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A Week In Connecticut On A $91,000 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 stay-at-home mom who has a joint income of $91,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Sonic slushie.
Occupation: Stay-at-Home Mom
Industry: Homemaking
Age: 32
Location: Connecticut
My Husband's Salary: $91,000 (he works in train mechanics)
Net Worth: $340,000 (house equity, savings/retirement, car value)
Debt: $117,000 left of our mortgage
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,200
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage/Escrow: $1,350
Electricity: $120
Heating: $130
Internet: $80
Mobile: $96
Life Insurance: $48
Homeowners' Insurance: $110
Car Insurance: $140
Health Insurance/HSA: $553
Union Dues: $87.63
Home School Fees: $180
Disney+: $6.66 (shared with family)
Hulu/Paramount+/Netflix: $0 (shared with family)
Tithes: $720
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?
We were encouraged but never expected to attend college. If we chose to attend, we were expected to pay our way. My parents strongly discouraged me from taking out student loans. I attended a low-cost Christian college that charged $6,000 a semester. I used my savings from high school jobs and worked during school to pay.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents discussed finances regularly, especially around savings and the importance of cost vs. value. We were also taught to tithe and the importance of giving. My parents climbed from lower class to middle class throughout my childhood so I feel like I've experienced the spectrum of personal finance.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was at age 14 cold-calling for a car insurance agency. At 16, I was hired as the assistant to the regional manager (you can call me Dwight). I worked so I could be self-sufficient.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes. When I was young, we didn't have a lot of money so I worried about being a burden to them. I also graduated in 2008 during the real estate crisis and recession. My parents purchased a new home in 2007 at the peak of the market with plans to refinance. Within a year they were upside down on their mortgage. My parents were self-employed and they lost a significant amount of revenue. They were foreclosed on and lost a rental property they owned. I was devastated for them.
Do you worry about money now?
I don't worry anymore. We've built a fairly secure foundation. However, I battled a scarcity mindset through college and early days of marriage.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I paid my way through school but lived at home rent-free. I was totally responsible at 22 when I moved to New York and rented my first apartment. I view God as my safety net.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My grandfather purchased a few stocks for each of his grandchildren, which I cashed in for tuition at about $1,700. My parents allowed me to live rent-free while I worked towards school tuition.

Day One

6 a.m. — My son, K., is calling for me to look at the snow, so I crawl into his bed and watch the blizzard. My daughter, B., wanders into the room and I pull her under the covers. We cuddle and discuss snow day plans. The kids wriggle out and head for breakfast. My husband, T., pours a cup of coffee and serves me eggs on toast topped with avocado. We chat while K. constructs a golf course using a yoga mat, boxes, a wiffle ball, and a plastic putter. After several rounds of putt-putt and perfecting my swing (it's all in the wrist), I take the opportunity to upload and order photos from Walmart. $10.72
11 a.m. — T. had the foresight to tarp the kids' outdoor climbing dome before the nor'easter began. We gear up for an expedition to our igloo. Feasting on apple slices and pretzels, we FaceTime the grandparents from within our fortress. We eventually venture inside for hot cocoa and ramen. B. and T. take a nap while K. and I read several books together.
6 p.m. — T. serves cheese ravioli, garlic bread, and salad for dinner. I've been decluttering the closets all afternoon. We tag-team dinner clean up and entice the kids with bath bombs. Then, tuck-in time starts. This consists of reading, singing, and never-ending negotiations. Typically, each parent takes one kid and we swap every other night. I fall asleep in B.'s bed.
8:15 p.m. — T. tugs my foot and I get up to watch TV with him. While we watch, he helps me dye my hair. He stabs my head with a crochet hook and pulls strands of hair through the plastic bonnet I have tied around my chin. It's not a pretty look but it saves money.
11:15 p.m. — With the bleach washed out and my highlights done, it's finally time for lights out.
Daily Total: $10.72

