Life Lessons from Our Money Diaries

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Ashley

Occupation: University Administrator
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 30-ish (I’ve been lying about my age for the last 7 years; let’s keep it that way.)
Location: Central PA
Salary: $87,000
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $4,800

Monthly Expenses:

Rent: $1550 (I know but I really LOVE my house.  Plus, recently I started renting out a room to a friend who had to move out of his previous apartment so I’m reducing the cost a bit.)
Student Loan Payment: $64 (2 others that are currently in deferment)
Vision Insurance: $0.78, (s/o the plug) amount taken out pre-tax
Health Insurance:
$109.46, taken out of each paycheck pre-tax
Phone: $130 (High ass AT&T is the only thing that works where I live.)
Car & Renters Insurance: $87
Credit Cards Payments: $646.15 (I am diverting a tone of money to credit card debt right now)
Netflix, Hulu & Apple Music $36
Internet:
$87
Electric: $68
Gas:
$84
Schoolin Life:
$50, sometimes I help her pay her bills
Savings: $850 automatically is deducted from my check into savings. $200 goes into a high-yield savings account, the rest goes to my regular savings account
401(k): $363, taken out of each paycheck pre-tax

 

Day 1:

8:00 I hate that I can’t sleep in anymore, but since I couldn’t catch any Z’s, I spent some time scrolling on IG before actually climbing out of the bed. I woke up to my new “roommate,” rearranging furniture in the living room and hanging pictures (*deep sigh).. LOL. No honestly, it’s fine. He decided that he wanted to put his 70-inch TV in the living room, so he bought a new TV stand (which I picked out) and he was decorating it. He also decided we MUST have cable, but hey, if he’s willing to pay, I’m willing to play!

11:00 I’ve been trying to offload some old furniture that I no longer need, and posted two dining benches on Facebook Marketplace for sale. Someone messaged and said they were interested but for half the sale price. $60 is better than them collecting dust in my guest room so I went to meet them and collect the cash! (+ $60)

The cash was basically burning a hole in my pocket so I went and bought floating candles at Michaels. I stopped myself from buying other random nick-nacks,  and I used a coupon. ($3.18)

2:00 Netflix and Chill or as I like to call it, research for TVTea. I’m watching Sex Education and I promise this is THE most interesting show ever. I want to become a sex psychologist! I fall into a nap and dream about this chair at Homegoods that I saw last week. I want another comfy chair for the living room and I asked my roommate to talk me out of it. He’s an enabler, but I decided against it. My debt reduction goals must take priority right now.

4:00 I spent the afternoon prepping to host a Superbowl party at the house. I spend $50 at the grocery store yesterday to get all the fixins for the taco bar and I was ready. That was, until I realized we didn’t have enough chicken. I texted my roommate and asked him to pick up some (perks of this whole roommate thing) and he told me he had stopped by the store and the chair of my dreams was still there and he agreed it would look great in the living room. UGH. I still said no, but I was not happy about it.

10:30 Expletives! I’m sooo over the Patriots. I turned on Grace and Frankie and did some laundry before heading to bed.

Daily Total: (+56.82)

Day 2:

8:30 Cereal for breakfast (I recently started eating breakfast and I wondered why I don’t make this a priority more often). I packed my lunch and sent a few Schoolin Life emails before heading into the office.

11:00 Met with my admin and went over a presentation that were giving to students at noon. Started craving the yogurt I had in my purse.

1:30 The meeting went so well; I’m so proud of the work that we’re doing with students. I warmed up leftover lasagna before heading out for a meeting with my mentor.

3:00 Met with my new mentor to talk about my career progression and my professional goals. She is so dope and I’m excited to learn from her. I specifically asked her about how to balance my everyday role with new professional opportunities and how to say “no.” She shared some great insight which I’ll share in a future post.

6:00 I rushed home to record the first episode of “Personal Finance February,” loved talking to Tia and hearing her great perspective on money.

7:45 Hopped into a meeting with my student advisory board. We’re orienting new members and they had a ton of questions, but we got through the meeting about 8:45.

9:00 Edited episode, mix and mastered episode.

12:30 Finally crawled into bed.

Daily Total: $0

Day 3:

8:40 I barely made it out of bed, barely.

