A Week In Houston, TX, On A $188,350 Joint Salary

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Today: a senior engineer who makes $97,000 per year ($188,350 when combined with her husband) and spends some of her money this week on Dr. Pepper.
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Occupation: Senior Engineer
Industry: Oil & Gas
Age: 33
Location: Houston, TX
My Salary: $97,000
My Husband's Salary: $91,350
My Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $2,119.23
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,930.97
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,031.57
Property Taxes: $275
Health Insurance: $266.67
HOA: $50 (We purchased this house in 2012, where we live with our two kids and two dogs.)
Utilities: $275.93 (Average for electricity, natural gas, water, and trash service.)
Cell Phone: $58.55 for my husband (My work pays for my phone.)
Car Insurance: $211.73
Cable/Internet: $115.48
House Cleaner: $90 every other week
Lawn Maintenance: $35 every other week
Netflix: $11.90
Hulu: $8.55
Retirement: $1,535.83 to my Roth 401(k), and my company matches 25%. $456.75 to my husband's 401(k) and $361.79 to his IRA.
Tithing: $1,021.42
Savings: $1,000
Childcare: $2,010.25
Life Insurance: $106.25/month for my husband, $480/year for me

Day One

4:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I hop in the shower. I like to get up early to start my day with some quiet coffee time before my husband, R., and the kids get up.
5:30 a.m. — Kids are up and hungry, of course. They split a banana, and A. asks for Cheerios and marshmallows in a baggie. We mix Honey Nut Cheerios with regular Cheerios for this type of snack, and she gets three marshmallows. Of course, I can never find the snack cups with lids for D., so he gets a small cup with Cheerios, which he proceeds to dump on the floor. Awesome. We are out the door at 6:20 on our way to daycare.
6:30 a.m. – Daycare isn't open. WTF, it's supposed to open at 6:30. These parents are about to riot. A. is having fun running around with one of her friends, and D. is trying to keep up with them. My work is flexible with hours, so I try not to stress. I have mellowed a lot since having A. I'm very routine-driven, and things like this used to send me spiraling into anger. I'm calm and relaxed this morning.
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6:45 a.m. — Driving into work and traffic isn't too terrible, but I do get hung up behind an accident. I download the new single by my favorite band, Catfish and the Bottlemen, and pre-order their new album coming out in April. I don't have to pay until then for that, but I pay $1.39 for the single. $1.39
11:30 a.m. — Lunchtime! I go out with my coworkers to Jersey Mike's (my favorite sandwich shop). Their prices seem to have gone up, because the meal is $13.89! $13.89
12:15 p.m. — When we get back, I go ahead and file our taxes with TurboTax. I entered all the data a week or two ago, so I scan over and double-check my entries before submitting. I pay a $42.63 fee for filing. $42.63
4 p.m. — I leave work a little early to go work out. R. and I joined our local 9Round gym in December, and we each try to go two or three times a week. I get there by 4:45 and finish up at about 5:15, just in time to rush home and cook dinner (spaghetti) before R. gets home with the kids. Our cleaning lady came today, and walking into a clean house is the best feeling.
6:30 p.m. — We finish up dinner and it's a bath night, so we work our way upstairs for that. After baths, teeth brushing, and play time, it is off to bed. R. puts A. to bed rather quickly tonight so he can squeeze in a workout at 9Round before it closes at 8.
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8 p.m. — I finish putting D. to bed and do the dishes so R. won't have to worry about them when he gets home. Still kind of energized, I fry up a few eggs to add to my breakfast mix for the week. R. likes to have instant oatmeal packets for breakfast, so I make up a batch of those to store in the pantry so he can grab them in the morning and heat them up at work. R. gets back home and we chat about how tough the workout was today. He got gas for his car ($26.45) at Kroger on the way home. $26.45
9:15 p.m. — I climb into bed and read a bit before passing out by 9:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $84.36