Day Two

5:30 a.m. — I wake up to my kids making noise outside my bedroom. A notification alerts us that church services have been canceled due to the snow. I perform the typical morning routine: serve the kids breakfast, unload the dishwasher, and start laundry. After playing referee one too many times, I send both to their rooms and crawl back into bed. When the alarm rings out, I nudge T. out of bed and finish my devotions. I check the Sunday secrets on PostSecret.
9 a.m. — Our church live stream begins. I cozy up to T. with a chai tea latte and bowl of cottage cheese with berries. After the sermon ends, T. and K. bundle up for snow blowing.
12:15 p.m. — B. and I join T. and K. in the snow for a bit, then I retreat to the house to warm up leftovers for lunch. We arrange to meet some family for sledding later since it's my sister-in-law's birthday. Her family has an upcoming trip to Disney. I buy a $25 Disney gift card from Target with instructions to be used on a souvenir for herself. I pay with my Red card and receive a 5% discount. Then, we head out to sled. $23.75
1:45 p.m. — I'm teetering on the edge of a steep slope with my nephews tucked in front of me. This popular sledding destination has dozens of families scattered along the hillside. Overlooking the ocean, the sun distorts the snow, sky, and sea into a shimmering wonderland. The joyous shrieks and laughter rise from below; it's all so beautiful.
3:15 — Wet and tired, we head towards home. The kids ask for a snack so T. drives through the golden arches for a large fry and a sweet tea. I divvy the fries out; he pays with a coupon. $3.17
5:30 p.m. — I serve sausage, peppers, and onions for dinner. After dinner cleanup, I post some items on the town Buy Nothing page and list a few items on Mercari.
7:30 p.m. — My turn to tuck in K. We watch a Squishy makeover video. He's exhausted and falls asleep quickly.
10 p.m. — I clean up the house and prep for tomorrow. I shower and use a prescription face cream followed by CeraVe moisturizer. I collapse into bed.
Daily Total: $26.92

Day Three

7 a.m. — My kids wake me up. I roll out of bed and shimmy into my dark-wash skinny jeans and a maroon wool turtleneck. I flat iron my hair, then put on EltaMD sunscreen, a light layer of Clinique Beyond Perfecting foundation, a brown-toned smoky eye, and two coats of Maybelline Define-a-Lash Mascara. I choose my glittered Kate Spade specs. I also tweeze a stray chin hair. Yikes.
9 a.m. — We take advantage of our rail passes (an employee benefit my husband receives) by taking our homeschooling show on the road. Situated at our table, K. works through his curriculum workbooks. I sip on an AHA seltzer. Drinks are included with business class tickets. B. is diligently placing her shape stickers on her worksheet. The train lurches forward.
11:15 a.m. — The train is delayed due to debris on the rails. It has cost us too much time and the return train leaves in thirty minutes. I modify my original plan and we head across the street to The Cheesecake Factory. K. and B. select a slice of lemon raspberry cheesecake because “the sauce looks like blood.” $9.62
11:40 a.m. — I make the impulse decision to purchase a wrap special from the station café before hopping on our return train home. $11.50
12 p.m. — We spread the rations and dig in. K. reads several easy readers to me and earns himself some Switch time.
1:45 p.m. — We are home at last. T. emerges from his basement office space to greet us. We transformed the play space into a multi-purpose area to accommodate work-from-home orders. T. alternates between many locations. He travels a lot for work but when he isn't traveling, he typically works from home.
4:30 p.m. — I start tikka masala and jasmine rice. K. has constructed a parking garage for his Hot Wheels. B. has arranged every stuffy and dolly she owns onto the couch.
6 p.m.— Dinner is served. T. pauses his work to eat. After dinner, he returns to business and I oversee kid duties and baths. T. covers dinner cleanup when he finishes up his work.
7:45 p.m. — B. sweet talks me into reading five books. Once she's asleep, I remember I need to order a curbside pickup order for extra-large disposable bowls for the salad bar at tomorrow's mom group meeting. I will be reimbursed by the treasurer of the group ($7.06 expensed).
8:30 p.m. — T. surprises me by booking a hotel stay next week using his travel points. He's arranged his schedule to give me a night out entirely alone. My husband is a gem. Taxes and fees come to $16.11. We head to bed early. $16.11
Daily Total: $37.23

