A Week In Austin, TX, On A $99,000 Joint Salary

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Today: an executive assistant working in manufacturing who makes $59,000 per year ($99,000 when combined with her husband) and spends some of her money this week on Cherry Coke Zero. We previously published a diary from this OP back in December 2017.

Occupation: Executive Assistant
Industry: Manufacturing
Age: 29
Location: Austin, TX
My Salary: $59,000
My Husband’s Salary: $40,000
My Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,660 (not including quarterly bonus)
My Husband’s Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,300

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,550 (This includes property taxes and insurance.)
Loans: $990 for two cars and one motorcycle and $100 for solar panels
Electricity: $20
Gas: $15
Netflix: $12 (I share this with my BFF, and she shares her Hulu account with me.)
Cell Phones: $100
Vivint Home Monitoring: $90
Car Insurance: $195 (Mine is $75, and my husband’s is $120.)
Health Insurance: $32 (Through my work; covers me and my husband, plus a $20/paycheck contribution to HSA. My company puts $1,000/year in our HSA as well.)
Husband’s Pension: This is awful but I don’t actually know how much they take from his check. He’s a firefighter and has no say in what gets taken out. I don’t contribute to my company’s 401(k) anymore. I previously did, but once my husband became a firefighter and gained the pension, I stopped.
Savings: We have ~$20,000 in direct savings and ~$350,000 invested. The investment money came directly from an inheritance I received.

8:15 a.m. — Got to sleep in this morning because I have a doctor’s appointment. Normally I am onsite at work from 8 to 5, so I’ve low-key enjoyed having morning appointments during my pregnancy because I’ve gotten to sleep in. My husband hasn’t attended the majority of my appointments, but after a bit of arguing, he’s requested I schedule them when he isn’t working. So we get up and let the dogs out, I make myself a small breakfast of two turkey sausage links and a Babybel cheese, and then we head out. We drive separately because my doctor’s office is just down the road from my work.

9:30 a.m. — I check in at the doctor, and they ask if I’d like to make a payment. I know our HSA is basically empty since my company contribution has not yet hit, so I decide to just pay $125 today out of pocket. I know the $1,000 my company contributes to my HSA won’t cover these last two months of my pregnancy or the birth, so it makes no real difference if we pay out of pocket now or later. Luckily, my insurance has a $3,000 deductible and a $6,000 max out of pocket. So no matter what, these visits and the birth will be cheaper than my gallbladder surgery a few years ago. (I had horrific insurance then.) $125

10:30 a.m. — All done! This doctor is a MFM (Maternal Fetal Medicine) specialist, because I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 23 weeks. My husband had never even been to her office yet, so this was a first for him. They do a full ultrasound every visit, and he very much enjoyed getting a glimpse of our baby girl. I’m 31 weeks as of today, so there was a lot to see compared to the last scan he saw at 20 weeks.

11 a.m. — I arrive at work just in time for lunch. I get to my desk, check to make sure I don’t have any urgent emails or IMs, and then head to the cafeteria. My company gives us $30 for lunch per month and then matches an additional $30, so my lunch doesn’t cost me anything. I haven’t had to pay $30 yet this month because last month was so full of catering that I had a significant amount of rollover. Today, the options are carbs, carbs, and more carbs. So, bunless burger and side salad for me. People have a ton of different opinions and advice on how to manage gestational diabetes. My specialist told me that if the only way I can manage during the day without meds is to eat minimal carbs, I should do that. As long as I’m eating and getting nutrients, the baby and I will be fine. I find my body can handle certain carbs (rice, corn, potatoes) way better than bread or pasta. If I have any bread, my levels are through the roof. ($5.75 expensed)

12:15 p.m. — I finally waddle my way back to my desk. I’ve started waddling over the last week or so, and it’s made me move even slower. My office is almost a quarter mile from the cafeteria. It’s good exercise for me and baby girl, but also UGH, I’m exhausted. I plop down in my chair, turn on my heater because pregnant me is always cold, and start checking my email.

5 p.m. — I’M OUT! I used to spend a lot of money randomly online shopping, but ever since I got pregnant, I haven’t had much to stuff to buy. We don’t want to buy too much before our shower next month.

5:30 p.m. — I need gas. I absolutely hate getting gas. I’m one of those people who is literally zero miles from empty before filling up. I’m almost home and want to just get gas in the morning, but I also don’t want to be out of gas and pregnant at 7 a.m. when my husband is an hour away at work. So I opt to not push my luck. $32.18

9 p.m. — After getting home, cooking dinner (carnitas in the Instant Pot), and watching a couple episodes of The Magicians with my husband, we start our bedtime routine. I got bangs a while back so I can no longer wash my hair at night, so I opt for just a body shower to make tomorrow morning go faster, wash my face with an H-E-B makeup remover wipe, and then slap on some random moisturizer. My skin is wicked dry always, so I’m currently using some random lotion from LUSH on my face. It was a gift, and all I know is my face isn’t super flakey. Luckily I haven’t had to deal with any hormonal acne *knock on wood*. Lights are out by 9:30.