Day Two

5 a.m. — So much for my quiet time. D. woke up, which then woke A. up. A. plays in her room until one of us comes in to get her, which is something we have been working on for months. She has gotten herself dressed, but she put on her favorite dress, which she can't wear to school today because it's a uniform day. I spend 10 minutes persuading her to change clothes while commending her for getting herself up and dressed like a big girl. I need more coffee if I'm going to play these mind games this early.
7 a.m. — Arrive at work. Traffic was kind to me today. I heat up my breakfast (sweet-potato hash I prepped on Sunday) and start scrolling through emails while making a to-do list. It's going to be a busy day, so I finish breakfast and get my second cup of coffee from the pot in the kitchen, adding the Hazelnut Nutpods I can't live without.
11:30 a.m. — My coworkers are going to Zoe's for lunch, but I brought leftover spaghetti and an orange sparkling water and need to work through lunch to make up for the time I took off yesterday to go work out. I take some time to check in with my favorite food blogger, Iowa Girl Eats, saving her latest recipe in my meal-plan app to try later.
3:30 p.m. — I am supposed to leave work a little early to go to an appointment with my counselor. I have been dealing with postpartum anxiety and depression since D. was born and have been seeing her off and on since then. But she texts me as I'm walking to my car, saying that she is sick and needs to reschedule. So back to work I go for another hour. Normally, I would pay $71.80 for this visit.
5 p.m. — I offer to pick up the kids from daycare, even though R. usually does it. Once we get home, I get each of them a small snack and put on their favorite Netflix show while I cook dinner: one-pot red beans and rice. R. gets home soon after we do. He stopped to pick up his dry cleaning ($6.02), which covers about a week and a half of dress shirts. $6.02
7 p.m. — After some play time, since it isn't a bath night, R. and I divide and conquer bedtime by each putting a kid to bed. Afterward, he tackles the dishes while I go for a run. I'm training for a 5K and trying to convince myself I'm a runner. I take one of our dogs with me for safety, since it's already dark.
9 p.m. — I figured I'd be wide awake after my run, but honestly I'm exhausted, so I fall into bed and read for a few minutes before going to sleep. R. is watching TV for some quiet personal time after everyone is asleep. We are so opposite when it comes to this kind of thing!
Daily Total: $6.02

Day Three

5:15 a.m. — I get D. from his crib and nurse him for a few minutes. He's 17 months old, and I'm desperately ready to wean him, but he's been very resistant to that idea. We take it day by day, and I'm not up for the tantrum this morning.
6:50 a.m. — R. offered to take the kids to daycare for me today! I take this opportunity to treat myself and stop for breakfast at Kolache Factory. I buy three kolaches and a Coke for $8.52. This is so not helping my health goals, but it's nice every now and then. I drive the rest of the way to work and dive in for the day. $8.52
11:30 a.m. — My coworkers are going out to lunch, but I decided to stay in and work while eating my leftover red beans and rice. I want to leave an hour early today to make it to 9Round. I spend some time looking over our February budget in YNAB. R. mentioned he wants to upgrade his cell phone and has a rebate offer that is hard to pass up.
2 p.m. — The project I am working on is requiring a lot of sitting and waiting for analyses to run on my computer, and I can barely keep my eyes open. I get a cup of coffee from the kitchen and — score, it was just made! I'm out of my Nutpods, so I just use the gross creamer out of desperation. I'll have to swing by Kroger sometime tonight to restock.
4 p.m. — Leaving work to go to 9Round. R. just texted that he's stuck in a meeting and will be late getting home. Crap. I go to 9Round and then swing through Kroger to buy a few containers of Nutpods and a couple of frozen pizzas for dinner. I'm not up for cooking tonight with this last-minute change of plans. I get a call from daycare that A. is complaining her ear hurts. She said her friend put mulch in her ear, and then she told them her brother put rocks in her ear. This should be a fun evening. $24.85
7 p.m. — My night to put D. to bed. I don't offer to nurse him, and after a few side-eye looks from him and one very small tantrum, he lets me rock him to sleep without nursing! I feel like we're making progress on this weaning business.
8:30 p.m. — Kids are in bed (A.'s ear is fine, no signs of mulch) and dishes are done. We relax and watch Dating #NoFilter, which is my new guilty pleasure. This show is so funny. R. claims he doesn't like watching it, yet he recommended it tonight… After the show, we get ready for bed and he watches TV while I go to sleep.
Daily Total: $33.37

