- Angela Rozmyn lives in Seattle with her husband and their son. They both work in construction and earn a combined income in the low six figures.
- They save 40% to 50% of their income and plan to become financially independent in their early 40s.
- For Business Insider’s “Real Money” series, Angela tracked their spending during a typical week.
- During the week, they spent a total of $US810 on flights to Iceland, family dinners, and a fishing trip.
- Want to share a week of your spending? Email [email protected].
My husband of 10 years and I live in the Seattle area with our 4-year-old son, two dogs, a cat, a corn snake, and the same roommate we’ve had for the past seven years.
Our ultimate goal is to reach financial independence in our early 40s, which is about 10 years from now. We have no plans necessarily to leave our jobs at that time, but we want the flexibility and freedom to make choices about our lives (including our employment) outside of the dollars we get from a paycheck. There is no guarantee that we will be able – or will want – to work in another 10 or 15 years, or even later, and financial independence gives us that security regardless of what life throws at us.
My husband and I work in the construction field, building affordable, sustainable communities in our very-high-cost-of-living area. We’ve always been fairly frugal – we got married for $US3,500 and managed to buy a home at 23, and I paid off my student loans at 25. (My husband never had any thanks to his time in the Marine Corps.)
I went back to work full time when my son was 5 months old. With two full-time working parents (and my husband was working 50- to 60-hour weeks), life during the week was hectic and a complete blur. We spent money to make life a bit easier, but it didn’t really help. We were just busy and overwhelmed.
Things needed to change, so when my son turned 1 year old, we put him in part-time daycare and I cut my hours to 80% time. Our families help out the rest of the week, so I work five days a week, just shorter days. Having my afternoons free of work meant I then had more headspace to tackle our spending habits and create more intentionality in our lives.
Three and a half years later, our spending for a typical week looks like this:
Our biggest discretionary spending is always our food budget.
Last year, our family of three spent $US36,667.10, plus our mortgage, daycare, and insurance costs. While it averages out to just over $US3,000 a month, this number fluctuates quite a bit depending on what expenses crop up – namely, home maintenance and vet bills; our older dog has had some serious health issues over the past two years.
Our biggest discretionary spending is always our food budget, and while it is two-thirds less than it used to be, we still spend a healthy amount on groceries and eating out (usually while on vacation).
Second and third are pet expenses and vacations. We often go out of town on weekend adventures, usually camping or staying in Airbnbs, and then use travel rewards to reduce the cost when we do bigger trips like Hawaii and a road trip up the East Coast.
We have a roommate and bought our home in the bottom of the real-estate market, so our housing costs are quite low for a very expensive area. We charge him well under the going rate for rent, but he watches our animals when we go out of town, so it works out well for all of us.
Our families watch our son three days a week, so our childcare costs are quite reasonable for our area but, again, still really expensive compared with most parts of the county.
We don’t have car payments or any debts other than our mortgage, so our fixed costs are quite low for the Seattle area. This gives us more flexibility to spend on the discretionary items that are important to us while still maintaining a high (40% to 50%) savings rate.
My husband and I make median incomes for our area, which equates to the low six figures. Salaries are higher here, but so are the rest of our expenses, from childcare to housing to groceries. Otherwise, we make a very small amount of passive income from investments.
We spent $US810 this week, plus just over $US100 in the “giving” category, which I track separately.
We spent a total of $US810.01 this week.
I track giving separately from the rest of our spending – this week it was $US50 to an ALS charity after finding out that an old teammate’s father was diagnosed with the disease, and $US72.53 to buying dinner for out-of-state friends who just had their baby. While this isn’t “charity,” per se, I separate all our giving and track it to encourage us to be more generous with our incomes.
On Sunday, my husband and I got out for a date.
To start the day, the three of us headed over for breakfast with my family. My grandmother has lived with my parents since I was a baby, and my youngest brother was home from college on summer break. They live less than a half-hour drive away, so we visit them often.
After we spent some time hanging outside in their yard enjoying the sunshine, my mother encouraged me and my husband to go for a mini date day. We took her up on the suggestion and made the half-hour walk to downtown, where we went to lunch at one of our favourite local restaurants. My husband had been hanging on to a gift card he got as a present, so we ended up not spending any money on the meal (including a good tip for our server).
After that, we went for a walk around the town for a bit and eventually ended up at a brewery down near the water. We don’t often get time without kids around, so we take advantage of the adult time to go to 21-and-over spots. We grabbed a couple of beers and snacked on some of the free popcorn before walking back to my parents’ house.
We drove home, worked in the garden a bit, and caught up on some chores. The weather is usually pretty great in August, so laundry gets hung up on the line on our back deck. I’ve had a clothes-buying ban for myself for the past 2 1/2 years (with a few hand-me-downs from friends), so line-drying helps my clothes last longer.
Dinner was a low-key meal of leftovers.
The weather was exceptionally nice on Monday, so we had a picnic dinner at the park .
Monday morning, I dropped my son off at preschool before heading into work. I keep a French press at work and make my coffee once I get there. Lunch was a simple meal of yogurt, granola, and fresh blueberries I picked from my garden.
Once my workday was over, around 2 p.m., I picked up my son and we bought a mouse for our corn snake before heading home for the day. My husband got home a few hours later, and then we decided to take advantage of the beautiful 80-degree weather and head down to the beach park near our home.
