A Week In Chicago, IL, On A $80,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: a senior tech consultant who makes $80,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on an office chair.
Occupation: Senior Consultant
Industry: Digital Technology
Age: 25
Location: Chicago, IL
Salary: $80,000
Net Worth: $100,000
Debt: $0 (I'm very very fortunate to be in this position)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,222
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $850 (I currently have a roommate. This is my last month in my current apartment — my new place will be a one-bedroom for $1,425/month.)
Loans: $0
Pension: 10% of my paycheck (pre-tax)
Health Insurance: $70
Nextflix: $0 (I use my parents')
Donation To Alma Mater: $20
ASPCA Donation: $20
Utilities: ~$100
Gym Membership: $60
ClassPass: $79 (I know having a gym and ClassPass is excessive but I work out almost every day so it's worth it.)
Hulu: $33 (my roommate and I have Hulu with Live TV)
Nuuly: $88
Spotify Premium: $10
Bon Appetit Subscription: $15 (for the year)

Day One

7:15 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I groan. I didn't sleep very well because my roommate and I made frozen margaritas last night after doing some grocery shopping for elderly neighbors. We figured doing a good deed merited at least one frozen cocktail. My first call in the morning is at 7:30 (colleagues in the UK), and the plus side of working from home during this quarantine is that I can wait until the last minute to wake up. I don't ever say anything on this call, so I take it from my bed.
8:15 a.m. — The call is over, so I head to the bathroom to brush my teeth, take my birth control and antidepressants, and do my skincare routine. I start with Youth To The People superfood cleanser, then micellar cleansing water, witch hazel toner, Drunk Elephant moisturizer, Trader Joe's brand eye cream, Glossier sunscreen and Mario Badescu rosewater spray. I usually put on makeup even when I work from home, but I'm planning on a workout around noon, so I don't bother. I make coffee and put a slice of bread in the toaster. Once the toast is done, I add avocado, salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Having the time to make breakfast in the morning is great!
12 p.m. — I change into workout clothes to take a Zoom fitness class with a trainer from my gym. I go to the gym and/or a workout class about six days a week, so keeping this up in quarantine has been very important for my mental health! We do 45-ish minutes of HIIT and core exercises and he focuses actively stretching areas of the body that are compromised by sitting all day (whats up, hip flexors). I'm sweating by the end. He's offering these classes on a pay-what-you-can basis, so I Venmo him $10. Afterward, I hop in the shower. $10
1:30 p.m. — I sign back into work while eating my lunch of leftover chickpea pasta and sauteed mushrooms from last night. I don't have a lot of meetings today, but there are a bunch of reports I need to finish this afternoon.
4 p.m. — Still plugging away, I grab a Power Crunch bar and make a cup of coffee. While I work, I play the last two episodes of Tiger King in the background because there are no rules in quarantine. Carole totally killed her husband.
5:45 p.m. — I close my eyes to get some rest and... welp, I sleep for over an hour. I guess my body needed the sleep, but I've been sleeping more than ever these past few weeks, so I kind of feel like a bear going into hibernation. I stand up and almost fall over (low blood pressure). I head to the kitchen and cut some tempeh into strips and place them in a pan to saute, adding a soy-ginger sauce while it cooks. I eat it on top of the Mediterranian Salad Kit from Trader Joe's.
9:30 p.m. — After a couple hours of watching What Not To Wear while smoking weed, I eat a handful of Goldfish for a late-night snack. I brush my teeth, do my skincare routine, and go to bed.
Daily Total: $10

