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A Week In Chicago On A $108,150 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.

This week: a senior compliance analyst who makes $108,150 per year and spends some of her money this week on red lingerie.
Occupation: Senior compliance analyst
Industry: Investment management
Age: 27
Location: Chicago, IL
Salary: $108,150, plus a 10% bonus and 15% company 401(k) contribution.
Assets: $3,819 checking and regular savings; $9,353 HYSA; $4,538 car savings in a Betterment cash fund; $35,841 in a Roth IRA; $100,598 across two 401(k)s; $5,674 across two HSAs; $2,000 in I Bonds; $37,096 in a medium-term taxable brokerage account; $16,224 in a long-term taxable brokerage account; ~$3,000 KBB car value for my old Subaru.
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,729.33
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Monthly Housing Costs: $2,040 for a one-bedroom apartment, including gas, water, and trash.
Monthly Loan Payments: $0
All Other Monthly Expenses:
Car & Renter’s Insurance: $126 (I caused a fender bender two years ago.)
Electric: ~$45
Internet: $35
Parking: $150
Spotify: $10
Streaming Services: $0 (Between me and my family we get them all reimbursed through credit card perks/cell phone plans.)
Cell Phone: My parents pay.
Horse Joint Supplements: $48 (I own a horse a couple of hours away in my hometown, whom I’ve had since high school. He boards for free in exchange for doing kiddie lessons.)
Pet Health Insurance: $39
Solidcore: $99 (four classes/month)
Barre Studio Unlimited Membership: $150
Donations: $50
Roth 401(k): $902.26
HSA: $179.16 (pre-tax)
Insurance Premiums & Transit: $84.02 (pre-tax)
Long-term Taxable Brokerage: $330
Car Savings: $100
Roth IRA: $542.66
High Yield Savings: Anything leftover!
Quarterly Expenses:
Dog Daycare: $1,230 (This is approximately every three months — I buy a 30-day pack and use them until I need more. This isn’t at a super regular cadence as it depends on how much I travel, if she stays with my parents, how much I WFH, and so on).
Annual Expenses:
Copilot Money App: $69 (GET IT!)
America’s Test Kitchen: $74
Marco Polo Premium: $69
AMEX Fee: $695 (I more than made this up last year when I lived in California and flew a lot but may downgrade next year.)
Chase Sapphire: $95

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, no option was ever discussed except college, and I think my parents would have been disappointed if I hadn’t gone. My mom put herself through college and law school while working full time, and my dad didn’t graduate college, so they wanted to be able to give me the college experience neither of them had. However, I was a diligent and high-achieving student, so I ended up going to an Ivy League university. I’m so lucky to say that my parents paid for it in full, plus supported me by paying my rent and supplementing groceries and travel home in college. I also worked at a donut shop for most of college and had paid internships to pay for fun spending, most of my groceries, and my study abroad semester, and ultimately these jobs covered my first month’s rent/security deposit in the real world.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents only covered the basics — the difference between debit and credit cards, and that saving was a virtue. My mom was the breadwinner while my dad mostly stayed home with me, which was a wonderful example of an untraditional system.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job with a paycheck I actually saw was at my small-town grocery store the summer before I went to college. It was a great job, and I worked there the next summer, too. Prior to that, I taught dance to little kids and was a summer camp counselor at my barn, but that money went straight back into the cost of dance and horseback-riding lessons.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Not a lot. In hindsight, I can see that my parents are actually quite bad with money. Both of my parents were out of a job at one point when I was little, and I can remember them borrowing from my piggy bank, so it must have been pretty tight for them. However, I always had what I needed, and I did expensive sports and went to a private school in a bigger town so that I could take AP classes. What’s amazing is that my mom’s small company eventually got bought out by a big national company, and they had a generous Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), so now my parents are quite well off. That was a weird transition in late high school for me, but it paid for my college and now their retirement!
Do you worry about money now?
Thankfully, no. I worry about big-picture things like being able to own a house and not being chained to a desk my whole life, and I feel guilty when I spend on “fun” things, but those are very privileged “worries.” I have more than enough to get by and plenty of savings.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
This one is a little complicated! Right after college I moved to California and started covering all my own expenses, but then COVID-19 hit, and I had a terrible roommate, so I took advantage of remote work and moved back to the Midwest and in with my parents for what ended up being almost a year and a half. I lived at home rent-free during that time and contributed very little. Once I had to start returning to the office, I moved back to California for another two-ish years before relocating back to Chicago last summer. I’ve been independent since leaving their house after COVID-19 and plan to remain so. My parents are definitely my financial safety net and still treat me to things like dinner and groceries occasionally, and I remain on their phone plan.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I haven’t received an inheritance or anything, but I can’t overstate how much of a leg up it was for me to graduate without student debt and to have my living expenses covered. I was also able to amass a lot of savings while I was living at home during COVID-19, and that never would have been possible without my parents. I invested those savings, so the advantage will continue to compound throughout my life.

