A Week In Chicago On $140 Per Hour

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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.
This week: an IT consultant making $140/hour and spending it on golf lessons.
Occupation: Consultant
Industry: IT
Age: 29
Location: Chicago, IL
Salary: $140/hour, which works out to about $340,000 annually
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): ~$8,000, varying based on hours worked
Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $1,735. I rent a one-bedroom. (This includes heat, air, water, trash, and cable.)
Loan Payments: $0. No school loans thanks to a big scholarship, being an RA, and generous parents. My car is paid off.
All Other Monthly Expenses
Pre-Tax Monthly Deductions: $1,400
Roth 401(k): $230, with employer match
Health Insurance: Dental and vision are covered by my employer
Health Savings Account: $260
Long-Term Disability & Life Insurance: $60
Monthly Expenses
Managed investment account: $10,000
Parking: $170
Social/Cultural/Educational Group Membership: $40
Netflix: $10.89. I share my account with family and use their HBO, Showtime, and Hulu accounts.
Spotify: $10.89
New York Times: $5
Electric: $40
Phone & internet: $0. Work pays $100/month for "home office” costs since I frequently work from home. This covers my $19.99/month internet and $62.33/month cell phone.
Savings: $1,000 -$2,000 leftover each month stays in savings for big expenses like travel. If it builds up, I move it to investments.
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5:30 a.m. — I wake up in my hotel and get ready for work. It's a travel day so I have to trade snoozing time for packing time.

7 a.m. — I walk 20 minutes to a local coffee shop. I'm way under my per diem this week and my favorite roast is available, so I only feel a little guilty paying $6 for a cup of black coffee. I tip $2. ($8.58, expensed)

7:30 a.m. — At my desk and ready to work! Eating well is really tough on the road, so I stock my desk with RXBars, which I order in bulk from Amazon. The dark chocolate sea salt ones go perfectly with my coffee.

12:15 p.m. — My last meeting of the day runs long, so I call a Lyft and rush out of the office. The travel gods are on my side today: The Lyft comes immediately, there isn't any traffic, and I'm the only one in the pre-check line. ($12.40, expensed)

12:45 p.m. — I'm starving when I get to the Admiral's Club. (The membership cost included with my credit card.) I fix myself a bowl of complimentary soup and a plate of veggies. I have an hour until we board, so I connect to the free Wi-Fi and catch up on emails.

2 p.m. — Since I'm paid hourly, I usually turn transit time into billable work time. Today, I don't have much offline work, and I don't feel like paying $50 for slow in-flight Wi-Fi. I opt to relax instead of working. I keep my iPad stocked with library books so that I always have something to entertain me in-flight. I munch on a cheese and fruit plate while reading The Third Coast. Business travel is pretty draining, but I do love the the upgrades and perks that come with frequent-traveler status!

4:30 p.m. — I take public transit to my apartment. It takes an hour, but thanks to traffic, it's still faster than a cab and much cheaper. I use the time to review recipes on Pinterest and make my shopping list ($5.25, expensed)

5:30 p.m. — Finally, home sweet home! I drop my stuff off, grab my reusable bags (Chicago stores charge $0.07/bag if you don't bring your own) and head to Trader Joe's. I stock up on food to fill my empty fridge: spinach, Brussels sprouts, beets, butternut squash, tomatoes, mushrooms, kale, avocado, apples, carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, berries, gruyere, yogurt, salmon, sparkling water, and fresh flowers. $62.29

6 p.m. — I unpack my groceries and put the flowers in water. I really want to sit on the couch and catch up on a week of DVRed TV, but I just spent four hours sitting, and that doesn't feel like a great plan. I head to the small (but free) gym in my building, cycle for 45 minutes, and then cool down with a 20-minute walk on the treadmill. Gotta get in those 10,000 steps!

7:30 p.m. — I don't feel like cooking any of the food I just bought. I made a big batch of vegetable curry last week and froze the leftovers as individual servings. I pop one in the microwave, and it's dinner time! Living alone and traveling a lot, I usually end up with two or three different things in the freezer to reheat when needed.

Daily Total: $62.29
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Day Two

7 a.m. — Wake up and get ready for work. Since I work from home, “getting ready for work” really means brushing my teeth and washing my face. I fix a bowl of Greek yogurt and berries for breakfast and make a pot of pour-over coffee to drink throughout the morning.

10 a.m. — My financial adviser calls for our monthly check-in. We review how the market is doing and what she expects to see in the next few months. We decide she'll roll the cash from recently matured CDs into stocks.

1 p.m. — I roast Brussels sprouts and sautée them with beets and blue cheese. I'm pretty hungry and would rather eat something that's ready faster, but I bought a lot of veggies yesterday and need to use them before they go bad.

