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A Week In Seattle, WA, On A $135,697 Joint Income

·28 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 real estate coordinator who has a joint income of $135,697 per year and spends some of her money this week on Beis travel bag.

Content warning: This diary discusses fasting for non-religious purposes.

Occupation: Regional Coordinator
Industry: Commercial Real Estate
Age: 27
Location: Seattle, WA
My Salary: $56,925
My Wife’s Salary: $78,772.38
Net Worth: ~$5,500 (My 401(k): $8,189.40, my bitcoin: $220, her 401(k): $30,536.70, her Morgan Stanley stock plan: $1,587.26, her stocks: $2,392.15, joint savings: $38.11 minus debt) My wife and I share our finances completely and that includes our debts. We have been trying to put some money towards our joint savings each paycheck, but have recently drained that account to pay for some credit card expenses and my wife’s new permanent crowns (she was born with two missing teeth).
Debt: wife’s student loans: $17,817.31, car loan: $7,866, personal loan: $11,771
My Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,637.27
My Wife’s Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,948
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,918 (Split with my wife — this includes pet rent, a parking spot in the garage, and a small storage unit in the building. My wife and I split all of our expenses 45/55 since her income is greater than mine. We contribute enough to cover all of our monthly expenses into our joint checking account which is where all of our bills are paid from.)
Wife’s Student Loan: $385.91
Car Payment: $250 car payment
Personal Loan: $430.17 (to pay off CC debt)
Hulu: $13.17
Patreon: $13.15
Netflix: $19.81
Utilities: ~$130
City Electricity: ~$50 (paid every other month)
Spotify: $17.75
Car Insurance: $91.96
Xfinity Internet: $50.43
Cell Phone: ~$250 (for my wife, my mom, and me)

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?
Yes, it was definitely expected of me to go to college, but I definitely had the choice of where to go. It was never not in my mind that I would go to a big university. I never worried about paying for college, not in the sense that we had money to pay for it, but because my parents taught me that student loans are totally normal and that’s how you pay for college. I am very lucky because my parents paid off my student loans.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We never talked much about money. I was always under the impression that my parents had enough for whatever we needed and a lot of what we wanted. My parents both had good jobs and I never knew exactly how much they made but I knew it was a decent amount. We continued to move into nicer houses every five years or so. We were definitely upper-middle class. But my parents were definitely spenders and I don’t think they ever really had any type of longer terms savings. We vacationed at least once a year and my mom indulged in a lot of regular beauty services like massages, tanning, and getting her nails done. When I was a teenager, my dad quit his steady job because he hated it (which I understand so much more as I get older) to buy a store franchise in the mall. We had recently moved into what my family refers to as “The Big House” which I found out later we could only afford because it was during the housing crisis. My parents already struggled with the mortgage with two good incomes, but when my dad quit, it was totally not affordable. My parents filed for bankruptcy and they ended up renting a small house from some friends where we lived until I went to college. They have definitely built themselves back up since then, but I know that period of our lives was strained. They also never talked about details of this with me or my sister, I only know the basic story. I definitely developed my spending habits from my mom and don’t feel like I was taught anything about finances from my parents.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was technically working at my dad’s store when I was about 14, but my first real job was as a hostess at a new restaurant when I was 16. I got the job to have some spending money. My mom helped me open a bank account, but I was definitely not good with money. I would overdraft my account regularly and my mom would transfer money to cover it for me. I worked there for about a year and then didn’t work again until the end of my first year in college.

Did you worry about money growing up?
I didn’t worry about money growing up. As I mentioned before, my parents were definitely spenders and they never made it seem like we didn’t have enough. Even in the period where they filed for bankruptcy, it didn’t ever feel like much changed, we just downsized a lot.

