high impact

A Week In Chicago, IL, On A $52,500 Salary

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Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We're asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

As part of R29Unbothered's High Impact, we're asking real people to share their stories, and give us a peek into their cannabis consumption for a week.
Today: an event manager who makes $52,500 per year and spends some of her money this week on smoking chips.
Occupation: Event Manager
Industry: Hospitality
Age: 34
Location: Chicago, IL
Salary: $52,500
Net Worth: $16,568 (I am a recent homeowner and luckily my car is paid in full. Home equity: ~$215,000 including the improvements I've made; Online savings account: $23,000; 401(k): $3,548; Acorns: $1,620; other savings: $3,000 minus debt.)
Debt: Student loans: $28,600; credit cards: $5,500; mortgage: $195,500
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,035.67
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,460
Private Student Loan: $33 (My other student loans are still in forbearance due to the pandemic.)
Gym: $50
Gas: $72
Electricity: $65
Cell Phone: $115
Car Insurance: $84
Hulu: $12.99
Netflix: $11.99
Chase Credit Card: $35
Credit Union Card: $65
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Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
Ohhh yeah. My father started every sentence with "when you grow up, get married and go to college." I took out many many loans to pay for school. My parents were not college-educated and had no idea how the finances of college really worked.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My father was good about reinforcing how much money it costs to live well. He would make us guess what the total was when we were in line at Sam's Club. My great-grandfather died with money in his fist. He hoarded money around his house. That kind of explains my relationship with money, but I've learned when to splurge.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I played violin in high school and college. I made all my money junior and senior of high school playing gigs with a quartet.
Did you worry about money growing up?
No, I never worried. I didn't know much about money but I knew my father was savvy with money and had investments and we would be fine.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes. Yes, I do. If I didn't have my savings, I wouldn't be able to afford my house. I've calculated how much money (from my online savings) will be left after I finish paying my contractors. I've tallied this up and I know that if I don't find a job that increases my monthly income by at least $750 within the next nine months, there could be trouble.
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At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I would say 18. My parents had an "I raised you, now get out and figure it out" kind of attitude. At that time, I was getting monthly payouts from a wrongful death lawsuit from the death of my mother. It was $1,600 monthly and I really wish I would've invested it. I have wised up on how to save and invest and I'm better with money now.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
The monthly $1,600 previously mentioned. I stopped receiving that three years ago. I also get a payout every four years (from the same lawsuit) in varying amounts.

Day One

5:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off. Read my devotional and say a prayer for the day. It's time for a workout. My gym live-streams almost all the classes via Zoom so I can do them at home. I am thankful.
6:30 a.m. — Quick eight-minute meditation, time to start the day. S. (my boyfriend) asks me to make coffee. He refers to the French press as a cold press and only recently learned how to properly use it.
7:15 a.m. — S. makes breakfast. It's steamed broccoli, egg whites, and a banana. I eat and then go to work.
9:30 a.m. — Been at work for almost an hour. Guess who got her stimmy check??? Yeaaaa buddy. I bought a house in November so I need stuff! I start writing lists of things I want to buy.
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11 a.m. — I'm going to follow the advice of Warren Buffet and pay down some debt. There goes $150 to my credit union credit card. There are a few things I absolutely need from The Beyond (Bed Bath & Beyond). I get a shiny steel trash can, Shark Vacmop pads, and cleaning solution ($91). Lastly, I visit Overstock.com since I get coupons through my job. I have been coveting a few of their pot racks. I find a brushed nickel pot rack for only $74! Sold. I text K., my handywoman, and schedule her to help me set it up. $315
4 p.m. — I kinda want to cry; I kinda want to slap somebody. On top of my acne going completely ape, I get an email from HR stating that I can't fire an employee who has multiple offenses. I'm aggressively looking for a new job. Between my acne and this job; I'm about to lose my ish!
5:38 p.m. — S. calls me and says our contractor, V., is a no show. I text V. and he says he can't make it. Well isn't this the cherry on a fine day! S. had to cancel a client to be at the house for V., so I'm pissed, he's pissed, it's all bad.
7:05 p.m. — Pick up my order from The Beyond and stop at Whole Foods for a few things. I get home and am annoyed because S.'s drunk friend is here. I grab a THC-infused scone from the glove compartment and take a nibble. I run a side business making and selling edibles. I turn on one of my favorite podcasts Bronzeville and allow the THC to wash over me! Cannabis cures!! I want to do my facial scrub and take my bra off, but that will have to wait! $26.31
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7:45 p.m. — I take a bigger nibble of that scone, so yeah, she's medicated!
Daily Total: $341.31

Day Two

5:45 a.m. — My weekday alarm is a song called "Roots" by Alice Merton. I picked it so that it would propel me out of bed with a jump start. Not today. Morning devotional, prayer for the day, shower. Then off to work.
11:10 a.m. — Morning paperwork is finished. Why am I starving? I eat three organic Aussie bites (a Costco buy). I order some donuts for my staff. $21.38
2:58 p.m. —I have to train my shift supervisor on some things today and he's such a know-it-all. He keeps trying to finish my sentences to prove how much he knows but he's finishing them all wrong. He also mumbles a lot.
5:40 p.m. — In my car and guess what comes on?? "Thong Song"….this is my secret shame! The song is sooo insanely problematic and that video?? Objectifying and awful. I know all this, but I loooooove the song. Please don't tell. I get home as V. pulls into our driveway. I let him in so he can get to work.
7:50 p.m. — Finally eating dinner. Miso-glazed cod, basil mashed potatoes, and cornbread. Healthy food that tastes good is the key to life. And weed!
9:15 p.m. — I watch Arrested Development and then go to bed.
Daily Total: $21.38

