A Week In Pittsburgh, PA, On A $224,000 Joint Revenue

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.

Today: a program manager who has a joint income of $224,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on soil.

Occupation: Program Manager
Industry: Construction
Age: 39
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
My Salary: $108,000 + $8,000 bonus
My Husband’s Salary: $95,000 + $13,000 bonus
Net Worth: $1.2 million ($280,000 in home equity, $310,000 in an inherited IRA from my parents, $560,000 in various 401(k) and IRA accounts, $65,000 in joint savings, and $4,000 in personal savings minus $25,000 debt (my husband’s car). Most of our money goes into a joint account, but each paycheck my husband and I receive $300 in our personal accounts for fun money.)
Debt: Mortgage: $220,000 owed, home valued at about $500,000, husband’s Car: $25,000
My Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,300
My Husband’s Paycheck (2x/month): $2,460
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $2,124 but we overpay around $700 a month
Car Loan: $509 for husband’s car, mine is paid off
Electric: $100
Gas: $50
Cable/Internet: $130
Netflix: $15
Water: $35
Trash: $30
Car Insurance: $131
Daycare: $1,248
Phones: $175 ($50 reimbursed by my work)
Savings: $1,000

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?
Yes, my mother always said, “It doesn’t matter what you major in, but you need to get a degree.” She had gone to college but not finished and saw that she missed out on opportunities because of it. She ended up getting her degree later in life. My parents paid for my education, for which I am very grateful.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I had an allowance as a kid and I had to save to buy the things I wanted. My parents taught us the difference between things that we wanted and things we needed. My parents lived below their means and my mother explained to me what that meant and why they lived the way they did. My mother also always said, if you love something, you’ll use it, and if you have the money, buy it.

Story continues

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I taught gymnastics in high school starting a few weeks before I turned 15. There was an expectation that I would get a job when I turned 15 and when I was offered a job by my gymnastic coaches I said yes.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Not really, we were middle class to upper-middle class. We didn’t eat out often and my parents were both bargain hunters. My father grew up poor and my mother more middle class but not well-off. There was a mentality that my father had that everything was too expensive. Even though we never would have been considered poor, my father never lost the mentality of not wasting anything and appreciating everything you do have, and he instilled that in us.

Do you worry about money now?
This is the least I have worried about money in my adult life. My husband and I are both finally making decent salaries. After years of being underpaid at a job I loved/hated, I left for a large pay increase in 2018.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
As soon as I graduated college at 21, I began taking care of myself financially. I have always been a saver, but I did not invest in a 401(k) plan right out of school. That is something that I would do differently if I could. Our savings account is used for everything from emergencies, to home repairs and vacations. It’s all in one bucket but that’s okay, it works for us.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Yes, my father passed away in 2019 and my mother passed away back in 2014. The savings from their retirement plans (they were both fairly young) were distributed between me and my sister, including their home, which my sister now lives in. My percentage of that was around $400,000, but I forfeited a percentage for my sister and her family to remain in our childhood home.

Day One

6:25 a.m. — Get up and skip my workout today because I didn’t sleep well. It’s Friday and I have to drop my three-year-old daughter, S., off at daycare today. My husband, K., has an unpredictable work schedule. He is usually on drop-off duty, but some mornings, I do it to help him get out faster. Since I’m still working from home, I can make it work. I get dressed, get S. to pee, brush teeth, get dressed, and out the door. Come back home and log on by 8. Answer emails until my first meeting.

10:30 a.m. — I have an uncomfortable conversation with my boss about a work issue I’m having. Some male members of our sales team have resorted to shouting at and bullying female employees to try to get us to promote a product we don’t agree with. My boss makes it clear that bullying isn’t tolerated and he will handle the situation. We will see how everything shakes out in a few days. I catch a lunchtime workout on the treadmill and lift a few weights. I get sweatier than planned and decide I need a shower too. Lunch is leftover lentils and rice from yesterday. Mmmm.

6 p.m. — I pick S. up from daycare and we all have a dinner of eggs, bacon, and strawberries per S.’s request. Afterward, we run to Lowe’s so K. can get soil and mulch to plant a rosebush I bought last weekend. K. also decides we need some fancy landscaping cloth. $83.48

8 p.m. — After procuring garden supplies, we take the kiddo for ice cream. One scoop of strawberry for S. and one scoop of mint and one scoop of chocolate for me. $8.78

9:30 — It’s bath night for S. which is K.’s territory. I get her jammies and clothes for the next day ready until she’s all scrubbed up. He dresses her and reads her a story, then I sing to her and put her down. S. and I watch two episodes of The Sopranos (we have been rewatching the whole series, because COVID) and head to bed around 12:30. We are both night owls at heart but we know if we stay up later, we will regret it tomorrow.

