A Week In Los Angeles, CA, On A $300,000 Joint Income

Laveta Brigham

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: an account manager who has a joint income of $300,000 per year and spends […]

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: an account manager who has a joint income of $300,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Barbie.

Occupation: Account Manager
Industry: Information Technology
Age: 27
Location: Los Angeles, CA
My Salary: $80,000 (My salary is $62,500 + commission. I am expecting to make roughly $80,000 (about $20,000 less than I anticipated due to COVID)
My Husband’s Salary: $220,000 (My husband’s salary is $75,000 + commission. He is expecting to make $220,000.)
Net Worth: ~$1.1 million (We own two properties totaling about $1.14 million in value and owe roughly $900,000. I have ~$20,000 in my 401(k) and we have just over $60,000 in our savings. My husband has ~$87,000 in 401(k) funds and roughly $44,000 in stock purchase plans. My husband and I have a joint account — we combined finances when we got engaged and found that it relieved any animosity on either side by being transparent with funds and spending money/saving together.)
Debt: $0
My Paycheck Amount (weekly): $1,000-$1,250 depending on commission
My Husband’s Paycheck (2x/month): $1,800-$1,900 ( plus monthly commission of $1,000-$20,000)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: We recently bought a second house that we live in and pay $3,543.08 for our mortgage and rent our townhouse out for $2,650. The mortgage on the townhouse is $2,226.39 and the HOA is $373 (so it’s covered by the renters).
Student Loans: $200 (this is not accruing interest during COVID and I do not need to make payments right now, so we have paused this to pay off our cars quicker since they were accruing interest. I will resume payments in January and owe $11,384.98.)
Solar Panels: $123
Gardener: $50
Pool Cleaner: $110
Phone: $160 for two lines and devices (we expense $220 for our phones through work)
Car Payment: $0 (we just paid off both of our cars this year and I receive $375 a month through work towards wear and tear on my car and to cover our car insurance.)
Spotify: $14.99
Amazon Prime: $119 annually
Hulu/Netflix/Disney+: $0 (we all share the accounts with my in-laws)
Weight Watchers App: $24.99
Floors: $361 (we took out a $10,000 loan to redo our floors in our townhouse two years ago and will have it paid off next month)
Pet Insurance: $60
Internet: Expensed through my husband, C.’s, work

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. I was raised by a single mom who never graduated high school. She told my sister and I that we needed to either go to college or join the military. I started taking college classes in high school because they were free and then I self-funded my college education by working three jobs and supplementing with student loans (about $25,000). C. was also the first to graduate college in his family and his grandpa was generous enough to cover a local university to keep costs down so he did not graduate with any debt.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I grew up constantly worried about money and knew I wanted a better life for myself. I started working as soon as I could and my mom made it clear that she did not know how to manage her money. We always had enough growing up, but we relied on a lot of help from family to get by.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked at a jewelry boutique when I was 15 and used the money to help cover small expenses at home and used it to save for school expenses. I was a good saver when I was younger and it helped me rent my first apartment.

Did you worry about money growing up?
I always worried about money growing up and tried to not be a financial burden on my mom. I thrifted most of my clothes and always had a side hustle to make extra money so I never had to ask for anything. I used to babysit, sells things online, worked at a jewelry store, a coffee shop — I would take any odd job to make money.

Do you worry about money now?
I definitely worry about money a lot even as an adult. I recognize that C. and I are fortunate to be considered “high-earners” but we don’t think of ourselves that way. Being in sales, your paycheck can change on a dime and we try to live below our means to save for a rainy day since we have seen multiple friends and heard horror stories of families losing it all on a bad sales year.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I have had a job since I was 15, but moved out on my own at 18 and got my first apartment and completely supported myself. I’m sure if something dramatic happened, I could move in with my in-laws or my parents, but neither has the means to support C. or me. We are the most financially secure of either of our families and I would feel really uncomfortable asking either for help.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
We have never received inherited money, but C. will likely receive money when his grandfather passes. He has mentioned it will be around $30,000, and I am not expecting any inherited money from my family and would be shocked if I were to inherit something.

