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A Week In Chicago, IL, On A $194,942 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.

Today: an insurance director who makes $194,942 per year and spends some of her money this week on plumbing.
Occupation: Director
Industry: Insurance
Age: 39
Location: Chicago, IL
Salary: $194,942 plus bonus which has ranged from $60,000-$150,000 over the past three years, depending on our results.
Net Worth: $827,135 (checking: $9,718, savings: $60,015, HSA: $107, RSUs: $69,152; 401(k): $154,025, brokerage account: $77,196, IRA: $317,729, employee stock: $13,693, home value: $550,000 minus debt).
Debt: Mortgage: $424,500. Technically, I also have $6,180 on my credit card but I pay it off every month so don't consider it debt.
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $4,472
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,850 (this drops every month by like a dollar since I have an interest-only loan, but pay towards the principal every month).
Additional Mortgage Principal: $500
HOA: $892.11 (includes wi-fi).
Electric: $43
Cell Phone: $40 (I pay $90 to our family plan but my company reimburses me $50).
Gas: $80
Netflix: $17 (my sister pays for Hulu and we get Max for free from our cell phone company).
Pilates Membership: $109
Gym Membership: $235
Compost Pickup: $30
Health/Dental Insurance/HSA/LTD: $231
401(k): $1,875

Annual Expenses
Instacart+: $99
Amazon: $139
Lyft Pink: $200 (includes a Divvy Bikes membership and Grubhub+).
Peacock: $20 (I got a deal so I signed up. I will probably not continue this but will sign up for Apple TV to catch up on those shows).
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?
Yes, absolutely. I am not really sure I ever realized there was a path other than a four-year university. My mom didn't graduate college until I was in high school so she was always very adamant that we not repeat that. Plus, I was an excellent student so the path fit. If I could go back and do it now, I would definitely do community college for a couple of years — I was too young and too naïve and really struggled in college. I was fortunate that my parents paid for my schooling and room and board at a public state school. They said if I wanted to go out of state, I would have to pay the difference, so it was a no-brainer to stay in-state. I worked to have spending money and was fortunate to graduate with no debt.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We learned how to balance a checkbook and had savings accounts. The message was always don't spend more than you have and save as much as possible, but specifics were lacking. They did tell me to put as much as I could into my 401(k) when I started my first real job, which was very good advice.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked at a gym folding towels and cleaning locker rooms when I was 16. I got a free gym membership and we had a lot of fun. I got it for spending money and a student trip I was going on. I mostly used it for Auntie Anne's pretzels and Abercrombie & Fitch sweatpants.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Worry is a strong term — aware is probably better. My parents divorced when I was very young and split custody. My mom remarried fairly quickly and was well off. We had a nice house, went out to eat, had all the latest gadgets, etc. My dad was single for a long time and was unemployed frequently. We lived in a tiny apartment and never had any luxuries. We always had food on the table and were able to do school activities, but it was a strange mindset to have such opposite lifestyles for half the week. My dad remarried when I was in high school and things evened out much more and I wasn't concerned after that.
Do you worry about money now?
Not really. I would like to retire early so I am always concerned I am not putting enough away or that I am doing too much reckless spending. I am prone to anxiety so I've got to have something to worry about! But day-to-day (and even long-term), I know I am in a good spot.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
At age 22, when I moved out of my parents' house. I had a job when I graduated college but I lived at home for about 10 months (for free, thanks Dad!) to save up money. I have a decent amount of savings as a financial safety net. I also know that I would be able to move back in with either of my parents if I needed to.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My mom gave me $35,000 when I bought my first condo to help with the down payment. The agreement was that I would pay her back with a percentage of the profit when I sold. However, I sold that condo for a loss so she told me to just roll the money into a new condo. I also sold that second condo for a loss (I am good at real estate...) so she told me to roll the money over again. If I had to guess, she will never make me pay it back. But I will continue to ask her about it as I am in a spot to pay her back if she wants me to.

