A Week In Alexandria, VA, On A $145,000 Joint Income

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, as part of Your Spending In Your State: an operations manager working in IT who makes $99,510 per year and spends some of her money this week on hot dog buns.
Occupation: Operations Manager
Industry: IT
Age: 32
Location: Alexandria, VA
My Salary: $99,510
My Husband's Salary: $45,000-$49,000 commission-based plus up to $10,000 in bonuses
My Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,930
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,200 to $2,500
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Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $2,832 including property tax and insurance. I live with my husband, C., and our dog.
Loan Payments: $1,200 (This includes my student loan payments and two car payments.)
Health Insurance: $0 (Both of our employers cover 100% of our insurance.)
Credit Card: $200 (We're paying off an interest-free card we opened when we bought our house last year.)
Car Insurance: $100
Cell Phone: $142
Cable & Internet: $140
Electric: $150
Water, Trash & Recycling: $70
Spotify: $14.99
Netflix: $0 (We use my brother's account.)
Gym Membership: $25
Savings: $2,000 (Plus we roll over whenever there's a balance in our joint checking account over $500.)
Additional Expenses
Amazon Prime: $99/year

Day One

7 a.m. — I've been snoozing for about half an hour — my dog loves to snuggle, and it's really hard to tear myself away from her in the morning. I finally get up and run through my usual morning routine: shower, brush my teeth, dry my hair, throw on a bit of makeup, and get dressed. I take the dog out and make myself an almond milk latte with two shots of espresso from my Nespresso machine. It's a splurge, but my husband, C., doesn't drink coffee. Plus it's consistently delicious and way cheaper than going to a coffee shop. My (lofty) goal is to only drink one cup of coffee per day AND make it at home.
9 a.m. — I grab a banana from the office fruit bowl and eat it for breakfast while I catch up on email, plan my day out, and sip on my coffee. I've been working on financials for one of our more tricky projects this week, and I'm inside my own head too much, making it harder than it needs to be.
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11 a.m. — I go to the gym next door to my office for a training session with my trainer. We crush a quick 30-minute session. I paid for three months of sessions a few weeks ago and it comes out to about $10 per session, which is well worth it for the ease of having someone plan my workouts for me and hold me accountable.
12 p.m. — I am famished after the gym, so I make lunch earlier than I usually do. We have a full kitchen at the office, which is a great perk. I quickly cook spinach in olive oil and scramble in a couple of eggs while I toast a slice of sprouted grain bread and heat up a cup of roasted red pepper and tomato soup. I eat at my desk while I meal plan and make a grocery list for next week. C. and I have diets that are a bit different — he tries to eat low carb during the week, while I try to eat more whole foods. I do a majority of the cooking since he's not that great at it, while he does a lot more with the house/dog. Some days our meals are the same and some days they are different, but luckily we're both happy to eat the same things repeatedly, so I batch cook, which makes things easy.
3:30 p.m. — I give up on this spreadsheet for the week and head out. I run to Trader Joe's and pick up chicken breast, ground turkey breast, corn, black beans, organic tomato sauce, organic blackberries, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, riced cauliflower, baby carrots, pico de gallo, wine, russet potatoes, zucchini, shortbread cookies, frozen mini pizzas, parmesan, whole wheat tortillas, and shredded cheddar cheese ($80). I make another stop at BJ's for a big box of spinach, lettuce leaf wraps, grape tomatoes, sour cream, eggs, ground beef, hot dogs, buns, mustard, and Cokes ($80). $160
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5 p.m. — C. helps me unload the groceries and updates me on his progress on the house projects he's been working on. We are hosting a birthday party for his grandmother next weekend and then having our housewarming party the following weekend, so we're working on the house like crazy! We snack on some of the cookies I purchased. My mom comes over (she lives down the street) and helps me hem a bunch of curtains. As she finishes sewing, I iron them.
7:30 p.m. — My mom needs to drop her car off at the dealership for service, so I give her a ride back. I'm tired and hungry, so I pick up a salad from Chipotle for dinner ($10.98). When I get home, I preheat the oven so C. can throw in a couple of mini pizzas for his dinner. $10.98
11:oo p.m. — We wrap up the curtain project, and I give my mom a ride home while C. walks the dog. C. and I decide to call it a night and head to bed.
Daily Total: $170.98

