A Week In Tennessee On A $142,000 Joint Income

Photo: Getty Images.
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 resident physician who has a joint income of $142,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a coat rack.
Occupation: Resident Physician
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 29
Location: Tennessee
My Salary: $57,120
My Boyfriend's Salary: $85,000 (most finances are combined)
Net Worth: -$419,764.88. OOF. While this number initially was shocking, it has become more comfortable knowing that I will pay it off in seven years with PSLF. I went to a private school for my Master's and medical education and now realize that might have been a mistake because the tuitions and fees are so much higher. If my child ends up going into medicine, I would recommend saving the money and going to a public state school because medicine does not change from school to school. My boyfriend, N., and I split most all costs at home but we still pay our debts separately. He has debt from undergrad that the GI bill (thank you for your service, N.!) did not cover and he also bought a new truck recently.
Debt: $8,589.86 car loan, graduate school, and medical school debt $437,215.22
My Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $3,852.08
My Boyfriend's Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,500
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,900 split evenly with boyfriend. Includes water, trash, no gas appliances, and street parking.
Student Loans: $63.09 (on pause due to COVID)
Car Loan: $450
Netflix: $13.77 (my parents use this account too)
HBO Max: $16.41 (watch this more than anything)
Hulu/Amazon Prime: N. pays (N.'s family uses this account too)
Disability Insurance: $99.63 (Very important in medicine. Should anything happen that I lose my ability to work such as an accident, stroke, heart attack, lose a hand, get a tremor and cannot perform surgery etc., then I am guaranteed $5,000 a month for the rest of my life.)
Car Insurance: $108.42
Renter's Insurance: $17.08
Unlimited Car Wash: $49.99
Roth IRA: $500 maxed out
Internet: $70 split between N. and I
Electricity: $110 split between N. and me
Sirius XM: $26.70 (really should cancel this because I just end up listening to the same 20 songs on repeat)
Dog's Grooming: $100 every other month
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 parents went to college and it was assumed both my sister and I would as well. Both my sister and I received scholarships and my parents gave me some money as well. That being said, about $20,000 of my school loan debt is still from undergraduate. Both my grad school educations were 100% loans hence the heavy debt.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents were very open to discussing finances. Growing up we had to put 1/3 of everything we made (and birthday/Christmas money) into a savings account. I did receive a $5 allowance each week if I helped with household chores. When I was younger, I would blow through my money quickly on things like candy, clothes, makeup, or movies but that changed quickly during medical school when I wasn't working and living off minimal loans. I would say we were comfortably middle class but going out to eat at places like Applebee's was a huge treat. My parents worked very hard on saving their money while we were younger and it paid off because they were both happily retired by their mid-50s.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
Other than randomly babysitting the neighborhood kids, I started working as a waitress at age 14 and continued working at various restaurants until I graduated college. I loved the fast cash and tips at the end of the shift. I can also talk to people and adapt to different situations easily so it felt very easy. Now when N. and I go out to eat, we usually tip 25-30% because I know how hard it is to work in the food service industry.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I did not. But I didn't always understand why my parents were not buying me the nicest clothes or shoes. In middle school, I felt so uncool because all the cool kids were wearing Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch and I had clothes from the Kohl's clearance rack. I realize now how silly that was and that I had it better off than a lot of children. Shopping the clearance rack has also helped me find sales now and I try not to purchase anything at full price. Any other TJ Maxx lovers out there??
Do you worry about money now?
Always. Even though I have a small emergency fund if something happens, I worry constantly about the future. I worry about getting engaged and spending for a wedding if I don't have the money saved up. I worry about affording a baby and buying a house.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
Honestly not yet. My parents still pay my cell phone bill. Otherwise, I've paid for everything else since medical school graduation. It's actually cheaper to keep my phone on my parent's bill and when I get married I will start my own plan. Until then, I keep riding the parent phone bill train.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
When my grandmother was alive she would occasionally slip me $20 when I visited her. I would try to refuse it, but she would get sneaky and hide it somewhere and I wouldn't find it until I got home. While I haven't received sums of money, I have been graciously gifted with furniture, clothes, and kitchenware. My first apartment at college was completely outfitted by my extended family with hand-me-down dressers, beds, plates, cups, rugs, decorations, etc. The hand-me-downs definitely allowed me to start adulthood without additional debt from buying basic living supplies for which I am so grateful.