Day One

7:05 a.m. — I forgot to set an alarm and needed to log in at 7 a.m., so thank god I woke up naturally! I do my urgent morning tasks, then take my dog around the block, feed her, and get ready for a WFH day (which means sweats all day and a clean face).
9 a.m. — My job involves submitting documents to foreign regulatory agencies, and I have a mini freakout about being able to access the portal for the UK. It gets resolved, and I make avocado toast with an egg and Lawry’s seasoning salt for breakfast. While I eat, I purchase a monthly pass for the CTA ($75), but this comes out of the pre-tax transit money from each paycheck that I already mentioned above.
11 a.m. — I take an early lunch to go to my barre studio for a class. When I come back, I take my dog out, feed her lunch, and warm up leftover Indian takeout for my own lunch. My friend G. asks to FaceTime later, and I tell her when I’ll be free. She’s anxious about a new boy she’s dating, so I assume she wants to talk about that.
3 p.m. — I take my dog to the park to play fetch while talking on the phone with my parents.
4 p.m. — I FaceTime G., and it does not go as expected. I know she’s just anxious about this boy and isn’t meaning to hurt me, but she’s said and done some things that show me she is prioritizing him over our friendship, and when the call ends, I’m feeling a little stung. I Marco Polo my two friends about it and feel a bit better having talked it out.
5:30 p.m. — My friend T. is coming over for dinner, so I get the ingredients prepped for pasta with red sauce, Italian sausage, and garlic bread. Then I shower and curl my hair for the week while I wait for him to get back from the office. I also feed my dog somewhere in there.
6:30 p.m. — T. gets here, and we catch up about his recent trip to South Africa. I’m so jealous! We eat and continue watching The West Wing, which is our current pastime of choice. T. is one of my best friends from college and lives two blocks away (by design), so I see him a lot. We snack on some chocolate chip cookies I baked earlier for a friend in my building whose boyfriend just broke up with her (I always keep an emergency stash of homemade cookie dough in the freezer for situations such as these).
8 p.m. — I have to get up really early for work tomorrow, so T. leaves and I take my dog out, do my nighttime skin routine, and go to bed. My favorite products right now are a hyaluronic acid serum from The Ordinary and the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion. I also brush my dog’s teeth every night because I want her to be healthy and live forever and ever.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

4:15 a.m. — I’m awake and thinking about the comments my friend G. made to me yesterday and stewing in my anxiety. I also have a headache that’s been lingering, but I started on a new anti-anxiety/antidepressant med last week, so I think it’s just a mild side effect from that. I realize I’m not going back to sleep, so I finally get up around 5 a.m.
5:30 a.m. — After taking care of my dog, I do my morning bathroom stuff and start on my makeup. I’m seeing my boyfriend, M., tonight and want to look cute, but — in a reveal that may make you question my life choices — I also have to tell you that said boyfriend sits near me at work, so the looking cute has to start early in the day. My face makeup is wreaking havoc on my dry winter skin, so I end up wiping it all off and going with a tinted moisturizer. I pack my dog’s lunch and leave it and her leash for the dog daycare transport person.
6:30 a.m. — I get on the bus (pre-paid) and get to work right on time. I’m really dragging though, so after finishing up my urgent morning tasks, I go down to the café and get a decaf iced pistachio latte (real caffeine makes me so anxious I basically shut down). $5.31
10 a.m. — I submit the UK thing I needed without issue and feel very relieved, but then M. looks at me funny, so naturally I assume he is plotting our breakup for this evening (I’m only half kidding). Anxiety is fun!
11:30 a.m. — We get free lunch in the office (an amazing perk, I know!), so I grab a sandwich and some soup and sit with my best coworker friend, K. I tried a new thing where I put extra spinach from the salad fixings in my soup to try to get in green veggies without actually eating a salad, but it didn’t work out very well. I also drink a glass of kombucha from a bottle I brought from home.
2 p.m. — I discover there are leftover chips and guac in the cafeteria from a lunch meeting, so I have a snack.
3 p.m. — I leave, hoping to beat my dog home so that I can watch her arrive on the little doggie school bus that the daycare uses, but I miss it. I call my parents and take her to play fetch again, then eat a couple bites of chicken to tide me over to meeting up with M. I prepped a casserole this weekend (I do this program called Lasagna Love where once a month I get matched with a family in need and take them a meal, and I always make an extra batch for myself), so I bake that for M. and I to eat after we go for drinks. I also feed my dog.
6:30 p.m. — M. texts me that there is an event at the bar, so they put him upstairs. I didn’t even know this bar had an upstairs, and when I go up, it is just him sitting at a table alone in a totally silent room. We laugh, but neither of us minds, so we stay and order drinks when a waitress comes up. Our relationship is new, and I’m a really anxious person, so basically every time I see him I have to squelch the fear that he is going to break up with me. Luckily, he’s really good about words of affirmation, so after telling me multiple times how much he likes me in the course of conversation, the nerves subside. Can someone with dating anxiety please reassure me this eventually goes away?
7:30 p.m. — After a second round and lots of laughs, I’m pleasantly tipsy and very hungry, so we head back to mine. I pay because we’re supposed to be alternating, but M. has paid for a lot lately. $74.09
8:30 p.m. — We eat the casserole and then make out on the couch like teenagers for a while before M. needs to head home, and it feels really sweet. We also make plans for him to come over Thursday.
10 p.m. — I do my nighttime routine, take my dog out, and then read in bed before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $79.40