Day One

6 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I am not ready for the week to start. I shut it off and close my eyes for a while before grabbing my phone and doing my NYT games. I just started doing Connections and was perfect today, maybe the day is perking up!
7 a.m. — Finally get out of bed, brush and floss my teeth, wash my face, and run a brush through my hair. That's good enough for today. I throw on a dress and sneakers, put on some sunscreen, and pack my lunch. I grab my laptop, helmet, and bike the mile and a half to work. I arrive at my desk sufficiently sweaty. I towel off and grab some Belvita biscuits from my snack drawer for breakfast. I don't have many emails from the long weekend so I'm hoping today is super slow.
11:15 a.m. — I try to do a few productive things this morning, but mostly I play on my phone if I'm being honest. I grab my lunch (Trader Joe's green chili chicken bowl, Diet Coke, pudding cup) and eat early since I have meetings at 12 and 1. I HATE when people schedule meetings over lunch!
2 p.m. — Meetings over and what little motivation I had is gone. I eat some fruit snacks and drink a Poppi while I get myself organized for the rest of the week and head out early.
4 p.m. — Once I stop sweating after my bike ride home I change into pajamas and grab the last brownie from the batch I made over the weekend. I get my cats settled in with tuna so I can eat in peace and I start the last book in the Opposites Attract series. They are pretty much all the same and not particularly well written but they're quick reads and I have to finish!
4:30 p.m. — I get a notice for an overdue invoice from some plumbing work I had done last month. Super annoying because they definitely never sent me one prior to this. Regardless, I pay in full like the rule follower I am ($245). $245
6:15 p.m. — I heat up a CookUnity meal for dinner — adobo chicken quesadillas, which pairs nicely with a caffeine-free Diet Coke. Luckily, the CookUnity meals heat up in only 15 minutes. I continue to read my book while I eat. I'm making great progress but I'm not sure I'm going to finish tonight.
10 p.m. — I finally decide it's not worth it to finish right now so I take my supplements and nose spray, wash my face, put on some creams from the dermatologist, add some Vegamour serum to my hair, and brush my teeth. I turn on an episode of Bones and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $245

Day Two

6 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I shut my alarm off and fall back asleep for an hour. Luckily my cats don't ever let me sleep too late.
7:15 a.m. — I get up. I shower, brush and floss my teeth, and scrunch my hair with curl cream. I put on Athleta quick dry pants, a white tank, and a raincoat. Hopefully my ride doesn't kick up a lot of mud so I have a streak up my back.

8:15 a.m. — I ride my bike to the chiropractor where I lie on the traction table for 10 minutes and then get my adjustment. I use my insurance. $11

9 a.m. — I finally get to work and I'm a little damp and a little dirty but not too bad. I call my sister and chat with her while I eat breakfast and go through emails from last night and this morning. I have two meetings at 10 so I pick what I deem to be the most important and attend that one. I do some work to get me to lunch. Lunch is a carnitas burrito from Trader Joe's along with a pudding cup and Diet Coke. Then I settle in with spreadsheets for the next couple of hours.

2:30 p.m. — Last meeting of the day. After, I finish up getting organized and leave around 4. I get home and change into pajamas. I grab a Curious Elixir mocktail and my book so I can finally finish.

6 p.m. — Dinner is adobo chicken mac and cheese from CookUnity and a caffeine-free Diet Coke. I eat and watch a few episodes of Yellowstone. Everyone says it's so good but I'm having a lot of trouble staying with this one. I have a Trader Joe's Hold the Cone to cap off a super exciting night! I get ready for bed early. I empty the litter box, take my supplements and nose spray, brush my teeth, wash my face, put on my night creams and Vegamour hair serum, and get in bed. I turn on Bones and fall asleep by 10.

