and have a joint checking account that we use for a few expenses, but I submitted a single-income diary because we keep most of our expenses separate.)
Net Worth: $58,200 ($300 in regular savings; $900 in an HYSA; ~$34,000 in retirement; ~$90,000 for half of my home value; minus debt)
Debt: $67,000 ($5,000 in credit card debt; $17,000 for an auto loan; $45,000 in medical debt)
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $1,600 (This for full-time hours. The amount can vary depending on my hours.)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $863 (for the whole mortgage)
Car Loan: $499
Childcare: $1,200 (for my two kids, S. and R.)
Phone: $25 (I pay this to my parents — yay family plan!)
Energy & Gas: $30–120
Electricity: $84–190
Trash: $23 (my half, paid out of our joint account)
Water: $27.50 (my half, paid out of our joint account)
Health, Dental & Eye Insurance: $0 ($794 comes out of my husband’s paycheck)
Car Insurance: $73 (my half, paid out of our joint account)
Netflix: $10
Disney+: $10
Chewy: $50 (every six weeks)

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?
Yes. Both of my parents were the first in their families to earn degrees, and they also earned master’s degrees in their respective fields. My mother worked at a college before she had kids and then again once my youngest brother was in elementary school. After my freshman year, I transferred to the university my mom works at, and my tuition was paid due to her employment. However, I still took out loans for housing for three years, then lived at home for my senior year to save money.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I cannot recall any specific conversations, but I remember being taken to the bank at a young age to set up a savings account. We got toy dinosaurs for making deposits — as a kid, who could ask for a better incentive? I also remember participating in a club that ran a mock stock market while I was homeschooled in elementary school, although I remember almost nothing from it. I learned more through watching my parents manage their money from afar.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I started babysitting at the age of 12 and became a certified babysitter by the time I was 14. My first tax-paying job was at a local T-shirt shop in town when I was a senior in high school. I got that job because I had dropped out of all my extra-curricular activities during senior year, and my parents said I had to do something. I loved the job and ended up working there for several summers.

Did you worry about money growing up?
We were comfortably middle class, and if there were family money struggles, I did not know about them. Now, I have a general idea of what my dad made when I was younger. I know as he climbed through a few companies, he was able to leverage his skills for higher pay. My mother stayed home with us kids after my first brother was born and she homeschooled us (I went to school in sixth grade). We were blessed enough to have more than we needed on my dad’s salary alone during those times.

Do you worry about money now?
Constantly. I have anxiety and a lot of it manifests around money. I have always been thrifty and am a big planner — I keep a spreadsheet for each and every paycheck to track expected expenditures. I also like to control most of those expenditures and have only recently put our utilities on autopay. And, with a new kiddo, my anxiety about our financial situation has stayed high. I’ve talked to my therapist about my need for control and have taken steps to share more info with my husband about our family bills, so he’s not caught in the dark if something happened to me.  

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I moved out on my own and handled all of my own bills by age 23, but was on my parents’ insurance until I was 26. Our financial safety net is our parents, especially right now since maternity leave pretty much drained our savings. Thankfully, the three sets of parents we have are more than willing to step in and help us.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Yes. My parents paid for our wedding, and they typically give us around $1,500 for Christmas each year. We get varying amounts of cash from my husband’s parents for holidays and birthdays. We ran into a huge plumbing issue at the beginning of 2023 and received loans from our parents to help us pay off the work (the plumber wouldn’t do payment plans). My parents forgave their loan immediately, and my husband paid his parents back and traded some heavy yard work for his mom to pay her back. My parents also gifted me around $1,400 to help keep my head from popping off as I wait out the horribly slow process that has been my short-term disability claim. I asked for a loan, but my parents would not let me think of paying them back.

