Welcome to Money Diaries, where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.
Today: a management consultant who makes $450,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on baby food.
Occupation: Management Consultant
Industry: Business Transformation Services
Location: New York, NY
Joint Income: $450,000 ($230,000 for me, $220,000 for my husband)
Paycheck Amount (biweekly for me, 1x/month for my husband): $5,200 for me and $10,700 for my husband (we also both get yearly bonuses between 15%-40%)
Gender Identity: Woman
Rent: $7,512 (2br/2ba)
Loans: $0 (We’ve both paid off all of our student loans and do not carry any credit card debt)
Gas & Electric: ~$130
Daycare: $3,650 (We have an FSA for this, but it only pays $5,000 a year, which doesn’t even cover two months)
Cell Phones: $177
Health Insurance: $737
Renters Insurance: $12.50
House Cleaning: $150
Life Insurance: $81
Our daughter’s 529 Account: $833.33
Charity & Political Contributions: ~$1,500
Savings: We don’t engage in forced savings, but every so often we move excess money from checking to savings. We also have brokerage accounts and a money market savings account.
Note: All of our finances are combined.
5:45 a.m. — Our five-month-old baby, E., wakes up. We have a two-bedroom apartment, but she still sleeps in the room with us. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests doing so for the first year, but we plan to move her at the six-month mark, which is quickly approaching. I breastfeed her a few minutes later and we snuggle, change, and have playtime. My husband (as is our typical allocation of work) sleeps through this.
7:30 a.m. — After eating a breakfast of my own (cereal and almond milk) and pumping, my husband (M.) and I feed the baby – today is an adventure in sweet potatoes. E. is just starting solids, so it is really messy and more playing with the food than actually consuming it. I do my makeup, get dressed, and head out the door since M. is doing drop off. On the subway, I review, respond to, and log emails and take a look at my calendar for the day.
9 a.m. — I get to the office and grab free coffee and water, settling in for a morning of meetings. In one meeting I multitask and order a baby gift for a friend who is expecting. I’m aiming to spend $100, but I’m not loving the registry options remaining, so I contribute to her Amazon “diaper fund” and am pleasantly surprised to see I have a credit card point balance, making the $100 contribution cost less. $83.16
10:30 a.m. — I relocate to pump while on a call. Pumping requires leaving my spot on the floor and heading to the private designated room (which has a fridge, table, and chair for working, etc.). It is great to have a designated space, but it’s disruptive to my workflow, and there are others who need the space as well, so I try to block out a week at a time to make sure I don’t wind up in a messy situation. I generally pump for 20 minutes and then there’s another three minutes of cleaning, pumping, storing, etc. At work, I do this three times, plus at least one time at home in the morning. It is a routine, but a pretty taxing one.
12:15 p.m. — Lunchtime! I’m absolutely famished. I used to get away with erratic eating, but with nursing, I’m hungry absolutely all the time. I head over to meet a client for lunch. I have a burger and a beer (it’s Friday!) and she has a sandwich. We have a lovely time — a relatively new baby is always fodder for conversation with other moms. She insists on picking up the check to expense it. On my walk back to the office I check emails, grab my laptop, and head to pump again. Here is where I might stop and point any negative nancies re: drinking and breastfeeding to Emily Oster’s book Cribsheet.
6:30 p.m. — I get home. My sister has picked up the baby from daycare and comes over to visit; she’s offered some gratis babysitting (the price is right!) so M. and I can go to a friend’s birthday party. She gives E. a bath and I get a quiet moment to relax. I feed E. and put her down shortly thereafter. M. gets home an hour later and we rally, taking a car to the birthday party. The party is fun! And there are tacos! I’m extremely hungry and eat five very quickly and wash them down with a beer. $23.35
9:15 p.m. — We grab a taxi back home, proud to have made it out this long on a Friday night. Absolutely drained from the week, I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. $21.96
11:30 p.m. — E. lets out a piercing scream, and I’m worried this is a precursor to night fussing that we haven’t seen in months. But she puts herself right back to sleep and I do the same.
Daily Total: $128.47
6:30 a.m. — My alarm wakes me up, which is a total rarity, but E. is stirring and, sure enough, she is up in full force ten minutes later. I wonder if she knows it’s the weekend and decided to sleep in! Snuggles/diaper change/playtime and I pump and grab some cereal before M. and I feed her today’s solid: carrots.