Do you worry about money now?
Yes. I am constantly checking my bank accounts and making sure we have enough money to cover our bills. I know that I don’t have the best control over my spending, but since I have been on my own, I have always made sure to cover my bills. My wife grew up way different than me and has had some negative financial experiences that shaped how she feels about money and I know that I cause a lot of anxiety for her with my spending. I have learned a lot from her and have definitely changed a lot, but I still worry about what our lives will be like since we still pretty much live paycheck to paycheck. Since we got together, we have mostly lived outside of our means, and the more we make, the more we spend. We recently made the decision to downgrade so we can focus on our savings, which I think will help us. I also worry that I will never be able to make enough money to be truly comfortable, especially living in a crazy expensive city.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
At 22, I graduated college and moved to where I live now. I started paying my own rent and other monthly expenses including my car payment. However, since I was working in the food and beverage industry at the time and income definitely fluctuated for a while before I got into the corporate world, my parents helped me out if I needed it. I haven’t asked for money from them since I started dating m my wife, which was only about nine months after I went out on my own. I know that my parents would absolutely help us out financially if we needed it.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
No.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I set my alarm clock for this time every weekday and I usually snooze it at least two times so I actually get up around 7:45. I work from home so my morning routine is minimal. I hop out of bed, use the bathroom, throw on a robe, and open my laptop to log on for the day. I don’t have any meetings today so after I do a quick email check, I start doing some things around the house. I feed my pup, start brewing coffee, and fill up my water bottle.

8:45 a.m. — My wife, K., wakes up and it’s my favorite part of every day. She is definitely not a morning person like I am. Luckily, she also works from home so her morning routine is also minimal. I make us both a cup of coffee with oat milk.

9:26 a.m. — My two favorite things are eating and shopping so when I am not eating, I’m likely shopping. K. just got a new job that will require her to go back to the office, so we have been racking up some purchases to get her ready, which has also allowed me to buy some things for myself. I have been eyeing a travel bag from Beis for a while and I get a text that it’s back in stock so I buy it and use the coupon code I got for being a first-time shopper. $93.44

10:32 a.m. — K. and I are deciding what we should do for the upcoming holiday weekend. We decide we will go to the art museum so I buy two tickets. We are members so it’s free.

12 p.m. — It’s time to eat! We make a package of frozen sweet potato gnocchi we picked up last week from Target. I spend the rest of the afternoon reading my new book, Milk Fed by Melissa Broder.

5 p.m. — Time for dinner! K. makes us a delicious meal of a gluten-free vegan burger with caramelized onions and homemade french fries.

6 p.m. — I recently decided to pursue my passion for photography in an educational setting by registering for a certificate program at a local college. I pay by the class, which allows flexibility budget-wise and so I won’t need any loans. Tonight is the first session of my first class, History of Photography. I purchase a couple of the recommended books from my favorite used book site. $24

8 p.m. — I finish my class and start my nightly routine. I take my Vegamour Gro Gummy which is delicious (as far as chewable vitamins go). I’ve been really into skincare since right before the pandemic so I do several steps each night and alternate between two routines. I used to do it twice a day, but in an effort to save time and money, I only do it once a day now, usually at night. I do a face mask with Lush’s Cup O’ Coffee then take a body shower. I wash my face with Acure Radically Rejuvenating facial scrub. I use Perricone MD Intensive Pore Minimizing Toner, Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, Acure Radically Rejuvenating Eye Cream, Paula’s Choice Niacinamide 20% Treatment, Paula’s Choice Retinol and Bakuchiol Treatment, top it all off with The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid, and finish with Paula’s Choice Radiance Renewal Mask. K. and I watch the new episode of Pose in bed and I fall asleep to Schitt’s Creek around 10.

Daily Total: $117.44

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — Alarm clock again, snooze again. I am up by 7:50 and doing my regular bathroom, robe, laptop. I don’t have anything important right away at work so I feed my pup, fill up my water bottle, and get dressed. I just bought my first Lululemon outfit and put it on. I feel great in the pants but the top is a bit exposing so I wear it until K. wakes up so I can show her and then change into a T-shirt. I start the coffee pot and sit down to work. I should note, K. and I are currently fasting every other day so won’t be eating today.