Day One

4:30 a.m. — Hello Monday. I wake up 15 minutes earlier than usual to straighten my hair. I went to bed last night with wet hair so naturally, it looks like a disaster. I give our girls (two small doggos, not humans) cuddles. After sufficient tummy rubs, I'm up and washing my face, contacts go in, and I apply serum. I use Kiehl's Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Vitamin C serum and then apply Olay Regenerist serum on top. While my serums dry, I head downstairs and start my coffee. Cheers to my seven-year-old hot pink Keurig and all the hard work she has put in for me over the years. Grab coffee, give the girls both a treat, and head back upstairs to finish my face and makeup. I use a loose mineral powder from Covergirl, Revlon eyeliner, Chanel eyeshadow, and Clinique mascara. Half bougie, half drug store. Hair gets straightened and Figs scrubs/Patagonia vest and Sperrys go on. Give N. a kiss and I'm out the door en route to the hospital with my mask.
8 a.m. — The morning is spent rounding on laboring and postpartum patients with my attending physician. I graduate residency in June and start my fellowship in July and couldn't be more excited! After appropriate discharges, I run back to my sacred space, my call room. Once I am safely in my room, I take off my N95 and goggles and cherish an apple and tea. I begin to work on documentation from the morning. This morning happens to be pretty chill with no obstetrical emergencies and I am happy to sit safely in my call room with my mask off. Typically, I hang out with other residents or nurses but obviously, that is not happening now. There is no time guaranteed in my line of work to eat or drink water so every time I get the chance to eat a meal, I do.
12:30 p.m. — I have to head over to the clinic to see scheduled patients this afternoon but swing by the hospital cafeteria on the way. We have Subway, Chick-fil-A, and Starbucks all in the hospital so I end up frequenting those places. A huge perk of working at this hospital is that I get a meal card during residency that I can use to buy food, coffee, snacks at all times of the day so I end up never having to buy food while at work. I grab a Market Salad from Chick-Fil-A and drive over to the clinic. ($8.99 expensed)
1 p.m. — It was going too smoothly today. I get called urgently from Labor and Delivery and have to rush back to the hospital for an emergency c-section. Everyone turned out fine, but it's always a stressful situation and I have to keep my calm. Unfortunately, the clinic manager had to cancel the rest of my patients for the afternoon while in the OR. I hate having to do this, but also I have to advocate for the safety of my mommas and babies. Thank you to everyone who has had a physician cancel an appointment on them and for being understanding about it.
5 p.m. — Done for the day. Head to the parking garage and hop in the car. Mask off and hand sanitizer on. When I get home, scrubs come off and I'm in the shower decontaminating. I was planning on cooking supper tonight but N. says it will be a late night again :(. Rifling through the mail, I find a belated birthday card from N.'s parents to me. Inside there is a $50 Starbucks gift card and I immediately add it to my app. Mental note to send them a thank you card this week. Throw a load of laundry in the wash in our in-unit washer/dryer, which is LIFE CHANGING — what a luxury. I usually end up washing one load a day because N. seems to produce an extraordinary amount of dirty clothes.
7 p.m. — Check my banking apps and see my paycheck hit, hellloooo money. I hold on transferring to savings because I have multiple direct withdrawals tomorrow. Dinner ends up being Cheez-Its and cottage cheese. I feed the girls each a Cheez-It and they go crazy. Before I had dogs, I didn't understand how hard it is to say no to begging puppy eyes, but now I will give them human treats daily. N. texts me that he gets gas on the way home ($45). When he arrives home, we watch the rest of the movie Underwater on HBO Max. Of all the subscription services we have, we end up watching HBO Max the most. I canceled it after Game of Thrones ended but quickly restarted the subscription. Pop a 5 mg sublingual melatonin (the best form I have found that works for me) and hop into bed around 8:30. Goodnight. $45
Daily Total: $45

