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I am 28 years old, make $65,000, live in upstate New York and work in the nonprofit sector

Introduction: I’m Asian-American, first generation, grew up low-income. My career has been focused on financial wellness and wealth building for low-income communities. I’ve learned alot about finances, but not sure I would’ve sought out the same info at such depth if work wasn't the catalyst.
SECTION ONE: ASSETS AND DEBT
Net Worth: -$2,100
Retirement: $39,000. Before my Master’s, balance was ~$50k, accumulated in 3 years post college. Maxed out Roth IRA and 401k for 2 of those years.
Equity: None. My partner K bought a house for us recently, still under his name only.
Savings Accounts: $650
Checking Accounts: $250
Credit Card Debt: $0
Student Loan Debt: $42,000. $22k federal, $20k owed to siblings.
College: No debt, thanks to a full-ride scholarship I won. I had part-time jobs and spent most of my money on clothes. My brother sent me $1000 every year, and other siblings gifted me money during holidays.
Grad school: All my current debt. I dumped savings and some retirement funds into tuition. Even with a scholarship of $20k/year, I had to borrow 40k. Professional school is expensive, y’all. I had part-time jobs, and all earnings went to living expenses.
Other Debt: $0
Inheritance: Me - none.
Partner – The house down payment was a gift from his parents. He’ll also get a significant inheritance from eventually. His parents grew up poor but aren't anymore, and have always been frugal. The life his parents gave him is what I’d like to give my kids if I have them: set them up well without spoiling.
My parents worked so hard to support my family. When I tried to give them my paychecks in high school, they told me to keep them for myself. When I bought gifts for them during holidays, they told me I should spend for myself. My siblings (including me) who spent the most time in the US, and thus could benefit the most long-term, are all financially stable. My older siblings still struggle and won’t accept help. I remember all the time how lucky I am to have a supportive family.
Other Related:
Before March, I lived in a 2 bed apartment in a big city with a roommate. I planned to visit K for Spring Break but moved in with him instead due to quarantine. We intended for this to happen after my graduation, but the timeline was sped up. We never shared finances before but now he was taking care of all our living expenses. K didn’t mind and was happy to. I wouldn’t have cared if our situations were flipped. But I felt guilty having someone else pay so much for me. And for so long I was a strong, independent woman and it felt like I was giving up some of that.
But I realized that we are partners in many ways, including this. We try to make life easier for each other, and K was doing that for me just as I do for him. Besides, my independence was enabled by the safety net of my family. I aim to provide the same for K, for my nephews/nieces, and for my kids if I have them – and I certainly won’t consider them “less independent” for taking those opportunities. Seriously, this has been a main point of my whole career! Gotta apply it to myself.
Partner’s Net Worth: $200,000+
SECTION TWO: INCOME
Income Progression: I was an English and Classics major who had tried some teaching and considered law school. I really blossomed skills-wise at my first post-college job, and learned so much from many wonderful people. Also, the nonprofit field allows me to be a jack of all trades due to their funding constraints. Turns out I’m a master of none, and that's okay (;
2015 - $15,000 for 10-month term
2016 - $48,000 annual, promotion
2017 - $52,000 annual, promotion
Start grad school
2018 - $40/hour, consultant
2019 - picked up $20/hr for university
End grad school
2020 - $65,000 annual, strategy-related role
After graduation this year I was unemployed for 3 months. In August my current employer offered me a short-term, full-time position and hope to keep me long-term. Crossing my fingers, as I’m very inspired by their mission and impact. Regarding salary, if I stayed in/gone back to expensive cities, I would’ve sought a higher range. I’m now in a low COL town so adjusted accordingly.
Monthly Take Home: $4,481. Taxes taken out, no benefits.
Partner’s Monthly Take Home: ~$7,000. Deductions for health insurance (for both of us), 401k, HSA, all that jazz. This has been his salary for 2 years. Before this, a grad school stipend (~$35k) for many years.
SECTION THREE: MONTHLY EXPENSES
Our finances are joint now and we consult each other on buys at $100+.
Mortgage: $700
Property Taxes: $800
Home & Car Insurance: $45
Savings & Investment: Whatever’s left after expenses.
Debt Payments: $0. I'll funnel all my earnings into this (after Roth IRA). But it won’t be enough before the grace period expires and interest is capitalized on my federal loans. Anything left owed to the feds will be covered by K’s savings and paid off before 2021. Then I’ll focus on paying my siblings back.
Donations: $625
Gas/Electric/Heat: Unknown, these bills are lying around somewhere.
Trash: $15
Wifi: $50
Phone: $0. K is on a family plan, and I’m on one with my siblings.
Groceries: $600 average
Subscriptions: Amazon Prime $10. Netflix and Hulu 0, using family plans. Google Play Music Family $15.
Gym Membership: $60 for K's membership. Will get mine once we’re comfortable going again.
Pet: Unknown, haven't summed up all the cat things.
Miscellaneous (eating out, hobbies, gifts, random purchases, etc.): $200 average
SECTION FOUR: THE DIARY
Day 1, Sunday
8:45 am After waking up and going back to sleep a few times, I finally just get up. I do my morning routine: wash face, brush teeth, take pill, contacts, ring, brush hair, moisturizer.
My partner K is playing with the kitty, and I join. We adopted her not long ago, so she’s still acclimating. K calls her a scaredy cat because she’s skittish about everything. She's now in her carrier, in catloaf position (paws tucked and hidden, so she looks like a bread loaf) and not budging.
9:20 I check on my plants and do some planty things. I decide I want crepes for breakfast, and defrost 2 leftovers in the oven. As I wait, I scan through old starred emails. One is from Chase, offering a complimentary Shoprunner one year membership. Why not? The website tells me I already have an account, of course. But I don’t know my password and have to reset. I’m hungry and will get back to this.
I eat the first crepe like normal but everything falls out, so the 2nd gets the pancake treatment. With apples and maple syrup, they’re delicious.
Shoprunner finally works. I haven’t been spending much online, but if I do I’ll get free shipping (I never buy online without it).
12:00 pm We eat defrosted pizza for lunch. We’ve been watching Brooklyn 99 during meals, but today we watch Adventure Time. I give him my crusts as usual, since I don’t like them. Afterwards, K asks me to crack his back by standing on it. I manage to do so without totally breaking his back. Then I putz around while he packs for a work trip. I make him coffee and give him his daily portion of cookies (he asked me to hide and portion them). K leaves to finish up work at his office. I play Tetris on the Switch.
4:15 I take a shower. Fall weather hit one day last week with zero transition, and it’s been much cooler since, and the toasty water is so nice. K gets home and finishes packing. We drive out to his company lot so he can get the rental car. We hug goodbye. It feels like our long distance days again ); I've gotten very used to seeing him all day every day thanks to quarantine. He calls me before I get home - his car wasn’t delivered due to some miscommunication, so I have to drop him off at the rental center.
7:40 I feed the kitty and finally start cooking. I make pork chops seared in a cast iron pan, finished in the oven. I flavor it with salt, pepper, thyme, coriander, dill, and sage. I love cooking and being able to experiment so much. Sometimes it turn out a bit funny but hey, that's how I learn. I eat a pork chop with leftover jasmine rice.