8:33 a.m. — The hour or so between when I wake up and when K. wakes up is dangerous for me because I always find something to shop for. I definitely have highs and lows with my spending and am at a high right now. I know that I am almost out of some skincare items so I shop around and get a new Hyaluronic Acid from The Ordinary (a staple) and a new item from Hylamide called Pore Control, both purchased from Deciem which is one of my favorite online stores for skincare because they carry four different brands and they are all very reasonably priced. $31.09

9 a.m. — I have a one-on-one with my boss every week at this time. I honestly dread this meeting and so I get anxiety leading up to it. I wait to pour my coffee until right before it starts so I have something good to focus on.

1:37 p.m. — After finishing up my work for the day (it’s been a slow week so far), I spend most of the afternoon reading my book, Milk Fed. It’s reaalllly good but really sexual. After about two hours, I have to stop and focus on something else for a while. I go pick up tea for myself and K. from the Starbucks right around the corner. $7.17

2:01 p.m. — K. is busy working but I don’t have anything to do, so I put in my AirPods and dance around while I clean the apartment. Since K. is heading back into the office soon for her new job, I think of a small but sweet gift to give her so she knows I’ll be thinking about her. We have always spent the majority of our time together, but since the pandemic, we have been working from home together and have literally spent every second together, which I love. The thought of her not being here with me all day gives me some anxiety, but I also know it will be good for her and for us. She isn’t big on gifts, but I love giving gifts, so I pick out a small anklet with an engraved heart charm on Etsy. $13.48

7 p.m. — K. and I spend the evening watching TV. I take my gummy vitamin and I take my nightly body shower and do my skincare, this time with my other routine: I wash my face with Acure Radically Rejuvenating facial scrub, use Perricone MD Intensive Pore Minimizing Toner, Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant, Acure Radically Rejuvenating Eye Cream, The Ordinary Argireline Solution, The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid, and Derma E Vitamin C Intense Night Cream. We watch Schitt’s Creek for hours until I have to turn it off to fall asleep around 11.

Daily Total: $51.74

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — Alarm clock again. I use Alexa and sometimes she does not listen when I say snooze and I have to yell it at her three times so I can go back to sleep. I snooze until 7:55 then roll out of bed, throw on my robe, and log on. Once it shows I’m online, I complete my morning routine. I chug water, throw on some PJs, and check my email while I wait for K. to wake up so we can eat breakfast.

9 a.m. — For breakfast today, we use the remaining ingredients from our dinner on Monday and make gluten-free vegan breakfast burgers complete with Just Egg and a side of potatoes. I have this alongside my coffee with oat milk. I am so satisfied and hunker down to do some actual work.

11:31 a.m. — I decide to sneak in a quick shower since work has slowed. I only shower during the day when I need to wash my hair. I use Acure Brightening Facial Scrub, which I only use when I wash my hair because it’s super exfoliating and I don’t want to overuse it and I only wash my hair twice a week. I follow up with skincare routine number one, blow dry my hair, and throw on some sweats and a t-shirt and get back to work. K. has been eyeing a pair of Atoms for when she starts up her new job, so after my meetings, I take a break from work, pull the trigger, and put in an order. $140.91

12:30 p.m. — K. and I start talking, as we do, and she shares with me that this cool restaurant we saw featured on an Eater show is now also offering a vegan menu. It’s a small place in the city that does coursed, pre-fixed menus but is all custom. K. and I love a really unique culinary experience, especially at places that offer full vegan spreads, so I decide we should go. They only offer this option on Tuesday and I know our upcoming engagement-iversary (I love celebrating literally anything) is on a Tuesday so we make a reservation for that day. We have to prepay and it’s $99 a person plus tax. $209.19

1 p.m. — As I am back at work, K. texts me even though she is literally sitting on the same couch as me, and asks if I want to go across the street to a gluten-free and vegan bakery to get a treat. Of course, I say yes. I get a chocolate brioche and she gets a peanut butter bar. $10.75

2:15 p.m. — K. gets a call from her prosthodontist that there has been a cancellation if she can make it in by 3. She was born with two missing teeth and has literally been working her whole life to fix her smile. She is at the very tail-end of Invisalign and is ready to be fitted for permanent crowns. She jumps at the appointment, and since we have to go by a friend’s later that afternoon to pick something up, I tell her I will go with her and finish the day working from the car. I haven’t left the apartment since Sunday, which honestly these days isn’t unusual, so I put on a cute dress and throw my hair up into a loose clip with all my bangs down (my go-to look) and we head out.

