A Week In Chicago, IL, On A $50,000 Salary

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.
Ahead of National Twins Day, we present Twin Week, where we’re tracking the spending of five sets of twins. Just because twins share the same DNA, doesn’t mean they share the same money habits, so we thought it’d be a fun experiment to compare and contrast the way millennial twins are saving and spending. Here’s a set of twins living in Chicago, IL, and Queens, NY, respectively.
This diary: a special education teacher who makes $50,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a soda at the movies. Her twin is a product manager.
Occupation: Special Education Teacher
Industry: Education
Age: 27
Location: Chicago, IL
Salary: $50,000 (for 10 months, but I stretch it out to 12)
Paycheck Amount (Bimonthly): $1,465
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,303 (split with my boyfriend)
Internet, Utilities & Phone: $275 for my portion
Student Loan Payment: $200
Health Insurance: $88
Benefit Eyebrow Wax: $27
Nails: $100
Hair: $200 (every six weeks)
Netflix: $14 (My boyfriend and I alternate who pays.)
Savings: $650

Day One

8 a.m. — My alarm goes off. Even in the summer, I try to keep myself on a schedule so I don't become too sedentary. I sit on the couch and play on my phone for awhile.
9 a.m. — I watch Let's Make A Deal. God, I wish I could be on that show!
10 a.m. — I get in the shower. I have plans to meet up with other teachers for appetizers and a drink at a local bar/grille this afternoon, and I need extra time to get ready and make myself look nice.
11:30 a.m. — I get really anxious to drive on the busy road that this restaurant is on, so I look up a few alternative routes to avoid being on the road as much as possible.
12:55 p.m. — I suck it up and leave. I need to be more brave and less dependent on others giving me rides.
1:15 p.m. — On the way there, I fill up my tank ($20). I recently paid off my Chevy Spark, and I'm ready for something else, but for now, filling up my tank for so cheap is such a perk! Plus, since I don't drive often at all, my gas expenses are super low. $20
1:25 p.m. — At the restaurant, I split a plate of loaded fries and I order an iced tea. It's nice to catch up with coworkers who I haven't seen since June. Most of them are working summer school.
4 p.m. — I get the bill. I offer to pay, since I know they already ordered other things and one of my coworkers bought my tea. After staying for about three hours, I go home. $16.24
6 p.m. — My boyfriend brings home Chipotle. They have a special fundraiser for Special Olympics, and given my job, I felt obligated. As if I needed an excuse to get Chipotle. :)
Daily Total: $36.24

Day Two

8 a.m. — Alarm goes off!
10 a.m. — I stop by my mom's house to go to a surgery follow-up appointment with her. She is also off for the summer, since she works as an elementary school secretary. I'm glad I live about 20 minutes from where I grew up so I can be there for her!
12:30 p.m. — Since the appointment was so quick, we make the matinee showing of Three Identical Strangers. The theater we go to has really cheap matinee prices ($4.75 for a ticket), which is why it's my go-to. I get a junior popcorn and medium drink, too. $15.20
2:30 p.m. — After the movie, I go home and relax until my boyfriend gets home from work.
6 p.m. — We have a night in with spaghetti and meatballs and pinot noir.
Daily Total: $15.20

Day Three

9 a.m. — We wake up and make breakfast. I eat leftover pasta from last night. It's still tasty!
11 a.m. — We are being super lazy today and looking for something to do, but our go-to friends are all busy. ☹️
11:30 a.m. — We find out that my boyfriend's parents are up at the local renaissance fair, so we get ready to meet up with them. I also have plans to celebrate a friend's birthday in the city tonight, so I pack a small overnight bag. My boyfriend offers to drop me off after the fair. He's such a nice guy!
2:15 p.m. — It takes about an hour to get to the fair from the suburbs — it's right over the Wisconsin border. My boyfriend pays for tickets, and his parents give us money for food and drinks, since we don't have much cash. I eat a Greek salad and have a Diet Pepsi. (I wanted an unsweetened iced tea, but had to settle. Ugh.)
3:30 p.m. — We watch a few of the shows and walk around looking at some of the vendors. I tip Moonie the Magnificent a dollar for letting me say no when he asked me to be part of the show. I'm not into being the center of attention, which is sort of funny, since I'm a teacher. My mother-in-law goes up instead and does a great job of playing along! This is my first time at the fair, and there is definitely good people watching. $1
5:30 p.m. — After we leave, my plans to go into Chicago are canceled, so we make a pit stop at McDonald's for fries and pop and then head home ($9, also covered by his parents).
7 p.m. — My boyfriend and I make brownies and watch the 1961 version of The Parent Trap. It's raining outside, and the sound of it is so relaxing!
Daily Total: $1