My favorite Youtube channel has a new video. I don’t follow many but enjoy Safiya Nygaard’s content so much. The new one is about acrylic pour art. I think I'd feel bad about all the paint, but the finished pieces look so cool! I actually like her “bad attempts” more. I should try acrylics; I've mostly used watercolors but might be missing out on a medium I'll like.
9:30 K texts that he’s reached the hotel. It’s not that long a road trip and unlikely anything bad will happen, but I still worry. I’m glad he arrived okay.
9:45 I cut my fingernails. They grow like weeds, so I snip them every week otherwise they poke my eyeballs when removing contacts. I play Hearthstone on my phone during this. Then bedtime. My nightly routine: brush teeth, mouthwash, rotate fittonia plant, ring off, contacts out, lip balm, lotion.
11:30 Okay, I’m still awake, browsing online. I set my alarm for 7:30 am and sleep.
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Day 2, Monday
7:30 am Alarm wakes me. Snooze. Alarm again. I get up and feed the cat.
7:55 I put on a work outfit: green pleated maxi skirt and a mint green top with an orange, pink, and green floral pattern. Pink cardigan too since the office is cool.
My style is the most "feminine" and "loud" at this office - lots of colors and patterns, and silhouettes that are stereotypically feminine. Sometimes I wonder if I should tone myself down. Whether people might take me more seriously professionally if I wore more pants, muted colors and patterns. But this is what I enjoy, and if people underestimate me based on how I dress, that's on them, not me. I'm fortunate that previous coworkers have shown confidence in my abilities (even when I had little confidence) that I never had to "tone down” myself to get more respect.
8:00 Pack for work using a swag bag they gave me, which I know is cheesy but fits all my things well. Grab Greek yogurt and spoon for breakfast. I need to attach a voided check to my direct deposit form, so I add that. Got badge and mask. Mist my maranta. Shoes on – I pick Sketchers since my maxi will hide them mostly. But no one will notice my shoes, per the wise words of Gustav in Ever After!
8:10 While backing out, I spot trash bags on my neighbors' curbs - it's trash day. Usually my partner takes out the trash, so I debate waiting until next week. Then I tell myself the trash will get gross and stinky, even if in plastic bags, and also to be an adult. I roll the can to the curb. Upon arrival at work, I find a parking spot where I don't have to back up to get out. I'm always paranoid about hitting things/people, even with plenty of lot space. I haven't actually hit anything/one (that I know of) but still.
8:40 My coworker responds about the office book club. They've been reading White Fragility. I stop by her office and get the book, yay! The group is meeting again next week so I need to catch up. I then eat my yogurt. As my boss walks by me, she compliments my skirt (:
10:00 Meeting with boss and person she's been waiting to chat with for awhile, via phone. Person is shocked and unhappy at our update, and ends the call fast. Me and boss chat about a realization I had this morning, that will likely change one of the main things we want to do for my project. Whether this is a good thing or not is TBD. I go refill my tea at the hot water dispenser, so far away at the other end of the office. Note to self: bring own mug and stop hogging this office one. Then I find a thing that could be a big breakthough, maybe. If other things go a certain way, perhaps.
11:45 I head out. I'm doing half days remote because I don't feel like prepping lunches to bring. Also I feel bad about leaving kitty alone all day (dunno if she cares). It's sunny but chilly outside. I'll definitely want all remote when it gets colder.
12:00 pm Wegman’s pit stop. They stock new plants every week or so. I debate a cute succulent for $5, but as I put it down, accidentally brush against a leaf and break it. Now I have to get it! I also buy a huge cat grass for $4, to distract kitty from eating my ponytail palm.
12:20 I drop into a local flower shop for the first plant I’ve ever ordered, a rattlesnake calathea. So pretty (: There are more leaves than expected for this size pot and price. This florist sells small plants for only $5 and take orders. (Very dangerous, but I limited myself to one plant...for now.)
Going home, I have to do a loop because the main road has one-way sections, arg. I think I have a lot of driving anxiety, probably because I spent 8 years using mostly public transportation and walking.
12:35 Instant ramen and diet grapefruit soda for lunch, classic adult meal. I think that the best standard brand is Mama ramen, and my favorite flavor is the creamy shrimp tom yum. The best spicy ramen are the Samyang spicy chicken ones. I usually add dried seaweed, but not feeling it today.
I later set up work in our office room. It’s so nice to have my own desk. I was using K’s since he no longer works from home, but prefer mine with my own pictures and knick-knacks, like my squishy stress bunny. I try to access files through remote desktop but can’t. IT puts me on hold. Is it worth driving back into work? Now the line tells me to leave a voicemail; I do, but I’d rather just keep holding.
2:55 An IT person calls me back. As I’m telling him what’s wrong, I realize I never logged into remote VPN, so of course I had no access. I apologize to him, feeling bad I wasted his time. This must be like the jokes about people not plugging things in yet expecting them to work. IT sends an email saying the ticket was resolved. My silliness is documented for eternity.
Meat stick (prosciutto-wrapped mozzarella) for consolation. Back to work, more munchies so I eat an apple too.
5:40 K and I chat and agree to play Don’t Starve Together later, which we started a few days ago. Dinner is pork chop, rice, defrosted mixed veggies. My friend and I talk over the phone as I eat. We grew up in the same hometown, and she's been my bestie for a long time. I can’t recall a time when we weren’t friends! (She does - when we were very young. I just have bad memory.) She’s recently had very exciting things happen, and I love hearing her life updates. She's one of few friends I'm close enough with that we speak very candidly about everything.
7:30 Kitty joins me on the living room couch. Her sudden epiphany: she can knead my blanket, and does for a long time. I pet her while she kneads. Then dinner for the cat. I also check on my new plants and water them.
As I go outside to repot a plant, I see a small package on the porch. Addressed from a friend and labeled "fragile". It’s a ring dish! So lovely and thoughtful, and I was just thinking about getting one. I text my friend many thanks and place it in the bathroom.
8:40 K and I play Don’t Starve Together on our computers. About 5 minutes in, we’re suddenly attacked by scary dogs and I die ): I’m a ghostie for awhile as he attempts to revive me, but it’s a struggle. We decide to play Stardew Valley next time, since this game more difficult than we thought it’d be. I play Animal Crossing afterwards. A new neighbor moved in, a cute koala named Alice!
11:30 Okay, time for bed. Ugh, I keep browsing instead of sleeping.
Total $15.10
Day 3, Tuesday
8:00 am Alarm goes off. I push snooze. Then I remember kitty is waiting for food, so instead get up and feed her. I eat yogurt and get work started.
9:50 Break time! I drive to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore nearby. I haven’t gone in the past two weeks, but we got some amazing furniture deals here. Like our beautiful 10x13 living room rug for only $50. The thrift stores around here have actual thrift store prices. Our friends recently got a coffee table from here that was exactly what we're looking for. I’m happy they got it but also kind of jealous.
I find a pretty glazed square saucer ($0.50, plus another 25% off), an adorable panda mug ($1.00), and a mug painted with a lovely floral pattern ($0.50) but a chip on the lip. Doesn’t matter since these mugs will be pots.
