Money Diaries logo

A Week In Chicago, IL, On A $67,000 Salary

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.
Do you work in sexual health education? We want to hear from you! We are looking for Money Diaries from sexual health professionals and teachers and would love to read yours. Submit your diary here and send any questions you have to This is a paid opportunity.

Today: a senior analyst who makes $67,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on an iPhone 13 mini.
Occupation: Senior Analyst
Industry: Market Research
Age: 25
Location: Chicago, IL
Salary: $67,000 + $2,750 bonus
Net Worth: ~$102,500 ($12,000 in checking/HYSA, $66,000 in Roth IRA, $22,000 in 401(k), car + moped probably worth $2,500 combined, no debt.)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,028
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $900 for my half of a one-bedroom I share with my boyfriend, G. (He pays slightly more because he makes more.)
Utilities: ~$30-40 for my half of the electric (Heat, A/C, water, internet, cable, HOA fees included in rent.)
Health Insurance: $125.50 (Pre-tax.)
401(k): $567 (Pre-tax.)
Cell Phone: $60 (On my mom's plan, but I pay my share.)
Peloton Digital: $6.99 (Student rate.)
Donations: $50 (Planned Parenthood, The Trevor Project, Connections for Abused Women and their Children, and NPR.)
Renter's Insurance: $8 for my half
Netflix/Hulu/Disney+/Spotify Premium: $0 (On various family members' accounts.)
Annual Expenses
Roth IRA: $6,000
Car + Moped Insurance: $816
Chicago Events Subscription: $60
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?
College was an unspoken expectation in my family, so I never considered not going. My parents are divorced and agreed to each pay a third, leaving me to pay the remaining third of my total expenses (tuition, room, board, etc.). I worked multiple jobs throughout my time at school to make my third. I'm extremely grateful my parents were able to help out and set me up to graduate debt-free. I'm currently in grad school part-time, but my company is helping pay about ~70% of tuition, which is awesome. I just have to stay in this job for two years after I graduate.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents didn't really have conversations with my older sister and I about money growing up, but it was drilled into us that you don't spend money you don't have! I also remember my mom being insistent we learn how to balance a checkbook… which seems useless now.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I got my first job when I was 15 through the local parks and rec department teaching summer day camps and classes. I never worked during the school year in high school because of sports and school, but always worked during the summers at various jobs. I wanted to start saving for college, but also wanted money for gas and for fun because I felt weird asking my parents for money once I was in high school (even though they were both better off at that point).
Did you worry about money growing up?
Looking back, money was very very tight for both of my parents when I was young, but they both worked very hard to not make it feel like it. We mostly did a lot of free stuff (going to the park, beach, etc.), but never got to go to summer camp or anything like that. I do remember not even bothering to ask for things when they were more expensive though (Ski Club, eighth grade trip to DC, volleyball camps, etc.). I knew it'd be difficult for them to pay for and they'd probably say no anyways.
Do you worry about money now?
Always. I know I don't need to worry about money, but my sister and I are both very much products of our parents. I honestly don't think I'll ever not worry about it in some capacity. I am always hyper aware of my spending and scale back if I think I'm spending more than I'd like in a month. Currently, I'm also worried about how I should be investing my money. I know nothing about investments and I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
As soon as I graduated college when I was 22 and moved to Chicago. I had a bit of savings built up to last me for a while and luckily got a job just as my savings was draining out. If I were to suddenly lose my job, my boyfriend could help me out until I found another one. Worst comes to worst, even though moving back with either of my parents sounds terrible, I know I could if anything drastic ever happened.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Besides helping with college expenses, my parents also created a college account when I was a baby, in case I ever needed it. But I worked a lot in college, so I never needed to dip into it. Instead, I used that to fund my Roth IRA throughout school, which has given me a great base for my retirement savings (~$19,000). Also this year, I bought my grandparents' car for $500, even though it's worth around $2,000 (but they're not allowed to drive anymore). It's a 2004 and nothing fancy, but it saved me a lot of money since used cars were so expensive in 2021.

