A Week In Lakeland, FL, On A $103,500 Joint Income

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a Social Media & Marketing Specialist who has a $103,500 joint income and spends some of her money this week on a Rifle Paper Co. ceramic pie dish.
Occupation: Social Media & Marketing Specialist
Industry: Medical Marketing
Age: 23
Location: Lakeland, FL
Salary: ~$43,500 (includes freelancing)
Husband's Salary: $60,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,315 + freelance income of ~$200
Husband's Paycheck (2x/month): $1,821
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,100
Loans: $0 (My parents saved up for my college education since I was born. That, along with scholarships and multiple jobs, got me out with a BA. My husband, D., had a similar situation. We are both so fortunate to have had a free education.)
Water/Electric: $170
WiFi: $74
YouTube TV: $50
Netflix: $14
Sirius XM: $3
Spotify/Hulu: $10
Gym: $84
Phones: $30 (my husband gets his from work)
Disney pass: $70
House Cleaning: $100
Adobe Creative Cloud/Website hosting: $39
Health Insurance: Husband pays
Charitable Donations/Tithe: $600
Car/House Insurance: $330
Amazon Prime: $119 (yearly)
HOA: $320/year
Property Taxes: $3,400/year (My husband and I use our credit cards for points/cash back but pay them off in full every month)
Savings: $1,050 (we try to put more in if possible. We currently have around $5,000 in our savings as we had to pay our property taxes recently)
401(k): Husband has $4,000 in his but I haven't started my fund yet as this is my first full-time job and I have to wait for a full year of employment before they start to match.

Day One

5:30 a.m. — Our 10-week old chocolate lab puppy wakes us up via whining. She has to go potty. Thank goodness she tells us when she has to go rather than waking up to a puddle soaking through our bamboo sheets. By 6:30, the pup is whining AGAIN. She knows I get up around now and is too excited to contain herself. I drag myself out of bed and warm up some cherry Pop-Tarts and pour a glass of milk (which is NOT almond or soy, the horror) while both our dogs are outside. I decide on an outfit for work and attempt to iron it while the pup is literally biting my toes and ankles. I'm wearing wide-leg green pants and a white blouse with brown leather sandals. I wash my face, apply tinted moisturizer, concealer, cream blush and bronzer, and finish with translucent finishing powder (an ode to my oily skin). I quickly feed my free-range, litter-trained bunny rabbits. My husband, D., is up handling the rest of doggy responsibility as I get out of the house.
7:40 a.m. — I put my white chicken chili in the office fridge, grab my kombucha and laptop, and head into the OR. I work for oral surgeons at an outpatient facility. I'm on the marketing team and am in charge of all social, graphics, and anything else design-related. In the OR, I work on design projects next to the anesthetist and record the most interesting parts of surgery for Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. I also document all parts of each case for medical charts. For someone who gets nauseated at the sight of blood and guts, I'm surprisingly fine with dental and cosmetic facial surgeries. I've seen some truly gross and truly incredible things in my eight months here. I tell myself all the time that this would be the ONLY way I'd ever enter the medical field and I'm so lucky I have a career that can work in virtually every industry possible.
12 p.m. — I have one credit for Fabletics activewear since I forgot to skip this month's charge. (I have a "membership" that I skip every month so I don't get charged, but it gives me discounts when I do want to purchase). It's a good reason to get a couple more quality sports bras to replace the ones I've had for years (and years). $50
1:30 p.m. — Wow. Surgery was really long today. It's FINALLY lunchtime. An implant rep buys the OR team Thai food for lunch so I get some spicy chicken pad thai and allow my chili leftovers to wait in the fridge for me tomorrow.
5:30 p.m. — I stay a little late to wrap up documenting surgery. After getting home, we get ready to run some errands and go out with our friends.
6 p.m. — I return a video game to Best Buy, pick up unscented paper cat litter (for the bunnies), some pup training treats, and a toy from Petco ($36), then hit Michael's to pick up some poster boards I ordered for work. While there, all the frames are half off (per usual). I can't deny a great deal so I pick up four white frames ($49). I thrifted four vintage poster ads from the 1950s a while back and adore them; they need to be displayed! $85
7 p.m. — We arrive at an outdoor bar with food trucks and live music for "Wine Wednesday." It's $10 off bottles, so my friend, F., and I split a bottle of chardonnay while our husbands drink rum and cokes ($19). D. and I brought the pup, so she's out socializing, meeting new people, all while finding sticks and eating the grass. It's funny how many more people you talk to when you have a dog with you. D. and I also grab a pimento grilled cheese and pork quesadilla from the food truck ($17). $36
9:45 p.m. — We get home and I don't even wash my face (a cardinal sin), I just plow my face into the pillow. I'm asleep in 10 minutes.
Daily Total: $171