10:40: Home and work, more research on how to do all the things. I get a meat stick and prep ramen. I am so cold‼ I wrap our living room blanket around me like a shawl. This was an Amazon gift last year from K. He searched “softest blanket” and said everyone recommended this one. It is indeed incredibly soft, and I love it so much. I’m shall walk around and sit like this. Thermostat says it’s 64 degrees. Hmm, maybe my body is just rebelling against adapting to lower temps.
12:40 I finally eat lunch. I got distracted by work. The ramen warms me up some, but my fingers and feet are still cold. It’s far too early for me to break out mittens, right? My new succulent’s plastic pot fits perfectly into the flower mug. Panda mug is less of a home run; it’s a large sphere but the opening is just a bit too small. I’ll just repot another plant directly into it. I replace the dining plate under the grass with the square saucer. I check my money tree. I tend to ignore it, as it does pretty well left alone. Its new leaves got so big!
1:30 I use Teams chat for the first time. A colleague tells me some people who received my earlier mass email were confused about a certain line and emailed her assuming a more positive future outcome. I send out a clarifying email that the news is indeed as bad as it sounds...and people are not happy about that now. I just feel guilty I can’t make things better.
4:00 The itchy bumps on my finger are multiplying. I have some isolated eczema. Years ago, it was all over my hand and severe, but with medication slowly receded and now pops up in small spots. A similar bump on my leg that keeps coming back (only when I scratch it…I know, I know). I put on medicated ointment.
4:20 Someone replied all to my clarification email, pointedly questioning our decisions. Yikes! I ponder how to respond, then decide to do that tomorrow instead, when I can fully refrain from being snarky.
I go repot my haworthia into the panda mug, which should be the last time I repot her. I’m doing this out on the porch, squatting over pots with a spoon and bag of dirt, and wonder if people are judging me. Another package out here, from my hometown friend. It says Edible Arrangements, ooh. K calls me as I start opening it, so I narrate the process for him. It’s strawberries dipped in chocolate! I eat one right away, so yummy. I text my friend thanks and eat more. Must save some, reluctantly, for K.
6:00 I do some clean up. I’ve been leaving dishes, wrappers, and such strewn about. Without K here, I’m less prompt because no one can see my shame. Mini brush to sweep crumbs and such off counters, then regular broom for the kitchen floor because I made it messy in just 2 days.
The cat is eating the grass!
6:30 I consider exercising. We made sandbags with contractor bags and lawn pebbles, but I'm not workouts. Before quarantine, I went to the gym 3x a week (starting last Sept) even in bitter winter. I really enjoyed feeling myself get stronger. Now I’m not nearly as disciplined. My partner is much better about it, even doing cardio in between lifting days. Maybe I’ll work out tomorrow.
Instead, I wash rice and Instant Pot it for dinner, then take a shower. I feel so warm afterwards! I’m determined to keep myself that way.
7:00 The cat joins me on the couch for some blanket kneading. She does her bass purr, which disturbed me when I first heard it because it was so strange and so deep that I thought it might be a distress sound. I hear it during pets, and sometimes she’ll sit far away from us and just rumble like that. Eventually dinner time for kitty, then for me. I eat a pork chop with rice and leftover mixed veggies. I put the rice in the fridge! I forgot several times and had to throw it away the next day. I know rice is cheap, but I hate wasting food like that. Some Animal Crossing after. One of my neighbors is moving out tomorrow :(
11:35 It’s so late. I do my nightly routine and go to bed.
Total $2.02
Day 3, Wednesday
8:15 am I finally get up and go through my morning routine. Putting on my ring is easier to remember when it’s out on a dish instead of hidden in a crowded basket. I feed kitty and start work. My boss responded to the reply all email yesterday evening. Whew! I do think that was better coming from her instead of me the newbie.
9:00 I look up how to access someone else’s calendar on Outlook, because I need to see my bosses’ schedule. Microsoft’s directions seem to apply to the online version, and other search results match it. I click around Outlook instead, and figure it out that way. I mist my prayer plant and eat a yogurt.
9:50 To the ReStore. I go in and out of the house 3 times because I forgot my keys, donation box, and phone. Rihanna's Skin comes on from my playlist as I drive. Yeees, I haven't heard this in a while and sing along enthusiastically.
I find 4 ramekins for $2.00. This will complete the set I picked up here before. K wants them for baking but doesn’t think he’d use them enough to justify a new set. I also nab a ceramic thing made for an unknown purpose ($0.50), to be a nice small pot.
10:35 Home, shrouded in the blanket as I type up research. Ramen again for lunch. I could bring it into work, but then my coworkers might judge and/or pity me for eating like a college student.
12:40 pm I get dressed for the office. Weather app says it's 70s outside, so I put on a light pink maxi skirt with a geometric pattern, a light orange/coral top with a floral print, and teal cardigan. I end up walking instead of driving since it's nice out. I immediately feel happier and refreshed! I think I’ve been grumpy from feeling so cold in the house. Like hangry, except…crumpy.
1:00 A sign outside a bakery says today’s special is carrot cake cupcake. Nooooo, I love carrot cake but I’m trying not to buy treats. But this bakery has such good cupcakes…I go in and buy one for $3.00. It’s difficult to resist these when they’re so cheap compared to prices in larger cities. I eat the cupcake at work and it is the perfect dessert.
1:50 The internet stops functioning as I'm writing up a form online to submit ): Instead, I call someone to break the bad news to since there's no email listed for them. I really dislike calling people I’ve never met, since I rely so much on expressions and body language. Several tea treks this afternoon.
4:00 I text a friend about helping me lift a dresser out of the garage later. I bought a lovely wood dresser for $150 from FB last month to replace our current dinky one, but it needs TLC. I’ve been procrastinating hard but am afraid this is the last week of nice weather, so want to fix it up now. Plus it can be a nice surprise for K.
4:30 As I’m leaving, some coworkers chat to me! I’m so happy – I’m a shy person at work, mostly because I feel like I have to absorb all the info possible and then I can start to say things, otherwise I’ll make a fool of myself. This shouldn't apply to general chatter, but somehow does for me. It’s really nice talking to them.
5:00 At home, NY driver’s license came in the mail. I feel so official now! Except, this isn’t a REAL ID and I thought I was getting one. The NY webpage says to bring more documents to the DMV for one one. I guess since I won’t be flying soon, not a big deal. And I can always use a passport, though I dislike carrying that unless really needed.
5:35 My friend comes over and we carry the dresser from the garage to the driveway. He points out that some of the backing is reinforced with staples (???) instead of nails. Ah well, this was cheap. I start off by sanding edges where the veneer is scratched or started to peel; harder to do precisely than videos show. Then a long, long time putting wood filler in those spots. It’s hard getting it to stick without bits falling off. Okay, not so sure how well this will turn out :/ I leave it to dry overnight, so tomorrow I can stain
7:00 After a hot shower, I put on my workout leggings that have a fleece lining. Not to workout, just for the warmth. Desperate times! I know that after winter, these temps will feel like beach weather. But right now I’m cold. I go feed the kitty. Then I remember I was supposed to send a form for work and do so, so very late :(
8:00 Dinner. Pork chop, leftover rice, defrosted corn. K and I chat as I eat. We call it a night early though. I finally get the dishwasher going; I left so many dirty dishes sitting around this week. I play Animal Crossing. I search for a new neighbor and pick the first one on a mystery island, a horse named Papi. He really likes nature, so I feel we’ll jive there.
