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A Week In Wichita, KS, On A $302,000 Joint Income

Refinery29 logo Refinery29 12/7/2020 Refinery29
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Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We’re asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

2020 is almost over, and it’s time to introspect — what was your biggest financial takeaway from this year? What were your biggest anxieties and conflicts around money? Where do you stand now? Tell us here.

Today: an HR Leader who has a joint income of $302,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a leopard print Brumate.

Occupation: HR Leader

Industry: Pharma

Age: 34

Location: Wichita, KS

My Salary: $110,000 + $25,000 bonus +$10,000 LTI

My Husband’s Salary: $127,000 +$30,000 bonus

Net Worth: $763,000 (House equity: $185,000, my 401(k): $115,000, my husband’s 401(k): $240,000, pension: $150,000, savings: $55,000, son’s college savings: $10,000, daughter’s college savings: $8,000)

Debt: $195,000 left in our mortgage (our home is worth $375,000 and our current equity is $185,000)

My Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $4,583.33

My Husband’s Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $5,291.55

Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses

Mortgage: $1,755

Utilities: $400

Amazon: $110/year

Cell Phones: $95

YMCA: $68

Medical/Dental Insurance: $115

Disability/Vision: $0 (covered by my employer)

401(k): $550 (my employer matches $350 in addition to my contribution)

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?

There was an expectation that I find a way to contribute to society and be able to support myself. I am the youngest of five and three of us went to university while the other two pursued trade careers.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?

None, this is one thing I am doing differently with my kiddos. My dad’s family was wealthy and we always had what we needed and most of what we wanted but it didn’t teach us how to manage money well and make responsible decisions. This led to my two oldest sisters making some less than ideal decisions with money and getting into debt in their early 20s.

What was your first job and why did you get it?

Clerk at a gas station. It was so much fun that I worked there all through high school and college. They helped pay for some of my college. I used the money to pay for car insurance, gas money, and clothes.

Did you worry about money growing up?

No, not really, like I mentioned above we always had what we needed.

Do you worry about money now?

Not really, both my husband and I are fortunate to have stable jobs but I worry about saving enough to retire by 55. I also worry that I am not doing enough to educate my kiddos on fiscal responsibility.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?

I was 21 when I graduated from college and moved in with my now-husband. Other than not paying rent while living at home, I paid for all my “extras” when I started working at 16. I was totally independent at 21.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.


Day One

4:30 a.m. — It’s 4:30 and my alarm goes off for the gym, it’s sooo early but I love how the rest of my day goes when I do my early workout. I do biceps and triceps then 30 minutes of running on the track. Before anyone gets upset about the gym during the pandemic, our gym is very diligent about taking temps, masks, and social distancing. I get that some may say it’s not responsible but I’ll tell you that anxiety is a real thing and not getting workouts in has a debilitating impact. Home by 6. I do a body shower and get ready for work. I spend a few minutes fixing my daughter’s hair and helping her pick out her outfit. She’s in second grade and is so much fun. I love having a few minutes in the morning with her. Out the door by 7:10.

7:30 a.m. — Get to the office and start on emails and a few assignments I need to complete for our year-end bonus plans. Being in HR is an interesting role; sometimes it’s very monotonous and other times it’s crazy chaotic. I recently accepted another job that I start in mid-December. I have been at my current employer for nine years so this is scary but super exciting. I head out around 11 to grab some lunch from a local sandwich place. I grab a Baja chicken salad and a large diet soda. During lunch, I jump on Amazon to order some more paint for my office desk project. $32.55

4:30 p.m. — I head out of the office. I stop and grab a Diet Coke on the way home, I am way too hooked on the soda. I get home and check in with the kiddos, K. and S. They are in seventh and second grade. I do a quick check of homework and anything we need for the school week. We decide to make steak and veggies for dinner. $1.08

7:30 p.m. — Spend a few hours working on a desk for my home office. With my upcoming job change, I’ll be spending more time working from home so I need a little refresh in my office that I split with S. as her playroom. I recently have started refinishing furniture as a way to de-stress. It’s crazy how relaxing it has turned out to be. I struggle with anxiety and depression so have to find ways to manage it. During the beginning of the pandemic, I was doing great but once we went back to work, my anxiety came back two-fold. If anyone wonders why I work out as much as I do, anxiety is the reason. Exercise is my best drug. Once I get cleaned up, we all do our nighttime routine of taking baths, brushing teeth, and reading to the kids. We are in bed by 9, early to bed for another workout in the morning.