Day One

6:30 a.m. — Even though I have this week off, my boyfriend, G., does not, so his alarm goes off and I wake up. He's also the type of person who snoozes four times, so I can't just go back to sleep right away. Ugh.
7:30 a.m. — Finally drag myself out of bed to work out since I'm not sleeping. I do a core workout and chest/shoulder/triceps day for lifting in my building's gym (free). Afterwards I'm still feeling super motivated, so I do a 10-minute Peloton tabata ride (on the app). Wow those are insanely hard, I barely lasted the 10 minutes! (Also, I don't have a Peloton, but I have an old FlyWheel brand bike I got second-hand, which is basically the same thing.)
10:30 a.m. — Eat a protein shake and jump in the shower. Mid-shower, I realize I have a haircut in like 45 minutes, so I jump out and rush there. I get my haircut at the Aveda school salon because who can beat a $16 haircut?! I'm always marginally worried they'll mess up my hair, but this girl does a great job. Also, I feel I need to say it: I'm fully vaccinated and boosted. Anytime I'm not at home, I'm wearing a mask. Shout out to most Chicagoans for also being good about wearing masks!! $16
11:30 a.m. — Afterwards, I run to Express and buy a pair of earrings using a $5 credit I have and then stop by Walmart to grab a few fill-in items (protein bars, tortillas, gatorade, and Crystal Lite). Then, I go home and eat a salad I meal prepped a few days ago. $21.51
1 p.m. — My friend gets off work early so we decide to go to happy hour. I get a habanero pineapple margarita. $12.50
5 p.m. — I make my go-to ramen for dinner for the second night in a row because I'm lazy and it's delicious. Just regular ramen noodles, Valentina hot sauce, Lawry's seasoning, two eggs, shredded cheddar, and hot pepper flakes. Takes less than five minutes and is YUM as always.
5:30 p.m. — I realize I never bought my sister's Christmas gift. Whoops! Jump online and finally send her an e-gift card to a spa she likes. $50
7 p.m. — G. and I go for a short walk after he's done with work (we both work from home) and then we spend the rest of the night looking at Airbnbs for our trip to Puerto Rico. We previously had one booked, but the host canceled on us a few days ago unexpectedly, which sucks! We pick a few, but wait to book them.
8 p.m. — G. and I have plans tomorrow, but want to be safe, so we each take an at-home COVID test (purchased a few days ago). Negative and negative!
9 p.m. — I get ready for bed (Belif cleanser and gel moisturizer, floss and brush teeth = my regular bedtime routine) and read some of my book, The Paid Bridesmaid. I picked this as a light, easy read, and it was free on Amazon First Reads (would recommend if you have a Kindle and Amazon Prime), but, I really don't like this book. I keep reading it because I'm expecting it to get better for some reason — it has not yet. I read until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $100.01

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — I'm up way too early thanks to G.'s alarm.
7:30 a.m. — Finally get out of bed and head to the gym for a long legs day. I never get this much time to work out on a normal work morning, so it's nice to not be in a rush. After my workout, I eat a protein shake and clean the apartment.
12 p.m. — I head to this thrift store I've been meaning to visit for months. I always like to say I've been thrifting my whole life, initially not because it was cool, but because we had no money. Now as an adult with money, I still can't justify buying almost anything retail. About 90% of the things I own are second hand. Anyways, I find this amazing floor-length gold shiny Ralph Lauren gown for only $7.50! I read once that if you find an outfit that looks amazing and is a good price, buy it and find an occasion later. I did and I will! (I also buy a black workout tank.) $17.09
2 p.m. — One thrift store is not enough — I head to Salvation Army next. I end up finding a butter dish — I've been looking for one for months — and some shorts for our Puerto Rico trip. $6.57
6 p.m. — After G. is done with work, we order pizza for dinner. Then we finally narrow down our vacation plan and book our Airbnbs. We have a refund from the previous cancellation, so we put that towards the new reservations. The new ones we pick are slightly more expensive than the initial one, so it's a little extra. $107
9 p.m. — We head to a club downtown. G. won tickets to this party in a contest a few weeks ago and I never say no to free stuff. Free full open bar! We also have tickets to a concert in a different neighborhood so it's going to be a long night. We're get to the club so early, there's basically no one there yet, which is awesome. We pound a few drinks and toss one in a complimentary water bottle for the train ride. I tip the bartender $20 as a thank you and give the bathroom attendants $1 each as we leave. $22
11 p.m. — We take the train to the concert venue (I use a previously loaded card) and each down a little shooter of vodka before we head in. The security line is super long, but we eventually make it in by 11:30.
12:30 a.m. — G. doesn't want to hold onto his jacket anymore so we drop it off at coat check. He doesn't have cash so I pay. $6
1:30 a.m. — I go to the bathroom and am super thirsty, but also quite drunk. On my way back to find G. I grab a full (unattended) glass off the bar that looks like water. Nope, it's a very strong cocktail. But drunk me drinks it anyways.
2:30 a.m. — We walk back to the train, only to wait 20 minutes for no train. Then, it says it'll be another 20 minutes until the next one. G. gets impatient and orders an Uber. He pays. When we finally get home we have amazing sex (I'm not about euphemisms — sorry not sorry).
Daily Total: $158.66