9:00 A couple of friends text yes for a group video call next week. We know each other from grad school but are all in different states now. Many things have been happening for everyone, so I’m excited to toast to them!
10:00 I actually want to go up to bed this time, but the kitty is snuggled next to me. I’ve been petting her for at least 30 mins. But finally we go upstairs for the night. I scroll through subreddits before sleeping.
Total $5.94
Day 4, Thursday
7:45 I get up and do morning stuff, then feed the cat. I try to turn on my work computer but it does nothing until I charge it. Yogurt for breakfast, then burrito myself in the blanket for work.
9:50 ReStore break. I accidentally walk out in flip flops instead of sneakers but am too lazy to switch. Oh well, I’ll be that person in socks and sandals.
At the store, I immediately grab these beautiful blue glazed pots, labeled $4 for the set. There’s also a soft, pinkish white pillow. But it doesn’t fit colors I want for any room; nah, I’d regret it later. I find a pretty set of Japanese-style art, depicting varied pots and flowers. The frames are beat up though. I take a picture to send to K later to see if he likes them. But on my last circle about, the paintings have disappeared. That’s okay, someone else will enjoy them.
K might declare a pot moratorium when he gets home, as he’s threatened before. Hah, he’ll be using the car anyways so I can’t even go thrifting then.
10:55 Home and back to work. I get an email from Accounting that there’s a check for me. First one, woo! They told me it would be Thursdays, but I’m so used to Fridays that this was a surprise.
11:40 Hot ramen, mmm. While waiting for them to poof, I check my plants. I browse FB and subreddits while eating. Then upstairs to dress. Today, a navy and white triangle print blouse to pair with my black and white feather print pants. I also break out a nice pair of sneaker-like shoes, in grey suede.
1:45 Back in the office, many rounds of hot leaf juice. I pick up my paycheck, and Accounting confirms my next will be deposited. I also stop by HR to ask how I can set up Zoom meetings.
4:00 I drive to the credit union to deposit checks. They close too early, in my opinion. How do people who don’t have flexible workplaces find time to use them?
K recently added me to his account. My bank has no branch here, though I got them years ago specifically because they were national and I wanted access wherever I went in the US :/ I don’t like paying ATM fees, so K has been withdrawing cash if needed. I’m also not comfortable using a bank app out of paranoia that someone might steal my phone and siphon my account. I think my bank accounts and Social Security number are the only things the tech giants don’t have, so I guard them as my precious.
4:30 Home for more work in my blanket.
5:30 K and I chat. We decide to see if our friends are available for board games this weekend, and if not, watch a movie. I suddenly realize I didn’t defrost a protein for dinner, and even putting it out now won’t be enough time to unfreeze it. Nooo. I end our call to work on the dresser (but lie to him about why).
I put stain on a few samples of filler. I got it matched at a local hardware store, but not sure if the stain will look like its label image. Wait, the label says to leave the stain for 4-6 hours before using a 2nd coat…well, I can keep sanding. Except there's definitely too much wood filler on these spots, because I’m doing one corner for so long.
6:23 I go inside and eat leftover corn and a meat stick for dinner. I’m crumpy again. And sad this won't be done by the time K gets back. I decide to make a latte, likely a bad idea so late. But I want something cozy. I mix in cocoa powder and honey with it. We have a grinder, aeropress, and French press (for guests) but use Wegman’s beans and a cheap milk frother. Occasionally we get nicer beans at a local shop, and my partner eventually wants to upgrade to a real fancy grinder. The coffee set up captures well our spending habits.
7:00 The cat stole my half-eaten meat stick‼ She flees, but stops to eat her prize, so I snatch it from her clutches. K had asked me if she’d be unrecognizable when he gets back, and I think so. Very bold now. After I feed her, she goes downstairs and meows a lot. I will not be summoned, cat! XD I stay here until she’s back in the room, quiet, and then I go downstairs. I eat chocolate strawberries and browse FB and subreddits about plants, finances, and furnishing homes. I should read for the book club. Eh.
9:15 I find out online there’s Fall Festival on the main street on Saturday! I’m excited; I was visiting last year when it happened. There were hay bales and scarecrows and tractors and kids getting faces painted. I wasn’t sure they'd have it this year, but glad that local businesses will get a huge boost in sales.
I also remember we got a beautiful bouquet of dried flowers from there, now still our living room and only shed a bit during the year. Since they last for so long, I want a set for the guest bedroom.
9:30 I play Tetris. A couple of bad rounds, but I get 6th once! Pretty good. I cross some animals, and say hello to Papi. Then I go empty the rest of the dishwasher and load it again, and sweep up ramen bits. I don’t want all this to linger longer if I feel lazy tomorrow. K sometimes says, “Good job, past self!” out loud to acknowledge what he did in the past that make the present less stressful. I really like that, so now I try to approach things more that way.
11:25 I go to bed. But I have a throbbing caffeine headache, and my stomach feels hollow. Why did I do this to myself? I read some “messy” Money Diaries from the Drama Watch Roundup to tire out my brain. It takes a long time for me to fall asleep.
Total $4.32
Day 6, Friday
7:00 am I wake up needing to pee. Can't go back to sleep due to residual headache. I do my morning routine and feed the kitty. I have to boot up my work laptop. Its battery runs out so quickly; it’s a bit annoying that I won’t be able to go anywhere without the charger. Oh well. I start filling in a spreadsheet to organize what I’ve been researching.
I am blanket. Blanket is me. (Or is it I?)
I email my Boss about setting up a Zoom call for us and another person. Then tea time. I use a loose chai from Wegman’s. It’s really good; I’m glad their generic stuff tends to be decent quality.
9:50 To the ReStore. I almost forget my mask but luckily don’t. They’re strict about them, thankfully. I saw them kick out a man who tried to go in without one. He kept arguing that he had the right not to. Of course, and there are consequences to that. This is also a charity shop and volunteer run, so they probably care less about pissing off a few people. I feel bad for the businesses and employees who end up with potential losses from booting noncompliant customers. It’s not a dilemma I’d want to face.
Today I find a large peachy pillow, $3. Glad I didn’t get the other, since this fits better and is so soft. I also get two glass vases of similar height and shape but one has a vertical pattern ($1.00, with additional 50% off) while the other has a wavy pattern ($1.00, with additional 25% off). Close enough, for the guest bedroom flowers. And I finally drop off the box.
10:45 I reach Wegman’s to grab a few things. Two 10-pack meat sticks (12.29 each) and two 2-liter bottles of diet grapefruit soda ($0.75 each). I also look at the fish, since they stock fresh ones on Fridays and are usually sold out by evening. I love whole fish and would eat it every day if I could. I pick 2 porgies ($6.99/lb) and ask them to descale and trim the fish but keep the heads. I’ll get both fish heads tonight since K never eats them. I’m so excited for dinner!
More work at home. My boss CCs me on an email about me sent privately to her and few others. Her response is amazing and is a virtual mike drop. I appreciate her so much. I do a speedy lunch, ramen and soda. And speedy dressing: same pants as yesterday, sheer burgundy top, teal cardigan, the suede shoes. I finally bring my mug! It’s bigger so less tea trips.
2:00 Meeting with boss and another person our org works closely with. The prep I did is not useful, because the conversation turns in a different direction than expected.
