A Week In Bay Area, CA, On A $1.3 Million Joint Income

·16 min read

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 housewife who has a joint income of $1.3 million and spends some of her money this week on Valentino combat boots.

Occupation: Housewife
Industry: Domestic
Age: 37
Location: Bay Area, CA
My Husband’s Salary: $1.3 million including base pay, stock awards, and bonuses
Net Worth: $2.8 million ($1.8 million in savings and investments, $1 million house equity)
Debt: $907,390.97 ($900,000 mortgage, $7,390.97 car)
My Husband’s Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $57,000 (pre-tax)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $8,000 (we’re paying more than the actual mortgage to pay off our home faster)
Car Loan: $396.80
Hulu/Disney+: $12.99
Netflix: $8.99
Apple One Premier: $29.95
Spotify: $2.50
Yard Maintenance: $100
Cell Phone: my husband’s work pays for his, I’m on a family plan that my brother pays
Utilities: $525
Car Insurance: $408
Health Insurance: $480 (deducted from paycheck)
Home Insurance: $216
Peloton Membership: $39
Chase Sapphire Reserve Fee (annual): $450
Amazon Prime (annual): $119

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 am a first-generation American and the oldest child. My parents worked hard and didn’t want my younger brother and me to work as teenagers and get distracted from our education. My mom would constantly remind me to concentrate and do my best in school. I graduated with a B.S. in Animal Science. I took out a federal student loan to pay for my college tuition.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents were savers and provided an enjoyable childhood for us. However, there wasn’t much discussion about finances. They helped me open a checking and savings account right before I started college. My mom taught me how to balance my checkbook. She passed away when I was 20; I took over her role in balancing my dad’s checkbook.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
While in college during the summers, I worked at a cafe making coffee, sandwiches, and scooping ice cream. I wanted to help my parents cover some of my living expenses.

Did you worry about money growing up?
I didn’t as a young kid, but when I was in high school both of my parents lost their jobs, which caused me to worry.

Do you worry about money now?
Not so much now. My husband, L., and I make sure to pay ourselves first by putting away money into our savings and investments. Before I met him, I used to constantly check my credit card/checking/retirement accounts and worry about my spending through most of my adult years.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I was living rent-free with my dad and brother until I moved out to live with L. at the age of 36. My dad’s house was already paid off and he wanted me to save my money and not worry about the cost of rent. I contributed to my family’s monthly expenses. L. and I have a sizable financial safety net. If anything happens, we can turn to our parents for assistance.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Yes, my parents helped with my housing and living costs while I was in college.

Day One

8:15 a.m. — My husband, L., and I wake up in our new, temporary home in Seattle. We wanted a change in scenery to take advantage of his remote work. We are considering a second (or future retirement home) in Seattle. I brew a fresh pot of coffee to start our day.

10 a.m. — As soon as we step out of our condo with face masks on, I hear our dog, K., barking as we wait for the elevator. I hope he stops soon for the sake of our neighbors. The first stop on our excursion is a cafe for a butter croissant and cheesy, garden medley of tomato and zucchini flatbread ($7.96). Next stop, we grab more coffee ($8.91). $16.77

11 a.m. — While walking back to our condo, we chat about what we want to see and explore this week. Last time we visited Seattle, all of the museums were closed. Now that the city’s COVID-19 policies are more lenient, most have reopened with limited capacity and timed entry. We book tickets to the Seattle Aquarium and Museum of Pop Culture. $133.90

12 p.m. — I eat the remaining leftovers of spicy fennel meatballs and roasted cherry tomatoes on a bed of pesto pasta for lunch before making a trip to Whole Foods. We pick up heavy whipping cream, asparagus, steak, microgreens, baby bella mushrooms, and parmesan ($60.74). Back home on the couch with K. snuggling next to us, we indulge in a new episode of 90 Day Fiancé before our 3 p.m. appointment at the aquarium. $60.74

4 p.m. — The highlight of our field trip to the aquarium is watching sea otters crush entire crabs on their bellies. They glide so effortlessly in the water and twirl 360 degrees like a log while holding their meal. We get thirsty afterward and search for a bar that’s open but to no avail. Instead, we stop by a ginger beer place and I order their seasonal tangerine, carrot, pineapple flavor. $5.50

6 p.m. — L. and I prep for dinner. We have butter-basted NY strip steak with cream sauce and sides of mushrooms and parmesan-crusted asparagus. Disclosure, L. is an excellent cook and is in charge of making most of our meals. I tried preparing dinner for us early into our relationship and it was a disaster. I’m an excellent sous chef and have no objections to cleaning the kitchen and washing dishes. It’s a win-win.

11 p.m. — Lights out for me. L. generally stays up later and watches YouTube videos before he falls asleep. We walked 12,000 steps today.

Daily Total: $216.91

Day Two

7:45 a.m. — I wake up to K. making noise in his bed. L. and I figure out our morning plans because he doesn’t have work until 1 p.m. He is WFH remotely during our entire stay in Seattle.

