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My First 6 Months in IT - What to expect in YOUR Journey - Featuring advice on CVs/Resumes, Interviews, Certificates and training, and how to handle being laid off.

My Experience in IT after 6 months, What Can You Expect?
Hi all, I recently read a on r\ITCareerQuestions about being frustrated with all of the posts asking for help. This in part, is a response to that.
Fair warning – this is going to be a long one (slightly over 5000 words), strap yourself in or get out while you can, you have been warned! I have tried to break it up into sections, so feel free to skip to parts that interest you. I will happily answer all questions, PLEASE feel free to DM me. I will help anyone with resources that I used, and advice on best career pathways.
Who is this post for?
I think this post is going to be for you if you fit into any of the following categories. If you are looking to break in to IT and you haven’t even taken your first step, if you have been studying for certificates and you want to know if it is all going to be worth it (is there a light at the end of this tunnel). Maybe you want to know what your first 6 months in IT are going to be like. Maybe you want realistic salary expectations and you don’t want to ask a salesman or the guy driving an expensive car. Maybe you have been a lurker on this thread and you’ve seen all the conflicting advice. Perhaps you have sent out 400 job applications and had no bites. Maybe you have had 20 interviews and no one has given you a chance. My point being there are many steps you need to take to take your “first step” or to get your foot in the door. If you are someone who is taking any one of those steps, I do recommend reading this.
My Journey, two jobs, one lay-off, sleepless nights, a global pandemic and an incredible wife.
When I was 28, I decided I wanted a stable and steady career. Something I didn’t have to fight 30 other younger and hungrier people for. To put this into context I once applied for an entry level market research position and I don’t mind telling you that interview experience was something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I hadn’t applied myself at university, I studied Biology, something I had no passion for and the competition in scientific research was something that you would never survive without passion.
I was always exceptional at exams/learning/studying, to that end I was first in my year at university for exam results. And for that great honour I was awarded a £1000 cash scholarship prize. And being an irresponsible student I spent the entire thing (and some student overdraft) on my very first PC.
I spent hundreds of hours watching Linus tech tips, and Jays2cents and how to build a PC. I was hooked, I built that PC, booted her up, and realised…. I still want to watch build videos. I genuinely found out that I loved learning about hardware. I didn’t know that about myself. I know I see a lot of backstory posts asking for help that all say “I am tech savvy, I am the techy one in the family” etc etc.
So, I think these people know what I mean. By the way if you are worried that being the “techy one” isn’t valuable then you are dead wrong. It means you can learn technologies quickly and interact with user interfaces with ease. These are going be all you do for a long time in IT. You will have many user interfaces thrown at you that are custom to your company, but more on that later.
Well, unfortunately, years pass me by while I take a job in biology I have no passion for, I didn’t hate my job, I got to work at a university helping students with disabilities cope with every day life. But I didn’t feel excited or driven.
And then one day I was watching the UK version of the apprentice, absolute trashy TV at its finest for those that don’t know what it is. It is a competition in which people present a business plan to a billionaire and that billionaire decides if the business plan has legs.
So I am watching this guy with perfect quaffed hair and teeth that would blind you, (you know the type, he works is sales and thinks the world would collapse without him) and he is pitching a Cyber security recruitment company. And he has the leading experts in the country critiquing him, and I heard the same thing over and over. IT is desperate for people, for every 10 roles in IT security, there are only 1 or 2 qualified people.
I have to admit I got a little excited, nervous excited. I did something that changed my life. I googled it and made a phone call. That’s right, I spent all of 2 minutes before I was on the phone to a salesman. Let me tell you, if I could go back in time a slap myself for buying in to this pitch I would.
“The average person in IT security in the UK earns £72,000”, Booom, I am hooked. You are telling me I can earn £72K and they will be desperate to have me? I won’t have to compete? It won’t be a dog fight… Where the hell do I sign up? Well spoilers for what is to come later, but no, I didn’t end up as CIO of a small company making silly money in year one.
So, what were they offering me and what did it cost me? I signed up for a course that included a Microsoft Technical associate (MTA) in server fundamentals and an MTA in security fundamentals. I signed up for a Comptia certificate in Network+ and in Security+ and finally an EC council certificate in ethical hacking, called CEH. All for the price of around £3000. “Not bad” I told myself for a £72K/year job. “Not bad” I told my wife (who supported me through every single step).
So, when did I first begin to have doubts? That is easy, I remember it like it was yesterday. I had this awful procrastination habit (I bet almost ALL of you do it too) I would google jobs for whatever certificate I was going to study. For me, this was the CEH. A simple “CEH Jobs” search was almost all I ever googled back then. And there were hundreds of them, decent pay too. And then one day I saw it “we are looking for real candidates, no offense to those with a CEH”. It was like a punch to the gut, but worse as my heart raced with fear. What the hell did they mean?!
It was at this point I realised I might be in trouble. I am sure a lot of you feel that way now. Have I just been swindled by a Nigerian prince who just needed my bank details so he can transfer me my millions? Well yes and no. Yes I had been swindled by the promise of £72K, and yes I had been swindled by the CEH, it is one of the most expensive certificates you can get and it does make you look like an idiot to anyone in field. But no, I had not been swindled out of a career just yet.
I kept my head down and I nailed my first ever certificate and I have to admit, it was the hardest things I ever studied. I would say that knowing hardware helped a bit with the server fundamentals certificate, but only for about 5-10% of the learning objectives that were focussed on hardware. The rest was like information overload. I had to learn about how servers worked and communicated. I had to learn Microsoft’s branding too, which is a feat of its own. But I did it, I finally got an IT certificate.
I powered through my security MTA full steam ahead knowing I could achieve it with hard work and consistency. And that is when things got interesting. I began studying for my network+, and let me tell you, I fell in love. I began feeling like the curtains were being drawn on the way the world worked. I understood how if I sent an email, that email was carried across the country to my friends and family.
However, the instructor kept saying the same thing over and over. “And if you take a CISCO course you will learn all about it”. I mean if I had a £ for every time she said it….
Well, I did it again ladies and gentleman. I went back to the same person who sold me my snake oil. And I asked if they did CCNA courses. Of course they did, for the cool price of £800. What the hell I thought, the CCNA is a “real” certificate finally. Finally, I won’t feel worry and despair at the thought of this all being in vane, because I, Jacob Smith will be a network engineer.
The course was mediocre, and I found myself frustrated, so I did the unthinkable. That is right, I spend £10 on an Udemy course. I mean obviously it was going to be terrible. You would have to be an idiot to think a £10 course could be better than an £800 one. Well Neil Anderson spared no time showing me the error of my ways. His course was phenomenal. I bought the course for the first half of the CCNA, then I bought the course for the second half, and then I thought why the hell not, its only £10, I will buy the course that comes as whole package just to support him.