Daily Total: $11

Day Three

6 a.m. — Despite getting enough sleep my alarm is my nemesis this morning. Normally I am very good about getting up with my alarm so not sure what the deal is this week. I sleep for another 30 minutes and then do my NYT games and read the news. When I finally get up, I put my hair in a ponytail, wash my face, and brush and floss my teeth. I put on jeans and a patterned Old Navy top and pack my lunch. I walk to the Divvy station this morning since I have something to do after work that I cannot bike to and I bike the mile and a half to the office. This is infinitely harder on a Divvy than my own bike.
8 a.m. — I get to the office and catch up on emails while eating Belvita biscuits for breakfast. It is still a slow week but I do need to be productive today so I put in my Airpods and get to work. I have some fruit snacks and a Poppi as a midmorning snack while I finish the Spelling Bee — queen bee today!
11:15 a.m. — I have meetings again today at 12 and 12:30 so I eat early. I heat up a CookUnity meal — guajillo beef and cheese enchiladas, plus a Diet Coke and pudding cup. I start reading Everything I Never Told You while I eat. I get a note that my cleaning person has finished so I pay her. Luckily I have just enough money in my Venmo balance so it feels like it's free! $198
4 p.m. — I finish up work and head to the El (I use my prepaid Ventra card). I take the train to the northern part of the city and grab dinner at a sandwich shop. I sit on their patio and read my book while enjoying my Korean chicken sandwich. I stop by a local bookstore and browse. I don't buy anything because I read most of my books on Kindle but I always look because I want to support local and who knows when I will find a good coffee table book for my condo. I stop into a local running store because I know I need something from there but for the life of me I cannot remember what it is so I leave empty-handed. I run into some friends getting ready for a marathon training run. It makes me so happy that I am not training for the marathon this year (or probably ever again!). $25.13
6:15 p.m. — I head to a client appreciation event my realtor is hosting at a local gelato shop. I eat some delicious gelato (free!) and mingle.
7 p.m. — I take the train back home (prepaid Ventra card) and immediately change into pajamas. I drink a Poppi and read my book for a bit longer before taking my supplements and nose spray, washing my face, putting on my night creams, and brushing my teeth. I add some hair oil and Vegamour serum to my hair before heading to bed. I put on Bones again and am asleep by 10.
Daily Total: $223.13

Day Four

6 a.m. — I wake up covered in cats. I can't possibly make them move, no matter how much I have to go to the bathroom. I live here now. I do my NYT games while we snuggle. Once I finally get up, I get a bowl of Cheerios and watch some episodes of Hawaii Five-0 while I eat breakfast and read the news. I brush and floss my teeth and wash my face then log in to my computer around 8. Work-from-home days are the best. Especially on a rainy day like today!
9 a.m. — After catching up on emails I throw sheets and towels in the washer. I am low on some of my supplements so I place an order for more ($115). I put on Hawaii Five-0 in the background and try to get some work done. Around 10, I switch the laundry and grab a snack. They gave away boxes of animal crackers at the event yesterday so I eat those with a Poppi. Then I keep buckling down on a PowerPoint I'm working on. $115
11 a.m. — My only meeting today is canceled — yaaasss! I change my laundry, fold my sheets and towels, and get ready to meet someone to buy the item I'm selling on Facebook Marketplace. They show up and I am down some clutter and up in my Venmo balance! I open up a basil bruschetta chicken pasta from CookUnity. I eat it cold along with a Diet Coke and pudding cup. I check my bank account and see that I got paid. I move $2,000 from my checking to my savings account.
12:30 p.m. — I fold the last load of laundry and then decide I'm done with my desk for the day. I grab my laptop and move to my couch. I put on my Normatec compression boots and sit in them for the next two hours while I finish up my PowerPoint and read some technical reports. I can read technical reports much better on paper so I grab printed copies as well as my trusty highlighter. Once I finish in my Normatecs I grab some fruit snacks to get me through the rest of the workday. I read through one of the seven technical reports I have to read but I'm not going to make it any further today. I finish organizing myself for next week and log out around 4.
4 p.m. — I grab my Pilates socks and head out for Pilates class. It has been a really low workout week so it feels good to do something today. Cost is included in monthly expenses. As I walk home after class, I impulsively order a pizza for dinner. It seems criminally expensive but I ordered a large which should last four meals. While I'm waiting for my delivery, I have time to take a body shower since it's been a little too long. I also lay out my cycling clothes for tomorrow. There's only a 50/50 shot I'm going to ride, but there's no shot if I don't lay out my gear. $60
6 p.m. — I get my pizza and have two pieces of deep dish along with a caffeine-free Diet Coke. I watch a few more episodes of Yellowstone and call it a good Friday night! I convince a friend to meet me and ride in the morning so now I definitely have to go. I do my nightly routine, empty the litter box, and get into bed around 9. I put on Bones and my eye mask and hope I can fall asleep quickly.
Daily Total: $175

