A Week In Chicago, IL, On A $51,260 Salary

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Today: a marketing assistant working in finance who makes $51,260 per year and spends some of her money on strawberries.
Occupation: Marketing Assistant
Industry: Mortgage/Finance
Age: 28
Location: Chicago, IL
Salary: $51,260
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,450 on the 15th (includes bonus and commission) and $1,175 on 30th
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $675 (I live with a roommate, and she pays the other half)
Student Loans: $0 (I'm lucky all my loans are paid off)
Car Loan: $0 (I own it completely)
Renters Insurance: $13
Electricity: $40 (roommate pays the other half)
Gas: $34 (roommate pays the other half)
Wi-Fi: $36 (roommate pays the other half)
Hulu: $11.99 (I splurged for the no-ads plan, and I won't ever go back. My mom pays for Netflix, and we share logins with each other.)
Amazon Prime: $50 yearly (my mom and I split the cost and share it)
Spotify: $9.99 (How do people even listen to music without a subscription?)
Car Insurance: $72
Phone: $40 (on my mom's plan, she pays the rest)
Health, Dental, & Vision Insurance: $242 (taken out of my paycheck)
Gym: $20
401(k): 10% pre-tax, per month (so $5,162/year)
Aerial Yoga: $1,250 (paid yearly during a special offer)

Day One

6:20 a.m. — First alarm goes off. I am not ready, but I have two other alarms in intervals, so I know I can drift off if I want to.
6:30 a.m. — Alright, time to at least try to get up. I look at my Instagram to see how many likes I got on my new post last night. Woohoo, 10 likes, one add, and comment. I have started back on my workout/health Instagram account, and it gets way more likes than my personal account, so I always look forward to checking on it. Second alarm goes off, okay really time to get up. I sit up and notice my body is achy from my aerial class last night. I decided that I should cancel my class for tomorrow and give my body some rest. Plus, the idea of getting to sleep in a little is exciting. I go to the bathroom, put in my contacts, and brush my teeth. Grab my lunch in the fridge (salmon and buffalo baked cauliflower) and measure out ½ cup of pistachios, put them in my work bag, and then throw on my workout clothes to head to the gym.
7:15 a.m. — I get to the gym and realize I forgot my headphones in the car. Ugh, I guess I will just have to suffer today. I really didn't come here with a game plan, so I start on the bike and see how I feel. Eight minutes in, and I'm hating it, plus there is a seat back and I'm getting all sweaty. I get off and decided to power walk on the treadmill for another 20 minutes, much better!
8:15 a.m. — I have to stop and pick up popcorn bags for work. We often order them, and I usually pick them up, it's only around the corner from my gym, so it's a good excuse.
8:30 a.m. — It's Friday, so I decide to treat myself to Starbucks. I order a tall skinny vanilla latte and reduced-fat turkey breakfast sandwich ($8.40). My birthday was a couple of weeks ago, so I have a gift card from my aunt that I use. I earned an extra 100 points, and I'm stoked. I am starving and can't even wait to get all the way to work to eat.
8:45 a.m. — Arrived at work and check my emails. Nothing exciting. It's Good Friday, so there is not a lot happening. I'm thinking about visiting a friend in Shanghai during Thanksgiving, so I check out some flights. I find flights for $455, which is amazing, but then I read that I need a visa and decide to hold off until I look into everything first.
2:20 p.m. — It's slow, and a coworker asks me to run an errand for her. She bribes me with a bottle of rosé. Score! A perfect reason to escape the office and work from home the rest of the day. My work is not very corporate, and I have a lot of freedom to come and go as I please, which is an amazing perk.
3:30 p.m. — I get home and decided to watch the Beyoncé Netflix special, Homecoming, until my boyfriend B. gets off work, so we can head to the grocery store to get things for dinner.
4:30 p.m. — Finally at the grocery store. B. and I are both really bad at deciding what to eat most of the time and have been known to get annoyed with each other quickly. I pick up chicken thighs, strawberries, asparagus, and two potatoes. $15
8:30 p.m. — Showered and full, we settle in for the night and catch up on our shows. B. has been getting to work early lately, so we've been spending more nights in. I don't mind it...for now.
Daily Total: $15

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — So much for sleeping in. B. is still asleep and usually sleeps in until 11. I have such a regimented schedule, it's hard for me to sleep past 8. I used to get annoyed that B. would sleep so late, but I learned it's good for me-time. For breakfast, I whip up some egg and spinach tacos and make a Nespresso caramel coffee. I remember that I wanted to buy a new scale. The one I have is from college, and I don't trust it anymore. I find a top-rated model on Amazon and order it to be delivered on Monday. I use the rest of the gift card my boss got me for my birthday ($20). I then relax on the couch and catch up on Netflix's Sabrina season 2. I'm obsessed with this show.
10:40 a.m. — B. is finally awake and joins me in the living room. We watch a movie until it's time for him to get ready for work. I tell him he can take my car after declaring today to be a veg day! Movies and leftovers all day. I need to get in as much relaxation as I can before the summer begins.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

