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A Week In Kentucky On A $71,558 Joint Income

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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 teacher who has a joint income of $71,558 per year and spends some of her money this week on propane.
Occupation: Teacher
Industry: Education
Age: 32
Location: Kentucky
Salary: combined $71,558 with my husband
Net Worth: -$3,000 including our home we own and personal savings, minus debt.
Debt: $10,000 for husband's student loans, $60,000 for mine, $28,000 mortgage, $18,000 car loan.
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,750 after deductions (and my husband makes $980/month)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $546.61 (We will have our house paid off in eight more years. This amount is escrowed and included our yearly property taxes and home insurance. Our house is valued at $82,000.)
Studen Loans: $50
Car Loan: $445
Netflix: $9.99
Hulu: $11.99
Disney+: $6.99
Amazon Prime: $10.99
Apple Music: $5.99 (student pricing)
Electric: varies between $150-$250 depending on the month/season. Our most recent bill was our highest of the year at $280.97
Water/Garbage/Sewer: $83.26
Internet/Telephone Bundle: $100
My 401(k): $250
Health Insurance: $230/paycheck
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, I was not given a choice by my parents. My father was a carpenter and coal miner and did not attend school after high school. My mother had dreams of becoming a nurse but after taking one year of courses at our local community college, she felt she was missing too much time with her kids and dropped out. My parents married young and had children young, so they never really had the opportunity to pursue higher education as they were focused on raising our family and supporting us. My mother worked for years as a dental assistant before retiring. I was fortunate in that my parents were financially able to pay for my undergraduate courses and I graduated with a BA in education. I married my husband two years after landing my first teaching job and becoming financially independent, so when I went back to school to pursue my Master's degree, my Rank I in education, and then my doctorate in education, I paid. My husband and I were able to pay for my Master's degree and Rank I ourselves, but as I found out quite unexpectedly that I was pregnant shortly after beginning my doctorate (I was told I could not have children so we were quite surprised), we used my education fund as our baby fund and I took out student loans for my doctorate. I will complete that in the next year; I'm halfway through writing my dissertation and should defend it this coming fall semester.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I was the youngest of three daughters, and my parents wanted us to have a solid understanding of finances when we became adults so they had very frank conversations with us. My parents opened each of us up a checking account at the age of 16 and helped each of us get our first credit card before we went to college, but it was our responsibility to get a job to put money into our checking accounts and pay our credit card bills. My mother was always very honest with me about their finances when growing up and I often ran errands for her to pay bills once I obtained my driver's license, so I was aware of what their finances looked like and what their bills cost. This may not be normal for some families, but their honesty with finances helped shape a realistic view of what I needed to earn to pay bills as an adult. My husband and I met in college and got engaged within a year of dating, but we were engaged for six years because we broke down what our bills would look like and what we needed to earn to be able to pay them. When we were financially stable enough to pay those bills, we then planned the wedding and got married. My parents played a large part in helping us map out that financial road map.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was as a babysitter for my mom's boss. I babysat their kids on weekends, during spring, fall, and summer vacations, and on an as-needed basis for six years. I took the job because I had just turned sixteen and needed to earn money to pay for my gas and car insurance, and their children were young and they wanted someone they knew to watch them. After that, I began working at a local call center while I looked for teaching jobs. This was the first job I had where I was able to earn financial independence from my parents and establish my adult life/finances.
Did you worry about money growing up?
For the most part, I did not worry about money growing up. Though my parents were not wealthy, we never came close to living below the poverty line. There were times when money was tight for our family and my parents were honest with us, but it was never a situation where we were ever in danger of losing our home. Both my parents worked consistently throughout my life and really only ever experienced job insecurity when the coal mining community in our area began suffering.
Do you worry about money now?
Occasionally I do, but that is usually only after something in our house needs replacing and I panic thinking of having to use a credit card. I am not a fan of using credit cards if I can avoid it, and while we are able to pay our balances every month, I get anxiety thinking of having to put a sum on a credit card. We recently replaced our refrigerator in our kitchen, and though we could have done it sooner and put it on our credit card, I refused and we saved up every paycheck until we were able to pay cash for the one we wanted.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself at 22. My parents allowed me to move home and live with them while job hunting, but when I found my first job, it was then my responsibility to pay for my bills, needs, and wants. However, they have always been more than willing to help us out and did have to help us once after we both unexpectedly lost our jobs a couple of years into our marriage. Thankfully, we were able to find something quickly, pay them back, and get back on our feet in a couple of months. They are there as our safety net if needed.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Yes. The land my house sits on was given to me as a gift by my parents. They own a large amount of land in a few different areas in our county and when we were ready to buy a home, they deeded me the land beside their home as a gift.

