A Week In Chicago, IL, On A $65,514 Income

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 school psychologist who makes $65,514 per year and spends some of her money this week on Joe-Joe's Slims.
Occupation: School Psychologist
Industry: Education
Age: 28
Location: Chicago, IL
Income: $65,514
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $3,340 pre-tax/deductions
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,090 (For my half. My wife and I split rent evenly.)
Monthly Loan Payments: $459.23 (should be forgiven in 10 years) and $331 (private loans that should be paid off soon).
Electricity: $27.50 (my half)
Cell Phone: $118.44 (my half)
Hulu: $3.26 (my half)
Netflix: $8 (my half)
Cat Food: $60 (my half)
CTA 30-Day Pass: $105 (pre-tax)
Health Insurance: $196.54 (pre-tax)
Pension: $600 (pre-tax)
Chicago Teacher Union Dues: $110
Credit Cards: $400
Savings: at least $400 (I have to save for summer since I don't get paid during those months. I currently have about $5,200 saved.)
Imperfect Produce: $80 but it varies depending on what I buy

Day One

5:50 a.m. — Wake up right before my alarm goes off at 6, which means I slept well. Get out of bed and pour myself some coffee (the wife got it ready and programmed it last night). I don't eat breakfast in the mornings, partly because I take medication and can't eat for an hour afterward and partly because I don't really like breakfast foods. Shower, get ready, and throw together my lunch. Lunch today will consist of kale, hemp seeds, cucumber, lemon juice, Beyond Meat hot Italian sausage, and black olives, with a side of two clementine oranges. I also make my wife's lunch most days because it's an agreement we made a while ago. She struggles with eating healthily and I enjoy cooking/meal prepping, so it works out. I watch my cat throw up a bite of kale that he must have stolen while I wasn't looking. He's disgusting.
7:20 a.m. — Out the door and heading to work. I take the bus to work using my monthly transit card that's taken out of my paycheck pre-tax. During my commute, I read on my Kindle. Currently read the third of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy.
8 a.m. — Barely at work for 10 minutes and I'm already bombarded. There's a spread of sweets in the room I work in so I have to resist temptation all day. I pour myself some coffee to make it easier to say no. Dive into meetings, emails, and report writing all day.
12 p.m. — Finally take a break to eat the lunch I packed this morning. Some coworkers and I decide that the weather is finally nice enough to go on a walk at the park across from the school, so we go out for 20 minutes. Come back and keep writing reports until it's time to leave. I get a text saying that my Imperfect Produce box was delivered, meaning they also charged my debit card on file for this week's box ($20.82). I love getting these product boxes just because it makes grocery shopping easier (just have to buy some staples) and makes me feel good about helping prevent food waste.
3 p.m. — Finally time to go! Bus is five minutes away so I basically have to sprint down the block to get there, but that's okay because I hate waiting for the next one since the high school students down the street get out at the same time. Take the bus home with my prepaid pass.
3:30 p.m. — Picked up my produce box from concierge. Inside the box are lemons, carrots, sweet potatoes, avocados, eggplant, yellow onion, limes, Angie's Boomchickapop popcorn, marinated artichoke hearts, and blueberries.
4 p.m. — I eat two rice cakes for a snack, one with avocado, Everything But The Bagel Seasoning, and nutritional yeast on it, and the other with garlic dip and Trader Joe's hot and spicy dill pickle slices. Weird food combo, but I'm feeling it. I won't have time to work out today so I decide to use my weighted hula hoop for 20 minutes while watching TV. I got the hula hoop on Amazon a few weeks ago because I'm always interested in trying the newest fitness fad just to check it out. Hula hooping is actually a lot of fun and a good ab workout, so I can't complain!
5:20 p.m. — My friend picks me up to go to the running store down the street with me. I convinced her to run a half-marathon with me in September and we both needed new shoes before we start training. We already ordered the shoes from another store to be delivered to the one near me, so they should be ready for pickup. I try on the shoes and run around on the sidewalk to test them out. They feel like running on pillows, so I'm okay with how much I'm spending on them. $154.35
6:15 p.m. — After getting the shoes, I say goodbye to my friend and walk to Target to pick up an antenna for our TV so we can watch The Bachelorette. We recently cancelled our cable package because they tried doubling the price for fewer channels than we had before, so we got fed up. We ended up getting Google Fiber internet independently, and have decided to get an old school antenna for the few local channels we watch. Let's face it, everything I want to watch is on Netflix, Hulu, or HBO, so cable isn't really a priority anymore. I can't find the antenna that my wife sent me a picture of, so I call her to see what Plan B is. She tells me which one to get and it's actually $6 cheaper than the initial one — score! I surprisingly leave Target with the only thing I came for, which is a miracle. $20.89
6:50 p.m. — Home and I'm heating up dinner before The Bachelorette premier! I pour my wife and I some wine that we already had and get comfortable. I'm not sure how this season will go, as Hannah can be kind of cringe-worthy at times but also so relatable. Snack on roasted peanuts while I watch and drink wine. Wife decides to make chocolate chip cookies.
9 p.m. — Show is over, and honestly it was a little boring. I liked how Hannah handled a few situations, but most of the guys just seemed kind of vanilla. I pre-make coffee for tomorrow, wash my face, and put on retinol A, moisturizer, and eye cream. Get my Kindle, fill up my water, and head to bed. I read in bed for about 20 minutes before lights out around 9:30.
Daily Total: $175.24