Day One

7:45 a.m. — Alarm goes off — nope and snooze.

7:58 a.m. — I get woken up by a text from my best friend asking if I ever ended up having any symptoms — my husband, brother-in-law, and I tested positive for COVID a few weeks ago and have been quarantining together ever since. Both of them had very mild symptoms that lasted one or two days and I didn’t have any, but the three of us haven’t left our house in weeks and have been having groceries delivered just to be extra cautious. We are beyond grateful that we have gotten past this as easily as we have but recognize that not everyone is as fortunate and we are not taking that for granted. WEAR. A. MASK.

8:29 a.m. — I finally get up, make the bed, and get ready for the day (kind of). My husband and I are both working from home indefinitely and I throw on an Amazon workout set I bought a few weeks ago. I look in the mirror and am still shocked that I went from wearing a blazer and heels every day to now wearing slippers and a hoodie while I work. My quarantine glamour has definitely faded and I simply brush my teeth and change. Time to hit my laptop.

9:44 a.m. — I finish my morning conference calls and make myself some coffee. Once we started working remotely in March, my husband and I started brewing a full pot of coffee at home and bought a carafe to store the leftovers in to always have iced coffee in our fridge. We buy a non-dairy Starbucks creamer from the grocery store and this has replaced our Starbucks habit and tastes just as great in our opinion.

11:31 a.m. — I have two dogs and the youngest one walks into my office and pees on the carpet — definitely one of those Mondays. I grab Furry Freshness and clean up the pee before my next call.

12:06 p.m. — Finish submitting some work before my deadlines and have a gap in between my next meeting so I throw on my Brooks sneakers and go for a walk on the treadmill in my garage while I listen to The Skinny Confidential Him & Her podcast. I do a quick mile and a half walk and come in to make a protein shake — chocolate protein powder, collagen, chia seeds, banana, strawberries, spinach, and vanilla almond milk — and drink an Emergen-C. The spinach was soggy, so I throw the last bit out. My tip is to always put a paper towel in the spinach bag to absorb the moisture and make it last much longer.

1:34 p.m. — Catch up with my brother-in-law/best friend, E., while I drink my smoothie and hear more about his dating life through gay dating apps. It’s cringe-worthy with awkward misinterpreted messages and I am thankful I missed the app-dating scene. Made for a good mid-day laugh! I wash my face off with Tula Acne Cleanser and put on my Bliss Vitamin-C serum, moisturizer, and eye cream.

1:51 p.m. — The puppy manages to step in his own poop in the backyard and drags it all over the white duvet cover. *CUE MAJOR SIGH* Into the washing machine it goes.

2:58 p.m. — My husband, C., finishes work earlier than I do and we watch a few episodes of Schitt’s Creek with our pups while I finish up a few emails. I grab some hummus and Everything Crackers from TJ’s and prep for my last meeting.

4:32 p.m. — My last meeting finishes up early — yay! D. lets me know that he found a new pool cleaner. His services cost $110 a month, which is slightly more than we were paying our last guy, but he is significantly better and it is worth it. No deposit is required and added to the monthly expenses.

4:53 p.m. — Spend some time tidying up the house — I love having E. stay with us, but he is much messier than I am and I feel like I have been cleaning up the tornado he leaves in his path hourly. I can’t stand a messy house and like for everything to have it’s own place. Luckily, cleaning relaxes me and I hop on the phone with my old coworker to catch up on the gossip of his new job and roommate drama while I put things away.

5:54 p.m. — Somewhere, Lately posted a plaid jacket on Amazon that it exactly what I’ve been looking for — it’s $38.97, so I add to my cart for me to evaluate later if I want to order since the shipping looks like it will take a while.

