A Week In Chicago, IL, On A $90,900 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a project manager working in travel who makes $90,900 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on dollar oysters.
Occupation: Project Manager
Industry: Travel
Age: 28
Location: Chicago, IL
Salary: $90,900
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,438.68
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1326.95 (I live alone in a one-bedroom apartment for $1,325. $1.95 is a convenience fee by using an app)
Car Loan Payment: $513
Student Loan Payment: $409.84
Electricity: $24
Gas: $20
Internet: $70
Credit Cards: ~$400 (I have $1,500 left to pay off, but had to put an emergency trip for the entire family on a credit card last month.)
Cell Phone Loan: $50
Car & Renters Insurance: $130
401(k): $450 (matched by my employer)
Commuter Benefits: $75
Dental Insurance: $27.54
Vision Insurance: $9.90
Life Insurance: $13.20
Health Insurance: $97.50
Health Savings Account: $50
Cell Phone Plan: $0 (Graciously still being paid by my parents.)
Netflix & Hulu: $0 (I use my sister's and parent's accounts.)
HBO Go & Showtime: $0 (Included in my parent's cable bill, so I use their login.)
Spotify: $9.99
Savings: $40 (I also save using Digit and Qapital apps.)
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Additional Expenses
Gym Membership: $120/year

Day One

8:10 a.m. — I've been snoozing since 6:30, but I finally convince myself to roll out of bed, quickly get ready for work, and leave by 8:45. The trains are packed this morning and hard to get into. When I get to work, I settle in, fill up my water bottle, and grab a coffee.
10:30 a.m. — We had a department meeting today, but I decided to call in instead of attending in person. Halfway through the meeting they highlight key members of each team, and I'm the one chosen for my team! I give myself a pat on the back, since I started this job less than six months ago and sometimes I feel like I'm not living up to expectations.
12:15 p.m. — This day is dragging. There aren't many lunch options in our building, but I settle for a chicken salad/burrito bowl from one of the rotating restaurants I go to. I eat at my desk while reading Money Diaries and catching up on texts. My mom was clearing her inbox earlier and found drafts of my college entrance exam essays, which she forwarded to me. In one essay, my conclusion speaks about making myself the top priority despite outside pressures. Although I spent many years putting myself second, I'm finally starting to take care of me. Reading this was a good reminder to keep doing that. $9
2:30 p.m. — Slowest. Day. Ever. Grab a cup of coffee from the cafeteria, even though I really want Starbucks. I used to go at least twice a day for black coffee, and I've slowly cut back to making it a weekly treat. I spend time chatting with a coworker and see that someone has Swedish Fish at their desk, so I grab a few.
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4:35 p.m. — While waiting for another coworker to finish with her day, I put myself together by throwing on a quick French braid through the middle top of my hair and spraying my face with Mario Badescu rose water. My hair is feeling gross — I've been trying to use less dry shampoo, as it's clogging my scalp. I also take this time to research good clarifying shampoos and add the Neutrogena Anti-Residue shampoo to my Amazon cart. I have items in my cart that my cousin who lives in a different country wanted me to get for him, so I purchase those items ($115) and the shampoo ($9). When the package arrives in two days, I'll hand off his items to my dad, as he'll be traveling there next week. My cousin will then reimburse me through my dad. $9
4:45 p.m. — Freedom at last! My coworker and I grab an Uber ($3.87 for my half) to head to a restaurant close to our volunteer orientation for a bite and drink before it starts. Her friend meets us at the restaurant, where they tell us they're hosting a happy hour special for dollar oysters, so I get four and a cider ($16). My friend orders a cheese plate, and I help her pick at it. $19.87
6:30 p.m. — My coworker's friend drives us to the orientation, where we spent the next hour and a half learning about the different volunteer opportunities through this program at the animal shelter. We lucked out, as there's a puppy in the room!
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8:15 p.m. — Orientation is over, and I grab an Uber Pool home ($3.53). The guy I am seeing, G., wants to hang out tonight. I text him my ETA, and he walks over to my apartment. $3.53
9 p.m. — I beat G. to my apartment by about 10 minutes, so I quickly drop things off and then walk towards his direction, bumping into him halfway. We decide to walk around the neighborhood to see if a restaurant catches our fancy. After half an hour, we finally settle at a grilled cheese restaurant. He orders a plain grilled cheese, and I get one stuffed with mac and cheese. He pays for dinner while I get the drinks. During dinner, we talk about what the protocol should be for splitting expenses on dates. We both agree that 50/50 is the way to go, whether it's split checks or alternating purchases. I breathe a sigh of relief, since during my last relationship I paid for 75% of our dates and expenses. $22
10:30 p.m. — We finish our dinner and drinks and start walking back to my apartment, but then decide to stop in at a bar to grab more cider and beer. He pays. After about an hour, we call it a night and I grab an Uber. $2.93
11:45 p.m. — I quickly wash my face, brush my teeth, and head to bed, tossing and turning until finally falling asleep around 2 a.m. At the end of the day, Digit saved me $20.44 and Qapital saved me $284.36.
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Daily Total: $66.33