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — Wake up to my second alarm. I didn't sleep well last night — must have been the wine. I only had two glasses, but wine messes up my sleep so much. I do my usual routine: pour myself some coffee, shower, get ready, and throw together my lunch. I also make some quinoa to put in my lunch to spice things up. Lunch today will consist of kale, cucumber, lemon juice, Beyond Meat hot Italian sausage, quinoa, and black olives, with a side of two clementine oranges and blueberries.
7:45 a.m. — Out the door and headed to work. Today I'm evaluating whether certain kids need support in preschool. I also sometimes evaluate private school students who receive special education, but it's primarily the little ones. I swipe onto the bus with my pre-paid bus pass and read during my 20-minute commute.
8:05 a.m. — Get to work and settle in for the day. Our first case is scheduled to come at 8:30, so I like to get in early so I can set up and feel somewhat prepared. I brought some of the cookies my wife made to share with my team.
8:30 a.m. — Our first case doesn't show up, so they send me busywork to do (as if I don't already have a million other things to catch up on). I check out the office and see there's tortilla chips and hummus, so my friend and I steal the snacks and bring them back to our room. We snack while bullshitting around and decide to walk around the building.
11 a.m. — Eat my blueberries and oranges because I'm starving (probably just bored hungry) and wish that I had brought more to eat.
12 p.m. — Eat my lunch real quick. Three cases just walked in at 12 (they were scheduled to come at 8:30, 12, and 2) so it's a bit of a shit show trying to figure out where everyone will go. We finally get everything sorted out and complete the evaluation.
3:15 p.m. — Done and ready to go home. Swipe in on the bus with my pre-paid card.
4 p.m. — Snack on some of my popcorn from my produce box while I put on workout clothes. The weather is beautiful and I have every intention of running outside today.
4:30 p.m. — So, the workout didn't happen. I got really sleepy and decided to just sit on the couch and read my book. I have a book club meeting at 6, so I don't really have time to go now. Oh well. I start making some broth on the stove, since I'm making curry tomorrow. (I make my own broth every few weeks using scraps from veggies when I cook. I typically put the scraps in a freezer bag and freeze them until it's full.) I save a couple of cups for my curry and put any extra in the freezer.
6 p.m. — Book club. Well it's kind of an informal book club with me, my wife, her mom, and my mom. We do it over the phone once a month. I recently started reading more and it's a nice way for all of us to get together to talk. The wife drinks wine during book club, but I opt for Lacroix since I didn't sleep well last night. I snack on some more popcorn (a.k.a. the rest of the bag) while on the phone for book club.
7 p.m. — I'm not feeling very hungry, so I just heat up some Trader Joe's Japanese fried rice and falafel (another weird combination). I read on the couch while the wife watches Netflix and we snuggle.
9 p.m. — Get the coffee ready for tomorrow, load up the dishwasher, and get ready for bed. I wash my face and put on my retinol, eye cream, and moisturizer. Read in bed for another 25 minutes before I pass out around 9:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