9:00 Had one on one with one of my staff members. She is leading some major initiatives for our unit and doing great work and I told her so, so no more unclear expectations in 2019.

11:00 I’m lead on student retention projects at work and we had a coordinating meeting.

2:00 Then I was off to the middle of campus for a 3-hour meeting in the student union and it took everything for me not to grab some fries from the Chick-fil-A.

6:00 Staff reception at a local hotel with open bar! It was great to connect with peers who I rarely get to see and chat with them about their work. I got into an interesting conversation with a few about salary and pay equity. We talked about how we should advocate for ourselves as it relates to pay, but I didn’t exactly get anyone to disclose. Next time. ;)

9:00 A couple of friends wanted to keep the party going so we went to a local bar and grabbed a couple of cocktails and shared a basket of fries. -22.64

Daily Total: $22.64

Day 4:

7:20 Thankfully the two drinks last night didn’t take me out because we had more senior leadership meetings this morning, the first of which started 8:15 a.m. And they provided breakfast.

12:30 Catered lunch and enough sugar and caffeine to get through 3 more hours of meetings.

5:30 On my way to another meeting and I get pulled over by the police. I made it out alive (THANK GOD), but apparently in the state of Pennsylvania, in addition to your licence, registration, emission test, and insurance, there is ANOTHER test your car has to pass which I didn’t know about and thus, resulted in a $142.50 ticket. I want to scream.

8:00 Friend went with me to drop off car at the shop for inspection.

10:00 I did a little SL email work and pray that this test is all my car needs.

Daily Total: $0(will pay ticket later this week)

Day 5:

8:00 Had to get up early to borrow a friend’s car, drop him off at work, and then get my own work day started. I had a budget meeting at 9 and at least my unit budget is in tip-top shape, because with these looming car repairs, my personal one is TRASH.

10:30 I got a call from the the inspection office that I need four new tires, back brakes, rotors, and a rotation to pass inspection and the price they quoted me was $891.07. *Dies inside* I spent the rest of the morning calling around to different car repair shops in the area price shopping. The dealership was $811, Firestone $858, local repair shop $625, Midas $635. I went with Midas, because they are closest to the house, could get it done within the next day, and had a few of the parts guaranteed, plus they said they would throw in a $30 coupon from their website. I wouldn’t pay until pick up but what a blow.

3:00 I picked up Chick-fil-A to soothe my hurt feelings and pockets. -$9.32

7:30 Met with a mentee to talk about the goals she has for her side gig and offered some advice, suggestions, and feedback. I really love pouring into women and helping them realize their goals.

9:00 Watched TV until I fell asleep on the couch.

Daily Total: $$9.32

Day 6:

9:00 Back to back meetings until noon. One meeting was about PR and upcoming student events and the other two were about sexual misconduct, prevention, and response. My work is so varied.

Noon: Dentist appointment. I totally forgot about the $68.40 co-pay. Ouch! Gotta keep these chompers clean. My dentist is still encouraging me to consider braces, but that’s an expense that I don’t even want to think about.

1:30 I headed to Target to get a few self-care items and to take out cash for the weekend. $13.65 for dry shampoo, lip balm, and hair glue + $40 in cash. $53.65

3:00 Stop by county clerks office to pay ticket from day 3 $142.60

4:00 Got the call that my car was finally repaired. $616.69 (Larry took a little off the top.)

5:00 ROAD TRIP Headed to Pittsburgh to celebrate a friend’s birthday for the weekend. Planned to use the cash only method for the entire weekend. We’ll see how this goes!

8:00 Had dinner at New Orleans style restaurant, so cute! I got hot chicken sandwich and fries. $18.00 including tip

10:00 Club hop, I ordered drinks for me and a friend. $11 (This is the joy of living in a small city. I couldn’t get a beer in NYC for that much.)

12:30 We finally headed back to the hotel, ready to fall into the plush beds.

Daily Total: $910.34 (ohh myyy gawd)

Day 7:

10:00 We slowly rolled out of bed and made brunch plans at a local staple. $16.38

12:00 My friends wanted to “window shop” at the local mall and I super triggered, because I know that is NOT in my weekend budget. We walked through DSW, Macy’s, H&M, Shoe Dept., Express, Lids, Sephora, and JCPenney’s and I didn’t spend ANY MONEY! I played stylist, personal bag handler, and MUA, but I didn’t spend any of MY money and that’s what counts.

