A Week In Boise, ID, On A $126,000 Salary

·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 senior strategist who makes $126,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Pinkberry.

Occupation: Senior Strategist
Industry: Advertising
Age: 30
Location: Boise, ID
Salary: $126,000 + avg. 15% bonus (paid out quarterly & varies from 5-20% depending on revenue targets)
My Husband’s Salary: $140,000 (we keep our money completely separate)
Net Worth: ~$440,000 (Brokerage: ~$260,000, 401(k): ~$100,000, Traditional IRA: ~$20,500, Roth IRA: ~$13,500, HSA: ~$4,500, Cash: $40,000. My net worth has been on a roller coaster since the end of 2021, I’m down still despite saving and investing consistently. While it has been stressful seeing the fluctuations, this has resulted in me being less obsessive over my investments (instead of checking several times a day, I only check one to two times a week). My husband, K., has a net worth of around $250,000, and I had a higher salary than him until very recently. We keep our finances separate and split everything 50/50 aside from personal purchases (i.e clothes). We keep a running spreadsheet and settle up every couple of weeks. We may combine eventually, but this works for now. We currently do not have a car or any student loan debt.)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $3,065
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $930 for my half of a one-bedroom apartment
Internet: $0 (this is covered by K.’s company)
Spotify: My sister pays in exchange for Amazon Prime
HBO Max: My other sister pays in exchange for Amazon Prime
Netflix: We use K.’s parents’ login
Cell Phone: $0 (work covers my phone)
Electricity: $35-$40 for my half
Utilities: $20 for my half
Health/Dental/Vision Insurance: $220 (Pre-tax from my paycheck; this is technically all for my husband since my company pays 100% of my insurance costs. I just pay it and K. will pay for extra date nights out etc.) 401(k): $1,200 (Pre-tax from my paycheck)
FSA: $166 (Pre-tax from my paycheck)
Savings/Investments: ~$3,000-$4,000

Annual Expenses
Renters Insurance: $62.50 annually for my half
Annual Credit Card Fees: $585 (across three different cards)
Amazon: $119/annually (although next year will be $139)
Hulu/Disney+: $48/annually to my sister to share this account

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?
Absolutely, growing up there was no other option. My parents were kind enough to pay for my undergraduate degree so I did not take out any loans. I also had an academic and athletic scholarship that covered 50-70% of my costs. My parents also paid for housing and groceries during undergrad. I did a one-year graduate degree and paid for it with a combination of gift money, working, and graduate loans. My parents gifted me $10,000 as my undergraduate gift (which I applied to tuition immediately), I worked two jobs, and took out about $25,000 in loans. I was able to pay my loans off in four years.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Growing up and to this day my parents and entire family have been extremely frugal and great savers. My family also made sure I had a checking account from a young age and they gave me an authorized credit card when I was 16 for emergencies. Once I went to college, they covered my groceries using the credit card — this provided me with a really great foundation for building my credit score. While my family instilled a great savings mindset in me, I never learned about actual finances until I was about 24 or 25. My parents didn’t know how to invest and all I was told was to get a job with a 401(k). When I met K. he introduced me to the concept of FIRE (Financial Independence and Retire Early) and I was fascinated by it and have since gotten very into it.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was working on weekends at my uncle’s office as a receptionist. I helped answer the phone, took messages, and put together files. My first non-family job was in retail at 18.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Not really, the only time I worried was around 2008-09 when my parents were really pinching pennies to save money by sleeping at their business a few nights a week so they wouldn’t have to commute as much and use as much gas. But I was lucky, I always had plenty of food to eat and was always clothed.

Do you worry about money now?
No, fortunately. My only worry stems from me shaming myself or feeling guilty for spending certain amounts. I definitely worried about money for the first four years post-graduation while I was still paying back my student loans. At the time, I made a much lower salary and was spending the majority of my paychecks shopping. My first two years post-graduation, I would shop so much. I’m ashamed of how much I spent. I never spent more than my paychecks or missed any bills, but I hardly ever had any money left to save.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I’d say 24. If I lost my job or had some sort of emergency, I have a nice emergency fund for myself. My husband and my sisters could help me if need be. And of course, my parents would help me too…but I think I would have a lot of shame and guilt if I ever had to go back to my parents for financial support because they are nearing retirement and I would never want to be a burden.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Besides the $10,000 gift from my parents that I put towards tuition, none.