6:15 a.m. — Wake up before my second alarm goes off. My cats have been driving me absolutely crazy ever since Daylight Saving began. They think it's time for breakfast as soon as the first bits of sunlight peak in the windows. I get out of bed and do the usual: pour coffee, shower, get ready, and make my lunch. Today I have a little extra time since I woke up earlier, so I make today's and tomorrow's lunch. Lunch today is kale, sausage, cucumber, quinoa, green onion, and lemon juice. I also pack two oranges and a peanut butter chocolate chip Larabar for a snack.
7:50 a.m. — Head downstairs to the bus. It really is so convenient having a bus stop right in front of my apartment so when I'm running late I still have a chance of catching it. I swipe onto the bus with my pre-paid card.
8:10 a.m. — At work, I make myself some Trader Joe's ginger turmeric herbal tea with hot water.
10 a.m. — Work has been slow. My first case was a no-show (I swear this rarely happens), so I use the empty morning slot to catch up on reports. Snack on my Larabar while working.
12:15 p.m. — Eat my lunch while chatting with coworkers. Our second case showed up but I didn't need to evaluate because they only had concerns regarding the student's speech, so I get to catch up on more paperwork! I honestly prefer being busier because it makes my day go by faster, so slow days like this are brutal for me.
3:15 p.m. — Out the door and onto the bus. Swipe with my pre-paid pass.
3:40 p.m. — Eat a snack of bread with avocado, Everything But The Bagel Seasoning, and nutritional yeast. Get ready and head out for a run with my new shoes!
5:30 p.m. — Back from a six-mile run and chug some Trader Joe's pea protein powder mixed with water. Doesn't taste great but gets the job done. Shower and get in cozy clothes before making dinner.
6:30 p.m. — Dinner tonight is a lentil tofu curry with eggplant and sweet potato noodles. It's delicious! Snuggle up on the couch with the wife and cats.
9 p.m. — Time to get ready for bed. Get coffee ready for tomorrow and lay down to read. Fall asleep around 9:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

6 a.m. — You know the drill. Get out of bed and pour my coffee. Shower, get dressed, and put on some makeup. Typically I just wear concealer, brows, mascara, and blush, but today I felt like doing a little extra. I put on primer, foundation, concealer, setting powder, brows, bronzer, blush, and setting spray. I've noticed that I tend to wear more makeup when my hair is dirty and gets thrown into a messy bun, I guess I'm trying to compensate?
7 a.m. — Make some quinoa to put in my lunch. Lunch is the usual — kale, quinoa, Beyond Meat Italian sausage, lemon juice, cucumber, and green onion. Bring a Larabar, blueberries, and a clementine for snack. Also cut up strawberries for wife's lunch because I know she won't cut them up and she's leaving to go visit her mom on Saturday so they'll go bad.
7:25 a.m. — Out the door and swipe onto the bus with my pre-paid bus pass.
8 a.m. — Settled in at work and I'm already starving. I eat my blueberries quickly in between consulting with teachers, observing students, and writing reports. I eat my Larabar about an hour later because I'm still hungry.
12 p.m. — Finally take a break for lunch. Eat my lunch quickly while talking to coworkers. The speech pathologist and I get along really well at my school and she totally gets the struggle that goes with our jobs. We consider going for a walk, but it looks pitch black outside so we decide to skip it for the day. I also order a shirt for my wife ($27.37); we're participating in the Autism Speaks Walk in a few weeks. $27.37
3 p.m. — On the bus home, swiping using my prepaid card.
4 p.m. — Eat a snack at home of two rice cakes, avocado, some Sriracha, Everything But The Bagel seasoning, and nutritional yeast. I spend the next hour or so cleaning the apartment, doing the dishes, folding and putting away laundry, and just general picking up. I love a clean house!
5 p.m. — Go downstairs to my apartment gym. It's not great, but it'll do. When we moved to a new building a year ago I wanted to make sure we moved somewhere that had some gym equipment so I didn't have to keep paying for an expensive gym nearby. At the gym I use the elliptical for 30 minutes while reading on my Kindle, then go back upstairs to hula hoop for 20 minutes. After my workout I drink some protein powder with water.
7 p.m. — Eat my leftover dinner of curry. I'm still starving after dinner, so I snack on some peanuts. I see a commercial that the new Aladdin movie is coming out next week and text my friend to see if she wants to see it with me. She agrees, so I book the tickets online. $24
8 p.m. — My wife makes some popcorn and offers me some. I recently got an air popper for my birthday, and it's amazing. I love that I can make my own popcorn and put whatever I want on it. Wife puts some soy sauce, garlic powder, and salt on the popcorn, and it's delicious.
9:15 p.m. — Get ready for bed. I lie down to read, but my wife comes and snuggles up to me. She's leaving for 10 days on Saturday and is feeling clingy. We snuggle while I attempt to read until she turns over and I fall asleep around 9:40.
Daily Total: $51.37