4:15 I get home early and do last minute cleaning. K texted earlier that he should arrive by 6:00.
5:00 I haven’t heard kitty in a while, and get worried. I walk around calling her, and she meows in response, from our master bed. She rushes out once I open the door.
5:45 Finish work and take a shower. Kitty gets many pets in apology for accidenally imprisoning her. I manage to snip two of her nails, but she escapes before I can do the rest. Then the house alarm goes off. K is back! He says the house is chilly – okay I’m not going crazy XD He is skeptical that it’s truly 65 degrees in here and turns on the heat. The cat hides, shy again with K here. I tell him it’s probably his haircut. We unload the rental car and return it.
7:00 Dinner prep. I season the fish and wrap them in aluminum foil for the oven. This time I use salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and coriander. I chop up mushrooms to roast too.
The fish and veggies end up delicious! I do warn K about the little stomach bones. If we’re sharing one big fish, I split it into fillets and pick out all the bones myself, but we each have our own and I don’t feel like doing it twice. I get all the fish eyes, yum.
9:30 K tells me the news about Ruth Bader Ginsburg passing. A friend also texts me about it a couple of minutes later. I am so sad. She was such an amazing person and inspiring woman. I read an article detailing parts of her life I hadn’t known about before. This makes me even sadder, though.
10:00 We finish the strawberries together. K nods off during Adventure Time. I’m hit with a sense of déjà vu: this happened exactly, early on in our relationship. Sometimes history repeats itself in a cute way. We eventually go up to sleep. My mouth stings as I brush my teeth - the sore on the inside, near my lip, is getting worse. I've been trying not to irritate it too much since it's in an awkward spot, but that's clearly not working.
11:30 I’m still awake reading random things on my phone. So bad. I go to sleep.
Total $42.29
Day 7, Saturday
9:15 am Phone buzzes me awake. Friends confirm the Fall Festival plan.
10:15 I’m still in bed because warm. K offers to turn the heat up, but I’ll be fine. After I wash my face, I can’t find my towel so drip awkwardly over the sink until I remember one on a nearby shelf. K must have grabbed our dirty towels for laundry.
10:30 I put crepes in the oven to defrost. I wish I'd put parchment paper between layers when stacking, because it’s been annoying separating them.
K and I talk about the new health insurance cards, and what appointments I'll make. First will be Planned Parenthood, because I’m on my last pack of pills! The only time I wasn’t covered was the months after college graduation and before my job started. I worried so much that I’d have an accident and be buried in debt. Luckily didn’t happen. I also really appreciate when work pays into insurance, after having to pay the entire premium myself during grad school.
K browses the Nintendo shop and pulls up the Ori sequel. I do want it but think we should wait; $40 seems pricey and we have so many other games we haven’t started or finished. He tells me he did buy Hades on sale since we tend to play these types of games more. I really liked the trailer so glad he did.
11:30 I scroll online while I eat the crepes, watch K play Hades. I love the art, but not sure I’d be good. You battle many enemies, and you have to react fast. We switch and I play! It's challenging but not too much that I feel like I can’t figure it out. At some point, K finds socks on the ground and puts them on me since I’m too busy playing but still complaining about cold feet. Thanks K!
1:45 He reminds me we’re supposed to meet friends at 2:00. Today's outfit: green pleated maxi, a mustard top, and a magenta suede vest with long fringe on the shoulders and edges that reach my calves. One of my favorite statement pieces.
2:15 We find our friends and chat, waiting for the other ones. Apparently the festival was canceled, and instead there’s a small farmers’ market. Now I feel bad having asked them out for this – the cancellation wasn’t mentioned on the official webpage!
Our other friends get here and we check out the market. It smells delicious; there’s one stall with donuts, one with pretzels. K and a couple friends go for donuts. I find the dried bouquets vendor and request two with orange, pink, and purple-blue flowers. They cost $9 each, but K pays since I don’t have cash. We all decide to walk down the main street for fun.
4:00 I stop for $5 bubble tea. I get lavender with traditional bubbles (there are popping ones, but I think those are weird). It's yummy, enough flavor but not so much that I’m eating a candle. K and friends get ice cream, trying the fall flavors. Then we all part ways and go home. Another package at the door, with K’s name on it, but he’s not expecting anything. They’re cool wooden coasters with a laser cut outline of the city we met in! Turns out a friend sent it as a gift.
6:30 Dinner time. K baked chicken with cumin and other seasonings, plus rice and defrosted peas. We watch Adventure Time. It’s interesting to me how adult kids shows can be. There are incredibly sad/disturbing moments that would be completely missed by kids. During episodes I get text alerts from in my siblings' group chat. Adorable pictures of my cute niece, finally smiling instead of looking angry. For the rest of the night, K and I take turns playing Hades. He keeps getting further than me, but I’m not too behind!
9:30 Bed time. We’ll see if I can sleep early tonight.
Total $5.67
Weekly Total $69.97
Food + Drink = $46.89
Home + Health = $23.09
REFLECTION
I think I tend to buy little things during the week. In contrast, K tends to make bigger purchases of many items once or twice a month. It’s nice to see my spending be “normal” again, since for a few months I was spending a lot on furnishings and such. I do want to be better about buying less treats, and resist buying plants (though now that space near the windows is running out, less a problem). The resale market is good for calming my inner shopper. I don't feel like I’m missing out too much, because there’s so much out there that even if I don’t nab this thing, a similar thing will pop up later. So I'm okay being pickier about those purchases.
submitted by Charybdis523 to MoneyDiariesACTIVE

I am 27 years old and make a joint equivalent salary of $139,000, live in Arlington, VA and work as a Finance Officer

As standard – apologies for the length! I’ve found it quite a cathartic experience, and I seem to have managed to merge elements of the reddit, US and UK R29 templates so please feel free to skip over any boring sections!
Background:
I’m British, working for a British Company in the US on a three-year posting (one year in). My salary is actually £33,000 but due to the increased cost of living here, I get an additional £10,000 allowance for living costs, and my rent/utilities are paid directly by my company. This puts my equivalent salary at $93,000.
I’m aware this is an incredibly fortunate position to be in, especially with COVID, however when I return to the UK, I will be paid my UK salary only, so this is a short-term benefit.
The company can split my pay between my UK and US accounts, and currently 95%ish of it is going to my UK account. This % split was only set up after lockdown as we are currently spending much less on travel/socialising here so are taking the opportunity to focus on building our UK savings. My husband, J, was fortunate enough to get local employment when he arrived in country. He earns an additional $46,000 net which we live on.
For ease/consistency, I have converted all costs at 1.3 as this is roughly the average conversion since I’ve lived here – I will write UK next to any cost/savings that are based in the UK.
Section One: Assets and Debt
J and I (now) combine all our finances, so except for my pension pot, and a small F* Off Fund (FoF - we have one each), everything else is split 50/50. This will likely change when we go back to the UK as we’ll have better access to our own bank accounts.
My personal Net Worth is $72,400
Retirement Balance
UK $104,000
I’ve contributed to work pension schemes since I started working full time age 18. This has been set at around 5% since I joined my current employer 7 years ago, and they contribute around 27%. I’m actually guaranteed £4,000 per year once I retire for as long as I live so have multiplied this by 20 on the assumption the retirement age actually stays at 68 and I make it to my late 80’s. This amount will increase over the years with inflation and as I contribute further to it. I can choose to retire earlier, plus take up to a 25% tax free lump sum on retirement, but that will affect the annual pay-out amount.
