Welcome to Money Diaries, where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.
Today: a Communications Director working in Government who has a $220,600 income and spends some of her money this week on toddler flip flops.
Occupation: Communications Director
Location: Jacksonville, FL
My Salary: $120,000 + $25,600 VA Disability
Husband’s Salary: $75,000
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $3,700
VA Disability (1x/month): $2,175
Husband’s Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,600
Gender Identity: Woman
Car Loan: $320
Student Loans: $310 (about $22,000 left from undergrad, husband is a high school graduate)
Daycare For Two Children: $2,100
Car Insurance: $180 (for two cars)
Health Insurance: $310 (covers our family of four)
Life insurance: $52
Cell Phone: $80 (for two phones)
Netflix: Included in phone bill
Kid’s Soccer/Swim Classes: $45
Retirement: Both my husband and I contribute 13% of our gross income to 401(k)s which are matched for the first 5%. We are currently putting the entire VA disability check towards my student loans. We maintain a high-yield savings account with $10,000, which serves as our basic “emergency fund.”
4:30 a.m. — An alarm goes off and my husband, E., rolls over and turns it off. E. works for the government as well, but a different agency and he heads to work early. I stay in bed and pretend to be fast asleep until I smell coffee on my bedside table that E. brought me. Whether we’re vibing or fighting, E. always brings me my first cup of coffee. I’m up to help him get our three-year-old daughter, B., and our one-year-old son, F., up and ready for daycare. After they leave, I get myself ready and I’m out the door to the office by 6:30.
7 a.m. — I get into the office and check my email while eating breakfast from home (English muffin with peanut butter, banana, and a small green smoothie with strawberries, spinach, almond milk, chia seeds, and pineapple). I text E. to see that the kids were dropped off okay and that he’s having a good morning. We discuss our biweekly date night and I find a coupon for a glass-blowing class in our area. $42.65
12 p.m. — I head to a few meetings with my team, work through our content and event calendars, and change into my gym clothes. I have access to a free gym as a government employee and today I’m taking advantage of a lunch-hour cycling class. I buy a water at the convenience store before I get to class. $2.19
2 p.m. — I’m showered and back in my office. I snack on a cheese stick, a green apple, and beef jerky in between meetings with my team.
4:30 p.m. — Done for the day! E. calls me on the way home to let me know about his day and upcoming travel. His job requires about 40% travel, which means we have to do a lot of planning around schedules. I’m silently envious of my friends who have family nearby who can help out in a pinch with childcare, drop-offs, etc.
5 p.m. — We all get to the house around the same time. I give B. and F. big hugs and kisses and they run off to play in the living room while E. and I divide and conquer our evening routine. I start a load of laundry, clean the spare bathroom, and help B. set the table while E. makes us a dinner of Italian sausage, spinach and cheese ravioli, garlic bread, and salad. We eat dinner, bathe the kids together, and then get them in bed.
8 p.m. — E. and I cuddle on the couch and both look at our phones. I browse social media and text my sister about her upcoming visit. I start online shopping for vacation clothes since E. and I are taking a trip to Belize in a few months. This is our first vacation since having kids and it’s definitely needed. I buy a couple of potential outfits from Nordstrom, but know I’ll end up taking most of it back. $210.32
10 p.m. — I do my nightly routine of washing my face, brushing my teeth, applying retinol eye cream, and moisturizer. E. is watching Shameless so I climb in bed and watch until we decide to “Netflix and chill.”
Daily Total: $255.16
4:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off, E. brings me my coffee and I get up so we can get the kids and him out the door for daycare/work. I’m working from home today because I have a couple of appointments. I climb back in bed and sleep for another hour or so.
