A Week In Northern Illinois On $16.75 An Hour

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 behavioral health coordinator who makes $16.75 and hour and spends some of her money this week on Dunkin' iced coffee.
Occupation: Behavioral Health Coordinator
Industry: Mental Health
Age: 22
Location: Northern Illinois
Salary: $16.75/hr
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,128
Gender: Cis Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I currently live at home since I graduated in December and I'm planning to go to grad school in August)
Student Loans: I have $21,000 in student loans, I will be using money left to me by my grandmother to pay them back.
Health Insurance: I'm currently on my parents plan
Spotify: $4.99
Cell Phone: On the family plan
Savings: I'm currently working on building up my savings account since I'm getting ready for grad school. After I get paid, I take anything over $500 out of my checking and put it in savings.

Day One

9:30 a.m. — I wake up and lazily scroll on social media for far too long then get up, shower, and throw on comfy clothes, because who wants to wear business casual longer than necessary? I use witch hazel toner on my face and moisturize with Clinique Dramatically Different Gel.
11 a.m. — Head downstairs and talk with my mom. She makes us some breakfast of French toast sticks and I make a coffee. Afterward, I help her fill out an application for a nursing license in a new state. My parents are considering moving after my younger brother graduates high school and are taking steps towards it now!
12 p.m. — My mom has to run to Walgreen's to take a passport photo as part of the application. While she's gone, I head upstairs to do my makeup. I use e.l.f. Matte Poreless Putty primer, Maybelline Fit Me matte foundation (can you tell I have oily skin?), Maybelline Fit Me concealer, Coty loose face powder, e.l.f. primer infused bronzer, some random Mary Kay blush, a little bit of eye shadow out of a random palette, L'Oréal voluminous Lash Paradise mascara, a L'Oréal eyebrow pencil, and Ulta highlighter. I set everything using the Mario Badescu cucumber, green tea, and aloe spray. I quickly blow dry my hair to get the last of the moisture out and run my straightener over any pieces that need it. I then change into work clothes. I wear a cropped red sweater from Target with high-waisted black pants. I wear my Toms shoes in order to be comfortable at work.
1:15 p.m. — My mom has some trouble uploading the required documents for the license, so I help her figure it out before I leave for work. I have to take her car to work because mine is currently in the shop.
1:45 p.m. — Arrive at work. I work at a residential treatment facility for patients with various mental health disorders. This is my second week here so I'm still learning the ropes. I feel pretty confident now, but it was certainly challenging in the first few days!
5:20 p.m. — Dinner time! One unique aspect of this job is that I eat dinner with the residents each night. We provide meal support for the people who need it and make notes to pass on to their dietitians and nutritionists. Tonight's dinner is spaghetti and meatballs and I get a side salad.
10:30 p.m. — Leaving work! Halfway home, I realize I left my coffee cup at work but I'm way too far to even consider turning around. I'll grab it when I go in tomorrow.
11 p.m. — When I get home, my mom is awake, so I chat with her. Then I head upstairs, remove my makeup using Garnier micellar water, wash my face with Cetaphil, use witch hazel toner, moisturize, and add Vitamin E oil on top. I then take my birth control, my probiotic (I had my gallbladder removed and this has really helped to regulate my stomach since), Lysine which helps fend off cold sores, a multivitamin gummy, and a biotin gummy. Then I turn on my essential oil diffuser and read a few chapters of the second Game of Thrones book. I watched the last season of the show with my roommates in college without having seen the rest of it, so now I'm reading the books to catch myself up!
2 a.m. — Finally get tired and head to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

9:30 a.m. — Wake up and scroll through social media.
10 a.m. — Finally pull myself out of bed and hop into the shower. I don't have to wash my hair today so it's pretty quick. After I get out of the shower, my mom tells me that we need to go pick up my dad's truck from his work so I can keep using her car.
12 p.m. — After lounging around for a while, I get up and do the same makeup as yesterday. I then get dressed. Today's outfit consists of army green linen pants, a black t-shirt with white stripes, and a cardigan.

2:15 p.m. — My mom and I head out. We swing by my dad's work and she gets into his truck while I drive her car. We drive to lunch — I have a ribeye sandwich and french fries while she has the same but with onion rings. After lunch, I head to work. I haven't had coffee today and I can feel the impending caffeine headache, so I stop at a Dunkin' and grab a large iced coffee with red velvet and almond milk. $2.20

2:45 p.m. — I get to work. I park my mom's car and head into the facility. I'm working with adults today so it will hopefully be a chill day.

5:10 p.m. — Dinner! Today's menu is quesadillas, black bean burgers, and beans or rice. Even though I'm lactose intolerant, I get the chicken quesadilla because it looks better than the burger. I also get a side of rice. I take two lactose pills when I get back to the table and work on checking the residents' plates to make sure they're following their meal plans.