Day Two

7 a.m. — I have therapy this morning at 8:15, so I make an effort to get out of bed earlier this morning. I brush my teeth and hair, do my skincare routine, take my meds, and make coffee. After the call is over, I grab a Perfect Bar and eat it on the walk to my therapist's office (we sit six feet apart and she disinfects the office between sessions).
9 a.m. — My session is over and I feel so much better. I've been handling quarantine pretty well, but there are definitely some anxieties it brings up — loneliness/a need for companionship, issues around food (I have an eating disorder history), and anxiety about my health. I'm so glad I've built therapy into my weekly routine. My therapist helps me reframe my thoughts and develop coping strategies. She takes my insurance, so my session only costs $20. $20
12:30 p.m. — After a couple of hours of Power Point slides and phone meetings, I take a break to make lunch. By make, I specifically mean put together the same exact salad I ate yesterday. I have some blackberries on the side. While I eat, I take a work break to look at some furniture options for my new place. I move on May 1 and will be living alone for the first time. I've been in the same apartment with the same roommate since I first moved to Chicago after college. I'm super excited about getting to decorate my own apartment for the first time. My mom and I text about a couple of couch options, and she says she and my dad will pay because, and I quote, “you never moved your ass back into my house after college and that's priceless.” I buy one and schedule it for delivery on May 2. I also look at office chairs — my roommate is moving out a couple weeks before me and she owns basically all the furniture we have, so I need a place to sit while I work from April 15-30. I look at a bunch, but ultimately buy one that my boss recommended. $160.71
6 p.m. — Done for the day, so I roll out my yoga mat in my bedroom and do a 30-minute kickboxing workout on Classpass On Demand followed by 10 minutes of Barre Abs. High-intensity workouts really make me feel so much better about staying in the house all day.
7:30 p.m. — I eat dinner (roasted potato wedges, bell peppers, hummus) and drink a spiked seltzer on Zoom with three of my best friends. We talk for over an hour and I make each of them bring their dogs on camera to say hi.
11 p.m. — After our Zoom date, I open up the book I've been reading — Followers by Megan Angelo. It's so gripping and I read almost 200 pages to finish in this sitting. I stayed up later than intended reading that book. Oops. But I have a goal of reading 25 books this year, so this puts me ahead of schedule. I close the book and head to sleep
Daily Total: $180.71

Day Three

8 a.m. — I wake up for real this time and do my skincare routine, along with makeup. I thought quarantine would be a great time to let my skin breathe and not wear makeup, but I look like a thumb on conference calls without it. After I brush my teeth and take my meds, I toast a bagel thin and add some peanut butter while I settle onto my computer and answer some emails.
12:30 p.m. — I've had meetings all morning. My Fridays are usually pretty chill, but I keep busy with data entry work and meetings for firm initiatives. I catch a break in my meetings for the day and make lunch — the last of my Mediterranean salad and tempeh. I have some veggie straws on the side.
5 p.m. — My work is winding down for the day and I'm in a great mood after a super positive feedback call with my supervisor. My roommate says she's running to Walgreens and asks if I need anything — I request micellar cleansing water, a specific Essie nail polish, and two Diet Cokes. She Venmo requests me for my total. $23
6 p.m. — I catch a live workout class from one of the trainers at my gym. We do 60 minutes of strength work and I firmly believe that I'll come out of this quarantine with better upper body strength than I've ever had. After class is over, I make an UberEats order for some sushi — miso soup, two pieces each of salmon and eel sashimi, and a cucumber roll. I consider myself a vegetarian, but still eat seafood from time to time, especially sushi. I tip 25% and the driver leaves the order at my door. $19.38
9 p.m. — My roommate and I decide to finish off an edible that she's been storing in the freezer since we're both about to move. We split what's left of the cookie, so I don't know if it's actually gonna impact me. We watch Fortune Feimster's comedy special, Sweet and Salty, and I'm feeling pleasantly high. After the movie is over, I get the munchies and have a cup of trail mix. At this point, my pleasant high turns to paranoia and I'm not doing so well. I finish my snack and immediately brush my teeth and go to bed, focusing on my breathing until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $42.38