This is the lesson I learned that day. A person can sell their 20 hour course for £10 if they know it is good enough. And then they can make more money than the predator who sells their course to desperate people for thousands.
Let’s skip forward a few months. It is the last hour of the last day in which I can sit the CCNA before they retire it and change it completely. The exam went amazingly, and for those interested I used Neil Anderson’s course, and Boson netsim and boson exsim for the tools.
I am done. I have finally sat the last certificate I am going to sit before I start applying for Jobs. I no longer want the CEH as I know it will just make me look bad and I don’t want to commit the hours required to learn something that will hurt me.
Advice on Resumes/CVs
I fire up google again and waste no time typing “professional CV templates”. Wow, CVs look incredible these days, look how pretty I can make my application. I have dedicated sections for skills, work experience, school etc.
Here is lesson number two, and more important than you realise. Do NOT use these templates ever. Every recruiter that you send your CV to has some sort of CV filter on it. These CV templates are terrible for a number of reasons. Firstly, the format cannot be read by the CV filter, it doesn’t know what it’s looking at so it just bins it. If you are using one and you have sent hundreds of applications and had no bites, then I strongly recommend you read this part and do what I did.
Secondly, these templates are designed for people with work experience and skills. Unfortunately that wasn’t me, I was breaking in to IT. This meant that the focus of my CV HAD to be biology, there was no way to change this. My CCNA was at the bottom of my second page under “other”. So if by some divine intervention my CV did get through to a recruiter, there was no way they would ever read I had 5 certificates.
I had some of the worst and most sleepless nights of my life for the next 2 weeks. I applied to 20-40 jobs a day and heard nothing. Not a peep. It is at this point my beautiful wife lets slip that her sister is in IT recruitment. Mixed emotions is an understatement, I bounced between desperate joyous relief and utter disbelief that at no point did she think to mention this.
Here is what I learned. You are not applying for a social media job, you are not applying for a graphic designer job. A recruiter reads a hundred of these a day and there is nothing that annoys them more for IT people than a fancy looking CV. Put this CV in black and white, have literally nothing but words. Don’t even break the page up with horizontal lines. Put everything IT related at the top, have a strong and promising professional statement. Focus on your certificates, focus on your lab experience. And cram that CV full of skills that you know about. You want something like this in there.
DHCP, DNS, IPv4, IPv6, AD, NTFS, Switching, Routing, Wireless, STP, RIP, OSPF, EIGRP. Hyper-V, VMWare.
Windows 7/8/8.1/10, Windows Server 2008/R2, 2012/R2, 2016, 2019.
iOS, MacOS, Android.
This along with your certificates, your goals and your passion. Along with (briefly) anything transferable from other non-IT related jobs, I am talking about customer service, high stress jobs and time sensitive roles. These skills will be valuable but they should be secondary and again I cannot stress this enough, make it brief. Your education, and non-IT related jobs should make up a small portion of the CV that follows at the end. A recruiter is going to pick your CV up and see your skills, see your certificates and personal statement and then just put it down and give you a call. I doubt they ever get to the part where you describe what working at Pizza hut was like.
Round 2 of applying for jobs
Once I rewrote that CV (annoyingly I had already applied to a lot of the jobs in my area with my poor CV) I sent it out. The difference was life changing. I got a call back the next day actually I got three call backs the next day. Over the next 2 weeks I got roughly 12 recruiter calls, I got three interview offers. I did 2 interviews and got offered to the next stage. The first was with a large corporate company with 1000s of employees. They IQ tested me and they told me that I would be drug tested at my interview. This was a huge red flag to me. I have never done drugs and nor would I want to. But if these people are going to greet me at the door with a mouth swab, then I hate to think what working for them would be like. I turned down their offer for a second interview.
Instead I went to interview at a nearby (well not nearby 90 mile round trip commute) MSP. This was mid-March and I have never enjoyed an interview experience more in my life. The culture was very much this is a place where we have a laugh and you will love working for us. I didn’t have any red flags at the time, I just was so pleased this was all finally happening for me. We joked about football, we talked about hobbies, some IT related questions, typical interview stuff. He even joked we had a bromance going on and said, and I quote “F**k me, you know an interview is going well when its been over and hour and you haven’t noticed”.
Honestly, I think my older age was an advantage here, I was 30 at this point and I am at a stage in life where I am able to hold a conversation well without being nervous or self-conscious. There are obviously going to be downsides to being 30 and starting out too, but I was happy this worked in my favour.
I got a full day and a half of training (sitting behind a guy and watching him work), okay some red flags cropped up at this point. The people here didn’t seem to care very much, nor did they know a huge amount. The way the cases distribution worked was everything went to 2nd line, and they trickled down anything they didn’t want to 1st line and they pushed up what they needed to, to 3rd line. So, I got all the “my webcam isn’t working” calls, which was fair enough, I was grateful to have the job. But I had nothing in my queue that I thought “omg I have no idea what this is”. That might sound like a good thing, but it is the worst thing that can happen to your career. How are you supposed to learn how to install SSL certificates if you never have a case for it?
Well I doubt it is any shock to any of you crazy enough to still be reading, but I after a mindblowing 14 days, I was put on furlough (not sure if Americans have this, but it means temporarily laid off). It seriously makes you question why they hired someone that they laid off 14 days later, but that follows with the “everything is a laugh” attitude I suppose.
I spent the first half of April not knowing (but having a bad feeling) what was going to happen next. And then our prime minister announced the first extension of the lockdown. And when I woke up the next morning I had been completely locked out of all my accounts and I had a “whatsapp” message waiting for me. You read that correctly, Mr fun and games decided it was appropriate to give me bad news over whatsapp. He told me he really liked me and to look out for a message from him when this all blows over, as I will be the first person they call. But he had to let a lot of staff go permanently.
I spent all off April preparing for this, but it still didn’t help me through what this felt like. Try and imagine working your ass off for 18 months to begin a life you never once dreamed was possible, to have it given to you and then taken away in the space of a month.
I was let go on a Friday and I didn’t sleep a wink that whole weekend. I did get a phone call from my recruiter which I thought was nice. But it turns out they were only calling me because the company that let me go were claiming it was because of poor performance. They didn’t want to pay the recruitment fee, and they were willing to damage my reputation and relationship with the recruiter. However, it turned out to be the best thing that happened to me. Them refusing to pay the recruitment fee, drove my recruiter to immediately look for a job for me. It is Sunday afternoon that same weekend and I get a call saying “I have an interview lined up for you tomorrow, can you make it?”. I could not believe what I was hearing. I have an interview lined up and I may not even miss a pay day? I felt like crying. But what was that he said? I must have misheard, did he say it was for tomorrow? That’s right, after having no sleep and being in a state of emotional and physical exhaustion I now had less than 24 hours to prepare for a job I had no idea about.
