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A Week In West Palm Beach, FL, On A $174,500 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 technician who has a joint income of $174,548 per year and spends some of her money this week on baby clothes.
Occupation: Technician
Industry: Agriculture
Age: 26
Location: West Palm Beach, FL
My Salary: $54,500
My Husband's Salary: $120,000
Net Worth: ~$43,000 (My husband and I have mostly joint finances, but we still split bills based on our incomes. Joint savings: $21,050, 401(k): $10,580, Roth IRA: $3,349.23, saving account for my son: $245, checking account: $150, house: $42,000 (value is $370,000, mortgage is $328,000), two cars: $22,000 (one car's value is $35,000, loan is $18,000, one car is paid off worth $5,000) minus debt.)
Debt: Credit card debt: $8,500, student loans: $47,056 (will hopefully get $10,000 forgiven)
My Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,345.24 (net)
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $5,000 (gross)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $2,288 (We recently bought our townhouse during this crazy market. We originally thought we were going to have to rent, but we luckily found exactly what we needed while not going house poor. My husband covers the mortage every month.)
Credit Card: $250
Student Loans: $200
HOA: $383 (my expense)
Health Insurance: $630 (automatically deducted from my paychecks, covers my husband and me)
401(k): $184.02
TSP: $209.92
Roth TSP: $42
Life Insurance: $20.11
Electric: $130
Water: $53 (my expense)
Internet: $80 (my expense)
Phone: $140
Car Insurance: $335
Car Payment: $539
Child Care: $300-$400 (my half)
Amazon Prime: $15.13
Spotify: $18
Google Storage: $1.99
Streaming Services: we use various family accounts
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 older siblings were never interested in school so by the time my parents got to me, they put pressure on me to go to college. One of my best friends was very studious and so I ended up also being very studious. I got my bachelor's degree and master's degree, both mostly paid for by student loans. My parents helped me with two semesters of undergrad and my work gave me some money for my master's degree.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
None! It is a really big problem and all my siblings still talk about this. We watched our parents burn through money growing up with shopping, hobbies, and vacations. Now, we all have spending issues but we are slightly better. Our parents are still the same, but they realized their mistakes and constantly tell us to save and invest now when we are young.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was when I was 12 working for my dad. I started working part-time when I was 14 at a kid's party place and have consistently had jobs since then.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Not really because we almost never talked about it.
Do you worry about money now?
Constantly. I live paycheck-to-paycheck between affording our home and having a child. My husband and I would both like to change jobs, but right now we are too tight on money to afford to change.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I was paying all my own bills at 22, but I can't afford what I have now without my husband's income, which I find very stressful sometimes. My parents are relatively well off, but I know they have no liquid retirement plan besides their properties. I wouldn't ask them for help unless we were extremely desperate. Mostly my husband's earning potential is our safety net and I know I could ask our siblings for money if we really needed it.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I got $5,000 from a great uncle that was used to buy my first car. My parents gave us $10,000 dollars for our wedding, which we never had because of COVID so we decided to buy our house instead with our wedding money. Probably the best financial decision we've made.

Day One

5:30 a.m. — I wake up naturally and attempt to breastfeed my baby without waking him up. He drinks a little and falls back asleep. I get out of bed, wash my face, brush my teeth, and throw my hair in a bun. I put my field clothes on which consist of baggy cargo pants and a long-sleeved fishing shirt. Sexy. I wake up my husband, B., to tell him I'm leaving for work. I pack my lunch box then head to Dunkin' for breakfast.
6:15 a.m. — Dunkin' breakfast in hand, I drive to work. I listen to the podcast No Dumb Questions. $13.14
7 a.m. — I arrive at work and immediately check my email and collect weather data and rain collection. I get everything I need for the fieldwork I'm doing and run up to the lab building to try to print tags for a big planting we have next week. The computer is going super slow and I need to meet people in the field at 8 so I restart the computer and hope it works faster after it has some time to think about itself.
10 a.m. — I'm in from the field! I take a quick pump break while I check my email and enter in weather data. My son just turned one, so I hope I can stop pumping at work soon, but I am not sure how to go about it and I don't have the mental energy to figure it out, so I will keep pumping.
1 p.m. — I eat a banana while I do work at my desk. I'm chatting with a coworker when my boss comes in and says we are closing at 2 p.m. and we're closed the next two days because we need to prepare for the hurricane coming. Because of this, I have the next five days off, two for the hurricane, one for a federal holiday, and then the weekend.
2 p.m. — After running around the station like a crazy person picking up random loose items, shutting and locking doors, and lowering the flag, I leave work. I pull into Aldi to get some hurricane provisions and regular groceries. I get a lot of snacks but also a baby seat for the toilet, chicken thighs, pork tenderloin, ribeye steaks, egg, OJ, spinach, carrots, ice cream sandwiches, hard ciders, K-Cups, granola bars, yogurt, bread, and milk. $170.13
4 p.m. — I get home and greet my baby with all the hugs and kisses while he tries to squirm away. My MIL watches him for us while we are at work. I got her milk and bread at the store, but I don't have her pay me since she already does so much for us. I quickly put away the groceries and she helps me carry my son's outside toys into the garage.
5 p.m. — I decide to lay down with my son for a nap and relax after this super crazy day.
7 p.m. — B. gets home from work and I make a quiche, bacon, blueberries, and French toast sticks for dinner. We all eat then I give my son a bath while B. cleans up.
8:30 p.m. — My son and I go to bed because I'm exhausted and B. stays up and comes to bed later.
Daily Total: $183.27