Day Four

9:30 a.m. — I wake up and play Candy Crush on my phone for a while before actually getting out of bed. I'm pretty amazed I slept almost 12 hours, but certainly could have slept more. I have a live workout planned with a trainer from my gym at 10:30, so I get up, brush my teeth, take my meds, make coffee, and eat a piece of toast. I figure I'll do my skincare routine after I workout and shower.
11:30 a.m. — 60 minutes of HIIT and strength done and I'm sweating! I hop in the shower, wash my hair and body, and shave under my arms. I vow to shave my legs tomorrow (I'm blonde, so I can often go weeks without shaving my legs before anything is noticeable). I do my skincare routine, but decide to forego makeup today because I notice some irritation in my eye. Afterward, I make oatmeal with oats, chia seeds, some blueberries, stevia, cocoa powder, and Justin's almond butter. It's warm, comforting, and just what I need after a hard workout and a distressing night.
12 p.m. — My office chair came yesterday and I decide to start putting it together? How hard could it be? VERY HARD FOR ME (I'm not good at building things). I scream a bit when things fall apart few times and my roommate comes to check on me. The back of the chair ends up flying up and knocks me in the lip/teeth, after which I scream "I HATE THIS" and kick a door. At one point, I hurt my nipple with another component of the chair? How does one hurt their NIPPLE putting together an office chair? Ultimately, I get it done, and feel accomplished but also irrationally angry.
2 p.m. — I hop on a Zoom call with my parents and two sisters (I'm a triplet), and I tell them about my office chair *~journey~*. They laugh, which makes me see how ridiculous and pathetic I am. We chat about the cases in our areas and how work is going. I'm glad to hear from them and this chat calms me down after the chair fiasco. After the chat is over, I take a nap.
4 p.m. — I wake up and realize I'm mostly out of food, so I walk the mile and a half to Whole Foods (with a mask on) and buy my usual staples (greens, tofu, peppers, sweet potatoes, coffee, almond milk, lentil pasta, berries, goat cheese, salmon, some snacks, wine, and two fun-looking cauliflower pizza crusts), some spices, and some toiletry items like soap and tissues. The spices and toiletries push my total a little higher than usual. $74.20
7 p.m. — I'm home from Whole Foods and hungry. I use one of the cauliflower pizza crusts and add goat cheese, mushrooms, and sundried tomatoes. I pop it in the oven for seven minutes and am pleasantly surprised by the result. Next time, I'll saute the mushrooms instead of putting them raw in the oven and add the sundried tomatoes after the pizza is done. I drink a spiked seltzer and spend the night watching What Not To Wear reruns while texting some college friends.
Daily Total: $74.20

Day Five

5 a.m. — What fresh hell is this? My body wakes up naturally at the ass-crack of dawn on a Sunday, but I can't get out of bed when I actually have to? I grab my eye-mask hoping it'll block out the sun. I fall back asleep after about 30 minutes of tossing and turning.
10 a.m. — I wake up again and check my phone. After scrolling through Instagram for a while, I get up, brush my teeth, take my meds, and apply my skincare products. I don't put on makeup, because I have a livestream workout scheduled for later and it'll wash off anyway. I make a cup of coffee and eat a bagel thin with peanut butter. When I'm done eating, I head downstairs to my laundry room and throw in a load of clothes. When I get back upstairs, I put clean sheets on my bed and throw the dirty ones in my hamper.
12 p.m. — I run back down, switch the clothes to the dryer, and put my linens in the wash. I head back upstairs to start my 12:30 live Barre class. This class is a mixture of barre and kickboxing and is exactly what I needed. After 50 minutes, I'm happily sweating and enjoying the endorphin high.
1:30 p.m. — I use the second pizza crust and top it with the same things as yesterday. While it's cooking, I bring up my dry clothes and flip the linens into the dryer. Going up and down the laundry room stairs is my second workout of the day, I guess. By then, my pizza is ready and I happily eat it. Afterward, I take a shower, and lounge on my bed watching What Not To Wear for a while.
3 p.m. — Bet you never thought you'd read four full paragraphs about a 25-year-old doing laundry, but THESE ARE EXTRAORDINARY TIMES. I bring my clean linens upstairs and my roommate teaches me how to fold a fitted sheet. SHE IS A WIZARD. I've never been able to do it before. I fold the rest of my linens and then fold and put away all my clothes. As someone who usually leaves my laundry until 10 on Sundays, I'm feeling quite proud of myself.
6 p.m. — I realize I forgot coffee and bread at Whole Foods yesterday, so I throw on a mask and my jacket and take a quick walk to a local grocery store. I get coffee, bread, and some Diet Coke for good measure. When I'm home, I start making dinner — marinated salmon and Thai chili Brussels sprouts. It's DELICIOUS. I'm glad I have the ingredients to make it again. I eat while chatting on the phone with my sister, L. $17.13
10 p.m. — When the episode is over, I check Instagram and I see a woman who teaches a pilates class I frequent doing a TikTok dance. I think grown adults who do TikTok dances look silly and am glad I'm not one of them.
10:09 p.m. — I have learned the dance and recorded myself. Goodnight.
Daily Total: $17.13