Day Two

7:45 a.m. — Time to slowly wake up. I have to wash my hair today, since I didn't do it before bed last night. I hop in the shower and slowly get ready. I spend my morning contemplating where I want things to go with G. We met less than two weeks ago and I feel like he's going too fast, especially since he reminded me last night that he wants me to go to his sister's wedding next month. I love the conversation and company, but I don't know if I'm ready, plus there are things I love (like food and travel) that aren't up his alley. I just got out of a seven-year relationship. Although it ended over 16 months ago, I gave myself a full year to rebuild my self esteem, practicing self love, reconnect with friends, and figure out who I am and what I want out of life. I just started playing the field a few months ago, and I don't know if I'm ready to be tied down to one person yet. I'm finally ready for work at 8:45 a.m., so I pry G. out of bed and take the train.
10 a.m. — My ex just texted me "Good Morning." I haven't been responding to his texts for the past four months, but he still texts me multiple times a week. I eventually blocked him for a month, but he then started texting my sister to see how I was. In a moment of weakness, I unblocked him a week ago and this is the first message I've received since then. He mastered the art of gaslighting while we were together, so I'm trying my best to not fall under that trap again. I've worked too hard, so in order for me to be able to move on, I need to try my best to cut him out.
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10:30 a.m. — To distract myself, I spend some of my morning attempting to plan my trip to France and Italy next month. Between the logistics, requesting time off, and trying to contact the consulate for a visa appointment, this trip is really giving me a headache. My aunt invited us on this trip last month with my uncle and cousin, but unfortunately less than a week after the invite, my uncle suddenly passed away. When I saw my cousin at the wake, he kept asking me if I could go with them on the trip, so I said yes. I stress-eat the salt and pepper chips I find in my desk drawer. In the midst of searching for hotels, my aunt calls. I let her know where things stand, and she slightly panics and says they're not ready to be alone yet and desperately need the support as they continue to grieve. I promise her that we'll do everything to get the visas lined up so we can go and that I'll book the hotels at some point this week.
12:15 p.m. — Grab a chicken shawarma plate with hummus and salad for lunch and bring it to my desk to eat. My eyes are definitely bigger than my stomach, but that's okay. $13.86
3:30 p.m. — I take a short break from work to look at pictures of French and English bulldogs on Instagram. I really want one, but I can't have dogs at my apartment. I'm moving this summer and will eventually get one, but for now the pictures and videos will have to suffice.
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5:45 p.m. — I get home from work and organize my laundry so that it's ready for pickup. I decide to hang out on my couch for a couple hours before I resume being an adult.
8 p.m. — I start a couple loads of laundry for my sheets and towels. Minutes later, I get a text that DryV is at my door to pick up the rest of my laundry. Laundry is my least favorite chore, and I find that it is much easier to outsource than to bring it to my parent's house in the suburbs or use the machines in our building.
8:30 p.m. — I heat up leftover Keto Thai Coconut Chicken that I made last week and toss in cauliflower rice. I'm weird about leftovers, but I forgot how much I like this dish. I also make a flatbread with a Flatout wrap, turkey, pepper jack cheese, salsa, and giardiniera.
9 p.m. — I decide to text my ex back and ask what exactly he wants from me. He says he just wants to see how I'm doing because he cares. It takes all of my effort to not respond back that he should've cared while we were together. He asks if it's a bad thing, and I say yes. He stops responding. I put on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills to distract me while I eat the rest of my dinner.
11 p.m. — Start getting ready for bed by double cleansing, showering, and doing the rest of my nighttime routine. I ordered items from The Ordinary last month, and I decide to try the Lactic Acid 10% and HA 2%, and then layer on COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All in One Cream on top.
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11:30 p.m. — I finally get into bed and see that emails came in from work — I quickly reply on my phone before falling asleep. Today, my Qapital account saved $15.88.
Daily Total: $13.86