Day Two

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and we get moving quickly. We have a really long day ahead of us, and I slept poorly, which really sucks. We have a crew coming to work on our property, which has been a three-weekend process so far but should hopefully end today. As soon as we're done brushing our teeth and getting dressed, they arrive. C. decides to run out to the hardware store to pick up caulk ($10) for one of our indoor projects, and I get to work moving boxes in the basement so the crew can remove the wood-burning stove from the fireplace. $10
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9 a.m. — We have dinner guests tonight, and I need to work on cleaning the house. First I marinade the chicken, and then get started.
11 a.m. I am starving. We like to feed the crew — these are family friends, and today it also includes my mom and aunt. I run out to the store to buy more buns, chips, bottled water, ice, and yogurt ($30). I load the cooler with water and Cokes and ice them down. Then I prep burgers from the ground beef I bought yesterday and grill them up with hot dogs. Everyone wolfs down the food and gets back to work. $30
3 p.m. — I haven't accomplished anything I set out to do, instead getting sidetracked with other projects. I clean the kitchen and bathrooms, dust in the living/dining room, and run the vacuum. I finish just as our dinner guests arrive.
6 p.m. — We catch up with our friend and her mom who is seeing the house for the first time since we bought it. C. gives her a tour while I put out black beans, corn, pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole, cheddar cheese, tortillas, lettuce wraps, and taco sauce. I open a bottle of wine and throw the chicken on the grill. The chicken turns out quite flavorful but a little spicy, so I make a mental note to tone that down next time. We have enough leftovers for two to three workweek lunches, so I count that as a win.
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9 p.m. — Our guests leave, and we are so exhausted from the day that we throw everything into the dishwasher and change into our PJs. I sit on the couch for about 15 minutes before I'm falling asleep and decide to head to bed. I browse Instagram until my eyes get heavy, and I pass out.
Daily Total: $40

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — We sleep in without an alarm — and it's glorious. We spend some time in bed lounging and snuggling. I throw on shoes, take the dog out, and start making breakfast — skillet potatoes with bacon and a fried egg. We eat on the couch while we watch Jeopardy!. C. unloads the dishwasher and cleans up while I get dressed.
11 a.m. — My mom calls and asks if we want to run out to the nursery today. She is gifting us landscaping as part of a housewarming gift. We agree, and she picks us up at noon. We spend a couple of hours at the nursery and then stop at West Elm and Target. Everyone is hungry, so we go to a nearby bakery and my mom treats us to a couple of pastries. One last stop at Home Depot for more caulk ($10). $10
4 p.m. — We were going to be productive today, but after working on the house Friday night and all day yesterday, and getting home so late in the afternoon, we decide to just call it for the weekend. We catch up on last week's episode of The Walking Dead. I need to fold and iron laundry, so I do that while we watch more TV.
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6:30 p.m. — I had planned for us to eat out tonight, so I get another salad from Chipotle ($10.98), and C. gets McDonald's ($10.03). We get home just in time for the start of the Capitals game, and we watch while we eat. $21.01
9:30 p.m. — Frustrated with the game, I head into the kitchen to prep my food for tomorrow. Blackberries and yogurt for breakfast, a chicken bowl made with leftovers and cauliflower rice for lunch, and carrots and an apple for a snack. I also take a shower before watching the end of the game, which frustratingly runs late and goes into overtime. We lose, and I'm in bed by 11:30.
Daily Total: $31.01

Day Four

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off but I wake up with a headache, so I snooze for a while longer, since I showered last night. I run through the rest of my morning routine.
9 a.m. — Blackberries and yogurt at my desk for breakfast while I jot down my to-do list. I sip on my coffee throughout the morning.
1:30 p.m. — Stop for lunch. I heat up the cauliflower rice on the stove and then add it to the rest of my salad. Eat at my desk and then get back to work.
3 p.m. — Head next door for my training session. Afterward, I snack on carrots while I work until 4:30 p.m.
5 p.m. — C. got home earlyish from work, and we catch up on our days — he's really frustrated with work and vents for a while. I get the grill going for dinner. I froze Greek turkey burgers I made last week (feta, parsley, oregano, spinach), and make C. a couple of burgers from the ground beef I bought on Friday. I also make some pasta. I top my burger with an egg and have it over the pasta with some wilted spinach. C. has his with eggs, cheese, and bacon. We eat and watch Jeopardy!.
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6:30 p.m. — It has been a gross rainy Monday and neither of us feels like being productive. I prep my breakfast and lunch for tomorrow (same as today). We watch an episode of This Old House and then House Hunters. C. makes plans with his best friend's family to see their son's play later this week. We hang out, chat, play with the dog, and somewhere in there I prep my outfit for tomorrow, which is all black and involves a lot of lint rolling, thanks to the dog and a living room rug that sheds even more than she does...
10 p.m. — I hop in the shower while C. walks the dog. I'm in bed by 10:30, and I text with a friend before falling asleep at 11.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I go through my abbreviated morning routine, since I showered last night.
9 a.m. — Arrive at the office. I eat my yogurt and blackberries and sip on my coffee. I get right to work on this spreadsheet. I WILL finish it today and hand it off to my accountant for a sanity check.
12:30 p.m. — Stop for lunch. I eat at my desk while I try to schedule a donation pick-up. Unfortunately they don't have any available dates until next week, so I'll have to do a drop off at some point this week. I read while I finish my lunch.
3 p.m. — Head to the gym for my training session. After just a few weeks back into strength training, I am already feeling the benefits — my upper back/shoulder/neck pain has virtually disappeared.
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4:30 p.m. — With the help of my accountant, I finish the spreadsheet from hell, so I head home. I snack on carrots on my drive home. We must be productive this evening! I start packing up clothes in new sturdy and not cracked plastic bins, which forces us to go through everything and decide what to keep or donate. C. accidentally bought one-way light switches, so we go to Home Depot and purchase the correct three-way switches we need ($2.65). I return a few items and we get $43.29 back on our card. $2.65
7:30 p.m. — My mom is at our house when we pull up, and she and I run through the plans for Sunday's lunch party while C. installs the switches. When she leaves, I get started on dinner. I fix C. eggs, bacon, and keto pancakes. I slice up the last of the chicken from the weekend and make myself soft tacos with red onion, corn, black beans, lettuce, and cheese. C. kindly shares a few bites of his pancakes with me. We watch the Caps game while we eat. C. does the dishes while I brine a chicken breast to grill tomorrow for the rest of this week's lunches.
11 p.m. — This team is killing me! The game goes into a second OT, but I can't stay awake so I head to bed. As soon as I get comfortable, they score and we win! I come back out to the living room to watch a replay and then get back to bed. I'm asleep right away!
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Daily Total: $2.65

