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A Week In Seattle, WA, On A $156,000 Joint Income

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Today: a Child And Family Therapist who makes $36,000 per year and spends some of it on an Erin Condren LifePlanner.

Occupation: Child and Family Therapist
Industry: Social Services
Age: 28
Location: Seattle, WA
My Salary: $36,000
My Husband's Salary: $120,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,240
My Husband's Salary (1x/month): $7,700
Gender Identity: Female

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,330 (My husband and I have both joint and separate accounts, and all monthly expenses, such as rent, come out of our joint account. My weekly expenses come out of my own account, with the exception of any extenuating circumstances.)
Loans: $0 (I paid off my student loans in February after making aggressive payments for a year and a half)
Spotify: $10
Electric: ~$50 (depends on the month)
Water/Sewer: ~$60 (depends on the month)
Internet: $110
Phone: $80
Car Insurance: $45
Roth IRA: $1,000 (until I've maxed out contribution)
Savings: $300

Day One

7 a.m. — I don't work on Fridays, but wake up to say goodbye to my partner before he heads out. Sometimes I manage to fall back asleep, but today is not one of those days, so I get up and make coffee and an egg for breakfast. I'm rewatching The O.C. because it is the greatest televisual experience of the 21st century, and my coworker gave me her Hulu information. I formulate a hypothesis that Luke is the Jaime Lannister of The O.C. (Redemption arc! Reformed bad boy! Questionable romantic interests!) and text this hypothesis to everyone who is willing to listen to me.

10 a.m. — I take this time to call and cancel my massage membership at a national chain. I have chronic musculoskeletal pain due to a number of super fun chronic illnesses, and regular massage helps me to manage that pain. But the massage therapist to whom I am loyal recently branched out to do private massage and now comes to my home. This arrangement is much more convenient and means that he gets paid the full cost of the massage! The woman on the phone is very lovely and helpful and tells me I have 60 days after canceling to use up any outstanding services. I learn I have one left, so I might schedule a facial for later in the month.

12 p.m. — I eat lunch at home and then head to therapy. One of the reasons I don't work on Fridays is so that I can fit my many doctor appointments in, and that includes mental health therapy. I'm a huge advocate for everyone being in therapy, and admit that I am biased as a therapist myself! I've been seeing this therapist for around two years and I really like her. I struggle with anxiety and am always somewhere in a grief cycle with regards to my health. Therapy helps me to stay on top of everything so I can be my best self for my clients. This session is $35 because I met my deductible in April and no longer have to pay $140 per session. Yay. Afterwards, I drop by Sephora to return a serum that smells like vinegar and feels like sadness. $35

1:30 p.m. — My check engine light has been on for a few days, and I finally have time to bring it in to be checked out. Turns out we have an oil leak somewhere and there's oil all over our engine — none where it's actually supposed to be. They clean our old boy up and do an oil change, putting in a tracer dye so we can figure out where the leak is coming from. I read on my Kindle while this is happening. I have a goal this year of reading 50 books, and I've read 27 so far! The library is my best friend, and I love that you can get e-books sent right to your Kindle. This isn't an ad, I swear, the library is free and they aren't paying me (yet??). I pay for the car repair from our join account. $144.97

3 p.m. — I drop by the pharmacy on my way home to pick up a prescription for a medication I take regularly. There's no line, so I'm in and out. I check my work email and then turn my phone off for the weekend. Even though I don't work on Fridays, I like to be available by email in case something comes up. I throw on an episode of The O.C. and do some skincare. I try The Ordinary's AHA + BHA peeling solution for the first time and follow up with some heavy moisturizers. The peeling solution seems... nice? I only left it on for six minutes since I'm pretty new to chemical exfoliation, and this one is pretty strong. My face is definitely glowy and smooth afterwards, and my cheekbones feel slightly tingly. I should probably have started with a less strong mask, but I like to live life on the edge. Patch testing? I don't know her. $6.80

5 p.m. — I throw in a load of laundry, and then my parents call so we chat on the phone for awhile. I live across the country from them after moving to Seattle from New York to close the gap in my long distance relationship, so we try to talk on the phone at least once a week (and text far more frequently). We talk about our hopes and fears for Game of Thrones, and I wax poetic about how Bran is a misunderstood angel. After they tire of this, I pick my partner up from the bus stop and we cook dinner together before settling in for some more, you guessed it, The O.C.

