A Week In Philadelphia, PA, On A Joint $190,000 Salary

Photo: Courtesy of RX Bars.
Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a telecom manager who makes $190,000 per year. She spends some of her money this week on RXBars, Larabars, and thredUp.
Occupation: Manager, Competitive Marketing Strategy
Industry: Telecom
Age: 25
Location: Philadelphia
My Salary: $88,000, plus an annual $16,000 bonus
My Paycheck (Every Other Friday): $1,832.06
Husband's Salary: $80,000, plus $5,000+ in overtime each year
Husband's Paycheck (2x/month): $1,892.97
Monthly Expenses
Housing: We recently moved to Philadelphia and pay $2,152 a month for a 700-square-foot studio. The cost includes one-car parking, renters' insurance, and pet rent. We still own our condo in Atlanta, which we are renting out.
Water & Heat: ~$40 per month.
Condo: The mortgage for the condo is around $1,080 per month, but we pay an even $1,100 and the HOA fee is $260. Our tenants pay $1,400, and we put the little bit of excess in an account to help with taxes.
Loan Payments: $72/month, but I pay $150. I worked full-time my last two years of college, and applied to at least 10 scholarships per year.
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All Other Monthly Expenses
Husband's Student Loans: $180
Car Payment: $400 (almost done after three years!)
Credit Card Debt: $1,000. We paid for our wedding ourselves and owe about $8,000 on a 0% APR card.
Yoga: $260 for 20 classes. (I use one pack every 1.5 months.)
Cable: $30. I get a discount through work.
Hulu: $11.99. I hate commercials!
Cell Phone Plan: $137 for service and phone payments. My in-laws are on our plan.
Retirement: $600 towards 401(k)s and employee stock option plans.
Healthcare: $127 for just me. (This is the last year my husband can be on his parents' plan.)
HSA: $10/paycheck
Monthly Medication: $10. I'm lucky that I have great health insurance. I have ankylosing spondylitis and need to take a shot every two weeks. Without insurance, the shots cost about $24,000/month; my insurance covers most of it.

Day One

7 a.m. — I was totally going to get up early to run, but I hit snooze for over an hour. Oops! I justify it because I've a head cold that I'm trying to kick, and my dog needs extra cuddles. Finally get out of bed and grab coffee I made the night before in our Keurig. (I drink my coffee cold because I grew up in New England.) Pack a bunch of snacks for the day, including a Chomps meat stick, an RXBar, and a Larabar, and head out the door for my 20-minute walk to work.
1 p.m. — We've had an all-day working session and are just now breaking for lunch. I planned to eat sad leftovers from last week, but my boss treats us to Chipotle. As sad as I am to throw away food, I'm not complaining about Chipotle! I get a sofritas salad bowl with spicy salsa, chips, and tap water.
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4 p.m. — We've been working through deliverables for a big meeting this week and I know it's going to be a late night, so I sneak out to get Starbucks. The cashier accidentally takes two customers ahead of me, even though I was standing in line, so he gives me my drink for free! It was annoying to be ignored, but my grande coconut milk mocha macchiato is worth it.
5:30 p.m. — My attention span is getting shorter, so I take a quick break to buy train tickets to go to NYC next weekend. I went to school in upstate New York, but lived in Atlanta for the past two years. I'm so excited to see some of my college roomies! I buy two Amtrak tickets for me and my husband for next weekend, including a disability ticket for myself because the trip is more than two hours. I'll need an aisle seat to stretch my legs and back midway through our journey. $250
6 p.m. — Finally break for the night. I head to orientation for a mentorship program I'm doing to help first-generation college students. Even though I'm not a first-generation college student, I relate a lot to those students since I grew up on a farm and my mom didn't have contacts I could leverage to get a corporate job. Tonight's the first night and it's the mentors only, so we can get to know each other and learn the curriculum for the semester-long program. There are some sad looking sandwiches; I stick to water.
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8 p.m. — The place is only about a mile from my apartment, but it's getting late and I don't feel like walking. Plus, it was freezing and the orientation was held on a rooftop; cool in theory, but definitely too cold this time of year. UberPool option is only 50 cents less than regular Uber, so I splurge. When I get the receipt email, it says I had a $4 discount code? I'm not complaining! $2.69
8:15 p.m. — When I get home, I'm starving! I reheat leftovers (homemade pizza with bacon jam, mashed potatoes, and scallions from last night), and then make coffee and a yogurt parfait for the morning. My husband and I watch a disappointing Atlanta United soccer game until bedtime.
Daily Total: $252.69