Day Two

4:45 a.m. — Alarm, puppy cuddles, coffee, generic hospital scrubs, Lululemon Define jacket, and I'm out the door. I walk into a literal dumpster fire when I arrive at the hospital. Last night a fresh (read: new) doctor was on call and it caused lots of confusion. I take a deep breath and remember I was in that position a few short years ago. It takes all morning to get the mommas and babies organized while I also admit two more laboring moms. No time for breakfast or coffee run this morning, I'm fueled by stress and adrenaline.
10:45 a.m. — I have a meeting/quarterly review with my boss today at 11 so I hightail it to Subway and grab a sandwich to eat after the meeting. The feedback is mostly positive but my boss does mention that someone told her that I can be too confident and direct at times. This initially upsets me because being in medicine has caused me to be a perfectionist, but my boss (who is also a woman) stated that all strong women in medicine get comments like this made about them. She also said that men doctors rarely have this said about them and when said about men, it is usually meant as a compliment. I take my constructive compliment to mull over while I eat the cold Subway sandwich. $5.99 on hospital meal card. ($5.99 expensed)
12:50 p.m. — Clinic has officially started aaaaand the pager goes off. Back to the hospital we go. Those two mommas from earlier? They decide it's a race and I end up running from room to room to see who is going to deliver first. Both end up delivering safely, which I am grateful for.
5:15 p.m. — Home, finally! I run into our maintenance man. N. asked him to come by and look at our washing machine because it had been leaving white streaks all over our clothes. He tells me that I am using way too much soap with my loads and the white streaks are residue from the soap, oops. I decontaminate and hop on the internet to purchase some clothes. The clothes are for N.'s siblings who recently mentioned they need some new threads. N. and I have a shared credit card that gives us rewards monthly to use at any of the brands the card owns. It's a huge bonus for N. and me because we buy all of his work clothes and my leisure clothes from these brands and we usually pay nothing. N.'s sister sent me a shopping cart of all their wish lists and I have a mini heart attack when I see the total is over $1,100. I find some Black Friday cyber codes I can use with about $500 worth of rewards we have on the card, the total for everything is only $94.73. I am SHOOK. I have everything shipped directly to them. $94.73
7:15 p.m. — N. gives me the go-ahead that he should be leaving work soon so hair goes up and I'm in the kitchen. I start by making turkey meatballs but realize I have no breadcrumbs. One of my neighbors comes to the rescue and drops one cup off at the front door. While the meatballs sauté, noodles are cooking and (canned) sauce is simmering. It smells delicious and just as I am plating the meals, N. walks through the door. He tells me all about his day while we chow down. N. works for USPS and his job has been extremely stressful and exhausting since before the election. Now with most people buying Christmas presents online, it's even busier. N. is the guy you have to yell at when your package gets lost, which can take a toll on him. With happy bellies and hearts, we finish up the dishes together and I head to bed around 8:15 after melatonin.
Daily Total: $94.73