9:40 a.m. — I leave the family at home and hop on the bus to a yoga class. The class is hard, but the stretching at the end is much needed. For a moment I actually do check out and relax, and it feels great. I snap back to reality on the bus back. I’m stressed about being late to pump (E. will have had a bottle while I was at yoga). She and M. went on an adventure while I was gone, including stopping to get bagels, cream cheese, and tuna salad from the nearby deli we like. $24.11
11:45 a.m. — Made it home in time to pump. The baby is napping, and M. makes me a bagel. He’s rearranged some things while I was gone and the apartment is a pretty big mess, but I just don’t care. E. wakes up about an hour later and is hungry, so I feed her early. She then proceeds to spit up everywhere. We settle in for an afternoon of playtime.
4 p.m. — M. heads to Costco to do a major family restocking (we do this every eight weeks or so to varying degrees). He always spends a ton (it’s hard not to!), which I don’t really mind because the trip itself is such a hassle. The haul includes: prepared foods, frozen foods, snacks, sparkling water, diapers, wipes, a few over the counter medications, etc. (this is far from an exhaustive list). While he is gone, E. and I do a narrated tour of the apartment: flicking on lights, looking in mirrors, running the faucet. I’m starting to get a bit bored and sick of the smell of spit-up when M. returns to help with bath time. $383.64
7:15 p.m. — E. is down to sleep for the night, and a friend of ours comes over to hang out. We split a bottle of wine we have on hand and a prepared taco platter from the Costco haul (which is an affordable $11 and more than enough food for three people). We watch two episodes a television show I’ve been meaning to catch and before I know it, it is way too late!
11 p.m. — I go to sleep and pray for another good night from the baby.
Daily Total: $407.75
5:45 a.m. — No sleeping in today. E. is up! We both eat and do the diaper change/play thing for a little, but I can tell she is still tired. We both go back to sleep for two hours, which is very exciting for me.
9 a.m. — Back awake and E. wants to eat again. M. wakes up and mercifully makes me coffee and a frozen waffle from the Costco extravaganza. We feed E. her peaches. My husband and I chat and agree that we both have work we want to do and aspirations of exercising.
11:30 a.m. — But naturally, instead of tackling those aspirations, we go for a walk to get out of the apartment and hunt for some more varieties of baby food. We don’t have luck at our first stop, but find a gold mine at the second grocery store and stock up on organic pureé of turkey, chicken, beef, green beans, apples, pears, and bananas. We grab 25 jars and I pick up some Vitamin D since we are running low. E. sleeps through the whole trip. $68.64
12:40 p.m. — We are home and E. is hungry, but before I feed her, I need to change her diaper, which smells bizarre and like the peaches (but not in a pleasant way). She eats and I realize that I haven’t eaten since the waffle, so I microwave a frozen veggie burrito, which isn’t half bad. M. works all afternoon and I’m on the standard feed/play/nap patrol duty.
6 p.m. — I’ve timed naps poorly today and E. is fussy and out of sorts, so we start bath and bedtime early. She is in bed and fed within 30 minutes and falls asleep pretty soon thereafter. M. predicts she will sleep poorly tonight because we are deviating from the norm. I finally boot up my laptop to start the work I intended to do all day. I remember I want to order a baby gift for a casual acquaintance, and I snag something small from her registry to let her know I’m thinking of her. $14.91
9 p.m. — We finally get around to dinner, much later than I’d like. We have turkey chili and I have a glass of wine. M. goes to work out and I’m a little annoyed with myself that I didn’t do the same earlier in the day. When he’s back, I grab a shower. I stare at myself in the mirror for a little and feel bad about how I’m looking post-partum, not working out, etc. You can’t really tell with clothes on, but my tummy is not where I want it to be. I shake it off and decide I can’t go into the work week with that kind of negativity. Plus, I’m trying to set good, healthy body image standards for E. when she’s older.
10:30 p.m. — I hop into bed and quickly fall asleep.
Daily Total: $83.55
4 a.m. — My otherwise good sleeper is just not having it this morning (M. was right about her sleeping poorly!). She wakes up and quietly fusses and, after a bit of time, I make the mistake of picking her up to try to comfort her. It seems to work, but when I put her back down, she freaks out. She fusses for another half hour when I decide to bite the bullet and feed her. She immediately falls back to sleep afterward, but of course, it takes me longer.
6:35 a.m. — E. is back awake and I beg my husband for 10 more minutes of sleep, so he gets her and brings her into the living room.
7 a.m. — I reluctantly get up, leaving myself the bare minimum time to get on an 8 a.m. conference call. I feed E., then M. does the solids and dresses her while I pump and prep her bottles and do my makeup. M. grabs me coffee and breakfast to take on the road. We pop E. in the stroller, and I head out the door in time for my call, dropping her at daycare along my way to work. No time for a workout this morning, but maybe I can squeeze one in tonight?