Day Six

7 a.m. — I wake up for my early morning call, which I listen to while lying under my weighted blanket. I get up, brush my teeth, skincare routine, and decide to try out a smokey eye. Why the hell not? I also put on a super comfy Free People dress that I ordered in my Nuuly box this month. I feel a little bit like a person today.
8:30 a.m. — I make avocado toast and coffee, answer some emails, and browse Refinery29 and Who What Wear before my workday officially starts. I see R29's Glossier shop and my eyes wander toward glitter Niteshine and a new Colorslide eyeliner. I stop and remind myself that I'm about to be spending thousands of dollars on furniture and home decor, and new fun makeup can wait.
10:30 a.m. — After two meetings, I get up for a bio-break and discover, to my horror, that the toilet is blocked and isn't draining. My roommate and I try to plunge, with no luck. You want to know what's worse than being quarantined? BEING QUARANTINED WITH A BROKEN TOILET. I put in an emergency maintenance request and pray to the pelvic floor gods that they come soon.
1:30 p.m. — They're here! And they're done in 10 minutes. I thank them profusely and offer them hand sanitizer and cold Diet Coke. Glad I won't be arrested for public urination during a statewide shelter in place order. After they leave, I make chickpea pasta and top it with sundried tomatoes, goat cheese, and red chili flakes
6 p.m. — I close my laptop after sending out my daily reports. I wasn't going to work out today, but since I've been sitting all day, my body wants to move. I select a 30-minute full-body HIIT workout and feel much better afterward. I take a shower and cook dinner — the same salmon/Thai chili Brussels as last night. I eat it while chatting with a coworker on Zoom.
8:30 p.m. — I applied to a volunteer program for a crisis text line. Today is the first day I have access to the training materials. I choose to do an accelerated, two-week training course because I figure it's a productive use of my time in quarantine. I work through the video and reading modules, taking notes along the way. After two and a half hours, I've completed two days worth of training and am really excited. The world really needs kindness right now and I'd love to be of service to people who need an empathetic ear. Plus, I've been thinking of going back to grad school to become a therapist, and I think this volunteer program may help me understand if that's the right path for me. After completing a few modules, I brush my teeth, cleanse my face, apply moisturizer and eye cream, and take some CBD oil. I hope it'll help me sleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7 a.m. — I wake up and remember that my 7:30 a.m. call has been switched to a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday cadence, so no need to get out my computer. I lay in bed looking at memes for a little bit before getting up, brushing my teeth, taking my meds, and doing my skincare routine. I make a cup of coffee and pour it into a to-go cup and drink it while I walk around my neighborhood. It's 60 degrees and sunny, rare for April in Chicago. While I walk, I listen to the newest episode of Dan Savage's Savage Lovecast. Between Dan Savage and Dear Prudence, Tuesdays are the best podcast day.
9 a.m. — After my walk, I make avocado toast and hop on my daily stand-up call with my team. After I've gotten my marching orders for the day from my boss, I get to work on a Power Point deck that's due later today. I finish the Savage Lovecast episode and move to Scam Goddess, a new podcast find.
12 p.m. — I take a break and join a livestream total body workout from one of my favorite studios. After 30 minutes, I'm dripping with sweat and head to the bathroom take a quick shower before hopping back online. I walk by the kitchen and see my roommate making sangria. On a Tuesday. I don't even know when she got ingredients for sangria, but she tells me we can split the pitcher later. Bless up.
1:30 p.m. — I reheat my lunch leftovers from yesterday — chickpea pasta with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, and red pepper flakes, and eat while I keep chipping away at this Power Point.
4 p.m. — Work is surprisingly slow — I'm feeling so bored, I'm considering texting my ex. I'd rather not feel humiliated, so I grab a Diet Coke and take the opportunity to organize the hard drive of my work computer. I feel much better when it's all cleaned up.
6 p.m. — I sign off and my roommate is pouring sangria. I Venmo her for half the wine and fruit and pour myself a glass. I down it easily, pour another one and realize I should probably eat something before I go any further on the sangria train. I cook the rest of my salmon and Brussels spouts, add my sweet chili sauce, peanuts, and onions for garnish. $10.50
9 p.m. — After a couple hours of watching Schitt's Creek and drinking more sangria, I turn in for the night.
Daily Total: $10.50
If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are in need of support, please call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. For a 24-hour crisis line, text “NEDA” to 741741.
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