11:25 p.m. — I head out for the night. It's snowing pretty hard at this point so a coworker and I call for safety to give us a ride to the parking lot. The facility sits on almost 50 acres, so it would be a pretty far walk considering the weather.

12 a.m. — I arrive home. I have to rearrange the cars in the driveway in order to park my mom's car in the garage. This is an ongoing challenge for my family because we only have a two-car garage for our four cars. One half of the garage is dedicated to my dad's woodworking tools, so there's typically three cars in the driveway that have to be in the right place for when everyone leaves in the morning.

12:15 a.m. — I finally finish moving cars and head inside. I make some popcorn then head upstairs to take off my makeup and do the same routine as yesterday. I then lay in bed and watch YouTube because I'm not tired considering the late coffee. I also chat with a friend who works overnight so he's still up. Head to bed around 2:30.

Daily Total: $2.20

Day Three

9:30 a.m. — I wake up again after having a scary dream about being kidnapped. I scroll on my phone for a little while.
10 a.m. — I get up and look out the window to see if I need to shovel the driveway. Luckily, the snow doesn't seem to be sticking and the driveway is clear. I shower and wash my hair. I do my normal morning skincare of toner and moisturizer and throw on comfy clothes until I have to get ready later.
11 a.m. — I go downstairs and make a cup of coffee. While that's brewing, I put away the dishes and start boiling water to make pasta. I then eat my lunch and go back to my bedroom. I check my email and text some friends I'm going to see this weekend. I have a grad school interview at my undergraduate university on Friday, so I'm staying Friday night and maybe Saturday night to visit with everyone. I do my makeup in the usual fashion, plus I comb out my hair and add some leave-in conditioner. I let it air dry for as long as possible.
1:15 p.m. — I finally get up and get dressed. Today I'm wearing black leggings with a long gray top. My work dress code is technically business casual, but people stray pretty far from that. I've seen people in my position show up to work in yoga pants and a t-shirt, so I feel fine wearing this, plus the shirt is long enough that it covers my butt.
1:45 p.m. — Leave for work! I stop on my way and get a medium red velvet iced coffee with almond milk and an order of hash browns. Is anyone else obsessed with Dunkin's hash browns? Just me? Okay. $3.24
2:25 p.m. — There is limited parking at work, so I circle until I see an open spot. I head inside to clock in and head to my meeting.
6:10 p.m. — Dinner tonight is build your own stir-fry and it's really good! I also get a side salad.
8 p.m. — A resident needs to go to the hospital so I grab my stuff and go with them. They tell me it'll only take 30 minutes… we'll see about that. We don't get back from the hospital until 11:30. I fill out some paperwork and head back over to my home building. I fill out some last-minute paperwork and then head out.
12:15 a.m. — Finally, home! I move around cars and pull my mom's car into the garage. I have a quick snack then head upstairs, take off my makeup, wash my face, and get into bed. I read a chapter of G.O.T. and go to sleep around 2.
Daily Total: $3.24

Day Four

9:30 a.m. — I wake up. I slept pretty deeply last night. I check social media and then get out of bed to shower. While I'm brushing my teeth, my mom reminds me to call the mechanic about my car. I call and ask for an update and they inform my the new frame isn't there yet (facepalm), but it should be coming today and the car should be ready by tomorrow afternoon. I give my mom the news and she says I can take her car down to my undergrad university. I book a hotel room for tonight since I'll be getting into town late and I don't want to disrupt any of my friends. They'll charge me when I get in.
10:45 a.m. — My mom and I make a run to Ulta. I need foundation, mascara, and an eyebrow pencil. Don't you just love when everything runs out at once? My mom also grabs a mascara and they're "buy two get one free" so she pays for mine so we can get the free one. $14.65
11:30 a.m. —We stop for groceries on the way home. My mom grabs lunch meat, romaine lettuce, salad mix, egg salad, sandwich steak, chips, almond milk, regular milk, and some cheese. She pays. We get home and I help my mom put away groceries. I then make a wrap with mayo, salami, onion, and lettuce. I also make myself a coffee, and eat some chips and salsa. I do my makeup, same as usual but I forget to put primer on before my foundation. Hopefully my face doesn't look too bad by the end of the day! I also straighten a part of my hair that got weird while I was sleeping. I then go into my room and start packing for my weekend.
2:15 p.m. — Leave for work! I stop again and get a large caramel iced coffee with almond milk from Dunkin'. I also got a blueberry muffin ($3.24). I'm driving about three hours after work so I want to make sure I can stay awake. $3.24
2.15 p.m. — I fill my mom's car with gas. She has a car that has to use premium gas, so it's more pricey than usual. $26.61
11:30 p.m. — After work, I stop at a gas station to get more caffeine and some snacks to help me stay awake. I get two bags of chips and a Dr. Pepper. I get on the road to my university town. $6.01
2:35 a.m. — Arrive! It was a rough trip and I'm happy I'm here. I pay for the hotel room. $69.86
Daily Total: $120.37