Day One

5:30 a.m. — I wake up to some puppy cries. I’m visiting my sister who lives in a different state than me and to help with her puppy while her fiancé is out of town. I take the puppy out for a quick pee and then the puppy joins us in bed, it’s so nice having some puppy snuggles.

7 a.m. — My sister and I get up and we take out the puppy and her other dog (my OG fur niece) to a park so they can do their business and get out some zoomies. After both dogs have successfully taken care of business, we walk to my favorite coffee shop and get a cocoa cappuccino ($4 + tip). We head back to my sisters to both get started on the work day. $5

12 p.m. — We both work until noon and then it’s time to take the dogs out again. We walk to a different park where there is the usual lunch gang of dogs and their owners. So many zoomies and so many floofs. I love watching all the dogs play. We head back and I make one of our favorite meals, tteobokki, which are Korean spicy rice cakes. My sister pre-bought the ingredients a few days ago in anticipation that I would make them during my visit.

5 p.m. — I wrap up work, finish packing up, and order a Lyft to the airport. I cry inside over the prices but I also don’t want to take Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) with a suitcase or as a woman. I sadly say goodbye to my sister and my dog nieces. I tip $7 for the ride. $50

6 p.m. — Breeze through TSA thanks for pre-check (my pre-check was covered by one of my credit cards as a benefit, but this is something I would gladly pay $85 for out of pocket). I contemplate using my Priority Pass card and dining at an eligible restaurant ($28 stipend, so I’d only pay for any overage and the tip), but I don’t feel that hungry and not in the mood to sit down at a restaurant. I spy a Pinkberry and get a small strawberry with fruit and mochi. $6.34

10 p.m. — I sleep through the flight and grab a Lyft to go home. Thankful that my ride home is so much less. I tip $3, then shower and crawl into bed. $16

Daily Total: $77.34

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and get ready for the gym. My building has a decent-sized gym and usually, my husband, K., and I get it all to ourselves. While there are some equipment pieces that would be nice to have, you can’t beat free and the convenience of it being in the same building. I miss attending workout classes but haven’t found anything close by that would interest me. I run a mile then do a full body strength workout. K. and I head back to our apartment. I shower and he makes me my daily latte. Probably one of the best parts of my morning is having a latte ready for me at my desk before I start work.

12 p.m. — We don’t have any food at home so we head out for lunch. We get tacos and K. pays, but we split most everything 50/50 unless the other person is treating. We have a spreadsheet that we use to log our shared expenses. My portion comes out to $10. $10

6 p.m. — I head to the grocery store after work. I grab $60 worth of groceries for three meals, the cost of which I split with my husband). The three meals I have planned will cover our dinners and lunch the next day. For dinner tonight, I make a mushroom gyudon bowl. $30

9 p.m. — After dinner, K. cleans up. I ignore my unpacked suitcase and play around on my phone instead. I chat to my mom on the phone and she tells me about a bag she likes. I go online and purchase the bag for her — I am able to apply a 25% coupon and 4% cash back from Rakuten. My mom doesn’t ask for things too often but she will occasionally let me know if she wants something online (skin care or the occasional clothing item) and I’m more than happy to purchase for her. My parents are more than generous to me and so it feels nice to feel like I’m treating her once in a while. Eventually, it’s time to get ready for bed. We brush our teeth and then get in bed. $83.33

Daily Total: $123.33

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — I wake up, head to the gym, and do a similar routine as yesterday but switch up the exercises. Another day, another latte waiting for me at my desk. I have a marathon of meetings and cry internally. Although I’ve been at this company for five years, I still feel like a chicken with its head cut off half the time. My specific role has me constantly stressed but I’ve been treated relatively well (although I see lots of my coworkers getting the short end of the stick). During my sync with my manager, I’m reminded of the long list of things I have to do, and my stress skyrockets.

10 a.m. — A few of my coworkers that I saw last week just tested positive for COVID. I take an at-home COVID test and I’m negative. I talk with another coworker who I was in close contact with also tested negative and we make a pact to test every other day and to keep each other updated.

1 p.m. — I head out and walk 15 minutes to my physical therapy appointment. This is my first time going to PT. I have terrible posture and I carry my stress in my shoulders, which leads to frequent tension headaches. While going to a chiropractor sounded easier, K. encouraged me to try out PT first so that I could get help to improve and strengthen my posture which would help me more in the long term.