Day Five

6 a.m. — I slept like garbage but since I recruited my friend to ride, I'm up and at 'em. I quickly eat some Belvita biscuits, pump my tires, wash my face, brush and floss my teeth, and put on my cycling kit. I head out, meet my friend, and get in 22 miles. Getting up sucks but the views are on point and the temperature is perfect.
8:30 a.m. — Back home and I strip off my sweaty kit and put on my robe. I put on Hawaii Five-0 and sit down to relax for a bit before getting ready for tennis. I eat a couple of hot dogs and drink a Poppi.
10:30 a.m. — I put on new workout clothes and head to the gym for tennis. I take two small group lessons ($60). I'm regretting all my life choices as I go on hour three of exercise today. $60
1:15 p.m. — I eat some cheese and crackers, dried fruit, and a Diet Coke on my balcony once I'm home from tennis. It's freaking awesome outside today. I read for awhile while I eat my snack and put my feet up.
3:30 p.m. — I finally shower and I stay in there for a long time trying to ease my sore muscles. After my shower, I scrunch my hair with some curl cream, put it in my hair-plopping towel, and put on sunscreen. I throw on my third sports bra of the day, black leggings, a flannel, and my white Kiziks.
4 p.m. — I get on my bike and head to meet my friend at a pizza place. If I'd known we were going to get pizza today I probably wouldn't have had it yesterday but can you really have too much pizza? Plus it's not even deep dish so it's totally different ($39.97)! Turns out the place is a super bougie rooftop bar, but since it's only 4, the club scene hasn't really started yet. Afterward, we walk to an ice cream shop where I get a cherry chocolate ice cream bar before heading home ($7.91). $47.88
6:15 p.m. — Done with dinner and dessert and since it's so nice, I decide to read for a while on my balcony. I grab a big glass of water since I've been super bad about hydration after all my workouts today! The cats snuggle up on my lap and enjoy "nature" while I read.
9 p.m. — I do my nightly routine, put in my retainers that I wear once a week, and climb into bed. No alarm tomorrow so hopefully I can sleep in a little bit! The cats curl up on me, I turn on Bones, put my sleep mask on, and am asleep by 10.
Daily Total: $107.88