Day Two

1:10 a.m. — WHY does the pup need to go out at this ungodly hour? We sleepily go outside and are back asleep in five minutes.
5:30 a.m. — D. takes her out this time, but I'm basically awake until my alarm at 6:30. I take a shower and wash my face (praying no pimples have appeared overnight), blow dry my hair, get dressed in Banana Republic white textured chinos, a flowy collared mauve top, pointed nude flats, and simple makeup. I feed the bunnies, clean up puppy pee, take dogs out (we also have a three-year-old Australian Shepard), check mail, and out the door I go! I'm always in a rush because I value my sleep and apparently not my cortisol levels.
12:45 p.m. — Break for lunch! I warm up my white chicken chili. Homemade soup: one of the only meals that tastes better as leftovers. I also munch on some homemade chocolate chip cookies, which I brought in my new-ish reusable press-and-seal bags. This year, I'm striving to become single-use plastic-free. Not only will it help cut back on all the plastic waste that gets dumped into the ocean every year, but I'll also save money by not buying tons of plastic bags. We've got glass food containers and exclusively use reusable bottles, coffee mugs, forks/spoons/straws, and napkins...The last thing I have to do is work on finding a solution for paper towels (recommendations for super-absorbent dishcloth brands, please?!) and force myself not to buy Clorox wipes. During my break, I work on a custom logo for my freelance business and vibe with a chill Spotify playlist. Creating logos is cathartic for me. I love it. Okay, back to *full-time* work.
6 p.m. — D. and I feed the dogs (and bunnies!) and make the 40-minute drive to Disney Springs for date night. We eat at Guy Fieri's Chicken Guy, getting two orders of tenders, an order of fries and fried pickles, and five unique sauces. Let me tell you, we must have been ravenous because everything is eaten within 15 minutes. And it is delicious ($24). Afterward, D. wants a slice of pizza from his favorite pizza shop there. I lived in New York for a couple of years and now Florida pizza is just sad, but this place is actually good ($7). We also get hazelnut gelato ($13). It is a night of eating. $44
7:30 p.m. — And shopping. I pop into Anthropologie and raid their sale section for a Rifle Paper Co. ceramic pie dish ($16). Score! In Zara, I find an *on sale* rib-necked bright purple turtleneck ($13). Going to go gorgeously with my black wide-leg pants. $29
9:45 p.m. — Back home, I snuggle up with my loves and start the seventh episode of Netflix's season two of YOU. Stuff's gettin' cray. Lights out by 11.
Daily Total: $73

Day Three

5:30 a.m. — Dogs out.
6:30 a.m. — Awake and getting ready. I throw on bootcut navy dress pants, a light sweater, gold accessories, and light makeup. At work by 7:30 a.m. to snag some photos of a patient at their check-up appointment. I eat some oatmeal and drink a hot black tea at my desk for breakfast.
12:30 a.m. — My friend, F., meets me at work and we head out to lunch at Greenwise market. It's like Publix's version of Whole Foods and it gives. me. life. You can also drink as you shop, but alas, I must return to work later. So I grab a slice of pizza, watermelon, pesto pasta salad, a mini cheesecake, and coconut water ($13). We browse around the store after we eat, and I firmly decide the next time I go grocery shopping, I'm going here. I buy a bottle of local red wine before we leave, yes there are wineries in FL, too ($10). $23
2:30 p.m. — Closing time! YAY. We close early every Friday. It makes Friday that much sweeter. I get home, do some picking up around the house, and pack for the beach. D.'s parents have a beach house, and we try to go there at least once a month! The beach is my (and D.'s) favorite place on earth. It's the only place I feel truly relaxed. It's hard for me to kick back on a weekend at home because there are always projects/chores/errands to be done...getting out of town helps me to take time to enjoy the simple things in life.
7:30 p.m. — We arrive and eat some pizza that D.'s parents pay for. We all hang out on the couch and chat. When they turn on the TV, I start reading a James Patterson book. Last week, I got a library card because why pay for books when you can read them for free? But...I'm distracted by the movie Bad Boys and end up watching it till I fall asleep. D. transports me to our bedroom at about 11.
Daily Total: $23