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — I didn’t sleep well again last night and have concluded that my apartment is too warm. I’ve going to try cracking a bedroom window tonight. I also have a headache, so getting out of bed feels like quite the ordeal. Finally, I get up and take my dog out, pack her lunch, and do my normal getting ready stuff. I skip makeup today because my skin seems really irritated, and I’m taking a workout class after work anyways.
8:45 a.m. — I arrive at work (bus fare pre-paid) and grab an everything bagel from the cafeteria. One morning a week we get breakfast pastries! I also cave and go get a decaf pistachio latte because I'm craving something sweet. Why is it more expensive hot than iced? $6.09
12 p.m. — I’m meeting T. and another college friend (who coincidentally is also a T.) for lunch at a local food hall. I happen to walk out with M., who is meeting a former coworker for lunch. We don’t usually talk to each other at work because we are trying to keep things quiet, so it’s nice to be alone in the elevator and talk freely for a minute. When I get to the food hall, I work on getting us a table because I brought my own lunch today. I also brought my friends leftover muffins from this morning. We catch up, and T. #2 gives us some major job news.
5:30 p.m. — After taking the El home (pre-paid), I take my dog out and feed her. While on the train, I order a sexy nightie on Amazon, my first piece of lingerie ($20.22, but I end up returning it during the week). M. and I agreed to a sleepover at his place next week, a rare opportunity because my dog will be with my parents because I’m traveling that weekend. I haven’t spent the night there before, so I’m very excited! I’m meeting a new Bumble BFF, V., tonight for a Solidcore class and dinner, so I change into workout gear and head to the studio.
7 p.m. — That class was so hard! Luckily V. seems super nice. She drives us to the nearest Sweet Green, which I have been looking forward to all week. I build my own salad with chicken and goat cheese. $16.50
Daily Total: $22.59

Day Four

7 a.m. — I wake up in such a good mood because I cracked my window last night and slept amazing, plus I’ve lost the headache. But I had the weirdest dream that I was Belly from The Summer I Turned Pretty and Conrad had to do surgery on me to pull a bullet out of my butt cheek? Lol, I love the subconscious brain. I get up and take my dog outside, pack her lunch, and start doing my morning thing, including makeup today.
8:30 a.m. — I’m running so late. I’m trying a new pony hairstyle I saw on Instagram and it’s SO much harder than the video makes it look. I barely remember to leave lunch for my dog before running to the bus (pre-paid as usual). On the bus, it occurs to me V. never texted, and I look back and realize I messed up a digit in the phone number I gave her. I’m relieved because I definitely thought I was being ghosted. We clear up the confusion immediately!
9 a.m. — I have a leftover half bagel from the office and half of an avocado I packed with Lawry’s and Everything but the Bagel seasoning. It’s amazing! While I eat, I order some groceries from Walmart for delivery. I get a free Walmart+ membership through my credit card which pays for delivery if the order is over $35, so I just pay for the groceries and tip. I get chickpeas, diced tomatoes, an onion, an avocado, sour cream, sprinkles, butter, heavy cream, bread, cornstarch, and a bunch of kombucha. $49.07
11:30 a.m. — I eat the office lunch, which is a salad with beef and goat cheese. My eyes have been really itchy recently, and it occurs to me that my mascara is approximately a year old, so I order a new one on Amazon with a coupon. $18
4:30 p.m. — I take the train home (pre-paid), stop to return my lingerie from a couple days ago and pick up my groceries from the lobby of my building where they were left. After caring for my dog, I eat some cheese and crackers while I get started on dinner prep. Highly recommend TJ’s Unexpected Cheddar Spread on roasted garlic Triscuits.
6:30 p.m. — M. arrives, and we talk about our days while dinner simmers. We eat, and then things get steamy and we move to my room.
10 p.m. — Well, you’re catching me on a big week because that was actually my first time... It’s something we’ve talked about a lot, but we wanted to wait until we felt like we’d really gotten to know each other well, especially since it’s new to me. M. leaves, and I immediately call my best friend. I’m too wound up to sleep basically at all the whole night!
Daily Total: $67.07