How to prep for an interview
I worked my arse off. I learned everything I could about the company, I read their testimonials, I studied their customers, I looked at the solutions they provided. I like to have all my certificates with me, along with copies of my resume. I like to have prepared questions to ask the interviewer. I like to have a separate document that I can pass to them with all of my documentation from my labs. (this obviously means you have to document all your labs). I dressed as smartly as I could and gave it everything I could. I watched youtube videos of typical helpdesk questions, I learned the tricks to the questions they ask, e.g. The owner of your company says his printer is broken at the same time you get a call from a customer saying all 200 staff have lost connection to the internet. What do you do? The trick is to communicate with your team, with a team you can do both at the same time. These videos are an amazing tool to prep with and they give you really good answers that you don’t have to think too hard about. They also take away some of the nerves.
So how did it go? Well of course I just didn’t sleep. I mean who would have been able to sleep after what I had been through. I thought about postponing it but I still went for it. I can’t begin to describe the difference in management style. This man was a manager, he was an IT professional with 25 years experience, and he had owned, ran and sold his own successful MSP.
It was both refreshing and worrying. He expected nothing of me, he didn’t really care about my technical knowledge. I didn’t know this at the time, but it was because everyone at this company was driven and knew their stuff. Everyone held 10+ certs and had years and years of experience. This was a different company, with serious people and incredible opportunities to learn.
I thought I had bombed, I was tired and a little defeated. But I got a second interview, and with sleep was able to completely turn it around. I turned my weaknesses in knowledge into opportunities to ask my manager to showcase his knowledge. I was far more engaged and I was offered the job at this far more serious role for the same money I was originally on and I cut my commute in half (well technically I am work from home).
What to expect from a serious MSP?
At my new company, cases come in to 1st line and you are expected to work on everything, and only after you have exhausted your ability can it go up to second line. It is also worth noting the main difference between the two companies is that the first one only provided services for their customers and they had monthly rolling contracts. My current company is a cloud provider and they host all of their customers infrastructures and endpoints, as well as having 1-3 year contracts (much harder to pull out of during a pandemic) it didn’t hurt that a lot of their customers are hospital related.
I have been at my new company now for 4.5 months and learned more there than I could have ever learned at the first company.
I put my money where my mouth is. It wasn’t long before my first manager called me and offered me my old job back. This time with a 33% pay increase. I flat out told him no (respectfully of course) but firmly. It was a lot more money than I am on now but that wasn’t the point. I would not want to stymy my career by working at such a poorly managed company. In the UK, they could have just left me furloughed (it wouldn’t have cost them anything) and I would have received 80% of my salary. But they terminated me and then expected me to come back? I wasn’t going to repay my new manager’s act of saving me from that hell with disloyalty (I know loyalty can be looked down upon in this sub, but that is how I was raised).
What can you expect in your first 6 months?
Enough about me, let’s look at you. Let’s look at what you can expect.
You can expect that certificates can take between 2-6 months each depending on how much time you dedicate to them.
You can expect your first job to pay a little more than minimum wage. However, most places now pay for your training, pay for your exams and give extra time to study during work. You can more than likely expect your first job to be helpdesk.
You can expect to have to apply to hundreds of jobs to get your first one. However, if you follow my previous advice you should be getting call backs from recruiters at a minimum. If not, then it will be your CV that needs to change.
If you want to be successful you will have to sacrifice. I get up 3 hours before my shift and I study. Every single day, and I work longer on weekends. I offer every single time someone needs to stay late or come in early. I often stay late after work finishes to tidy up cases and prepare for the next day. I work through every single lunch. The reason for this is because I take twice as many cases as the other person that started 3 months before me, lets call this person “anon”, anon is my direct competition and he drives me to be the best I can be.
The results of my hard work are that I am sitting my exam in half the time that Anon will take (honestly I doubt he will take it when he says). I have closed more cases than him and he has been at the company for 7.5 months vs my 4.5 months. I was asked to go to site to setup a switch for a customer (twice) over anon. I have been “selected” by my manager to work directly with on a fileserver project. It looks like he has taken me under his wing (which I highly recommend, if you can get someone to teach you that is half as smart as my manager then do it).
I have had multiple people tell me they notice how engaged I am during meetings, and how well they think I am doing. I have had a number of times a 2nd line ask me if I want to be shown something that typically only goes to 2nd Line.
I have learned that hard work, determination and a willingness to learn does not go unnoticed.
What are some of the negatives to expect?
But it isn’t all fairytails, there are downsides too. I don’t spend as much time with my wife or doing the things I like. I feel guilty if I watch a film instead of study. If you take twice as many cases you are going to make at least twice as many mistakes. Making mistakes is normal, and you have to learn from them, but if you take them to heart like me, then you are going beat yourself up twice as often.
Ultimately, the sky is the limit, how hard you work will depend on you and what drives you. I have my foot in the door and I have no intention of taking my foot of the gas anytime soon. If you think that once you get your foot in the door that the hard part is over, then that simply isn’t the case I am afraid.
How to give yourself the best opportunity in your career (tips no one tells you).
I push myself out of my comfort zone many times a day. I do this so that these things become my comfort zone. I notice how often my manager trusts me to do something that he wouldn’t normally let a 1st line support engineer do.
You can expect to have a highly stressful working environment. You are going to have many fires to put out at the same time, and you need to organise yourself so it doesn’t overwhelm you. I think something that no certificate teaches you, or that I have yet to see, and it is easily the most important thing I have learned, is to have a to do list. First thing in the morning, before you do anything, fire up notepad or onenote and write down everything you have to do in that day. It doesn’t have to be in order, just get writing. And then anytime you complete a task look at notepad and start working on the next thing. Also, if anyone asks you to do anything ever, fire up notepad, and write it down. You can be albert Einstein himself, and you are going to forget to do a good chunk of that stuff if you write it down. And remember, you are going to make a lot of mistakes, but forgetting to do stuff is a terrible mistake to make and can be easily avoided.
If you have to stop someone mid flow because you realise they are telling you to do a multistep thing, then stop them and fire it up and ask them to start again. Annoying but better than having to call them later and ask them to say it all again, or worse just forget it.
You can expect a relatively thankless job. There will always be those people who remember to thank you and make you feel like you are appreciated, but more often than not you will get someone who the second the thing works, they want off the phone. Get used to goodbyes being a tad rushed/awkward.
You can expect that you will need a lot of help. But try to be smart and kind about it. Try speaking to those people about things in which you don’t ask for help and ask them about themselves. Develop relationships that are meaningful. Also, try and vary the people you ask for help from, don’t take advantage of someone because they are polite and never let you know that inside they are frustrated because they too have a big to do list. Spread your help out and try and make up for the fact you are going to be a big inconvenience by offering to help in other ways. Make the coffees, make the teas, offer to take dogsh*t menial tasks that need doing. These sorts of things are good way to pay it back to someone that you won’t be able to help technically.