Day One

5:45 a.m. — Up to pump. I’m just over 12 weeks postpartum and an exclusive pumper, so I work on my own timing as to when I need to empty. My baby, R., is thankfully sleeping through most of the night, so I get up before her. My husband, N., just had a vasectomy so he is sleeping in a recliner in our family room.
7:10 a.m. — I can see on the monitor that my four-year-old, S., is waking up. I encourage him to use the bathroom (still working on potty training) and come snuggle, but he tells me he wants to snuggle by himself in his own bed. Four years old and already too cool for momma.
7:30 a.m. — Everyone is back to sleep except for me. My maternity leave ends tomorrow, so I’m trying to stay awake to get back into a morning routine.
7:40 a.m. — The kids are up and both are in bed with me. S. absolutely adores R. and wants to give her a bottle. That lasts about as long as I imagined before he’s asking to watch Hotel Transylvania 2 for the fourth time this weekend. I’m convinced we are a driving factor in the movie being on Netflix’s top 10 list for kids. I’m soaking in this time I have left with the kids. I took 12 weeks off work, and it has been tough, but I’ve loved being home with R. and being able to do fun things with S. during the week whenever I wanted to keep him home from the sitter. I have thought about staying home longer, but my maternity leave is unpaid and my PTO didn’t cover it all, so we need my full income something awful at this point. This country’s lack of paid parental leave is so frustrating. How can we be this behind the rest of the world and claim to value the family unit?
10 a.m. — The not-going-back-to-sleep thing didn’t work. Baby girl and I slept for over an hour. I get up to pump again and feed R., then we watch another movie.
2:30 p.m. — We haven’t done anything today, which is a good thing. I pump again while both kids are resting. Old Navy is having a good sale, so I buy the family matching Christmas pajamas. $86.64
4:30 p.m. — While waiting on confirmation from someone about meeting up so I can pass along baby clothes we don’t need, S. has an accident, so I throw him in the shower.
5 p.m. — We finally meet to give away the baby clothes. I quickly run home to pick up the kiddos to go to my parents for dinner. N. isn’t feeling great so he stays home. We get to my parents’ house, and my mom feeds R., while S. goes to play. My dad picks up pizza, and I get a few minutes to sit without anyone touching me. After a good catch up with my parents, S. is starting to get slap-happy, so we head home for bedtime around 8 p.m.
9:30 p.m. — I pump again, and N. feeds R. and gets her swaddled. I put her in her bassinet and start packing the bags I need for going back to work and taking R. to the sitter’s for the first time tomorrow. N. decides he’s going to sleep in the recliner again, so I head to the bedroom alone around 10:30 p.m. After some ASMR (Annura’s ASMR on YouTube) I’m sound asleep quickly.
Daily Total: $86.64

Day Two

3:45 a.m. — R. stirs. I reach into her bassinet to calm her and realize her little body is chilly, so I pull her into bed with me and wait for her bottle to reach room temperature. Then I feed her and snuggle in for more rest.
6 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I get up to pump and to talk to N. He’s working from home today so he isn’t in a hurry to get moving. I realize I’m about to overflow my pump bottles so I cut my session short. For my first day back at work, I put on a men’s button-down shirt I stole from one of my brothers, a sleeveless duster cardigan, and dark jeans. Button-downs are going to be a theme for ease of pumping.
7 a.m. — Everyone is up, and we start the chaos of a working morning. I make scrambled eggs with bacon bits and cheese for S. to take in the car. He then decides he wants a treat, and I’m not strong enough to say no on this already emotional day, so we stop at a new coffee shop to get an egg sandwich for me and cookies for him ($6.70). My egg sandwich becomes S.’ egg sandwich after he decides the cookies are for later, and he doesn’t want the eggs I made at home for him. The kids are dropped off, all things explained to the sitter for R.’s routine. I cry a little after leaving. It isn’t as hard this time as it was when I returned to work after S. because I know the sitter this time — leaving my new baby with someone who isn’t brand new to me makes all the difference. My best friend sent me a Starbucks gift card for a first-day-back treat, so I pick up a blonde roast with oat milk and an impossible sandwich. $6.70
8:20 a.m. — I pull into work for my first day back. I chat with my old boss (who is on her way to retirement), my new boss, and the rest of our small team.
3:15 p.m. — The day is a blur of catching up on all of the things I missed over the last three months. My coworkers take me out to lunch, which is very nice, and I’ve already pumped twice. Pro-tip for pumping moms: If you can, put your pumping times on your staff calendar so people can see when you’re busy. I have three recurring calendar blocks every day until the end of this year. I need something to look forward to after an emotionally exhausting day, so I buy myself a ticket to see Steel Magnolias with friends next week at our local historic movie theater. $10.32
4:10 p.m. — Final pump of the work day. I’ve caught up on my emails and that’s pretty much it. But it’s a start. I still have lots of reading to do and proposals to review in the next week or so as I get back into my routine.
8 p.m. — The kids had a good day. R. did well for her first day at the sitter’s. We have some adjustments to make to her nap schedule, but other than that, we’re on a good track. We have a low-key and easyish evening at home. I get a little overtired-toddler ’tude at bedtime from S., but after singing to him and getting him to calm down, I’m reminded that he still wants and needs his momma around when he feels overwhelmed. After another pump and R.’s bedtime, N. and I watch The Office and dive into our respective hobbies: crochet for me and video games for him.
11:15 p.m. — Now to bed with ASMR (Wood Soup Girl ASMR) and hopefully another good night of sleep.
Daily Total: $17.02

