A Week In Chicago, IL, On A $66,000 Salary

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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 who makes $66,000 per year. She spends some of her money this week on two movies and a lobster roll.
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Occupation: Project Manager
Industry: Retail, Visual Merchandising
Age: 28
Location: Chicago, IL
Salary: $66,000
Paycheck (4x/month): $840
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $1,275/month to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Lakeview by myself. Water is included. The rent is a bit steep, but I've loved living alone for the past two years.
Student Loan Payment: $225
All Other Monthly Expenses
Ventra Unlimited CTA Pass: $100 pre-tax from my paycheck, in two deductions of $50
ComEd Electric: ~$45-$70
Internet: $35
Gas: ~$30
Medical & Dental Insurance: $50 pre-tax from my paycheck, in four deductions of $12.50
Health Savings Account: $60 pre-tax from my paycheck, in four deductions of $15
401(k) Contribution: $350 pre-tax
Savings: $100
Cell Phone: $88. I'm on my parents' family plan and pay my portion of the monthly bill
Sephora Play! Box: $10
Capital One: $25 minimum, but I typically pay at least $75. I was a bit reckless with this credit card in my early-twenties and I'd like to pay it off soon to improve my credit score.
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9 a.m. — I sleep in a little bit since it's Sunday and want to revel in the weekend. I make coffee and plop back on the couch to continue my Hulu binge of a new show I stumbled upon on Friday night — You're the Worst. I eat a few handfuls of granola for "breakfast."

1:30 p.m. — After about three hours of TV (I'm all caught up now!) and an hour of housework, I finally head outside. I plan seeing War for the Planet of the Apes later today, but I decide to take a walk around my neighborhood first since it's such a beautiful day out.

3 p.m. — I haven't eaten since the granola, which is not the norm for me. I stop by a new Peruvian chicken place I've been wanting to try and eat a big lunch. I get a quarter Pollo Bowl that includes my choice of rice (I go with a mix of brown and green rice), my choice of quarter-chicken (I go with a leg), and black beans. I decide to take the long way to the bus to walk off a bit of the meal. $14.11

4:20 p.m. — I'm 10 minutes late to the movie, which is perfect since I missed the previews but walk in right when the actual film is starting. $8.75

6:45 p.m. — The movie was great, but I'm thirsty and refuse to pay theater prices for drinks. I stop by CVS across the street to pick up a flavored water. $1.29

7 p.m. — On my way home, I stop by Mariano's to buy groceries. I just got back from vacation last week and still barely have any groceries, so this trip is a necessity. I pick up a few things to make dinner tonight, including a pre-made salad and a pre-seasoned patty to make a hamburger. I also get some things for the rest of the week: eggs, spinach, green onions, white onion, tomatoes, raspberries, bananas, shredded cheese, black olives, lemons, limes, tortilla chips, ground turkey, coffee creamer, and cookies-and-cream frozen yogurt — delicious by the way! I plan on making smoothies for breakfast this week, and making a Mexican casserole tomorrow night that will last for a few days of lunch and dinner. $30.17

8 p.m. — I finally do the dishes that have been piling up and throw together a quick dinner from my grocery haul.

9:30 p.m. — My favorite Sunday night show, Insecure, is on. I cozy up with a few scoops of frozen yogurt.

10:30 p.m. — I prep a smoothie with bananas, flaxseed, raspberries, spinach, agave sweetener, and sliced lemon for breakfast in the morning. I'm always in a rush before work, so it helps to have things prepped and ready the night before.

11 p.m. — The Sunday Scaries have officially set in. I'm settled into bed, but I toss and turn all night.

Daily Total: $54.32
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6:30 a.m. — Mondays are the hardest days to get out of bed, but I'm finally up. I blend the smoothie I prepped last night and head out.

7 a.m. — I'm on my first of the two trains I take on my daily commute (plus a bus). I had a car when I first moved to Chicago from L.A. two years ago, but the cost and headache of parking in the city — in addition to the traffic — weren't worth holding onto it. I use public transportation to get everywhere I need to, but my office recently relocated further into the suburbs. My new commute is less than ideal but it gives me lots of time to read and listen to podcasts. Today, I listen to a new music playlist on Spotify and enjoy my smoothie.