Daily Total: $92.26

Day Two

9 a.m. — Get S. up and thank the heavens that my child sleeps until 9 on the weekends. Girls day!!! S. and I have breakfast at home before we head to Phipps Conservatory (botanical gardens) for a get-together with our vaccinated family members. It’s the anniversary of my mother’s death and we decided to celebrate her in a place she loved. Hugs feel so good! My sister bought the tickets earlier in the week and I Venmo her ($32). $32

1:30 p.m. — We decide to grab lunch with the whole crew at The Cheesecake Factory. You gotta love any situation that includes lunch dessert ($41.03). After the world’s longest lunch, we all walk to the parking garage to head home ($4.) $45.03

6 p.m. — S. and I watch Toy Story 3 at home, and K. calls saying his friend who is going through a divorce is coming over for dinner and they are bringing sushi ($60). We hang out watching kids’ movies until S.’s bedtime, then I put her to bed. Once she’s down for the count, K., his friend, and I watch The Sopranos with beers until about midnight. Since we’re old, it’s time for our friend to go home. $60

Daily Total: $137.03

Day Three

9 a.m. — S. sleeps until 9, she inherited her good sleeping genes from me. I am having some former coworkers over today, so I start black beans and onions in the slow cooker. It’s grocery day, so I leave S. with K. and run out for my pickup. Back in 20 minutes with groceries for the week. Instacart FTW! $121.53

1 p.m. — My former coworkers come over because one of the gals in our group is moving. 🙁 Though we are all sad to see her go, she is going to be closer to family. We haven’t seen each other in person since COVID started, so this is a big deal! I make tacos and nachos, and one friend brings margs. The six of us eat and drink and talk about life for about 4 hours until it’s time for Sunday Funday to come to an end. Feeling tipsy, I clean up the house before K. and S. come home. K. tells me they had McDonald’s for lunch. $14.41

6:30 p.m. — I have an afternoon hangover and need Advil. We have leftover tacos and nachos for dinner. Watch a few minutes of Toy Story 4 before bedtime routine…bath with K. followed by a story. Song and night-night for the little lady. Then, you guessed it, another episode of The Sopranos. In bed by 10:30.

Daily Total: $135.94

Day Four

6:40 a.m. — Ugh, Mondays, am I right? Both K. and I slept poorly. He gets in the shower while I get S. up for daycare. He takes her to school while I hop in the shower and get ready for the workday. Make a smoothie and coffee, at the computer by 8.

12 p.m. — K.’s appointment for the morning got canceled so we have lunch together. Leftover taco bowls…nom nom nom! We watch a few minutes of Teen Mom OG (don’t judge) before going back to work. I’ve been having a hard time motivating myself since the bad experience with the sales team last week. I am still waiting to hear how my boss’s conversation with their manager went. I’ve been with this company for just over two years and previously was with another company for nine years. The manufacturing industry is not surprisingly very male-dominated. My previous employer was TOXIC. If I expressed discomfort with any work situation there, I would be told I was too sensitive. After speaking with coworkers about the situation last week, I realize I’m probably dealing with some PTSD and I don’t always know what the appropriate boundaries are. This is hard to come to terms with because I am a GROWN ass woman with a daughter.

2 p.m. — Decide a light mid-day workout between meetings will help my soul. I have had anxiety for as long as I can remember. Exercise is how I manage my anxiety level, as I’ve tried a few different medications but the side effects aren’t worth it for me. 20 minutes uphill speed walking on the treadmill and 10 minutes of weights. Back to work, no shower needed.

4:15 p.m. — K. comes downstairs not once, but twice this afternoon to chat, clearly having trouble focusing today. I’m still working but he seems done. He asks if we should both go pick up S. and stop at Target so he can look at Star Wars toys (mid-life crisis). We decide to get Chik-fil-A on the way to avoid a meltdown from S. ($26.07). They don’t have the Star Wars figures K. has his eye on, but we get toilet paper, baby wipes, a new micro USB for the baby monitor because we keep breaking them, and flowers for K.’s mom for Mother’s Day. ($74.92) Out of there around 7, home in time for 10 minutes of Toy Story 4 before bedtime routine. An episode of The Sopranos and then Monday is done. $100.99

Daily Total: $100.99

Day Five

5:25 a.m. — K.’s out on appointments all day today so I have to get S. to daycare. I get up super early to get a solid run in on the treadmill and lift some weights. I drop her off and I am at my computer at 7:45, coffee and smoothie in hand.

