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 Program Coordinator who has a $200,000 joint income and spends some of her money this week on water shoes.
Occupation: Program Coordinator
Industry: Human Services
Location: Portland, OR
Joint Salary: $200,000 (I make $83,000 and my husband makes $120,000, but we combine everything)
Combined Paycheck Amount (1x/week): $2,500
Gender Identity: Woman
Mortgage: $2,370 (for a house shared with husband, six kids, and au pair)
Loans: $1,300 (for two student loans and two auto loans)
Childcare: $200/week stipend payment plus $750/month agency payment
Auto Insurance: $257
Cell Phones: $252
Supplemental Insurance: $67
Credit Cards: We have about $6,000 in credit card debt that we periodically pay off in big chunks.
9 a.m. — My husband started my coffee at home before he left for work. I take two large coffees to work every day and drink them throughout the morning. I started a new job in October and my commute is much shorter than my old commute so I have time for coffee at home. My husband makes my coffee but usually picks up his own on his morning break, this morning is no different. I get ready and head to work. $5.75
11 a.m. — I’ve been fighting a cold all week and I forgot to bring a couple of doses of DayQuil to keep me functional. My head is so congested I can barely think. I run over to the nearby grocery store to pick up a box of DayQuil. I’m going to stash this in my desk for future use. Just 20 minutes after taking a dose I feel so much better and can survive the rest of this workday. $8.99
11:15 a.m. — Gas, well diesel, fill up for my car. We bought this car when we added another driver in the house (our au pair) because I was commuting 90 miles a day and it gets excellent mileage. Now, I rarely have to fill up. $40
12 p.m. — My husband and I both take our lunches from home today. Winning. Generally, I prepare extra at dinner so we each have a serving for lunch. On lucky days there is enough for all three adults in the house to have leftovers. Today is a cauliflower rice Buddha bowl with tahini dressing. Yumm. I head back to the office and bring some sliced cucumbers and an orange to snack on at work.
4 p.m. — This is an area of expenses that I have been pretty bad at tracking. My husband picks up “medicinal herb” treatment for his insomnia. It’s Oregon, what can I say? $93
6:30 p.m. — Our kids’ school is having a fundraiser at a local pizza joint. It’s a great time to see other families at the school and get dinner while supporting our school. The cost includes six individual pizzas (one for our au pair, four for the older girls (14, 12, 9, 8), and one for the boys (2, 4)) to share. We also get a few fountain sodas since it’s a treat for the kids to get to have soda when we eat out. My husband and I end up eating at home later. A quick skillet meal with onions, mushrooms, chicken apple sausage, and a couple eggs. I also have an apple since I’m still hungry before bed. $67
Daily Total: $214.74
7 a.m. — I’m out of coffee at home, so I grab two drip coffees at Starbucks. Freaking app will not let me log in. So annoying. I have a training an hour away from home today, so I drink the first cup in the car. It’s going to be a long day but I’ll get to catch up with a bunch of my old coworkers. $7.60
9 a.m. — Time to reload the Starbucks card. Apparently, the app is working for my husband. It’s the patriarchy, I’m convinced. My budgeting app says we spend about $200 a month at Starbucks, which seems too low TBH. Coffee itself is $4.70 but once the $25 is in the Starbucks app I consider it gone. $25
12 p.m. — My husband picks up a salad from the grocery store for lunch. I have leftover veggies and chicken sausage from last night. Yes, I am that weird person who brings their lunch to a day-long training and hides in the back checking emails. $8.68
3:30 p.m. — I fall into “the long drive, I’m bored” trap. I stop at a truck stop to grab a bubbly water, gum, and a pouch of apple sauce. You know you are a mom when you have no shame picking up a food pouch and eating it as a snack. Gum saves me on long drives. $5.42
5 p.m. — My boys love “big chicken nuggets” which are frozen chicken cutlets. I heat up a couple for them for dinner with some salad, grapes, and cheese. Oh, and ketchup and ranch… because preschoolers love dipping their foods. I chop up a few heads of romaine, tomatoes, and rotisserie chicken for the rest of us for dinner. Tonight, we have art and karate for two of the kids at the rec center so I set up dinner for kids to eat throughout the night when they are available. While I’m prepping dinner, my husband picks up our 14-year-old from her after school drama club and our 12-year-old from sports practice.