Day One

9:30 a.m. — I wake up and make cinnamon rolls for my daughter and husband, and coffee for myself. I tidy the kitchen, get her dressed for the day, and leave her with my husband as I make our weekly grocery run.
11 a.m. — I pick up groceries for the week at our local supermarket. I usually shop at the local store five minutes from our house, but since this week we are supposed to get snow and ice, I shop at the larger supermarket to stock up on items that aren't available at the smaller store. Plus, this store has our town's Starbucks inside, so I pick up a Caramel Apple Spice as a treat to myself as I shop. $0 for the Starbucks as I have a gift card. $164.36
11:35 a.m. — After leaving the supermarket, I stop at the local bakery and pick up a chicken salad croissant and side of veggie salad for lunch and grab my daughter a cupcake. My husband made them lunch while I have been shopping, so I do not pick lunch up for them. $15
2:45 p.m. — My mother calls and talks me into taking my daughter on a spring break trip with her in a few weeks. After not traveling for more than a year, I'm eager to go so I quickly book the hotel and pay the deposit. $83.97
5:00 p.m. — I make chicken parmesan and brownies for dinner — they're my husband and daughter's favorites. We enjoy some family time as we eat and chat about the upcoming work week.
7:30 p.m. — My husband rents a movie to watch for the evening from Vudu, and I cuddle up with my daughter as she watches My Little Pony while I finish reading the second Bridgerton book. $3.99
Daily Total: $267.32

Day Two

7 a.m. — I make my family scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast then get my daughter ready for the day. My husband and I are both working from home currently while our schools are operating virtually. However, to keep my toddler on her usual schedule as we are returning to school next week, I take her next door to my parents for the workday after she eats breakfast. We're more fortunate than most in that my parents live next door and provide us with free childcare while we work.
11:30 a.m. — It is our scheduled lunch break for the day, so while I am finishing up parent conference calls, my husband makes us both a turkey sandwich for lunch.
3 p.m. — We both finish work for the day and while I walk next door to pick up our daughter, my husband takes my car to our dealership for scheduled maintenance. He gets the oil changed and tires rotated. $62.88
5 p.m. — I make vegetable soup and cornbread for dinner and then let my daughter make sugar cookies to decorate. After cleaning up, we spend time together as a family watching the new Disney movie Soul and head to bed around 9:30.
Daily Total: $62.88