Day Three

2:45 a.m. — R. stirs in her bassinet, and I put her bub back in her mouth to settle her. I grab a bottle to let it warm up to room temp for when she decides it’s time to eat.
4 a.m. — R. is up and ready for a bottle. She won’t settle, so I don't get back to sleep for over an hour.
5:53 a.m. — N.’s phone starts ringing for work, and he hops out of bed and takes his call in the dining room. (My husband’s job involves responding to emergencies, and he’s in charge of daily scheduling, so with that comes pre-work hours.) Thankfully, R. sleeps through this. N. hops into the shower and wakes up the entire house because he’s not a quiet morning person. S. is up and ready to go, and the dogs are up and pacing as well. I lay in bed awake for a few minutes and get up for the first pump of the day. R. sleeps through this all.
7:30 a.m. — N. has left for work after feeding S. and doing some baby dishes. S. is listening to stories on Spotify as I prep for the day. I put on a button-up dress from Old Navy and heels because I have an evening meeting and dinner tonight. I do a quick make-up routine of moisturizer, eyeliner, mascara, and eyeshadow. R. wakes up and is ready to eat. S. helpfully feeds her for me, while she lays on the floor in her boppy pillow. I pour my cold brew, and we pack up. I’m out of the house with the kids and on the way to the sitter’s by 8 a.m.
9:20 a.m. — After another catch-up with a coworker, I’m pumping again. I take time to paint my nails as I read more emails from while I was gone. I treat myself to a square of Dove dark chocolate, then send my best friend a pic of the stupid quote inside the wrapper: “Inhale the future, exhale the past.” Could you be more trite? This is one of the dumbest-but-best parts of our friendship.
12:15 p.m. — I’m alone in the office since everyone else is at lunch so I catch up on Money Diaries (my typical office lunchtime read), which I haven’t read in three months. I head to the kitchen to make my shrimp ramen packet, and a delivery person drops off the most beautiful bouquet of flowers from my parents as a welcome-back-to-the-office gift. They’re the sweetest. I’m lucky I don’t cry in front of the delivery person. Back to my desk to eat, read, and cry a little bit.
3 p.m. — Pumping again, I chat with a friend about being done with my childbearing years and end up crying. I lost a baby three years ago and hemorrhaged during my miscarriage and during surgery. With R., I hemorrhaged nine hours after she was born. I was in such pain that I was convinced I was dying and I wasn’t going to get to see my kids grow up. Thankfully, I ended up being fine after several large clots and a blood transfusion. Thinking about all of that just makes me more solid in our decision to permanently prevent further pregnancies. I can’t imagine risking my life and leaving my kids without me. With the state of women’s healthcare currently — and the fact that I wouldn’t be able to get an abortion in Indiana — a permanent solution was our best option.
7:30 p.m. — I’m just walking in the door after my work meeting and dinner. I got free wine and pasta so I guess that kind of makes up for missing family time. It’s just me in the house because N. and the kids went to my sister-in-law’s house for her birthday. There’s a gigantic spider by the back door, so I consider turning around and leaving to wait for N. to get home. I finally make it in and immediately have to shower because my skin is crawling. N. and the kids are home around 8 p.m. I get my snuggles and hugs in, and we do the nightly routine.
10 p.m. — The kids are in bed and have been for a little while. My last pump of the night is done, and N. is heading to bed. I stay up to get some quiet time. I have an Amazon gift card that’s burning a hole in my wallet so I browse for a new travel coffee mug. After looking around at several, I settle on a large W&P Porter mug in lavender. I already have a small one and love it so I know I will love the big one, too. Coffee is life during this infant stage. I head to bed shortly before 11 p.m. and hope for a good night of sleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