Advice to avoid serious mistakes.
Always think about what you are doing. Always. Is this something you should be doing? Is this something that needs approval? is this something you should check with someone first?
Checking with someone is not the same as asking for help and it has saved my ass more times than I can count. Don’t be the person that causes a service outage because you didn’t check if something is right. It may feel obvious, it may make you look dumb. But if I was to be shown 100 tasks and asked what my gut tells me is the “proper protocol” for each one, I would get most wrong. Don’t try and guess what is best for the customer or company policy.
This is what I like to call good old-fashioned Arse-covering. It covers yours and your employers.
Those £72K jobs exist. And people do them. You could be one of them, but it will take years of dedication and sacrifice. If that sounds like you, if you can be driven, passionate and determined then nothing will stop you.
Thank you for reading.
If you are crazy enough to still be reading this, then thank you. I wish you all the luck in the world.
TLDR: Hard work and self-belief pays off. Nothing is going to stop you except YOU.
submitted by jacobsmith14433 to ITCareerQuestions

I am 33 years old making a combined income of $147,000 in Fairfax, VA and work as an HR Analyst

My husband, R, and I combined our finances shortly before our daughter, E, was born. We still maintain separate accounts but basically just Venmo money back and forth. Please be gentle with me, this is my first post! (Edited to add: I just realized how obnoxiously long this post is 😬 apologies in advance!)
Section One: Assets and Debt
RETIREMENT:
Me:
  • IRA - $6,100
  • 401(a) - $39,600 ($36,350 vested)
  • 457 - $10,045
  • Pension: $12,620
I didn’t start saving for retirement until about 2013 when I was promoted to a full-time position with benefits. I put a small amount every paycheck into a 401k. My employer was putting contributions into a pension plan for me, which I didn’t realize. After I switched jobs, I rolled everything over to my current employer. Since then I’ve been putting 4% into an employer pension (required) and 3% into voluntary pre- and post-tax accounts. At the end of 2019, I opened an IRA and put $6,000 into the account. My plan is to max out the IRA at the end of each year - though with the way 2020 is going, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen this year.
R:
  • 401(a) - $1,692.88 (not vested)
  • 457 - $1,044.47
  • Pension - $1,320
  • Old retirement account from previous employer to be rolled over - $10,560
My husband saved and cashed out his 401k every time he switched employers, which was dumb. When he landed a public position in 2018, he was required to contribute to a pension plan, which is how he built up his savings. Since then, he’s found a new job and now we work for the same organization. His retirement allocations now match mine.
INVESTMENTS:
  • TD Ameritrade (inherited): $52,000
  • Schwab (for E): $3,200
  • Inherited IRA: $90,000
  • Inherited Annuity: $110,000
EQUITY:
  • Current home: I inherited this home from my mom with half the loan paid off. Originally the home was a rental property for her. We now use it as our primary residence. The remaining loan balance is about $130,000.
  • Rental condo: My mom gave me about $89,000 as a down payment for this condo, which I lived in for 5 years. I changed the condo to a rental unit when my daughter, E, was born. The remaining loan balance is $95,000.
  • Rental townhouse: My sister and I inherited this townhouse, another rental property, when my mom passed so we both co-own it. My mom paid for the house in cash so there’s no mortgage. I lived in this townhouse for two years after my daughter was born and turned it back into a rental property a few months ago.
SAVINGS ACCOUNT BALANCE: $67,800 in a HYSAMost of it is earmarked for upcoming monthly expenses like paying the mortgages and daycare. $65,000 is cash I withdrew from my brokerage account after it was inherited. Since it was from my mom, I try to be very conscientious about how I spend it. My mom was really financially savvy and I hope to follow in those steps. Once my husband and I finish remodeling our current home, we’re hoping to squirrel away enough money for a down payment on another investment property.
CHECKING ACCOUNT BALANCE: $2,460
CREDIT CARD DEBT: $402 spread across 5 cards. My husband and I use out credit cards to pay for almost every purchase. We pay our balances in full at the end of every month.
STUDENT LOAN DEBT: $0 (majored in Communication)I was very lucky to have my mom support me through college. She paid the majority of my tuition and I took out a $12,000 loan to cover the remainder. I paid the minimum amount due after college for about 6 years. After my mom passed, I used my inheritance to pay the balance off.
Section Two: Income
INCOME PROGRESSION: I've been working in my field for 8 years.
My first real job was right out of college in 2012 (finished school later than normal thanks to a late teenage rebellion). My friend from college hooked me up with the company she was working at and I started as a temporary HR assistant making $17 an hour.
Shortly after I started, I learned there would be layoffs. I was scheduled to be laid off but I applied and got a new position in the company’s payroll department making $40,000 a year.
About a year later, the systems specialist on my team got a position within another department. I was offered her position, and with that my salary increased to $48,000. Through annual salary increases over the next two years, I was earning about $54,000 with an annual bonus of about $1,000.
Tired of the constant mergers and threat of layoffs, I applied to a job as a Benefits Analyst for the public sector on a whim. I landed the job somehow with no experience and started at $60,000 in 2016.
I was so surprised that the public sector paid very well. In the private sector, I was used to 2-3% annual increases. I was stunned when my first annual increase at my new job was 4.5%. After a while, the senior analyst on our team was let go. I was encouraged to apply for her position by my manager. I got the promotion and my salary increased to $72,000.
After a few on- and off-cycle increases, my salary rose to $86,000. Shortly after I had E in 2018, I expressed a desire to work less hours so I could spend more time with her. I reduced my schedule to 80% (32 hours a week) and I’ve kept it that way ever since. I’ve gotten a few increases since then so my current salary is about $69,000 due to the reduced schedule. I anticipate staying in my current job for at least the next 6 months when I will be fully vested in the pension program.
MAIN JOB MONTHLY TAKE HOME:
Me: $3,326R: $3,860
We both put 4% into the employer pension (mandatory) and another 3% into other retirement accounts (voluntary).
Since R and I have the same employer, we did the math and found it’s cheaper to have us enrolled on separate health insurance plans versus a family plan. R covers himself and my daughter on medical and dental insurance ($272) and I cover myself on my own health insurance ($164) since I want an upgraded dental plan.
R and I both contribute $115 into a Healthcare FSA and $192 into a Dependent Care FSA. We split up the Dependent Care FSA to take advantage of an employer reimbursement benefit. Because we both contribute, we each get an extra $38 added to our paychecks each pay period.
We also both signed up for our own supplemental life insurance and disability insurance plans, about $30 a month. I cover E on a child life insurance plan for $0.74.
OTHER MONTHLY INCOME:
R and I receive a monthly reimbursement of $384 from a Dependent Care FSA.