Day Five

5:40 a.m. — I wake up to my wife's alarm. She has to check in for her flight right at 6, so she set a couple of alarms to make sure she's up. I notice she's not up (very heavy sleeper), so I yell at her to get up (lovingly, of course). She gets out of bed and checks in. I lie in bed until my alarm goes off at 6. She brings me coffee in bed and I sip on it while getting some kitty snuggles.
6:15 a.m. — Finally out of bed and in the shower. I'm washing my hair today so I know I need a little extra time getting ready. Put on some makeup, get dressed, and make my lunch for today. Lunch today is spinach, quinoa, hot italian sausage, cucumber, green onion, marinated artichokes, and lemon juice. Bring some roasted pumpkin seeds and a Larabar for a snack because I'm all out of fruit.
7:30 a.m. — Do my hair real quick and head out the door. Swipe onto the bus with my prepaid pass.
8:05 a.m. — Get to work and make some tea.
10 a.m. — Eat my sunflower seeds while working on reports. I didn't end up needing to evaluate this kid, so I have the morning free, yay me! While I'm working, I customize my produce box delivery for Monday. They don't charge me until it gets delivered, but I'm ordering: jalapeño peppers, corn, cherries, avocado, green onion, peaches, cucumber, kale, lentils, popcorn, and Broccoli Cheddar Veggie Pops.
11:45 a.m. — Eat my lunch before the day gets crazy again.
3:30 p.m. — On the bus home using my prepaid bus pass. I text the wife to see if she wants to meet me at Trader Joe's to get some snacks and food for the next week. She agrees, so we decide to meet there.
3:45 p.m. — Change of plans — I choose to go home first so I can pick up some reusable bags. It's on the way, so doesn't really make a difference. Go home and pick up some bags, then head out with the wife.
4:15 p.m. — At Trader Joe's, we get salsa, black bean and quinoa tortilla chips, riced cauliflower, a red pepper, black beans, Joe-Joe slims, brown rice penne pasta, Alfredo sauce (for the wife), mozzarella sticks (for the wife), sun-dried tomatoes, a bag of steamable broccoli and cauliflower. $36.86
5 p.m. — Put the groceries away. I decide to work out so I do the Beachbody Insanity Pure Cardio workout. I've done the full 60-day program a few times before and I've gotten amazing results, but now I just do the videos once or twice a week in between running and strength training at the gym. The workouts kick my ass every time but I always feel amazing after.
6:30 p.m. — Shower and eat dinner of my leftover curry. Only two more days of curry before it's gone. I love meal prepping and having it done, but toward the end of the week it gets a little old eating the same thing for dinner every day.
7:30 p.m. — Pour myself a glass of red wine and eat some Joe-Joes and chips and salsa for a snack. I wish I could have a little more fun tonight, but I signed up to work tomorrow. My work offers Saturday assessments every so often and they pay me my hourly rate, so I sign up when I can. I've done four this year so far. I truly love my job and most of the people I work with and could use the extra money. I spend the rest of the night watching TV and snuggling with my wife. She's feeling nervous about flying tomorrow so I try to talk her through it. She's been dealing with depression and anxiety since she was a teenager, but it's been getting worse lately. I do what I can to support her at home, but I have to admit I've been having a hard time turning the professional psychologist part of my brain off and switching to supportive wife.
9:30 p.m. — Lie down in bed and read until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $36.86