Day Three

8:15 a.m. — I roll out of bed and get ready for my day. I do my normal morning routine of washing my face, applying WonderPore toner, Stridex Red Box (BHA), Nature Republic Aloe, and Biore Perfect Milk Sunscreen. I then put on foundation, setting powder, bronzer, blush, touch of highlight, eyebrows, eyeliner, and mascara. I also run a straightener through my hair.
9 a.m. — My mom texts me on my way to work and asks if we're still going to New York in a couple weekends. I say yes and look at hotels and Airbnbs when I get to work, but get distracted before booking one. I also follow up on the email I sent the French consulate to ask for an appointment.
11:30 a.m. — The invoice for my laundry comes in at $52 for 33 pounds of laundry and they process the payment. Not bad for a month's worth of laundry. I start eating the lunch I made last night at my desk and call into a Lunch and Learn. After lunch, I grab more water and coffee and see that there are bags of Skinnypop popcorn to grab, so I get one to save for later. $52
4:30 p.m. — This afternoon has flown by! I eat my popcorn during a call. A friend texts me to see if I've bought anything for our friend's baby shower next weekend. I haven't, so I pop over to Target website and buy a car seat cover from her registry, plus a set of 3-6 month old onesies and a three-piece outfit. Whenever I buy baby clothes to give, I tend to never get newborn or 0-3 month sizes, since I assume everyone else will. I throw in a black and white tank top and black t-shirt for me to meet the $40 clothing minimum to get a gift card. $74.30
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5:15 p.m. — I leave work and hop on the train to head to my Brazilian wax appointment. It's raining out and I regret not taking the bus, since I have to walk 20 minutes from the train station to the salon. At the salon they ask if I want anything else done, since they're running a promo for 13.51% off all services for an Ax The Pink Tax campaign, since women typically spend so much more than men on similar items. I don't have anything else I need to get done, so I pass, but I appreciate the campaign. I prepaid for a year's worth of Brazilians last month, so I only have to leave tip. $7
6:30 p.m. — I walk over to G.'s apartment building to meet him for dinner. We go to a trendy pizza place where he orders a pepperoni pizza, and I get a pizza with prosciutto, spinach, caramelized onion, sun dried tomato, balsamic, goat cheese, and cream cheese. We also grab beers, cider, and two cookie dough bites. He pays.
8:30 p.m. — After dinner, we go to a bar down the block for more beer and cider. My phone has a tendency to blow up after work with texts and messages, and I try to ignore it the best I can when I'm mid-conversation, but G. gets annoyed that people are messaging me. I respond to texts while he's in the bathroom or on his phone, but this is a bad habit I need to figure out — finding the balance between enjoying company but not ignoring everyone who's trying to get a hold of me. I pay for the drinks. $17
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10:30 p.m. — We finally call it at night and I order an Uber. Luckily, I've had 40% off all rides for the past few weeks, so I don't mind picking up the tab. It doesn't make sense for someone else to pay more — although this discount has also skyrocketed my use of Uber from rare to multiple times a day. $6.55
11 p.m. — We get back to my apartment, and I do my nighttime routine and head to bed. My Qapital app saved me $17.95 today.
Daily Total: $156.85