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — I work from home on Wednesdays, so I sleep in. I snuggle the dog and browse Instagram. Then I get up, brush my teeth, and strip the bed. I take advantage of the fact that I'm home on Wednesdays so that I can wash all of our linens. I make a quick marinade for the chicken I brined last night, and eat my yogurt and blackberries for breakfast with my coffee.
8:30 a.m. — I set up my laptop in the dining room and get to work. We have a security audit in early May, and I am in charge of making sure we're prepared. I focus my efforts there all morning.
12:30 p.m. — I grill the chicken breast and make another bowl with cauli rice. I also quickly make chili for C.'s dinner so I don't have to do it later. I eat lunch and start my to-do and grocery lists for Sunday's party. I place an order for pastries from a fancy bakery and croissants and rolls from another bakery for C. to pick up on Sunday before the party ($89). Then I get back to work on security audit stuff.
4 p.m. — I head to the basement to sort clothes for 45 minutes — more in the donate pile. I head to the gym for a cardio session and eat an apple on the way. This group-class instructor is pure joy, and it's infectious. Surprisingly though, I don't have as great of a workout as I normally do, but I think it's because my body is just tired.
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7 p.m. — I get home and cook up ground turkey in olive oil with parsley, garlic, red onions, and marinara sauce I made last week. While I let that simmer, I make zoodles and grate fresh parmesan cheese. C. heats up his chili, and we eat while watching Jeopardy!.
8:30 p.m. — C. cleans up and helps me make the bed. Afterward, he gets to work hanging a very large mirror in our dining room, except the drywall anchors break as he starts screwing in the screws, so we leave the task unfinished. I pack my food for tomorrow.
10 p.m. — I take a shower and then get into bed. There is nothing I love more than getting into a fresh, clean bed. I snuggle the dog, browse Instagram for a little while, and I'm asleep by 11.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7 a.m. — I slept horribly last night; I'm chalking it up to stress about having everything ready for the party. I run through my morning routine.
9 a.m. — Arrive at the office, mash up my blackberries, and add vanilla yogurt. I eat at my desk while waiting for my colleague to come up to my office to get to work on today's task. We have a lot to do to prepare for this audit, so we get right to it.
1 p.m. — I have a meeting to give our IT intern feedback with regard to a presentation he's put together. We walk through it slide by slide, and I give him suggestions and further instructions. In the meantime, I eat my lunch — taco wraps out of romaine stuffed with tomatoes, yesterday's leftover chicken, a cheddar cheese stick, and guacamole.
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3 p.m. — The PDF document I have been working on all day suddenly won't save. It's not until 30 minutes later that we piece together why — the power has gone out at our other office where all of our servers sit, and since I was working on a document on the shared network, I've lost all of my work. There's nothing much I can do but start over. After two hours of focusing, I finish.
6 p.m. — Decide to skip cardio today. My back hurts and after yesterday's workout, I think I need an active rest day. I get home and load up the car with the donations to drop off tomorrow, and I get back to work on sorting clothes in the basement. C. picked up toggle bolts at Home Depot ($2.82), and he gets to work finishing the dining room mirror and other tasks upstairs. $2.82
7:30 p.m. — I make sure we're recording the hockey game and head out to pick up salads from Chipotle for C. and me ($17.87). Unless we want Ethiopian or Korean cuisine, the pick-up and delivery options near us are scarce, so Chipotle salads are our go-to. We eat while we watch the game, and then I iron and hang our new shower curtain. It makes our bathroom look totally different! I also pack food for tomorrow — the last of my yogurt and blackberries for breakfast, an apple for my pre-workout snack, and three eggs and two slices of sprouted grain bread for my post-workout lunch. $17.87
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10:45 p.m. — Caps win! I head off to take a shower.
Daily Total: $20.69
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behaviour.
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