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 marketing manager who makes $85,000 per year and spends some of their money this week on sunscreen.
Occupation: Marketing Manager
Location: Portland, OR
Net Worth: $57,000 (401(k): $5,000 (I cashed the rest out when I was laid off last year), HSA: $6,000, checking: $10,000, investments: $4,000, house value: $620,000 ($310,000 my half), car: $9,000 minus debt).
Debt: $55,000 of student loans, $8,000 of credit card debt, $9,000 on our second car, $430,000 left of our mortgage, though this is in my partner’s name (counting half as my debt for the sake of home equity).
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,150
Mortgage: $1,000 (my portion of $2,600. My partner makes more and thus pays more. I am on the deed of the house, but not the mortgage, which is fully in my partner’s name. I send them money each month. Our finances are not combined).
Pet Insurance: $400 (my half, we have 10 pets and this covers all primary and emergency care).
Credit Card: $400
Student Loans: $0 (I am still in school for a few more months, so they haven’t started yet).
Cell Phone: $350 (I pay for myself, my partner, my sister, and my parents).
Home and Car Insurance: $180 (my half).
Medications: $355 (Chronically ill people represent!).
Utilities and Internet: $85 (my half)
Health Insurance: $0 (I’m on my partners plan, which is the best insurance plan I’ve ever been on in my life. I pay my co-pays and have a deductible, but it covers things like chiropractors, massage for pain, even IVF. It’s a chronically ill person’s dream).
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?
Absolutely not. My father didn’t attend school past sixth grade and my mother had a cosmetology license. I grew up in a rural southern town and every adult I knew worked at a grocery store or convenience store or something similar. There was one local four-year college. I did, however, go straight from high school to get my associate’s degree in marketing. After working for nearly 10 years, during the pandemic, I decided to go back to school and finish my bachelor’s in business, and now I am a grad student getting my MBA.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We were poor. My parents were separated and my father was not generally in the picture. My mom worked at a nonprofit until I was in middle school, and then was in an accident and she has been on disability ever since. We lived off of Section 8 housing, food stamps, and charities. Our only conversations about money were not to waste it. My parents didn’t have car loans or credit cards or even savings accounts.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
When I was 15 I got a hostess job to help the family. I worked full time after school and on weekends.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Always. We generally didn’t know where our next meal was coming from or how we’d get gas money to take me to my doctors appointments (I am chronically ill). All of our clothes were hand-me-downs or gifts.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes. I have acquired quite a bit of debt in the pursuit of education, plus I am often the child my parents reach out to for monetary needs now. It’s a running joke that if either of my parents call instead of text, they need money. I am grateful that I am in a state where I never worry about my next meal, gas money, or utilities, but I do cut it close when unexpected expenses come up (like new tires, etc).
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I moved out at 17 and was entirely responsible for myself from then on, although I could argue that my jobs at 15 and 16 paid most of my family’s bills.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I have never received any sort of money from parents or family members. I am now always the person they ask for money.
8:15 a.m. — Wake up and spend a solid 15 minutes snuggling with my dogs They all fight for my attention before I begrudgingly get out of bed and get ready for the day.
9 a.m — Hurriedly reheat half of a Chipotle chicken quesadilla from last night and grab a sparkling water. I work from home, but I like to be logged on by 9.
9:30 a.m. — Choke back my daily medications, which at current count exceed 12. I need to take them with food; thus the hurried quesadilla or I’ll feel sick all day. I’m out of my multivitamin, so I re-order. I have a nutrient malabsorption issue (among other stomach issues) and these are the best at keeping my levels steady. $39
10:30 a.m. — I respond to a message from my boss asking for updated analytics about our recent marketing campaigns. Around this time, my niblings and sister emerge from the guest room. They are here for summer break for a few more days before school starts. My partner also awakens around this time (they are a software engineer and have more generous hours than me for work!). We agree to walk two blocks to our local coffee shop. I get the kids lemonades, my partner a coffee berry soda, my sister a pomegranate latte, and myself my usual cold brew with heavy cream. I also order a cookie for my niece. The barista hurriedly rushes over when she sees me take it and says, “Is that for you? It is made on equipment with pistachios!” I am so grateful that she remembers my nut allergies every time and assure her it is for my niece, but thank her again. $28.50
1:30 p.m. — I realize I worked through lunch. We have just acquired another brand and I’ve spent all afternoon working on updating the copy for our inserts. I head to the kitchen and prep a bunch of sandwiches for myself and the niblings while my sister is outside tidying up my front yard. The dogs wait excitedly under the prep table for me to accidentally drop food on the floor.
