A Week In Spokane, WA, On A $78,000 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 stay at home mom who makes $78,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on T-Rex chopsticks.
Occupation: Stay at Home Mom
Industry: N/A
Age: 26
Location: Spokane, WA
My Husband's Salary: $78,000
Net Worth: My husband is the only income in our household. All of the bank accounts we have are joint, however, I manage all of the finances. We have $8,000 in savings. We have $17,000 worth of equity in our mortgage. Between 403(b), pension, an annuity gift, and an IRA (all my husband's), we have about $60,000 in investments and retirement. We also own two cars worth about $12,700.
Debt: $5,500 (loan from in-laws)
Husband's Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $4,600
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage/Utilities: $1,398
Loans: $350 (loan from in-laws)
Health Insurance: $135 (I'm on my husband's insurance. The kids get subsidized insurance with a $30 premium each month.)
Dental Discount Plan: $11 (pre-tax)
Car Insurance: $213
Gas: $140
Cell Phones: $100
WiFi: $56
Donations: $460
Media Subscriptions: $42 (Amazon Prime with PBS Kids Channel, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix)
Home Maintenance Savings: $75
Auto Maintenance Savings: $75
Advertisement

Day One

7:15 a.m. — My husband wakes me up to ask for help with the kids. He is on his way to deliver our old IKEA bed frame that I sold over Facebook Marketplace. My six year old thinks she is about to throw up. I give her a kid's Pepto tablet. She throws up. I take a turnover and turkey breakfast sausages out of the freezer. I have those and coffee with creamer for breakfast.
9 a.m. — I've played TV DJ for a couple of hours, bouncing between Amazon Prime and PBS Kids. I put my daughter on her kindergarten school apps and fold laundry. Shortly after, she sits next to me and begins to cry. Something reminded her of the lunch lady at school which reminded her of all of the people she misses from school. I comfort her and let her take a break from school.
10 a.m. — The kids go outside to play. I open windows, scrub the dining room walls, sweep the living and dining rooms, and take apart the vacuum cleaner to wash it. I give the stovetop the most thorough cleaning it has had in the three years we have lived here.
1 p.m. — My husband comes home after running his errand. I make us BLT sandwiches with avocado. I make one kid a PB&J with baby carrots and raisins and the sick one gets a banana and peppermint tea. I sit down to eat and scroll social media. I sign up for a time to hook up the internet at our new house. It's payday, so I budget our paycheck. I buy my husband a knife block he's wanted for ages for teacher appreciation week. $163.34
Advertisement
4:15 p.m. — The sick kid wants chicken noodle soup for dinner. I chop up a cooked chicken breast, baby carrots, celery, and an onion from the fridge, cook them in some olive oil, and add thyme, parsley, and a touch of basil and garlic powder. After adding in vegetable broth I made hastily last night, I let the soup simmer.
5 p.m. — I serve the kids their soup with dry toast. My husband and I decided to have an impromptu date night. After dinner and tooth brushing, the kids and I go to their room for pajamas and stories.
8 p.m. — My husband makes chocolate skillet cake while I sing the kids their nightly songs. He goes out for burgers and fries after I come back downstairs. He even stops by Safeway to get me dairy-free ice cream to go with the skillet cake. We eat and watch an episode of Making It. $34.69
10 p.m. — As I watch a second episode of Making It, my husband snores next to me on the couch.
11 p.m. — Zombie-like from my technology daze, I take my medication, roll on a Perfectly Posh lavender stick, and get into bed.
Daily Total: $198.03