From the rentals, I net about $1,380 a month in income.
Semi-annually I receive a beneficiary disbursement from my mother’s inherited IRA and annuity. They usually come to about $700-$900 per disbursement. We usually set this aside to help cover property/auto taxes and for Christmas presents.
Section Three: Expenses
Mortgages (and other fees):
  • Our home: $2,150 - R and I split this evenly. We budget half the monthly mortgage from each paycheck.
  • Rental condo: $805
  • Rental Condo HOA: $305
  • Rental townhouse: $400 for HOA and country club fees (the club fees are required since the property is within a country club development. The townhouse was fully paid for so no mortgage)
Renters / home insurance: most of the insurances are covered in the mortgage but I pay my sister $240 annually for landlord insurance premiums for the townhouse.
Savings:
  • $1,800 from our paychecks goes into a general savings bucket. We’re currently using this to fix up our new home and hopefully we’ll eventually use this as a down payment for another rental home.
  • $100 into a savings account for E. We started saving for her right when she was born to anticipate bigger expenses (like a car) for when she’s older. I recently moved $3,100 into an investment account for her. As I build up her savings, I intend to move some into her investment account. I’m just an investing newbie so I’m never quite sure what to do.
  • $250 into a 529 account for E
Debt payments: as needed for monthly credit card balances
Donations: as often as I see a worthwhile donation. Lately I’ve been donating more to election campaigns (register to vote, people!). In the past I’ve primarily donated to Planned Parenthood, BLM organizations, and a local museum, and some Gofundmes.
Electric: $150-$200 (it was a hot summer). I budget $150 to go into a savings bucket for this each month so I have enough to cover a few months in the event someone is out of work. I also cover the electric bill for my rental condo. It varies between $15-$30 a month.
Gas: $20
Wifi/Cable/Landline: $75 for wifi
Cellphone: $125 for two lines
Subscriptions:
  • Peloton: $38
  • Kid subscriptions: $15
  • Hulu: $11
  • Spotify: $12
  • Our cell phone company pays for our Netflix and the internet company covers Disney+
Pet expenses: $50 for food and treats. $90 for haircuts - the dog is on a better grooming schedule than we are. Annually we spend about $1,200 for checkups and teeth cleaning.
Car payment / insurance: $110 auto insurance for two cars. Both cars were paid for in cash.
Regular therapy: about $11 every couple months. I started medication after I had E to help with PPD and cope with the grief from losing my mom. I’m happy to say I’m in a great place two years later and we’re working on tapering off my meds.
Daycare: $1,814
Diapers/misc E purchases: $50
Christmas: $100 (I got in the habit of budgeting for Christmas when I was in college and had like no money, and I’ve just kept it going. Recently we’ve paused on this because of house/moving expenses)
Groceries: $800 (I know, it’s a lot)
DIARY:
Day 1: Friday
6:45 AM: The alarm goes off and I ask R to walk the dog so I can sneak in a few more minutes of sleep, but of course E has other ideas in mind and accidentally head butts me in the mouth. We all make our way downstairs and R grabs E a freeze-dried yogurt snack and makes me coffee. Afterwards, we chill on the couch and I let E watch a little bit of TV.
8 AM: I set out E’s clothes for daycare and finish my coffee while R gets her ready for school. They leave and I head down to the basement to take a shower. We’re currently renovating our master bathroom so R and I have been using the guest room bathroom in the meantime. I’m about to hop in when a huge centipede crawls towards me. I’m not sure if centipedes can hear screaming but I seem to have startled this one when I screamed. Instead of scurrying out of the bathroom, it just hangs out on the wall staring at me. Bugs are strictly R’s responsibility around here because I can’t deal. I text R and leave the bathroom ASAP.
8:30 AM: After the whole centipede situation, I have about an hour to kill before I need to log on for work. I’ve been teleworking since March and haven’t looked back. The schedule and “commute” (lol) have been amazing. With my free time, I contemplate laying back down in bed but decide to be more productive and opt for a 20-minute spin class on my Peloton. I drank the Peloton kool-aid last November and I am so into it. Having both the bike and a space to do floor exercises has kept me sane during the pandemic.
9 AM: R comes home after drop-off and, of course, the centipede is nowhere to be found. He promises he looked all around the bathroom and it’s clear so I hop in the shower. I make my way into my office and log on for work. I spend all morning reviewing a tool we’re using for an upcoming Open Enrollment season. R makes me another coffee and a scrambled egg sandwich for breakfast.
12 PM: The morning flew by and R tells me that the junk removers we hired are here. Since we’re renovating the bathroom, a lot of trash has built up in our garage. The junk removal company tells us because we’re getting rid of heavier items like floor tile and a bathtub, the total cost is a bit higher than the quote. R puts it on a credit card. It’s expensive but we have our garage back! $425
4:15 PM: I log off and head upstairs to see how R has done on the bathroom today. R started his new job back in March when COVID lockdowns started. He’s technically “teleworking” but without enough work to do, and since his job responsibilities are primarily on-site and we’re all supposed to telework if possible, his work days are spent listening to teleconferences and working on the bathroom. We got lucky that his team is understanding of how he’s filling his free time during the workday.
4:45 PM: The bathroom is looking great and we’re so close to being done. Before R leaves to pick up E from daycare, I pack her a little snack with crackers, cheese, and water. I realize I’m starving and I munch on a few crackers. After R leaves, I order groceries. Sometimes I split up our orders between delivery and pick-up if I’m stocking up (damn 50 item cart limit, Amazon) or if the store itself doesn’t have what I’m looking for. It turns out even online grocery shopping while you’re hungry is a bad idea. I end up with 3 separate orders. Two are scheduled for tomorrow and one order of just ice cream and chocolate is being delivered later. I’m in the midst of PMS and the cravings are real. I also stock up on extra meat and snacks since R’s sister is coming to visit next week. $370
7 PM: Groceries are delivered! R and I make dinner while E hangs out in the living room. R makes pork meatballs and cuts up zucchini and yellow squash to roast in the oven while I boil Cavatappi pasta. When the pasta is done, I mix in mascarpone, parmesan, and the zucchini. R takes one meatball and minces it. E is an unintentional vegetarian so we try to hide some of her proteins so she can at least get a couple bites in.
8 PM: Dinner is done and I promised E we would play hide and seek after. I offer E a strawberry mochi. She loves it but I’m kicking myself for giving to her so close to bedtime. We have E run laps around the kitchen as many times as she can to try to burn off some energy. I check my email and our CPA says that our tax return is finished. We didn’t use to use a CPA but ever since I got these rental properties, it made sense to use one to help out. We’re getting a return of $4,100 and I’m thrilled!
10 PM: E is finally in her room and ready for bed. It’s R’s turn to put her down. I read her 3 books and she’s finally starting to look sleepy.