Equity
UK $52,000 equity, $157,300 left on the mortgage
J and I bought ($197,600) with just over a 10% ($20,000) deposit 3 years ago aged 24 and contributed half each. I managed to save this as I was living at home until we bought, and J got a help to buy loan through his previous workplace. He’s since cleared this.
Savings account balance
$29,700 made up of:
US $6,700 for fun money here (currently planned for another car – we’ll sell our existing one)
UK $6,500 in premium bonds as my FoF, $13,800 in our joint savings account to upsize when we get back to the UK, $2,600 in one of my side saving accounts as a potential future maternity pot. This is joint but kept in a separate account from the house savings.
Around $22,000 of this has been saved since the beginning of lockdown
Checking account balance
US $120 (+ $1,190 in checking, -$1,070 on AMEX). All our savings accounts are easy access, so we try to keep the balance as low as possible and tend to spend the full amount each month. [We end the week with this back up to $1,559]
UK $660
Credit card debt (and how you accumulated it)
0 – we use our AMEX for our everyday spending, so I’ve included it in our checking account as we usually pay it off each week and use it in place of our checking account. J had CC/loan debt in the UK from the house deposit and wedding which he cleared down before we moved out here.
Student loan debt (for what degree)
0 - neither of us went to University
Anything else that's applicable to you
We paid outright for a second-hand car that is worth around $6,000
Section Two: Income & Further Background
Income Progression:
I started at my current company 7 years ago working as a personal assistant and started on $24,000. I stayed in this role for 2.5 years before promoting into a finance role and onto $31,000. After a year I was temporarily promoted (with pay rise) within my team to a higher finance role and after a further 6 months was permanently promoted into the role and onto $35,750. There’s usually an annual pay rise of around 2%, which I’ve received between each promotion, but as this last promotion pay rise wasn’t as high as usual, my last few annual pay rises have been higher to bring me to my now salary of $43,290. I’ve spent the last three years at the same level, but have changed teams to gain more experience which will be needed for the next promotion which I’ll hopefully be able to get when I return to the UK – this will take me over the $50,000 mark.
Main Job Monthly Take Home:
UK – I get paid once a month, receiving $3,783 after tax, national insurance and pension contributions. This also includes the extra living allowance. $3,510 is paid into my UK account, $273 is paid into the US
US – J gets paid fortnightly, and earns a net salary of $3,546 per month (assuming 2 pay periods per month)
Any Other Monthly Income Here
UK - We receive around $598 per month from tenants in our house in the UK. The letting agents take all management and admin fees directly from the rent before we get paid. This amount can be less if any work needs doing on the property, but again the letting agent will pay directly and just transfer us a reduced amount. We also have to pay tax on any rent received and still need to pay last year’s bill, but we haven’t calculated it yet.
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?:
Not from family. My parents don’t have degrees, and whilst they supported my siblings going, it was our own personal choice. If we didn’t go, we were expected to work full time.
My school did expect me to go. I was in the last school year before UK University tuition went up, so the only advise they could give was to go now as you won’t be able to afford it in the future. I had a place to study events management but turned it down a week before the deadline. Bar sometimes feeling like I missed out on the University life experience (aka. freshers week), I have zero regrets not going.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My siblings and I were always encouraged to save including contributing to pensions when we started working, and prioritise this and bills over spending our money, but conversations didn’t go much further than that.
What was your first job and why did you get it?:
Weekly paper round from age 12 to 16 which gave me $10 a week to pay for my phone credit and to build savings. I started working part-time in a supermarket from age 16 earning around $250 a month, but this was mainly spent shopping and in the pub!
Did you worry about money growing up?:
No – my parents operated on a “what we do for one, we do for all”, so with a house of five kids, we certainly weren’t living the life of luxury, but we never went without, and it encouraged me to earn some of my own money from an early age.
Do you worry about money now?:
No, J and I are in a really good position and try to make sensible decisions so that we can still cope if our circumstances change.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?:
Fully when I bought the house and moved out age 24, although I obviously gained the support from J. I’ve always had to use my own money for wants and non-essentials (phone bill, own laptop, “fun” clothes). I was given a few years grace on rent as my parents helped my siblings at Uni, but this stopped when I turned 21. I’ve always bought my own cars/insurance and would contribute to the household, including buying some food and replacing furniture in my room.
Our parents continue to support us anyway they can, which included letting J and I move back in rent free last year whilst we were replacing our kitchen.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?:
My dad saved around $1,200 from when I was a child which I received aged 18 – this went into savings and then towards my first car and laser eye surgery.
My brothers and I also received $1,950 each from a great aunt when she died, which was a complete surprise (the will was contested so this was several years later). Our much younger half-brother didn’t receive anything, so we split this equally with him. The money left went towards mine and J’s wedding and we also received around $5000 additional from various family members towards our wedding and honeymoon. This was also not expected, and we budgeted not to receive anything, but this was a bonus and it relieved some of the pressure on us to save.
Section Three: Expenses
UK – I auto-transfer $1,170 across various accounts to pay for our UK bills. J & I both kept some bills in our own names to try to maintain our individual UK credit scores as well as our joint one. J’s parents are also looking after our two cats whilst we’re in the US, so we transfer them some money. We’ve discovered our UK entertainment subscriptions work over here so we haven’t cancelled them and pay them from the UK accounts, which is a benefit as they’re usually cheaper.
$910 to our joint account to cover – Mortgage ($986 – includes $130 monthly overpayment), Landlord Insurance ($32), Pet Insurance ($45), our life insurance ($22 – it pains me that the cats cost twice as much as we do. Obviously, they don’t have the NHS covering their medical costs, but they also don’t have a mortgage to pay off….), J’s UK phone bill ($35) – he’s still tied into his contract. The rent income comes into this account so that covers any delta and builds a pot to pay the tax bill. It works out at around $388 per month saved for this. We also pay around ($150) annually to cover IT costs including Microsoft office, McAfee Security and Dropbox storage.
$143 to my bills account to cover – my UK phone bill ($23), a second UK phone bill that I need to cancel as they wouldn’t transfer my existing number to them ($6), Trade Union membership ($19), Netflix ($12), Annual magazine subscription ($19). Any money left over for is for UK online orders and so we have money available when we visit home.
$65 to J’s account to cover – Amazon Prime ($10), Spotify ($20), Audible ($15) and annual Xbox Live ($50)
$52 to J’s parents for the cats.
UK Savings – we have $2,340 to split across the savings. The split varies each month, but as I’ve hit my FoF goal the focus will be on getting J’s to the goal amount and then joint savings.
US – TV, WiFi and Hulu ($131), Phone Bills ($167), Car Insurance ($110), Naked Wines ($40), HelloFresh ($523), Annual Renters Insurance ($152). We currently get Disney+ free with our phones, but this will end soon, and I expect we’ll start paying for it as well.
US Savings – I usually transfer between $500-$1,000 into savings when J gets paid but will vary this based on how much we have left in the checking account from his last pay and what bills are due. We’ll also raid this as needed for big purchases or if we’re running low in on cash in the checking account.