8 p.m. — One of my main issues with my illnesses is that my sleep is a nightmare, so I try to keep a very regular sleep schedule and practice intense sleep hygiene. I take my sleep meds, do my skin care routine (what's left of it, since I did half of it while masking earlier), brush my teeth, foam roll and stretch, write in our silly relationship journal (we each answer a question every night!), and then settle into bed with my Kindle before falling asleep around 9:30. I know some people find that reading in bed is an issue for their sleep, but since I've been doing it since I was a kid, it's part of my routine.

Daily Total: $186.77

Day Two

7:45 a.m. — My partner wakes me up for cuddles, and I try not to be a huge grump. Despite going to bed at 9:30, I didn't end up falling asleep until closer to midnight and my sleep wasn't great because of my pain levels. I recently got a CBD cream for attempted pain relief, so I put that on my shoulders and neck and hope for some relief. It doesn't help with the pain, but I do notice that my shoulders feel more relaxed, so maybe with continued use it will help. Fingers crossed! I have breakfast and throw in a load of laundry.

10 a.m. — Time for my skincare routine! The AHA/BHA peeling solution left my skin radiant, and I'm very pleased. Because literally nobody asked, here's my morning skincare routine: I wash my face with warm water, use a witch hazel toner, then Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, then a vitamin c product (I'm testing out several different ones, right now I'm using a Biossance sample), and then a moisturizer with SPF. If I'm going to be spending a lot of time outdoors, I'll add on another facial sunscreen to make sure I'm getting enough protection. I invest a lot of money and effort into my skincare, because it feels like self care and also because I like having luminous skin. I also don't wear makeup, so taking care of my skin feels extra important!

11 a.m. — My partner and I decide to take advantage of the beautiful weather and head over to a trail by our apartment. Whenever the sun is out in the greater Seattle area, everyone and their dog is outside, so we have a nice time walking and people/dog watching. We spend some of our time talking about our financial goals, such as buying a home and a new car. We agree that a new car is the priority and push off searching for a home for another year at least. After around an hour, my blood sugar drops, and I become shaky and nauseated, so we head home to get some lunch in me.

12:30 p.m. — I eat a sandwich with some fruit and feel loads better. We Skype with my partner's parents and they mention that they're considering selling their home and moving to Washington. We are shook by this information, but mostly excited by the prospect of living close to one of our sets of parents! After we get off Skype, I sit on our balcony and read some more. I'm not loving this book, but it was free from Amazon's first reads and I've been procrastinating reading it for a few months now.

2 p.m. — I head to the grocery store for the weekly shop. I pick up the usual suspects (milk, yogurt, eggs, and sandwich fixings) along with vegetables so I can stir fry this week and ingredients for strawberry shortcake. A woman in the baking aisle feels that it's appropriate to open up to me, a complete stranger, about her family drama. I attempt to warg into some ravens to escape this social situation. Eventually she tires herself out, and I self-checkout to pay respects to the robot overlords. $52.16

2:30 p.m. — I get home and put things away with the assistance of my partner. He took the trash and recycling out while I was shopping, and also folded the laundry. We put the clothes away and then watch the episode of The O.C. where Anna leaves and I weep openly. We also talk about how I'm Seth Cohen ("I'm a big dork and I listen to emo") and posit that my partner is Ryan Atwood. He attempts some broody expressions and we change our minds.

8 p.m. — My body feels like a nightmare. I take a bath, take my meds, do my nighttime skincare routine (double cleanse, midnight recovery oil [#paymeKiehl's], and a night cream), and read until I'm tired enough to attempt to sleep.

Daily Total: $52.16

Day Three

8 a.m. — I didn't end up falling asleep until around 11, and my Fitbit tells me I spent almost two hours of my "sleep" time... awake. Cool. My body is still hurting and my mental health begins to plummet as a result. I text my mom and we talk about things I have to look forward to, like a wedding next month and a trip to visit my parents in September. It's helpful for me to have things to look forward to, especially when life feels like an endless slog through perpetual pain.

10 a.m. — We head out for a Costco run. We try to go around once every six weeks to stock up on whatever nonperishables we've run out of and bulk meat to throw in the freezer. Today we pick up chicken breasts, cereal, string cheese, basmati rice, gummy vitamins, cashews, toilet paper, Nutri-Grain bars, and treat ourselves to a pack of chocolate chip cookies. $139.02

12 p.m. — I have my usual sandwich for lunch and sit out on the balcony to finish my book. 28 down! I celebrate with one of those Costco cookies before hopping in the shower.