Day Two

5:15 a.m. — I hate waking up early, but I signed up for a yoga class this morning. Although I'm a bit groggy, I really need a low-impact class right now. Ankylosing spondylitis is a condition that attacks my spine; my sacroiliac (SI) joints and lower lumbar spine are already “fused,” which means there is calcification over the joint and it is no longer flexible. If I don't work out, the fusions could continue, or the current fusions will cause pain as it's harder for my body to naturally pump fluid from my spine to my other joints. Right now, I'm able to manage my disease with exercise and medication, so I still feel lucky.
7 a.m. — Head into work early for a meeting. I sip my coffee during the walk, dig into my parfait at the office, and start working through a data visualization for our big meeting tomorrow. After working in a conference room yesterday, I'm happy to be back at my desk! I have a standing-sit desk to alleviate my back pain. The desk took almost three months to get here because the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) process took forever. There was so much paperwork that needed to be filled out by either me, my doctor, or my employer!
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12 p.m. — I'm still super busy, so I eat lunch at my desk. I don't like wasting food, so I'm eating leftovers from Sunday night: rice pilaf, Asian pork, and a pineapple jalapeño salsa. This meal actually tastes great heated up.
4 p.m. — I leave work a little on the early side because tomorrow we have an early morning meeting. When I get home, I take the dog out and watch HGTV until my husband gets home.
8 p.m. — It takes us a solid two hours to figure out what we want for dinner. Usually I'd cook, but I have a head cold and don't feel like getting off the couch. We settle on cheesesteaks: he gets a classic one and I get balsamic brie. We debate walking the mile to pick up the food and end up deciding on delivery. My husband pays, but this will come out of our joint account. $25.64
10 p.m. — We watch random talk shows and catch up on our days. I have a glass of white wine even though I should probably be chugging OJ or tea. I also make my coffee for tomorrow.
Daily Total: $25.64

Day Three

5:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I need to be at the office by 7 a.m. sharp, so I'm up earlier today. I pack my bag as quietly as possible but still manage to wake the dog. He stays quiet and I slip out of the door with my coffee by 6:30.
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11 a.m. — Our meeting went great! As a bonus, my boss brought donuts from an amazing local place and Starbucks coffee. At this point, I'm over-caffeinated; it is probably a good thing because I think my head cold is getting worse. It's a little early for lunch, so I eat a Larabar I packed.
12 p.m. — My boss says I can head out early since I was in the office so early. I work through lunch, and snack on pretzels and Laughing Cow cheese I brought to tide me over.
3:30 p.m. — Home and I'm starving! I eat what's left from my cheesesteak from last night.
4 p.m. — My Peapod grocery delivery order goes through and will be delivered tomorrow morning. At first I thought buying groceries online for home-delivery was a luxury, but even with the delivery cost, it's still very affordable. The only options close to our apartment are Whole Foods, which is usually too expensive, and Trader Joe's, which doesn't have everything we need. We do a grocery delivery order once every 10 days or so. I typically look for whatever meat is on sale and build meals around that. This week, spaghetti squash and bone-in pork chops are on sale, so I get those along with apples, bananas, blueberries, kale greens, dates, scallions, oranges, parsley, pears, radishes, raspberries, strawberries, ground lean beef, vanilla yogurt, orange juice, frozen cherries, frozen edamame, unsweetened cocoa, cumin, sea salt, cinnamon sticks, cloves, unsweetened coconut, almond butter, and marinara sauce. $94.74
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6 p.m. — Tonight, I want to use up the rest of the food from our last grocery order. I make creamed kale with shallots and roasted pork with onions.
7 p.m. — When we moved to Philly, my husband stayed with the same company but moved to a different department. He attends a lot more client meetings in his new role, so he needs more sports jackets. We look online for good deals and finally land on Macy's. He purchases three jackets for $229.96, but this comes out of his personal account.
Daily Total: $94.74