12:30 p.m. — The workday is insanely busy, and I barely look up from my computer (outside of my morning pumping session). I realize too late that I have a meeting from 1-3, which will majorly thwart my typical 1 p.m. pumping time. I run to grab lunch at a healthy fast-casual joint nearby and rush into my meeting, praying I don’t have some sort of catastrophic milk emergency. The office fridge is out of my usual Diet Snapple, so I settle on sparkling water. $15
2:45 p.m. — The meeting ends early, and I head immediately to pump — crisis seemingly averted. I work non-stop for the rest of the afternoon, trying to get a client presentation in a good place so I can finish it from home this evening.
5:45 p.m. — After my last pump of the day, I head home and take a client call as I walk home from the subway. M. and E. meet me there and we do bath/feed/bedtime together. I’m back on my laptop by 7 and M. makes me a PB&J sandwich, which I pair with a glass of wine and some sparkling water while I work. I’m fully aware that this is not an “adult” meal, but I really can’t stomach the turkey chili again and the PB&J hits the spot.
10:30 p.m. — I work on the couch, finishing the presentation and turning to other items. When I’m done, I wash my face and head to sleep. As I look around the living room (M. still at the desk working), I realize it looks like absolute chaos and I didn’t even make it to the gym today, so I mentally commit to making the most out of my morning tomorrow.
Daily Total: $15
5:50 a.m. — E. is awake. We do our usual eat/play/pump situation, but I also manage to make coffee, load the dishwasher, and pop in a load of laundry while she plays on her mat. I even get five minutes to relax while I’m pumping. M. gets up and we give E. her green beans. She seems to be getting the hang of the eating thing and it is fun to watch (it is still an absolute mess, don’t get me wrong!). He’s handling drop off, so I change E. and get her all set before packing up myself and snagging some fruit leather and an apple to head to the gym.
8:15 a.m. — I get to the gym and am sure I’m going to be late to work. I decide I’ll feel better if I work out and it is worth the trade-off of feeling a bit jammed up for the rest of the day. I run a few miles at my usual slow pace and head to the shower. It is nice to be able to get ready at the gym, instead of while pumping or getting spit up on. I make it into the office a half hour later than usual, but I feel energized.
11:30 a.m. — Looking at the week ahead, I realize I have a big client meeting out of town on Thursday and I’m nervous about where I’ll be able to pump. In anticipation, I bite the bullet and call my client’s executive assistant. She is incredibly accommodating, and we figure it out. I take a look at the agenda and plot out my mental schedule accordingly. I’m also hungry, so I order sizeable lunch from a relatively affordable sushi spot nearby, grabbing a free sparkling water from the kitchen. $20.58
3:30 p.m. — I’m working with my head down for much of the afternoon. I get the snoozies and decide to stretch my legs and get some sugar, so I pop to the drugstore around the corner and splurge on a candy bar. It is gone before I get back to my desk. $1.25
5:50 p.m. — I get a message from E.’s daycare indicating her bottle timing is off and she may be hungry earlier than expected. I duck out early to grab her, wanting to stave off fussiness if it is within my power. I get there and she’s just fallen asleep, so I have to wake her up to bring her home. I’m worried I’m not pumping enough to meet her demand and think about adding an evening pump as well to try to increase my supply.
7 p.m. — M. comes home in time for her bath, but he has to dive back into work, so I handle bedtime. She fusses more than she has in a while (I blame the nap situation), so I use our version of the gentle Ferber technique and let her cry it out for five minutes. Just when I’m about to go back in, she calms down, quiets herself, and falls asleep. I’m feeling extremely lucky. I hop into more work and dinner, which M. made between emails: chicken tikka masala (from the Costco run) and leftover takeout rice from my sister’s delivery dinner on Friday night (I’m skeptical, but it is totally fine).
9 p.m. — I break from my work to give the extra pumping session a shot, and I’m glad I do, pumping an extra five ounces! My inbox is organized, I went to the gym today, and I’m feeling better and more on top of things. I reward myself with a glass of wine.
11 p.m. — I’m heading to bed later than usual, which I’m hoping I don’t regret. When washing my face, I note how dry my skin feels, so I slather on an enriched cream; I used to have a whole skincare regimen, but that has fallen by the wayside with my generally abridged self-care routine. I leave M. still at his computer (per usual) and I make a mental note that we need another date night soon because we are a bit like ships passing in the night.
Daily Total: $21.83
5:45 a.m. — I wake up to E. making giddy noises in her crib, which I strongly prefer to fussing. I grab her to eat and we do the usual routine. M. pre-programmed the coffee machine, which fills me with gratitude (it is the little things!), and I decide to reciprocate by dealing with the mound of clean laundry that has been staring us down for more than a week. I leave E. on her mat for some tummy time and spend 45 minutes sorting, folding, and tackling the pile while listening to the latest Keep It! podcast episode, followed by pumping.
