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 membership director working for a private club who has a joint income of $113,000 and spends some of it on LOL Dolls and a Christmas tree.
Occupation: Membership Director
Industry: Private Club
Location: Aiken County, SC
Salary: $113,000 (joint). My husband and I fully share our finances.
Net Worth: $47,550 ($5,000 in a savings/emergency fund, $11,000 in investment accounts/retirement funds, $60,000 in home equity, minus debt)
Debt: $8,650 in student loans, $19,800 for my husband’s truck
My Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,699.19 (I pay for health care for me and my daughter from my paycheck.)
My Husband’s Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,700
Mortgage: $968.98 for our four-bedroom, three-bath, 1960s home. The windows are super old, so our electric bill is always $400 or more.
Loan Payments: $470 ($165 for my student loan; $305 for my husband’s truck.)
Child Care: $560
Planet Fitness: $39
House Warranty: $51.99
Husband’s Health Insurance: $148.71
Pest Control: $60
Cell Phone: $60 (for my husband’s; my work pays for mine.)
Savings: We tithe 10% of all income into a second savings account.
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?
My parents did not clearly tell me I needed to attend college, but made it known that I would have to pay for it on my own. I joined the Army Reserve at 17 to pay for college. I attended a technical school and stayed home for my first two years to save money, and then transferred to a state school to finish my degree.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Neither of my parents were savers, and it was obvious they struggled with money.
What was your first job, and why did you get it?
I worked at a candy store in the mall, and it was a great job. I could study when we weren’t busy, and my boss was so nice, but I was a walking doormat and my “friends” would stop by and literally wreak havoc on the store. I worked there for years. I used that money for gas, homecoming and prom dresses, school clothing, etc.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Always! I always felt like everyone else could get a back-to-school outfit without their parents getting mad. Throughout the year, if I needed clothing, it was always a big to-do.
Do you worry about money now?
Of course. I worry about whether we will be okay if an emergency pops up. I also worry that my daughter may not have what she needs, and I hate that feeling.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself, and do you have a financial safety net?
By age 18, I was in charge of my own finances. My safety net is our savings, and my husband does have a business worth a few hundred thousand. Neither of us would reach out to our family for money.
Do you receive, or have you ever received, passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
No, I have not. My husband received $10,000 after we bought our house from his ex-stepfather. It was generous, and we used it to pay off some debts.
5 a.m. — My husband, K., wakes me up to have coffee together on the front porch. We bought an espresso machine as a housewarming gift to ourselves when we moved in last year. I make us both a double-shot almond milk latte, with a little bit of caramel macchiato coffee cream. After coffee I go upstairs, take a body shower, do my hair and makeup, get dressed, and by the time I’m downstairs, K. has our daughter, G., dressed and her lunch and backpack ready. We are out the door by 8 a.m. and make it to her school at 8:20 a.m. I stop by Starbucks on my way in and get a shaken iced espresso with six shots (I’m tired, and I have a busy day ahead), egg-white egg bites, and a protein bistro box for lunch ($18.04). I reload my card with $20. $38.04
12 p.m. — Apparently, I’m in the holiday spirit, because on my lunch break I meet a woman downtown to get an LOL Doll House for my daughter ($20, thank God for Facebook Marketplace). And when I get back to work, I buy $51.14 of miscellaneous LOL Doll toys for my daughter’s Christmas presents. We have a $500 budget for her Christmas, and this year she will only talk about LOL Dolls. Then I finally take the plunge and buy the 7.5-foot Christmas tree I’ve had in my cart at Wayfair, for $94.65. $165.79