4 a.m. — R. is up and very unhappy that she isn’t being immediately fed while we wait for the bottle to warm up. N. feeds her, and I try to get more sleep. It doesn’t work. R. never settles back down, then N.’s phone starts blowing up around 5:45 a.m., so I get up with R. and rock her in the family room.
6:15 a.m. — R. is settled and back to sleep in her cot in the family room finally. I get all of my pump stuff going and sit back down for more Amazon shopping, this time for bibs because R. is the spit-up queen. Then I can hear through the monitor that N. is getting S. up. I think N. is trying to help by getting the morning going, but I would much prefer S. sleep a little longer, so the house can be quiet. Let the daily chaos begin. I get dressed in mom jeans, a J.Crew girlfriend T-shirt, a logo cardigan, and floral Toms (blessed be the casual dress code at work).
7:50 a.m. — The kids and I are loaded up, and we head out to the sitter’s. S. requested chicken nuggets for breakfast so he’s eating those in the car. When we are almost at the sitter’s, he informs me that he is covered in mustard and wants to pull over so I can clean him up. I get to the sitter’s expecting the worst, but the mustard is only on his hands and arms, not his clothes, thankfully, and I get it cleaned up with only two wipes. I make it to the office by 8:15 a.m.
1 p.m. — While hooking up my pump, I get a text from one of my childhood besties that her wedding plans have had to change, and they’re now getting married locally this Friday instead of in another state, which means I can go! I’m sad her original plans didn’t work out, but I’m wildly happy that we can be there to celebrate with her! Happy tears. While looking through my calendar, I realize that one of my other childhood besties will be giving birth in the next week or so to her first kiddo. More happy tears!
9:20 p.m. — Evenings always go too fast. We have brinner (breakfast for dinner) as a family and then watch Sherlock Gnome. I get a solid giggle out of R. for the first time tonight, and it’s wonderful but also hard because I know she’ll most likely have firsts with the sitter because we work full-time, and she’s there all day during the week. I pump and watch The Office while N. snuggles R. and she goes down for the night. N. does a round of never-ending baby dishes, and we go to bed around 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

3:30 a.m. — R. wakes up and is in a foul mood. I pull her into bed with us to snuggle while her bottle warms up. She eats around 4 a.m. Our dogs plow through our baby gate that keeps them in the family room and then through our bedroom door. Normally, I would throw them both out, but I’m too tired, so they climb into bed, too.
6 a.m. — My alarm goes off. R. is again in a foul mood. N. feeds her, while I set up to pump, then he gets S. out of bed. They shower and get ready for the day. S. feeds the dogs and then asks me if we can get pink doughnuts from the gas station as a treat on the way to the sitter’s. After N. heads out to work, I jump in the shower because R. has finally fallen back to sleep. I put on American Eagle flared jeans, a recycled wool T-shirt (my dad is OBSESSED with cotton-alternative shirts and buys one for me whenever he finds one he likes), a logo quarter-zip, and my trusty Target ballet flats.
8:15 a.m. — We’re later than usual but finally loaded in the car and headed to get S. his pink doughnuts because I love providing a good treat. I pick up a Kind bar for myself, and he gets his pink doughnuts. I stroll into the office around 8:45 a.m. Thankfully, my coworkers are all flexible and understanding that family life is chaos. $5.48
10:45 a.m. — I see an email from my dad about a local house that is within our price range (around $315,000) and desired size (three bedrooms and two bathrooms). I take a quick look and actually like it. We have been casually looking because our current house is a two bedroom, one bathroom, and it was already getting crowded before R. arrived. I send the link to N., and we chat about reaching out to our real estate agent. We haven’t been super motivated yet, but this house has me thinking through my to-do list for what we need to do to move.
11:20 a.m. — I get an amazing text from my childhood bestie, who had her baby this morning! I hope our girls become close like we are. Their family is such a blessing to us, and I love how close we’ve stayed through so many stages of our lives. More happy tears!
1 p.m. — I pump while casually perusing new phones and chatting with my dad about our phone plan. I don’t think I mentioned it before, but I have a wearable, portable pump that I use in the office. I absolutely could work with my door open while I pump, but I like the time when no one will come in to talk to me. I haven’t gotten a lot of alone time since R. was born. While I do have a lot of guilt about going back to work, I do appreciate the adult interaction and being out of the house.
4:45 p.m. — I leave work early because I already have my full-time hours for this week and I have a meeting tomorrow so I will have more than enough. My MIL is coming over, and I convince S. to help clean up, so the house feels less chaotic than usual.
6 p.m. — My MIL orders pizza for dinner, and we have a good time hanging out. After she leaves, I put S. to bed, and N. takes R. into the family room to get her into bedtime mode.
9 p.m. — N. is taking a bath, and the baby is asleep in my arms when S. comes sauntering through the kitchen into the family room to tell me he’s hungry again. This is a pattern with him lately: He had maybe half a piece of pizza at dinner and some salad, so of course he’s hungry. He wants gummies, but I get him to settle on a banana. He decides he needs to stay up with me to see who wins the cooking show I’m watching. I don’t want to fight, so he stays up, and I con him into thinking the first round is the end of the show. He asks for gummies one more time, but I send him back to bed. I settle R. into her cot, then do some light cleaning up, and chat with N. in the bath. He tells me S. came through the bathroom on his way to bed and asked him for gummies, too. I hook up my pump and turn my cooking show back on.
10:30 p.m. — I’m finishing up my pumping alone in the quiet. After that, I do some dishes and prep for a shorter work and sitter day tomorrow. I’m in bed by 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $5.48