Day Six

3:30 a.m. — Wake up when I hear the wife getting ready to leave, I remind her to pack some snacks in her bag and eat a little something before she goes. She kisses me goodbye and I fall back asleep until my alarm goes off at 6:30.
6:30 a.m. — Wake up and see that my wife has free messaging on her flight, so she's been texting me. I check in to see how she's doing and she said she's okay, counting down the minutes until she lands. I'm relieved to hear that she's okay and not freaking out.
7 a.m. — I shower, get dressed, and put a little makeup on. I choose to skip coffee this morning and just make some at work. Once I'm ready, I sit back in bed to read for a little bit until my bus is close. My lunch is pre-made from yesterday, but I decide to add some sun-dried tomatoes and hemp seeds.
7:50 a.m. — Swipe onto the bus with my pass. It's empty today — thank god for the weekend!
10:30 a.m. — Take a break from working and eating my Larabar for a snack. The case we're doing is very medically complex and the student is living in a residential nursing facility, so we're kind of limited in the amount of information that we have access to.
12 p.m. — Doesn't look like our next case is going to show up, so I eat my lunch before getting assigned with something else.
12:30 p.m. — Good thing I ate when I did! They assign me to a different case and I'm slammed until 3:30. Once I'm done, a coworker gives me a ride home since it's pouring outside and she goes right by my house.
3:50 p.m. — Home and ready to enjoy my weekend! I eat some chips and salsa and cookies that I bought yesterday. I binge Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on the couch while I snuggle with the cats for a little bit.
4:30 p.m. — Pour myself a glass of wine but fall asleep before I drink it. Take a quick nap and wake up to a text from a friend inviting me over to her new place tonight. I agree and say I'll bring the wine!
6 p.m. — Hula hoop for 20 minutes since I've been sitting practically all day and need some form of activity. Afterwards, I heat up some more curry for dinner and drink my wine.
7:20 p.m. — Head out to my friend's house. I bring a half-empty bottle of wine and a full bottle, plus some penne Alfredo that my wife made before leaving to give to my friend. Food waste really bothers me, so I try to make sure I limit my waste as much as possible.
7:45 p.m. — Check out my friend's new place while we catch up and drink wine. Over the past year we've gotten a lot closer and I love it — she's a really good friend and I feel like we're on the same page about what a friendship entails. I've had a handful of friends in the past who didn't contribute much to the friendship and it always felt like I was the one initiating conversation or inviting them to hang out, so it felt very one-sided. As I've been getting older and making more friends outside of school, I've been trying to be more conscious of fostering relationships with people who will put in the same amount of effort that I put in.
12 a.m. — Start to get tired so I call an Uber home. $11.36
1 a.m. — Home and make myself some brown rice pasta with some kale cashew pesto. While that's cooking, I do my nighttime routine of washing my face, retinol, and moisturizer. I eat in bed while watching TV until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $11.36

Day Seven

7 a.m. — Cats wake me up to be fed. I notice that I don't have too much of a headache from the wine last night, but I chug water and take an ibuprofen anyway just in case it gets worse. Fall back asleep until 10:30 when I finally get up.
10:30 a.m. — Awake and snuggle with my kittens. I make some Trader Joe's detox tea and start reading a new book.
12:30 p.m. — Make myself a late breakfast/lunch of avocado toast with whole wheat bread, avocado, nutritional yeast, Sriracha, and Everything But The Bagel seasoning. After I eat I tidy up, unload/reload the dishwasher, fold the laundry, and clean out the fridge.
2:30 p.m. — Snack on some chips and salsa and a couple of cookies while I browse Thredup for some summer work shirts. I try to buy secondhand when I can because it's cheaper and more environmentally sustainable. I'd say about half of my wardrobe is secondhand. I get a pair of workout capris and four work blouses ($67.90). I also remember to order some more cat food from We have three male cats and two of them have had urinary issues that ended up costing us thousands of dollars, so now they're on a prescription food to prevent future problems. The third cat is on the prescription food too, just in case, because we can't afford for anything else to happen. I buy a big bag of dry food, two cases of wet food cans, and a box of litter ($172.60). I use our joint debit card to pay for the food. This should last us for about six weeks. $240.50
4:30 p.m. — Take a little nap on the couch while snuggled up with my kittens. They're much more clingy when one of us leaves, so I'm taking advantage of it!
6:30 p.m. — Heat up the last of the curry — finally it's gone! I also make some berry herbal tea while watching more TV. I swear I'm usually not this much of a homebody, but when I work a six-day week and the wife goes out of town, I notice that I'm not as social.
If you are experiencing anxiety and are in need of crisis support, please call the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.
Daily Total: $240.50
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