7:30 p.m. — I leave work. I had three tours today and hosted a party. My social battery has died, and I realize I’m starving! I do a curbside order and get a grilled chicken sandwich, diet Dr. Pepper, and fries. K. asked me to pick him up a spicy sandwich meal, and I get G. a side of mac ‘n’ cheese. I stop by K.’s aunt’s house to pick up G. G. and I cuddle. She’s already eaten and wants to go home. I talk with family for a while, and we make our way home. I get home and realize my social battery isn’t just dead — I feel sick. I take a bath, and G. comes in with her toys to play. She winds up getting in the bath, and I ask K. to finish washing her up while I go lie down. I fall asleep immediately. $25.89
Daily Total: $229.72
8 a.m. — I get up, still not feeling great. G. wakes K. and me up, and we eventually head downstairs. I feed our dog, who immediately jumps on me. He and I run a couple days a week, and I can tell he wants to go. He’s a great dog and he is so patient with our daughter, but he is still a puppy and has so much energy. I get dressed and do my makeup while K. turns on a movie for G. and makes her breakfast. I leave and head straight to Starbucks for a triple-shot almond milk pumpkin spice latte. I then get a breakfast sandwich and hash browns from Chick-fil-A ($5.83 — the company’s views do not align with mine, but I’m starving… don’t come for me). $13.30
1 p.m. — Work is slow today, but I have a lot of paperwork to get caught up on, as well as working on my yearly budget. I know this afternoon will be chaotic, because we have a large dinner. The club generally cooks lunch for everyone. I get sausage and penne marinara pasta and a diet Coke ($0, yess!). Our chef is fantastic. I check in with K. to see how he and G. are doing on their “daddy-daughter day.” I see that a family friend’s daughter started a GoFundMe for her unexpected medical bills. I contribute $200 from our tithing account. $200
Daily Total: $213.30
9 a.m. — All three of us get up and get ready for church. K. and I have coffee, and I cut up strawberries and grapes for G.’s breakfast. I make bacon, egg, and cheese bites and have plenty left over for the week. I let G. pick out her outfit, and she decides on a cute dress with her Vans. K. and I get dressed and drive the 40 minutes to church. Afterwards, we take G. home for a nap, and I head to Target to get shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent, water, and nail polish ($56.88). I find the LOL Dolls movie set, with all the characters G. has been obsessed with, on clearance for $30 off ($100). $156.88
3 p.m. — I go to Final Cut with my best friend, O., while G. and K. are watching movies. O. and I look through all the Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters overstock, and I decide on a jean jumpsuit, a puzzle and an evil eye rug for my little sister as a Christmas gift, and a really cute pair of blue light–blocking glasses ($27). O. and I get Mexican food after, and we each order a margarita ($13.50). Neither of us drinks that much, and when she’s about halfway done, she realizes she’s getting a little tipsy. I give her the rest of my drink, and after we leave, we stop by a local dessert place for cheesecake (her treat). I order key lime pie with raspberry drizzle. I get home around 7 p.m., and K. has made pork ramen. I add in a hard-boiled egg for extra protein. We give G. a bath and tuck her in our bed, because sometimes it’s easier and I sleep better with her next to me. $40.50
Daily Total: $197.38
8 a.m. — G. and I go downstairs to let K. sleep in. I take our dog out and make G. a breakfast of grapes, yogurt, and a peanut butter toast. I make my latte and an açai bowl with strawberries and blueberries, and drizzle natural peanut butter on top. I put on Daniel Tiger and scroll on my phone until K. wakes up. K. and I chat until I get dressed and drive down to a park to take our dog for a run. We do about three miles and stop at the dog park. He loves playing on the agility equipment. After, we go to Starbucks for a pumpkin cold brew and a pup cup. I get home, and G. and I play outside while K. gets some work done. We come in for lunch, and I lay G. down for a nap. While she sleeps, I start the laundry, fold the piles of laundry in my bedroom, and start cleaning the master bedroom bathroom. $5.55