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I'm working from home today (yay) so I sleep in a little bit. I get to work from home every two weeks (per the ADA) to get my Humira shot. Yes, it's the same shot you see advertised on TV all the time — though the commercials fail to state that Humira is a HUGE EFFING SHOT that hurts pretty badly. For me, Humira stops my spine from fusing and limits my flare-ups. It does have some annoying side effects, especially fatigue, but I've really gotten my life back since I started taking it two years ago. I get up, wash my face, and start dreading my shot.
8 a.m. — It's shot time. I've had a needle phobia since I was a little kid (I had to get the rabies shots at two years old), and my husband still injects me. The shot takes about 10 seconds to administer and I don't trust myself to not pull it out. We start our usual shot routine: My husband gets everything ready while I blast Eminem's "Lose Yourself" to get myself pumped. The whole process takes about 10 minutes. I am prescribed Xanax since I have such bad shot anxiety, but I'm trying to use breathing techniques to make it through. Today is relatively uneventful (with a couple of swear words thrown in). Afterwards, I make some coffee to put in the freezer (I forgot to make it last night) and eat a coconut RXBar.
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10 a.m. — It's a slow day at work and I'm a little jealous that my husband got work clothes last night. I browse thredUp and end up buying two jeans, a work dress, and a work sweater. I apply a $50 credit from a dress I returned a month ago. $53.63
11 a.m. — I need to be busy or else I buy stupid things. I was browsing Facebook and saw a great promotion for RXBars (my favorite). I get a variety pack of 14 for only $19.98! Just as I'm finishing the purchase, my groceries arrive. $19.98
1 p.m. — I get a few things done and touch base with my boss, who is on his way to run the Chicago Marathon. He tells me I'm good to sign off if I have everything done. My boss and I get along well, and he's great about work-life balance and helping me elevate my work. I finish off a few things and then get to cooking! I prep two spaghetti squashes and put them in the slow cooker for six hours. Then I make two batches of chai tea from scratch, which I love to drink in the afternoon. After, I make raspberry-lemon yogurt popsicles. I love having something sweet after dinner, and these are relatively healthy. I sample everything I'm making and eat a Chomps meat stick for lunch.
7 p.m. — My brother-in-law and his husband are in town for the weekend, so we meet up with them for dinner. We saw them a few weeks ago at our wedding, but it's nice to see them again so soon since they live in South Carolina. After dinner (which we split, coming to $33 plus a $7 tip for our half), we stop to get beer. It physically hurts me how expensive beer is in Philly, but I bite the bullet and get a six-pack of Stone Enjoy By for $19.99. $59.99
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9 p.m. — It's a gorgeous night, so we all head back to our place and hang out in the lounge by the pool to talk about politics, parents, and pets — some of my favorite topics! We polish off a few beers and a bottle of wine I had in the house. (I'm very proud of my wine collection.) My BIL and his husband go back to their hotel around 11 p.m. and we go straight to bed.
Daily Total: $133.60

Day Five

9 a.m. — The Humira shot I took yesterday was my last one, so I need to order more. Without insurance, the cost is about $12,000 for two shots; with my insurance, they're only $5. (Thank god!) I'm incredibly grateful, but the ongoing healthcare debate stresses me out. If they limit coverage for pre-existing conditions, I'm screwed. I buy the shots online and pay using my HSA account. $5
10 a.m. — For brunch, I whip up the spaghetti squash and meatballs I made yesterday, along with pasta sauce we already have. My husband and I chat while he slowly wakes up.
12 p.m. — Super embarrassing, but I've wanted to get the hair above my upper lip taken care of for a long time. I found a Groupon with great reviews and purchased it earlier this week ($151.29 with a discount code). Today, I'm going in for my consultation and I'm excited! My husband decides to walk to the appointment with me to explore the area.
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1 p.m. — The appointment was quick and I'm excited! I meet up with my husband at the mall, where he bought a few pairs of pants on sale at Gap. I wander into Loft Outlet and buy two sweaters that are on sale. Afterwards, my husband buys a pretzel. I try not to eat any, but end up taking two bites. My husband wants to buy a smoothie but I remind him we already have all the smoothie makings back home. $50
3 p.m. — On our way home, we stop at Trader Joe's to pick up a few things I need for recipes: pizza dough, dates, and milk. We walk another two blocks home and I make us smoothies with frozen banana, frozen blueberries, fresh strawberries, and OJ. I also make myself a chai tea latte; surprisingly, it's delicious! I'll be remaking this recipe for sure. We waste the rest of the afternoon watching Pool Kings. I'm addicted to HGTV; what can I say? $7.49
7 p.m. — Some of our friends are heading to Applebee's for $1 margs and I can't say no. We meet them around 7 p.m. and walk the mile to the restaurant. Once we're there, we take turns buying rounds while we wait for our table. Once we get seated, we can take advantage of half-off apps! One of my friends and I split a pretzel with beer cheese, and my husband gets mozzarella sticks and a steak quesadilla. Some of the group goes out on the town, but the rest of us head back to our apartment. $36.80
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9 p.m. — I whip up a quick sangria by cooking apples, strawberries, and lemon in sugar water and then putting the fruit and liquid in an ice bath. While it cooks down, I mix rosé and rum, and then add the fruit. We go to our friends' apartment with the sangria and our dog so he can play with our friends' puppy. I drunkenly tell everyone (about 10 times) that I want to be the modern-day Martha Stewart — minus the jail time. (Sober me still concurs.) We go home around 1 a.m. and go right to bed.
aDaily Total: $99.29