6:16 p.m. — Remember when I said we were going to go to an art museum this weekend? Scratch that, we decided to go camping with K.’s mom and grandma (we are all vaccinated) because it’s a holiday weekend and YOLO. Last time we went camping, our air mattress failed us, so we decide to get new sleeping pads for the weekend trip. We stop at REI on the way home from our outing and buy two sleeping pads for the two of us. K. is very into camping and I am trying to indulge her so I also become an REI member, which is a one-time $20 fee. $203.40

7 p.m. — When we get home I immediately start making dinner. K. decides she is going to have a Banza Chickpea Crust pizza, and since it has real cheese on it, I make myself chickpea pasta with homemade vegan whole-30 alfredo. I also eat a couple of bites of my raw vegan mint chocolate pie that I have had in the fridge for over a week. We watch the new episode of The Handmaid’s Tale while we eat. We live in a 540-square-foot apartment and prioritized space for our two sit-stand desks so we eat all of our meals on our fancy leather sofa with cheap TV trays. Classy, I know.

8 p.m. — I take my vitamin but skip my nightly shower and skincare since I just did it all this afternoon. K. and I watch the new episode of Cruel Summer in bed and cuddle with our babies. Every night, our dog sleeps in between us, but mostly on my side. And every night while we watch TV in bed, our cat will jump up on K.’s chest and just lay right in front of her face for a solid 20 minutes. I think it’s the most adorable thing in the world. We watch Schitt’s Creek until I end up falling asleep around 10.

Daily Total: $564.25

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — Alarm clock, snooze, repeat. I have a couple of packages coming today which is super exciting for me. I put on some sweats and a tank top and get to work. I work on a team that’s spread out across the country and since I am on PST and most of my direct colleagues are either in CST or EST, my mornings are usually way busier than my afternoons. I check my email and do a few things before K. gets up.

9:04 a.m. — I start the coffee and check in on an order I placed last week on Chewy. My cat gets crystals and has been on prescription food for over a year. We recently changed the brand he eats and this is the first order I’ve placed since we made the change (we have gotten the last two bags from our vet). I had an old vet in my Chewy profile so they denied my order and I chat online with customer service about it and they tell me I need to place a new order and the old one will be canceled. So I go ahead and place a new order for dry and wet prescription cat food and a large bag of dog food and they take $10 off for the hassle. $131.76

9:30 a.m. — I make myself and K. cups of coffee with oat milk and hop into a meeting with my team. After the meeting, K. and I are hard at work for a couple of hours. We work in the same industry, and though our jobs are very different, we both end up having periods of heavy work and periods of absolutely nothing.

12 p.m. — I am still working and drinking a sugar-free Gatorade (the fruit punch flavor is the only good one, FYI), when K. decides it’s a good time to watch the Friends reunion. I never watched Friends. I refused to watch it for so long until K. finally just started putting it on one day and I didn’t have a choice. I can’t deny that it’s great, but I still have my reservations about it because it’s such a cliche. Of course, I get dragged into the reunion and laugh a lot.