Day Two

8 a.m. — My saintly husband has let me sleep in since I stayed up so late. The puker tells me she is feeling much better today. I get my reheated coffee, tell the kids to get dressed, and wet the collar of a white dress shirt my husband has been trying to get clean. I hang it outside in the morning sun. A package is on our porch: cotton pajamas for the little one. He rejoices at his package, rips it open, and marvels at each item. I survey the refrigerator and countertop produce bowl. I'll make a tomato, shallot, cucumber, and garlic Greek salad, roasted chicken breast, and pitas for dinner tonight.
Advertisement
11:30 a.m. — I make lunch for the kids. As they eat, I pack up their art and school supplies and sort out past projects.
3:25 p.m. — Feeling famished after missing breakfast, I gobble up leftover coconut masala lentils with rice from the fridge. I pack up pieces of skillet cake to share with a friend before hopping into the mom-mobile for a park meet up. Then we head home and I make dinner.
5:45 p.m. — After clearing up dinner dishes and shuffling laundry so that the kids can wear the new pajamas tonight, I take a much-needed break. I give the kids an Oreo. The older kid reads books to little one and me.
7 p.m. — I put the kids to bed in their new pajamas which are still warm from the dryer. I tell myself that I'll take an hour break before packing up the bathroom.
8:15 p.m. — After packing up the bathroom, I hop onto a Zoom call with my friend, her husband, and mine.
11:45 p.m. — My husband and I have a piece of skillet cake and ice cream while we chat a bit. I hop into the shower before bed. I remind myself I need to buy more of my shampoo.
12:30 a.m. — I roll on my lavender skin stick, take my medication, and flip into bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8:25 a.m. — I wake up to the sounds of the kids cavorting and clamoring. I am disappointed. Our governor has extended stay at home for another four weeks after our previous six. Immediately, I jump off that train of thought and consider that we have a prime opportunity with our truck repairs coming up ($2,600) and construction purchases to repair our house to sell ($5,900 budgeted) that we could rack up some travel credit card rewards. I ask my husband what he thinks and he mentions getting a hardware store card. Killjoy.
Advertisement
9:30 a.m. — I have another unhealthy breakfast of sausage, a turnover, and coffee. My hands hurt today from all of the handwashing and cleaning I've been doing while preparing for the move. I find some gloves my husband has had in the basement and plan my projects for the day.
11:20 a.m. — After making the kids' second breakfast, I dust the upstairs landing and bedrooms and deep clean the landing window. I finish my coffee and pack up a few more boxes. My daughter wants to buy a toy online, so we examine her savings and spending money in the RoosterMoney app. She decides to make her purchase, so I use my credit card and enter the transaction into YNAB, deducting the money from the Kid's Allowance category. $28.06
1 p.m. — I make the kids their lunches and I have a Greek chicken wrap with hummus and leftovers from last night. After they eat, I send the kids upstairs to play while I watch an episode of Hoarders.
3 p.m. — The kids go outside to play. I sign up for renter's insurance for the new place. Sidenote: we are buying the new house from my late grandmother-in-law's estate. My in-laws have allowed us to pay just the taxes, homeowner's insurance, and utilities until our house sells. I catch up on dishes and make butter chicken for dinner. I make rice and heat up leftover lentils to serve with the chicken. $12.78
6 p.m. — We eat as a family and the little one and my husband are falling asleep at the table.
Advertisement
7 p.m. — My husband and I put the kids to bed. Afterward, we watch Parks and Recreation. I have some ice cream while my husband snores next to me. He goes to bed around 10.
10:50 p.m. — I put on pajamas and crawl into bed.
Daily Total: $40.84

Day Four

7:35 a.m. — Outside my bedroom door, my daughter loudly asks my husband to turn on a show. I'm up. I stumble into the kitchen, feeling a nutrition hangover from the last two days. I have a glass of water and make oatmeal with flax and sunflower seeds and cinnamon. I start a pot of coffee brewing. I take turnovers out of the freezer for the kids — I promised them they could have one today during tele-church. Breakfast downed, I fold the four loads of laundry waiting for me.
10 a.m. — Tele-church service starts. The kids butt in a few times and we have connection issues. We miss half the service. C'est la vie. We all get dressed to go to the new house.
11:30 a.m. — I make lunch for the kids and we arrive at the new house. I unpack a few boxes and wipe the dust off of baseboards before taking the kids outside to play. I meal plan for the week, make my husband a grocery list, and decide what we'll have for dinner tonight: avocado "cream" sauce enchiladas (filled with chicken).
3:15 p.m. — I drive the family back to our current place and get the kids to lay down and watch a movie. I make the sauce for tonight's enchiladas with cilantro, lime juice, two avocados, taco sauce, part of a jalapeño, soaked raw cashews, and seasonings in my food processor, then throw the canister into the refrigerator to marinate. I'm SO hungry. I don't want to eat any of the food in the house. I pray for Wendy's to appear in front of me. Dejectedly, I eat a Greek leftover wrap like yesterday.
Advertisement
4 p.m. — My husband comes back from grocery shopping with various vegetables and fruits for snacks, frozen pizzas, hot dogs for lunches, and frozen meatballs, as I make enchiladas. When dinner is served, the four of us eat it together. I have to bribe the little one to try dinner and he does. Small victories. $168.93
7:30 p.m. — After we get the kids to bed, they come downstairs a few times for various reasons. I tidy the living room and dining room and sweep. My energy hits a wall, so I start to get ready for bed. My husband orders a modem for our new place since we're switching providers. $139.37
10 p.m. — I take my meds and a vitamin D tablet in hopes of better energy tomorrow. My husband and I talk about the new house, dream of a housewarming party, and talk about our friends and how different our life will be in the new house. We fall asleep sometime after midnight.
Daily Total: $308.30