7 a.m. — I get up and get myself ready for the day. I check my work phone and respond to a few emails, take a conference call, and head out to my first appointment of the day. I served five years in the military and now have a few service-connected disabilities. On the way to the VA Clinic, I stop to pick up an iced caramel coffee. I have a coupon for $1 off, so I use that and get a medium instead of my usual small. I’m going to regret all this caffeine later. $2.14
9:30 a.m. — My appointment goes well, but I’m feeling jittery from the caffeine. I text my friend T. to see if she wants to go to brunch — she calls me back and we decide on a restaurant not far from the VA Clinic. We sit outside and I order two scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, fruit, and a half-side of french toast. T. orders the eggs benedict with potatoes, and we both get a peach bellini. We spend most of the time discussing her new job and I tell her about our upcoming trip to Belize. I pay for my meal and we promise to do this again sometime soon. $16.81
11 a.m. — I head to Old Navy after brunch because B. and F. are in need of some clothes. They’re the first grandchildren on either side of the family, so I rarely ever buy them clothes. I pick up a couple of cute dresses on clearance for B., some big girl underwear, socks, and a few t-shirts, and biker shorts that she can wear to daycare. I pick up F. some shorts, t-shirts, a pair of clearance swim trunks, and a pair of toddler flip flops. I remember to ask for a military discount at the register — SCORE! $56.23
12:30 p.m. — I’m back at home and working on a large communications campaign we’re rolling out later this year. E. texts me to remind me that the daycare bill is due, which I pay. I then submit the receipt to our Childcare FSA for partial reimbursement of the cost (noted in above expenses).
3 p.m. — I finish up early and pick up B. and F. from daycare. I take them to a nearby splash pad and feel like mom of the year because I remembered everything they needed as well as snacks for them. We play for a while and then break for snacks. E. meets us at the splash pad and we decide to brave going out to dinner to celebrate because he’s received a promotion!
6 p.m. — We head to a local Indian restaurant that serves family-style. We play it safe since we have the kiddos and order chicken tikka masala with jasmine rice, naan, and a pitcher of lemonade. The kids are exhausted from their day at daycare and the splash pad, so they devour their food and then pass out as soon as we get them in their car seats to head home. $46.23
7 p.m. — E. and I work on assembling an Ikea dresser since we’re moving our son to his own room now that he’s begun trying to climb out of his crib. Nothing tests a marriage quite like assembling Ikea furniture, and I take a break to get us two Coronas. We drink them while watching another episode of Shameless.
9 p.m. — We complete the dresser! E. invites me to get in the shower with him, I gladly accept, and then I complete my nightly skin routine, apply a new set of press on nails, pluck my eyebrows, and go to bed.
Daily Total: $121.41
7 a.m. — It’s the weekend so we all sleep in today! E. and I fool around for a few minutes in bed before we hear the kids stirring, so he gets up to make us coffee and I go get F. from his crib. F. has a first breakfast of banana and when B. gets up, we all have egg and salsa scramble with avocado. F. loves it so much he’s wearing it everywhere, so E. gets him in the bath while I get B. ready for soccer.
8:30 a.m. — We’re rushing to get out the door and I realize that I forgot to bring the snack bags I made for B.’s soccer team. We stop at Publix and I buy a bag of navel oranges, a paring knife, small Ziploc bags, some trail mix, hand sanitizer, and a plastic container. I cut the oranges on my lap in the front seat on the way to practice while E. and I crack jokes about our exceptional parenting skills. We make it to the practice with two minutes to spare. $34.58
12 p.m. — B.’s team has a practice and their game on the same day, so she’s exhausted and cranky by the time we finish. E. has been chasing F. all over the field for most of the morning while I talk to some of the other parents with kids on the team and take pictures of F. and E.’s antics. I make plans with two of the moms, who I also served in the military with, to get drinks later this week for ladies’ night out.
1 p.m. — We’re home and the kids are starving! I make a quick lunch of chicken potstickers, steam-in-a-bag green beans, and jasmine rice for the kids while E. heads out to play a game of pick-up basketball with his friends. Once I have the kids in bed, I do a few loads of laundry, clean out my closet and mop the kitchen floor. Feeling accomplished, I reward myself with a nap on the couch until the kids wake up.