Day Four

7:15 a.m. — After a night of musical beds, I wake up in B.'s room. I shuffle to the kitchen to start the morning routine. T. makes breakfast burritos. We manage to scramble out the door for homeschooling co-op drop-off on time.
9 a.m. — I swap K. for another child in the program, G. I get B. and G. buckled in for our excursion to the library. The librarians run an amazing program. You register your children and every other week they select a large bundle of books appropriate for their age group based on a unit theme. They also provide coordinated craft supplies and worksheets. On the way to the library, I stop at Target to pick up the bowls I ordered.
10 a.m. — We get to the library and begin table time: scissor skills, color sorting, dot art, letter recognition, and stories. They run off to the basement to jump on the trampoline and swing on the disc suspended from the ceiling.
11:15 a.m. — As I'm passing out snacks, T. calls. Our free trial for the Ring doorbell expired so he's paid a year upfront for the service for a slight discount. $30.30
12:30 p.m. — I drop off G. and pick up K. then head home. I serve leftover tikka masala for lunch. I'm expecting my friend, J., to stop by so I get out LEGO to occupy the kiddos while we catch up.
3 p.m. — J. and I spend the afternoon laughing and talking about some upcoming house projects. J. leaves and I jump into preparations for tonight's meeting. I fill three laundry baskets with supplies for the meeting as well as donations for the share table.
5 p.m. — As coordinator, I arrive at the church early to set up and print out handouts. K. and B. run around the building waiting for friends. Board members are showing up when I spot T. towering over the moms. He came to pick up the kids — it's haircut night for them. My brother-in-law has mastered barbering so T. exchanges his mechanic services for haircuts and the cousins get to wreak havoc together and eat pizza. Everybody wins.
9:15 p.m. — We have a great meeting and I head home. I formed this chapter five years ago when K. was a baby and I was suffering from postpartum depression. I was desperate for connection to other women who were navigating motherhood. We rush through the bedtime routine and cut tuck-in short. The kids don't protest because we are all wiped out.
Daily Total: $30.30

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — I tiptoe from my room hoping to be undetected. At the creak of my door, K. beckons to me. He requests an audience for dream telling. I oblige; his dreams are the best. T. begins making breakfast burritos while B., K., and I play tic-tac toe with Hershey kisses. We run through the morning chaos and head to drop-off.
10 a.m. — I drop off K. and pick up G. then get to our school work for the day: puzzles, line tracing, and alphabet magnets. We read toward our goal of 1,000 books before kindergarten. Then I go drop off G. and pick up K.
12:15 p.m. — On the way home from pickup, I take advantage of free coffee day at Dunkin'. I order a medium iced coffee.
2:30 p.m. — T. strides through the door so I can go to a hair appointment. Lunch is air fryer sweet potato wedges, nuggets, berries, and sugar snap peas. I prep dinner then head out.
3 p.m. — The salon is near a quirky used bookstore. I pop in for a quick look around. It's meticulously arranged and very inexpensive. I check out with three books. I walk the block to the salon. $6.38
4:45 p.m. — My stylist has perfected the art of the bob. The right balance of movement and structure. She blends seamlessly and I will never leave her. $42
5 p.m. — I feel cute and blast a mixed CD from a college road trip. Fill up on gas at $3.19 a gallon. $43.97
5:15 p.m. — I open the door and am greeted with a frenzy. B. is throwing a massive fit. K. is whining and T. is attempting to start dinner. Guilt washes over me and I throw myself into putting out fires. We scarf the jambalaya. Leaving behind a mess, we fly out the door for bible study and kids club.
8:15 p.m. — After bible study we head home. T. tackles bedtime routines and I hit dishes. I finish cleaning up in time for sleepy hugs and kisses. Mom is clocking out for the night.
Daily Total: $92.35