6:53 p.m. — E. comes home with broccoli cheddar soup for C. and I and a salad for himself that he was able to expense through work. C. and I start making a sad salad to go with it when their parent’s text us and ask if we want their leftover sushi from dinner since they over-ordered — yes please! We crack open a bottle of Winc wine and it’s my first time drinking in three weeks. The wine is terrible unfortunately and I write to Winc asking if they can replace the bottle and they give me a $13 credit towards my next order. Despite this one-off bottle, I LOVE Winc!

7:22 p.m. — My in-laws drop the sushi off at our front door and leave — they are still concerned about being near us due to COVID, which we respect. We inhale the sushi and play Mario Party on E.’s Switch that he bought during quarantine — I win, woohoo! Then we flip on Hocus Pocus while I bleach my teeth with a Crest White Strip.

10:16 p.m. — C. and I get ready to turn in for bed and E. tells me he thinks he’s going to meet up with a “friend” tonight. I tell him to be safe and can’t wait to hear about it tomorrow! I hop in the shower and put on The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid, It Cosmetics Moisturizer and Eye Cream, and Grand Lash (this has done wonders for my lashes). Scroll through Instagram for a bit and lights out by 11:15.

Daily Total: $0

Day Two

7:45 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I quickly snooze. The older dog kept me up all night with his itching and wiggling on the bed. C. comes in the room and let’s me know that he checked our front cameras and saw E. come home at 2 a.m. with an Oreo shake from Jack in the Box, LOL! Can’t wait to hear this story.

8:07 a.m. — I get out of bed and change into another Amazon workout set, make the bed, and do the same skincare routine as yesterday, but add Tula Sunscreen and Eye Balm. I might have to be on camera for some meetings today so I throw on some old Sephora concealer, Anastasia dip brow, Too Faced bronzer, and Clinique mascara. I’m trying to use up my old makeup products for days like this when I just need to look a little more put together. Finally done with the Clinique mascara and I throw it out. Make myself a cup of hot coffee and add the same creamer and sit down to check emails and go through my schedule for the day.

9:52 a.m. — Got stood up for my first meeting, sometimes that’s the way it goes. Check our bank account and my check hit. I immediately transfer $250 to our high-yield savings account and do this every week when we get my check.

11 a.m. — Grab a One protein bar to munch on before my presentation with my boss. It goes okay, but I’m left feeling a little defeated and worry about the longevity of my stay at this company. I try not to wallow for too long, but it’s difficult when you’re not seeing the results you want. The emotional roller coaster of sales.

12:34 p.m. — I’m feeling really off about the call with my boss and tell C. about it while he makes chicken quesadillas for lunch. He is just as puzzled by the feedback and encourages me to focus on the bigger picture and reminds me this is a small conversation in my overall career and I have been receiving praise in other areas. I’m trying to shake it off, but I am very sensitive to criticism and am my own worst critic.

4:56 p.m. — Work meetings for the rest of the afternoon and C. lets me know he’s going over to his friend’s house to watch the World Series and I politely decline the invite. Catch up with one of my coworkers to debrief on my presentation today and he cheers me up and reminds me that everyone is under a lot of pressure right now and to not let it bring me down. Determined to have a better, more productive day tomorrow! Make my schedule for tomorrow before closing my laptop down for the day.

5:15 p.m. — E. and I decide to go on a walk and he fills me in on last night while we decide on dinner for tonight since it’s just the two of us. We head out for ramen and get a coconut macaron for dessert. It’s my first time out of the house in weeks! We split the bill. $19.64

8:40 p.m. — We get home and open up a bottle of wine and the dogs start freaking out from fireworks going off in the neighborhood. E. and I realize the fireworks are because the Dodgers won the World Series!! I notice the older dog has a skin sore, so I order a skin soother product off Amazon that should help. My sweater from last night sold out, so I just get the cream. $6.52

10:49 p.m. — E. and I decide to watch Hotel Transylvania — it’s so cute! He spends the whole movie messaging a guy and once it ends he heads out to hang out with him and I shower and turn in for bed.