Day Three

4:45 a.m. — Up and at 'em after tummy rubs and ear pets. Coffee brewed and makeup on. I have not used foundation, concealer, blush, or lipstick since the pandemic started because it just ends up getting smeared all over my N95 and PPE. With PPE in already such limited supply, I try to keep mine clean as long as possible. Today I put on my Figs scrubs and another Lululemon Define jacket. There was a recent controversy involving Figs scrubs with an advertisement that made women DO physicians look incompetent. While this ad initially enraged me and made me want to burn all my scrubs, I decided to keep them because then I would have nothing to wear to work. Please comment if you know another good brand for scrubs because I do not plan on purchasing from Figs anymore.
6:15 a.m. — Patients at the hospital are relatively chill this morning and there are no major fires to put out. After discharging the postpartum patients, I head to the cafeteria and pick up a Starbucks nonfat blonde latte and scrambled eggs. The morning is spent in my call room cleaning out my inbox. Doctor inboxes typically consist of medication refill requests, calls from patients that request a call back about a specific issue, billing issues, or labs that need to be called to patients. I hit a major milestone right before lunch with INBOX ZERO and do a little dance in my call room. It's the small things that make me happy. ($4.22 expensed)
12 p.m. — Every Wednesday afternoon we have a conference that includes a catered lunch and lectures/updates about recent medical advances to be aware of. This conference was just recently made in person again after months on Zoom. Everyone is sitting in a huge conference room, six feet apart with masks on at all times. Lunch today is a baked potato bar and a La Croix brought from home. I am a huge sparkling water fan and actually brought a pallet of La Croix into work so the fridge is always stocked. Just as the lecture starts, I get a page and back to the hospital we go. I have a momma with pre-eclampsia and I need to decide whether to proceed with a c-section or see if she can wait. I end up waiting and mom stabilizes. No OR at least for today. Lectures are done by the time I finish at the hospital so I head home.
5 p.m. — Get home, take the girls out to go potty, and go decontaminate. I have a FaceTime date tonight at 6. At 5:59, I prop up the iPad and call up my grandpa. He is 91 and lives across the country. The pandemic has been rough on him, including a recent non-COVID hospitalization. He is scared to leave the house so I try to FaceTime him as often as possible, which is never often enough. We discuss the weather and he tells me stories of when he was in the military and was stationed in Tennessee close to where N. and I live now. We end up talking for about 30 minutes and I feel good about life again. I have a flight booked to go see him this Christmas (more on this later) and I'm scared he will die before I ever see him again.
7 p.m. — N. calls me to say he is on his way home so cue the candles and making dinner. I set the TV up with Hulu so we can watch last night's episode of The Bachelorette while we eat. I make myself a bagged salad mix and heat up leftover spaghetti with turkey meatballs for N. I'm not a vegetarian but I don't love cooking meat at home. When N. and I cook meals, I usually eat all the vegetables and N. eats the meat portions. It works for us. Another load of laundry in the washer.
8:15 p.m. — N. tells me all about his day. Work seems to be wearing him out more and more each year around the holiday season. He has a policy at his location to get every package out of the office every day, which means that packages get delivered sometimes up until 9 or 10. I do my nighttime skincare routine with Clinique foaming face wash, Clinique clarifying lotion, Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Serum, Kiehl's creamy avocado eye mask, and Clinique Moisture Surge on top. I have loved Clinique since college and am just now getting into Kiehl's. Pop a melatonin and head to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

4:45 a.m. — Morning! I wake up feeling refreshed. Get ready and put on my daily socks. N. and I have a tradition that he picks out my socks every day and I get to pick out his shirt. Today he picks socks with turtles that remind me of my parents' wild backyard turtle. They named him Mr. Turtle and he comes and goes as he pleases. It's the little things for me. On the way to work, I have to pull over for three fire trucks and a line of ambulances that pass. I take a second to reflect and am thankful for all the first responders out there on the frontlines daily. Thank you.
8 a.m. — Even though I am not scheduled to see patients this morning in clinic, I get a call from my boss that the clinic has a ton of patients calling in and requesting appointments so I agree to head over to help out. COVID is exploding (again) here and everything from nursing staff to PPE is running low. As soon as I hit the parking lot, I get a page that pre-eclampsia from yesterday is no longer stable and needs to proceed to c-section quickly. I know I have about 10 minutes until cutting skin so I run to the cafeteria and grab a Chick-fil-A breakfast sandwich and stuff my face because I have not eaten breakfast yet. I have a history of getting dizzy/nauseous in the OR and will always make myself eat something before operating now to avoid passing out. ($5.31 expensed)
12 p.m. — Out of the OR, momma and baby safe. Head back to clinic and find a catered lunch of wraps and salads. Today is an interview day and we are virtually interviewing candidates to possibly be part of the next class of residents. While the virtual interviews can sometimes be awkward and impersonal, I always try to engage the candidates as much as possible. After interviews, I start my afternoon clinic and guess what, the pager goes off again. I cannot believe how busy it has been lately, and on the way to the hospital, I realize that it has been nine months since the start of the pandemic so we are just now starting to deliver the babies born into the world that have only ever known isolation and distancing.
3 p.m. — Today is N.'s only day off during the week so he has been living it up (sleeping in). He sends me a Snapchat of a breakfast bagel sandwich and coffee he got from a local shop and also tells me that he has a surprise for me tonight. I am SHOCKED when he tells me that he has a reservation for 6 p.m. tonight and that I need to be ready by 5:45. I can count on one hand how many times in the last four years he has made a reservation for us. N. and I don't get to see each other often or spend a full day together even though we live in the same loft so once in a while he likes to do something special. I am so excited for tonight! $18
5:45 p.m. — In the truck we go. He drives us to a local ramen shop that I've been talking about for months. His ears must work! I am initially hesitant to eat at the restaurant, but when I walk in, I see that we are the only people there other than the hostess and bartender. We sit in a corner far away from the bar and both order a cocktail and get crispy Brussels sprouts and grilled avocado for appetizers. The Brussels sprouts are amazing and N., who typically won't touch anything green, likes them. I order the chicken ramen and N. gets the pork ramen. For dessert, we get four mochi ice cream balls and split all the flavors. We always try to leave a healthy tip so the total ends up being $75.45 with $20 tip. Get home afterwards and roll straight into bed after showering. Goodnight! $75.45
Daily Total: $93.45

