Welcome toMoney 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, as part of Your Spending In Your State: a communications manager who makes $45,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on groceries for a potluck and family dinner.
Occupation: Communications Manager
Location: Glendale, CA
My Salary: $45,000
Husband’s Salary: $85,000
Paycheck (2x/month): $1,300
Housing Costs: $1,500 to rent a small two-bedroom house. My in-laws own the property; they wanted us to live closer to them because of my mother-in-law’s declining health. They are letting us stay there for the same amount we paid for our previous apartment.
Loan Payments: $0. We paid off the remainder of my college loans shortly after getting married.
All Other Monthly Expenses
Car Insurance: $380
Cell Phones: $213
Health Insurance: $50 for dental, medical, and vision (covered by my company)
Pet Insurance: $30
Coffee of the Month Club: $35
Savings: $300/month in HSA for our baby, and 15% of my husband’s paycheck in a Roth IRA. Whatever money is left over after bills gets split between vacation and house savings accounts.
401(k): $600/paycheck for him and $375/month for me
7 a.m. — Even though it’s the weekend, we’re up early with our puppy. I eat a bowl of oatmeal and make eggs for my husband while he brews our coffee and feeds our dog. (I haven’t been able to stomach the smell of her food since becoming pregnant eight months ago.) A couple of years ago, I gifted my husband a subscription to a Coffee of the Month club as a birthday present. We loved it so much that we kept it. The first week of every month, we get two pounds of fair-trade coffee beans delivered to our house from our favorite roaster in Northern California. We also invested in a grinder (which we bought using my husband’s Amazon rewards credit so it was technically free), a scale, Chemex, and kettle. In the long run, the cost comes out to about $1 per cup of delicious coffee — way cheaper than what we would pay at a café.
12 p.m. — My morning is spent watching This is Us on Hulu, washing and putting away the first six months’ worth of baby clothes we received at our shower (what does one do with all the tiny socks?!), cleaning the house, and munching on potato chips with homemade hummus. There’s no food at home so we decide to go to the farmers’ market for lunch and groceries. Before ordering lunch, we buy what we need/want from the market: red fife sourdough bread which has only three ingredients, apple spice jam, persimmons, and mandarins. $30
1 p.m. — We share three pupusas for lunch from one of the booths at the farmers’ market. I try to convince my husband to get dessert at a bakery nearby but we both resist the temptation. $9
1:30 p.m. — After the farmers’ market, we head over to Trader Joe’s to do our weekly grocery shopping. This week, we’re making beef and bean chili and Southwestern chicken salad so we get ingredients for those, plus food for our dog, cereal, milk, eggs and snacks. $84
7 p.m. — I spend the rest of the afternoon nesting, cooking chili, and baking spice cookies that are similar to Russian ones I’ve been craving but don’t have all the ingredients for. Time for dinner! I can only eat a small amount before getting full on account of my stomach being squished. After dinner, my husband suggests watching a Christmas movie to which the answer is always “Yes!” We turn on the lights of our tree, have tea and cookies, and watch A Christmas Prince. It’s incredibly cheesy, but that’s to be expected. The spice cookies are good but don’t totally satisfy my craving.
9 p.m. — We get ready for bed and read parenting books until we fall asleep. I’m currently reading Simplicity Parenting about “using the extraordinary power of less to raise calmer, happier and more secure kids.” Three years ago, we donated about 75% of our possessions using the KonMarie Method and earlier this year, I switched over to a capsule wardrobe. Babies and kids have a tendency to attract a lot of stuff, but we want to stay mindful of what kinds of toys, clothes, etc. we keep for him. My husband is reading a book on meat smoking; he bought a smoker a couple of weeks ago, which I suppose is like his baby until the human gets here.
Daily Total: $123
5:30 a.m. — The puppy wants to go outside to do her business and my husband has work security training at 6 a.m. I guess it’s time for me to get up, too. I eat oatmeal for breakfast and get ready for work. Before leaving for work, I pack a lunch of bread from the farmers’ market, cheese and veggies, plus a couple of fruits. My husband has made us coffee so I take mine to go. Before work on weekdays, he drops our dog off at his parents’ house so she can play with their two dogs. He heads out around the same time as I do.
10 a.m. — I have a meeting now to discuss and finalize the marketing strategy for an upcoming fundraising event, but I sneak a couple handfuls of popcorn and trail mix into my mouth as my coworker walks in. My coworkers have gotten used to me eating pretty much all day, which is a great perk of pregnancy.