Day Four

3 a.m. — I wake up with the worst sore throat. I toss and turn a couple hours and can tell that G. isn't sleeping well either — probably because I'm snoring up a storm. We take turns getting up and grabbing water and adjusting ourselves. Then I move to the couch at 6 a.m. so he can get rest.
8 a.m. — I finally get up off the couch and get ready for the day. G. left a few minutes ago to get a haircut. While getting ready, I make myself hot calamansi juice and pack almonds, Trader Joe's cat cookies, and a few pieces of Tim Tams for my afternoon snack. I see a container of cottage cheese and decide to bring it with me to work for breakfast. I leave at my normal time of 8:45 a.m.
9:10 a.m. — Get to work and settle in for a busy morning. I eat my cottage cheese while working, and try to ignore my sore throat. I can't afford to catch a cold now! The Italian consulate sent me an email indicating they don't have appointments for a while, but to keep checking their site in case people cancel. I check both the French and Italian consulates to see if I can score an appointment, but no dice.
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11 a.m. — Had a conversation with my boss regarding 2018 goals, and I feel good about what I need to accomplish and where I am. Just like any other job, there are headaches, but at least I'm learning to navigate them in this new job.
1 p.m. — I go upstairs to a cafe to grab hummus, carrots, and celery, but they're out for the day. Nothing else appeals to me, so I go back to my desk and eat the snack I brought. I've been spending too much money lately — dating is really expensive! I also want to get rid of my car, since I don't drive as often as I used to. I've always paid at least $500 monthly for my cars, and didn't realize how high that payment was. I want to trade it in for a more used car or a lease, but I don't want to lose money on the trade-in. I take a peek at the dealerships site to see if there's a used car that piques my interest, but I don't find anything. One weekend, I'll stop by the dealership and talk to a salesman.
3:45 p.m. — I finally get a hold of the French consulate, and they advise me to get a visa from another country in the Schengen region. Since Italy isn't available either, I try Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands. Luckily the Netherlands has appointments available in a month, and that gives my sister and I plenty of time to get the paperwork together. What a relief.
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5 p.m. — I leave work and head to happy hour with a few former coworkers. I order a glass of wine and split a hamburger, fish tacos, and truffle fries with a coworker. During dinner, we have a heated debate about dating, which leads to talking about what I should do about G.'s sister's wedding. The boys say it's harmless, but the girls agree it's too fast, and soon enough half the boys jump on the girls' bandwagon after I tell them more details. They are no help! I am still confused. $18
7:30 p.m. — We leave the restaurant and a few of us head to a new bar around the corner. It takes us a while to find it, as it's buried within another bar, but it ends up being a really cool place. The tables have an old school Nintendo hooked up with 500 games. I order a Moscow Mule and they order an Old Fashioneds and beer. I pay for everyone's drinks. $38.84
9:30 p.m. — I hop on the El with one of the guys, and we both get off the same stop. We walk east towards his apartment, passing my own, as I'm meeting G. somewhere along the route to go to another bar. G. and I stop by a pub, where I order a glass of wine and he gets a discounted beer. My wine is one of the worst glasses I've ever had, so I don't even attempt to finish it. It takes us 30 minutes to get our tab, only for them to charge him full price for the beer. He pays with cash and we vow not to return there again.
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11 p.m. — We get back to my apartment and see that my Amazon packages have arrived. I set aside the box with my cousin's items so I can give it to my dad next week. Then I remove my makeup and drink a cup of hot calamansi juice. G. convinces me to gargle salt water to soothe my throat, and I attempt to, but I'm skeptical. I feel slightly better and I knock out cold within five minutes of getting in bed. The Qapital app only saves me $4 today.
Daily Total: $56.84

Day Five

8:15 a.m. — Well rested, I roll out of bed and get ready for the day. I'm out the door by 8:45 and say goodbye to G.
11:15 a.m. — I place an order online at an Italian cafe for a toasted sub on focaccia with hot capocollo, hot soppresatta, mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, homemade Italian dressing, and giardiniera. I pick it up and eat at my desk. My mom and I settle on a hotel for New York where we can use points, and my sister decides that she'll join the trip as well. $8.32
1:30 p.m. — I find myself dozing off at my desk, so I grab a coffee from the cafeteria. I'm really craving something sweet. My throat still really hurts, and I debate whether I want to get the Cold Buster/Medicine Ball/Honey Citrus Mint tea at Starbucks.
2 p.m. — Today is going by very slowly. I've been debating dyeing my hair lighter for summer for the last few weeks, and I finally bite the bullet and schedule an appointment for two weeks from now. Luckily, my sister has a free complimentary service at a nice salon by my apartment that she's letting me use, so I'll only have to leave tip. I browse Instagram for inspiration.
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4 p.m. — I get ready to head home for the day, but someone IMs me as I shut down. I quickly resolve the issue and head to the train. Unfortunately, there's a 15-minute wait. My headphones die right before I hop on the train. It's full of middle schoolers, and their conversations are innocent and pure, which put a smile on my face. Eventually, my headphones charge enough and I listen to the podcast Guys We Fucked, which always brighten my day.
5 p.m. — I get home, quickly change to sweats, and make myself a tuna salad with tuna, carrots, giardiniera, eggs, Valentina hot sauce, and a smidge of ranch and mayonnaise. I toast frozen Ezekiel bread, which I eat with tuna salad. I get a phone call from the cleaners that they're outside, so I grab the laundry and decide to deal with it later. I settle on the couch to relax from the week and watch an episode of Jersey Shore: Family Vacation.
8:30 p.m. — I fall asleep during the same episode/scene of Grey's Anatomy that I fell asleep to last week. I get woken up out of my nap by text messages from a few friends I made tentative plans to go out with, but I am not feeling well at all, so I let them know and head off to bed.
9:30 p.m. — My throat is progressively getting worse, and I look up symptoms of strep, since I've never had it. I'm checking off almost all the symptoms, so I talk to my mom and sister and they both agree that I have strep or mono. Unfortunately, I don't have medicine to make the symptoms better, so I will have to tough it out.
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2 a.m. — After spending the night self-diagnosing and watching YouTube videos, I finally fall asleep.
Daily Total: $8.32