Day Five

4:45 a.m. — Cuddle the girls and I'm up by 5. I am pumped that today is Friday and I have both Saturday and Sunday off, which is rare. I take some chicken and broccoli out of the freezer to defrost with pure intentions of making a healthy dinner sometime this weekend. N. and I are both out the door at 5:40 a.m. The morning is another relatively chill day after rounding and getting the appropriate discharges home. I run down to the cafeteria and pick up a Starbucks non-fat latte and a ham and swiss breakfast sandwich. ($7.22 expensed)
9 a.m. — I get a request to fill out my Secret Santa wish list. My work is doing an exchange with a limit of $10 so I fill out my wish list with candles, face masks, headbands, and more candles. I love candles, okay. The name I draw is a woman about my age so I start brainstorming what to get her. I am very guilty of always spending more on Secret Santa than what the limit is. I will probably pick something up when I run errands tomorrow. I requested face masks because since the pandemic started, I have been having troubles with the skin on my face around where my masks sit. Uneven skin tone, acne, roughness, and dry flaking skin have been issues daily. While I always wear my mask while in public and N95 while with patients, I am desperate to get my skin looking healthy again.
12 p.m. — Head back to clinic for another catered lunch as well as another round of interviews. I grab a tomato soup and salad while I talk to candidates. One of my favorite things to do with candidates is to have them go grab their dog, cat, or favorite memento and tell me about it. I can see their faces light up when I do this and I love seeing everyone's animals (we cannot ask about children or spouses). Let clinic commence. I am shocked when I make it all the way through clinic and get zero pages. I was really able to connect with my patients today and give them the time they needed. One of my patients asks me how old I am because she told me I look 13 years old. Maybe my skin routine is working after all?
5 p.m. — Before I leave the clinic, I run into our department chair and he notifies me that there are no ICU beds left at the hospital. I immediately feel nauseous and almost vomit. I work at the region's largest Level 1 Trauma Center and this is truly shocking. If patients are lucky enough to get seen after waiting in the ER, they are being treated in hallways and in the waiting rooms. I think of how grateful I am to not have gotten sick yet. Get in the car, mask off, and put on hand sanitizer.
6 p.m. — Get home, take the girls out, and walk them around the block. N. will be late tonight even though we both left home over 12 hours ago. Snack consists of Cheez-Its, cottage cheese, and pickles. I hear the fridge making a weird noise so I go to investigate and find the wine calling my name and happily pour a glass. This is a local white muscadine wine from Georgia and I realize I am not a huge fan. I hate wasting food, especially wine so I finish the glass. Start laundry and N. calls and asks for breakfast for dinner. Defrost bacon from the freezer and set out eggs and croissants.
8 p.m. — N. finally gets home so I make the impromptu breakfast sandwiches. This is one of his favorite meals and is so easy to make. He tells me all about his day while we are winding down and getting ready for bed. I intended this to be a spending day. There were many errands I needed to run but it was a $0 spend day. I have not run errands or gotten groceries in about three weeks. I know tomorrow will be a big spending day which I am now not looking forward to. Nighttime skincare routine and off to bed. Looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow morning.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