4:30 p.m. — We use an automatic pet feeder for our cat because he is very particular about when he eats and gets very rambunctious if he doesn’t get his food on a strict routine. It ran out of batteries this morning so we head to the grocery store across the street and pick up a pack of D batteries and two packs of soda water for K. $16.06

6 p.m. — I realize the batteries I bought are the wrong ones. Luckily, the feeder also has a plug so I just plug it in and will get the right batteries later. I am feeling moody this afternoon so K. and I get into a little fight. I put my moodiness towards packing for camping this weekend using my new travel bag and ultimately sulk to K. for some physical touch. I have mental health issues and they are heavily affected by my eating and spending behaviors. K. is a saint when it comes to dealing with my mood swings but sometimes they get the best of both of us. I explain my feelings to her and somehow we decide it’s a good idea to order and split a plate of tofu teriyaki. $11.99

7 p.m. — K. gets some new makeup in the mail and tries it on, she looks gorgeous! I take my gummy, take my nightly body shower, and do skincare routine number two. We watch the new episode of A Million Little Things and start watching Behind Her Eyes. I am usually wary of starting new shows, especially at night when I know I want to try and sleep, but I do get hooked and we watch two episodes. Again, I fall asleep to Schitt’s Creek around 11.

Daily Total: $159.81

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — Alarm, snooze, snooze, snooze. Another hard night of sleeping. For the past month or so, I have had the worst restless legs at night and struggle to stay asleep most nights. I get out of bed around 7:55, use the bathroom, and log on to work. Fridays are always very slow for me so I check my email then get to work on some personal things. Today is payday, yay! I spend the morning budgeting for the next two weeks, which is also fun for me but not as fun as the spending.

8:30 a.m. — K. is up and I talk a mile a minute about my morning. I try on another new pair of Lululemons that just came in the mail to check them out but then change into sweats for the day. I make a pot of coffee and then pour K. and I each a cup with oat milk. We plan out our meals for the day and make a shopping list for later. We also purchase a couple of things on Amazon — we are visiting my family soon (again, we are all vaccinated) and I don’t like showing up empty-handed, so I buy my niece and nephew black paper notebooks and metallic markers and K. buys some new wireless headphones. $89.89

10 a.m. — Since I have been eating mainly grain-free, I have been cooking with soooo many chickpea products. I make a mean homemade farinata, which is a chickpea flour flat-bread, and eat that with tofu “egg salad.” I do some work but mainly just hang out and talk with K. and watch our dog and cat play together, they are so sweet it makes my heart melt.

4 p.m. — After I finish up work for the day, I head over to that gluten-free and vegan bakery to get a pastry to bring camping with me this weekend. Unfortunately, they are out of the chocolate brioche, so I settle for a chocolate muffin. $6

4:45 p.m. — K. and I head out to do some grocery shopping for next week and our camping trip this weekend. We end up having to go to four different stores to get all of the miscellaneous gluten-free and vegan ingredients. We end up getting gluten-free hamburger and hot dog buns, sugar-free Gatorade, frozen hash brown patties, vegan pesto, several cans of beans, tuna for K., dishwasher pods, a can of tomatoes, salsa, Tom’s toothpaste, salt, a bag of coffee, Beyond burgers, Siete grain-free tortilla chips, a large tub for our camping gear, a split of wine for me, and stuff for bloody marys ($163.66). We also stop at a fast-food drive-thru to get a large Coke Zero to share while we are hopping from store to store ($3.40). $167.06

5:00 p.m. — We don’t drive much since we both work from home and live in a super walkable area, but we need gas for our trip to the campsite this weekend so we fill up the tank. $26.37

7:20 p.m. — Finally home! I don’t typically like to eat this late but shopping took longer than expected. I make myself and K. a pre-made, frozen chickpea flour pizza with soft vegan cheese and grilled onions (we love this as a quick meal so we pre-make them and keep them in the freezer). We watch Schitt’s Creek while we eat and then I take my gummy, hop in the shower, and do skincare routine number one. K. and I watch an episode of Behind Her Eyes in bed and then I fall asleep to you guessed it, Schitt’s Creek.