5:00 We were starved and since dinner wasn’t until 7, we stopped at Popeyes to grab a 3-piece for $3.99. $4.27 with tax

6:30 Showered, mixed a couple of drinks in the room and got to dinner right on time.

9:30 Yes, you read that correctly; this is when dinner was finally served. The food was delicious, but this was literally the worst service I’ve ever had in a restaurant in my entire life, ever. My bill was $20.85. I gave him $20.82 in exact change and told him to figure out the rest.

10:30 We had a party bus so the drinks were flowing! Winning! The rest of the night is none of your business. ;)

Daily Total:41.47
weekly Total:$926.95

This Money Diary was stressful. Like legit; but I’m proud that I was able to celebrate my friends, get a major car repair, run regular errands, and just live my life for a full week without once using a credit card. There was a time 6 months ago when this entire week would have gone on credit. This time, I had it and even though it was hard to stay on task and budget, I did it. I’m proud of my money growth.

 

Marcy

Occupation: Licensed Psychologist
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 31, I’m so proud of being in my 30’s!! It really makes me feel like a bad a**!!
Location: Metro Atlanta
Salary: That ain’t none of y’all business ;-) but I do have a 2 income household.
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): Still none of y’all business, lol

Monthly Expenses:

Mortgage: $846.43
Vision Insurance: amount taken out pre-tax, comes out of hubby’s check so I don’t know the exact number but it’s less than $15
Health Insurance: $200 taken out of each paycheck pre-tax. This is an area that I know is super expensive and likely, a waste of money, but I have the most amazing benefits and that is really important to me. My mental health benefits are the bomb.com, having a baby benefits are awesome (insert eye roll emoji), hospitalization benefits are great (remember last year, what if I didn’t have good insurance?!) So yeah...this is my splurge.
Cell Phone:  $170 This includes 2 unlimited lines, phone insurance (which I really hope they let me cancel), and my iPhone forever plan. Getting the new iPhone next month! Whoop whoop!
Car & Homeowners Insurance: $290.17 for both cars and our house
Netflix, Hulu & Spotify: $14.99 we are still borrowing somebody else’s Netflix ($0), Sprint pays for our Hulu ($0), and we have a family plan on Spotify. I refuse to also pay for Apple Music.
Internet: $65.00 includes internet (they just increased our package to like 175mbps or something ridiculous), basic channels, HBO, and they just threw in Starz.
Electric: $59 (It’s the winter, this is very different in the summer!)
Gas: $75.87 what we don’t pay in electricity, we pay for in gas. It flip flops every season.
Security System: $55.57
Gym Membership: $54.90 for both of us, unlimited access to any LA Fitness in the world!
Life Insurance: $86.90 for both of our policies. We also have more at our jobs which is taken out before tax.
Student Loans: $1091 includes 5 student loans between the 2 of us, hubby’s car, (praise the Lord I paid off my car in 2018), and windows we put on our house in 2015 (that was when I knew I was really an adult!)
Savings: $260 goes into our savings account every month. We have a substantial savings account that’s at least 3x our monthly income, but we’re trying to balance that with paying off debt. Which I think we’ve done a good job of...more on that in the next blog. :-)
Charitable Giving: Tithing 10% of our gross income, $20.09 to Spelman, $150 random monthly acts of service.
401(k): $200 taken out of each paycheck pre-tax.

 

Day 1:

10:00 Getting a late start this morning. We usually get to the 9AM service but I went to the club last night to celebrate my LS’s birthday and didn’t get home until 3:30AM. Let’s pause here. I DON’T DO CLUBS!!! I told y’all this in our Boujie Behavior episode and I’m still slightly regretting it this morning. However, it made her day and she had a great time so that made it worth it. I didn’t drink (drinks were $15 for a margarita! Why?!?!) so I only paid to get in (something else I’m not accustomed to doing) and splitting an Uber. ($20)

12:00 Make it to the 2nd church service and it was awesome per usual! A gentle reminder that to be like Christ, I must serve (praise break). Dropped my tithes (10% of my monthly gross income) into the offering basket and got nourished through a good word.