4:50 p.m. — I log off of work and place an order on Instacart for dinner ingredients. The kids want spaghetti, and while my pantry always has a plethora of pasta and sauces, they’ve eaten all the cheese in the house. My partner wants to make meatballs, too. I order sausage, beef, Tillamook shredded Italian cheeses, garlic, shallots, basil, and a box of frozen garlic bread. $27
5:15 p.m. — Instacart is already shopping, but they can’t find the brand of garlic bread I selected. I silently panic as they send over a photo of other options: I don’t recognize the brands and therefore am not sure if they are safe for me to eat. I have multiple food allergies and it makes shopping anxiety-inducing as there are no legal requirements for labeling about cross-contact or manufacturers sharing lines for facilities. Luckily, they message back that they found the kind I wanted before I go into an entire anxiety spiral.
7:30 p.m. — Dinner is a hit and my sister tidies up the kitchen while the niblings, my partner, and my dogs (and one of the cats) crowd onto the couch to watch Bob’s Burgers.
9:45 p.m. — I head off to bed while my partner and oldest nibling play video games. The little niblings and my sister are painting in the office/dining room. The dogs join me. I catch up on social media and emails in bed. I notice I have an outstanding invoice from my fertility doctor for an appointment following my recent egg retrieval. I pay for it and wind down for bed: lights off, nighttime medications, CPAP on, and wearing my new HugSleep compression blanket my partner got me for my birthday. I fall asleep immediately but wake up a few times due to noises from the niblings and my partner. My house is only 800 square feet, so noise travels. I look around for earplugs but come up empty, so I try to ignore them and go back to sleep. $48
Daily Total: $142.50
7:15 a.m. — I’m up earlier than usual because I have an 8 a.m. Zoom MBA class. I grab a Made Good granola bar from the pantry and string cheese and begrudgingly head to my desk for a morning of learning.
10:15 a.m. — I’ve been up for three hours, taken all my morning medications, started work, and finished two assignments when I realized I haven’t fed any of the pets. My partner takes care of it if we get up at the same time, but they are still in bed and my dogs are waiting patiently under my desk. I feed them and the cats, then let the dogs out into the yard for their morning play session. I watch from the back porch and marvel at how fast the blackberries grow in my backyard. They’re invasive in Oregon and I just paid to remove them two-ish weeks ago. I text the landscaper and ask her when she can come back.
10:45 a.m. — I’m back in the house and the niblings are up. I make them breakfast burritos. I dip mine in Hatch chile salsa, but the kids haven’t developed a love of spice yet. This is our last jar and it’s one of our favorites, so I place an order on their website to get a six-pack shipped to us from New Mexico. Generally, by the time the smell of food cooking happens, my partner is up, but they didn’t sleep well last night and groan from bed that they need another hour. $22
12:30 p.m. — My sister is up and about, the kids are chattering away, and my partner has finally emerged from our bedroom. I ask if they want some fresh air and sunshine, and we all walk down the block to our neighborhood park.
3:05 p.m. — I work through lunch again. I get so much done when I am not getting constant Teams messages, but I realize that usually happens while the rest of my team is on lunch. I portion out some leftover spaghetti for everyone and marvel at how quickly sauce has managed to travel from the kitchen to the living room. Is that what having a kid is going to be like? My partner and I are currently doing IVF and I can’t decide if the sauce trail is charming or annoying. To be fair, COVID turned our dining room into an office so the only place to really eat is standing at our prep table or on the couch.