The doctor does his initial assessment and works on my left shoulder for about 10 minutes. I then work with an aide doing some back exercises and get a little sweaty… I’m going to blame it on the heat. I pay the $20 copay and schedule a few appointments. I upload my receipt as soon as I get home to my FSA provider. I go back home, work some more, make dinner, and then chill before going to bed. $20

Daily Total: $20

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I do my usual morning routine, and notice during my workout that my shoulder and neck are a little sore, which must be from the PT exercises. After my workout, I grab my latte and start another exciting day in the life of a young professional working from home.

11 a.m. — Text with my best friend about a concert that we’ve been talking about going to for a while. We live in different states, and would both need to fly for this concert. Luckily we have some other friends who live by the concert location, so we text a few to see if they’re free. One of our good friends is interested, so he buys the tickets and I Venmo him $79. I look up flights and they’re around $300 which feels pricey given the distance. I contemplate and decide to sit on it. I have $300 in travel credits that can cover the flight, but I feel like the prices could go down. $79

1 p.m. — K. checks the mail and brings me a surprise: a letter from the IRS. Somehow I still owe another $500. I feel annoyed that I somehow miscalculated my taxes — I paid quarterly taxes and already paid $600 when I filed… how did this happen? I wouldn’t even know where to begin to understand, let alone dispute this, so I write the check and drop it off in the mailbox. Also, I’d like to complain that the IRS is so cheap they don’t even provide pre-paid postage when they’re asking me for more money. $500

7 p.m. — I finish the work day, make dinner, and watch a few episodes of South Park with K.

Daily Total: $579

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — Same morning routine. I take another at-home COVID test, and I’m still negative.

12:30 p.m. — Every Friday, K. and I go out for lunch and then work out of a coffee shop. It’s our Friday treat and today we are getting poke! I get a poke bowl (half rice, half salad) while K. gets it in a burrito form (a sushiritto?). $17.25

1 p.m. — We head to our usual coffee shop and set up our laptops. I get a cortado and K. gets a shot of espresso. We both work and enjoy our drinks. I love Friday afternoons because I never have calls so I can actually get work done. $4.75

3:30 p.m. — We decide to pack up to go home, but are both very tempted by a beer garden. Iit’s sunny out and it’s Friday, why not? We each get a beer and a bowl of mac and cheese with bacon. We decide to split another beer. By the end, we both feel very full and buzzed (yes, we are both lightweights). I feel tired so I convince K. that we should ride a Lime scooter together which he reluctantly agrees to. We come across one and as soon as he sees the actual scooter, he decides there is no way we will both fit. I grumble and we walk home. $15

7 p.m. — We stop on our way home to grab scallions and ham from the grocery store. We’re both a little hungry when we get home so I make instant spicy ramen. I elevate the instant ramen by thinly slicing the scallions, making two soft-boiled eggs, and adding the thick slices of deli ham. $5

Daily Total: $42

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — It’s the freaking weekend baby! We “sleep in” until 8:30. Once we’re up, K. makes me a latte and I make us some breakfast (toasted sourdough, bacon, hashbrowns, and eggs).

11 a.m. — I start getting itchy and can feel my face swelling. I have chronic hives and it comes and goes. But when it comes, not only do I look horrible but it kind of zaps me, so I sleep for the next few hours. K. does productive things around the apartment for us.

6 p.m. — Finally wake up around 4:30 and decide that my face swelling looks acceptable enough. I shower and get ready to go out to dinner. We try to check out a new place every Saturday, and this week we try out a pizza place and get meatballs and two pizzas. I also get a sangria while K. gets a beer. We end up having almost an entire pizza worth of leftovers, which we take home. $35

Daily Total: $35

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I sleep in and mosey around the house. I check slack to see that my other coworker tested positive yesterday, so I take an at-home test. I’m still negative. Woo, maybe my immune system is still strong.

12 p.m. — I head to the grocery store and pick up groceries for the week. I pick up some staples (milk, eggs, bread), fresh produce, and some meats. $80

1 p.m. — We pour some wine, I reheat the pizza from last night, and we eat on our little balcony. It feels really nice.

3 p.m. — I hop on my work laptop and work on some slides for a client presentation this week. I work on them for about two hours. I eventually make dinner with the groceries I bought.

Daily Total: $80

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