7:45 p.m. — We use the time while the kids are at the rec center to squeeze in a workout. Thankfully, the rec center offers childcare for our youngest during the other kids’ classes. After we gather the kids up, we stop by the corner store for a gallon of milk. Six kids go through a ton of milk. My parent guilt over the amount of cereal my kids eat is pretty high, but I have been so unsuccessful in figuring out a replacement that my kids will reliably eat. Sometimes the kids decide on their own to sub in yogurt or toast but that’s not really a guilt-free breakfast alternative. $3.89
Daily Total: $50.59
9 a.m. — Coffee again and my husband picks up the coffee tab for a coworker. I’m still out of coffee at home but I have a few k-cups stashed at the office, which will hold me over until I can get office coffee. I grab a bunch of grapes along with the coffee. $11.70
12 p.m. — Lunch is leftovers. Salad, more cucumbers, another orange. I have no idea what my husband had for lunch. I know he didn’t prep anything but he didn’t buy it. I wonder if he fixed himself something at home before he took our au pair to interact with the American bureaucracy…cultural exchange at it’s finest.
12:50 p.m. — Fridays we pay our au pair. For the uninitiated, au pairs are on a visa to provide childcare in the US. We also pay a State Department approved agency to manage visa coordination. Our au pair is a sweet young lady who is also from a large family and thrives with our kids. She does pick up and drop off for school, but mostly focuses on our two youngest. The State Department has stringent regulations around compensation and housing for the au pair program. Overall, our costs are about $24,000 a year not including room and board. We cover her cell phone, car insurance, gas, and gym membership which frees up her stipend to go toward things she wants to do.
3 p.m. — Gas, for real this time, for the kid hauler…uh…minivan. $57.78
3:30 p.m. — Our tween is having a sleepover, and dad saves the day with a few bags of chips so we can be the “fun house.” This frees me up to go for a run after work. It’s short but refreshing. $8.48
5:30 p.m. — We are out of rice for dinner and my kids are obsessed with fluffy white rice. They aren’t all huge fans of the fish stew that is on the menu for dinner tonight so adding the rice makes it a more palatable for my troop of food critics. My husband runs to the store to grab it while I prep the veggies and fish. $14.97
Daily Total: $92.93
10 a.m. — Breakfast for the kids is oatmeal with blueberries, a weekend morning favorite. In prepping breakfast for my husband and me, I discover our food processor is not working. I make a mental reminder to look at food processors while we are out. I make do with the blender and we have a chopped apple concoction with almond butter, toasted nuts, and strawberries.
11:30 a.m. — Starbucks stop for a couple of drip coffees before we run our weekend errands. We are still out of coffee at the house, but we will fix that later. I still have some money on the Starbucks app so we are out no more money but deduct $4.70 from our app balance.
12 p.m. — Grocery shopping at the local store. There is a huge clearance sale on kids clothes. I ogle the baby clothes but convince myself I already bought enough for my brother’s new baby. I do snag a pair of PJs for each of the boys for $9/pair and two pairs of water shoes for the middle girls for $3/pair. I also scored a new pair of Under Armour gym shoes for the husband for $30. The rest was spent on produce and some red curry paste. We go through something like 15 servings of fruit every day with our kids between lunches and snacks. They are out of my hair creme so I’ll have to find that elsewhere. Not really impressed with their food processor choices. $117.42
1 p.m. — Costco is unreal today. Coronavirus has hit our county with the first case confirmed yesterday. It looks like it might be the apocalypse here. It is worse than the Christmas season. Unfortunately, we cannot put this off today. Milk, cereal, lots of fruits and veggies, a case of mac and cheese, seaweed snacks, and a huge bag of rice. Here’s to not running out for a really long time. We also have to get pull-ups. Our youngest has been potty training for almost a year. I’m so ready to be done with diapers. No food processors at Costco right now, so I’ll scan Amazon later. $333.91
2 p.m. — We next to the bread outlet store. We freeze several loaves of bread from the outlet store that our kids pull out for toast and lunches. $20
2:15 p.m. — Stop at Walgreens on the way home for my hair creme. They don’t have the kind I want either. I take a chance on a new type. Everywhere today has been out of hand sanitizer thanks to the mad dash to stock up due to coronavirus. We’ll have to stick to hand washing. $14.97
3 p.m. — After a lot of errands we have a light snack for the kids to stave them off until dinner. The boys have foldover PB&J and the girls make themselves weird concoctions. Dinner tonight is rotisserie chicken from Costco with asparagus and lemony carrots. Dinner is a hit among the kids — winning! I’m happy to have pistachios back in the house, this is a great after-dinner snack.