Day Four

4:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I hop in the shower. It's going to be an incredibly busy day, starting with R. having to be at work by 5:30 for a conference call. I'm flying solo with kids this morning, so I desperately need my quiet coffee time before they get up.
6:40 a.m. — We make it out of the house, show-and-tell items in tow (a book for D. and a semi-complete set of flash cards for A.). Drop-off was a little tough this morning — A. didn't want to stay. The hardest thing about being a working mom is leaving your kids while they are crying for mommy. This hits me hard this morning, so I run through McDonald's for a Dr. Pepper and hash brown ($2.17). This is a bad habit I developed when I returned to work after D. was born. I don't do it nearly as often as before, but it always makes me feel better. $2.17
7 a.m. — Back home to work for a little bit before a doctor appointment. I heat up one of my breakfast hash containers from Sunday. Our lawn guy comes today, so I make sure to leave cash for him out on the front porch ($35). We are on an every-other-week schedule right now due to winter.
8:30 a.m. — Doctor appointment with my OB/GYN for an annual checkup (zero payment due, since it is preventative). This is my first appointment since my post-delivery six-week checkup. After two babies, I always enjoy catching up with my doc for a few minutes. It makes the appointments more fun.
11:30 a.m. — I join my coworkers for lunch today at Torchy's Tacos, which is a major weakness of mine. We all split some queso (it was my turn to buy and share) and I order one breakfast taco (egg, brisket, potato, cheese), plus an extra tortilla and a drink. They always put so much filling in their tacos that it actually is more like two. $11.58
4 p.m. — I head home to get a run in before we start our evening. R. made it to 9Round and is cooking dinner by the time I get home. I pick up the kids from daycare, and I'm happy to hear that A. had a great day, plus I got a very positive report on her bathroom habits. (We have been in a potty-training nightmare, but finally seem to have turned the corner.)
6:15 p.m. — We load the kids up in the stroller and walk down the street to our church for our weekly small group. The kids get to eat dinner and play with their church friends, and we get some much-needed social time. One of the girls planned a scavenger hunt throughout our church, which means lots of running. Ugh, I'm exhausted, and my group lost by A LOT. It's okay, it was fun.
8:30 p.m. — Back home to get kids off to bed. Then I finish up dishes and fall into bed by 9 p.m.
Daily Total: $13.75

Day Five

5:20 a.m. — OH MY GOSH, I woke up late. I somehow turned my alarm off in the middle of the night. I guess I needed the sleep. I hop in the shower and hear D. is awake. R. goes to get him from his crib. This wakes up A. Chaos ensues. I'm so grateful for R.
6 a.m. — I meet up with a friend at Panera for breakfast. We get together every other week for an hour or so before I go to work. Having such a chaotic morning makes it hard for me to relax and think straight, but we still have a great conversation and make some progress on the Bible study we've been working on. I order a bagel and a drink. $5.51
7:15 a.m. — On my way to work, my gas light comes on. I stop at HEB to fill up. $37.03
10:30 a.m. — I grab a breakfast taco from the kitchen to tide me over until I get done with work.
2 p.m. — I finally finish up my work and head home, since we take half days on Fridays and work longer hours during the rest of the week. I lie down for a short nap because I'm exhausted, and then we have date night later! R. threw a load of towels in the wash earlier, so I move them over to the dryer. Fridays are always towel-washing day.
2:30 p.m. — I head out to run a few errands. I bought some shoes for A. at Once Upon a Child, then found a better deal at Walmart so I'm returning the shoes. Then I head to Target to return some shorts I bought A. that are too big. I browse the women's section and pick up a few shirts. $66
4 p.m. — I swing by the daycare to drop off pajamas and cash ($30). Our daycare offers a Parents Night Out (PNO) deal once a month. Our family doesn't live locally and we've had bad luck finding reliable babysitters, so we take advantage of this PNO deal. It means our kids stay there all day and into the evening, but they are comfortable and get to play with their friends. I choose not to let the guilt bother me too much, because this phase of life is HARD. R. and I have a bad habit of becoming more like roommates if we don't take these date nights. $30
5:15 p.m. — We head out a little early for our date. R. bought us tickets to check out the Buffalo Bayou Cistern, which has been on our bucket list for a while now. We are both engineers and totally geek out over the history of this water reservoir. $10
7 p.m. — We go to dinner at Pappadeaux and get a couple drinks, an appetizer, a large salad, and a bowl of soup. It's so nice to talk about life and more than just what needs to be done and who needs to be where. $94
10 p.m. — Pick the kids up from daycare. Both were sleeping soundly when we got there. We get home and tuck them into bed before heading off to bed ourselves.
Daily Total: $242.54