Day Three

6:45 a.m. — I wake up to a phone call from our school district informing us school for today is canceled due to widespread power outages. I snuggle back up to my husband and go back to sleep.
8 a.m. — Since it's a snow day, I let my toddler sleep in a little longer than normal for a weekday. I make my family omelets for breakfast and then get my toddler ready to go next door to my parents. Even though it's a technical "snow day," meaning I don't have to work, I plan on taking advantage of the relaxed schedule to get caught up on grading. My husband takes my daughter to my parents' house and I get started on last week's grades.
10:45 a.m. — The ice storm hits us and we lose electricity. I walk next door to my parents' and then across the street to my grandmother's to make a list of what everyone needs. I compile their lists and head out to the local hardware store to pick up emergency supplies with my husband.
12 p.m. — I have to drive two towns over to find a store that has the emergency supplies we need. We pick up lunch at Wendy's on the way. He has a cheeseburger and fries, and I have chili and water. $12.54
12:30 p.m. — We purchase the gasoline my parents need for their generator, the lanterns my grandmother needs for her house, and the propane we need for our emergency propane heater and then head home. The electric company is giving an estimate of two to fourteen days in repair time, so we're prepared for no power the next few days. $178.93
4:38 p.m. — We still don't have power and my dad is having trouble starting his generator, so we order dinner for delivery for ourselves, my parents, and grandmother. Luckily we have cell service still, no idea how long that will last. $48.22
8:30 p.m. — We've got our heater going, oil lanterns lit, and we spend the evening playing board games with our daughter. Since we aren't sure how long we're going to be without power, we call it a night at 9 and camp out together in the living room near the propane heater to stay warm. My boss texts me before I go to sleep and informs me school tomorrow is canceled again due to power outages.
Daily Total: $239.69

Day Four

8 a.m. — We wake up and go to my grandmother's to take showers since she has gas heating, a gas stove, and a gas water heater. She makes us breakfast and we spend the morning in front of her coal-burning fireplace telling stories and enjoying family time.
9:45 a.m. — I drive into town to our local McDonald's so I can pick up LTE service on my cell phone and check in with my co-workers. I buy a coffee and cherry pie and spend a couple of hours contacting my students to check in with them for the day. Most are also without power. $2.50
2 p.m. — I make ham sandwiches and take that and pasta salad I made a few days ago that has been in the refrigerator to my parents' house for lunch. My parents, husband, toddler, and grandmother are all there. We spend the time warming up in front of my parents' heater being powered by their generator and play some card games.
4:33 p.m. — Our electricity comes back on, yay! I take advantage of the power and begin doing laundry from the past few days.
6:30 p.m. — I cook a late dinner of fried chicken. We eat together and my husband cleans up while I give my daughter a bath. We spend the evening watching TV together and call it a night at 8:30.
Daily Total: $2.50

Day Five

7 a.m. — I make my daughter a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with bananas for breakfast and then get her ready to go to my parents' for the day. I dive into yesterday's emails while my husband takes my daughter over.
12 p.m. — I have a ham sandwich for lunch while my husband makes a run to the pharmacy to pick up my daughter's allergy medicines and my birth control. $7.42
3:15 p.m. — My husband and I finish working for the day and spend some alone time together before picking our daughter up from my parents' house.
6:30 p.m. — I make enchiladas for dinner and my husband helps my daughter straighten up her bedroom as I cook. We eat together then spend the evening playing with our daughter before calling it a day around 10.
Daily Total: $7.42

Day Six

10:30 a.m. — Ahhh Saturday! We sleep in and then I make my family biscuits and gravy for breakfast. We spend the morning catching up on cleaning and laundry.
4 p.m. — We go to our favorite Japanese steakhouse for a late lunch/early dinner. We always try to spend Saturdays as a family and my daughter enjoys our Saturday outings. $65.99
5 p.m. — We stop by Walmart on the way home to pick up some milk for the house and we let my daughter pick out a small toy. $23.63
9:00 p.m. — My husband rents a movie from Vudu for the evening. We watch it together as a family and call it a day around 9. $3.99
Daily Total: $93.61

Day Seven

9:30 a.m. — I make cinnamon rolls for breakfast (Sunday tradition) and then spend the morning lesson planning for the next few weeks.
1:30 p.m. — I take a break from work to play some games with my daughter while my husband makes potato soup for lunch.
6:30 p.m. — We warm up potato soup from lunch for dinner. I bathe my daughter and get her ready for bed while my husband finishes up a load of laundry.
8:30 p.m. — Tomorrow starts another work week so we head to bed by 8:30.
Daily Total: $0
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