12 p.m. — After a team meeting, one of the offending sales guys from last week calls me to discuss the rift. He is trying, I give him that, but I tell him I’m not okay at the moment and I’m not exactly sure what I need to be okay. It turns out I’ve been holding a lot of frustration and resentment about the way this group treats other departments. We have a productive conversation, but afterward, I cry WAY too much. Thankfully I am still working from home and I can cry in peace. Eat a salad with fresh mozzarella and take a walk outside for a few minutes to clear my head. I start to feel better, it’s good to get things out in the open.

4:30 p.m. — I have a training session and then I’m done with calls for the day. I get S. from daycare. We have dinner without K. as he won’t be home until bathtime. After dinner, we Toy Story 4 until bathtime (it’s so good).

8:30 p.m. — After the bath, S. goes to bed. K. is sore from driving all day and decides to go in the hot tub. About two years ago we bought a Soft Tub, which is in our basement. K. uses it more than I do but we both enjoy it and it’s definitely been worth it. Not one single regret! After his tub sesh, we watch an episode of The Sopranos. Night-night time around 10:15.

Daily Total: $0

Day Six

6:20 a.m. — I don’t get up to work out because I have my period and the night sweats woke me up too many times. They don’t tell you that your periods get worse when you are approaching 40. Thanks, life. I help K. get S. ready for daycare and he drops her off today. I make my smoothie and coffee and get started at the computer a little before 8.

10:30 a.m. — I spent the morning burning through my presentation for training next week. Feeling super accomplished! I have a team meeting on new product development where I review work we have done on a very cool new product. We decide we need a manufacturing review before the executive committee gets involved. I also starting to feel better about the situation with the sales team.

12:30 p.m. — Quick treadmill walk after lunch since I didn’t get a workout in this morning. I also do some push-ups, side planks, and bicep curls. I finish up the training presentation in the afternoon and send it to the meeting coordinator. He’s out of the office until tomorrow, so I won’t hear back today.

5 p.m. — K. has to get an oil change so he drops his car off at the dealership while I get S. from daycare. He’s afraid we’ll be waiting on him, but as soon as S. comes out, she informs me she has to pee. I send her back in since I’m still not allowed inside the daycare. I’m hoping she gets comfortable soon with her teachers and tells THEM she has to pee instead of waiting until she’s all the way outside. After she’s all set, we get in the car and K. calls for a pickup. Since this is his first service (we bought the car last June but we haven’t been driving much), it’s free! I make pizza for dinner from refrigerated dough, sauce from a jar, and mozzarella cheese. I add some spices and it’s faster than takeout. S. complains that we don’t have pepperoni, but I guess there’s a pepperoni shortage because I can’t find it anywhere???

8:30 p.m. — Post bedtime routine, we both decide to hot tub. We watch Teen Mom OG in the tub (do NOT judge!) and decide to watch The Sopranos in bed when we’re done. We fall asleep during an episode. Being old is fine.

Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6:20 a.m. — Opting for a mid-day workout again, it seems. K. has a LONG day again so I start getting S. up, then hop in the shower and he finishes her morning routine. She whines because she wants MOMMYYYYY. While I do like being her favorite parent (can’t lie), it’s exhausting when I’m trying to wash my hair and her dad cannot calm her down. She comes into the bathroom and I tell her that if she doesn’t let me get ready, Dad will have to take her to school. She chills, life goes on. I drop her off. At the computer by 8.

12 p.m. — The dealership calls to inform us that the truck is due for inspection. Fine, so much for the free service ($83.32). Instead of my treadmill walk, I have a one-person dance party to get some exercise. After that, I do some lunges, high knees, and pushups. Lunch is a salad. $83.32

2 p.m. — I have a training in the afternoon, followed by a call with my boss. We catch up on issues from last week and talk next steps on a few of my projects. I throw some chana masala ingredients together in the instant pot before leaving to pick up S. from daycare. K. comes with me and we get the truck after we get S. Home and dinner is ready.

6 p.m. — It’s bath night and I get S. started to speed things up. Teamwork making the dream work. After she is down, we watch The Sopranos while I peruse Amazon for a slutty one-piece bathing suit for vacation that won’t fall off in the ocean. I may have a mom bod, but modesty isn’t my thing. If you don’t like it, don’t look. I am unable to commit to anything in my cart, so I put off purchasing for another day. We have big plans to eat a lot of pasta tomorrow night and watch The Sopranos finale but for now, it’s bedtime.

Daily Total: $83.32

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