A Week In Dallas, TX, On A $120,000 Salary

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 director working in wealth management who makes $120,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on tacos.

Occupation: Director
Industry: Wealth Management
Age: 27
Location: Dallas, TX
My Salary: $120,000 plus $80,000 bonus
Fiancé’s (T.) Salary: $120,000
My Paycheck Amount (2x/month):
T. Paycheck (biweekly): $2,000-$5,400 depending on commission
Gender Identity: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $2,400 (principal, interest, real estate taxes, insurance) of which I pay $900 (T. bought before me and used to make more money than me, we haven’t changed the pay structure yet)
Loans: $0 (my parents and scholarships paid for school, T. paid off school loans years ago)
Utilities: $150
Car Insurance: $240 for both of us
Spotify: on my sister’s family plan
Netflix: $14
HBO: $16
SlingTV: $60 including RedZone for football
Audible: $16
Monthly Cleaning Person: $120
Apple Storage: $4
HOA: $200
Amazon Prime: $99/annually
Contacts: $500/annually
Gold’s Gym: $500 annually for both of us
Costco: $120/annually
Health Insurance: covered by my company
Cell Phone/Internet: $178 for T., I’m grandfathered into unlimited data on my family’s plan and never want to give it up
Savings: I currently have about $30,000 in the bank and $200,000 in investments (after-tax and retirement). T. has about $75,000 in the bank and $280,000 in investments.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I’m up and ready for a great day in the office. My morning skincare routine includes Co-Q10 toner, Vitner’s Daughter serum, Tata Harper eye cream, and CeraVe moisturizing sunscreen. I don’t have client-facing meetings so I get dressed in black jeans, Enzo Costa sweater, and Rag and Bone boots — just nice enough to look presentable if a client comes by unannounced.

8:20 a.m. — Piping hot coffee at the office for breakfast. I practice gratitude for my six-minute commute, for my partner, and for my job. I send a follow-up email from my meeting yesterday while listening to Wall Street Breakfast podcast.

11:30 a.m. — Lunch is provided by the office while we meet to review private equity offerings. I have a most delicious bowl from Flower Child and La Croix. T. plays golf with a friend since he has today off. Tee fees, lunch, and drinks on the course are $45 total. He also started laundry, took the trash out, watered the plants, and dropped off dry cleaning. I text him how awesome he is because I thrive on positive reinforcement. He works from home full-time doing outside sales and often spearheads domestic responsibilities. $45

1 p.m. — My afternoon is spent preparing for upcoming meetings. This involves reviewing tax returns, preparing financial exhibits, evaluating individual positions for divestment opportunity, and reading our annual contract. Clients will expect me to know investment gains, how long they have held a position, what was my effective tax rate last year, why did we get out of small international stocks 18 months ago? If I can be well-versed on most of their portfolio, I can get by with saying, “That’s a good question, let me get back to you,” on other parts. Fiduciary responsibility entails internalizing their worries about their portfolio.

4 p.m. — We interviewed a month-of wedding planner last week so I take a moment to review the contract she sent. The interview inspired confidence that she’d execute the plan I set forth which includes some quirks (like engaging the senses through passed champagne upon arrival, having guests throw the flower petals, serving family-style, having dueling pianos). T. and I agree to hire her. Her fee is $1,545 and half is due upfront. I enter the cost into our wedding spreadsheet, which has a level of detail that supersedes the need for a full-time planner. I am tracking all wedding costs and will true-up with T. after. $772.50

6 p.m. — I stop at Trader Joe’s for groceries for the week: chicken, salmon, eggs, canned tomatoes, parsley, green beans, leeks, onions, sweet potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, goat cheese, plantain chips, popcorn, lunch meat, and bread. We attend an HOA board meeting in which we evaluate if our communal outdoor lighting needs to be updated. Then I cook shakshuka with goat-cheese-grilled-cheese and roasted green beans. It’s our friend E.’s birthday and he comes over and eats with us. We offer to take him to his favorite restaurant but he just wants to hang out. We relax on the couch and laugh out loud while watching Curb Your Enthusiasm. $85.60

Daily Total: $903.10

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — I’ve got my short-term to-do list ready and grade-A Keurig coffee in hand at my desk. I spend the morning preparing for meetings later this week and reading WSJ (subscription is paid by the company). Clients call periodically to ask questions related to tax and financial planning. My clients are uniformly independently wealthy, kind, and intelligent, and I enjoy working with them. I practice gratitude for my cozy office, for my family, and that I can work and walk and ride horses without assistance. If I were to complain, it would be annoying.