12 p.m. — I get a Facebook message from my husband about a miscommunication with his lunch meeting at work today. Apparently, he’s having lunch with his coworker tomorrow instead so now he needs to buy something else to eat. They have a cafeteria at his office so he gets a chicken pico de gallo wrap. $8
5 p.m. — There are only 30 more actual work days left before I head off on maternity leave. With so much to do and not enough time, it feels like a race against the clock. Before I realize it, the day is over and it’s time to go home. I stop by the library my dad works at to pick up Creativity, Inc. by Edwin Catmull and Amy Wallace. I’m trying to get in as much reading as I can before our baby arrives. The last time I visited my dad at the library, they had donuts. No such luck tonight.
6 p.m. — As soon as I get home, I put the chili on the stove to heat up and eat a snack of potato chips and hummus until my husband gets home. Then, we have dinner together and take the pup for a walk. I love how excited she gets even if we take the same route every time.
8 p.m. — Time for tea, cookies, and relaxation! I decide this is a good time to look through my baby shower photos and pick the ones I want to print to send with my thank-you cards. Shutterfly wants my email address and they send me a gift of free 50 prints and a sheet of address labels. An hour later, the battery on my laptop is running low and the charger is nowhere to be found. We’ve been having construction done to our house, including getting a dishwasher installed which will be so helpful with a baby. The problem is that random things have been getting moved or lost. While I lose my mind trying to find my laptop charger, my husband orders me two replacement chargers. I swear pregnancy brain is not to blame for this one! $36
Daily Total: $44
6 a.m. — A fun way to wake up is to get punched in the bladder from the inside. I highly recommend everyone try it sometime. On the bright side, the puppy hops into bed for morning cuddles. For breakfast, my husband and I eat cereal. I finish getting ready for work and pack the same bread, cheese, veggie, and fruit lunch as yesterday. A couple of days ago, I used older coffee beans to make a batch of Mexican cold brew coffee (by adding a cinnamon stick to the coffee grounds and water) so we both take a cup of that to go. It tastes amazing and was so easy to make. My husband’s company is treating him to lunch today.
10 a.m. — I take a break from work to munch on popcorn and trail mix and finish placing my Shutterfly order. I can’t decide between two designs of address labels so I buy both (but only have to pay for one). I also have to pay for shipping. $17
12 p.m. — Someone heated up Italian food in the kitchen and now I really really want pasta. But alas, I shall stick with my own lunch.
4 p.m. — I leave work a little early today because my husband’s company is treating everyone and their plus ones to see the new Star Wars movie together. We both meet up at home then drive to the theater together. I was hoping we could have dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant but we don’t have enough time. Chipotle bowls will have to do. $16
9:30 p.m. — On our way back home, the gas light of my car comes on and my husband stops at the station to fill it up for me. The closest one to us is also very expensive so he doesn’t fill it up all the way. $30
Daily Total: $63
6 a.m. — It’s my husband’s birthday! He’s at the gym so I let our puppy outside and start making oatmeal for breakfast. I wanted to make something more festive, but we don’t have the right ingredients. He gets back a couple of minutes after I start making breakfast. We eat breakfast together and I give him his birthday present (a watch I bought from Nordstrom during my 10x points day in early December) to open before we get ready for work. I made sure all of our Christmas shopping was done in late November/early December because I’m a Gemini and don’t mess around with Mercury retrograde.
9 a.m. — Once a month, the Champions for Change program has a meeting at our office to discuss ways we can improve the food systems in the low-income neighborhoods we serve so that residents have access to healthy, affordable food options. While it’s not required to attend, I sit in on these meetings with my intern because it’s something that I’m passionate about. After the meeting, the leader gives out the Local Flavors cookbook with recipes using farmers’ market ingredients. A few of the pages that I quickly glance look delicious and I can’t wait to try them out.
12:30 p.m. — There is leftover lunch from a departmental meeting and I scan the buffet to see if anything looks appetizing. The dietary restrictions that come with pregnancy can get frustrating, like when lunch is catered and the only options are deli meat sandwiches or salad with blue cheese. I settle on a couple of bread rolls and potato to supplement the leftover chili I brought, which makes for quite the hearty lunch. My husband is getting treated to lunch yet again. Lucky duck!