Daily Total: $157.18

5:15 a.m. — My husband’s alarm goes off. Since my last Money Diary, he went through the Fire Academy and became a firefighter/EMT in a city about an hour away. I’m incredibly proud of him, but his schedule has been tough to get used to. He works 24 hours and then has 48 hours off. He has to be at the station by 6:45, which means he is always there no later than 6:35. He gets up and tries his best to get ready quietly, but I always wake up to give him a hug and a kiss and to say I love you and to tell him to be safe. He’s been working on shift for seven months and hasn’t seen a fire yet, but I always want him to stay safe out there. The problem is I can never fall asleep after he leaves. I used to, but this far along in pregnancy, as soon as I wake up I become harshly aware of all the pain in my hips and just lie there snuggling the dog until 6 when I get up and get ready.

8:15 a.m. — Nothing I had at home for breakfast sounded good, so I waddle over to the cafeteria for breakfast. I opt for a scoop of eggs, a sausage patty, and a Cherry Coke Zero. People have lots of opinions on diet soda to begin with, and it gets super extra if you’re pregnant. Step off world, pregnancy is hard enough as it is. ($2.75 expensed)

11 a.m. — Lunchtime. I waddle over to the cafeteria. Taco Tuesday, FTW! I get mine in a bowl with rice, chicken, pico, pickled red onions, and sour cream. Delicious. ($7.52 expensed)

2 p.m. — My baby shower is coming up, and I would ideally like to wear a new dress. I browse the internet’s pathetic selection of maternity clothes and find a dress that miiight work. $14.12

5:45 p.m. — Get home and let the dogs out. We have two rescue dogs, and they are our everything. They used to spend every day in their crates, but since my husband’s schedule has him home quite a bit, they only spend a max of two days a week in their crates. They are both crate-trained and have no issues in them — they are loved, spoiled, and very content with their lives.

8 p.m. — I let the dogs out, clean up from my dinner (meatballs and marinara), and within five minutes they’re both at the door like MOM IT’S BEDTIME LET’S GOOOO. We all head upstairs. I turn on the TV in our room, do some general cleaning, and then crawl in bed by 8:45. I call my husband to tell him goodnight, and we are all one big snuggle puddle all night long.

Daily Total: $14.12

6:30 a.m. — I get up, get ready, and let the dogs out. Then I heat up the last of the low-carb pumpkin muffins I made last week for breakfast. I let the dogs in and let them roam instead of putting them in their crates, since my husband will be home by 8 a.m. This is mostly because it’s still so early for them that they will just go upstairs and get back in bed. They can’t be trusted alone for more than about 45 minutes, though.

11 a.m. — My morning flies by. Out CEO is coming in a few days, and this morning my boss asked me to create some slides for a presentation for him. It’s kind of wild to know that you’re creating something that will be shown to the CEO. It is also a great confidence booster that he trusts me to create this content. I finish by lunchtime and then waddle over to the cafeteria. Options look bleh, so I just do salad bar. Spring mix, mushrooms, hard-boiled egg, and ranch. It’s fine. ($4.18 expensed)

5 p.m. — I try to not take the toll road very often because I discovered the hard way how much the bill can add up. But I miss my husband and want to get home ASAP, so here I come toll road and 80 mph speed limit. $2.07

5:25 p.m. — I get home in 25 minutes, and my husband immediately asks if I took the toll because I’m so early. He then asks what’s for dinner, because he’s been hungry for the last hour but didn’t want to ruin dinner by snacking. Dinner is chicken thighs stuffed with cheese and bacon, plus Brussels sprouts for me and broccoli cheddar pasta for him. It’s easy, and he helps make it all, so I don’t have to stand for 30 minutes. I normally do 95% of the cooking, because when we met, his philosophy about food was that he only cooked things that took less time to cook than to eat. He’s a big fan of Chef Mic(rowave).

9 p.m. — BEDTIME! Yes, even when neither of us has to get up before 6:30, we go to bed at 9 p.m. I don’t function well on less than eight hours of sleep. Having a newborn is gonna be awesome.

Daily Total: $2.07

7:30 a.m. — Sausage links and a Cherry Coke Zero on the drive to work this morning. There’s a ton of fog, and it takes longer than normal to get to work. Feeling grateful no one actually cares/notices if I’m 10 minutes late.

9:30 a.m. — Breakfast did not cut it this morning, and I’m desperate for a snack. I grab a mini Kind bar.

11 a.m. — Y’all know what time it is. Waddle over. Beef and broccoli it is. I want another Coke Zero, but I opt for water. I normally drink four bottles (20 ounces) of water a day at work plus random amounts at home, but I’ve found this hasn’t been enough and need to start drinking more. Have I mentioned I’m pregnant, and that it’s a pure joy? Ugh. ($6.86 expensed)

2 p.m. — The baby has decided to stretch in a way that genuinely feels like her tiny hand might pop out down there. This is wildly uncomfortable as you might imagine, so I get up and waddle around the office hoping she changes positions. It works, kind of. She moves but only to a mildly less uncomfortable position. I try to stretch a little, and my boss notices. He asks how I’m doing and asks if there’s anything I need to help make working less of a pain. He’s a nice guy.