Day 1 – Saturday
0900 – I’ve been waking up on and off for a few hours, but the alarm has gone off, so I drag myself out of bed. J and I are booked into a second-hand book sale from between 11 and 12 so we need to actually get out of the house this morning. I tidy up a bit, have a shower and miss a call from my mum whilst I’m in there. I check J is up before calling her back and have a good catch up with her and my Nan.
1115 – We’re a little later than planned, but we make it to the sale. I picked the second slot so that there would still be a good selection of books available and am pleasantly surprised by the amount and overall COVID set up. We spend almost an hour browsing and come away with 15 books between us. $60.01
1210 – We left the apartment without eating breakfast, but there’s a restaurant open next to the sale that we haven’t tried before so we pop in and have a burger each. Discover there’s a cocktail bar underneath and make note to head back and try that soon. $41.92
1600 – J has spent the afternoon building Ikea furniture we bought last week and hiding in the bedroom watching YouTube videos whilst I clean, watch The Haunting of Hill House and drink copious amounts of tea. We bought our car in a bit of a rush when we arrived and to replace his Rightmove house obsession, J spends a lot of his time looking at cars available here. Last week he found an American muscle car that looks in good shape and isn’t extortionate, so in his argument to “buy American, eat American, drive American” whilst we’re here, he’s arranged a visit check it out and test drive it. We’re meant to be there at half past, but we had the wrong address and there’s been an accident so it’s actually an hour’s drive, and we don’t get there until 1715 - Oops. I do not want to like the car, but I’m honestly sold – I knew our current car wasn’t the best, and planned to cope with it for the three years, but this is such an improvement and feels like a fun car to drive on road trips. We arrange to come back next week to buy the car and head back home. Thankfully, the traffic has cleared so it only takes 40mins. We while away the journey by listening to an episode of My Dad Wrote a Porno.
1830 – We stop by Giant to pick up some essentials (loo roll, seltzer, beer, milk) and food for the rest of the weekend. $103.25. I cook pork chops, roast potatoes, asparagus and gravy for dinner, and we spend the evening chilling in front of Netflix with wine before heading to bed at midnight.
Daily total: $205.18
Day 2 – Sunday
0830 – I wake up and sneak out of bed without disturbing J, make myself a cup of tea and settle down to finish off The Haunting of Hill House. J hates scary shows/films, so I try to watch things before he’s up, but he still needs to be in the house otherwise my imagination will go wild. The show finishes and I hear no sign of movement, so I make another cup of tea and discover The Princess Diaries 2 is on freeform so obviously I watch this.
1100 – J gets up and makes us scrambled eggs and smoked salmon for brunch. There was meant to be a bread roll with this, but according to J it had gone off. Silently complain that I didn’t pick up some bagels whilst we were shopping last night. We stick The Office on in the background and binge far too much of it whilst I multitask and convert our savings/bills spreadsheet into $ for the intro to this.
1630 – I had grand plans to spend the day cleaning and assumed J’s mum would do her weekly skype call with us at 3, neither of which has happened, and I only realise this now. I suggest we message some friends to see if they fancy an afternoon pick-me-up, but they are hanging from last night, and I remember I’m doing interviews in the morning so probably not the smartest move. I have a shower, wash and sort my hair out to save time in the morning.
1800 – I get an email reminding me that I have items in my basket on an online order and that they’ve given me 15% off. Seems rude not complete it – J has a quick browse to see if there’s anything he likes but nothing takes his fancy. So it’s just non-wired bras for me and a very cute bee print quilt set. It’s a UK based store so I pay using my UK bank account. $123
1900 – J cooks dinner tonight, a HelloFresh recipe for firecracker meatballs with rice. We stick The Office on in the background, finish the rest of last nights wine and the entire series, getting to bed at half 11.
Daily total: $123
Day 3 – Monday
0630 – Alarm goes off. Ugh. It disturbs J, so I apologise for waking him, hit snooze and repeat 5 minutes later. Rather than getting straight up, I waste half an hour browsing Facebook before washing and getting ready. As an attempt to look semi presentable, I put actual work clothes on, straighten my hair and put on some mascara and powder.
0755 – I make it onto the laptop and do some prep before the interviews. Checking my emails, I spot that I’ve been paid my US pay today. The annual pay rise has come through and there’s a small backdate from last months pay, so I have an additional $127 this month. I clear a few more emails and make a cup of tea before starting the interviews.
1215 – Interviews are done, and as a panel we have discussed and come to a decision. We all need to type up our outcomes for HR, but I take a lunch break before my brain melts. J heats up leftover meatballs and rice from last night and we watch an episode of The Good Place whilst we eat. J’s heading into the office this afternoon so I tidy up, stick the dishwasher on and faff about on reddit before getting back to work at 1. Go straight back into a call with my Line Manager to touch base before he goes on leave – he lets me know he put me forward (and I have been approved) for a bonus for my efforts since joining last year, and the added COVID response. I’m touched and proceed to spend a while mentally spending it. I’m debating between a pair of Louboutin’s and a spin bike…. Slightly different ends of the spectrum I know. Keen to hear any inspiration! It should be around $1000 after tax so reasonably substantial.
1630 – J comes home and attempts to get in, but I appear to have locked him out. I get up, open the door and see that he comes baring this week’s HelloFresh box, which is a relief as I hadn’t seen any delivery emails (we had a few go missing in our apartment block when we started). I have a small break to see how his afternoon has been and reply to some messages with friends about possible Halloween costumes for a small gathering we’re going to. We jokingly consider a group The Office effort, which results in numerous gifs being shared. In a moment of inspiration, J passes me his shirt, tie and blazer to put on… turns out I’m a pretty convincing Sexy Toby. I get changed back into my own clothes and head back to work for a bit.
1930 – J finished work earlier so cooked again. Tonight’s is a HF spicy shrimp pasta. It’s a bit disappointing even with him adding extras from the cupboard. We eat and watch the Umbrella Academy before heading to bed at 11.
Daily total: $0
Day 4 – Tuesday
0730 – alarm goes off, get up, washed, dressed. No interviews today so back to COVID home working uniform of no make-up and trackies. Make a cup of tea and am at my desk for 0830 – in and out of meetings until 10 and spend the rest of the morning trying to catch up on my inbox. J’s headed into the office, so I take the opportunity to listen to the Hamilton soundtrack as I work. Get through the first track before admitting defeat that despite my amazing multitasking skills, I can’t actually sing along and type coherent emails. Settle for the LOTR soundtrack instead.
1215 – make it to lunch and reheat last night’s leftovers (we order HelloFresh for four people for the leftovers, as before we were just ordering in lunch every day). Realise I haven’t physically left the flat for longer than I care to admit, so take my lunch onto the balcony and eat it whilst reading through a money diary on reddit. Remember I have a meeting at 1, so sign back in ten mins before and read through the emails in a vague attempt to sound prepared.