Day Six

5 a.m. — I wake up to the sound of A. shutting her bedroom door. I jump out of bed to get her downstairs quietly before she wakes up D. Then I make some coffee and we cuddle on the couch for a while. I get her some Cheerios and wake up R. to let him know she's awake. I make half a peanut butter sandwich, which I eat on the way to meet my running group.
8 a.m. — Finished with my run and back home. We get breakfast at Chick-fil-A before grocery shopping because I just don't feel like cooking. A. is in a tough mood because she's been up for so long already. We are having a tough day already with her attitude. It's going to be a long one. $17
10 a.m. — We finish up grocery shopping, letting A. watch a phone just to get through it (gosh, she is being difficult). We buy lots of vegetables (spinach, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, potatoes), quite a few bananas, bacon, chuck roast, deli meat, a loaf of bread, tortillas, soy sauce, chicken broth, kid smoothies, eggs, toilet paper, toothpaste, sparkling water, milk, marinara, and spaghetti. We make a meal plan each week and do all shopping over the weekend. $123
11 a.m. — Everyone is cranky, so it's early nap time today. R. takes A. and I take D. to his room. Everyone is asleep within 20 minutes.
2 p.m. — Everyone is awake again and seems to be in a better mood. I get meatloaf going for dinner tonight.
4 p.m. — I see a friend is offering free tickets to Monster Jam tonight. We talked about buying tickets weeks ago but forgot. We decide to take the tickets and head out on our way. Meatloaf can hold off until tomorrow night. We stop at Academy to buy a set of ear protection for D., since A. already has a set. $12.97
5:30 p.m. — We swing through Whataburger for a quick dinner that we can eat in the car. We pack D.'s food in our bag because he slept the whole time in the car. $17.88
6 p.m. — Parking is a nightmare, but we luck out and find a parking lot that doesn't have a long entry line. And it's right by our entry gate, too! Sometimes things just work out. $12
7 p.m. — Show starts, and D. is loving this! All the trucks are making him so happy. A. is still in a mood and just unsure about the whole thing. I'm thinking she is going through a growth spurt, because this is so uncharacteristic of her. We enjoy the show but end up leaving a little early because it's so late for the kids.
9:30 p.m. — Back home and the kids are asleep. R. and I relax in bed talking about how this was kind of a rough day with A. and about what we can do tomorrow to make for a better one.
Daily Total: $182.85

Day Seven

6 a.m. — I wake up on my own, and I'm pretty sure A. is still asleep. I very quietly take a shower and make a cup of coffee. I manage to get in about half an hour of quiet time watching Food Network! It's going to be a good day today.
8:30 a.m. — I head up to church with A. to help with our Sunday morning coffee service. She loves to think she is a grown woman like mommy and thrives on responsibility. She is a big help with getting things set up.
9:30 a.m. — I drop her off in children's church and get back to serving coffee. I love having the opportunity to do this, because it allows me time to meet new people and catch up. R. drops D. off in children's church and joins me.
12:15 p.m. — After church, I walk home with the kids while R. goes to pick up Panda Express for lunch. We play with toys until he gets home. After lunch, it's nap time, and we divide and conquer again. We are just getting D. to nap in his own room, but one of us has to stay in there the whole time to get him a good long nap. We like to split that time and each use it to read or take a nap ourselves while the other keeps laundry going and does other small chores. $21
3 p.m. — I make my breakfast for the week. I'm making a poblano breakfast casserole from Iowa Girl Eats, and it looks delicious. I also make some baked beans to toss in the oven for dinner later.
4 p.m. — Kids are both awake and in great moods, so we play for a while and then sit down to eat dinner. D. has decided that he will no longer tolerate a high chair or any chair that requires a harness. We set up a small kids' table in our dining room and let the kids eat there.
6 p.m. — For bath time, R. takes the kids while I fold a load of clothes. We agreed early on in our marriage that we both enjoy having all laundry clean on Monday mornings, so we work hard to get it all washed, folded, and put away on Sundays.
7 p.m. — It's my turn to put D. to bed, and I let him nurse when he gives me the side-eye. It's been a busy weekend, and I think we both need that connection time. As much as I'm ready to wean him, I'm still a little sad to see this time end.
8 p.m. — R. and I have a strict rule that all chores are stopped by 8 p.m. on Sunday night so that we can relax and get to bed at a reasonable time. We do just that, watch a little TV, read, and go to sleep, ready to take on another week.
Daily Total: $21
If you are experiencing anxiety or depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.
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