12 AM: E woke up crying for us and we’re trying our hardest to see if she’ll go back to sleep. We can only stand 5 minutes of crying (it sounds so sad) before R goes in to soothe her and I decide to go to sleep too.
(Daily Total: $795)
Day 2: Saturday
7 AM: I wake up with a toddler foot in my face. We’re knee-deep into a sleep regression and I’ve been waking up more often than not with E, R, and pup all piled up into the bed. I’m thankful we sprung for a king-size shortly after E was born. I check my phone and I see my sister has sent me a Venmo request for $88. After my mom passed, we took over making payments for my dad’s life insurance policy and the premiums are due. After I send the Venmo, I browse Instagram and I see a post about Lindsey Graham asking for campaign donations. I send $10 to his opponent. $98
R makes me a coffee and I get a banana for E. We make her a “coffee” too (warm milk). Afterwards we veg out on the couch and watch E’s latest favorite, “A Nightmare Before Christmas.” It’s spooky season and we’re going hard - especially since I’m not sure how any of the normal Halloween events are going to work, if at all, during this pandemic. I figure I can at least make it extra fun at home.
I realize the second grocery delivery already came and I grab the groceries from the front door.
9:00 AM: R makes E oatmeal for breakfast while I do a 30-minute workout using the Peloton app. I’m a sweaty mess after the workout. I’m dying to take a shower but I remember R needs to go pick up the rest of the groceries by 10:00. R heads to the store and I’m on toddler duty. Once he gets pack, we all put groceries away.
11 AM: I’m starving since I skipped breakfast. I ask R to heat up shrimp scampi leftovers and make me another coffee. While I eat, R and E head down to the basement. We ordered a new bed to refresh our guest room. We moved back in July and there’s still boxes everywhere. R moves the boxes from the guest room to the newly empty garage while I play with E.
12 PM: I bring E upstairs for lunch. I heat up leftover pasta from last night. While she eats, I cut a watermelon for E to eat with lunch while I snack on the cold leftovers.
1:30 PM: R gets E down for a nap and goes to pick up weed. We usually get a large amount every few months from DC. I contemplate getting an ounce or a half ounce. The discount for getting the ounce is good but I don’t feel like shelling out that much so I settle on a half. $195
2:30 PM: Shit. I can hear E crying. I check the camera in her room and she’s standing in her crib, which means nap time is shot. I pick her up and try to soothe her back to sleep but it’s not happening. I bring her downstairs and let her watch Moana until R gets home. Once R gets home I hop in the shower. I throw on some Soolantra (I was recently diagnosed with rosacea, boo) and my Dr. Jart moisturizer making a mental note to grab some more soon. I slap on eyeliner, mascara, and Glossier cloud paint. The nice thing about having to wear a mask when I go out is I don’t feel a need to wear foundation anymore.
4 PM: Somehow we all manage to get dressed and leave the house in 20 minutes. I swear you have to add 20 minutes to anything you do with a toddler. We head to an outdoor shopping center to find more masks for E. It’s been a struggle finding a mask E will wear for an extended period. Our state only requires masks for children 10 and up, but I figure if I can get E to get used to them now, it’ll be that much easier if she’s in a place where she has to wear one. Luckily we found a place with a mask she enjoys wearing. I buy two. $30
I didn’t bring E a snack since she hasn’t been interested lately. Of course today she wants one. We’ve been offering her a special treat if she does a good job keeping her mask on so I stop by a coffee stop and pick up two cookies for us to eat outside. $6
I’m trying to plan out a gallery wall for our new house so I’m always on the hunt for frames. I find a clearance frame for $14 at West Elm and also grab a spoon rest to keep by our coffee maker since R won’t stop setting used coffee spoons on the counter. $20
5:25 PM: Eek! I’m late for a threading appointment. I meet with my favorite threader. She’s the best and it feels like we’re old friends. I’ve been seeing her for years. The threading costs $10. I tip the same amount since I know they had to shut down for a couple months earlier. $20
7 PM: E helps me make dinner. Tonight we’re having breakfast for dinner since E loves pancakes. We make a spinach pancake blender batter (yay for sneaky veggies!). R takes over and makes the pancakes, eggs, and bacon while E and I veg out on the couch. After dinner I play with E in the basement while R gets the new guest bed set up.
10:15: R offers to put E to bed tonight and I’m not going to argue. I hang out in the bedroom browsing Pinterest. We still need a coffee table for the house, but I end up browsing night stands instead.
(Daily Total: $369)
Day 3: Sunday
12:30 AM: E woke up crying for us again. I go in and cuddle her until she falls back asleep. I’m feeling pretty accomplished because R is usually the one to soothe her at night. E views me as the fun one so I have a tendency to rile her up.
7:30 AM: I force us all out of bed. At some point E woke up again and R brought her into our bed. R makes me a coffee and I cut up a mango for E, which she wanted at first and then didn’t but ends up eating it. We spend the morning picking up the house and doing laundry.
12 PM: R feeds E leftover spinach pancakes for lunch while I hop in the shower. After lunch, R takes E to her room for nap time. I cuddle with the pup in our bedroom. I’m still searching for the perfect (and perfectly priced) nightstands to go in our guest room. I think about packing a bowl because, fuck if, it’s the weekend. I ask R if he’s interested. When he doesn’t reply, I check E’s camera and I see he’s fallen asleep with her - typical. I decide to wait until the evening.
2 PM: I realize I missed breakfast and I’m starving! I heat up leftover noodles from Friday and eat while browsing my phone.
4 PM: I’m supposed to go to my dad’s so R can help install a new faucet. On the way there we stop by a home decor store. I get E a little toy. We also pick up a couple Halloween decorations. $30
7:30 PM: My dad made us dinner to take home in exchange for installing the faucets. It’s a nice gesture and one he definitely doesn’t have to do, but I think he enjoys it. We eat the food my dad made and it’s a hit even with E. I grew up eating my dad’s cooking so it’s always a comfort food for me.
9 PM: I get E in the bath. It’s my turn to put her to sleep. R reads to her after her bath and I take over when he’s done. It’s hard for E to settle but I manage to seal the deal! R and I celebrate with ice cream.
(Daily total: $30)
Day 4: Monday
4 AM: E wakes up and R brings her into bed with us. She cuddles with me for the next few hours.
7:30 AM: I’m finally done snoozing my alarms. I wake up and find myself sleeping on the edge of the bed. E is next to me totally horizontal. R makes coffee for me and a snack for E. We hang out until it’s time to get ready for daycare.