Day Six

4:50 a.m. — Ring notifies me of movement at the front door. False alarm, just sleet blowing sideways. I take this early start to menu plan, clean out fridge, and check the pantry. I plan to use up frozen chicken. I place a pickup order from Stop & Shop and Aldi. They place holds on the card. I also make a list for Walmart. I accomplish my daily devotional. I dress in a purple plaid flannel shirt and light-wash skinny jeans. The blowout from yesterday still looks fresh and I skip makeup. I boil a dozen eggs for snacks while T. makes the family breakfast burritos.
11:30 a.m. — I drop K. off at the co-op and then start my errands with B. at Walmart. I grab coffee creamer and picture hanging hardware ($4.17). I also get tampons, contact solution, Aveeno baby colloidal oatmeal bath soak, and hydrocortisone cream. That comes to $26.26, but I put it on our HSA card. $4.17
12:30 p.m. — Stop & Shop pickup. I get shredded parmesan, heavy cream, bacon, onions, three pints of strawberries, and fresh salsa. $28.59
1:15 p.m. — Next, I pick up the Aldi order. I get grapes, cantaloupe, sugar snap peas, bell peppers, celery, avocados, oat milk, bread, orange juice, egg noodles, lime tortilla chips, two dozen eggs, frozen French toast sticks, and hash brown patties. $41.45
6:15 p.m. — I make chicken fettucine for dinner with homemade alfredo and broccoli. It's a crowd-pleaser.
8:15 p.m. — The kids are in bed and tuck-ins were a breeze. I take a long shower and change into the coziest pajamas. T. builds a fire and gets marshmallows ready for roasting. On our impromptu date night, we take turns filling out a love quiz. We tease each other relentlessly and he catches me up on work drama. We toy with the idea of a game night but opt to turn in around 10:15.
Daily Total: $74.21

Day Seven

9 a.m. — The lights flick on and I am disoriented. I bolt straight up. WHAT TIME IS IT? T. checks his watch. SH!T. I'm supposed to meet my friend and her kids at the trampoline park at 10. The location is nearly an hour away. T. had fed and dressed the kids without waking me up. Unaware of my plans, he wanted to be sweet and let me sleep in. He packs a bag and loads the kids up. I leave my hair in a messy bun. I pull on leggings, a t-shirt, and Patagonia sweatshirt. I throw my sunscreen and mascara in the diaper bag and grab a bag of Goldfish.
10 a.m. — I pull into the trampoline complex parking lot. I've eaten two handfuls of Goldfish for breakfast. With liability forms signed, the kids run rabid. Admission is $20. My friend and I watch from the sidelines. $20
12:15 p.m. — We bribe our sweaty children out of the building with slushies. We go to Sonic and get two corndogs, two small grape slushies with Nerds, a cheeseburger, and a diet strawberry limeade. $20.84
2:45 p.m. — When we return home, B. falls asleep on the couch and K. works on math and handwriting at the table while I start homemade chicken noodle soup. I have to leave for a consignment appointment so T. comes upstairs to supervise reading.
3 p.m. — I browse while someone inspects my clothes, but I leave empty-handed. I stop next door at our locally-owned nursery. Gardening is my passion and plants/gardening is the budget category we choose to support small businesses with. I stop in for fertilizer. $10.63
4 p.m. — T. made slime with K. and they painted a light-up turtle. We speed clean and suck down bowls of soup.
4:45 p.m. — I leave with the kids to attend a bible assembling project. T. will meet us there. Tonight, we bind a few thousand bibles that will be used for missions.
6 p.m. — We break for deli sandwiches and chips.
8:45 p.m. — I take the kids home at 7 and T. stays until they finish. The kids are tired and go to bed without a hitch. I start on two batches of banana chocolate-chip muffins for brunch I'm hosting in the morning. While they bake, I do a yoga routine.
10:15 p.m. — T. comes home and taste tests the muffins. They are husband approved. I do my bedtime routine and collapse into bed.
Daily Total: $51.47
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