4:30 p.m. — I sign off of work and log into a virtual Telehealth meeting with my naturopath. I am, historically, logical and science-driven and never once believed in this sort of woo-woo health provider until I got increasingly sick a few years ago. After seeing two primary care doctors, six different gastroenterologists, two allergists, a million tests, and coming up with crickets over three years, my ophthalmologist convinced me to see a naturopath. I was skeptical, but she changed my life. We discuss my recent hormone updates, my stomach, and labs. She suggests a new supplement to help with fertility. I pay my copay and order the supplement. $43
6 p.m. — We make homemade pizzas in our Ooni using pre-made naan crusts, leftover Italian cheese from spaghetti night, and various toppings from the fridge or yard. I always have sauce because I buy bulk safe foods for my allergies, but we’re out of meat toppings, so my sister borrows my car, runs to the local grocery store, and brings back pepperonis. She pays.
8 p.m. — The oldest nibling (14) agrees to stay home with the two littles (9 and 7) while we (my partner, my sister, and I) walk to a bar for drag bingo. We make sure the house is locked up, the camera in the living room/dining room is on, our neighbors know the kids are there, and our phones are on full volume. We spend two hours at the bar (and check in frequently), buying bingo tickets and a couple of drinks each. My partner pays, but I tip the performers via Venmo. $20
10:30 p.m. — I always shower at night per my allergists’ recommendation (don’t go to bed with allergens on you!), so I take a shower and lotion up. I immediately apply in-shower lotion and then cover my body in cocoa butter. I am almost out of cocoa butter, so I tell Alexa to add some to my shopping list. I don’t towel dry off my body (a no-no for eczema!), but dry my hair and pull it back into two braids. My hair is thin and wavy and I always get tangles when I shower at night and keep my hair down. I don’t use any drying or styling products, but I do use The Ordinary’s Retinol 0.5% in Squalane Serum under my eyes and moisturize with The Ordinary’s Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA and Rose Oil on my face, neck, and chest. I’m also running low on moisturizer, so I ask Alexa to add it to my list. Before bed, I check out on Amazon for refills of my cocoa butter and face moisturizers. $18
Daily Total: $103
9:30 a.m. — It’s the weekend, so I sleep in. Saturdays are for brunch and my dogs know it! I urge my partner to get up and get everyone ready by feeding and watering the pets, taking out the dogs, getting dressed, and covering the kids and myself in Supergoop SPF spray. I make sure I have my pups’ business cards in my purse, and leash up the two youngest for the event. My oldest dog is a herding dog who is not friendly with other dogs, so she gets to stay at home and rule her empire. I always give her an extra treat and bring bacon on return, so I don’t think she minds.
10:30 a.m. — Portland loves brunch, so by the time we get everyone in the car and arrive, there’s already 10 groups in line. We go to this spot every weekend with the dogs, so we wave hi to the staff, sign in and grab mimosas for the adults at the bar while we wait. As expected, about half the groups in line ask about the pups. They are exceptionally cute, IMO, so I pass out their “business cards” that tells a little about their names/age/mixes. I don’t mind answering questions, but I am autistic and sometimes get a little overwhelmed interfacing with a lot of people.
11:45 a.m. — Our check for brunch comes. Since we’re regulars, we get a neighborhood discount. We tip our usual 22%. My partner and I split the bill. $78
12:30 p.m. — Weekends are for living, IMO, so we drop the dogs off at home and head out for some window shopping. We stop into four thrift shops, two gift shops, a bookstore, a pet store, and a coffee shop. We don’t buy much but the kids are entertained, and we’re having a good time.
3:30 p.m. — Back home and we’re guzzling sparkling waters. We turn on some background Bob’s Burgers and decide on a group craft: coloring. We pull out four coloring books, all of our crayons, markers, and pencils and get to work.
6 p.m. —We order burgers and fries for dinner and get everyone together for a movie night. We eventually put the kids to bed and pour ourselves some wine. $44
11:30 p.m. — Time flies when you’re having fun. We all retire to bed around this time.
Daily Total: $122
9:45 a.m. — Ah, weekends. Another day to sleep in. I know once we have a baby this will change, so I’m taking full advantage of the extra hours of snoozing. I’m surprised by the time I get up it’s already a little warm and humid. I rethink our daily plans because, due to my skin conditions, I don’t sweat and I overheat too quickly. It’s the last day for my family in Portland, but maybe we can find some indoor activities for the kids before they fly home tonight.