11:30 a.m. — Dallas is in the middle of a skyline renaissance and our office’s idyllic street is not immune. The new building across the street is placing the final beam today and we are invited to the “topping party.” I stop by for a few minutes then have leftovers for lunch. The shakshuka is so wildly delicious it puts me in an even better mood. T. has leftovers, too.

3 p.m. — Break from work to inquire about works by Jean Nagai and Matthew Brinston. The prices ($3,500 and up) are out of our pre-wedding budget but maybe next year. T. and I want to curate modern and abstract art, though my tastes lean more nude-positive than his.

6 p.m. — I head home then to the gym with T. We walk/run and work out chest and triceps. Back at the house, I prepare za’atar chicken with leeks (and onions, green onions, and garlic because I am a glutton for the allium family), herby tahini sauce, quinoa, and asparagus. T. raves about the meal to my absolute delight; cooking for others is my love language.

10 p.m. — I go to bed and worry if I am doing the right thing for clients and the unknown unknowns. I worry about not being a good partner because so much of my emotional and mental energy is spent at work. I worry about not reaching out to friends and family, not volunteering, not pursuing a job that helps those in need. Repeat mantras: 1. I am doing the best I can, 2. I’m not trying to screw anyone over.

Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8:15 a.m. — In the office and ready for a new day. I check my bank account balances, credit card balance, and investment accounts daily (at least). I have a scheduled transfer of $3,000 from my checking account to my investment account on the 15th of every month. If I have to force skip a few months, I don’t stress — my net bonuses go entirely to investments (about $50,000), I maximize my IRA contribution ($6,000), and I’m contributing to my SIMPLE IRA (roughly $5,000). The monthly transfer is more in place to keep a check on lifestyle inflation. This year will be wonky with the bachelor and bachelorette parties, wedding, and honeymoon.

12 p.m. — Leftovers for lunch and they get a gold star. So so so dang tasty. T. has leftovers, too.

6 p.m. — Drive to the barn for my horseback riding lesson. I usually ride Saturday mornings but my trainer has a conflict this weekend. While I’m not an outstanding rider, it is therapeutic to turn my brain off and do something I’ve been practicing for 20 years. I am grateful to have a passion that has thrived my whole life and in which I am still able to indulge. The lesson cost $80, which is high even in the world of recreational horseback riding because of its proximity to downtown and because they get the horse ready for you. I am spoiled by this barn. $80

8:30 p.m. — Get home as T. is putting finishing touches on seared salmon with sweet potatoes and broccoli. I kiss him 105 times and gush about how dashing and manly he is because it makes both of us feel good. I do dishes tonight and read aloud from The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman. Our pre-marital counselor recommended it to us and it has been really fun to read together and ruminate. Once a behavior pattern has a name, rather than generalized frustration, it is easier to validate.

Daily Total: $80

Day Four

8:15 a.m. — The closer I get to my meetings at the end of this week, the more fretful I get. I recently localized my work-related anxiety to be: what if people keep me on retainer because they feel sorry for me, remind them of their grandchildren, or just want to help a woman in a male-dominated industry. This impostor syndrome is irrational because no one pays real money for zero value-add, clients take my advice, and my client base is growing on referrals. Coffee and gratitude for breakfast.

3 p.m. — I start driving to Austin for meetings tomorrow, listening to The Man Who Solved the Market by George Zuckerman on Audible. I get gas for $27.53 ($2.01/gallon), mileage will be reimbursed. I brought a microwave burrito and T. makes a sandwich for lunch. ($27.53 expensed)

6:30 p.m. — I pick up Torchy’s Tacos for my sister and brother-in-law ($40 plus $10 tip). They have a three-month-old and I am in love. My sister is in medical school and needs to study so I only hang out for an hour. My brother and sister-in-law live next door but are sadly out of town. I am grateful my Austin clients give me an excuse to visit about once per quarter, though I come down more to see the sweet angel baby. T. eats smorgasbord at home. I feel guilty when I get a restaurant meal and he slums over scraps, even though he’s a grown man and can make his own decisions and, admittedly, our scraps are very delicious. He also got a haircut today ($30 plus $15 tip). $95

8 p.m. — I call my parents on the way to the hotel to relay the (informative, non-malicious) gossip. I look tired. And fluffy. I am grateful for my body, a miracle of evolution. I am grateful that I am healthy, pain-free, and hopefully can someday grow a baby. I run a mile in the hotel gym, shower, FaceTime T. (his fresh cut looks mighty fine), and fall asleep watching TV.