2 p.m. — We make Smitten Kitchen's strawberry shortcakes to bring to our friend's house tonight. We go every Sunday to watch Game of Thrones and they feed us dinner and dessert and have what seems like unlimited wine. We feel like freeloaders, and offered to bring dessert tonight, so here we are! The shortcakes come together incredibly quickly, and I whip some cream and prep the berries while they cook. We try the ugliest shortcake as a "tester" and are very pleased! Super yummy and summery.

5:30 p.m. — The best part of living on the west coast is being able to watch GoT at 6 p.m. Our friends made tacos and margaritas. We eat and watch and I only cry a little! Afterwards we have dessert, and the shortcakes are a hit. We hang out for awhile and talk until the Sunday Scaries get the best of us, and we decide to head home.

10 p.m. — We get home and I do my bedtime routine. Since I had a margarita, I can't take my usual sleep meds tonight. I pop some melatonin and hope for the best.

Daily Total: $139.02

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — As I suspected, my sleep last night was not great. I woke up a lot throughout the night and falling back asleep was a struggle. But, this was the price I knew I would pay for drinking that marg, and since I have a light day at work, I felt I could handle it. Also I had some work stress dreams, which frustrates me because of the lengths I go to for work/life separation, but what can ya do. That all being said, my body feels less horrible this morning, and I take that as a big win! I brew some coffee and check my personal emails.

8 a.m. — The Erin Condren LifePlanner launches today, finally. I get one every year and it's the most expensive unnecessary thing I buy on a regular basis. I love having a paper planner, and these have the option for an hourly layout which is perfect for scheduling sessions with clients and blocking out time for meetings. I mull over cover designs while watching an episode of Bob's Burgers and then make my purchase. It comes out to $68.40, but I use Paypal to checkout where I have a $23.15 balance from a payment last month. $45.25

10 a.m. — I pack a lunchbox full of snacks (string cheese, yogurt, clementines) and my lunch, and get ready to head to work. I drop by the library on my way in to pick up a book that is on hold for me.

1 p.m. — It's gorgeous out, so I eat outside with some coworkers to take a break from paperwork. Slowly, three of my four clients today cancel (one is a no show, as is tradition in community mental health). I stay outside and read since I'm caught up on paperwork. Days like this are incredibly rare, so I soak up the sunshine and the free time. Since last week was very chaotic, I appreciate this reprieve.

4 p.m. — I finish my last (and only) session of the day, do my note, and head out! I'm used to an easy breezy commute since I usually leave at 7, so I'm surprised when it takes me 40 minutes to get home.

5 p.m. — I make a chicken and broccoli stir-fry for dinner with jasmine rice and then go pick up my partner from the bus stop. We eat dinner and talk about our days, and then watch Marissa Cooper scream and throw her pool chair. Iconic.

7 p.m. — I have a long, busy day tomorrow and need to be up early for it. I shower, do my nighttime routine, and settle in to read. I rarely set an alarm since my schedule allows me to wake up naturally, but I begrudgingly set one tonight.

Daily Total: $45.25

Day Five

6:35 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm, make coffee and hard boil an egg, make and pack my lunch, dinner, and snacks for the day, and head out. I have a dermatologist appointment this morning to talk about the back acne that my body decided to produce last year. Second puberty is real, and I'm over it. I also plan to talk about the various moles that are all over my body and see if any of them require monitoring. As much as I love my skincare, I also really love the sun and spend more time in it than I probably should. I contain multitudes.

8:15 a.m. — The dermatologist prescribes a topical cream for my back acne and tells me all of my bumps and lumps are benign and to keep on keepin' on. She also tells me to wear SPF 50 daily and I pretend to think this is a reasonable request. I pay my $15 copay and get out of dodge. $15

9:30 a.m. — I arrive at work early and do some paperwork. I stop by the staff "lounge" and make myself a cup of tea, which is the only thing available in the staff lounge because nonprofit. I have three back-to-back meetings this morning, so I get to my first meeting room early and scream about Game of Thrones with anyone who will listen.

2:30 p.m. — Twice a week, I go to an under-18 shelter to provide drop-in support for the youth in the program. I drive the ten minutes from my office to the shelter and get parking right out front! I set up camp for the rest of my work day. I usually eat whatever dinner the kids have on my shelter days, but I brought leftover stir fry today.