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — Waking up is challenging to say the least. I get out of bed and take a shower to help me wake up. I then run down to the lobby and grab a cup of coffee. I do my makeup and change into my business casual clothes. I head to the university for my grad school interview! Overall, I think the interview goes well. It's a group format, which isn't my favorite. I should find out in three weeks what the admission decision is. They pay for lunch so I make a build your own pasta and grab an iced coffee from Starbucks.
2 p.m. — I head over to my friend's apartment on campus. I used to live with her and a few other girls, but I moved out when I graduated in December. We spend some time talking and catching up, then we walk over to another building so she can show me the mini-museum she's been working on!
5 p.m. — Several other friends join us and we go to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. I get two steak tacos, guac, and a side of rice. I also get a small tropical margarita (this total includes tip, I tipped 20%!). $20.73
6:45 p.m. — We sit at the restaurant for a while chatting. When we leave, my friend, N., and I run to Walmart to get some drinks for tonight. I get a 12-pack of White Claw and blueberry açai chocolates. I also take out $20 in cash for when we go out later! We get back to the apartment and chat with my former roommate and her boyfriend, N., and I drink a few White Claws while hanging out. $16.75
11 p.m. — We decide to head to a bar downtown so we call an Uber. N. covers the Uber. We get dropped off and see that the bar we were planning to go to is dead… which is odd for a Friday night. We decide to try a different bar down the road so we walk over there. Second bar is… equally dead, lol. We decide to stay still and have fun. We order pineapple Cosmos and I cover the first round. The drinks are $16 and I leave the other $4 as a tip. $20
12:30 a.m. — N. covers the next round and we each get a White Claw. The bar closes at 1 and we're both tired so we decide to head back. N. again calls the Uber and covers the cost. We arrive back to campus and chat for a few minutes before she goes back to her apartment. I then take off my makeup and wash my face. I call a friend to chat because I'm definitely tipsy and I don't want to go to sleep yet. I finally head to bed at like 3:15.
Daily Total: $57.48

Day Six

8 a.m. — I wake up and have zero idea why. I go back to sleep.
9:30 a.m. — I wake up for real this time. I hang out in bed and scroll on my phone. I drift in and out of sleep for a while. After I finally drag myself out of bed, I change into real clothes, brush my teeth, and put on a little makeup (mascara, concealer). I also take some ibuprofen because I have a headache.
1 p.m. — I grab lunch and coffee with a few friends. We go downtown, but the first restaurant we try is absolutely packed. We put our name in at a different restaurant and go next door to get coffee. They say it will be 30 minutes, but it's more like 10. We bring our drinks with us to the restaurant ($4.75) and get a late lunch. I have a turkey guac wrap with homemade potato chips ($12.07 including a 20% tip!). $16.82
3 p.m. — We walk back to the car and drive back to the apartment. Another friend comes by to hang out!
6:30 p.m. — I decide it's time to head home. I'm sad because I miss my friends and wish they were closer. I stop to fill up the car ($32.31) and then I stop at McDonald's and get a McChicken, small fry, and a large Dr. Pepper ($4.37). $36.68
9:15 p.m. — I arrive back home! I'm exhausted from driving and a busy weekend. I normally eat so much better than I did this weekend, so my body is not happy with me. I unpack my bag and throw in a load of laundry. I head to bed at midnight. I'm exhausted from not sleeping much this weekend.
Daily Total: $53.50

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I wake up feeling well-rested. There's nothing like sleeping in your own bed! I take a shower and put on comfy clothes. I head downstairs and talk with my parents. I go back upstairs to fold and put away my laundry. Eventually, I put on makeup. My hair isn't fully dry yet, so I decide to wait and see if it'll air dry before I have to straighten it. I change into work clothes. Today's outfit is similar to day two — I wear the same pants, but with a plain black t-shirt. Eventually, my hair is dry enough to straighten.
2:15 p.m. — I leave for work in MY CAR! My parents picked it up for me over the weekend. It's so nice to have my own car back. I stop by Dunkin' (what's new) and get an iced coffee. $2.17
6:15 p.m. — Dinner time! We have beef stroganoff with peas. I also have a side salad and some Sprite.
11:30 p.m. — Leaving work. Today was rough. I'm feeling really anxious and overwhelmed as I'm leaving. I arrive home and move some cars. I'm still feeling anxious so I message a friend and write in my journal to get things out of my head and onto paper. I then change, take off my makeup, do my skincare, and get into bed to read some GOT. I also turn on my oil diffuser. I finally head to sleep around 2.
Daily Total: $2.17
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