7 p.m. — After wrapping up work and working out, I go on a Trader Joe's run to get snacks for girls' night in. I pick up prosciutto, goat cheese, fig jam, pretzel bread, and champagne. My friends will bring food and drinks to share too. $26.56

8 p.m. — My friends arrive for a relaxing night of facials and a movie. I'm disappointed that the facial supplies I picked up on recent trip to Iceland aren't as good as the stuff you use at the Blue Lagoon, especially since they were much pricier than my usual products. The product snafu doesn't dampen the night, though; we talk, laugh, and drink until 2 a.m., and as usual, we don't end up watching any of the movie.

Daily Total: $26.56
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Day Three

8 a.m. — I hit the snooze button too many times, so it's an on-the-go breakfast morning. I grab an RXBar from my stash and pick up an extra-shot Americano from Starbucks. (Thank you, mobile ordering!) I spend Saturday mornings doing science activities with fifth graders, so caffeine is a necessity. $4.62

12 p.m. — I drive home and make a batch of vegetable soup for lunch. The leftovers will last me a week.

1 p.m. — I run on the lakefront and then watch a Jillian Michaels DVD for strength training, ouch.

3 p.m. — We finally have beautiful weather, and I'm itching to be outside. I call a friend, grab my golf clubs from deep in the closet, and head to the driving range. I decided to get into golf a couple summers ago, but then I didn't make good on that idea. Today, I make contact with the ball 50% of time, so my small bucket of balls lasts as long as my friend's large one. I may be terrible, but at least I'm economical. $10

5 p.m. — I'm meeting up with a group of friends at a brewery for dinner and birthday celebrations. Public transit to the brewery isn't the safest option, so I order a Lyft Line. $3.50

5:30 p.m. — We grab beers from the taproom and go on a free tour. After, I have a burger and a couple more beers. Is there a better combo to start a Saturday night? We all split the cost of the birthday girl's meal. It's a big group, so it's not much per person. $50

9 p.m. — We call a fleet of Ubers and head to a trendy (a.k.a overpriced) cocktail bar. Someone else picks up the cost of the ride. I have a couple of cocktails and buy drinks for the birthday girl and my friend who covered the Uber. The cocktails are incredible, albeit a little over-the-top: one is served with a tube of smoke. I consider this an investment in improving my dancing skills later in the night. $75

11 p.m. — We head to another bar so we can dance and really get the party started! Someone buys shots; I have a beer and get one for the birthday girl. $15

12:30 a.m. — Fourth stop of the night. Our first choice, a piano bar, has a cover charge, so we quickly change plans and head to a bar with an even better dance floor! I'm done drinking, so my hands are free to bust out all of my best moves.

2 a.m. — End the night with chicken nuggets and most of my dignity. $7.52

2:30 a.m. — I Lyft home, drink water, watch Parks and Rec on Netflix, and then go to bed. $8.29

Daily Total: $173.93
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Day Four

7 a.m. — I am so mad I'm awake. I drink water and lie in bed, but can't get back to sleep. Eventually, my friends begin to group text to plan brunch. We settle on our usual BYOB place at 1. The late-night nuggets were surprisingly filling, so I hold off eating until brunch, but I need caffeine immediately and make coffee instead.

10 a.m. — I walk to The Spice House to pick up local spices for a care package I want to send to a friend who recently moved. I can't resist getting new spices and truffle oil for myself, too. $46.37

11:30 a.m. — I walk to an artisan gift store. I browse the cute knickknacks and pick out five cards and another small item for the care package. A lot of my friends relocated recently, so I'm getting in the habit of sending cards for holidays and occasions to help us stay connected. $36.97

1 p.m. — I stop home to drop off my goodies and grab a leftover bottle of champagne from Friday. At brunch, I devour eggs Florentine and several cups of coffee. We all split an orange juice for mimosas. $20.35

4 p.m. — I walk from the restaurant to church. I do most of my charitable donations in a lump sum once a year so that I can track them more easily for tax deductions, but I donate to my church weekly, or at least whenever I go. Putting the envelope in the collection basket reminds me of the silly fight my sister and I used to constantly have over who got to do this. $20

6 p.m. — The effects of the boozy night and early morning set in. I don't want to do anything, but I'm about to run out of clean clothes, meaning I either have to do laundry or get creative with my outfits. I do two loads of clothes and one of sheets. The laundry room is next to the gym, so I work out while the clothes wash and dry. $12.50

8 p.m. — I put salmon in the oven and rice on the stovetop to cook while I watch TV and fold laundry. I mix salmon, rice, seaweed strips, and avocado in a bowl for a sushi-inspired dinner.

12 a.m. — I drink mint tea and stay up too late watching HBO and Showtime. It's easier to be a little bit miserable Monday morning than try to avoid spoilers all day.

Daily Total: $136.19
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Day Five

6:30 a.m. — I spend 30 minutes on my least favorite weekly activity: submitting my time and expense sheets. My efforts to eat healthier by grocery shopping, splitting restaurant portions into multiple meals, and cutting out alcohol while traveling have literally paid off. I'm $200 under my per diem, and I get to keep the money I didn't spend. Major score!