Daily Total: $486.30
10 a.m. — My four-year-old requests French toast for breakfast. He loves to smoosh the eggs with the whisk. For the six kids and our au pair, I make two loaves of bread worth. My kids really like this buttermilk syrup that I make. We ran out of the regular Mrs. Butterworth’s several months ago so I looked up an alternative and now my kids will not stand for store-bought. Thankfully it is simple, my 14-year-old can even manage it on her own. My husband makes coffee and chops veggies for our breakfast. We have spiralized potato fries, with veggies and eggs.
2 p.m. — We spend the morning cleaning out our garage. It’s a constant battle to keep it picked up with all the kids’ scooters and bikes. The kids are able to play outside on this lovely early spring day, the kind that I live for in Oregon. On weekends we usually eat a late breakfast, have a snack, and then have dinner. After the garage is cleaned, the kids all have some chips, salsa, and hummus for a snack. I have an orange and almonds.
6:30 p.m. — Stirfry egg rolls in a bowl for dinner. I heat up some teriyaki noodles for the kids for their side. The kids also have waffle wafer cookie things with chocolate hummus for dessert. We didn’t leave the house today so it was pretty easy not to spend any money.
Daily Total: $0
9 a.m. — I’m happy to have my normal coffee again at work. My husband grabs coffee at work again. $5.50
12 p.m. — Leftovers from the weekend for lunch — specifically fish stew. Mini bell peppers and an apple as snacks.
5 p.m. — My husband picks our oldest up from drama club and then grabs two loaves of French bread to go along with dinner. I make Zuppa Toscana and the kids eat early. We go to the gym and I take the boys to daycare. Both my husband and I get in a quick workout. We go home, put the kids to bed, and then have dinner just the two of us. $5
8:30 p.m. — Tax season is here. We sit down after dinner with a laptop to file our taxes. We file separately so things are kind of complicated. Monday night date, adulting style. $90
Daily Total: $100.50
9 a.m. — Hey, guess what, coffee again. My husband is considering taking coffee from home or buying a coffee maker for his office to squeeze a bit of savings. This expense sometimes bothers me, but most of the time I understand that it is a connection point with his coworkers throughout the day. $5.50
12 p.m. — Leftovers for lunch again, egg roll in a bowl from the weekend.
2 p.m. — I pay off my Amazon credit card. I put off paying off my cards when I feel uncertain if we will have enough money to pay for unexpected expenses. Now that I know what our tax return will look like I feel confident in paying off this card. We have about $6,000 on another card that we have racked up after some car repairs that cropped up and a broken large appliance late in 2019. We should be able to wipe that out with our tax return. Carrying credit card debt makes me incredibly anxious. This little chip away makes me feel a little more relaxed. $444.49
4:30 p.m. — It is a lovely Oregon spring day again. We take the whole crew over to the park to wait for our 12-year-old to finish practice. I love the spring-summer-fall as it finally stops being dark at 5 p.m. On days without rain it is an unspoken Oregon rule that you must go outside. We got home around 5:30 and I threw together Buddha bowls. Rice and avocados…the kids are in heaven. I cut up a pineapple for dessert.
Daily Total: $449.99
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