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A Week In Hillsborough County, NH, On A $352,000 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 UX researcher who has a joint income of $352,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a four-pound tub of peanut butter.
Occupation: UX Researcher
Industry: Technology
Age: 33
Location: Hillsborough County, NH
My Salary: $152,000 ($118,000 base + $34,000 bonus)
My Husband's Salary: $200,000 ($160,000 base + $40,000 bonus)
Net Worth: $1,207,600 (Home value: $800,000, checking account/rainy day fund: $50,000, index fund investments: $298,000, 401(k)s: $123,000, my husband's RSUs: $400,000, cars: $10,000, piece of land in the mountains (eventual cabin): $25,000 minus debt. This is combined, all our finances are shared.)
Debt: $498,400 left on our mortgage
My Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,747
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $4,278
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $3,286
401(k) Contributions: $2,580 ($1,380 from my paycheck and $1,200 from my husband's)
Health Insurance: $290 (from my paycheck)
Dependent Care Account: $416 (We have three sons, and this is also taken from my paycheck.)
HSA Contribution: $416 (from my paycheck)
Tithing: $1,480
Index Fund Contribution: $2,000
Daycare: $3,320
Fuel: $800 in winter ($0 in summer)
Electric: $135
Water: $45
Phones: $77
Internet: $51
Life Insurance: $61
Home Chef: $247.72

Google Storage: $1.99
Apple Storage: $.99
Hulu: $7
Spotify: $11
Disney+: $7
Deseret Bookshelf: $10
Netflix: $0 (use my parents' account)

Annual Expenses

Amazon Prime: $119
Beachbody: $99
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?
The biggest expectation was from myself. I was a straight-A student who loved learning, so it was never a conversation. My older brother went to a fancy private university and my older sister barely graduated from high school and never even applied to college, so we're a mixed bag. I got a master's degree that I paid for with loans (we paid them off three years ago), then a PhD. that was fully funded and had an annual stipend of $28,000 for living expenses.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We didn't have many conversations about money. My dad would randomly tell me to invest, but what that meant and how to do it remained a mystery.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I vacuumed elementary school classrooms when I was 14 so I could get a cell phone. I always worked throughout high school and college so I could have spending money.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Definitely. I was always very confused about my family's financial state. My parents would say we didn't have any money but then we would spend on eating out or getting new school clothes. I remember having a full cart at Costco of things we didn't need, and my mom called my dad to see if there was money in the account to pay for it. I was always thinking, Why are we buying things if we don't have any money? I definitely didn't learn good financial habits at home.
Do you worry about money now?
No, thankfully! My husband is financially savvy and his habits and knowledge have largely contributed to our financial health. We are master budgeters and love saving.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I graduated from college at 21 and have been financially responsible for myself since then. We have family on both sides that would help if we needed it.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My husband's grandfather set up an index fund for him when he was young, and he got control when he was 18. There was about $50,000 in the account when we got married.

Day One

6:20 a.m. — I wake up and roll out of bed. My husband, L., is already up — he does a home workout every weekday at 6, then starts on breakfast for us and our three boys. He's the best. Breakfast is highly consistent in our house — a fried egg on wheat toast for L. and me, oatmeal for our five-year-old, two fried eggs for our three-year-old, and bananas and peanut butter for our one-year-old. Someone usually needs seconds of something.
6:50 a.m. — We're all fed and the morning routine begins! We read some scriptures (The Book of Mormon) every morning as a family to start the day right, get everybody dressed, and pack up what they'll need at daycare.
8 a.m. — We load up the boys, and L. drives them to daycare. I put the house back in order and start my Beachbody Pre- and Post-natal Barre Blend workout. I'm 22 weeks pregnant with boy number four and maybe I'm just getting older, but this pregnancy has been harder than previous ones (mostly because of pregnancy acne and lots of emotions). Barre Blend has been my saving grace. Elise Joan's positive affirmations get stuck in my head, and I love it. I'm a beautiful trimester two goddess!