8:30 AM: R leaves to drop E off and I have an hour before work. He stops to get gas on the way home. I had thought about working out but fuck it. I lay in bed and browse my phone. When R comes back he offers to make me breakfast, but I grab a banana and string cheese instead. $33
10:30 AM: I should’ve opted for breakfast because I’m still hungry. I grab some crackers to munch on. I get a message from a coworker following up on whether I can do a presentation at the end of October. I have a habit of stretching myself thin because I can’t say no - it’s something I’m trying to work on. But I have a lot coming up and I know I’ll be swamped during that time. I’m nervous about it but I say I can’t do it. Thankfully my coworker is very understanding and I’m happy I was actually able to say no to someone.
1:00 PM: I take a break from work to munch on some chips my dad gave me from yesterday. R runs out to grab vape juice from a nearby shop. $88
2:30 PM: I get a notice my checking account is overdrawn because I made a bunch of credit card payments last week. This happens pretty regularly since I move everything into savings after each pay day. My bank doesn’t charge any fees for this. I move over some money from my savings account. Since it’s a HYSA with limited transfers, I lump together the overdraft amount from my checking account along with other upcoming payments I have scheduled in the next few days ($2,500).
3:00 PM: I find two nightstands for the guest room that can be delivered before the end of the week. The day is almost over for me and I’m totally checked out - one of the downsides of teleworking is how much easier it is to just space out without anyone watching or caring. I spend the rest of the workday browsing coffee tables. $200
4:30 PM: Work is done! I log off and switch into gym clothes. I hop on the Peloton for a 30 minute class. R heads out to pick E up from daycare. When the class is over, I grab a shower before E comes home.
6:00 PM: R gets home with E. We wash her hands, change her diaper, and play in her room for a bit. We recently started packing an after school snack for E but of course I forgot today. I feed E a couple crackers while she sits on the kitchen counter. R takes E and the pup for a walk while I water my plants. My New Year’s resolution was to keep a plant alive this year and I’ve done it! I got a solidly brownish-green thumb now.
7:00 PM: R makes dinner, shrimp scampi, while E and I cuddle on the couch to watch a movie. I browse coffee tables. After dinner, we FaceTime with my MIL so she can get her E fix.
10:00 PM: it’s R’s turn to put E to put down for bed. While R walks the pup, I read to E. Once he gets back, we switch. I chat with a friend who’s also a newish mom before bed. She recently got an au pair and I’m so curious. While I’d love E to stay at home to keep her safe, she loves being able to play with other kids and she got a little stir-crazy during our state’s lockdown. Since being back at daycare, she’s learning so much and having a great time. I find out you have to provide room and board to the au pair, too, which I’m iffy about just because I really enjoy my privacy and walking around without pants on.
(Daily total: $321)
Day 5: Tuesday
7:15 AM: E’s still asleep in her room - it’s a miracle! I go to her room to grab her and we all head downstairs. E gets cereal and a banana and R makes me an iced coffee. Once E’s done, we watch an animated book (I know that sounds weird. It’s basically this app that reads books and they’re animated) while R walks the pup. I check my email and see my autopay for the internet bill has processed. I also see an email from E’s daycare. The state I’m in has lifted restrictions for daycares and now it’s suggested that children over 2 wear a mask all day. The daycare isn’t requiring masks but they are suggesting them for E’s class. I’m not thrilled about it, but I get it. I pack a mask for E in her backpack. $75
9:30 AM: I grab some string cheese, hard boiled eggs, a banana, and a couple crackers to munch on while I get logged into work. R grabs the mail and I see there’s an escrow statement for my house. The escrow account is short. I opt to take the shortage in my monthly mortgage payments since it only increases the amount by $30 a month. I use a spreadsheet to track my budget and make sure to update the amount there and in my bank’s online bill pay.
12:30 PM: I have a telehealth appointment with my therapist. We talk about current stressors I have going on and my medication. I’ve been working on tapering down my medication but I know I have a lot of projects coming up. We discuss revisiting stopping the medication once things have calmed down. After, I check my personal email and realize my checking again is overdrawn again and I didn’t transfer the right amount. I log into my banking app and transfer the overdrawn amount. I check all my accounts against my budget and I start to feel a little panicky with all the spending that’s been going on lately since it’s been a lot towards house items and we recently replaced all the big appliances too.
3:00 PM: I’m hungry but it’s too late in the day for a full lunch. I heat up leftover scampi and mostly eat the shrimp out of it. While I’m eating, I remember the tax refund we have coming and I feel so much better about my recent spending. We usually do pretty well on our budget but the recent move and reno ended up costing way more than anticipated.
4:30 PM: I finally log off from work about 30 minutes after my usual time. My boss is on vacation so I’m covering for her this week, and there’s a lot going on. I check out the progress R has made in the bathroom today. The flooring is almost finished! When he leaves to pick up E, I also ask him to grab the prescription my therapist sent to the pharmacy. I hop on the Peloton for a 15-minute HIIT ride to warm up and finish off with a 30-minute upper body strength class. I’m trying to up my weights but it’s brutal. $10
5:30 PM: I’m about to take a shower when I notice the pup looking pretty guilty. I peek around and see that he’s thrown up in my office. I clean it up and spray the area with bleach. Luckily we have wood floors, which makes cleaning it up a lot easier.
7:30 PM: Dinner time and I’m starving! R makes us turkey cauliflower tacos. He started adding cauliflower so we had more leftovers awhile back when we were both going into the office and eating lunch. We’ve kept it up because you don’t even notice the cauliflower and we’re getting more veggies in - win win! E gets a quesadilla with tomatoes and avocado since she’s still an unintentional vegetarian.
9:00 PM: E and I FaceTime my SIL while R walks the pup. R offers to put E to bed tonight, which is awesome. I try watching some of the debate but it’s just unwatchable. R comes back from putting E down and we snack on some ice cream before getting ready for bed.
(Daily total: $85)
Day 6: Wednesday
12 AM: I think I had coffee too late in the day because I’m still wide awake. I make a list of the remaining furniture and decor we need for the new house so I can keep our spending in check and see where we can make concessions. I also make a list of bigger home improvements and estimate the cost. When my mom passed, I kept making mortgage payments on this property instead of fully taking over the loan. It was a chaotic time and my daughter was born just a few months later, so I felt completely overwhelmed. We’re finally in a good place to begin changing the mortgage to my name. Because of the low interest rates currently, we’re also refinancing and taking cash out. The house is about 20 years old and all the windows need to be replaced so we’re anticipating pulling enough cash out to cover that. I figure we might as well tack on the other home improvement projects we’re anticipating.
4:45 AM: I wake up with E kicking me. What is it with toddlers where they can’t stop moving their legs even when they're asleep? I guess she woke up crying and R brought her into bed with us. I try to roll her over to R but she rolls back over onto me - oh well.