Day Four

2 a.m. — Potty break for pup. Again at 5:30. And 6:30. Ugh. I'm not having it. D. finally gets up to let the dogs play, and I get to sleep in. Amazing, truly, truly amazing.
8:40 a.m. — I probably could have slept more, but oh well. I eat a granola bar, shower, throw on some comfy clothes, and stream Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (which I am LOVING, btw). While I watch, I work on a logo and cuddle the pups. Bliss.
12:35 p.m. — I order an at-home dip powder nail kit on Amazon. I haven't gotten my nails done at a salon in a year, and I really am in the mood for it again but not in the mood for the price and upkeep. I figure I can learn to do it myself and maybe the dip powder won't completely destroy my nail health! My mother-in-law walks in with rotisserie chicken and chicken wings for lunch. Bless up. $48
2 p.m. — D. and I go out for a ride on our boat. He went fishing this morning and caught (and released) a snook and a couple of trout! I like fishing, but I'm a bit impatient. He's learning where the good spots are, which means a lot of trial and error…and patience. If I'm not catching a fish within 30 minutes, I'm bored, so I let him do his thing. But now, a boat ride sounds nice and I've been inside all day. We head out for a few hours — the water is a beautiful aqua color with good visibility today. We see a cute, three-foot blacktip shark swim under us, as well as some stingrays and a few schools of fish. Oh, how I love Florida! I'm so lucky to live here. On the way back we stop at a marina for gas. $56
5:45 p.m. — We play with the pups, read and watch TV, and finally decide to order some food in. We get two orders of chicken pad thai and crab rangoons from a Thai place we haven't tried yet ($35). The food doesn't get here until 7:30 (!!!), and it is honestly unimpressed. Sad face. $35
8 p.m. — D. goes out and rents the new Joker from Redbox ($2). And dang, it is so good. But so, so sad. I really feel for the guy. I wish people were kinder. $2
12 a.m. — We do that thing again where we fall asleep on the couch. This time, I wake up with the pup nuzzling into my neck. So sweet. I don't want her to get bigger! We transport ourselves to the bedroom, and it's lights out.
Daily Total: $141

Day Five

7 a.m. — Psh, you know the drill. I'm up with the pups this morning. Mostly, it's me wrapped up in a blanket, lying on the couch with my eyes half-closed, supervising playtime. I decide, in this very moment, that I am not having children for a very long time. I don't know how you mommas out there do it. Once I'm a bit more awake, I shovel a couple bowls of Cap'N Crunch Berries down and attempt to read my book.
11 a.m. — We get up and get everyone packed up and out of the beach house so we can get home at a decent hour. It's D. and I's first wedding anniversary today! We aren't doing too much today since at the end of the month we are going on a weekend cruise to the Bahamas to officially celebrate, but it's just nice to be together. Everyone told us to expect the first year to be the hardest, especially since we were long distance for our four-year relationship until we got married, but it's honestly been so nice. We live well together. We are both generally easygoing and prioritize communication, apologizing, and never going to bed angry, so things have been pretty awesome. Although, it wouldn't kill him to pick up his clothes off the floor lol.
1:30 p.m. — We are home. I cook two HelloFresh meals from last week that I hadn't cooked yet for lunch (cheesy mushroom chicken and mashed potatoes, and a butternut squash and sage risotto). Whatever we don't eat will be lunch for work tomorrow! I order from HelloFresh on a semi-regular basis. Maybe about once or twice a month, depending on how yummy the meals look and how busy we are. It's really helped me learn how to cook without a recipe. I'm slowly learning what ingredients to pair and how to create certain flavors. Sometimes, as I'm sauteéing and baking and making sauce all at once, I feel like a multitasking cooking QUEEN. Sign me up for Chopped. Another goal for this year is to improve my cooking skills a ton and continue to eat and purchase foods mindfully. I plan on taking cooking classes about once a month.
3 p.m. — After D. washes the dishes (I cook, he cleans, and visa-versa), we pop open the bottle of zinfandel we got the first night on our Hawaiian honeymoon, and I give him a little photo album of our first year of marriage. Year one gifts are supposed to be paper, so even though I make a photo album every year, I think it still counts! I can't wait until we're 60 and have years of books where we can look back on our life together. We also try our wedding cake that we've had in the freezer for the last 365 days. Lol, I love fun wedding traditions. (Note: It was mostly freezer burned but the layer of raspberry jam in the vanilla cake kept it pretty moist; it wasn't half bad.)
5 p.m. — D . decides he wants to take me out somewhere nice even though we originally wanted to keep things low-key. So, I shower, curl my hair, and do makeup worthy of an anniversary dinner (aka adding eyeshadow, liquid eyeliner, mascara, brow gel, and tinted lip gloss). I throw on a yellow striped jumpsuit that gives major train conductor vibes, and we head to Animal Kingdom. (Disney pass-holder perks I was telling you about.) We eat at Tiffins, a restaurant I've wanted to eat at since it opened, so this is pretty exciting.
7:30 p.m. — I order a Chilean wine flight while D. has a watermelon-infused soda and charred octopus to start. D. gets surf and turf and I get lamb shanks. We finish dinner with a sampler of sweet potato, raspberry puree, and condensed milk ice cream. The menu was inspired by the best foods Imagineers ate in South Africa, Argentina, and Chile when they were researching the design of the park. And wow, everything was delicious. I feel fancy. When we get the bill ($194 with tip), I am in shock since we have never spent that much money on a meal out but D. reminds me it is our anniversary. I take a deep, tipsy breath and relax. I guess it's okay to be lavish once in a while! $194
10:30 p.m. — After some anniversary sexy time, we snuggle up and finally finish YOU. Wow, that show just gets me every time. Can't wait for next season already!
Daily Total: $194