8:30 a.m. — I eat an apple with peanut butter and get ready for the day while listening to my favorite spiritual podcast. We're studying the Old Testament in church this year, and this podcast has transformed my understanding. I take my time with my morning skin-care routine so I can keep listening: CeraVe cleanser, Thayers witch hazel toner, Neutrogena benzoyl peroxide daily mask, CeraVe moisturizing cream, and EltaMD sunscreen. Sometimes I mix in TruSkin Vitamin C serum or The Ordinary Niacinamide serum before moisturizing, depending on how I'm feeling.

9 a.m. — I log on for work and am in meetings until 11.

11 a.m. — I am starving so I have a super early lunch. I make a ham sandwich and snack on almonds and raisins. Then it's back to work for a few meetings and focus time.

1:30 p.m. — I break for a Walmart trip because we're out of some staples: peanut butter (I go for the four-pound tub), Cheez-Its, bread, eggs, sprinkles for a cake I want to make this week, stickers, and envelopes. $41.20

2:30 p.m. — I head home for afternoon meetings. I have a minute in-between meetings so I quickly place our weekly Walmart pickup order for later this week. Since we've been getting Home Chef for dinners, I order breakfast, lunch, and snack staples: apples, mandarin oranges, bananas, broccoli, yogurt, milk, almonds, string cheese, granola bars, sausages, ham, baguette, jalapeño-artichoke dip, Honey Nut Cheerios, seltzer water, and chicken fingers. $89.08

4:15 p.m. — I stay logged on for work if needs arise but bring my computer to the kitchen so I can start on dinner. Tonight is Home Chef chicken lettuce wraps and they look delish. I listen to a Brené Brown podcast about her new book, Atlas of the Heart. It sounds great, so I get on the waitlist on Libby. L. comes down from his office (his is upstairs, mine is downstairs) to cook with me.

4:45 p.m. — I leave to pick up the boys from school. I look like a maniac lugging three toddlers with their bags and winter coats across the icy parking lot with my pregnant belly, but we're totally rocking it.

5:15 p.m. — Kick off the evening routine! We eat dinner, have a Nerf fight, and have a mini piano and reading lesson.

6:30 p.m. — The boys each get a peanut butter sandwich before we start family movie time; we always watch 30 minutes of a movie together to wind down before bed. Tonight we watch some Fantastic Mr. Fox.
7 p.m. — Bedtime routine for the boys! PJs, brush teeth, get 10 drinks of water, then reading. Nighttime prayers, hugs and kisses, and we're outta there. L. and I turn out the lights around the house and spend the rest of the evening in our bedroom so the boys aren't tempted to come out and ask a million questions.

7:30 p.m. — L. and I discuss our oldest kid, T.'s, burgeoning perfectionism. He is nervous to play toddler T-ball because he's worried his coach will say he isn't very good. The poor sweet dear got his anxiety from me — so sorry, buddy. We were able to convince him how fun it will be with YouTube videos of five-year-olds playing T-ball, so I sign him up and pay the registration fee. $50

8 p.m. — I start my get-ready-for-bed routine. My nighttime skin care is my ultimate unwind time: Derma-E acne cleansing wash, toner, The Ordinary salicylic acid solution, and moisturizer mixed with two drops of BYBI bakuchiol booster. Then I spot treat zits with Mario Badescu drying lotion. My skin has cleared up a lot in the past month, but it's hard to tell whether to credit my routine or just pregnancy hormones balancing out.

8:30 p.m. — L. and I study our scriptures together, then listen to a chapter of the Atomic Habits audiobook on Libby. It is really good, and we're both super excited to implement some of the things we're learning. We watch 30 minutes of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which I'm loving because Awkwafina, and L. is ready to call it a night around 9:30. I read Kristin Hannah's new book, The Four Winds (again on Libby), until I can't keep my eyes open.