8:30 a.m. — We are on a mission to find a new coffee shop to be our regular spot. We take K. along with us on our walk for caffeine. I order a cappuccino and double espresso ($9.64); turns out L.’s drink is only a single shot and he doesn’t like it at all. Onward to another place called where we buy another double espresso for L. ($3.75). Again, he is not impressed. So far, nothing compares to a cup of Blue Bottle Coffee back home. After our disappointing coffee run, we stop by a fish market to pick up seafood for tonight’s dinner. L. grabs three king crab legs and a filet of smoked salmon ($166.68). What a price shocker! $180.07

10 a.m. — After a breakfast of leftover steak and eggs, we go to Target to pick up soda, sparkling water, frozen spinach, lemon, spaghetti sauce, protein chocolate chip cookies, allergy medication, and taco seasoning ($62.49). I check the receipt and notice the sales tax is 10.25%! $62.49

2 p.m. — We want to explore the other neighborhoods and take a Lyft to Kerry Park ($23.25). We take several obligatory selfies with the Space Needle in the background. Soon after walking around Queen Anne’s main drag, we decide to trek back towards downtown because there isn’t much to see or do. On our way home, we notice The 5 Point Cafe has no wait, but then again it’s mid-afternoon on a Tuesday. Last Sunday morning, we saw a huge line out the door so we made a point to check this spot out the next time we were in the area. We choose to sit outside and order fried cheese curds, chicken fried steak, soda, and strawberry rhubarb cider ($61.54). The portions are huge! Thankfully the server split the chicken fried steak into two plates. We box the untouched portion and gave it to someone in need on our way back to the condo. $84.79

8:30 p.m. — Dinner time! L. roasts the king crab legs and makes clarified butter and creamed spinach to accompany them. Yum! Afterward, we chill on the couch with K. and watch old episodes of Monk before heading to bed. We clocked in 14,000 steps today!

Daily Total: $327.35

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — I wake up. I see a Ring notification of our garden. The footage shows a raccoon walking on our deck at 3 a.m. I instantly show this exciting clip to L.

9 a.m. — We take a stroll with K. in tow for a macchiato and cappuccino ($8.50 including tip). Fourth time’s a charm! We finally find our go-to coffee shop. The drinks are smooth with hints of chocolate and plum. Next door, we grab a quick breakfast of raspberry croissant and egg frittata. It’s located inside a Starbucks Reserve so I load money onto the app to pay the remaining balance ($10). $18.50

10:45 a.m. — Scrolling through the Nordstrom app, I see a pair of denim-patched sneakers that spark my interest. They are the last pair and in my size. Wish they were available in-store to see them in person. Oh well, I add them to my cart along with a Nars cream bronzer. $252.91

12 p.m. — The weather has been super cold and we are in the mood for pho to warm us up. We walk to a nearby restaurant and got a table inside. I order grilled pork satay as an appetizer, two bowls of noodle soup with rare steak and meatballs, and a can of soda ($36.12 including tip). To put things in perspective, Seattle has increased indoor dining capacity to 50%. I am fully vaccinated, but L. is not. $36.12

3:15 p.m. — L. wants to check out a knife shop in Kirkland. As we drive onto the main street along the waterfront, we notice quite a number of bronze sculptures of bears, hares, and children. The knife shop is busy and we don’t want to wait. Instead, we cross the street to split a Beach Club sandwich at Jimmy John’s. Since we are near the area, we head over to Medina to get a glimpse of Bill Gates’ mansion (wishful thinking). We can only see his large entry gate and take a photo to commemorate the visit. It’s still pretty cool and we check off one thing from L.’s Seattle bucket list. $9.63

5:15 p.m. — Run a load of laundry and watch Law & Order.

6:20 p.m. — For dinner, L. makes taco meat with onion, bell pepper, and mushroom over white rice for me and cauliflower rice for him. We continue to watch Law & Order until bedtime. We recorded 8,700 steps today.

Daily Total: $317.16

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — Wake up and fall back asleep.

8:30 a.m. — Officially start our morning and walk with K. to our favorite coffee shop for our usual macchiato and cappuccino ($8.50 including tip). Back home, L. makes us cast iron bacon and eggs, and I add a toasted everything bagel with scallion cream cheese for myself. $8.50

11:30 a.m. — L. and I throw out ideas for what to do this weekend. I scroll through my Seattle activity list and suggest a mini road trip to Leavenworth. It’s a small Bavarian-style village that has a reindeer farm. He is all for it, so I book two tickets to the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. Fingers crossed there are baby reindeer! $42.40

3 p.m. — We make a quick trip to an Italian deli before L.’s next work call. We pick up swiss cheese, jamón ibérico, mortadella, rosemary ham, hot sauce, and chocolates. $111.49

5 p.m. — Before our dinner reservation, we go for happy hour at a local bar. I’m not a fan of alcoholic drinks because they give me “Asian glow,” however, I happily snack on the charcuterie platter while L. enjoys some specialty cocktails ($65.05 including tip). We then walk to Din Tai Fung for a more fulfilling meal of cucumber salad, soup dumplings, spicy wontons, sautéed cabbage with garlic, noodles with sesame sauce, pork chop over fried rice, chocolate and mochi dumpling, martinis, and soda ($145.95 including tip). Yes, that is A LOT of food. We take the remaining leftovers home. We walked 9,100 steps today. $211