10:30 a.m. — I make pancakes, bacon, and eggs for everyone after getting the animals all settled. I’ve found an arcade in downtown Portland the kids might like, and my partner is a pinball aficionado, so we head over there after breakfast. My sister decides to stay at our house and organize, which is her favorite thing to do. I don’t mind.
12:45 p.m. — After the arcade, we stop by a local pizza place and get slices for the kids. One pepperoni, one cheese, one mushroom. We get our own slices and play a bit more pinball. My partner pays.
2 p.m. — We get back to the house and my sister decides to take the kids and the dogs on a nice long walk to tire them out. I marvel at how organized our fridge is now.
2:30 p.m. — I add some collagen to a cold brew coffee with Fairlife chocolate milk for a mid afternoon pick me up. I try to get as much protein as I can in a day, but it’s hard pickings finding protein powder that are safe for my allergens. Collagen isn’t a complete protein but my doctor assures me that since I supplement it with milk generally it becomes complete.
6:15 p.m. — Dinner time! We decide to make enchiladas, so my partner runs to the store for tortillas, ground beef, and more cheese. We have enchilada sauce, beans, and rice in the pantry and herbs and chives in the garden. Dinner takes about an hour and a half so we don’t eat until later, but no one seems to mind.
9 p.m. — We drive my sister and niblings to the airport. We get back home and crash.
Daily Total: $0
8:15 a.m. — Well, it’s Monday. I love my job and am grateful to work from home, but I’d really rather be back in bed. As usual, I grab a quick breakfast so I can take my medicine. This morning I get a piece of string cheese and a marionberry Greek yogurt. I get ready, feed the pets, take the dogs outside, and moisturize and SPF my face and neck.
11:30 a.m. — My partner has been up for an hour and I convince them to go on a walk with me and the dogs to get coffee. They stand outside with the dogs fielding questions (it’s so busy, and our dogs are so popular!) while I order our coffees. Our punch card fills up and one of our drinks is free. $5.75
1:15 p.m. — For once I remember to take a break for lunch. I make my rendition of girl dinner (or lunch, I guess) from my fridge. Prosciutto, string cheese, a couple of grapes, some cherry tomatoes from the garden, and some Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies. I pair it with sparkling water. I offer to make something for my partner, but they’re notoriously only an evening and nighttime snacker.
1:45 p.m. — I notice a missed call and voicemail. I have ADHD and try to turn off my notifications during work so I don’t get distracted by social media or weird news. I read the visual voicemail and see it’s from our fertility clinic. All of our embroyos for IVF are healthy! My mood skyrockets and I pull my partner off their daily standup meeting to share the news. I text both of my sisters and two of my friends as well. I have a meeting later this week to meet with my fertility specialist for next steps.
4:45 p.m. — I log off of work a bit early — I’m already done with all of my daily tasks and all of my outstanding work requires waiting on someone else. I decide to run to the post office and ship off my friend’s housewarming gift. I actively purchase things throughout the year to gift, plus I work in wine, so I have a collection of candles, pottery, wine, blankets, etc for gifting needs. This gift was pre-coordinated over six months. $36
8 p.m. — My partner and I eat leftover enchiladas from last night for dinner and decide to take the pups and go to bar trivia a few blocks away. We are so grateful we live in a walkable neighborhoods. We come in second place and get a free pretzel. We tip out the trivia masters and pay for our drinks. $28
10:30 p.m. — It’s shower night again for me, which is a whole ritual, but weirdly my Amazon order for more cocoa butter hasn’t arrived. I make do with what I have but know my skin will suffer the next day.
Daily Total: $69.75
8:30 a.m. — I snooze a little bit longer than usual today because my first meeting isn’t until 11 a.m. Generally, they start at 9:30, but the person I’m meeting with today is in another time zone. This morning I note my skin is a little flaky. I double up on lotion — CeraVe and Eucerin Advanced Repair Lotion, but I’m still flaky. Sigh.
10:15 a.m. — I’ve had my usual string cheese and granola bar breakfast, taken my medicine, and made a couple of phone calls when I realize I haven’t done laundry in a bit. I check the laundry bin and find it overflowing. ADHD often makes me forget things like this. Dishwasher, laundry, toilet paper stash — if it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind. I load it up into a bag and set it on the porch, then order laundry pickup. I could do it myself, but it would never get sorted or folded and I respect my personal boundaries and time. It’s $1 a pound and I’ll pay when it’s picked up and weighed.