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and sneak out of bed. I make myself a smoothie and check my emails. I check in with my boss since it's technically a hurricane outside.
9 a.m. — B. and baby come downstairs, I heat up some quiche for breakfast and log into a meeting. B. leaves for work.
11 a.m. — It's raining pretty hard outside, but I need to go to Ace Hardware to get random items: ant traps, fruit fly traps, drain cleaner, a drain brush, and plastic storage containers. I'm certain my garbage disposal is breeding fruit flies and I'm going to put a stop to it! Also, we randomly got sugar ants and I'm going to end them too! I will prevail hurricane or no hurricane! $67.52
12 p.m. — I run into Publix to get sundried tomatoes and BBQ sauce but it is such a bad idea because it is packed with everyone panic buying! Dumb! $8.87
1 p.m. — I'm home and put my baby down for a nap. While he's sleeping, I scrub my floors then mop them. I put the ant traps and fruit fly traps out. I make myself avocado toast with poached eggs and sundried tomatoes, French-press coffee, and a glass of OJ. I feel like a queen. My son sleeps through it all!
2:30 p.m. — My son wakes up and I attempt to give him some food, but he is not interested so we play and sit at the open front door looking at the rain. B. gets home early, yay!
5 p.m. — My son takes another nap and I sneak out to have sexy time with B.
6:30 p.m. — After a nice shower and talking on the phone with my sister, I heat up some chicken fajitas for dinner. We eat together as a family and then I head to bed around 9.
Daily Total: $76.39

Day Three

7:35 a.m. — My son wakes me up by demanding to be fed. After that, he is up and ready to start his day. I take him downstairs while B. sleeps in since today is his day off.
8 a.m. — I make my round of calls to check in on my parents and our siblings after all that rain and wind. Everyone is fine. I make plans with my parents to go over to their house today and help in their greenhouse.
9 a.m. — I make avocado toast with poached eggs and sundried tomatoes for me and J., with bacon, French-press coffee, and OJ. It's so good, but we're both too full to finish. My son doesn't want to eat his breakfast. I run upstairs to brush my teeth and wash my face while my husband cleans up our baby and gets him dressed.
10 a.m. — We get our baby ready to leave and then B. and I drive to my parents' house.
10:30 a.m. — My son runs around their property while my mom chases after him and I go to town working on their garden. We plant some seeds and lay some fertilizer. Hopefully, we will get some good harvests this year.
12:30 p.m. — After all the running around my son is dirty and exhausted, so after a quick sink bath for us both I lay down with my son for a nap. An hour or so later, I heat up leftovers of chicken and potatoes and give my son has cheese and crackers. My mom gives me some Chanel perfume and hair mist she got from one of her friends. Very fancy! I love it.
3 p.m. — I pack up my perfume, eggs from their chickens, and onions. We head to a nearby Italian market to get some specific ingredients B. needs to make carbonara for dinner. $51.25
3:45 p.m. — I run into Publix to get dark cocoa, sugar, flour, wine, ceasar salad, sodas, sparkling water, and diapers. $100.51
5:30 p.m. — I quickly make Oreo dough while my son watches me in his kitchen helper stool snacking on cheddar bunnies. After B. showers, he gets started on our carbonara dinner. It turns out SO delicious.
6:30 p.m. — I clean up from dinner and make homemade Oreos. This is the first time I have ever made them and they come out great.
9 p.m. — We hang out the rest of the night watching live music on YouTube until I take my son upstairs and he falls asleep immediately.
Daily Total: $151.76