3 p.m. — G. wakes up from her nap. While she was asleep, I cleaned the kitchen and went through our fridge. I have my grocery list and ask K. if he wants to come shopping with me, and to my surprise he says yes. K. is a homebody, but also has severe depression. It’s been this way for a while, and he speaks weekly with a therapist and takes medication, but there are times when he won’t leave the house for weeks. All three of us head to Walmart, and I pick up the essentials: peanut butter, coffee beans, almond milk, strawberries, grapes, apples, cucumbers, dog food, juice, bread, lunch meat, string cheese, crackers, fruit pouches, yogurt pouches, White Claw, meatballs, M&M’s (G.’s favorite treat), blueberries, bacon, eggs, and shredded cheese. After we get home, K. cooks chicken and throws it into the leftover pork ramen, and he and I eat that while G. has a chicken breast with blueberries and juice. We watch Hocus Pocus as a family, and G. loves it! Then we give her a bath, and we all head to bed around 9. $120.28
Daily Total: $125.83
4 a.m. — I can’t sleep, so I get out of bed and make myself some coffee. I do a Pilates YouTube video workout. I journal and meditate, look down at my phone, and realize it’s only 5 a.m. Dammit. I take a shower, and K. comes downstairs for coffee. We do a short Bible study reflection and get ready for the day. G. wakes up, and we make her breakfast. I do my hair and makeup, get dressed, and take G. to school. K. has a busy day of conference calls. I fill up my car on the way to work. $30.98
5 p.m. — I pick G. up from school after a crazy day of work. I have a therapy appointment at 7 p.m. over FaceTime. I make G. and K. mac ‘n’ cheese for dinner, and give G. a bath before I start my appointment. I take my therapy call from my car and come back inside around 8 p.m. I read G. a book and tuck her in. K. and I stay up and talk while I sip on a White Claw and he drinks a hard cider. We begin watching Squid Game, and fall asleep around 10.
Daily Total: $34.28
5 a.m. — K. wakes me up. I wash my hair and style it, which takes about an hour (this is why I only do it twice a week, MAX). After, K. and I have coffee, and G. wakes up. K. makes her lunch while I get her dressed and get ready for the day as well. I leave early enough to drop G. off at school and get Starbucks. I order an iced shaken espresso with four shots (paid with my app), and then eat the egg bites I made earlier in the week. I reload my app with $20. $20
1 p.m. — I stop by Target for an afternoon pick-me-up. Work has been super busy, so I treat myself to a bag of SmartSweets Sour Blasts and grab a sugar-free Red Bull. $7.01
5 p.m. — After I finish work, I pick G. up and meet K. at my MIL’s house. K. and I go out on a date and get Mexican food. I have fajita nachos, and K. has a burrito. After, we head to Bible study and see a few of our good friends there. We finish around 8 p.m. and pick up G., who has toys strewn throughout my MIL’s house. We all head home and are in bed by 9 p.m. $36.99
Daily Total: $64
5 a.m. — I’m dragging, and today is my busiest day at work in a while. I’m meeting five prospects, so I need to be on my A game. I have my coffee with K., and we discuss a job opportunity he was offered. I’m nervous for him, but I hope it helps him get out more. While drinking my coffee, I find a really pretty liquid eyeliner that’s purple, and next thing I know Amazon says it will be here in a week. G. has a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast, and I have a mostly cold egg bite. I get G. ready while K. works, and get her to school by 8 a.m. $7.01
3 p.m. — My throat is so dry. I don’t think I’ve stopped talking since 9 a.m. I finally get some water and find some crackers in my desk. While scavenging my office for more food, I have someone stop in, looking for a donation for a food drive. I have a $5 bill on me, so I give them that. $5
5 p.m. — I pick G. up from school and stop by the store to pick up flowers for O. G. and I head over to O.’s house for dinner. She made burgers and potato wedges for us, and has strawberry Uncrustables, strawberries, and yogurt for G. O. is pet-sitting this week, so she has three dogs for G. to play with. O. and I play with G. and eventually put on the Trolls movie for her. O. and I get to talk about life. Next thing I know, it’s 10 p.m. and K. texts me because he just got home from dinner with friends. We head home, and I tuck G. in. K. is still up, so we stay up playing with our dog and watching Squid Game until 12 a.m. Finally, we head to bed. $10.30
Daily Total: $22.31
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.
Money Diaries are meant to reflect an individual’s experience and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29’s point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
Do you have a Money Diary you’d like to share? Submit it with us here.
Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?