7:20 a.m. — Easter Sunday today. I'm not religious, and I have no family in the area, so it's just another regular day. I make the same egg and spinach tacos and relax on the couch before my aerial workout at 10. It's such a beautiful day, and I can't wait to spend some time outside today!
11:20 a.m. — I get home, and B. is just waking up. I wait for him to get ready while I sit near an open window and read Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat. I'm obsessed with this book, — I'm only on Fat, and I have already learned some amazing everyday cooking techniques.
12 p.m. — We are both starving so we decided to compromise and go to a breakfast spot that has both healthy and not-so-healthy options. I think it's the first time we've agreed on a restaurant without getting hangry. I order an unsweetened ice tea and a salad with chicken, avocado, mandarin, cranberries, pecans, and a mango champagne vinaigrette. B. orders pancakes and a country skillet. I'm jealous, but I'll be happier when I don't need a nap. We pay separately. $24
1:40 p.m. — We drive out to the suburbs to go to an outdoor mall, only to find out that almost all of the stores are closed. Oops! I don't mind. It's 75 and sunny and at least we are outside. Forever 21 is open, so we go check it out. I need new sandals, and they are having a 30% shoe sale. I leave with a pair of yellow strappy sandals and a pair of stretch bell bottom pants that are so comfortable I couldn't pass them up ($30). As we continue to walk around I start to think about how a nice cold margarita would be. I see there is a Mexican restaurant that has a patio — my prayers have been answered! B. shows no resistance, and I lead us there quickly to grab a table. I order a skinny margarita and then a Corona Light and B. gets two Miller Lites. We once again pay separately ($21). $51
4 p.m. — We head over to Super Walmart to grab a couple of things. My grandma sent me a gift card for my birthday, and there isn't a Walmart near me in the city, so my plan is to spend it all! I get two cucumbers, an onion, chicken, lean hot dogs, ham steak, two bags of frozen broccoli and cauliflower, jasmine rice, a can of black beans, flaming hot Cheeto puffs, four cans of tuna, chicken broth, Power Crunch protein bar, two tennis balls, and beef jerky. ($40 - $25 gift card) $15
8 p.m. — Dinner is made and now time to watch Game Of Thrones! On Sundays, we try to make sure everything is done, so we can sit down and enjoy the show. We both have a case of the Sunday scaries and complain before bed about having to go to work tomorrow. Another day another dollar.
Daily Total: $90

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — It's hard waking up this morning. It's funny that on the weekends it's easy to wake up, but then on the weekdays I just want to keep sleeping. I get up and start getting ready. Even though I am dropping B. off at the bus, he is still asleep and will wait until the last possible second to get up. I gather my food for the day — oatmeal with frozen berries, leftover chicken, cucumber-tomato salad, and some strawberries. I keep the rest of my snacks in my drawer at work — Epic bars, pistachios, and nut butter.
10 a.m. — I spend most of the morning at work looking for all-inclusive trips to Mexico for my friend's birthday. I know it seems like I don't get much work done, but my job has highs and lows. This just happens to be a time where I don't have much going on. That usually means my bosses are happy and busy making money, so I don't worry about it too much. Anyways...I've always been the planner of my friends, just like my mom. They always look to me to make the plans because I can find the best deals. It makes me feel accomplished when I find something good.
5:30 p.m. — Out of work and I head to the gym. It's packed. I don't usually go on Mondays, but since I took Saturday off I decide to squeeze it in. I am forced to park on the top of the parking garage, something I've never had to do before. Luckily I am able to jump on a treadmill that's not taken (or broken).
9 p.m. — After dinner (chicken thighs, jasmine rice, and leftover cucumber -omato salad), I end the night cuddling with B. and watching Vanderpump Rules and Golden Girls. It's storming out and the thunder is the perfect soothing sound, which makes my eyes heavy 'til I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