4:30 p.m. — I leave work and drive to the historic core of downtown to meet my husband and in-laws for his birthday dinner. I have about an hour to kill before our reservation so I decide to stop by The Last Bookstore. Parking is a hassle because I used up all my cash at the farmers’ market but I finally find a lot nearby that accepts credit cards. $8
6 p.m. — Resist the urge to buy all the books. I want to buy something to support the bookstore because it’s one of the last ones left in the city, but it’s too difficult to decide under pressure since my husband will be here at any minute. He’s decided to pick me up so I don’t have to walk to the restaurant in the dark and the rain. We go to Little Sister, an Asian fusion restaurant. The waitress recommends ordering two dishes per person so we get fried beef meatballs, two types of spring rolls, shaking beef, black rice with seafood, pork confit noodles, and spicy lemongrass fried chicken. She warns us that we’ve ordered one or two dishes too many but we’re planning on eating leftovers for tomorrow anyway. Plus my unborn child counts as a fifth person, right?
8 p.m. — We are stuffed but ready for dessert. Bottega Louie is across the street so we walk over. We order a hazelnut brownie, tiramisu, and a Napoleon for dessert. I sneakily ask the cashier to put a candle on the tiramisu so we can sing “Happy Birthday.” It was all so delicious and my in-laws generously treated us to both dinner and dessert.
Daily Total: $8
7 a.m. — It’s been cold lately (by L.A. standards) so our dog hasn’t wanted to go outside as early. I let her out and make oatmeal for myself and my husband while he prepares breakfast for our dog. We eat in bed with the dog for family cuddle time. (Also because there are covers to keep us warm.) When I get to work, there are chocolate-covered strawberries! The holidays and pregnancy are a pretty good combination because I feel no guilt.
1 p.m. — For lunch, I eat leftovers from dinner last night. Peanut butter cookies have magically appeared on my desk. During my break, I also place a large Amazon order of nursing bras, a birthing ball, an aromatherapy diffuser with essential oils (all of which I plan to pack in my hospital bag), and a baby tub and hamper for the nursery. $205
4 p.m. — After work, I stop by Whole Foods 365 to pick up a rotisserie chicken for dinner and ingredients for the dish I’m making for our office holiday potluck tomorrow. It turns out we need way more random stuff than I anticipated. I end up also buying broth, ground allspice for those Russian spice cookies I’ve been craving for weeks, cornstarch and bananas (for banana pudding that I’ve also not been able to stop thinking about), and avocados. The cashier asks me when I’m due and if I know what I’m having. We somehow have a five-minute conversation about gender stereotypes. $77
5:30 p.m. — When I get home from the grocery store, I munch on Trader Joe’s white truffle potato chips (which are incredible) while I start making a savory goat cheese, corn and herb pudding for the potluck. I found the recipe in the farmers’ market cookbook I got a couple of days ago and wanted to try it out. While shopping, I thought that macerated balsamic berries would be the perfect addition to this dish. It all tastes good to me but my husband tells me not to subject my coworkers to weird pregnancy food combinations. I decide to save the berries to eat at home. While the pudding is cooking, I make Southwestern chicken salad by heating up a can of refried beans from Whole Foods, shredding the rotisserie chicken and adding those, avocado, and harissa salsa, to the top of organic shredded cabbage slaw from Trader Joe’s.
8 p.m. — After dinner, we watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas while eating a dessert of macerated balsamic berries topped with granola. And by “watch,” I mean I fall asleep 20 minutes into the movie while my husband endures a film he had no intention of watching in the first place.
Daily Total: $282
6 a.m. — Most days, like today, I am in awe of how lucky I am. My husband is making us giant pancakes and coffee while I cuddle in bed with our dog. I love him! We top our pancakes with the berries I made last night and watch Hell’s Kitchen while eating breakfast. It’s the blind taste test episode in which contestants have to guess what herb or spice they’re tasting (with mashed potatoes as a base) while blindfolded. The red team is doing extremely poorly to the point that I scream at the TV that they should get their “chef license” taken away. The irony of judging cooking show contestants from the comfort of my own couch doesn’t escape me.
8:15 a.m. — Since it’s the Friday before Christmas and we have a half day at work, I am able to show up to the office a little later than usual. I gather my potluck contribution and head out.
11 a.m. — It’s time to go to the potluck and I have successfully completed no work today. Everyone is in a very chatty mood. There is so much food and my coworkers keep insisting I cut in front of them in the buffet line because “the baby needs to eat” — even when I go back for seconds. I enjoy half a slice of pizza (I split a slice with my coworker), two types of salad, fried chicken, a tamale, potato chips, a chocolate peanut donut and a glass of Martinelli’s sparkling cider. After lunch, I get to go home and roll back into bed.
