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A Week In Central Mississippi On A $62,500 Joint Income

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 social worker who has a joint income of $62,500 per year and spends some of her money this week on steel-cut oats.
Occupation: Social Worker
Industry: Hospice
Age: 22
Location: Central Mississippi
My Salary: $38,500
My Husband's Salary: $24,000
Net Worth: ~$119,000 ($6,000 invested in real estate property, ~$8,000 in my personal checking account, $11,000 in my husband's checking account, and ~$94,000 in a stock account)
Debt: $0
My Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $1,186
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $750 for a one-bedroom apartment. We are saving for a house and hope to buy before 2022.
Electricity: $70-$100
Health Insurance: $240 for myself and my husband
Dental: $20
Spotify Student: $5
Phone: $100 for both mine and my husband's phones on my in-laws' family plan
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! My parents are both first-generation college students/graduates. They always wanted more for me than how they grew up. I did not want to continue on to higher education after high school. After graduation, I went to another country to work with a community outreach program. I did not see the benefit of leaving to get a degree, but my parents insisted. I begrudgingly came back to the States and fell in love with social work at my university. I am currently obtaining my master's in social work and my dad is paying for that.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Early on, my parents didn't manage their money very well. They ended up with some steep credit card debt. I experienced them learning to budget and paying off all of their debt in a very short amount of time. Now, they invest very wisely and I admire how good they are with their money. For a time, every ride in the car was spent listening to Dave Ramsey. After getting out of debt, they were very hands-on with teaching me how to budget and live within our means.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was unofficially babysitting. I had several family friends that I worked for, starting in middle school and continuing through high school. My first real, tax-paying job was as a secretary for a local school when I started college.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes and no. I was an anxious child (and am an anxious adult) and hearing my parents talk about money and debt made me very nervous. We never went without and my family has been very blessed to not have struggled very much. But there was a time where we seriously cut back on spending for unnecessary things.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes! I constantly think about money, it seems. I want us to do well for ourselves and I am always trying to figure out how to budget better. I know for as young as we are, we are doing well but I always worry about the "what ifs?"
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I would say at 21 when my husband and I got married. However, my dad still graciously pays for my master's degree. I know that if we ever really needed help, either of our families would help us in a heartbeat.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
After college, my dad transferred the ownership of a stock account to my name. The account has been invested in since I was a baby. The original intention was for the money to pay for my college, however, through scholarships and my dad's job, the account barely got dipped into. I try to forget it is even there. I guess it could also be another safety net. The hope is to use it for a home, adoption, and maybe even our kids' college if we continue to build it up.

Day One

6 a.m. — Monday! My alarm blares and it takes all of me not to throw the phone out the window. I snooze for about ten more minutes and then pull myself out from under the covers. I throw on some scrubs, minimal makeup, kiss K. (the hubs) goodbye, and I am out the door around 7. I realize my tank is beyond empty and whip into the closest gas station ($50). Now I am cranky since my husband drove my car last and forgot to fill it up, but oh well. My commute is about 20 minutes so I call my dad and we chat while I chug a Celsius (which I now, do not recommend doing). At my desk around 7:45. $50
12:30 p.m. — Work is crazy since it is a Monday and nearly everyone in the office is out of town. Of course, the nurses and CNAs are still here because we would literally be nowhere without them. I pause after staring at my computer for far too long and head upstairs to grab lunch from the cafeteria. This is no ordinary cafeteria food: it is AMAZING! These ladies cook up real southern specialties on the daily. Lunch is included for staff, or at least it was until today. Yikes, I had no clue. $5 for my plate but it's worth it for fried chicken and homemade apple pie. $5
3 p.m. — I place a grocery delivery order so that I can make lunches for the rest of the week ($60 including tip). I get chickpeas, curry powder, spinach, pita, cucumber, apples, strawberries, steel-cut oats, almond milk, garlic, onion, red potatoes, chuck roast, beef broth, greek yogurt, and brown rice. I leave work a little after 5. I still have a good bit to do tomorrow but I have to prioritize rest. I have chronic illnesses that flare very easily under stress and exhaustion. $60
5:30 p.m. — Home and K. helps me cook up some curry chickpeas, with garlic spinach, and brown rice. We watch Midsommar because we, along with everyone else, are obsessed with Florence Pugh (loved her well before Black Widow). She's an incredible actress and all-around cool human. I make some tzatziki sauce using her Instagram story recipe and we snack on it with carrots. I shower and am in bed by 9. Two of my really good friends, E. and B., start a group FaceTime. We chat for two hours about life since we have recently moved away from each other. We wrap up and I fall asleep smiling from our conversation. Love them!
Daily Total: $115

Day Two

6 a.m. — I am up and decide to wash my mess of hair before the long day I have ahead. I throw on some makeup, take my vitamins, and eat some overnight oats with strawberries. I put a pot roast on in the crockpot on my way out. You already know I call my dad on the way to work to check in on him. At work, there is a massive cockroach roaming the hall. My coworker names him Chester.
11 a.m. — I host a support group. It is a group for those who have lost family members. It is a great group and we have a good discussion. I am wiped out mentally, afterward.
12 p.m. — I hide out in my office to recover from group and eat leftovers from last night's dinner. I text my sister about when she is coming home. She is a travel nurse and has been all over the country since the pandemic. Shoutout to my healthcare heroes! Back to work and I am filling in for another department this afternoon. I kiss my piles of work goodbye and head out.
5 p.m. — I step out of work to grab a Caesar salad from a spot next door. I host another group later this evening. This one is smaller than the one this morning but it is still a really good discussion. I am, again, drained after. I call my mom on the way home and we catch up for a bit. She lives a few hours away and I miss her all the time. I shower, watch some New Girl for a good laugh, and am asleep by 9:30. Group days really wipe me out! $10
Daily Total: $10