7:15 a.m. — M. worked until 3 a.m. but he still gets up to do green beans again with us. She is much less into the green beans today and I feel bad he woke up for this mess. He gets her ready while I do my makeup and get dressed for an earlyish meeting near my office. E. and I both make it out the door on time. Win!
8:30 a.m. — When I get to the daycare things are chaotic. It appears there aren’t enough teachers to match the required ratios. We pay a small fortune for E. to get extended daycare, so I’m frustrated that it doesn’t seem to translate into the correct number of staff members there in the morning. I drop E. and her milk, give her kisses, and head on my way. I walk out and realize I forgot to eat, but there’s no time to get something before my meeting, so I let the coffee slosh around my empty stomach.
10 a.m. — My meeting wraps up and I’m starving, so I stop by a corner coffee place to grab a pastry and another coffee. I decide to spring for a handful of pastries for my colleagues, which I drop off in the middle of the cubicle. I grab my stuff, my bear claw, and coffee to go pump. $14.82
12 p.m. — I get an ad for a chicken place in my email and think it sounds really good for lunch, but I lose track of time and it is too late to order and get it on time, so I settle on the mediocre poke place down the street and eat it hurriedly before my next meeting. $15.19
2 p.m. — Pumping time. I’m flipping through emails to clear out my inbox and come across an invite for a cocktail party/political fundraiser aiming to get more Democratic women elected. I was on the fence but decide to buy a ticket — it is a cause I believe in and should be good networking. I finish pumping, snag a bottle of water from the kitchen, and head back to my desk. $150
4 p.m. — The afternoon is pretty head-down, but there is a technical point my team is missing on the project we are working on, so I carve out some time to walk through and explain the process to them. I walk away from the meeting feeling a lot better about the deliverable. And my plans for tomorrow night get canceled — I’m secretly thrilled! Two nights out feels like too many these days.
6:15 p.m. — I’m meeting a business contact for drinks. He actually asks me “who is watching the baby?” I decide to laugh it off instead of turning it into a screed about gender equality (M. is, of course, watching the baby). We catch up over a cocktail and share a cheese and meat plate; he insists on picking up the check, which makes me feel better about getting a car there and home from the restaurant. $46.70
9:30 p.m. — I catch up with M. a bit, though he is (surprise) working at the kitchen table. Because my plans are canceled, I can do daycare pick-up tomorrow after all. I’m feeling utterly exhausted, so after my new night pump session and prepping E.’s bottles in advance, I go to bed early. I should put away some dishes or something, but I’m just too beat.
Daily Total: $226.71
5:45 a.m. — E. starts to stir, and I need to get a move on to catch my train to the meeting, so I feed her and pump quickly, give her kisses, grab my cooler and pump parts, and make it out the door in time to grab coffee from Starbucks before my train. $2.99
7 a.m. — I do my makeup on the train, plus eat the two granola bars I threw into my bag, and then I get to work. M. sends me an adorable picture from the morning’s solids — she unsurprisingly likes the pears! My pumping sessions go off without a hitch, and I walk away feeling a little more optimistic about my ability to make this whole thing sustainable for E.’s first year of life.
1 p.m. — The meeting ends at noon and I can catch an earlier train than expected, which costs a bit more ($64, which I will pass through to my client as an expense), but will get me home two hours earlier than expected. There wasn’t lunch, so I grab a light snack (trail mix) and a bottle of water at the station before boarding. I could probably expense this but decide not to in light of the cost of the ticket change. $8.24
3 p.m. — Instead of going to the office, I head home and work the rest of the day from there. This has the added perk of giving me time to clean, do laundry, and unload and re-load the dishwasher.
5:30 p.m. — I’d meant to pick up E. early today to take advantage of the working from home, but I get stuck on a call and look up and it is time to leave! I also realize I have not eaten enough today at all and am feeling less-than-great. On the walk back I text my husband to see if he wants to order takeout for dinner.
6:45 p.m. — M. makes it home for bath time and I finally order dinner from a fancy Indian place we like nearby. E. goes down easily and I can’t bring myself to do any more work today, so I watch TV and play a mindless game on my phone. I do feel a bit bad for not using this time productively — I’ve been inches away from finishing a book for months now, but I let it go. $66.37
11 p.m. — How did it get this late? I really need to shower… but that is a problem for my future self. I head off to bed and give E. a quiet kiss on the way. She’s the best and I don’t even care that I’m going to be grouchy tomorrow morning. Once again, I pass out.
Daily Total: $77.60
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