Daily Total: $33.63

Day Two

4:30 a.m. — Up early for another workout. Today is shoulders and more cardio. Home by 6 and another body shower. I have naturally curly hair so I only wash it twice a week in order to not put extra heat on it. I get dressed and get S. ready for school, out the door by 7.

11:30 a.m. — Work this morning has been busy, nothing interesting but it’s open enrollment so a lot of questions from employees. I have a meeting with a manager about an underperforming employee and a path forward. I run out to grab lunch and run to Marshall’s to see if I can find some bed sheets for my daughter’s new room decor that is part of her Christmas gift. Grab a burrito salad but no luck as Marshall’s. Back to the office. $8.99

6 p.m. — Home and make a quick dinner of orange chicken and fried rice from TJ’s. S. has baseball practice on Wednesday so I take her and do a quick couple miles while she’s practicing. I choose the track because it runs above the courts and I can watch her practice and get some mileage. We wrap up practice at 7:45, head home to do our nighttime routine, and get to bed by 9:30. S. needs some new socks so I order some on Amazon during her practice. $8.99

Daily Total: $17.98

Day Three

5 a.m. — This morning I am having breast implant revision. I have always been tall and broad-shouldered with an athletic build but very flat-chested so the implants helped me feel more feminine. I got them done right after high school. Since it’s been 16 years, it’s time to get new ones. I also found a small leak, so had to schedule the surgery pretty quickly. I had my consultation four days ago and quickly had to find pics of what I wanted my new implants to look like. I told my boss, who is a woman, that I was going to be sending her boob pics all day to help me choose. I paid for the surgery last week, the cost was $5,500 for the surgery and anesthesia. I’m up this early so I can go to the gym before surgery.

11:30 a.m. — I check-in for surgery at 10 and haven’t been able to eat or drink since last night so I’m starting to get a headache. The nurse tells me she can give me something once the doctor comes in marks me up. I feel a migraine coming on. I get my headache medicine via IV but get sick to my stomach all over my mask and my hospital gown. I get cleaned up and they take me back to the room. I tell my husband I want a burrito and Diet Coke when I get out of surgery. $6.78

4 p.m. — Out of surgery and into the car. My husband has my food and I literally inhale it…so hungry! Get home from surgery and sleep until dinner is ready. I have to take a pain pill every four hours but they make me sick so I eat some soup and then back to bed. I put in a pot roast before I left for surgery so I get up and get the kiddos fed, drink some water, and go back to bed. I wake up at 11. I’m sleepy but can’t sleep. I grab a glass of water and start reading American Dirt. I read a lot and have thought about joining a book of the month club but haven’t done it yet. Any book suggestions would be great!

Daily Total: $6.78

Day Four

7 a.m. — I sleep in but did not sleep well last night — I tossed and turned trying to get comfortable. I am a stomach sleeper so sleeping on my back is tough. I get up and decide to ride with my husband to drop S. off at school and we stop and get her some Starbucks. She has a hot chocolate and a cake pop, and I get a water. I love the mornings when I get some extra time with the kiddos. $8.45

11:30 a.m. — I head home and go back to bed. My pain level is almost zero, but I am worn out. I guess that’s the body’s way of recovering. I drink some pho broth and nap for several hours. I wake up, and my husband, J., asks what I want for lunch. We grab some Freddy’s — a burger for him and a chicken sandwich for me. When I get back home, I rest some more. I catch up on one of my favorite podcasts, Traderhoes, while I wrap up the last coat of paint on my desk. I am doing it in a navy with gold pulls.