J buys himself and his boss lunch in the office, but his boss will pay him back so $12.17
1900 – long afternoon, managed to start nothing on my actual to-do-list, so feel like I haven’t achieved anything. Yay. J got home half an hour ago (I didn’t lock him out today!) and switched the oven on as he walked past, so I take the opportunity to get up and cook once it’s done preheating. Pork tenderloin with coleslaw and mash tonight. It comes with a cherry jam sauce which I’m not the biggest fan of, so I make it into a fruity gravy. It takes longer to cook than I planned, and I can feel myself getting more and more annoyed with everything from a general mix of feeling stressed and hangry. J sticks toy story 4 on as we eat which doesn’t help my mood (as let’s face it, it’s the worst one). Our friends message asking if we’re watching the debates – J had planned to but had forgotten so quickly changes over to watch it. I have no words.
We make plans to watch the next debate in a group with alcohol, debate bingo and the next day booked off work to recover.
Head to bed at 1120 – still waste time on Facebook despite being shattered.
Daily total: $12.17
Day 5 – Wednesday
0830 – Alarm goes off. I didn’t get to sleep up until 12.30 and J disturbed me at 1.30 when he came to bed so extra sleep was needed. I check my phone, message my stepsister a happy birthday and stick on my dressing gown to make sure I’m online for my 9am meeting. Thankfully, no one has an update, so the meeting is cancelled, and I have time to shower and put clothes on before I properly start work.
1230 – Lunchtime. I have the remaining shrimp pasta and J makes a BBQ chicken sandwich with other leftovers in the fridge and we stick on another episode of The Good Place whilst we eat. We finish up, work for an hour and then drive into the office. J needs to stay in for a while, but I’m only in to sign a cheque so I take the opportunity to walk back home. It’s a glorious sunny day, but with a nice breeze so it’s an enjoyable walk until I’m almost back at the flat and have to walk up a hill and then 5 flights of stairs. It’s a fast reminder of just how unfit I am, and I have to have a quick lie down to recovecool down before getting back to work.
1730 – J and I have plans to meet up with our friends K and J(.2) tonight. In an act of attempting to keep some form of sanity, J and J.2 are heading out to a bar for a “Gentleman’s Club” and I’m heading round to K & J.2’s flat for wine and chick flicks. J gets home from work, kisses me hi and bye and heads straight back out. K’s getting her hair cut, so I continue working until half 6 before walking up to her apartment. I make a pit stop on route to pick up a bottle of white wine as she’s running low. The card machines are down so it’s cash only – I have a mild panic, but thankfully I find some notes in my purse - although I’m pretty sure I withdrew them pre-lockdown! $17
0200 – After a night of homemade mac’n’cheese, wine, films and putting the world to rights, I get ready to head home just as J.2 stumbles back into the flat. It’s lovely to see him, but the state he’s in makes me a bit concerned about what J is going to be like when I get home. Thankfully, when I make it back and he’s already curled up on his own side of the bed, passed out and lightly snoring away. I take off my makeup, do my teeth, get into bed and fall straight asleep.
*I’ve checked the banking app and J spent $50.50 on food and drink. The “club” made their way to our apartment around 9pm and worked their way through our booze which explains the low spend but high drunkenness.
Daily total: $67.50
Day 6 – Thursday
0700 – J’s alarm goes off. He rarely sets alarms and has an amazing ability to sleep though them, so I kick him awake to switch it off. He hits snooze rather than switching it off, so I wake up again 5mins later. Ugh. He actually manages to switch it off the second time.
0830 – My alarm goes off. I’m tired and thirsty, but other than that feeling pretty ok. J is not and I leave him snoozing in bed as I start work. It’s a slow morning (thankfully) and I periodically check on J to see if he’s feeling any better. General consensus is no. The leftovers in the house are not hangover friendly so we put in an order with Panera Bread. $32.25. J has a choose two, but I brought home some mac’n’cheese from last night so just order some crisps and a smoothie to go with it. It takes longer than expected to arrive, but it means a 1230 lunch in front of The Good Place. We finish and go back to work, J heads into the office again.
1400 – I’ve struggled to get back into the swing of things, and as there haven’t been too many emails coming in I take the opportunity to have a break and lie down on the bed (I work flexi hours and have a very high balance so this is done guilt-free). This lie down turns into an hour-long nap and I wake up feeling better, but still while away some time on reddit before deciding to make it back to work at 4.
1920 – J messaged to say he’s on his way back and I’ve already heated the oven, so I finish for the night and start making dinner. Tonight’s HF menu is a creamy lemon butter chicken with courgette and giant couscous. It’s reasonably simple to make, but one of our favourites. I multitask and clean down the kitchen as I go.
2000 – Dinner is eaten, J has made us a cup of tea and we’re settled back into The Good Place. Yesterday was payday into my UK account so I log into the internet banking and transfer to the savings accounts (the bill transfers are set up to auto-transfer on the 1st). $1,170 to J’s savings so he’s now at his FoF goal, $650 to the maternity pot, and $780 to the joint savings. The annual renter’s insurance has also come out of our US checking account today, but that’s counted in the expenses. We both head to bed at 11.
Daily total: $32.25
Day 7 – Friday
0730 – J’s alarm goes off, he’s heading back into the office this morning so it’s valid today and we both actually wake up for it. We both chill on our phones until my alarm goes off at 0830. Up, washed, dressed and on the laptop in time for my 9am meeting. I’m closing off last months accounts and updating forecasts so get stuck into multiple spreadsheets.
1440 – I’d gotten into a good rhythm with the updates, and without J here, I hadn’t realised the time, so I only stop now for lunch. It’s last nights leftovers so couscous and chicken, plus an apple left over from J’s Panera order yesterday. J didn’t take anything in so has stopped by Safeway $14.13 and the work café $9.48. I get the figures from the banking app and realise J has been paid – win. I have an hour break and head back online.
2020 – I’ve been in the swing of things today. It’s a long winded, but simple task so I’ve had Greys Anatomy on in the background as I work. I’d normally have left some of it until Monday, but I have a few urgent requests in today that need the updated figures so it made sense to get it all cleared – it’s also quite therapeutic so feels like a nice way to end the week . J and I have plans to see friends tomorrow, so I don’t feel too bad about not having plans for a Friday night and working for most of it instead. Still, we make the most of it being payday and order in some Steak Frites for dinner and I treat myself to a chocolate cake slice as well. $80.25. We spend the rest of the evening relaxing, finish watching The Good Place (a very emotional finale) and make it into bed for half 11.
Daily total: $103.86

Total Expenditure: $543.96
Food & Drink: $257.70
Groceries: $103.25
Clothes/Home: $123.00
Other: $60.01

Lastly, reflect on your diary!
This is a pretty average week for us during COVID. We usually go out drinking over every other weekend, but that extra spending would balance out with the home/other expenditure as I try to make sure we spread our spending out. The AMEX balance is a bit higher than the usual weekly amount as J and I both ordered a trunk club a few weeks and kept a few of the clothes but the system errored which delayed us processing our returns (and them billing us). As we’ll looking to buy the car soon, it also feels like a better decision to leave the balance on the card and keep more cash available – I’m not concerned as we’re only just into the new credit statement period and J’s will get an extra pay period this month which will clear it.
Pre-COVID, this is actually lower than our weekly spend, as we also had most of my salary coming into the US account as well and were spending most of it socialising, travelling and just enjoying living in a city. If we had to, we could cut our costs and save a lot more, but we’re here to enjoy ourselves and so long as we can eat and pay the mortgage, we’re happy. We’ve also already reached our total savings goal for our time out here, so anything extra is a bonus.
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