Daily Total: $180.28

Day Two

6:50 a.m. — I slept in a little and feel guilty that L. has been up with the boys while I've been snoozing. I used to be wide awake at 5:30 or 6 but growing a baby is no joke. We each have our same breakfast and kick off our morning routine.
8 a.m. — The boys are out the door for school, and I slide into my maternity spandex to work out. I am feeling a little low-energy so I do Beachbody prenatal yoga. I'm still feeling a little off afterward, so I spend some time journaling and trying to put my thoughts in order. I get ready for the day and spend all morning in meetings.
11:30 a.m. — Lunchtime! I have leftover rice in the fridge so I fry up some chickpeas to put on top and mix in a little hummus, Greek yogurt, and chopped lettuce. It's hardly gourmet but it gets the job done. L. has a ham sandwich, just like every day. I tell him that I forgot butter for the cake I want to make, and he suggests we walk to our town's deli and grocery. They carry mostly specialty goods, so we're not sure if they'll even have butter, but we're pleasantly surprised to find it. We get the butter, walk home, and get back to work. $3.99
4:30 p.m. — I'm in meetings all afternoon so I quickly start on pancakes, eggs, and fruit salad for dinner. L. comes down and finishes up the cooking while I go get the boys. They will have zero complaints about the menu.
5:15 p.m. — The boys devour their pancakes. We proceed with the evening routine as usual with the addition of bathtime. Then it's movie and bedtime.
7:30 p.m. — L. and I have a few things on our to-do list tonight. We always set goals on the first or second day of the month, so that's first up. L. sets some goals relating to emergency preparedness, which is one of his latest hobbies. My intention for the month is “I am open” — I'm trying to approach each day with an open heart and open mind. I set a goal to read more about open-heartedness (obviously I'll start with Brené Brown) and a goal to invite another family over for dinner. We also look at some restaurants for a date. We love doing lunch dates because we don't have to get a sitter or be out late, so we choose a darling cafe in the next town over. We finish Shang-Chi, read, and get to sleep by 10.
Daily Total: $3.99

Day Three

7 a.m. — I open my eyes and can't believe it's 7! Super luxury, I feel like a queen. We do the standard breakfast and morning routine and throw in a dance party to The Greatest Showman soundtrack for good measure.
8 a.m. — L. takes the boys to school and reminds me that we wanted to get a ski harness for our middle child, V. I check and see that the blue harness is $10 more than the pink one, so V. gets a pink one. He'll love it. I do my Barre Blend workout, take a shower, and listen to another favorite podcast while I get ready. Each week the host interviews a prominent member of my church about their life and faith, and each week it is totally amazing. Then I settle in to work for the morning. $32.25
11:45 a.m. — Lunchtime — ham sandwich for L. and rice bowl for me again. This is the day of the week that we take our trash and recycling to the transfer station, so we pack them up and head out. Our town doesn't have trash pickup, and we don't want to pay for a private service, so weekly dump runs are on the schedule. Bonding time!
2:30 p.m. — After lunch, I work for an hour and then leave for a hangout with two friends. We've been missing friend time lately, so we're super excited! We meet at a cute coffee shop. I plop down on the couch and start chatting. An hour passes and it feels like five minutes, so we need to plan another hangout soon. I didn't order anything, which is fine with me because I don't drink coffee, but I feel bad about not supporting the shop. I'll come back and get a few things with L. in the future.
4 p.m. — I get a bit of work in, then start cooking our Home Chef grilled chicken with a balsamic glaze, roasted zucchini, and Parmesan-stuffed tomatoes. We have a great night with the boys — eat, play, movie, bedtime.
7:30 p.m. — L. and I study our scriptures and listen to more Atomic Habits, then it's time for me to do some planning for the singing church group we lead.
8:30 p.m. — A friend texts to say that her paranoid-but-sometimes-right grandma warned her about an impending trucker strike and the resulting empty grocery shelves. Stranger things have happened, so I add extra essentials to tomorrow's grocery pickup order: oatmeal, peanut butter, tuna, canned fruit, and applesauce. I also shop for a new bra on the Target app. Pregnancy has not been kind to my current bra. I've grown at least two sizes and it's basically tearing down the middle. I pretend for a second that I'm going to get one that makes my boobs look amazing but I know I'll end up with something wireless and comfy. I'm unsure which size to get so I don't pull the trigger yet. I'll plan a Target trip in the next week to try some on. I read in bed and fall asleep around 10. $49.12
Daily Total: $81.37