Day Six

3:45 a.m. — R. wakes up in another unhappy mood this morning. Thankfully, I’ve got the bottle warmed to room temp already, so I quickly feed her. After a snuggle, I put her in her bassinet and fall back asleep quickly.
6 a.m. — First alarm snoozed. I’m up 10 minutes later and headed to the family room to pump. S. is up shortly after that. Once I finish my pump, I get him dressed for the day. N. heads out, and I get the kids ready for the car. I put on Old Navy mom jeans, a work logo quarter-zip, and floral Toms. I also apply blue mascara and purple eyeliner (I promise it’s much subtler than it sounds).
7:45 a.m. — I get cash for the sitter (accounted for in monthly bills), and S. wants a cheese sandwich from the coffee shop, so we head that way. Of course, as I pull up to order, S. tells me he doesn’t want a cheese sandwich anymore. I order one for me and one for him because all he had this morning for breakfast was a bag of Doritos he pulled from the pantry. $8.53
7:50 a.m. — I need gas. Of course, earlier this week it was $0.50 cheaper per gallon. I’m on my way to an offsite meeting and listening to Kristin Cavallari’s new podcast Let’s Be Honest with Kristin Cavallari. $57.02
10:15 a.m. — Meeting over. It was in the same office building where my dad works, so I stop by to chat before heading back to my office around 11 a.m. I only have an hour left before I need to pick up the kiddos, so I’m cramming to get things done. I followed up recently about my short-term disability claim and found out that they never received one of the required forms from my employer, even though I know I mailed it at least two weeks ago. So I get that form printed and on my boss’ desk to have her complete it again. So frustrating.
12 p.m. — I get a call from the friend who is officiating our other friend’s wedding tonight to see if I like her opening lines. She’ll be reading the first stanza of “Satisfied” from Hamilton, a favorite in our friend group. There won’t be a ton of attendees, so most of us will respond as required, and there’s a hot chance the first few minutes of the ceremony will turn into a quick Hamilton sing along! I love my friends. I like to practice a zero-inbox for work, and I get there just in time to leave for the weekend! (Zero-inbox for me means everything is in folders, and I religiously use the follow-up flags to keep myself organized. This helps me feel less cluttered and stressed as things come in over the weekend.)
2:30 p.m. — After finally getting both kids down for a rest, I shower, pump, and get myself ready for the wedding. I put on a golden-yellow dress from Old Navy, a jean jacket, and leopard-print flats. I get the kids dressed and have S. pack a bag of toys to keep himself occupied (reader, he packed one rubber ball). I pack all the milk we may need for R., plus the diaper bag, then get it all in the car and start loading up the kids. N. gets home from work, and we’re out the door and on the road right on time.
7 p.m. — The ceremony is beautiful and small: Only 16 people. They get married at our friend’s house in the woods, and it’s absolute fall perfection. After we all go out to dinner, and S. makes fast friends with everyone at our table and has them all on board with taking selfies on his non-functional phone (one of my cells from high school). We pay for our family’s meal and roll out around 9 p.m. While we are on the drive home, I finally receive pictures of my friend’s new baby. She’s beautiful. $116.14
10 p.m. — S. is in bed, N. feeds R., and they fall asleep on the couch while I pump. I do a quick round of baby dishes and prepping bottles, and I’m in bed by 11:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $181.69

Day Seven

6:15 a.m. — R. stirs. I took the bottle out earlier, so it’s ready to go for her. I pass her and the bottle off to N. so I can pump. It’s pouring outside, so one of our dogs is anxious but she settles in after I calm her down.
7 a.m. — I make the adult decision to stay up instead of going back to bed. I make my coffee and wait in the quiet family room for everyone else to wake up. S. is up by 7:45 a.m., and we’re snuggling and watching Mickey Mouse Funhouse.
10 a.m. — I do lots of dishes and some quick purging of the cabinets. I get set up with my parents for a group trip to Costco and then lunch. They have a membership and are happy to let us tag along to use it. I get dressed in Old Navy mom jeans, a plain black T-shirt, an L.L.Bean pullover, and my trusty pink Chucks. No makeup today. We head out shortly before noon and definitely let Costco tell us what we need today, which doesn’t bode well for the budget. $335.73
3:30 p.m. — My parents treat us to lunch, then S. wants to play at their place, so we drop him off. At home, the groceries are all put away. I pump, while N. watches the Notre Dame football game, and R. sleeps.
5:45 p.m. — S. is home, we make a meal from our Costco haul, and watch a movie as a family.
11 p.m. — I have no idea where the evening went. Usual evening stuff and finally off to bed after a long week.
Daily Total: $335.73
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