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — My body punishes me for drinking by waking me up early and not letting me fall back asleep. I never really drink, so my tolerance is low, but I strangely don't feel very hungover. Just very tired. I finally cave and migrate to the couch. We vowed not to do anything today, and that's still the plan.
9 a.m. — I make an egg burrito and we watch a few episodes of Workaholics. Then, G. puts on the first Lord of the Rings movie. He's been talking about watching the LotR movies again for months, so here we are. About two hours in I fall asleep for an hour or two.
2 p.m. — My phone has been on the fritz for a few days now. After Christmas it just started randomly turning off. This time it turns off and never turns back on… so I'm currently without a phone. My trusty iPhone 7 lasted me almost five years though, which is a success in my book.
3 p.m. — Still lounging around doing nothing. I eat some leftovers and throw on Palm Springs from Hulu. Love that movie!
5 p.m. — We bought some king crab this week and G. is preparing a full fancy dinner. He likes to cook and I love to eat, so it's a great match. He makes king crab, a steak for him (I don't eat meat), Brussels sprouts, and homemade biscuits. I offer to help, but he's too kind and declines the help. He also bought the ingredients this week, so I Venmo him my half. $16
7 p.m. — We watch Cruella on Disney+. I've seen it before but G. hasn't. I still like it and G. says it isn't bad, which is shocking because he never likes the movies I pick.
10 p.m. — Bedtime after a successful day of doing nothing!
Daily Total: $16

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — Finally a full night of sleep! I feel fully rested for the first time in days. I make another egg burrito for breakfast and put on my workout clothes. I'm not actually working out right now, but figure I'm more likely to later if I'm already wearing the clothes.
10 a.m. — I head to the store and buy my groceries for the week (ingredients for vegetarian chili and cornbread, cottage cheese, almond milk, fruit, veggies, yogurt, and shredded cheddar). $27.25
12 p.m. — After lunch, G. finally convinces me that I need a new phone. All I want is for my iPhone 7 to start working again, but I quickly realize that is not going to happen. We walk to the Apple store and I pick the iPhone 13 mini because phones are so big now! This one is basically the same size as my 7. As much as I don't want to spend this money and I hate giving my money to Apple, I need a phone. $803.72
2 p.m. — We stop at the animal shelter on the way home because we've been wanting to adopt a cat for months now. We sign in and sit in the waiting area. After an hour, they haven't called anyone back, so we ask the front desk. They tell us it'll be at least another hour! We decide to head out and come back another day.
4 p.m. — As soon as I get home, I buy a screen protector and case for my new phone. I have Amazon gift cards that cover the cost, so I don't pay anything now.
5 p.m. — I finally force myself to workout because I just have no excuse now. I take a 30-minute ABBA ride on the Peloton app. I grew up listening and dancing to ABBA in our living room, so it's very nostalgic and the motivation I needed.
6:30 p.m. — I meal prep my chili and cornbread for the week. It's one of my favorite things to make because it's so easy. Toss it all in a pot and done.
8 p.m. — G. is in the mood for pizza and willing to make it, so we have tasty homemade Detroit-style pizza for dinner. Always amazing when G. makes it!
8:30 p.m. — After we eat, we watch a little Workaholics.
9:30 p.m. — I finally head to bed and finish my book. Surprise, surprise, it doesn't get any better. The ending is even worse than the rest of the book actually. Oh well, just relieved it's done and I can move on to the next book.

Daily Total: $830.97

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — G.'s alarm wakes me up. Per usual, I wait an hour to drag myself out of bed and then head down to the gym and do a lazy back/bicep workout because my motivation is low.
9:30 a.m. — I have a massage later, but want to make sure I'm still safe to go. I take another at-home COVID test and it's negative again. Woohoo!
10:30 a.m. — I quickly run to Walmart on the way to my massage because we're out of toilet paper. I also pick up some more tortillas, dishwasher soap, spices, and Flamin' Hot Mac and Cheese ($25.83 minus the $9 G. Venmos me for his half of the stuff we split). $16.83
11 a.m. — The massage is delightful (mask on the whole time, obviously)! It's only the second massage I've ever gotten, and I think I may need to make this a more regular thing. I had a Groupon, so I already paid for that, but I also leave a $30 tip. $30
1 p.m. — Feeling all kinds of relaxed, I eat some meal-prepped chili and cornbread for lunch and have a Queer Eye marathon with the new season that just came out. As I'm watching, I also finish a painting that I've been putting off for months now. I don't love how it comes out, but at least I finished it!
5 p.m. — Tuition for my grad program is due today and I've been putting off paying it because I hate seeing the number in my account go down. I bite the bullet and pay it. Even though my company helps with tuition, it's not until the end of the semester, after I pass all the classes. I need to front the money and receive some of it back later. For now, it's $7,465 out of my account. *Cringe.* While I'm at it, I also submit my 2022 Roth IRA contribution because I might as well just pay all the money at once, why not (Roth IRA noted in annual expenses)! $7,465
6:30 p.m. — G. and I go for a short walk when he's done with work — very short because it's freezing out. Then I have leftover homemade pizza and cookies for dinner.
7:30 p.m. — Well, well, well. G. takes our last at-home COVID test and it's positive. Not good news. If I don't have it now, I will soon because our apartment is way too small to separate for a full week. We've made it so long and been so careful! Luckily, though, we're both asymptomatic right now. I also text my sister the news (she's a frontline healthcare worker who works with COVID patients on the daily), and she says she's worried she got it somehow too. She hasn't had it yet either and feels the same. Time to quarantine.
8 p.m. — We watch the new South Park special, which is pretty funny. G. is way more into South Park than I am, but I don't mind it. Hits a little closer to home this time…
9 p.m. — I start a new book from Amazon First Reads called The Night Burns Bright. It's pretty good so far and I'm looking forward to this one.
Daily Total: $7,511.83