8 a.m. — I settle in at my desk and make a cup of coffee. I usually drink the coffee at work during the week. It isn't the best, but it isn't horrible and I bring my own creamer to add flavor. I put a fresh bottle of creamer from my grocery haul yesterday into the office fridge. I plaster my name and initials all over it. I'm all for sharing, but there are known fridge thieves in the office.

12 p.m. — After a meeting that lasts longer than an hour, it's finally lunch time! I head out with a current coworker to meet a former coworker I haven't seen in a while for a quick lunch at Panera Bread. I order salad and a sandwich as a part of the "You Pick Two" deal. $12.10

3 p.m. — Snack time. I have a banana that I brought from home and tea from the office kitchen. I've become increasingly unhappy with my job lately (not to mention, there was a round of massive layoffs a few months ago), so I've been job searching pretty aggressively. I follow up with a couple of recruiters I've been in contact with and bookmark a few jobs on LinkedIn that I'll apply for when I get home.

5:15 p.m. — I catch the bus to start my commute home. From here, I'll transfer to a commuter train and then take another train back into the city. The bus ride is short and I finish up my podcast from this morning. Closer to home, I stop by Walgreens to pick up toilet paper and paper towels. $5.05

6 p.m. — Dinner time! I put together a Mexican casserole from a recipe I found over the weekend. I already had most of the ingredients at home but I use the green and white onions, tomatoes, shredded cheese, black olives, limes, tortilla chips, and ground turkey from my grocery haul yesterday.

7 p.m. — Food's ready. I eat and watch some TV. I've challenged myself to not drink during the week, but a glass of red wine would be perfect right about now... After dinner, I do some work on my blog. I'm working on a travel vlog post from a recent family vacation. I edit a few videos, which only makes me want to go back on vacation.

9 p.m. — I straighten up around my apartment a bit since I didn't do as much cleaning as I should have over the weekend. I take another look on LinkedIn at the jobs I found earlier, send in my résumé, and hope for the best! After, I decide to shower and call it a night.

10:30 p.m. — I get into bed and I immediately fall asleep.

Daily Total: $17.15
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6:30 a.m. — I throw together another smoothie with the same ingredients from yesterday and pack up leftovers from the Mexican casserole for lunch. I usually try to prep breakfast and lunch before I go to bed, but I was so tired last night that it slipped my mind. Somehow, I still make it out the door on time.

7 a.m. — I get to the train station to see that all train service has been suspended on the line I need due to police activity at a stop south of me. I check Uber and Lyft, and both are surging at more than $60 for a ride to work, which is completely out of the question. I text a coworker who lives in the area and ask to ride to work with her instead. I enjoy my smoothie along the way; it actually tastes a little better than it did yesterday.

8:30 a.m. — I finally make it to work, settle into my desk, and make a cup of office coffee. I hope this morning wasn't a preview of how the rest of the day will go.

12 p.m. — The day is dragging by but we have a vendor coming in for a lunch meeting. They bring pizza and salad. Free lunch is always great!

1 p.m. — Since I had a working lunch, I decide to take a quick walk outside to get fresh air and a quick break from the day.

3 p.m. — I snag a piece of leftover pizza from the meeting. I really need to work on cutting back on grazing and snacking, but I don't think my lack of motivation at work is helping either. I see that a recruiter I had a phone interview with last week has requested an in-person interview with me this week. I schedule it for Friday morning!

5:15 p.m. — I finally head home for the day and catch the bus a block from my office. My commuting buddy, who works in the same building as me (but for a different company), is also at the bus stop. We usually chat throughout the ride, which makes the commute more palatable after a long day of work.

6 p.m. — I break my no-alcohol rule and stop by Walgreens to pick up a bottle of red wine. The checkout line is long and the Oreos are taunting me from the shelves. I grab a sleeve of Double Stuf Oreos to treat myself to dessert after dinner. $14.11

7 p.m. — I warm up leftovers for dinner, have two glasses of wine, and do a little more work on my blog.