7:30 p.m. — My day is finally done! I get home and immediately eat a Costco cookie. My partner and I spend some time together before I launch into my bedtime routine. I'm exhausted and collapse into bed at 9:30.

Daily Total: $15

Day Six

7:20 a.m. — I wake up in time to cuddle with my partner for a bit before he needs to head out. We make plans to commute home together today. I drive to work and he busses in, and on days when I finish at around the time his bus passes my office, he gets off and we drive home the rest of the way together. We don't get to spend a ton of time together during the week, so we steal moments wherever we can.

9 a.m. — After my coffee and breakfast, I hop in the shower. I use an anti-frizz cream sample I got from a Sephora order a while ago and am honestly SHOOK at how well it works. I have thick, curly/wavy hair that I do not take good care of, so it's often dry and tragic. I look up this styling cream and find that it's $38 for the full size, so I say "sucks to suck" to my hair and move on with my day.

11 a.m. — I get to my first meeting of the day and am delighted to find that someone brought fruit and coffee! I grab a plate of grapes and strawberries and a cup of coffee. I also eat my lunch during this meeting, since it goes until 12:30. The meeting is pretty rough, with someone seeking consultation for a very upsetting case, so the free treats are much appreciated.

2 p.m. — My client cancels last minute due to catching a virus, so I grab my Kindle and sit outside for an hour to read and decompress before the rest of my sessions.

6 p.m. — I wrap up my last session and see a text from my partner that he's in the car, so I grab my stuff and we drive home together, filling in each other in on our days. It's hard to talk about my day sometimes with my partner/in general because of HIPAA concerns, but I tell him what I can and we can process my feelings without him needing to know too much.

7 p.m. — We make dinner (veggie curry stir-fry) and I eat while watching an episode of The O.C. to numb my mind.

8:45 p.m. — I finish my book (it sucked) and then launch into my bedtime routine. The question in our 365 day journal is a fun one, so we write in it together and I have a giggle fit, which is not conducive to sleeping, but is conducive to my self care. My partner doesn't have to go in to work tomorrow, so he tucks me in and then heads back out to do whatever it is he does when I'm asleep.

Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

3:15 a.m. — I wake up to agonizing pain in my left hand, and wonder if I might've sprained or partially dislocated my thumb in my sleep. I get out of bed to ice it and put on my wrist brace. I look up urgent care facilities that take my insurance, since I recently switched from HMO to PPO and should have more options. I find one less than 10 minutes away, so I make a plan to go if my hand still hurts in the morning, and then I head back to bed.

8 a.m. — I'm up! And my thumb still hurts. I make an "appointment" at the urgent care. The website tells you how long the projected wait time is and gives you a time to come in that should minimize that wait, which I appreciate! My partner makes me coffee and breakfast, so I can lie on the couch and feel sorry for myself. I also use this time to finally order tickets for Avengers: Endgame this weekend. $27.52

10:15 a.m. — Urgent Care diagnoses me with tendonitis, gives me a fancy new brace to replace my flimsy drugstore brace, and sends me on my merry way. My copay is $25. $25

11:30 a.m. — I put gas in the car on the way home and make a note to make an appointment with the car people to check on the tracer fluid. I get home and have my usual lunch, pack some snacks, and head over to work. $31.48

1 p.m. — I just had a session with a transfer client and I feel really positive about how our meeting went! Finding a good therapist is a lot like dating, and it can be really hard to find a good fit. It always feels really exciting and great when I meet someone and can already feel that we're going to work well together. I just hope that she agrees and comes back next week!

4:45 p.m. — I eat dinner with everyone at the shelter because they're having tuna melts and that sounds very comforting tonight. The same few clients have been holding steady at this shelter for the past month or so, and often my time is spent hanging out and spending quality time with them. After dinner, we play monopoly and I wreck everyone.

7 p.m. — I drive home and pick up the prescribed acne medications the dermatologist ordered for me. I get some ice to put on my hand and noticed that my partner completely cleaned the kitchen, for which I am extremely grateful. What a gem. I like him. $28.18

9:30 p.m. — I do my skincare routine, take my meds, write in our journal, and collapse into bed.

Daily Total: $112.18

If you are experiencing anxiety or depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.

The Breakdown

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