6:45 AM: We’re up early because R has a few on-site meetings today. He gets up to walk the pup while E and I get a few more snuggles in. We head to the kitchen. E gets cereal and a banana. R eats with her while I drink coffee. I check my email and realize I donated to the Biden campaign last night after the debate, whoops. I didn’t mean to - I must’ve just clicked something in the email - but I don’t really mind. $30
7:30 AM: I get E ready for school while R gets dressed. It’s really starting to feel like fall so I put her in a tiny turtleneck. She requests her space buns for her hair today. The whole look is so cute, I can’t stand it. She’s looking like such a little girl now instead of a baby and it’s so bittersweet. R and E rush out and I have a whole 90 minutes to veg out.
9:30 AM: I make myself another cup of coffee before I log onto work. Since I’m home alone today, R’s not around to make me breakfast (cue the tiniest violin ever) so I grab a banana and some string cheese to hold me over.
12:30 PM: It’s been a busy morning and I’m feeling peckish again and just totally spaced out. R’s back from his meetings. He heats up leftover tacos from yesterday. I eat mine taco salad style without the tortilla.
4:00 PM: Quitting time! After I log off, R shows me the light fixtures he put in the guest room today. The lights look awesome. He installed a swing arm sconces by each side of the bed. I remember that I need to grab some Edison bulbs so whoever is here isn’t blinded when they’re laying in bed. R leaves to pick up E and I hop on the Peloton for a 5-minute warm-up before I do a 20-minute lower body class.
5:00 PM: Okay, whoever thought programming lunge jumps followed by squat jumps is just sadistic. That was rough. I take a shower and say hi to E when she gets home. R takes her and pup to the playground. I check my email and see the electric bill for the rental condo came in, which I pay. $17
6:30 PM: We play with E in her room for a bit. I see the new Google Chromecast is available to order. I’ve been waiting to get one from Best Buy because I have a $45 reward credit from when I purchased appliances a month ago. I use my credit to buy the Chromecast and the total comes to $5. After I order the Chromecast, we make dinner. We’re having pizza tonight. R rolls out the dough. E and I help spread the sauce sauce and sprinkle on cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms, and green peppers (on my half only because R hates like all vegetables). $5
8:00 PM: Once E finishes dinner, I give her a bath. R gets her ready for bed and reads to her while I sneak into the Halloween candy. I told R (and myself) I was totally getting candy just in case Halloween was still happening but we both knew that was a lie. I’m honestly surprised it’s taken this long for me to open it.
After bath time, I try to get E settled for bed. She’s super rowdy and I tap out. R switches with me and gets her put down.
(Daily total: $52)
Day 7: Thursday
6:30 AM: Up early again. R has an early on-site meeting today. He gets up to walk the pup and he feeds E some yogurt. After R leaves, E and I hang out on the couch for a bit before I get her ready for daycare. I check my email and see that R used the toll road yesterday and triggered a $35 reload on my EZ-Pass. I also check and confirm the HOA payment for my rental condo went through. $340
I browse Instagram and see news that just puts me in a funk for the rest of the day. The dreary weather doesn’t help either.
9:30 AM: When I dropped E off, I got to meet her new teacher, who I haven’t met before. With COVID rules, we aren’t allowed inside the daycare facility so I’ve felt disconnected from what E’s doing and what her class is like. E’s teacher tells me she’s doing wonderfully in her class and it’s a nice reassurance. I get back in time to make a coffee and let the pup out in the backward for a potty break before logging into work.
11:00 AM: R gets home from his meetings and tells me the nightstands I ordered came. They’re smaller than expected but fit really well. I’m a glutton for punishment and I do some cost comparison once I see the brand name on the box and I think I overpaid. Oh well.
R asks if I want him to make me any food but I grab some string cheese and a banana instead.
3:00 PM: I finish a meeting with someone that was really needy and had a lot of questions. I’m exhausted. I grab some chips and chocolate to eat. I peek in on the bathroom progress, but not much has changed. I get through the last hour at work. Once I log off, R and I put our Halloween decorations outside. I got them a few weeks ago, but R said I had to wait until at least October 1 to put them out. I can’t help it, I love Halloween!
4:30 PM: R leaves to pick up E. I decide to take a day off from working out since I’m pretty sore and lounge around on my phone instead. The CPA emailed and our returns are ready! I pay my invoice, which comes to $900 (total of $1,100 minus a $200 retainer I paid earlier in the year). Ouch! I wonder if this is just a lot to be paying? This is the first time CPA I’ve ever used and it just seems pretty expensive. I double-check my accounts to make sure I have enough of a balance in my checking account. I notice my other first of the month payments has hit - $1,814 for October’s daycare tuition and $250 into E’s 529. $2,964
6:00 PM: R gets home with E and tells me that she’s been telling everyone she’s having ghost pancakes because it’s almost Halloween. Apparently all the other kids wouldn’t stop talking about ghost pancakes all day. Oops! We hang out with E for a while. Her newest thing is pretending she’s sleeping in her bed, which I am totally down with. R walks the pup and once he gets back, he makes chicken sandwiches for dinner. While he cooks, I hang out with E and add things to my Amazon cart. I’m planning on making Halloween cupcakes with E but there’s a few baking supplies I need. I throw in some Halloween books and a toy for E along with a tracing activity book. I also add in some drawer dividers since I still haven’t unpacked all my clothes after we moved. Our old place had Elfa closets to store all my things so I never used our dresser. But now it’s a mess and I want to be able to better sort my underwear drawer rather than just throwing everything in. What is it with Amazon carts? Mine just get bigger and bigger until I realize maybe I don’t need three different sizes of edible eyes or tea light candles shaped like cactuses and I finally pare down. I can’t bear to hit purchase just yet so I leave the cart.
10:00 PM: R puts E to bed tonight. After I say good night to her, I browse nosleep. Not sure why but reading the stories on there always ends up putting me to sleep. I get sidetracked looking at recipes on Pinterest. Since we’re more than likely foregoing any trick or treating this year, I want to make sure E still has a fun Halloween. I try to distract myself as much as possible on Halloween because that’s the day my mom passed away. Having E around and really getting into the holiday helps. After awhile, I turn everything off so I can get some sleep.
(Daily total: $3,304)
WEEKLY TOTAL:
  • Food + Drink: $376
  • Fun / Entertainment: $195
  • Home + Health: $265
  • Clothes + Beauty: $50
  • Transport: $68
  • Other: $3,577
REFLECTION:
Lately, with the move and all the house reno work on top of our regular financial obligations, I’ve been feeling like I’m hemorrhaging money. Looking back on my spending for the week confirms it. I know it’s temporary and we’ll be back to a more regular budget once we’re done with all the house stuff, but it still feels stressful in the meantime.
I think this week has been eye-opening in that I need to budget out future home expenses in more detail than I’ve been doing since there’s a comfort in knowing what kinds of costs to expect. I’m also realizing that when we finally refinance the mortgage here, I’m going to pull additional cash out to finance our other improvement costs.
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