Day Three

5:37 a.m. — I wake up and get up. Devotional, prayer, lower ab work.
6:50 a.m. — Adult cystic acne is painful. My dermatologist told me to lay off my exfoliant and masks. That was a bad decision. After washing, I moisturize with Aveeno, Rimmel matte cream, and dewy finish spray from NYX. I'll have to take the Spironolactone when I take my anxiety meds at breakfast. Spironolactone is supposed to make me less oily.
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9:50 a.m. — I have a phone interview for a catering manager position. 30 minutes in I found out he can't afford my base salary! I caffeinate and get to work.
11:54 a.m. — My electrician calls to confirm his appointment for Sunday and reminds me that I agreed to pay him another $500 for work he did on my basement so I send that through. $500
3:49 p.m. — I find out I didn't get a job I'm definitely qualified for and I'm upset.
7:15 p.m. — Book club!! I love book club. It's virtual, but it's good to see my girls. We discuss the book we read about child protective services failing children of color.
Daily Total: $500

Day Four

6:15 a.m. — My Saturday alarm goes off. I get ready and go to work.
9:33 a.m. — One of my employees has a known attendance issue. She has a bad habit of calling in after she's already late to say she's going to be late. I tell her to stay home. It's infuriating that I cannot terminate her.
10:45 a.m. — Hunger. Peppers and hummus time. The grandmother of my team brings me a beautifully folded palm for Palm Sunday. There are still good and loving people in the world. This makes me smile!
1:44 p.m. — I'm having dinner with a friend tonight in the west loop so I pre-pay for a parking spot using the ParkWhiz app ($13). That app is sooo convenient. $13
4:52 p.m. — I redo my face before our dinner reservation. I gotta wipe all the oil off, rehydrate, concealer, then eyeliner. I run to the store since I'm early and grab some wine and Pirate's Booty. $15.98
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7 p.m. — Dinner is delicious (chicken tacos and a mango margarita) and I'm so glad I get to see my friend. We split dinner. $65
8:15 p.m. — I'm home and I want tea. My nighttime face wash is something you can only get from the dermatologist. I put the topical gel on my bad spots, wait for it to dry then moisturize with L'oreal Revitalift. It's expensive but great for acne. The water is whistling. I drop in a raspberry zinger tea bag, grate some fresh ginger, squeeze a lemon, and add a dab of honey. I get in bed and watch Girlfriends then fall asleep.
Daily Total: $93.98

Day Five

7:45 a.m. — I wake up and see my business partner and I haven't sold a ticket for our canna cooking class in almost a week. I might send an email to current attendees soon encouraging them to invite friends. Maybe offer a coupon for their next purchase. F. (my business partner) and I need to put a legit menu together because we're going to start shipping soon. I do a quick Duolingo Spanish lesson. Last year, during the height of the pandemic, I decided to opt for the paid version. I need to start using it more. Going to make myself a cup of tea and get back in bed with it.
8:37 a.m. — I make a mean cinnamon vanilla THC-infused syrup. I put some of that into my tea. Not enough to get me high, just really carefree the next few hours. If you also have extreme anxiety like me, syrups are great.
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9:59 a.m. — What happened to my restful morning?? My assistant who covers my off days, P., calls and texts me twice! My electrician also calls me to update me on what he's doing in the yard. I don't wanna talk! I just wanna lay in bed, watch House Hunters, and read my book! But I have to get up and get ready before I go pick up S. at 12. I make an omelet and turn on virtual church.
12 p.m. — I pick up S. and we go to Lowe's. We get a few perennials for the yard ($67). Then S. takes me to get Indian food. He covers dinner and I cover parking ($9). $76
7 p.m. — I get home, get high, and do a hair mask. Bliss.
Daily Total: $76

Day Six

7:14 a.m. — New devotional, new weekly topic. S. and I engage in adult activities then he leaves to go meet his clients.
10:54 a.m. — Trying out the new grill today so I run out and get some groceries ($48.44). I then go to Marshall's to get a pizza stone. I can't help but grab a top and bralette as well ($56.44). $104.88
12 p.m. — Time to finger coil my hair. I hope it turns out better than It did last week. I think smaller sections and tighter coiling are the key.
2 p.m. — Pay off the last portion of a medical bill from February. Then I do laundry, watch Monk, and eat a snack. $35.36
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5 p.m. — I run out to get some smoking chips and a few things for my barbecue tonight. I'm so excited to use my grill! $18.66
7:27 p.m. — My very first pizza on my very first grill is done. I also make a rum cocktail and it is slappin'! #MondayNightTipsy
8 p.m. — I get in bed with my book and then put on Sister, Sister. I once made the mistake of watching Castle Rock before bed. That night I dreamt I murdered someone with an ice cream scoop. Goodnight!
Daily Total: $158.90

Day Seven

6:25 a.m. — I skip my morning workout class since I couldn't fall asleep until midnight last night. I get up and moisturize. I think my skin is getting better since I stopped using the topical gel twice a day. A little concealer because I'm wearing eyeliner today.
9 a.m. — My job is so frustrating! I've had two call-outs today and the place is a mess. I'm in a bad mood.
10:39 a.m. — One of my sales advisors tells me I'm doing a great job. That makes me giggle. It's time for a snack and caffeine. Grapes, sweet potato chips, and a makeshift latte.
4 p.m. — My cycle has begun, appearing out of nowhere. Kind of without warning. It used to warn me like four days in advance — guess that's over. I also notice that I'm wearing my underwear inside out today. LOL. All in a day! I'm hungry again. I have cashews and craisins.
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5:40 p.m. — On my way home I stop at Walgreens to get pads, Mucinex, a brow pencil, and Advil. I get home and marinate tofu for tomorrow and chat with my brother and his family for a while. I watch some TV, eat dinner, and head to bed. $46.47
Daily Total: $46.47
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