5:30 p.m. — It’s dinnertime! We use our Discover card rewards to get cashback gift cards and use that to go out for dinner every few months. We order two prime ribs, salad, and green beans for takeout. J. picks it up and we eat at the house. The steaks are big enough to feed the four of us. We use the gift card and tip 40% because several of the servers were out of work for several months during shelter-in-place. I eat, log onto my work email to check-in to make sure nothing crazy happened while I was out, return a few emails, and go back to bed for the rest of the evening. $45.66

Daily Total: $54.11

Day Five

7 a.m. — Wake up later than normal! Head to the gym for a quick cardio workout. I can’t wait to get off of restrictions and be able to lift again. I do a quick Clicklist pick up at Dillons and get the usual turkey, steaks, veggies, snacks, and some cleaning supplies. I love Clicklist but always forget at least a few things I need for the week. I head home and take a body shower. $75.66

11 a.m. — The kids and I head out to a farm-to-table brunch spot. It is soooo good and they have the best mimosas. Since K. isn’t quite old enough to drive yet, no drinks for me. I have avocado toast with a coffee, K. has the grilled cheese, and S. has pancakes. ($33.50 plus $10 tip.) We head to All Star Arcade for some socially distanced fun. We mask up and I get the kids a bag of tokens each. They go through these pretty quickly so we head out to grab ice cream before heading home. I don’t get to spend enough time with the kids and want to take time creating more memories like this. $67.90

4:30 p.m. — We go to church on Saturday evenings but have been having trouble getting back into this routine since the church opened back up. S. decides to spend the night with my sister so J., K., and I go to church then grab sushi after. J doesn’t love sushi but K. and I do and majority wins in this house. We grab two rolls — a salmon and a crab — to go. We head home to watch some Netflix and are in bed by 9:30. We are so, so lame. $45.90

Daily Total: $189.46

Day Six

7 a.m. — Wake up later than normal with it being another day off. Get up, brush teeth, and head out to the gym. I do a very light bicep and tricep workout with 30 minutes of walking on the track. I wrap up and get back home. Spend about an hour cleaning up the house, doing dishes, and putting in a couple of loads of laundry.

11 a.m. — It’s lunchtime so I make avocado toast for me and grilled cheese for K. I order some presents for our family’s white elephant exchange. I get an Anthropologie Volcano candle and J. gets a Wichita-specific bottle of whiskey for the guys. $67.34

3 p.m. — I run to Trader Joe’s to grab a few things that we can’t get at Dillons. I grab some coffee, tikka masala, riced veggies, sea salt caramel, and a few other things. $34.89

7 p.m. — Don’t feel like cooking tonight so we grab Five Guys to go. Two cheeseburgers for J. and K., one cheeseburger no bun for me. We head home and watch some Netflix. The boys are obsessed with Cobra Kai so we binge-watch season two. It’s pretty good, not gonna lie. I take off makeup, put on The Ordinary serum and Origins Quench Night moisturizer, and go to sleep at 9. $32.11

Daily Total: $134.34

Day Seven

6 a.m. — Ugh, why am I up so early? The gym doesn’t open until 7 on weekends so I lay in bed and scroll through FB and play solitaire. Get up, brush teeth, and change into gym clothes. Today is leg day and I can do about 50% of my normal weight per my surgeon. I do squats, hip thrust, lunges, and calf raises, plus a 30-minute walk.

11 a.m. — Get home and do some online shopping. Order a new TV for our bedroom (on sale for $189), a wall mount, and some Bath & Body Works foam soaps. I recently tried some foam soaps from Trader Joe’s and it’s just not the same. Bath & Body Works and I have a torrid love affair. $235.90

3 p.m. — I start meal prepping for next week’s lunches. I make taco bowls with shredded chicken and chicken masala in the Instant Pot.

8 p.m. — I get ready for bed, read S. a couple of books, and get her tucked in. I love these little moments together. I get online and wrap up my Christmas shopping by ordering a leopard Brumate koozie for Trulys for my best friend. I read a little more of American Dirt and then fall asleep around 9. $23.99

Daily Total: $259.89

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