11:49 p.m. — C. gets home from celebrating the Dodgers and fills me in on his night. He Venmoed his friend $25 for food and drinks. Time to actually fall asleep now; it’s way past my bedtime. $25

Daily Total: $51.16

Day Three

7:45 a.m. — Another day, another snooze.

8:58 a.m. — Shoot! I have my first call in two minutes. I roll out of bed and dial in and feel grateful I am just listening in.

10:20 a.m. — Call wraps up and I make the bed and change into another Amazon set. Time for emails.

11:04 a.m. — Had a no-show for a client meeting so I check my Nasty Gal tracking that I ordered a week ago with my Halloween costume to see where it’s at. It says it’s already at the shipping station near my house, but I won’t receive it for another two days, so who knows. We’re still trying to decide what we’re going to do for Halloween, but I ordered a family costume with the pups and C.

12:26 p.m. — My best friend calls me and lets me know about our niece’s birthday party this weekend. Her and our other best friend have been having some drama and hopefully it will be squashed with us going to the party. I hate when there’s tension! C. closes a deal at work and I’m so proud of him! He wants an Italian sandwich for lunch to celebrate so I order that and a calzone to split. $33.44

3:30 p.m. — Finish up some work and hop in the shower to get ready for my cousin’s drive-by birthday party. I put on Clinique foundation, Benefit brow pencil and mascara, Anastasia eyeshadow, Maybelline liquid eyeliner, and Too Faced bronzer. I throw on Free People flares and a cream sweater since the wind have been full force today. I wrap up her present I bought a few weeks ago and we head out.

5 p.m. — Go to the drive-by birthday party and catch up with my family and in-laws. They have an ice cream truck and I get a swirled cone! So much fun and great to see some family after so long, even if it was socially distanced.

6:14 p.m. — I bring E. home a vanilla ice cream and he is stoked. We make turkey burgers and Brussels sprouts for dinner and rent Hotel Transylvania 2. Just as good as the first one! $3.99

10:07 p.m. — C. and I brush up and climb into bed and I put on my Laneige lip mask before falling asleep.

Daily Total: $37.43

Day Four

2:02 a.m. — C. and I wake up to our bed shaking. I thought it was the dogs moving on the bed, but now we think it might be an earthquake? We’re in for another lousy night of sleep.

8:45 a.m. — Wake up and brush my teeth for my first meeting and quickly make an iced coffee.

9:31 a.m. — Finish my first meeting and hop in the shower. Catch up with E. and he’s thinking that he’ll finally go home tonight. He’s been saying that for a few days so not sure if it’ll actually happen. Do the same light makeup routine and throw on a cream sweater and leggings.

11:30 a.m. — Get to my doctor’s appointment and spend a good five minutes walking around the floor to find the office and it is the first one I walked past. I hate when there’s not clear signage! Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with PCOS so I scheduled a follow-up appointment on what to do next since C. and I would like to start trying for a baby next year. My doctor is incredibly sweet and reassures me that coming in was the right next step. She prescribes me a medication to correct my hormone levels so we can start trying. I leave feeling relieved. So many of my friends have had accidental and surprise pregnancies that I just assumed it would be the same for me, so it feels a bit odd trying to plan a pregnancy, but I am grateful for modern medicine and am hopeful we will expand our family when we are ready. I will receive my bill in the mail for this visit and do not pay anything today.