Day Four

6 a.m. — I wake up to L.'s rushed footsteps and then hear, “Babe, wake up. The basement flooded.” I'm expecting a few inches in the basement but when I get to the basement stairs, it's a swimming pool. There is at least three feet of water and it's still rising. Gahhh homeownership! I start making phone calls — water mitigation companies, the fire department, our home insurance company, a couple of friends from church, and my father-in-law. Meanwhile, L. assesses the flood situation from the outside. It's raining hard, the yard is a total ocean, and water is pouring in through our bulkhead. We both cancel all of our meetings for the day.
8 a.m. — L. drops off the boys at school and goes to Home Depot to rent a mega pump and three lengths of mega hose. My father-in-law shows up with space heaters (the heat is out thanks to the boiler being completely submerged) and some more pumps. Word spreads very quickly through our church community and friends stop by all morning to drop off pumps, help dig a trench, and do anything to be helpful. I spend a full hour responding to calls and texts offering meals and help with the kids. We have only lived here for a year, but our community is unreal, and I'm so inspired by their love and service! $84.97
2 p.m. — The basement and yard are all pumped out — yay! L. and a handy neighbor head into the basement to try and salvage the boiler and heating system. I decide the best thing I can do is bake the chocolate cake I've been planning to make — we'll have a lot of people to thank, and I love to say thanks with chocolate cake. I also realize I haven't eaten a meal today so I munch on snacks that a friend dropped off — banana bread, mandarin oranges, carrots, and hummus.
3:30 p.m. — L. and I go return the pump to Home Depot and borrow giant fans and dehumidifiers from a friend. I start thinking about dinner — L. makes incredible homemade pizza for us every Friday but that's obviously not happening. The boys won't forgive us if we don't have pizza on Pizza Friday so I order a large pepperoni pizza. $20.28
5 p.m. — We eat pizza and chocolate cake and have an extra-long movie night. We're still having some heating issues, so the TV room is chilly, and we all snuggle on the couch.
7:30 p.m. — The boys are in bed, and I try to get a little work done because I didn't even log on today. I make progress but am physically and emotionally exhausted and pass out at 8:15.
Daily Total: $105.25

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — It's Saturday and it's clean-up day! We cancel plans to go ice skating with friends so we can focus on getting the basement cleaned up and the heat working again (it's working at about 70%, which is a total miracle). We all eat breakfast (same as every day), read scriptures, then I take the two younger boys to get our Walmart grocery order that we forgot to pick up in yesterday's chaos.
10 a.m. — We spend the morning cleaning and drying things out. Our handy neighbor comes back over to help L. with the heat. His wife comes as well, so we get to hang out while the men troubleshoot. They have been so generous with their time, and we make a mental note to get them something nice. The home insurance adjuster stops by to see the damage firsthand and thinks we might be able to get $5,000 for it.
1 p.m. — Our neighbors leave, and we're waiting to see whether or not the heat will start working in full. It's pretty chilly inside, so we're bundled up. Our Home Chef order arrives a day late due to the storm and the meat looks a little spotty — the shrimp is definitely thawed and shrimp juice is everywhere. I hate to be a diva but I'm pregnant so I have to be extra careful about eating good meat. I send an email to ask if they can replace the meat, and they credit my account for the full amount we paid.
3 p.m. — Our oldest is feeling yucky and has a fever of 102. Nothing breaks a heart like a sick little kid. His symptoms don't match what we would expect from COVID, but we test him just in case — negative (phew). I sit on the couch with him, and he snuggles me for an hour, dozing in and out. I snap a pic because I don't know the next time he'll fall asleep on me.
4 p.m. — I pass off snuggling duties to L. while I take V. back to Walmart for Gatorade and ice pops. We also grab salted peanuts, C batteries, and Not Your Mother's Beach Babe hair spray for me. $22.11
5:30 p.m. — I warm up pasta that a friend dropped by, and L. takes T. up to an early bed. I read with our other kids until bedtime and put them down. We go to our bedroom (one of the rooms that still doesn't have heat) and hurry into the bed! We watch TV until 9:15, and then L. is ready to crash, so I read a few pages and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $22.11