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — I spend the evening tossing and turning, and wake up to a Snapchat notification, which I respond to before proceeding to sleep on/off for the next four hours.
1:30 p.m. — Finally ready to get out of bed and take a shower. I use the Anti Residue shampoo and my hair feels great afterwards. Then I put a healthy dose of Olaplex 3 in my hair to soak in.
2 p.m. — Get to the urgent care down the street and wait to be seen by the PA. The nurse takes a strep test, and it comes back negative. But when she does the physical test, she says all signs point to strep — even how my throat smells. She prescribes antibiotics and I ask if she can give me something in case I get a yeast infection. I am ordered to be quarantined for 24 hours after starting the antibiotics. She sends in my prescription to the pharmacy down the street. I pay for the visit using my old HSA from my previous job.
3 p.m. — I hop in my car to pick up the prescriptions, Tylenol, and Ibuprofen. As I'm walking out, I realized that the pharmacist did not bother telling me that the antibiotics will cancel out my birth control — which I am surprised by but also not, since so many people end up pregnant this way (or maybe I watch too much 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom). I pay for the meds with my HSA (16.36).
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3:15 p.m. — After the pharmacy, I drive over to Trader Joe's to pick up yogurt to take with my antibiotics. In the process I also get avocados, sweet potato gnocchi, hummus, pita chips, mango pops, and mozzarella sticks. $26.06
4 p.m. — I make mac and cheese with tuna salad from last night. I take my first dose of antibiotics and the 24-hour quarantine countdown starts now. I turn on Grey's Anatomy and text G. and another FWB, B. I miss seeing B., and today is the first time in a while we're both free — but I'm not willing to get anyone sick.
10:30 p.m. — I spend the last few hours napping, texting with friends, and watching a movie that I barely pay attention to. I make mozzarella sticks and dip them in raspberry jam, which is surprisingly good. I have a bad tendency to eat like crap when I'm sick. Another FWB, T., texts me and asks if he gave me strep throat, after I posted the question on Snapchat (as a joke). I spent time with him last Sunday and he had to call off work on Monday because he wasn't feeling well. At least now the mystery is solved! I was thinking I got it from the dog at the animal shelter, because nothing else was out of ordinary during my week. I tell a few friends who I split meals and drinks with during the week in case they start to feel ill.
Daily Total: $26.06

Day Seven

2 p.m. — I went to bed fairly early last night, and spend the morning taking naps on and off. My stomach is upset from all the cheese I had yesterday, but I feel a ton better in general. I get out of bed with the intention of cleaning up my apartment, but I crash on the couch, watch Silicon Valley, and snack on miscellaneous food instead.
6 p.m. — I'm finally out of quarantine, but still comfortable on my couch. G. texts to see if I want to grab something to eat and I say yes. He's been out drinking all day, and despite telling him not to leave his friends, he says he really wants to see me, so I hop in the shower and try to make myself look presentable.
7 p.m. — G. gets to my apartment and I meet him downstairs. We walk a certain direction until he spots a pizza place he wants to try. He gets a slice of pepperoni, while I get spinach and mushroom. The slice is so big I can barely finish half. I pay and we walk back to my apartment. $13.95
8 p.m. — One of my Target packages arrives, and I realize I ordered the wrong size! I'll have to return it this week. G. convinces me that Westworld is a really good show, so I reluctantly let him put on the pilot episode. I find myself enjoying it, especially since so many people have tried to get me to watch it and it never sounded like my cup of tea. (I'm more of a trash TV kind of person.)
10:30 p.m. — Off to bed early today!
Daily Total: $13.95
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.
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