We used to pick up takeout a couple of times a week just because we felt too busy or tired to want to cook every night. This time, we intentionally decided to go to the Mongolian grill restaurant down the street from the park and walk the takeout to a picnic bench to enjoy the nice weather.
Halfway through the month, this was our first dinner not at home. Now that we make it a less frequent occurrence, the meal feels special and not just something that happens during the week.
After eating, we walked around the boardwalk over the water and our son played in the water before we headed back home for the evening. My husband remarked that it felt like an extension of the weekend, which is an excellent way to start the workweek.
We had a slow start to Tuesday, with coffee and doughnuts.
Tuesday morning, my son and I rode in with my husband early, and he dropped us off at the coffee shop near the preschool. We then grabbed a doughnut, a coffee for me, and a hot chocolate for him and enjoyed a slow morning together. The coffee shop had a good stack of children’s books, so we read them together before I sent him off to preschool for the day.
Once I dropped him off at preschool, I walked the three miles to my work, half of it along a lovely gravel trail. Along the way, I snapped a few “now hiring” signs that I walked by for the Jobspotter app, earning myself $US3.25 in Amazon credit.
At my job I had a working lunch, so I got a meal out of the meeting.
That evening, I made a casserole from potatoes, garlic, and carrots we had picked from the garden earlier in the week, along with some cheese and sausage from Costco. My son and his neighbour friends had accidentally picked way too many carrots, so this was a good way to use up a lot of them.
On Wednesday, we had dinner with my family.
To start my day, I went for a 40-minute run with a friend after my mum picked up my son. My mother and grandmother watch him on Wednesdays, so he spends those days at their house.
Since I have to pick him up in the afternoon and traffic tends to get pretty bad, we usually stay for dinner. (My husband gets an evening to himself because traffic is terrible by the time he’s off work and it’s not worth the extra drive time.)
I also got a tip from a friend that there was a particular deal that day for plane tickets to Iceland, where we are going for our 10-year anniversary. I hopped online and purchased our four plane tickets: three for us, and one for my husband’s godfather, who is coming along as babysitter. Thanks to the lower price and some credit-card travel rewards, we spent just $US633.42 on the four plane tickets.
Thursday was a no-spend day, and we had a low-key dinner with the neighbours — a regular occurrence.
There were leftovers from another work lunch in the office, so I ate that for lunch, as much as I would have rather grabbed something else to eat. The meal was free, and I helped to make sure that the leftover food didn’t go to waste. For me, the sustainability part of it is even more important than the savings.
After work, I checked in with my neighbours because we planned to have dinner together that night. We split the cost of a quarter of a cow with them from a local farm, and we decided to make meatloaf that night. We both grow potatoes, so we made mashed potatoes to go with it, rounded out with canned corn from Costco.
Last-minute, we called out to a neighbour when she got home, and she joined us for the meal as well, bringing a fresh cucumber salad she made from cucumbers she had been given by yet another neighbour.
We live in a wonderful, close-knit neighbourhood, and these weeknight meals are a regular occurrence.
I had takeout for lunch on Friday, and we got ready for a fishing trip.
Friday probably should have been a no-spend day for me, since the only spending I did was to pick up tofu spring rolls for lunch.
Before I buckled down on our spending, I would buy lunch at work four or five days a week. To break that habit, I then went six months where I packed my lunch every day. Now, to strike a more reasonable balance, I allow myself one lunch out a week, and Friday was that day. I walked to pick it up, so I enjoyed a few minutes out in the sunshine as well.
We had plans to go fishing with my dad on Saturday morning, so we decided to stay at my parents’ house that night so we could sleep in a little more before leaving on the boat at 7 a.m.
We don’t usually spend quite so much time with my family, but I am definitely not disappointed when we do. My husband had bought some homemade tamales the previous week from a coworker’s daughter, so we had them for dinner.
On Saturday, we enjoyed salmon fishing and a neighbourhood cookout.
First thing Saturday morning, we headed out to the marina and took off fishing in my dad’s boat. A few hours later, we limited out with 14 salmon. My dad and his friends who went with us had been out the previous weeks during king salmon season and had plenty, so they urged us to take all the fish.
We hadn’t expected to take so many home, so we quickly invited our friends and neighbours over for a cookout that evening. My husband ran out to grab some teriyaki sauce, breadcrumbs, and cedar planks to prep the salmon dinner. He drove to the store instead of walking because my car was low on gas. He knows I hate filling up my gas tank, so he did it for me. It might be a little thing, but it’s one I really appreciate.
We also borrowed some fishbone tweezers from my parents when we took the salmon home, and they worked really well, so we bought some on Amazon for the future (and some more pill pockets for the medications we give our dog twice a day, since we were running low).
We ended up with 20 people eating out on our driveway at a couple of folding tables after my husband and a neighbour barbecued and smoked the salmon four ways. At the end of the evening, we still had some left, so each group left with a fillet (plus some heads of garlic from my garden that I had just harvested, because I grew so much).
Weeks that end with neighbours, good conversation, and locally caught and harvested food are my very favourite. And we are so lucky that our life so often looks like that.
- Read more from our Real Money series:
- My husband and I are taking a 3-year ‘mini-retirement’ in our 30s. Here’s what a week of spending looks like for our family of 7
- I’m a dad and a business owner in my 30s with a 6-figure income – here’s how I spent my money during a recent week
- My wife and I retired in our 30s and now travel full-time in an Airstream trailer – here’s what we spend in a week
- I retired at 52 with a $US3 million net worth – here’s what a week of my spending looks like
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