Day Five

8:05 a.m. — It was hard to wake up today. The move is in five days, so I really have to pare down and clean up. I have sausage, toast, and coffee for breakfast before refereeing an argument between the kids. I start the big kid on schoolwork to warm up her brain before her kindergarten Zoom call. I update YNAB with the transactions from yesterday and make my plan for the day.
9 a.m. — I look up what my oldest needs for her class meeting and set up her workspace while she practices her handwriting. I put on a show for the little one and deep clean dining room windows.
Advertisement
10 a.m. — Tele-kindergarten starts and I listen in from the couch where I snuggle awhile with the little one. I scroll social media and try to work up the nerve to do something productive. Remote school ends an hour later. I make a snack for the kids and continue scrolling while they eat then join me on the couch to watch a show. I'm irritable today, so I escape the kids by starting laundry (again) and gathering up all of the clothing strewn around the house. I transport it all to the laundry room then make a giant veggie and fruit plate for the kids in selfish hope that they'll leave me alone.
12:30 p.m. — It feels like lunchtime, but I feel like I've hardly done anything. I want to go back to bed, but I drink a glass of water and put away the rest of yesterday's groceries. The kids eat that entire plate of fruit and veg over the span of an hour. Does this mean I can give them snacks and junk for the rest of the day?
2:20 p.m. — The kids watch a movie while I clean and list our dining table and chairs and a dresser on Facebook Marketplace. I eat the few remaining veggies, strawberries, and a hot dog for lunch sporadically while answering messages about the listings.
4 p.m. — The kids wail for food. I make them a frozen pizza and applesauce. I have them eat in the kitchen so that my husband and I can have a tele-counseling session. We fumble through Zoom for the fifth time, but we get to our session.
Advertisement
6 p.m. — Our session ends and we chat for a while about our "homework" and moving. We put the kids to bed. $25
7:40 p.m. — We make frozen pizzas and watch The Rise of Skywalker.
10:30 p.m. — I watch two episodes of Parks and Recreation while my husband gets ready for bed. I take my meds and crawl into bed after turning my phone to airplane mode. People are still messaging me about the listings on Facebook.
Daily Total: $25

Day Six

6:45 a.m. — I actually woke up with my alarm today. This is abnormal. Puzzled, I scroll social media before getting dressed and greeting the family. I make oatmeal with flax and sunflower seeds with blueberries and an iced coffee.
8 a.m. — I pack some boxes in the kitchen for donation, respond to prospective buyers on Facebook messenger, and start my kindergartener's writing assignment with her. We read, write about, and research dolphins.
10 a.m. — I set my daughter up on her school's portal to explore learning apps and help my husband break down the table for the buyer. I update my budget and snuggle with the little one and watch a dinosaur show with him. My husband sells the coffee tables.
11 a.m. — I get the kids a snack and clear out a closet, then pack and sort the contents.
12:30 p.m. — I make lunch for myself and the kids. Once they've eaten, they want to go outside so I cover them in sunblock and bug spray. I clear uneaten leftovers out of the fridge and load the dishwasher. The kids play while I eat lunch and scroll social media.
Advertisement
2 p.m. — The kids rest and watch a movie. My husband and I offload our dining table and chairs. My husband sells two bikes.
4 p.m. — I put on another movie for the kids and lose myself in a couple of episodes of Parks and Recreation. I load the dishwasher and start it before preheating the oven for another frozen pizza for the kids to eat.
5 p.m. — I wash vegetables for a vegetable platter to go with the pizza. My daughter asks to set the little kid table that remains for them to eat on before our move. The set table has paper birthday plates, a tea set table cloth, dandelions in a glass, and two-ounce commemorative glasses. I sit on the couch near them while they pick Netflix shows to watch during their dinner. My husband and I are eating after the kids are in bed again tonight.
8 p.m. — After putting the kids to bed, I order Mexican food delivery. I shower while I wait for our food. My order comes without my modifications, so I have to pick around them. My husband and I watch Doctor Strange. $30.66
11 p.m. — I drink chai tea made with coconut milk before taking my meds and crawling into bed.
Daily Total: $30.66

Day Seven

7:50 a.m. — I wake up in a daze again. I make another chai since my tea last night was so enjoyable. I have sausage and toast for breakfast, then coffee after my chai.
Advertisement
9 a.m. — The weather is really crappy today so it's hard to get motivated. I snuggle with the kids on the couch and watch PBS Kids until a kindergarten Zoom meeting.
11 a.m. — I get the kids a snack and pack the pantry up. I defrost the chest freezer so that it can be moved.
12:30 p.m. — I make lunch. My husband needs my help finding something in the packed up pantry. We fight about how the pantry should be packed up.
2 p.m. — I am numbing out from the fight by watching Hoarders and eating Easter candy I stole from my kids.
4 p.m. — My little one helps me make pork dragon noodles (shout out to Budget Bytes!) with broccoli for the family. My husband tries to make peace. The kids eat at their little table and my husband and I eat on the couch. It's so odd! We haven't done this for ages. The little one wails for his own set of chopsticks. His older sister has a practice set. I get on Amazon and order a practice set of chopsticks for him with a T-Rex on them. I also get applesauce pouches because we are running out of fruit so quickly. $15
6 p.m. — The kids play a round of hide-and-seek before we get them ready for bed. My husband takes them to bed so that I can have a break tonight. I continue to numb with social media and TV.
Advertisement
8:30 p.m. — I handwash dishes, load the dishwasher, and start it. I take my husband a drink as a peace offering. I check in on some friends.
11 p.m. — After more spacing out and numbing, I take my meds and resolve to try again tomorrow. This is what my meds are for, so I'm going to get through this!
Daily Total: $15
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.

The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.

Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.

Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series

Button: Register To Vote