3 p.m. — Once the kids wake up, I pack us up and head to the beach to meet E. and some family friends for a swim and an evening BBQ. One of E.’s coworkers and his wife are renewing their vows tonight, so I dress us all in white outfits per the invitation and pack an outfit for E. We get to the beach, E. changes his clothes and then we meet for the renewal. E. and I sign the card I picked up last week and try to keep F. from the BBQ chicken skewers.
9 p.m. — Our kids fall asleep while everyone is sitting around the bonfire, but E. and I stay a little while longer because we’re having a great time. Eventually, I decide to head home and put the kids in their bed, while E. stays out to enjoy the after-party with the guys. He spends $56 on drinks, a 2 a.m. Taco Bell run, and a Lyft home. $56
Daily Total: $90.58
6 a.m. — I roll over and snuggle E. He’s passed out and I mentally complain that we’ll have to drive back to the beach to get his truck. B. and F. are stirring so I get us up and make a breakfast of “apple pie” oatmeal. E. joins us and we get ready to run some errands.
9 a.m. — First stop is Costco, where we get k-cups, sirloin steaks, two bottles of wine, spinach, frozen strawberries, frozen pineapples, peas, peppers, organic bananas, organic apples, baby carrots, milk, toilet paper, bread, eggs, coffee creamer, potstickers, baby wipes, and multivitamins. E. also buys the hot dog special (can you really leave Costco without it?) and a slice of cheese pizza that I share with the kids. (read: I get a bite and they eat the rest). $303.18
10 a.m. — Next stop Aldi. We pick up snacks for the kids, dried cranberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, green beans, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, spinach ravioli, spaghetti, tomato sauce, yogurt, granola, and hummus. We do our shopping together and typically spend $500 per month for the family. $87.54
11 a.m. — We’re home and it’s nap time for the kiddos! E. and I tag-team housework while he belts Lizzo and I can’t stop laughing. I get a call from my mom that sends me into a spiral and E. consoles me while I cry. My mom and I don’t have a relationship because of some hurtful things she’s said in regards to my husband and my children (I’m white and my husband is black). I end up ranting about the flawed criminal justice system and E. and I talk about things we want to emphasize with our own children.
2:30 p.m. — The kids are up and I make an afternoon snack of ants on a log and some leftover chicken breast. They eat and I fold some laundry while E. sets up F.’s room. We spend the afternoon lounging around while the kids play.
5:30 p.m. — E. makes a dinner of fried shrimp, baked mac and cheese, and collard greens while I answer a few work emails and braid B.’s hair. We all sit down to dinner, give baths, and the kids are in bed by 7. I pour E. and I a glass of wine and we watch a football game. I’m not really watching and instead buy fluoride-free toothpaste for the kids, a plunger, a shirt for myself, and some dress socks for E. from Amazon. We discuss his upcoming work trip and any other items he needs before going. $41.59
9 p.m. — We’re exhausted from the weekend and take it down early. I do my nightly skin routine and pass out as soon as I hit the pillow.
Daily Total: $432.31
4:30 a.m. — Back to the weekly grind! I wake up to E. bringing me coffee and we get him and the kids out the door. I get myself ready and head into work by 6:30.
7 a.m. — At work, I eat my normal breakfast of a green smoothie, an English muffin with peanut butter, and a banana. I meet with my boss who notifies me that my request to add a new person to my team has been approved! I spend some time with HR ironing out the job description and hope we can get it up and advertised this week.
11:15 a.m. — I leave for lunch a few minutes early to attend an appointment at the VA Clinic. On my way back, I stop to visit with the children I volunteer with. I volunteer for the county to advocate on behalf of children who are wards of the state as a result of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. I find this work extremely heart wrenching but important — it also hits close to home since I have two children of my own.
12:30 p.m. — Back at my desk and chatting with my coworker about dyeing my hair much darker. We talk about the pros and cons and I vow to make an appointment and do something spontaneous for a change. I eat a packed lunch of egg salad on wheat with homemade fruit salad and cheddar and sour cream chips. E. and I pack lunches at the same time and almost always take a variation of the same things.