5 p.m. — Headed home. I don’t have to cook tonight because we are having steak, the one thing I trust my husband to cook completely with no supervision. I get home, love on dogs, love on husband, and plop my ass on the couch. He lets me know when they’re almost done so I can get up and prep my salad. I have a steak Caesar, and it hits the spot. It’s also low enough in carbs and sugar and all that so I can have a spoonful of peanut butter for "dessert." In case you were wondering, one of my Christmas gifts was literally a full cheesecake that is waiting patiently in my freezer for my return from giving birth.

9 p.m. — Bedtime routine. Husband works tomorrow, and I feel like I’ve barely seen him. I get pouty and hormonal and proceed to cry in bed for a bit. It’s unproductive since there’s literally nothing we can do about it, but he snuggles me until I fall asleep.

Daily Total: $0

7:30 a.m. — TGIF! Drive to work, settle in, check email, and do general admin work things.

11 a.m. — Waddle waddle. Pork loin, salad, green beans for lunch. ($7.35 expensed)

3:30 p.m. — My husband is off all weekend, which is GREAT and only happens like once a month, so I order groceries online for curbside pickup tomorrow because I don’t want to spend an hour shopping. I’d rather spend the time doing something together. I order chicken thighs, breakfast sausage, eggs, milk, cheese, produce, soda, chips, etc. It adds up to almost $90 somehow, but our soft grocery budget is $125/week, so whatever. I fight my impulse to add stuff I want but don’t need since I’m under budget. I remind myself that as soon as I can drink again, these savings will come in handy. $87.35

5 p.m. — My best friend is coming over for dinner and works closer to my house than I do, so I take the toll road home so I can beat her there. We eat pesto chicken and stuffed mushrooms, chat about nothing, and lounge around. She’s that awesome friend who is happy to come over and do nothing with me. She’s also that friend who understands that taking off your pants definitely means you aren’t leaving the house again. My husband texts that he’s jealous he’s missing out because even though he’s generally not very social, he really likes my best friend because she’s entertaining AF and always has stories to tell. $2.07

8:45 p.m. — I guess I yawned one too many times, and my friend insists on going home so I can go to bed. I keep saying I’m not tired, but I’m not fooling anyone. Say goodbye, let dogs out, and crawl in bed.

Daily Total: $89.42

7:58 a.m. — Our girl dog can hear my husband’s car when it enters the neighborhood, and she immediately jumps up in excitement. DAD’S HOME! He comes in, comes upstairs, and crawls in bed with me. We proceed to sleep for another hour or so.

9:30 a.m. — We finally get out of bed and decide since it’s nice out we’ll take the dogs for a walk instead of just letting them run in the backyard. We don’t walk them much because our yard is very large, and they get plenty of exercise. Also, one of them has severe anxiety and walks can be super fun until they are super not. We take the small loop around the neighborhood. It’s about a half mile and about all I can handle. Pups don’t encounter any other pups or people, so anxiety stays at bay.

1 p.m. — Neither of us feel like cooking, so when I suggest Chipotle my husband is super down. We get in the car and drive over there. My husband inhales his burrito in three minutes. $19.45

2:30 p.m. — I drag my husband to Target after we eat because we need new bedding. Well, we don’t actually NEED it, but I hate what we have and want all-white bedding because I can bleach it if the dogs make a mess and my husband agrees. Of course, one cannot simply go to Target and get only what one came for, so we leave with new sheets, new slippers, a bath mat, a dog toy, and a super cute onesie for baby girl. $185.22

5 p.m. — After a few hours doing absolutely nothing, I decide to start dinner. Lemon chicken in the Instant Pot. My mom got me an Instant Pot for Christmas. I didn’t ask for it, but she thought it would come in handy when the baby comes, and she was right. This thing is awesome, and I love it. Thanks, Mom! You da best.

9 p.m. — We take bedtime super seriously in my house. And by we, I mean me and the dogs. 9 p.m. rolls around and to bed we go. My husband is playing computer games and says he will join us after one more. I throw a fit because apparently that’s who I am now. I cry and cry about how I go to bed alone when he works and I don’t want to do it if I don’t have to. I surprise myself with valid points, but he apologizes and admits he didn’t even think about that. He crawls in bed for snuggles and that’s that.

Daily Total: $204.67

9:30 a.m. — And we’re up. I let the dogs out and start cleaning. When my husband has Sundays off, we have a group of friends over to play Dungeons & Dragons. I’m not that nerdy and was never interested, but after my husband asked me for literally years to give it a shot, I finally said yes. It’s fun. I don’t love it the way he does, but I enjoy it enough to spend my Sunday playing it. We literally play all day. Everyone brings their own lunch usually and then we provide dinner for the group.

8:30 p.m. — Everyone has left for the evening. It was a fun day — we recently added my sister-in-law’s husband to our group, and he’s proven to be an awesome addition. My husband and I do our bedtime routine and discuss how the game went today. Lights out by 9:30.

Daily Total: $0

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