Day Six

7:35 a.m. — I do all the morning things (wearing my new purple turtleneck and black slacks!) and am in need of something greasy to cure the wine drunk from last night. Chik-fil-a is my go-to. I get a chicken biscuit and a vanilla iced coffee. The biscuit is free thanks to reward points (Praise the Lordt). $2.60
2:20 p.m. — It's a busy morning at work with a deadline so once that is done, I finally step out to grab some lunch (Yes, I forgot my leftovers at home). I get two Doritos Locos Tacos ($5). Quick reality check — I just reviewed everything I've eaten this last week, and I realized I've been eating a lot of processed, junky stuff. I'm all for balance, but this is more than usual. Your girl needs to get it together! Anyway, after I down the cheapo tacos, I settle in to read more of my book with the sunroof open parked in a shady spot. It's a high of 65 today. $5
5:15 p.m. — The HelloFresh box is delivered for this week ($60). It has three meals for the two of us. I decide to cook panko-crusted chicken with garlic herb couscous and roasted green beans (this recipe is bomb). D. is putting up chicken wire under our fence so the pup can't escape anymore (I had to drag her out from the neighbor's yard the other night while also trying not to burn the food on the stove). I get the mail, water the plants, and D. helps me organize the house before my friends B. and F. come over to watch The Bachelor. $60
8 p.m. — Usually we drink wine while we talk over the TV, but we all decide to take the night off from alcohol and instead fill up with cream and sugar. We send the boys (F.'s husband and mine) to go get some pints of ice cream. They bring back Talenti Southern Butter Pecan and Ben & Jerry's Half Baked ($12). Yesss. Eating healthy starts tomorrow! $12
11:30 p.m. — I straighten up the kitchen while F. waits for her clothes to dry (she doesn't have a washer/dryer and uses ours), and we talk about podcasts and serial killers, you know the usual. After they leave, we hit the hay.
Daily Total: $79.60

Day Seven

4:10 a.m. — Lil nugget wakes up retching. I try to get her outside but she doesn't make it and throws up five times on our carpet because every time I think she's done, she's doing it again. It's pine bark mulch. Greaaaaaat. Now I'm in a panic because I knew she sometimes eats the mulch but I didn't know it was THIS MUCH. I read online about dogs being poisoned from the dyes. I'm pretty sure this kind is eco-friendly, but I'm not sure and it takes me a long time to get back to sleep. ALSO it's like 35 degrees outside?! What?!
7 a.m. — Puppy seems fine. She eats and drinks and shows no other signs of being sick. We make sure we have one of our security cameras in her room so we can watch her throughout the day. This morning is going to be rough. At least my outfit is cute. I'm wearing gray slacks with a gray turtleneck, a chunky black belt, black booties, and a really cozy black and gray plaid cardigan.
10 a.m. — After a large cup of coffee and more oatmeal, I am in the OR again and I am FREEZING. At least I get to talk to the team. I love the assistants and surgeon. It's nice to be in a hands-on environment where we jam out to music and talk about tons of stuff. I also work off my laptop simultaneously. I finish up some more deadlines (a 50-page booklet, a couple of informational programs, and a flyer). As I monitor our social and website, a lady on our website chat system asks me where she can find "a guy who will pay for [her] surgery." Lol, people on the internet are shameless.
11 a.m. — MY LEFTOVERS ARE STILL ON THE KITCHEN COUNTER. Why am I like this? I blame the adjustment with the puppy. Fortunately, our surgeon suggests Olive Garden for lunch, and he's paying. The whole team gets a variety of soups, salads, and breadsticks. He is the besssst.
5:30 p.m. — I finally make it to the gym for pilates. I try to work out two to three times a week (Which are usually 6 a.m. classes because I hate getting home at 7). But, like I said, this puppy has been an adjustment. For now, I've tabled that for a couple of weeks and subject myself to working out after work.
7 p.m. — Ah, sometimes I hate going but I always LOVE how I feel when I leave. D. whipped up a HelloFresh pork and street corn taco dish while I was gone (I figured he wouldn't burn the house down with tacos and a recipe card. P.S. I'm dragging him to the monthly cooking classes too. That boy needs learn!)
8 p.m. — After dinner, we open up the windows and D. starts a fire in our fireplace (34 degrees tonight, people!!!). We settle in to watch the Aaron Hernandez documentary on Netflix and fold some laundry while the pups snuggle on the couch. It's a wonderful life we're starting.
Daily Total: $0
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