Day Three

6 a.m. — I did not want to wake up this morning. I have a horrible headache so I take some medicine for that and head out. Same thing, talk to my dad, at work by 7:45. I have a meeting at 8:15 and then 8:30. I rush between them and try to stay awake. A coworker lends me a Celsius and that helps. We have a new doctor starting with us. She comes by my office and I give her an overview of what the social work/bereavement side of hospice does.
12 p.m. — I take lunch and eat some roast leftovers. It ends up being super yummy! I browse thredUP for some sweaters. I am always cold in my office and recently realized most of the sweaters in my closet either have stains or pilling. I find two Aerie sweaters that should be perfect. I order them and feel good about buying secondhand. $40
6 p.m. — Wrap up work and feel good about everything that got accomplished today. I chat with my mom and then my dad on the way home. K. and I are going to visit my mom this weekend and I am jazzed. I get home, change, and K. and I head out to meet up with his parents for dinner. We are all vaccinated and love the time together. We meet up at a local restaurant and pig out (his parents generously pay). Good times and good laughs! I'm thankful we get to see them regularly. Finally home! I vacuum the apartment while K. washes dishes. Then we shower and get in bed to watch TikTok together. Lights out around 11:30.
Daily Total: $40

Day Four

6 a.m. — It's Thursday! Yay, almost the weekend! I put on some Figs scrubs that I got in the mail yesterday. They feel like butter! I know what all the hype is about now. Makeup, a cup of tea, overnight oats, and a fight with my hair later, I am in the car listening to a podcast about Disney Parks engineering. Yes, I am a little bit of a Disney adult, but I own it! I am fascinated by all it takes to create and run the parks so this podcast is my jam.
12 p.m. — Three meetings later and it is lunchtime! Leftover curry chickpeas with brown rice. I chug some water and browse Etsy. I have a very hard phone call with a client. They are very depressed and talk about wanting to hurt themselves. I talk with them for about two hours and de-escalate the situation. Only after I make sure that they are safe, do I let them go. I am glad they called and I was able to talk them down but I feel very overwhelmed. I cry a bit in my office and text K. He makes me laugh and I am able to remind myself why I do this job.
6 p.m. — Home and K. has picked up burgers from a local place ($20). They are amazing and greasy and just what I needed after today! We pack up a few things to take with us to my mom's house. K. runs me a bubble bath with some lavender Epsom salts and I melt away the stress of the day before crawling in bed extra early to decompress. K. comes and chats with me and lets me vent. He is a great partner! We fall asleep around 12. $20
Daily Total: $20

Day Five

6 a.m. — It's Friday and on the way to work, I convince myself I deserve coffee. I pull into Starbucks and get a chai latte with almond milk and a shot of espresso. Amazing! Rush to my desk and get started with the day. $5
1 p.m. — I have to make myself stop a project to take time to eat lunch. I call to schedule an appointment with a counselor. I want to start seeing one since my job can be really difficult with hospice and just because life can be hard. I can't find any counselors in our area that take my insurance. What a bummer. I bite the bullet after talking with K. and decide on a counselor who is highly recommended by a friend. Sessions will be around $100-$200. It's hard for me to not worry about this new recurring cost but my mental health is important.
5 p.m. — It's 5, I'm done with work, and the car is packed! K. and I head out on the mini road trip to my mom's house. Again, we are all vaccinated. Only 33% of Mississippi is fully vaccinated and I swear it feels like at least 10% of that is made up of my family. We roll in a little after 6:30 and meet my mom and stepfamily at a local Mexican place. We talk about my nieces and nephews and about what we are looking for in a starter home. My mom and stepdad pick up the tab. We head to my mom's house and watch Criminal Minds for a bit before showers and bed.
Daily Total: $5

Day Six

7 a.m. — This is my version of sleeping in on the weekend! My mom is already up and has a fresh pot of coffee brewing. We chat for a while, as everyone else is still asleep. I do her makeup and then my own and we get ready for the day. We run around town and do some shopping (or looking, as I don't get anything).
12 p.m. — Mom treats me to sushi for lunch! A neighbor calls and tells us one of my mom's cows got out. Yes, I am aware of how Mississippi that sounds. We head home and find her grazing just outside of the fence. She is not hard to coax back in and my stepdad shows up soon enough to repair the loose wire of the fence.
7 p.m. — My sister and niece swing by. We hang out for a while and let my niece play. My mom and I make chicken and dumplings for dinner and we all eat together. K. and I go for a walk to get some fresh air and talk for a while. I hear a coyote howl in the distance and it freaks me out. I run back to the house while K. laughs.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

9 a.m. — After coffee with my mom, K. and I pack up and head home. We stop for gas and K. grabs me a Coke and himself a Red Bull. We jam out on the way home and end up having a deep chat about his career. He is looking for a more permanent job and pickings have been slim. He is in the Army Reserves and it can be difficult to find employers willing to work with his required training. I try to give him some encouragement. He works so hard and I believe bigger and better things are coming his way. $55
12 p.m. — Home and the rest of the day is spent unpacking, doing laundry, and cleaning up the house a bit. I listen to a church service online, lay out my clothes for work tomorrow, and do a yoga session. On Sundays, I try to give myself a little spa treatment. I shower and do a hair mask, face mask, exfoliate, and paint my toes. K. plays video games with some friends and I read a bit before knocking out around 10:30.
Daily Total: $55
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