9:30 p.m. — I'm going to a wedding in Wisconsin next month and I still need to book my hotel room. I do some investigating and confirm a room for a one-night stay. I love my friends and celebrating their love, but weddings are eating up a huge portion of my "entertainment" budget. $125

10:30 p.m. — I can barely keep my eyes open, so I shower and head to bed — still tossing and turning for another hour before I fall sleep.

Daily Total: $139.11
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6:45 a.m. — I make a smoothie (my last for the week) and make my way to the train station a little behind schedule. Every minute counts since I have to transfer among three different modes of transportation to get to work.

7:15 a.m. — I'm finally on the train and start another podcast about knowing your worth at work. It actually helps motivate me for the day ahead.

7:40 a.m. — I'm feeling pressed for time between the transfer from my first train to the second one. The first train gets held up, which results in me having to take a later second train and missing my bus. I debate between waiting 25 minutes for the next bus or taking a ride share to the office. I go with the ride share. This commute is starting to get draining. $6.64

8 a.m. — More office coffee while catching up on emails and planning my tasks for the day.

10:30 a.m. — Snack time before I head into my team meeting. We have free snacks in our office that are delivered monthly. The only downside is that the snacks are typically gluten-free so they don't always taste the greatest. I grab a chocolate and peanut butter bar that's surprisingly delicious.

12 p.m. — I've been counting down the hours to lunch. I warm up leftovers from my Mexican casserole and head out to the park across the street with two coworkers. My office is in the middle of a neighborhood in the suburbs, hence the park. We chat and eat for a while, and then take a 10-minute walk through the neighborhood. Some days, I spend a lot of time sitting down so I try to fit a walk in when I can.

5:30 p.m. — On my way home, I decide that I'm too tired to cook tonight. I stop by a Chipotle right off the train line and pick up a veggie burrito bowl and chips and salsa. I typically can't finish a full burrito bowl in one sitting, so this should last two meals. $11.33

9 p.m. — A laundry service I've used before is running a promo this week — $1/pound of laundry with free pickup and delivery. I scheduled a pickup for this evening because I've been putting off laundry for a while and this offer was too enticing to pass up. A courier arrives and picks up my laundry bag. I should get it back within two days. I won't know the total cost until it gets back to me, but I'm guessing it'll cost around $25. The driver is almost an hour late so the company gives me $5 off my order.

9:30 p.m. — I remember that I signed up for a free 30-day trial of Amazon Fresh and haven't used the service yet. I put together an order that includes things I need for a brunch I'm hosting at my apartment on Sunday, in addition to general groceries for next week. The order is set to be delivered on Friday afternoon. Technically, I won't be charged until it's out for delivery (which is free for orders over $40), but I consider it going through now. I order almond milk, black beans, frozen corn, a variety of fresh fruit, English muffins, shredded cheese, bacon, instant oatmeal, biscuits, cereal, Italian sausage, and a 12-pack of La Croix. $51.26

Daily Total: $69.23
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6:30 a.m. — I wake up later than I should have and didn't prep anything last night before bed, meaning I'm scrambling to get ready this morning. I decide not to make breakfast, but I do grab a banana and my leftover Chipotle for lunch. I debate stopping by a coffee shop on my way to the train but don't have time.

7:10 a.m. — I realize on the train that I forgot my headphones at home — fail! I catch up on personal emails and scroll through Instagram and LinkedIn throughout my commute.

8 a.m. — I make it to work on time and head to the office kitchen to make a cup of coffee. I realize that I have to eat something this morning or I won't make it until lunch. I'm not one of those people who can go all day without eating. The pickings are slim, but I buy a pack of Brown Sugar Pop-Tarts from the vending machine. $1.25

12:30 p.m. — A coworker mentions that our local Chipotle is running a fundraiser today for Lurie Children's Hospital — 50% of all sales for the day. No, I'm not addicted. I just feel it's my civic duty to head back to Chipotle... I get three soft tacos with black beans, chicken, and veggies. I make a mental note to take my leftovers from the fridge at work home for dinner. $10.75

4:40 p.m. — I decide to sneak out of work a little early. I'm pretty much wrapped up for the day & head out to the bus to start my commute. Usually I'm exhausted by Thursday, and today is no different.