5:30 a.m. — Kiss from N. and fall back into a deep sleep when he leaves.
7:15 a.m. — I'm up and feeling very refreshed. Extra hours of sleep do wonders. Since I will hardly see N. this weekend, I am going to surprise him at work with donuts and coffee for him and his employees. While getting ready, I FaceTime my mom who lives in Florida. We had initially talked about my parents visiting this weekend but decided against it due to COVID. This makes me sad, but I want my parents to stay safe since they were both recently hospitalized with non-COVID illnesses. Leggings, Chacos, vest, and ball cap and we're good to go. Take the girls out to do their business and then hop in the car. Car wash, swing by the local donut shop and get an assortment, then to the local coffee shop next door for multiple coffees. This coffee shop is entirely run by refugees and the coffee is amazing. As I pick up the coffees, I say hello to my favorite and only barista in the shop who also happens to be one of the most consistent relationships I have. $25.55
10 a.m. — Drop off donuts and coffee for N. and his employees. Mail employees are some of the hardest workers I know. I calculate all the errands I have to do in my head and where I need to go in order to get the most items at the fewest locations. I decided on Target and my neighborhood's local goods market. I decide to skip on Sam's Club because I don't need enough to justify getting them in bulk right now. I spend $43.41 at Target and get Ms. Meyers geranium hand soap, Nivea body wash, a new shower poof for N. (he won't shower without one!), Covergirl loose face powder, Revlon jade eyeliner (looks amazing on hazel colored eyes), and a box of hair dye. I see a lady casually walking around the makeup area without a mask on and am stumped because we have had a mask mandate since July. Purchases go on Target Red Card and I save about $5 with the discounts. $43.41
10:45 a.m. — Headed home after leaving Target and I am reminded how beautiful Tennessee is while I drive the 10 minutes home through the mountains. I walk to the market hoping to finish N.'s Christmas shopping. I see some dog treats and get them for the girls because they are worth every penny ($5.50). Next, I stumble upon a t-shirt from a bearded vendor. N. has been trying to grow out his beard and he loves everything related to beards and bros. I get him a t-shirt in his favorite color and some stickers for his laptop. Last things I see are some anime prints. Last time N. and I were at the market, he purchased one of these handmade prints from his favorite anime show and made a comment that he wanted to come back and get the rest. I got you, N. On the way out the door, I see a coat rack and fall in love. It's made from vintage red wine barrels and has dark metal hooks. It would fit perfectly in our loft but I decide against it because of the expensive price. $61.89
12 p.m. — One last errand to run for the day. I need to get my Secret Santa gift and didn't see anything catch my eye at the market. I drive to Anthropologie and look for a monogrammed mug. I find the perfect mug for my Secret Santa and even better the mug is on sale for $8.74 with tax. I finish out at Lululemon and pick up a headband for my Secret Santa and I find my favorite pair of leisure pants on the clearance rack. Did I win the luck lottery today? Lululemon currently has an extra 25% off for military and healthcare workers so my total for everything is only $49.98. $58.72
3 p.m. — Decide I am hungry so eat a questionably old bagged salad mix and add in feta, avocado, craisins, and cherry tomatoes. I am still alive now so I guess the salad mix was fine. I head out to the porch, throw out our pumpkins, and clean up the fall decorations. As much as I love fall y'all, I love Christmas season even more. I finally pull out my laptop and open a browser. I have been dreading this since yesterday but I need to sign up for my medical boards which opened up registration yesterday. The cost is $1,300 and not refunded by my work. I will have to retake these boards every 10 years and this will be my first time taking them. I will be starting my fellowship in July and need to be board certified day one. As I hit the submit button and pick a day to take them this spring, I decide to take a shot of vodka because why not? This is something I have been working towards my whole life and it feels appropriate to celebrate. I FaceTime N. and he laughs at me. $1,300
5 p.m. — What I have planned to do next is one of my favorite events of the year, CHRISTMAS PRESENT WRAPPING!! I crank the Christmas tunes, pour a glass of wine, and dress the girls in special outfits. So extra I know. I treat wrapping presents like I am doing surgery and spend extra time making all the cuts and creases precise. As I start to see the presents fill the coffee table, I FaceTime my parents again. We are very close and FaceTime every day, if not multiple times a day. Grad school was one of the darkest periods of my life, mentally and emotionally, and they supported me unconditionally. I have had about three glasses of wine by this point and we decide jointly that we are canceling Christmas and that we need to cancel our flights to see family in the Midwest as well. I know this is for the best, but it makes me a little sad.
8 p.m. — I start wine drunk texting my friends from the Midwest. N. and I moved to Tennessee in May from the Midwest after I suddenly lost my job. Moving in the middle of a pandemic to somewhere we had no family or friends was hard and tested our relationship. We are fine now but definitely went through a rough patch. I start to get emotional as I realize that we are going to spend another holiday alone in a city with no family or friends. I hope one day I can be as strong as my wine's ABV.
9:15 p.m. — By this time, N. still isn't home and I realize all hopes of making a healthy dinner are not happening tonight. I make ramen noodles and start getting ready for bed. N. comes home in the meantime and I also make him ramen noodles as a consolation prize. We go to bed.
Daily Total: $1,489.57