12:32 p.m. — I call C. to tell him the news and he is happy too! I drive to Target to pick up my prescription and find a dress on sale for myself, Simply Lemonade Light, Starbucks Non-Dairy Hazelnut Latte Creamer, and a Barbie for my niece’s birthday ($32.26). I grab my prescription ($3.84) and they ask if I want a flu shot since my insurance covers it and they are giving out $5 Target gift cards to anyone that gets it, so I oblige. Quick and painless! $36.10

1:37 p.m. — I pick up lunch for C. and I at our favorite salad spot. We get an Asian noodle salad, tuna melt, and strawberry lemonade to split. We inhale the food when I get home and I notice my Nasty Gal package arrived. I try everything on and the dress for my costume is a bust along with everything else (except one jacket). I put it in a pile to figure out how to return later and catch up on my emails that have piled up while I’ve been out. $33.34

4:43 p.m. — I close a deal at work! Woohoo! I didn’t think we would be able to close it so quickly, but I am so happy we did. I send a $5 Starbucks gift card to one of my new partners under me that is tied to multiple deals to share my gratitude for her hard work. It is great to have a shared win! $5

5:44 p.m. — C. and I watch a few episodes of Schitt’s Creek. E. gets home from work and tries on his Halloween costumes for us — they’re so funny! Since my costume didn’t work out, I order a last-minute outfit off Amazon that says it will be here tomorrow. $26.69

8:03 p.m. — We play a round of Mario Party and C. wins. E. lets us know that he is going home today and packs up all of his things that are scattered throughout the house. We’re going to miss him, but it will be nice to get back into a routine! E. and I make pepperoni tortilla pizzas for dinner with a salad and watch more Schitt’s Creek before going to bed at 11.

Daily Total: $101.13

Day Five

7:58 a.m. — Wake up to a whole slew of emails trying to get everything in order for the deal I closed. They have a very aggressive timeline and we need all of our paperwork completed today to hit it, which is always difficult to make happen on a Friday before a holiday with people out of the office. Going to try my best!

9:13 a.m. — C. is so close to hitting his sales contest and should reach this career milestone today — I am so proud of all of his hard work and perseverance! He talks with his boss and tells him he wants a raise and title bump, which he is more than deserving of. Don’t be afraid to ask!

10:07 a.m. — I hop in the shower to get ready for a client meeting today over lunch. I also take my new medicine for PCOS today and track it in the Flo app. I do my same makeup routine and used Olaplex 4, 5, 6, and 7 on my hair. I bleached it a few months ago and it’s taken quite a beating so hopefully Olaplex will revive it. I throw on a rust H&M sweater, leggings, snakeskin Mark Fischer booties, and some perfume from Urban Outfitters that smells like fall.

11:30 a.m. — Meet up with one of my coworkers and one of my favorite clients for lunch as a local Mexican restaurant that opened right before COVID hit. Any time we eat out, we try to focus on a small business to show our support. I order chile relleno and cover the tab which is expensed through work. I use my own credit card to accrue points throughout the year and this usually covers our vacations. ($46.58 expensed)

1:26 p.m. — C. calls me as I’m leaving and tells me he officially hit his sales contest and I am so proud of him! I swing by three different liquor stores on the way home to find his favorite tequila and it is sold out everywhere in preparation for the holiday weekend. Ugh! I buy a giant bottle of Patron and Sculpin Grapefruit IPAs instead and see a candy cane-shaped container of Fireball that I buy for my mother-in-law for the holidays ($172.31). I run next door to the discount store and buy a balloon and candy for C. as well ($2.10). $174.41

2:29 p.m. — Finally home and surprise C. with the goodies and he is so happy! I deep dive into work to clear out my last emails before the end of the day.

4:57 p.m. — I finish up work and C. and I go on a walk and then get a call from our friends asking if we’re home because they had a present delivered for C. to celebrate! We walk two miles and get home to a delivery of whiskey and beer — so beyond thoughtful!