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — This time it's my alarm that goes off and I'm not jazzed about it. Still, I get up and do a core workout and 30-minute Peloton spin class (all in my apartment).
8 a.m. — I make some eggs and log onto work, but there isn't too much to do today. I finish up most of my work in the morning.
12 p.m. — After some chili and cornbread lunch, I go out for a lunch walk to get my legs moving. I know people may get all worked up in the comments, but I feel like it's a safe bet to go on a walk outdoors with a mask on non-busy streets. I can't stay in my apartment for a week straight without leaving.
2 p.m. — I do some work stuff here and there, but mostly just sit and read my book all afternoon. I am very tired though, so around 3:30 I fall asleep for an hour or so.
4 p.m. — I'm just checking my Amazon orders to see when things will get delivered when I find a good deal on my favorite brand of protein bars. I buy just one box for now. I use almost all the rest of my gift cards on this order.
4:30 p.m. — I snack on some cheese and crackers and watch Don't Look Up on Netflix. I don't love it but don't hate it, so I consider it worth the watch. I totally see the parallels with our current world, which is just all too sad. I feel bad about just sitting on the couch for so long, so I jump on my spin bike and pedal my legs for the last half hour.
7 p.m. — After G. is done with work, we go for a walk (same deal as above). It's not as cold tonight so we walk a bit further than usual.
8 p.m. — I heat up some more leftover homemade pizza and Brussels sprouts for dinner and we watch a few episodes of Workaholics before heading to bed early, around 9. I read some more of my book (still good) and try to fall asleep.
11:30 p.m. — Here we are, and I'm still awake. I can't fall asleep for some reason, despite how tired I was all day. This is annoying. I pull my book back out and read a little until I get finally get sleepy. I know it's going to suck waking up tomorrow. At least it was a no spend day!!
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

3:30 a.m. — It's insanely windy in Chicago tonight. Our apartment runs hot even when we don't have the heat on, so we leave our windows open at night to cool it down. The wind slaps the blinds against the window and it wakes me up. I try to ignore it and go back to sleep.
4 a.m. — Nope, can't ignore it. I get up and close the bedroom window. The bedroom gets instantly too warm. I go open the patio door in the living room to still keep the apartment cool overnight though. It doesn't help.
6:30 a.m. — Well, not surprised — waking up today sucks. Also, leaving the patio door open makes the living room drop to 54 degrees! I end up doing a short full-body Peloton class on demand and then a live 30-minute 80's music ride (again, all in my apartment). It wakes me up pretty well with the good music.
8:30 a.m. — I make myself a protein shake and shower before my first meetings of 2022. They're both pretty uneventful, but I get to catch up with some of my coworkers, which is nice. The morning is pretty slow, just catching up on random tasks here and there.
10 a.m. — I eat my last slice of homemade pizza as a mid-morning snack because I'm an adult and I can.
1 p.m. — I take a short break to eat chili and cornbread for lunch (shocker). Then I watch an episode of Dead to Me on Netflix just because. It's not a bad show, but not my favorite. Curbs my boredom for the meantime though.
3:30 p.m. — My new screen protector and phone case get delivered and I immediately put them both on my phone. I'm going to make this thing last forever!
7 p.m. — After an episode of Workaholics and my go-to ramen dinner again, we play some Mario Kart because G. bought a Switch at the beginning of the pandemic and we don't play it nearly enough. Per usual, I lose every time.
9 p.m. — G. makes a few chocolate chip cookies using some dough I made last week in the freezer.

9:30 p.m. — Time for bed and some reading. Book is still good, would recommend. I also realize that tomorrow is our fourth anniversary, which is fun! We don't really do anything for anniversaries, since it's so close to the holidays. Thank you Tinder for bringing us together four years ago (and yay for another no spend day)!

Daily Total: $0
Money Diaries are meant to reflect an individual's experience and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.

The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.

Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.

Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here or email us here.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series