2:00 Grocery shopping ($66.47). We do a lot of meal prep on Sundays so it’s a big day for us to get to the store. We get groceries for our breakfast, lunch for the week, and at least dinner for the evening and leftovers for the next night’s dinner, if not more. It’s also Super Bowl Sunday, so I  got a few extra items to make game time food. I’m not super pumped about the game, but when else can I make buffalo chicken dip?! I’m also starting to feel the early onset of a cold so we stopped and got some cold and flu time tea ($3.59). Because going to the store is one of my least favorite things to do, I also grabbed a few household necessities ($21.78) and wine :-) ($8.47) before heading home.

4:00 Home and into the hustle of getting food prepped for the week. Washing dishes, cooking, cleaning is our Sunday routine. I was cooking well into the game, but this cold started to take hold of me as the evening progressed. I was able to sit down and spend some time giving thanks and praying for my friends in need but by 8PM, my energy was zapped. I spent most of the evening in and out of paying attention to the game and mostly reading for book club.

10:45 Drank some Theraflu and got into the bed! Read the devotional that hubby and I are doing together in the Bible app. All the while in the back of my mind, trying to figure out whether I will be able to go to work in the morning.

Daily Total: $120.31+tithes

Day 2:

5:30 My husband’s work alarm goes off and I lay in bed, contemplating whether I’m too sick to go to work today. Read my devotional and asked God for direction. Ultimately, around 6AM, the time I normally get up and to get ready for work, I decided it would be in everybody’s best interest if I stayed home. Let my bosses know I would be out and rolled back over to go back to sleep.

10:00 Woke up again to make some cold and flu tea. My only goal for the day being to rest because I need to go to work the rest of the week. Ate my breakfast, got back in the bed, drank my tea, and went back to sleep. I woke up intermittently during this time to respond to some emails, pray for a friend’s family member who was going into surgery, and do a bit of reading, but I was in and out of sleep most of the time.

2:00 Pretty much the same routine. Got up, ate, made more tea, got back in bed. Less sleeping, but still resting and only feeling slightly better.

6:00 Made more tea. Sat down to record for Schoolin Life. Since we have leftovers from dinner last night, I didn’t have to worry about cooking. Thank God!

8:00 Hubby’s finally home, telling me about his day and while I thought it was gonna be a no expense day, hubby tells me about a cup that he bought ($9.41).  He’s been looking for it for a while. I also asked him to buy me a scarf holder and he found one on Wish ($7.42).

Then we started our GOT binge!! After watching the first episode, I got up and  cooked lunch for the week (whole wheat spaghetti, homemade sauce, and mushrooms, no meat) before heading to bed. I bought the groceries yesterday but was too worn down to cook then.

11:00 Bed time. Laying in bed, we remember that we owe someone a housewarming gift ($56.26). Maybe we’ll try for no expense day tomorrow...

Daily Total: $73.09

Day 3:

5:30 After tossing and turning and coughing all night, I woke up at the sound of my husband’s alarm and prayed for God to get me through the day!

7:30 Got to work, ate my breakfast, and checked my email after being out of the office for a whole week.  I swear I feel like I miss everything, even after being out for one day. Got some praise for my presentation the week prior. Also, one of the many reasons I love my job is we get to participate in a yoga demonstration for our office’s Training Tuesday. Winning!

12:00 Ate my lunch for the week (spaghetti!) and got ready to spend the rest of my day seeing clients.

6:30 Headed to a postponed small group because I’m sick and didn’t want to infect the kiddos, but they still cooked sooooooo free food. lol

11:00 Bed time. It was a long day, and I have another long day tomorrow but we hit my goal of no expenses! Yay!

Daily Total: $0

Day 4:

5:30 Same old, same old. Wake up, spend time with God, lay in bed contemplating whether I really need this job lol (j/k). Get up, get ready for work. But seriously. This cold is kicking my butt so I definitely didn’t want to go into the office today.

7:30 Got to work, made some cold and flu tea, ate breakfast, checked in with my co-worker, got busy on work. Still feeling congested but I pushed through.