6:30 p.m. — A friend sent me a promo code for a free month of vitamins from Care/Of, a personalized monthly vitamin subscription. I take a quiz to determine what my needs are — lethargy seems to be one of them — and I'm given recommendations for daily supplements: fish oil, Astaxanthin, calcium, Ashwagandha, and Rhodiola. Without the promo code, I would have paid $53/month, but the code lobs off $50. I've been wanting to take more vitamins for a while but $50 is more than I'm willing to pay. I'll know for sure once I receive my order in a few weeks! $3

9 p.m. — After dinner, I decide to head to bed early and read a few chapters of the book we're reading in my book club. Sometimes I feel like an 80-year-old woman trapped in a 28-year-old's body, but I'm not mad about it.

Daily Total: $15
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7:30 a.m. — I'm working from home today which means I get to sleep in a bit and make a more lavish breakfast than usual. Coffee plus scrambled eggs with jalapeños, black beans, cheese, and tortilla chips. All those years of living in Southern California really rubbed off on my appetite.

8:30 a.m. — I head downtown on the train for an interview at a new job; it's my second interview for this position. I really like the job and company, and I'm feeling good about the process so far. Wish me luck!

10:30 a.m. — I call in for my team meeting and catch up on emails from the morning. It's hard to concentrate on work after my interview, plus it's Friday! I get some housework done, a huge benefit of working from home.

12:30 p.m. — I warm up my leftover Chipotle and eat while catching up on The Bold Type on Hulu. After, I decide to go for a walk around my neighborhood. I tend to feel cooped up on days I work from home, and midday walks are helpful.

4:30 p.m. — My Amazon Fresh order is delivered! All the fruit seems to be in good condition, and the ease of this service reconfirms Amazon as my one true love.

6:30 p.m. — A friend I haven't seen in a while comes over for dinner. She brings wine and I throw together a dinner of zoodles and homemade pesto. We spend the rest of the night catching up over a few glasses of wine.

Daily Total: $0
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7:45 a.m. — I have a bad habit of waking up early on the weekends and I'm awake before 8 a.m. on a Saturday. I lay in bed for a few minutes, then decide to get up and go for a walk, and do a 15-minute HIIT workout when I get back home.

9 a.m. — I make avocado toast and bacon with a side of sliced fruit for breakfast. A cup of coffee is also necessary.

9:30 a.m. — The delivery window for my laundry is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., so I decide to lounge around the apartment for a bit and clean up to pass the time.

1:15 p.m. — The delivery window has come and gone and I still haven't heard from the driver delivering my laundry. I contact customer service and they give me another $10 credit for "my troubles." The driver finally arrives — 20 minutes outside of the window. After the credits and the discounted service price, I end up only spending $5 for 20 pounds of laundry. I consider that a win! $5

2 p.m. — Once my laundry is taken care of, I'm free to head out and run errands! Earlier in the week, I ran out of both concealer and foundation, which means I'm in for a pricy endeavor. I have a 20% off coupon and rewards points to redeem at Ulta, so I head there to grab my go-to foundation (Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Foundation 12.0) and concealer (Nars Creamy Concealer in Hazelnut). NYX products are BOGO, so I also grab a bottle of Matte Finish Makeup Setting Spray and a Micro Brow Pencil. $64.18

3 p.m. — I decide to see another matinee movie, Detroit. I'm a little hungry by the time I get to the theater so I grab a small bag of popcorn ($6.25) on my way in. The movie was well shot and hit close to home given the current sociopolitical climate. $15

5 p.m. — On my way out of the movies, I remember that Old Navy is having a sale on jeans, which I'm in desperate need of. After spending too long in the dressing room, I end up buying three new pairs of jeans and two tops for under $70. Plus, I get $20 in Super Bucks to use next month. $69.76

7 p.m. — I recently received an email to my blog from a new dining app with a $20 credit to any restaurant in their network. I decide to try a lobster roll place downtown, where I order a Chicago Style lobster roll, chips, and a drink. My credit covers most of it. $2.83

8:30 p.m. — This feels like an expensive day, so I head back home to relax and prep for a brunch I'm hosting at my apartment in the morning.

Daily Total: $156.77
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