Daily Total: $289.32

Day Six

6 a.m. — My alarm goes off early today so I can get up, shower, and finish packing before we hit the road. After I shower, I do skincare routine number two, and K. runs to the grocery store to pick up some vegan breakfast sausage and a couple of bags of ice ($11.97). We head out to meet up with family and stop to get coffee at my favorite local coffee shop on the way. I get my usual, quad shot oat milk latte, and K. gets an americano with a splash of oat milk. I love this coffee shop because it’s the very first one I tried when I first moved here, but it is a bit pricey ($12.97). $24.94

11:08 a.m. — The campsite is a two-and-half-hour drive from the city so halfway there we stop at a dog-friendly (we have our pup and K.’s mom’s pup with us) cafe in a small town for some breakfast. K. gets a bloody mary (I’m driving) and a breakfast plate with eggs, hashbrowns, and tomatoes and I get a Coke Zero and french fries. We also get a plain hamburger patty for our pup. $35.76

3:30 p.m. — There is a lot of traffic on the way to the campsite, but we finally get there and get everything set up. We make bloody marys with our favorite Polish potato vodka and bloody mary mix. We also crack open our grain-free tortilla chips and habanero salsa to snack on.

5:10 p.m. — K.’s mom and grandma drive out to the swap meet happening nearby (hence the traffic) and K. and I stay back at the campsite so we can keep drinking and playing games. We spent the majority of 2020 getting proficient in Skip-bo since we spent all of our time at home and needed something to do, so K. and I play cards and decide to make a yummy concoction of gluten-free peanut butter, honey, and sea salt toast to snack on. K. drinks a hard seltzer and I drink my split of wine.

8 p.m. — Dinner time! Everyone is back and I am hungry for a real meal. We make gluten-free vegan burgers with vegan cheese and some vegan chickpea pesto pasta salad. K. is having another seltzer and I drink a can of House Wine’s sparkling rosé.

11:30 p.m. — We sit by the fire for a couple of hours and admire the stars. It’s so nice being in a space where you can see them. The brightness shocks me every time! There has been an abundance of cotton blowing around all day, so K. and I take some Benadryl, I take my gummy, and we climb into our tent. I am used to snuggling up to K., especially when we camp, but since we have our pup with us and we had to buy separate sleeping pads, we are further apart than I would have liked. But I end up crashing hard. 10/10 would recommend these sleeping pads.

Daily Total: $60.70

Day Seven

5:45 a.m. — I’m up early because of the sun. It was a cold night and is still really cold this morning. I have to run to the bathroom, which is pretty far from our campsite and when I get back, I grab a bottle of water to chug and accidentally wake up K.’s mom’s dog. We boil some water to make a french press and K. and I both have a cup and a Gatorade to rehydrate. While I wait for K.’s grandma to get up for breakfast, K. makes me another gluten-free peanut butter, honey, and sea salt toast.

9 a.m. — Everyone is up now. We decide to make some gluten-free breakfast sandwiches out of the remaining hamburger buns we have. Our vegan breakfast sausage got watery in our cooler so we end up just having hash browns to put on the sandwich, but it’s still delicious. K..’s mom also makes us each some shredded potatoes on the side (obviously potatoes are my thing).

12 p.m. — After having a leisurely morning playing dominoes with our family, walking by the river, and playing with the pups, K. and I pack up our stuff and start the drive back home. As I said before, I am not a huge camper and one night is really my max. We had a great time but we are both ready to get home, shower, and lay in our own bed. On the way home, we stop at the same dog-friendly cafe for some fries to-go. $6

3 p.m. — Finally home! We immediately give our pup a bath, I start some laundry, and K. and I both shower. I follow up with skincare routine number one. We lay in bed and watch another episode of Behind Her Eyes before making dinner.

5 p.m. — Dinner time! I make chickpea pasta with vegan alfredo again. K. has a tuna salad sandwich on the rest of the gluten-free bread. I also eat that vegan and gluten-free chocolate chip muffin I got to take camping and forgot about and share part of it with K. (it’s the little things).

7 p.m. — I take my gummy, brush my teeth, and we get back into bed to finish Behind Her Eyes. It has a great ending! We also watch the season finale of Mare of Easttown which has been soooo good. This one also has a twisted end that gets me and I feel happy but sad that it’s over. I am exhausted from the week and the camping so we put on Schitt’s Creek and I fall right asleep.

Daily Total: $6

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