7 p.m. — C. and I get ready and head out for sushi to continue the celebration. The restaurant is really busy since they’re limited to outdoor dining and say it’ll be about a 45-minute wait. C. and I walk down the street to a liquor store and they also don’t have the tequila I’ve been searching for. We buy a Sapporo, hand sanitizer, lotto tickets, and lozenges and walk back to the car to drink the beer and wait. $13.19

8:02 p.m. — We’re finally seated and order a feast! Salmon, albacore, and bluefin nigiri with spicy tuna hand rolls, a blue crab roll, and baked lobster roll. We also get another Sapporo and our favorite cold saki and talk about how far we’ve come in the last few years. I grew up on food stamps and neither of my parents graduated high school and were drug addicts — I never pictured this would be my life and reflect once more on my gratitude! $141.69

10:14 p.m. — We get home and cuddle our dogs and watch some episodes of Schitt’s Creek before turning in for bed.

Daily Total: $329.29

Day Six

8:03 a.m. — Wake up to C. trying to scare me in his costume and instead he scares the puppy LOL! My friend T. FaceTimes me and we catch up on our Halloween plans and figure out what we’re dressing up as for the birthday party tomorrow. I’m going to meet at her house before and do our makeup together.

9:41 a.m. — C. and I head out to drop off some donations at Goodwill and they don’t open until 10 so we drive to Starbucks first and get a Pumpkin Cold Brew. I have enough stars on the app for it to be free, yay! We walk over to the farmers market and get hummus, feta, bread, and pastries and then drive back to Goodwill to donate a trunkload of items. $36

12:11 p.m. — After coming back home and dropping off our treats, we realize we forgot to go to Chipotle to use our BOGO coupon that is only valid today. We drive over there and I get a chicken bowl with everything and guac and C. gets a carnitas bowl with guac and chips to split ($15.57). I call E. and tell him we’re going to pick up hard seltzers for tonight and he can venmo for half. We go to the liquor store to buy the Truly seltzer and another pack of lozenges ($21.19 but E. venmos me $10). $26.76

1:48 p.m. — Come home and watch way too many episodes of Schitt’s Creek and realize I should probably get ready for tonight. I shower, do more of a glam look for my makeup with Estee Lauder DoubleWear foundation and lots of highlighter from a boutique, and get dressed into my costume.

5:40 p.m. — E. finally comes over and we all go next door to our neighbor’s house where they are having a small Halloween get-together for the neighborhood kids. We start taking way too many tequila shots and end up going back to our house to call an Uber for the night to our friend’s house. $36.83

7:06 p.m. — We get to our friend’s house and start drinking more Trulys and taking even more tequila shots. We were supposed to go out to dinner, but no one wants to go and I am instantly regretting the amount of tequila and lack of food. This is not going to be fun tomorrow lol! The night starts getting a little fuzzy but we end up outside along the beach and I fall over and take down two of my friends with me and C. and I decide it’s time to go home.

11:55 p.m. — We uber home and I instantly pass out with all my makeup still on me. What a total shitshow. NIGHT! $42.19

Daily Total: $141.78

Day Seven

8:07 — My head is POUNDING and C. gets me some Tylenol. I FaceTime with T. and she tells me to just meet at her house and she’ll drive us straight to the birthday party. I lay in bed with the worst post-drunk anxiety and start tidying up the house to calm my mind.

11:22 a.m. — C. and I eat a pastry from the Farmer’s market yesterday and crawl back into bed to watch Schitt’s Creek until I finally have to get ready for the party. I try to do my makeup really nice, so I won’t look as hungover as I feel and drive to T.’s house. She drives us to the party and we catch up on our Halloween night. Hers was not nearly as eventful and she just hung out at her house with her son.

2:14 p.m. — We get to the party and it’s only a little awkward. I’m definitely a few beats behind because I’m not functioning at full capacity and just inhale my burger and candy while I try to make small talk with old friends from high school.

4:49 p.m. — T. and I head out. Once I’m home, C. and I order a huge pizza for dinner. $37.81

8:27 p.m. — After eating dinner, we get into bed and almost instantly fall asleep. Daylight savings totally threw off our schedule and this has been an exhausting week.

Daily Total: $37.81

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