Day Six

5:55 a.m. — By some miracle, we wake up to happy healthy boys climbing in our bed. T. is hungry, ready to play, and has no sign of a fever. Yay! L. starts a fire and begins experimenting more with the heat.
10 a.m. — I get ready for church, eat a piece of leftover pizza, and leave with V. L. stays home with the other two. The singing group goes great and the kids love it, but I'm totally exhausted from trying to talk and sing loudly through a mask for 40 minutes!
2:30 p.m. — We get back from church, and L. has cleaned the entire house (including what are typically my jobs). I mean, come on. He's really the best. V. and I are hungry so we eat quesadillas, carrots and ranch, and Honey Nut Cheerios. The boys spend the afternoon playing nicely with each other, which is heaven. The heat still isn't working in a couple of rooms, so I finally bite the bullet and contact an HVAC professional, who can come by tomorrow at noon.
4 p.m. — We call my parents on the Facebook Portal to catch up, then L. FaceTimes with his brother, while I make some chicken quesadillas with pico de gallo. Nighttime routine from here: eat, play, movie, bedtime. It has been a huge weekend, and the boys are exhausted.
7:30 p.m. — L. and I fold a few loads of laundry, study our scriptures, and watch TV. I wish I could take a shower, but it's too cold in our bathroom to get naked! We go to sleep around 10. After floods and fevers, we're crossing our fingers for a semi-normal day tomorrow.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6:30 a.m. — Cue the morning routine: breakfast, scriptures, Nerf fights, pack up, and get the boys off to school.
8 a.m. — I straighten up the house and relish the fact that it will stay clean for the next nine hours. I do my barre blend, get ready for the day, and start catching up on work. I feel behind from missing Friday but I'm energized and getting back on top of things. I take a short break to hop on the Target website. I've seen a few articles about the new BYOMA skincare line and I'm dying to try it. I don't need anything right now but I add the face cream, jelly cleanser, and brightening serum to my cart so I remember to try them when I run out of what I'm using.
12 p.m. — I have my first therapy appointment today and I'm so excited! I've been teetering between surviving and thriving for the past few months and really want to show up as my best self for my family. I'm also starting to recognize T.'s anxiety and want to make sure I have the tools to model healthy coping for him. It's an intake visit so I mostly answer questions for an hour. I haven't asked how much the rate is but I know it will auto-debit from my HSA. We'll meet our deductible this year with the baby's birth so it's a good year to spend on healthcare. While I'm in therapy, the HVAC pro comes and fixes the remaining issues with the heat. We pay him via Quickbooks. $331.12
4 p.m. — I finish up the workday and start cooking dinner. Since our Home Chef meat was no good, I cook whatever meat I can find in the freezer. We end up with grilled chicken breasts, turkey burgers, and a spinach salad. It's not too bad, and the boys are happy about anything they can dip in ketchup!
6 p.m. — We have a fun night with the boys and start Encanto for our nightly family movie. It's the 100th time we've watched it, but we still can't get enough so we end up watching way more than planned. We get the boys in bed and wrap up the night with scripture study and some TV. We also start planning a trip to our previous home in North Carolina. A 12-hour drive will be a lot at 36 weeks pregnant, but I am giddy at the thought of seeing our friends and eating at Monuts, a Durham establishment that has objectively the best food on the planet. We plan until we can't keep our eyes open. Good night!
Daily Total: $331.12
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