Day Seven

7:15 a.m. — Nope.
10:30 a.m. — Much better. Cuddle the girls for a bit and then get a FaceTime from N. that his workload is huge today. He asks me to come to help out if I can. Say no more N., I'm on my way. The post office is open 365 days a year and delivers packages for multiple other companies on Sundays and holidays. I get ready, leggings, Chacos, 3/4 zip, and ball cap and head out the door after taking the girls out. Stop at Starbucks on the way for coffee and breakfast sandwiches. When I arrive, I am speechless at the number of packages everywhere. All the carriers are out delivering already so N. and I eat our sandwiches and get to work. $19.45
1:30 p.m. — For the last few hours I have been scanning packages and sorting them into the correct delivery routes. This helps out N. so he can direct the carriers on what to deliver. I also have OCPD so organizing all the packages by number satisfies my need for order. I have spent the last two hours thinking about the coat rack from yesterday. I did not buy it yesterday because it seemed like an impulse splurge but I cannot stop thinking of how good it would look in the loft. N. and I have been looking for a coat rack for six months so we decide together that it is worth it. I clean up at the post office, kiss N. goodbye, and head off to go back to the local market.
2 p.m. — I get nervous as I pull up to the market that the coat rack will be gone but lo and behold, there it is sitting at the front in all its glory. I purchase it and feel like a little kid on Christmas morning walking out the door and loading it into my car. When I get home, I bring it inside and almost cry tears of joy because I am so happy. This is a purchase that will stick with me for a long time. I take the girls out on a longer walk around the neighborhood and spend time letting them smell every bush. $225
3 p.m. — Last errand of the weekend! Time for grocery shopping. I have to be in the right state of mind for groceries otherwise I end up leaving the store with junk food. I decide I am in a good mood and head out to Publix with reusable bags and a grocery list in hand. Publix recently started letting us use our own bags again. I wash them after I get home every time. As I'm walking through the store I realize that I forgot my list in the car (classic), and an employee comes up to me and asks me if I would like a produce bag and that confuses me. I realize that I've been walking around with a singular shallot in my hand for about 10 minutes. Thanks for the bag, man. I end up spending $47.61 and get raspberries, blueberries, one shallot lol, whole milk for N., skim milk for me, rice, ground turkey, shredded lettuce, taco shells, portabella mushrooms, turkey bacon, biscuits, low sodium black beans, chocolate milk, cherry tomatoes, julienne tomatoes, and spinach/spring mix. $47.61
4:15 p.m. — Home and put groceries away and wipe bags down. Throw bed sheets in washer and realize one of the girls threw up in bed last night. How did I not hear that? She is acting fine today though. She has been randomly vomiting since getting spayed two months ago. Any suggestions? Sweep all the leaves off the front porch and water all the plant babies. It's 62 degrees and sunny out in December. I love Tennessee. Hop in the shower and wash hair, exfoliate, shave, and moisturize. Such a process.
6 p.m. — Christmas is about two weeks away and I still have two gifts to send. I order my dad a mouse for his computer (free with an Amazon gift card) and order my godson a Jack in the Box for $24.73. Sorry for adding more work, N.! Around 7:30, N. says he will be leaving soon so I pop chicken and broccoli in the oven and quinoa on the stove. Everything finishes just as N. gets home and we sit down to a nice meal together. We both get ready for bed, pop a melatonin together, and head to bed around 8:30. It's been a wild ride y'all. Stay safe. $316.79
Daily Total: $91.79
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