Day Six

8 a.m. — I drank LOTS of water before bed last night, so I feel fine this morning! My husband is still sleeping, so I go into the kitchen to start cooking. I make batter for Giddy-Up Energy Bites from my Run Fast. Eat Slow cookbook, which I love. (The batter has dates, cranberries, almond butter, walnuts, Nutella, coconut, instant coffee, and salt.) I make a triple batch and freeze the extras. I also put ingredients for mulled wine (apple cider, red wine, cinnamon sticks, cut up oranges and apples) in the slow cooker so we can sip on that throughout the day. Then I take out the pizza dough we bought yesterday to make another batch of the mashed potato, bacon jam, and scallion pizza.
10 a.m. — My husband finally gets up. I beg him to go to Whole Foods because I'm craving fresh pico and don't have any of the ingredients. I promise to bring the dog out the rest of the day and he agrees! He picks up the pico and I make us breakfast sandwiches (whole-wheat English muffins, eggs, goat cheese, and pico). After breakfast, I do some yoga stretches to help with my back. I'd usually go to a class, but I can't stop coughing and don't want to bother everyone. $4.29
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3 p.m. — Some of our friends from the development stop by with chips and salsa! We hang out with them and play several rounds of the card game Exploding Kittens. It's been our go-to Christmas/Secret Santa present because the game is easy to learn and so much fun to play. We also drink all the mulled wine.
6 p.m. — Our friends head out and my husband gets back into the football games that are going on. He's always super into his fantasy team, while I couldn't care less. I clean up the kitchen and get started on dinner: Asian salmon in steamed bok choy wrappers. Dinner is a smashing success and we have lots of salmon left over. My husband continues to watch football and I watch a few episodes of Beachfront Bargain: Renovation in bed. I end up researching the Pillsbury bake-off competition and make a mental note to submit a few recipes.
Daily Total: $4.29

Day Seven

6 a.m. — Ugh. It's early but I need to get up. Two weeks ago, we were in a minor car accident and I need to drop off my car to get fixed. I get up, wash my face, and pack lunch. I don't feel like trying to divvy up the salmon or the spaghetti pasta, so I make a snack lunch of pretzels with Laughing Cow cheese, a few Giddy Up energy bites, a Larabar, and raspberry yogurt with granola. I leave all my work stuff because I'll have to come back to drop off the rental car.
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7:30 a.m. — I get to the car collision place. They check out my car and guess that the back bumper and collision bar will need to be replaced (which goes to show you how hard we were hit). The car behind us hit our car twice because the driver “couldn't find the brake.” My husband ended up with a concussion and I got whiplash, but the car was actually in decent shape — or so we thought! We hired one of those billboard lawyers to help navigate the claims process, especially since we're concerned there may be long-term effects from the accident. After talking with the body shop folks, they set me up with the rental car place. The whole process is quick and within 20 minutes, I drive out in a Nissan Rouge. Everything will be covered by insurance, but the car requires a $50 deposit that will be reimbursed when returned. $50
8 a.m. — I get back home sooner than expected and have time to make a nice breakfast. I make breakfast sandwiches with goat cheese, pico, and an egg on whole-wheat English muffins. We eat breakfast while watching CNN and then head into work together.
9 a.m. — My boss is still in Chicago so I have a lot to cover while he's gone. I chug the rest of my coffee, put on some Latin pop music, and get to work.
12 p.m. — I'm shocked at how late it is! I got a lot accomplished this morning and still have a few things I'm hoping to knock out, so I work through lunch. I eat the snacks I prepared this morning. Halfway through lunch, the garage calls to let me know that my car will take about three days to fix (at no cost to me).
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2 p.m. — A recent graduate of my alma mater reached out for career advice last week and I happily set up a call. It was exciting to be identified as a “successful young professional” worthy of giving professional direction. We chat for 30 minutes while I munch on a Larabar.
5 p.m. — Head out of work because my attention span is waning fast. I meet up with my husband to trek the 20 minutes home, where we have a "free-for-all" dinner — basically whatever leftovers are left. He settles for pizza, while I reheat some the salmon from last night. We hang out watching recorded late-night talk shows until he leaves at 7:45 p.m. for his soccer league. I go to the gym in our apartment complex and hop on the elliptical.
9 p.m. — When I get back from the gym, I take the pupster out and tidy up. One of my friends texts to let me know there's now an expansion pack to Exploding Kittens and I have to get it! It's available on Amazon for $14.99. When I go to buy the pack, I notice a few things in our cart from my husband — deodorant, shampoo, and dry Swiffer pads. I order everything, make my coffee for tomorrow, and go to bed! $48.99
Daily Total: $98.99
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.
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