7:06 a.m. — I wake up well before my alarm today, which gives me time to get a couple of things done. I load the dishwasher and turn it on, then get food together for the day. Light string cheese, strawberries, and tuna (to be added to a salad from the work cafe). I fold the towels and take the laundry out of the dryer, B. usually will fold the rest before work. I then pack my bag for my aerial class after work and get dressed.
8:30 a.m. — I am almost to work, and I remember that I forgot to pack my breakfast. I scramble to try to think of some healthy options along the way to fuel me, but nothing sounds good. I am to the point in my healthy eating where eating out is daunting because you don't know how things are prepared. Did you fry those eggs with eight pounds of butter? Probably! I then remember that our work cafe has hard boiled eggs during lunch. I head down there, and they graciously allow me to buy two of them. Saved by the egg! $1
12:30 p.m. — Lunchtime! It's Taco Tuesday at work and the line for the cafe is so long. Luckily, I am getting a salad from the salad bar to go with the plain tuna I brought from home. I bypass the whole line and pick out some lettuce, tomato, cucumber, broccoli, giardiniera (hot peppers), balsamic dressing, and a couple of croutons. $3.50
3 p.m. — A produce store near B.'s work went out of business yesterday, and B. frantically calls me because they are letting people take home whatever they can fit in a plastic bag FOR FREE! He asks me to Facetime so I can pick out things. We grab four apples, two sweet potatoes, two onions, two russet potatoes, two Hungarian peppers, two yellow squash, three red potatoes, a handful of fresh ginger, and a handful of shallots.
7:20 p.m. — I am finally home and I'm exhausted! I have no motivation to cook, but I tell myself to just put some sweet potatoes in the instant pot and then I don't really have to do much cooking. The sweet potatoes are going to take some time, so I fry up some ham steak and broccoli. To my surprise, this fills me up and I no longer even want the sweet potatoes. Once they are done I peel them, add cinnamon, and put them in the fridge to eat for lunch and dinner tomorrow.
9:20 p.m. — I can't even keep my eyes open.
Daily Total: $4.50

Day Six

6:45 a.m. — I briefly wake up, and I really have to go to the bathroom. Luckily, my roommate isn't in there. I quickly go and then lay back in bed contemplating whether to go back to sleep or not. I decided to do some morning stretches instead since I have been feeling stiff from my aerial classes. Then I get ready and pack my food for the day (oatmeal and fruit, light cheese stick, apple, sweet potato, ham, and broccoli.)
11:30 a.m. — It's Food Truck Wednesday at work. They invite three food trucks to come park outside our building, and we can grab lunch from them. Everything looks so good, and I'm jealous, but also not trying to pay $15 for tacos. Packed lunch it is!
2 p.m. — They just announced my 10-year high school reunion date and of course they couldn't have picked a worse weekend. My work is going to hate me for taking almost a whole week for two different trips. I look at tickets and wonder if it's even worth the hassle and if I should just plan a trip when I can see the people I care about most. I guess I don't have to decide now since it's not for another couple of months.
5:30 p.m. — I stop at the grocery store, before my aerial class, to pick up a couple of gift cards for work ($150 on my boss' card). My stomach is grumbling, so I walk around to look for a healthy snack, but nothing is standing out. I go to check out and grab some Juicy Fruit gum, it saves me when I have a sweet tooth and am trying to be good! $1.39
7:30 p.m. — Finally home, and I am starving! I snack on a couple flaming hot Cheetos while my asparagus bakes in the oven. Two lean beef hot dogs (sans buns) with mustard and asparagus — what an interesting dinner!
Daily Total: $1.39

Day Seven

6:55 a.m. — Rise and shine, my glutes are killing me. We didn't even do that much in class last night, and yet it's hard for me to sit down with my butt muscles. No pain, no gain! I am excited for dinner with my friend tonight; I have been waiting all week! We have reservations at Benihana — dinner and a show! I pack my breakfast and lunch (oatmeal with fruit, apple, teriyaki seaweed, half a Fit Crunch protein bar, a hot dog, and leftover asparagus). I have to stop and grab popcorn on my way into work again, so I take my time getting ready.
12:45 p.m. — It's a beautiful day today, and they are serving lunch on our rooftop today. My coworker and I decide to take a little break and head up there. She gets a burger, and I make a small salad. $3
5 p.m. — Only a couple more hours until our reservations, I can make it...right? I'm starving! My friend and I text each other back and forth about our hunger pains. I head to my aerial class, which I immediately regret when she goes HAM on having us work our legs. At a point during air burpees, I feel as though my legs might just buckle under me. She always jokes that she's never had anyone's legs fall off, but mine are so close.
7:20 p.m. — My friend and I get on the train to head downtown, we are so busy catching up and talking that we miss our train transfer. We laugh about it and decided to get off at a different stop farther away and just walk the rest of the way to the restaurant.
8 p.m. — We arrive at Benihana's right on time and they immediately seat us with a table of three other couples. We both order hibachi filet mignon, and I order extra shrimp. We decided to not drink on this outing and opt for hot green tea. I got a $30 off coupon for my birthday, so we split the bill evenly. $31
10 p.m. — We get back to my friend's and normally we would continue to hang out, but we both are exhausted and gladly opt for heading home, showering, and going to bed. It's been a long week, and tomorrow is Friday, so we are both excited for the time to relax.
Daily Total: $34
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