Daily Total: $95

Day Five

8 a.m. — Hotel lobby coffee for breakfast. Make a point to smile at the other transients to spread a little joy. The hotel is paid for by my company. Since I am client-facing today, I dress up in a hunter green Normal Kamali suit. I will review clients’ financial exhibits, portfolio performance, tax projections, and I will pick up their tax data. Each meeting will last about two hours and will generate 4-10 hours of follow up work over several weeks, depending on the complexity of the portfolio, tax return, and estate plan. Client fees, and subsequently my compensation, are based on the level of complexity (amount of work required).

1 p.m. — I have a break in meetings and I eat some sushi, paid for by my company, while drafting follow-up emails from my morning meetings. I grab an Americano from Starbucks so I don’t fall asleep on the drive home. T. made a sandwich at home. $3.41

4 p.m. — Drive back to Dallas. The meetings were spectacular and productive.

8:30 p.m. — I get dressed in Anine Bing leather pants, silk cami, and Tonka 25 by Le Labo. Put on a touch of makeup to feel even more special. I uber to date night at Local in Deep Ellum ($6 plus $1 tip). It has been on my “to try” list for about five years. We do the tasting menu with wine, splurging because we spent Valentine’s Day at a friend’s wedding, although we really don’t need an excuse to have a nice dinner ($280 plus $60 tip). The food is phenomenal, wine is fantastic, service is world-class, and my date is the cutest and funniest being alive who loves me for my eccentricities instead of despite them. Uber home to watch a new Star Wars show because T. is Gen X ($6 plus $1 tip). $354

Daily Total: $357.41

Day Six

8 a.m. — Wake up and relax in bed for a bit. I listen to T. sleep, browse Revolve and find a few things I want but nothing I need, and check out a horse my trainer sent for me to buy. Then I treat T. and myself to Starbucks to celebrate the weekend ($9). We have a real easy morning, enjoying the energizing light in our sweet home and feeling the seven surprisingly large glasses of wine from last night. We practice gratitude for our partnership, our financial soundness which allows us to make and buy nice dinners, and our upcoming wedding. $9

1 p.m. — We have lunch at Snooze ($26 plus $6 tip). Then, we go home and finalize wedding invitations on Minted ($1,766 after tax and after 20% off coupon). This includes clean and modern foil-embellished wedding invites, RSVP cards, detail cards, pre-addressed envelopes, and stamps both ways for our 270 wedding invitees. I also send the final payment to the chef I hired for my bachelorette party ($250). We are doing an easy weekend in Dallas and I am paying for almost all of the group costs (Airbnb, the chef for dinner Friday, etc.) because my friends come from varying financial backgrounds and I want them to be there and have fun without worrying about dollars. $2,048

7 p.m. — Friends pick us up to go to Pepe and Mito’s with a big group for dinner to celebrate National Margarita Day. We have lots of margs and astounding tacos ($61 plus $15 tip). We play games at Punch Bowl Social until about 12, spending an obscene amount on sugary drinks ($60). Uber home ($6 plus $1 tip). $143

Daily Total: $2,200

Day Seven

10 a.m. — I’m up and in comfy clothes to meet my best friend, O., for a light and delicious breakfast ($25 plus $5 tip). I didn’t see her last weekend and subsequently had a nightmare. I am so tickled to spend time with her this morning and hear all about her newest life philosophies. Then we walk to get massages, a belated Christmas gift for her. We wanted a couples massage but the room was already booked so we go separate. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be pleasing. I paid for the massages and 20% tip ahead of time but the total was $216. $30

1 p.m. — I go into the office where, because of my work-related anxieties, I feel empowered. I send follow up memos from Friday’s meetings while the conversations are still fresh, start a few tax returns, and prepare for next week’s seven meetings. T. worked a little this morning then met up with friends for lunch and beers and spent $40. $40

5 p.m. — I go to Trader Joe’s for groceries for the week. T. and I are traveling for work next week so today’s haul is light: ground turkey, chicken thighs, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, lemons, pasta, quinoa pasta, and dried mango. $35.17

6 p.m. — Home, happy, and watching Bon Appetit YouTube. We have friends over for a big family dinner about twice a month on Sundays but we don’t get organized until too late, so it is just T. and me for tonight. We order Thai food and share our observations from the weekend. This was a costly week from the wedding-related expenditures and special dinner Friday, but otherwise was an average representation of our spending: lots on weekend food, lots on horseback riding, lots on alcohol. $26

Daily Total: $131.17

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