6 p.m. — My parents and brother have come over so we can go to dinner for my husband’s birthday together. It’s another shared plates type restaurant so we order a ton of food: two types of toast, one with burrata and persimmons and another with taleggio and caramelized onion, farro salad, brussels sprouts, Moroccan-spiced fried chicken and fries, pork and veal braised meatballs, pork cheek ragu with pappardelle and black pepper cavatelli with kabocha squash. To our surprise, we finish everything. The desserts look delicious as well so we order a chocolate hazelnut tart and apple cinnamon cake to-go. This restaurant was quite pricey for only five people so we split the bill with my parents. $118
10 p.m. — My family spends the rest of the night playing Cards Against Humanity, laughing hysterically, and eating dessert with tea. It’s such a lovely end to a wonderful day and an even better start to the holiday weekend.
Daily Total: $118
8 a.m. — I slept surprisingly well last night despite being ridiculously full when I went to bed. I can’t decide if I’m hungry yet, but I eat a small bowl of Raisin Bran cereal anyway. It helps to keep things moving along if you know what I mean, and I can use all the help I can get right now in that department. My husband lets our dog out.
8:45 a.m. — Our puppy (who is a white Husky Lab mix) wants to be let back inside but I discover that she has been having way too much fun digging. Her entire face and her legs up to her stomach are covered in mud. On top of that, we have to get ready to go to brunch. We cajole her into the shower and wash her before showering ourselves. By some miracle, we are out of the house in time to make it to our reservation at Redbird in Downtown L.A. Since my husband’s birthday is so close to Christmas, we usually do one big activity to celebrate, like kayaking in San Diego or taking a winery tour. Being pregnant doesn’t allow for much craziness, so we decided to have a fancy brunch date at a place we’ve been wanting to try for a very long time.
9:45 a.m. — We make it to the restaurant in record time. The roads are gloriously empty because the L.A. transplants have gone back home for the holidays. The valet is $12 but we find street parking instead. $4
10 a.m. — We walk the half block to the restaurant and are seated right away. I’ve kept a list of dishes I want to try for at least a month so ordering is a cinch. We get coffee, a brioche donut, biscuits with red-eye rabbit gravy, Basque baked eggs, and a waffle for dessert. The staff was so sweet and put a candle in the waffle for my husband to blow out. $84
11:15 a.m. — After brunch, we stop by Trader Joe’s to get groceries for the Christmas dinner we’re hosting for our families. My husband has been obsessively researching barbecue recipes and he’s excited to take his meat smoker for a spin. We’re going to make ribs with a cherry BBQ sauce, baked beans, and mayo-less potato salad with lemon, red onions, and parsley. My mother-in-law is planning to bring a regular salad of some sort and my brother is baking rolls or cornbread. I’ll figure out something for dessert tomorrow depending on what I’m craving. For dinner for seven people (and hopefully leftovers), we did pretty good cost-wise. $120
12 p.m. — We’ve only been gone for two hours but our puppy got so bored while we were away that she tore up all of the mail that was delivered, which appears to have included a holiday card. She looks so proud of herself that we can’t even be mad. I spend the next few hours playing with her, putting away laundry, and sorting through my Amazon deliveries.
4 p.m. — My husband and I take our dog for a walk so she doesn’t get restless. When we get back, he serves her dinner while I make ours. I make a pasta sauce by cooking down the rest of the organic cabbage slaw and adding rotisserie chicken, tomato sauce, marjoram and time. Then I boil some whole wheat penne, pour the sauce on top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. I also make garlic toasts with the last few slices of bread from our farmers’ market haul earlier in the week. This impromptu dinner turned out much better than expected. The fresh herbs make all the difference.
7 p.m. — After dinner, we play with our puppy outside for a bit. Then I make myself a cup of red raspberry leaf tea and read on the couch with the dog while my husband plays some video games. Alone time is going to be so much more difficult to come by once the baby is here. I use this time to set up a meeting with our doula, research ridiculously expensive childbirth classes, and fill out my 2018 planner with to-do items and due dates. With a baby on the way, I feel like I need to work extra hard to stay on top of everything. My husband joins me on the couch shortly after and we talk about the prenatal class and our first family vacation. I read him the most notable parts of the parenting book while he cuddles my belly. My heart feels so full.
Daily Total: $208
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