4:30 p.m. — I’m out the door and on my way home. Tonight’s my turn to cook, and I decide to make grilled sirloins with mashed potatoes and gravy and sauteed broccoli. Dinner is a hit (for once) and the kids eat second helpings of everything. E. and I clean up the table, the kids, and the house, and settle in to watch Monday Night Football with two Coronas. I also have chips and salsa.
9 p.m. — I’m tired from the day, so I do my nightly routine and crawl in bed. E. stays up to watch the rest of the game and nudges me for sex, but I’m not in the mood. We kiss and pass out.
Daily Total: $0
4:30 a.m. — Same old, wake up, coffee, get the kids and E. out the door. I’m in the office by 7.
7 a.m. — Normal work breakfast, emails, morning meetings, and a call from my sister to discuss her visit this weekend. I make a mental note to pick up some of her favorite snacks to have at the house. I call my best friend, V., and we talk for a few minutes about his new job in D.C. I miss having friends close by and briefly wonder if it would be easier for us if we moved to the D.C. area where my dad, bestie, and sister now live.
11 a.m. — I change into my gym clothes and do a weights session followed by a pilates class. E. texts me that he’s going to a really good seafood spot with his coworkers for lunch and offers to grab me something for later. I pass because I’m not sure if I’d eat seafood leftovers. I shower, change back into my work clothes, and head back to the office.
1:30 p.m. — I’m starving when I look up and realize I haven’t eaten lunch! I eat leftovers from last night and buy myself some Starburst from the vending machine. I get some work done and attend a late afternoon meeting. $0.85
4:30 p.m. — Headed home and quickly help E. get the kids situated before I shower and get dressed for ladies’ night. I throw on a maxi dress with sandals and hoop earrings and kiss the kids and E. goodbye. I meet my friends at a bar for trivia night. We order lemon pepper wings, calamari, and edamame to split. I also order a whiskey sour. I pay for everything ($62,25 for the whole thing) and they Venmo me their share. $20.75
8 p.m. — We finish trivia night in 2nd place! We get a $25 credit to come back to the bar at a later date, so we set the date two weeks from now. I text E. to let him know we won and he vows to get his own crew together. My friends and I head to a bar next door where I have another whiskey sour and we gossip about life in the military. $3.25
10 p.m. — I’m home and wiped! I do my nightly routine, check on the kids and jump into bed with E. He’s up working in bed and I talk to him for a few minutes before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $24.85
6 a.m. — Today is a work from home day for both E. and I. I generally take the kids to daycare on these days because he does the drive normally, but today he wants to ride along! We get the kids ready and decide to treat ourselves to Dunkin’ on the way to school. We each order iced coffees and 10 munchkins for the kids to split. I have some rewards points so I apply those to the total. $3.12
7:30 a.m. — E. and I are back and home and work in our office together. I make us french toast with blueberries and we each power through long conference calls.
11 a.m. — We change clothes and go for a run together. I hate running with E. because he’s a natural runner and I was built for comfort, not for speed. I put on a happy face despite my insecurity and end up having a really good time. We run to a local Thai restaurant and split a plate of chicken curry, pancit, and lumpia with two Thai teas. Our good friend is the owner and he refuses to charge us. We leave a huge tip and walk back to the house while discussing our investment plans for this year. $20
1:30 p.m. — Both of us are working and coordinating upcoming events. We snack on cheese and crackers and E. makes himself a bowl of ramen.
4 p.m. — We head out to pick up the kids and bring them home. Dinner tonight is grilled cheese and tomato soup for the kids, and spicy chicken wings with peppers, onions, and rice for E. and I. I bathe the babies and braid B.’s hair while E. does some laundry and preps our lunches for tomorrow. We get the kids down by 7.
7:30 p.m. — I call my dad and catch up while E. plays a video game. I complete my report for my volunteer work, then snuggle with E. to watch the OJ Simpson series on Netflix. We power through a few episodes and I’m asleep by 10.
Daily Total: $23.12
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