12:40 p.m. — I dig through the fridge for something satisfying. I don’t find anything satisfying so I order DoorDash Chipotle. There are only a couple of safe restaurants for my allergies to order, so I often end up with Chipotle since they have no fish, shellfish, peanuts, or tree nuts. $25.50
3:30 p.m. — I get a text that the laundry was picked up and weighed — 28 pounds. I always tip $10, so I know the total cost will be $38. $38
4:50 p.m. — My partner places an Instacart order for dinner ingredients. We’re making chicken katsu and roasted potatoes. We already have panko, milk, eggs and herbs, so they order chicken thighs, potatoes, onions, garlic, vegetable oil, and Kerrygold butter.
5:20 p.m. — The dogs go wild because packages have been delivered. My cocoa butter is here, as well as a small package from my friend for my birthday. She texts about half an hour later and says more is coming and not to open it. I hadn’t, yet, so I’ll wait.
7:15 p.m. — I do an inventory of household items. We need paper towels, toilet paper, dish soap, conditioner, kitty litter, dog food, and various groceries. I place an order for pickup tomorrow at our local grocery store. I also use this time to do a personal inventory: I need to refill my Lexapro, order more Zyrtec, order more sunscreen ($36), and my PCOS meds (total is $314, but everything is accounted for in my monthly expenses, except the sunscreen). $36
10:30 p.m. — I can’t sleep and just stare at the ceiling. I didn’t have any Lexapro left last night so my OCD is keeping me awake tonight.
Daily Total: $99.50
8:50 a.m. — I got basically no sleep and I am grumpy AF in the morning. I have no appetite, so I barely get presentable (hair in a bun, slather on some moisturizer, brush my teeth) and throw on an oversized Old Navy t-shirt dress. I accept my fate for an annoying day and make some coffee. It’s usually a cardinal rule for me to not have coffee before food, but if I’m going to be slightly annoyed all day I might as well start it off on a good note. I do mix it with Fairlife chocolate milk and a little collagen powder for protein.
11 a.m. — I’ve already had four meetings that could’ve been emails and been assigned two new tasks. Our marketing team is small and nimble, and I am in the second-highest role, so a lot of things fall on my shoulders to handle or delegate. I am not great at delegating, admittedly, because I am a perfectionist who wants to do it myself. But I know that today I cannot handle it all. I task my content manager with a project and our marketing coordinator with another while I continue working on our branding transition.
11:30 a.m. — I’m feeling sort of sneezy, so I take my allergy medicine and then head to the pharmacy to pick up my Lexapro. While I’m there, I pick up an antacid for my nausea as well. $8
2:30 p.m. — I’ve taken all of my medicine and have a piece of string cheese. My partner takes a break from work to join me on a call with our fertility specialist about our embryos and the next steps. Because I have PCOS, we’ll be taking a month off for my body to recover before doing a frozen embryo transfer. I pay our co-pay and then tell my partner I’m a little overwhelmed from all the information and need a nap. I let work know I’m taking some time off, but I’ll be around later in the evening. $28
4:30 p.m. — I don’t really nap. I just lay in bed with one of my cats and one of my dogs and try to focus on positive things. I mainly browse TikTok and check my email.
5:45 p.m. — My partner orders dinner for us: Jimmy John’s sandwiches, which is a nice, easy, and safe food. We snuggle on the couch with the pups and watch more Bob’s Burgers.
8 p.m. — I realize I haven’t spent any time outside. It is still light out, so I take a walk with the dogs around the neighborhood. It’s one of our favorite things to do because Portland is so full of different plants. I count at least 40 different flowers in our five-block walk and dozens of different trees. I also stop at two free little libraries but don’t see anything interesting to bring home.
9:55 p.m. — I am not in the mental place to spend an hour and a half showering and moisturizing, so I make a mental note to do it tomorrow. I usually am a night showerer, but I can fit it in the morning if I get to bed now. I fall asleep quickly — oh happy day!
Daily Total: $36
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