Day Four

8 a.m. — We are up. I change my son's diaper then wash my face and brush my teeth.
11:20 a.m. — I put my son down for a nap. I then do some food prep for the next week. I make spinach egg bites and homemade drinkable yogurts. All three of us eat them and they have helped me a lot when my son needs a quick breakfast or lunch packed. I browse Amazon for a tension rod for a wardrobe I want to make my son out of an old side table. $8.99
1 p.m. — My son is up so I quickly feed us a lunch of leftover carbonara. I pack us up into the car and drive to Goodwill, where I buy a few house decorations. I love Goodwill or any sort of secondhand store. $31.47
2:15 p.m. — I take my son to the park. I walk the walking trails while I talk to my friend. It's nice to talk to another mom.
4:45 p.m. — I pop into a children's thrift store. I get my son five shirts and two pairs of pants, a potty training toilet that flushes, and three books. $67
5:45 p.m. — I then go to visit my grandma at her assisted living facility. I try to visit her once a week, but I'm always nervous she won't remember me because she has dementia.
6:25 p.m. — The visit goes well and she remembers me. While I'm there my parents show up, so it is a nice time all around. My parents take us to dinner afterward. I Zelle my dad for my portion because I'm an adult! $35
8:30 p.m. — We get home! I quickly load and start the dishwasher, shower and clean my son, and read a bedtime story! My son falls asleep at 9:45 and I scroll on my phone for a little bit until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $142.46

Day Five

7:45 a.m. — I scroll on my phone until my son wakes up.
9:30 a.m. — After a breakfast of quiche pineapple, and coffee, I text my sister because we are meeting up for lunch today. My son and I take a quick walk to the playground to get some morning sun.
10:50 a.m. — My son is napping so I use this time to quickly do chores.
12:30 p.m. — I meet my sister at a fancy hotel with decently priced food that is only okay, but we really come for the beautiful view. I get a tuna melt and my sister gets a hamburger. My sister pays. We pick up my niece and nephew after lunch and walk over to the beach and go to a nearby playground. I pay for valet parking. $10
4 p.m. — We get home and I immediately make pulled pork in the instant pot because my parents are coming over for dinner. I put my baby down for a quick nap while my niece and nephew rest and watch some TV.
6:30 p.m. — My parents are here and we all eat! It's pretty good and I serve my homemade Oreos for dessert. After an hour of the kids building forts and laughing, I tuck my niece and nephew in while my parents leave and then I put my baby to sleep. I try on some clothes my sister gave me earlier! They're so cute and I'm so grateful. I take a quick shower and then go to bed!
Daily Total: $10

Day Six

7:45 a.m. — I hear my niece and nephew wake up, which means I need to get up. I quickly brush my teeth, wash my face, and get dressed. I make French toast sticks, eggs, and bacon for breakfast. The kids play with my son's new toy kitchen set. They bring me food they make and I critique it like Gordon Ramsey.
11 a.m. — We drive to my nephew's birthday party and B. stops on the way to buy a card and get some cash (per parent's request, no toys) for the birthday boy. $65
2 p.m. — We leave the party after cake and drop off my niece and nephew with their dad.
4 p.m. — We take a nice family rest and nap together on the couch.
6 p.m. — I make a dinner of lamb and this delicious pasta dish with rigatoni, onion, fennel, sundried tomato, white wine, and cream, topped with mozzarella and basil.
8:30 p.m. — After cleaning up, my husband escapes into the office to finish his work and I give my son a bath. I put my son to sleep and then watch The Peripheral while I fold some laundry.
Daily Total: $65

Day Seven

5:45 a.m. — After five days off, it's hard to wake up! I quickly make a coffee and grab a homemade yogurt. Give sleeping kisses to B. and son.
7 a.m. — I get to work and immediately check the rainwater gauge, a total of four inches of rain in the last five days! That's a lot of rain.
10:30 a.m. — After certifying all the fire extinguishers, I take a pumping break and scroll through the photos I took over the weekend. My office doesn't have internet and I can't fix it until Thursday. Very frustrating. I take lunch around 12:30.
3 p.m. — Time to leave! I text my MIL I am on my way home and listen to The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. I mostly listen to the ancient history and alien ones, this one is with Graham Hancock and Randall Carlson. It also gives me and B. something to bond over because we have been convinced aliens are real since high school.
4:40 p.m. — After hearing about my MIL and son's day, I take my son upstairs to lie down for a nap. I'm very tired and immediately fall asleep.
6:30 p.m. — I heat up my leftovers for dinner. We all hang out downstairs watching Graham Hancock's new Netflix series, Ancient History, and playing until my son comes and cuddles on my lap asking for milk. I scoop him up and take him up to bed. I fall asleep pretty quickly after him.
Daily Total: $0
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