Daily Total: $373.39

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — Wake up and brew coffee at home. Soon after, we head out to pick up pastries from the French bakery ($14.55) followed by some more smoked salmon and giant tiger prawns ($65.85) from the fish market. $80.40

12:30 p.m. — Today, we’re visiting the Museum of Pop Culture. On our way there, we make a stop at a German Turkish street food spot for a quick lunch. We both order the lamb and beef doner plate and a bottle of water ($28.27). Thank goodness we purchased tickets earlier in the week because now it’s sold out. We stroll through all the exhibits except the Minecraft one, which has a 90-minute wait. We have no patience for that. $28.27

4:30 p.m. — The gourmet popcorn stand is open today. I purchase a large golden bag of brown butter and cheddar jalapeño mix. Wowza what a sticker shock! This better be the best popcorn in the world. $17.50

5 p.m. — We watch World Food Championship on Amazon Prime until dinner time. L. makes bacon-wrapped tiger prawns over leftover Din Tai Fung fried rice.

8:15 p.m. — We run out of non-alcoholic drinks, so I pop over to Target to stock up. We also add a carton of eggs and butter since we are running low. $37.27

11 p.m. — I fall asleep on the couch with Monk playing in the background and relocate to bed. We recorded 11,100 steps.

Daily Total: $163.44

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and snuggle with L.

8 a.m. — We are out the door with K. to the coffee shop for our usual; L. has two macchiatos ($12 including tip). I reload my Starbucks app and pop over to the Starbucks Reserve next door for a raisin, pistachio girella ($10). $22

11 a.m. — It’s the weekend! We go to a two-story, high-end department store called Mario’s. While I peruse and try on clothes and shoes, L. enjoys a can of champagne on the husband chair. After modeling a mound of tops and pants, I end up taking home a Brunello Cucinelli sweater, Valentino chain combat boots, and R13 skinny jeans. Then L. has another can of champagne (on the house!). $3,840.50

1:15 p.m. — We hurry over to an open house that L. found on Redfin a few days ago. The pictures make the unit look very appealing, but what they don’t reveal is the super low ceiling. L.’s head almost touches the top of the shower as well as the beams in the main living area. He has to duck to look out the window with a view of the waterfront. Pass.

2 p.m. — L. and I haven’t eaten since breakfast and we’re getting really hungry. We make a stop at a restaurant for a drink and tapas platter ($41.23 including tip). Still hungry, I stop by a stall for fish tacos, which are inedible ($11), and L. grabs a slice of pizza next door ($6.88). We make a last attempt at a Japanese stand for chicken teriyaki ($22.08). Trying new spots while hungry is not a good idea. $81.19

4 p.m. — L. wants to take me to Chanel even though he’s not fond of the store. I try on several colorful 19 flap bags, but the price of their non-leather bags turns us off. Empty-handed, we walked by a street performer singing Eurythmic’s “Sweet Dreams” and tip her. $3

7:15 p.m. — We have a dinner reservation at Japonessa Sushi Cocina. There were many good reviews online; however, you can’t always trust those. We order agedashi tofu, a street fighter roll, a spider roll, and soda ($52.04 including tip). The food is decent, but we are more annoyed at the loud guy talking non-stop sitting behind us and want to leave ASAP. $52.04

8 p.m. — We spend the rest of the evening on the couch with K. watching Law & Order until bedtime. 13,800 steps!

Daily Total: $3,988.73

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — I immediately get up because we’re driving to Leavenworth! No time for our coffee shop, so I brew coffee at home and assemble baguette sandwiches with mortadella and butter for breakfast.

11 a.m. — We finally arrive at the reindeer farm. After listening to the owner’s introduction about the farm and learning more about these magical creatures, we walk over to feed and pet reindeer! Fun facts: reindeer have UV vision and their antlers can grow up to an inch a day. What makes this visit even more special is that there’s a five-day-old baby named Frosty.

12 p.m. — The main part of town looks like a small village in Germany with a backdrop of snow-covered mountains. Fitting into the Bavarian theme, we have beef goulash and pork cutlet with mushroom sauce and spaetzle for lunch ($52 including tip). I also pick up an apple strudel to snack on in the car ($4). $56

12:45 p.m. — We get gas for the car before the long trek home. $61.62

3 p.m. — Once in the city proper, L. and I make a quick trip to pick up K. and continue to explore the neighborhoods. We visit the Fremont Troll and Ballard district before settling at home for the rest of the day.

7:30 p.m. — Frozen pizza for dinner because we are tired.

9 p.m. — While watching 90 Day Fiancé, I place an Amazon fresh order for next week’s meals (soda, cheese, granola bars, raspberries, sage, ground beef, bell pepper, balsamic vinaigrette, eggplant, salad mix, cauliflower, sparkling water, sweet cherry peppers, milk, onion, chicken, orange, moon cheese, taco seasoning, frozen pizza, and blackberries). $86.18

11 p.m. — Time for bed! With all the driving today, we only trekked 5,500 steps.

Daily Total: $203.80

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