Day Four

3 a.m. — I woke up in the middle of the night panicking about how quickly the summer is going. The beginning of the school year is so stressful. There's so much to do! Last week, one of my teacher friends in my grade level team came over to start planning using our curriculum maps, and reminding myself of this makes me feel a bit better. I go back to sleep and wake up at around 9.
10 a.m. — I FaceTime my twin sister to plan my yearly visit for Thanksgiving. I am so glad she lets me come out at least twice a year. I seriously live vicariously through her exciting life in NYC — the energy there is indescribable. I find a flight on Southwest and put it on my credit card. I know I'll pay it off — the memories I'll make and the time spent in my favorite place with my sister are worth it. $406
11 a.m. — I am getting sick of sitting around the house like I've done the last few nights, so I get dressed and we venture off into the gross rainy weather. We pick up Popeye's, since I've never had it before, and then head back to watch movies. $16.88
12:30 p.m. — We start the movie Room and then take a short nap.
3 p.m. — I decide I should probably clean the interior of my car, since I'm hoping to trade it in for a new car soon. I spend $25 on cleaning supplies and taking it to a DIY car wash. $25
5 p.m. — We take pics of my car and post online. I hope someone makes an offer!
7 p.m. — We watch Big Brother and I hear a new song in a commercial that I really like, so I buy it on iTunes. $0.69
Daily Total: $448.57

Day Five

7 a.m. — My boyfriend takes my car to work today to get some of the nooks and crannies cleaned, so I'm stuck at home. There's a place local to his office that does a very nice job.
9 a.m. — I think about going to the pool, but it's cloudy so I go back to sleep for a few hours, since I stayed up pretty late.
12 p.m. — I make Coco Wheats for lunch and start laundry.
6 p.m. — When my boyfriend gets home, I pay him back for the car wash ($11). That night I cave and get McDonald's since my PMS cravings are out of control. $16
7 p.m. — We watch The Bachelorette and The Proposal and then head to bed.
10 p.m. — My period comes two days early. All of these cravings and naps suddenly make sense!
Daily Total: $16

Day Six

10 a.m. — Finally the weather is sunny and hot for the pool. I'm going to brave it in a bikini top and jean shorts and then stick my feet in while reading the novel Brooklyn. I'm trying to take advantage of the few days I have left until I have to start going in and begin setting up my classroom next week. I also don't want to be in my apartment when maintenance comes today. We put a work order in for our dryer because it didn't dry our clothes after three cycles. #Firstworldproblems.
11:45 a.m. — I stay at the pool for about an hour and 45 minutes. Then I walk back to my apartment and make sure it's clean, since the maintenance guy hasn't come yet.
1 p.m. — I really want to nap but I don't want to be awkwardly sleeping on the couch when maintenance walks in!
1:30 p.m. — Maintenance finally comes around 1:30 and stays for about an hour. There was a bird's nest in the vent! When he leaves, I sleep for a few and then take a shower.
6:30 p.m. — For dinner, we have burgers on the grill with waffle fries. So good!
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7 a.m. — I spend the day today cleaning my apartment...doing all the laundry, wiping things down, and picking up things that are out of place. It feels really good to live in an uncluttered space!
10 a.m. — I take a break and watch a movie on Lifetime.
12 p.m. — I get distracted by the seemingly new feature on Facebook where you can delete multiple posts at once. I've been on this purging of social media kick lately, so I spend way longer than I'm proud of cleaning out my Facebook timeline.
1:30 p.m. — I guess I should eat something today...hmmm...time to raid the cabinets and fridge.
1:4 p.m. — I make some of those chicken fries for a small lunch. Nice and easy!
2 p.m. — I head over to the gym in my apartment's leasing office and jog on the treadmill. I'm having menstrual cramps and I'm hoping exercise will help.
4 p.m. — I take a shower and put on a face scrub mask. Then I relax on the couch for a bit. Maybe nap time?
7 p.m. — I'm entering in my Money Diary. I'm sure this whole week makes me look lazy, but I'm an off duty teacher getting my summer on. No regrets.
Daily Total: $0
Read my twin's diary here.
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