9 a.m. — I check the website of a social group I'm in to see what's happening in the next month. I register for a happy hour event and a night at the symphony. My membership dues subsidize part of the cost, so the total is $45 for the two events. I try to schedule lots of weekday events like these for work-from-home weeks to make sure I get out of the house. $45

11:30 a.m. — It's gray, gross, and rainy outside: the perfect day to eat leftover vegetable soup for lunch.

6:30 p.m. — I ignore an email about an Amazon Subscribe and Save shipment, so I'm surprised to find I have a delivery. The package has olive oil, dusting supplies, razors, toilet paper, laundry detergent pods, and apple cider vinegar. I need everything except the toilet paper. I now have way more toilet paper than my tiny apartment can comfortably store. I immediately log in to Amazon and decrease the frequency of the toilet paper shipments. At least I saved 15%. $55.67

7 p.m. — I whip up a kale, sweet potato, and shrimp skillet for dinner. After a busy weekend and tough workout (intense cardio and more Jillian Michaels), I am thrilled to have a quiet night in. I watch more Parks and Rec while writing the cards I purchased yesterday.

9 p.m. — I haven't left my building all day and need some non-work social interaction. I Skype with a friend in Australia and make plans to visit her in the summer. I check flight options and realize that I'm going to need to be really flexible with my travel dates so I don't deplete my mileage stash.

Daily Total: $100.67
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Day Six

6 a.m. — I pull myself out of bed early to do a yoga DVD. After yoga, I have my usual coffee, yogurt, and berries. It's a good start to a busy, meeting-packed day.

11 a.m. — I get an email from Amazon that if you order a $25 Amazon gift card through your Echo, you get $5. Amazon is my first stop for almost everything, so I ask Alexa to order the gift card. It's the first thing I've ordered through Alexa, and I'm a little scared by how easy it is; this is not going to be good for my wallet in the long run. $25

11:30 a.m. — I reheat the rest of my Brussels sprouts and beets concoction for lunch. I take a break and browse Nordstrom for new work clothes. Just before finishing my order, I decide to check out what T.J. Maxx and Marshalls have before purchasing anything.

4:30 p.m. — On my way to work out, I find my monthly PopSugar box has been delivered! I only subscribe when there's a big discount offer, so my six-month subscription comes out to about $20/box. I love most of this month's products and put one I know I won't use aside in my miscellaneous gifts stash.

5:45 p.m. — When I'm in town, I volunteer at a domestic violence shelter. It's a nice night, so I walk 30 minutes to and from the location instead of driving. On my way home, I swing by Intelligentsia and pick up a bag of coffee beans. $18.92

8:30 p.m. — I make another stop at Walgreens to pick up a prescription. My insurance reduces the price by a whopping $13. I have a long way to go until I hit my deductible, so the price won't go down anytime soon. At least the cost comes out of my Health Savings Account, but I do miss the HMO I had at previous employer. ($134.07, from HSA)

9 p.m. — I scramble up eggs, mushrooms, spinach, and gruyere in bit of truffle oil. I eat, watch TV, and surf the internet for a few hours before getting sleepy enough to head to bed.

Daily Total: $43.92
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Day Seven

6:30 a.m. — Some excitement to spice up my boring routine: I get to try the coffee I bought yesterday! I enjoy it with my usual yogurt and berries.

12 p.m. — Leftover soup for lunch again. I'm maxed out on the amount of vegetable soup I can eat for a while, so I ladle the remainder into individual containers and freeze them.

12:15 p.m. — Gilt City emails me a $10 promo code. I check their site and find an offer for a $100 credit to one of my favorite swanky rooftop restaurants. I read the fine print and restrictions carefully and decide that for $50, this is a great deal. I'm so excited for rooftop season to start! I Gchat two friends, and we put some time on the calendar to use this in a couple months. $40

1 p.m. — I check flight prices for an upcoming work trip. They're a little higher than a flight I put on hold yesterday, so I purchase the held flight. ($363, expensed)

3:30 p.m. — I wrap up work early because I'm on a tight schedule tonight. I cycle for 45 minutes and then get ready for the evening.

5:15 p.m. — I walk to a salsa dancing event my social group is hosting. It's a few miles away, but I love walking through different neighborhoods. Plus, it gives me time to listen to an audio book, Bad Feminist, before it's due back to the library.

6:30 p.m. — I arrive at the dance studio and eat more than enough happy hour snacks to replace a proper dinner. I mingle for an hour and meet some new people; we bond over our lack of dancing skills. The lesson portion of the night is only an hour, but I really improve! The dance studio gives each of us a card for a free group lesson. I'm definitely coming back for this.

10:30 p.m. — Learning a little salsa and my weekend golf failure inspires me to give golf lessons another shot. I sign up for a five-week class offered by the Park District. $99

Daily Total: $139
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