Day Six

6:45 a.m. — I wake up to a cat stepping on my boobs and bladder. I knock her off, literally, as a reflex, apologize, and close my eyes for a bit longer. I finally get out of bed at 7:30 and get a bowl of Cheerios. I watch a couple of episodes of Hawaii Five-0 while I eat and do my NYT games.
9 a.m. — I get dressed in workout clothes, wash my face, brush and floss my teeth, and head to the gym. I do a strength class and then play tennis for an hour ($32). I again regret all my life choices as I scuffle home. I get home and make a couple of hot dogs. Then I put in a hair mask and take an Epsom salt bath to cure my aching body. I sit in there for 45 minutes and read my book while I soak. Then I do a full shower and once I'm out of the shower, I put on a charcoal face mask for 15 minutes completing my Sunday self-care routine. $32
2:30 p.m. — My Instacart groceries get delivered. I get fruit cups, pudding cups, cottage cheese, pasta sauce, Texas toast, and Belvita biscuits ($45.85). They couldn't find chicken salad which I was planning to have for lunch all week so next week will be interesting. I also realize that I am missing cheese sticks and a couple of fruit cups, so I contact the Instacart helpdesk and they instantly refund $10.40 to my account. Once all the groceries are put away I put on my Normatec compression boots and watch How It Ends. I snack on fruit snacks and a Diet Coke. The movie is not very good but my legs feel much better. $45.85
5 p.m. — I heat up some of my pizza leftovers, grab a caffeine-free Diet Coke and put on Neighbors with Zac Efron and Seth Rogan. There are a couple of laugh-out-loud moments, which is all I can ask for on a Sunday night. Once that is over, I grab a Hold the Cone and put on Hawaii Five-0 for a bit to finish up an exciting weekend. I do my nightly routine and head to bed. I put on Bones and my eye mask and am asleep before 10.
Daily Total: $77.85

Day Seven

6 a.m. — Back at it. My alarm goes off and I snooze once then start my NYT games. I get up and watch an episode of Hawaii Five-0, have a bowl of cereal, read the news, and finish the NYT games. Once those are done, I brush and floss my teeth, wash my face, and brush my hair. I put on bike shorts and a sports bra because of the rain and pack jeans and a sweatshirt for the office. I pack my lunch, put on rain pants and a raincoat, and head out on my bike.
8 a.m. — I get to work and head to the single bathroom to change and dry off. My feet are wet and I am more sweaty than usual because of the rubber clothing, but, overall, not too bad. I change, blot off as much sweat as I can and head to my desk.
9:30 a.m. — I see that my auto shipment of cat food cleared ($69.99). I get an email from my niece and nephew asking me to donate to their school so I give them $105. I check Mint to see how I'm doing on my budget this month. Not as bad as I was thinking but could be better...I focus back on work as I have meetings the rest of the morning. $174.99
11:30 a.m. — Meetings over so I make my lunch. I have Trader Joe's chicken and ginger soup dumplings, cottage cheese, a peach fruit cup, and a pudding cup. Plus a Diet Coke, obviously. I burn my mouth on the soup dumplings but other than that it's not too bad. After lunch, I get settled in with spreadsheets for the afternoon. Luckily spreadsheets are my happy place.
2 p.m. — I get added to a meeting last minute so I jump on another useless meeting just to say I attended. After that waste of time, I run to the convenience store and get some peach rings and a Diet Coke ($8.80) before alternating between answering emails and spreadsheets for the rest of the day. $8.80
4 p.m. — I bundle back into my rain gear because it has literally been raining all day and head to the chiropractor. I lay on a traction table for 10 minutes and then get my adjustment. After my intense exercise weekend, I am super tight and it is much needed ($11). I head to the gym for a spin class. I realize I forgot a water bottle today so I have to buy one ($2.17). I cycle a lot but mostly outdoors and an indoor spin class is much different. I have only done this once. We will see how it goes... $13.17
6:30 p.m. — Getting on my actual bike after a spin class is the opposite of fun. Plus it's still raining. Luckily, I make it home safely. I preheat the oven and jump in the shower to rinse off. I put a couple of slices of pizza in the oven. While I wait, I put some Drano down my shower drain since it's not working well and I clean up cat vomit. I decide to power through a couple more episodes of Yellowstone while I eat my pizza and caffeine-free Diet Coke.
8:45 p.m. — That's all I've got today. I take my supplements and nose spray, do my nightly routine, add in some hair oil since tomorrow will be a hair wash day, and head to bed. It's perfect sleeping temperature with the windows open and the rain still coming down. I put on Bones and my eye mask and fall asleep by 10.
Daily Total: $196.96
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