12:00 Pharmaceutical rep brought us lunch (WINNING!) and talked to us about a new antidepressant on the market.

3:30 Left work a bit early. I wanted to leave earlier but I needed to be there, so I left as soon as I could. Stopped by Target on the way home to pick up some detangler ($11.78) that I ordered this morning AND to return some storage bins that I purchased last month (-34.21) so technically, I MADE money today. lol

6:00 Headed to the nail salon because I broke a nail the other day and got tired of walking around looking foolish BUT they played me when I got there, and took all the polish off my 9 other nails because she “thought” I wanted a fill in. I did not, but I definitely needed a polish change and now my nails will last another month. ($14; $12.00+$2 tip)

7:00 Hubby and I decide to make a impromptu run to Victoria’s Secret (doesn’t sound like I’m trying to not spend money, but wait there’s more) because I have a $20 rewards card that expires today. Now, you tell me one thing you can find in Secret for $20 that’s not body lotion or spray! But I was determined not to spend more than $5 above my $20 reward. So we searched high and low and lucked up on a CUTE sports bra that was 40% off and I could use the $20 rewards card, so guess how much I ended up spending?! .70 cents! Look at God! Won’t He Do It! So essentially, I still haven’t really spent any money today. lol Stopped by the grocery store on the way back home and got some avocados for babe’s lunch ($4.67). Now to spend the rest of the evening binging on GOT until the cold medicine knocks me out.

11:00 Bedtime! I don’t even remember falling asleep last night.

Daily Total: $31.15 Income: -$34.21 so really I had $0 expense day and made some money! Cha-Ching! +3.06

Day 5:

4:30 Woke up and could not go back to sleep so instead of laying in bed, I decided to get up and spend some time talking to God, reviewing and writing in my prayer journal. I’m telling y’all, I could do this all day, writing and spending time studying God’s word! Unfortunately, my goal was to go to work so I got my butt up and got ready.

7:30 I feel AWFUL. I made it to the office, but sitting down at my computer and trying to write notes, I quickly realize that this is not sustainable. I really didn’t want to leave work because I’m already behind, I’ve already canceled on several clients this week, and I just generally do not like missing work, but I had to be selfish. Left the office around 9:00AM. Got home, took a Benadryl because I’m convinced it’s allergies now, and passed out. Babe bought some groceries, so I guess I have to include it here ($14.99).

3:00 Woke up feeling a little better. Ate lunch (thank God I still have my appetite) and mostly sat around with my mom (who is also sick). Lord help me!

6:30 Got tired of sitting around all day so I decided to get up and do some cleaning. Hoping that if I vacuum and dust, it will clear up the air a bit so I can breathe and stop sneezing. Opened all the windows in the house because it was 80 degrees in Atlanta today (face palm emoji) and y’all wonder why I’m over here struggling.  Get a text from a co-worker about yoga at the Aquarium. Uuuum, yes please! Sounds amazing! And tickets are only $10?! Win-ning! I ended up paying ($11) for taxes and rounded up to donate to the Aquarium. Mom went to get us some more medicine and she paid for it so I feel like that doesn’t count as my expense. lol

9:00 It’s wind down time. I take a Benadryl because I want it to kick in so I can pass out and sleep through the night, but not feel drowsy after I wake up because I am determined to get through the work day tomorrow. I also drink some sleepy time tea and start reading this book on marriage that hubby and I are reading together. Would totally recommend.

10:00 Bedtime. Out like a light.

Daily Total: $25.99

Day 6:

5:30 Woke up around 4AM again, but the medicine was like “nah bruh,” and the next thing I know, hubby’s alarm is going off. Get up. Feeling much better today.

7:30 Back at work. I truthfully believe I’m going to get through the day today.

12:00 Still at work! Go over to the student center to have lunch with a friend. I’m still eating my leftovers and she treated me to a vanilla milkshake cuz she’s preggos and she was getting one regardless. lol

5:00 I DID IT! Made it through a whole work day. Left work later than normal because I wanted to catch up with my black girlfriends at work. We haven’t really been able to spend any quality time together and Friday afternoons are usually fairly quiet. I adore them!