Day Five

7 a.m. — I am up and doing my urgent morning tasks for work. After caring for my dog, I head to CVS. Sometime in the night my anxiety got the better of me, and I decided to take a Plan B. I also buy a value pack of condoms to avoid this problem in the future. I’m on the pill, but I know it’s not as effective as an IUD, and I’d prefer to always use two methods (M. and I discussed all this last night, so he will be buying things for his place, too). The woman at the register is my hero, and she gives me a $10 coupon, plus convinces me to sign up for CVS extra care to save the additional $10. Due to all of my coupons, I only pay $55.17 for everything. The cashier gives me a stack of $10 Plan B coupons under the table on the way out and says that she mails them to her grandkids, and I’m mortified but also touched $55.17
8:30 a.m. — On my walk home I decide to celebrate this monumental occasion and stop and buy myself two pastries at French bakery. M. texts me to ask how I’m feeling… Sore, lol. $11.33
12 p.m. — The rest of my morning was wrapped up in a work emergency, so I stop to order lunch. I’m still treating myself today! I get Sweet Green and pay for delivery so I can keep working. $22.38
3 p.m. — Emergency wrapped up right on time. I go and grab my car (I park it at a different building because it’s cheaper) and load up my things and my dog to drive home for my mom’s birthday weekend. I make two stops before we hit the highway — one for flowers for her ($27.50), and one for poke bowls for both my parents because they love them but can’t get them in their tiny town ($36.55). $64.05
6 p.m. — I get home, but my parents are out at a weekly raffle-ish thing they attend. They left dinner mostly prepped, so I finish it up and greet their dogs while I wait for them to get home.
7 p.m. — We eat pasta my mom made earlier, and they brought home Culver’s frozen custard for dessert.
10 p.m. — When I get into bed, I order a big pack of hyaluronic acid face masks on Amazon because my skin is just so dry. $28.58
Daily Total: $181.51

Day Six

9 a.m. — My dad wakes me up out of a dead sleep to remind me we need to get our dogs over to the kennel within the hour. We are spending the night in Madison, WI tonight after going to dinner for my mom’s birthday. We load up their food and drop them off. My parents’ dogs are desperately sad because I’m their favorite, and they know they are missing time with me. One even tries to make a break for it to get back to me!
11 a.m. — I heat up some leftover pasta for brunch and then decide to take a bubble bath.
1 p.m. — We load up the car and head up to Madison. I pack a chocolate croissant my parents had around for a snack.
3 p.m. — My parents run some errands for things they can’t get at home. We stop at a TJ’s for snacks, Penzeys for spices, and an outdoor store. I try on a fleece that is really cute, but I decide it’s not worth what it costs. My dad ends up buying it for me along with some mittens and a candle for an upcoming trip to Denver as a gift, and I’m touched. In the car I remember that I wanted to order a new red hair bow, so I do that from my phone. $14.31
6 p.m. — We go to a nice steakhouse for my mom’s birthday. This is our most special occasion restaurant, and I’m so excited! We all have cocktails, lobster bisque, and steaks. We split an appetizer, sides, and dessert. Everything is incredible. My parents pay.
9 p.m. — We go back to the hotel room and watch Barbie, which my parents have never seen but fully enjoy. I’m on the sofa bed, and luckily it’s quite comfortable.
Daily Total: $14.31

Day Seven

8 a.m. — We pack up the room and head to a coffee shop for scones and coffees (decaf for me). My parents pay.
12 p.m. — At home I heat up some leftover sides from last night while prepping buffalo chicken dip for a gathering they’re having later. My parents also prep various meats for grilling and other snacks while I dust and pick up clutter.
3 p.m. — Two of my aunts arrive, and we start snacking.
4 p.m. — My dad and I go over to the kennel because they are finally open for pickup! We bring our very excited dogs home. Mine had a bath and got her nails trimmed while she was there. I ask my dad to tell me what I owe, but he won’t. It’s very rural and inexpensive though, so it’s only about $40 total when I look at the signs. I covered a big travel expense for my parents recently because I always book their travel, so I’ll ask my mom to take it out of the amount when she reimburses me. I bet she won’t because my parents are very generous.
5 p.m. — Our neighbors arrive, and now the party is in full swing! I basically just paint my nails, chat, and eat snacks.
11 p.m. — We all clean up, and after caring for our dogs, we head to bed. My aunt who lives the farthest spends the night, so I give her my bed, which means that I sleep on a pad on the floor in the living room. I’m daydreaming before I go to sleep, and I decide to order a different lingerie set to replace the one I returned. $14.09
Daily Total: $14.09

The Breakdown

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