A Week In Austin, TX, On A Joint $164,000 Income

Welcome toMoney Diaries , where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

This week: a wedding photographer who makes $45,000 per year ($164,000 when combined with her husband) and spends some of her money this week on Unreal peanut butter cups.

Occupation: Photographer
Industry: Weddings
Age: 34
Location: Austin, TX
Gender Identity: Woman

My Salary: $45,000
My Husband’s Salary: $109,000 + $10,000 annual bonus
My Paycheck Amount: Varies from month to month
My Husband’s Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $3,249

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $2,025.20 (includes PMI, HOI, and property taxes)
Car Loan Payment: $815
Student Loans: $0 (Both of us attended in-state public schools and were lucky enough to have parents who paid tuition in full.)
Health Insurance: $124
My Husband’s 401(k) Contribution: $375 (maxed out)
Utilities: $115-$350
Internet: $101
Cell Phone: $184
Ad-Free Hulu & Netflix: $24.85
Cleaning Service (2x/month): $245
Charitable Contributions: $10-$30 to ACLU, Sierra Club, NNAF, & Planned Parenthood

Annual Expenses
Roth IRA: $5,500 (I max out my Roth IRA every year in one lump sum.)
Amazon Prime: $119
Book Of The Month: $150 yearly subscription
Car Insurance: $2,508

10 a.m. — I’m up even though I slept only five hours. I check my phone in bed — there’s a message from a friend whose photographer bailed for her wedding next month. Luckily I’m available on her wedding day and can actually help. (I don’t want to lecture, so I’ll keep it brief, but if a deal is "too good to be true," it usually is. I’ve had to help more than one couple who relied on a "friend" to find a replacement at the last minute. Professionals cost money, and they’re pro for a reason!) She’s signed a contract and paid her deposit even before I’m out of bed!

12 p.m. — After eating an RxBar while answering client emails and doing a few other administrative tasks, I go to Pilates, using up the last class of a package I bought last month. Post-workout, I buy a giant jug of kombucha, canned coffee for my husband, a whole raw chicken, and Unreal dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Whole Foods. Then I swing by the library to pick up a book I have on hold. $43.35

1:30 p.m. — I shower when I get home and moisturize my face afterwards with light argan oil. Then I start a load of laundry, check the mail, and have a glass of kombucha. I flip through some social media, but everyone’s just sharing GOT memes.

2:45 p.m. — Lunch is scrambled eggs with spinach, sweet potato, and avocado; I compost the egg shells and avocado skin. We love citywide composting — we can toss so much more into the industrial compost! It’s allowed us to reduce our trash bin size and thus $5/month on our utility bill.

3:30 p.m. — I work for a while at the computer, delivering a gallery to a client, sharing images with a restaurant that let us shoot an engagement session in their space (they wanted some images for their social media), and editing another engagement session. While I work, I listen to a podcast (The Bechdel Cast) and take breaks to change out the laundry.

6:45 p.m. — I get to a good stopping point and heat up dinner. While I was working, another client paid an invoice for a wedding next month and my husband returned from work. Dinner is leftover chicken thighs, steamed fresh broccoli, and Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi seasoned with EVOO/salt/pepper, with grapefruit Waterloo sparkling water.

7:10 p.m. — My husband, C., decides to go visit a friend who just moved back to Austin…into the apartment complex across the street! (Coincidence? I think not.) C. buys a 6-pack of beer and walks over to hang out with him for a while. Meanwhile, I sit at the kitchen table and watercolor for a while as I finish the podcast episode. I snack on some mixed berries. $10.81

10:00 p.m. — I read for couple of hours until I get annoyed with the historical characters (I’m reading the history of Texas, because I’m an old nerd) and go to bed by 12:30.

Daily Total: $54.16

9 a.m. — I’m up even though I slept poorly. I go around the house organizing all the the clutter to make it easier for our housekeeper to do her job (she vacuums, wipes, dusts, and mops, but she doesn’t put things away). C. and I used to bicker about cleaning and finally pulled the trigger on hiring someone to come in every two weeks. Isn’t it weird how a person’s brand of messy can be so irritating to someone else? Honestly, hiring someone to clean for us has alleviated pretty much the only recurring source of tension in our marriage. Money well spent!

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