6:00 Thankfully traffic wasn’t horrible! Stopped by the store to get some ingredients for dinner (pulled chicken sandwiches). Luckily I made extra shredded chicken earlier in the week so I just need to warm it and get some sides. Quick, easy, cheap. Winning! ($16.58) Get home, cook dinner, babe and I sit down to eat and binge more GOT. He also went shopping after work to get some household items, but these will last a while so we won’t have to worry about buying more for months, and got gas. I don’t think it’s fair that I have to include his expenses. lol ($20.45 Gas; $80.52 Groceries; $23.51 Household items)

10:00 Still watching GOT, look down at my hand and ANOTHER nail is broken. WTF! Now I have to go BACK to the nail salon tomorrow, but this time it will be clear: Just fix my ONE nail please. It’s so annoying because I’ve been getting my nails done since November of 2017 and they’ve never broken. Let alone twice in one week. Ugh.

12:30 We just couldn’t stop watching. But once we started falling asleep, that meant it was time for bed. lol

Daily Total: $141.06

Day 7:

12:00 I was determined to stay in bed until noon today. This week took me out! But I woke up feeling much, much, much better. Less congested and stuffy. The temperature is back to reasonable for GA so hopefully my symptoms will continue to improve.  Spent most of the afternoon cleaning up and planning my bestest’s bachelorette party. I so should be an event planner. While I was sleeping, babe ordered an oil filter ($7.20) so he can change the oil in his car, but he got 20% off so can’t complain there. Later on, we watched another episode of GOT. Sidebar: Season 1 Episode 9 of GOT is the WORST! I wanted to insert every expletive emoji possible. This show just gets me every time! Also, babe tried our Instant Pot for the first time since I got it in early December (scaredy cat, lol) and I’m so proud of him. What would normally take like 12 hours to cook dried beans, only took about an hour and 15 minutes. I think he too might be sold on the Instant Pot (smiley face).

4:00 Back at the nail salon (eye roll emoji). But my nail tech takes care of me every time AND he freshened up my polish, which is likely what he would have done on Wednesday had that other lady not removed my dang polish in the first place, and only charged me the amount to repair my nail. I’m still mad, if you can’t tell. ($6; $5+$1 tip).

5:00 Back home sitting on the couch, enjoying the peace and quiet of my home. Hubby’s at the gym, mom stepped out to get some things. I love how peaceful my house is. While I have a moment, and since we’re doing these diaries, I sit down and enter our receipts for the first 9 days of the month. Then back to reading and enjoying the stillness.

6:30 Hubby comes back from the gym with bags in hand (face palm). Y’all see who spends all the money in this marriage. lol He’s bought more wine ($4.76), groceries ($8.04) and new blinds that we’ve been trying to put up for at least a year ($78.36). Finally this home improvement project is over; we officially have new blinds all over the house. Now we can start on our next project.

12:30 We started our GOT binge around 8:30. Now we’re into Season 2. We’re still behind on our schedule but we’ll be caught up by this weekend.

Daily Total:$104.36
weekly Total: $344.50 (-3.06 income) + 10% for tithes

Yikes! We are way over what I thought we would have spent, but for the most part, this number is way above and beyond what we normally spend on a given week. We aren’t buying housewarming gifts or blinds every week; I’m not running to the nail salon every week; and the super bowl is only once a year. With it being the beginning of the month, we buy a lot of things that we might need the remainder of the month and sometimes the next few months, so our spending is usually a little heavier on the front end of the month. We also buy things at the beginning of the month that we didn’t budget for in the previous month or just didn’t get (i.e. new blinds), so we put it in next month’s budget. That’s the thing, we budget for everything. I could legit go through and tell you which line item each of these came out of and how much more we have left to spend in that area for the month. It just so happens that this was the week that we bought the stuff, but it was already accounted for. I was still quite accurate about where majority of our money was going to go though. Food! We’re already halfway through our grocery budget for the month. But it’s also the largest part of our budget so it makes sense. All in all, where our money went this week wasn’t random. Not gonna lie, there are some things that I’m planning to buy tomorrow just because I didn’t want to spend too much money for these diaries lmao. Love y’all tho!

Ok...I’ll confess. I’m buying tickets to Yoga at the Aquarium for the next 3 months as well, but I’m still waiting until tomorrow to purchase. Toodles!

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