A Week In The Chicago Suburbs, IL, On A $43,000 Salary

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

Today: a Social Media Specialist who makes $43,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Matcha Lemonade.
Occupation: Social Media Specialist
Industry: Automotive Warranty
Age: 30
Location: Chicago Suburbs, IL
Salary: $43,000
Net Worth: $5,000 (savings/retirement)
Debt: $125,000 (Yay student loans and car payments!)
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,200

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $825 (my half for a one-bedroom and utilities. I split everything 50/50 with my fiancé.)
Car Payment: $36
Student Loans: ~$725
Hulu: $11.99
Apple Music: $10
Nintendo Online Membership: $5 (gotta live that Animal Crossing life)

Day One

6:20 a.m. — On a Sunday? Really? I guess I can't complain. My cats have a tendency to wake me up as early as possible. Today, they actually let me sleep some. They ignore my fiancé and focus on me. They know they can get me up to feed them. I manage to get them to calm down and I fall back asleep after about 30 minutes.
8 a.m. — Thank god I got another hour. I drag myself out of bed and head to my trusty best friend the Keurig K-Cafe. I decide this morning I want an iced latte but don't want to go to Starbucks. COVID-19 has made it difficult for me to justify going there all the time. I set my espresso pot and get my milk/creamer combo frothing on the cold setting. I start poking around figuring out what to make for breakfast/brunch today. My fiancé, M., works second shift so he sleeps until random times. I notice we have two eggs left and zero butter. This puts a damper on my plans. I make my latte in a to-go cup, grab gloves and my face mask, and head the two seconds down the road to a grocery store for supplies. I get butter, eggs, fresh blueberries, and two bagels. Bagel sandwiches with fruit on the side for the win! $12.79
11 a.m. — M. finally gets up and we start brunch. He isn't much of a morning person so it is a slow and quiet start to the food. I pour us some OJ while M. makes the sandwiches. We discuss possibly taking a walk but ultimately decide its way too cold for that. Instead, we opt for a lazy day of playing video games. Doom on the X-Box One for him and Animal Crossing on the Switch for me! Time seems to just fly by today.
5 p.m. — Suddenly the day is almost over. I mean it's only 5 but I have the soul of an old lady and am in bed by 8. We decide we both are seriously craving pizza. We place a pizza order for delivery. I already warn M. that I will probably devour the whole pizza. I contemplate ordering an InstaCart delivery but decide to wait since delivery times are insane right now. $20.07
9 p.m. — Why am I just getting to bed?!? After eating pizza and thoroughly enjoying indulging, I do a quick 20 minutes of bedtime yoga and lay down. I find meditating and doing light stretching helps me to sleep a lot better. I'm not prepared for another long work from home week ahead, but I make do with the reality and fall asleep by 10.
Daily Total: $32.86

Day Two

6:50 a.m. — My morning usual: cats running and poking at me from 5 a.m. until I wake up. I get up before my alarm and go fill the food bowls. I wait the 10 minutes for my alarm to go off so I can shut it off quickly and not wake M. I wash my face and go through my morning skincare routine: Clean & Clear Lemon face wash, alcohol-free toner, The Ordinary Niacinamide, and Peter Thomas Roth face cream. Brush my hair and my teeth and settle in to start another week of my free Fashion as Design online course. I figured since I have all this free time I might as well take the time to do some learning! Plus fashion has always been a huge love of mine. I work for about an hour before logging in to work.
10 a.m. — It has only been an hour and a half and already it's crazy. I have a call at 11 to prep for, a memo to get out, employee engagement activities to put together, and emails to keep track of. Working from home most days is pleasant enough but sometimes things get so crazy and I find myself feeling super anxious. I try to not let my anxiety kick in because when it does, I tend to do silly things like indulge in online shopping for things I don't need.
2 p.m. — Well this day has flown! I finally settle in and eat the salad that M. made me for lunch while watching The Crown on Netflix. My anxiety is feeling a lot better now that my meetings are done for the day and I have time to focus. The day is running pretty smoothly. I add some clothes to my slowly growing H&M cart before logging back in from lunch.
5 p.m. — Day is done! I know I shouldn't be excited but I am. I'm ready to put on my workout clothes and do some much-needed yoga. I put on a 30-minute video and get my sweat on! I always try to do yoga or some HIIT workouts four times a week. After the workout, I chug a glass of water and wash my face. My night routine is similar to my morning but I add some The Ordinary Retinol before my face cream. Early? Yes. Do I care? No. I like that it gives me time to let the products really soak in.
8:15 p.m. — Just got off the phone with M. He usually calls between 7:45 and 8 during the week to check-in. I use that time to make the bed and put a bit of food in the cat bowls. I'm hoping this new routine gets them to let me sleep in. I put on The Crown again (cuz I'm addicted and NEED to learn more about them) and lay in bed. One cat next to me and the other invading my space. I play Bingo Pop on my phone and am asleep by 9:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

7 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm. The food trick seemed to have worked. I get up, feed the kitties their morning food, and start getting myself ready for the day. Morning skincare, some light makeup, and I pick out a comfy but cute outfit. I'm trying to get into a good routine during the quarantine time. I took the first three weeks to enjoy not having to dress for work and not wear makeup. But I feel bad that M. has to see me looking like a total bum every day. I make coffee and settle in at my work station for the day.
11:45 a.m. — Wow. For being able to sleep to my alarm, I certainly am getting tired. After a weekly team meeting, I keep plugging along on my daily tasks. M. is out of the shower and chopping up our salads for lunch. We are huge salad people. I do try to switch it up from time to time (I get tired of foods easily) so I add in some cheese and olives this time for a different flavor. I break for lunch around 12 and sit down to watch the news and chat with M. about what to do this weekend.
2:20 p.m. — I can't. I hit a wall and hard. I'm way too lazy to make a latte nor do I even feel like coffee. I'm out of matcha powder and cannot seem to find it anywhere. So I toss on my gloves and mask and drive to Starbucks. I thankfully live somewhere that has everything SO close. I get there in two minutes but have to wait in the ridiculous line. Who would have thought that at 2:30, everyone would want Starbucks? I order my matcha lemonade and drive home content. $4.25
7 p.m. — After some yoga and a shower, I sadly drag myself to the kitchen. The sink is full of dishes and I need to not be lazy. I promised M. I would do them today. I get through cleaning right as M. calls me for our nightly chat. I'm grateful to be done and be able to relax finally. We talk for about 30 minutes and I get myself ready for bed. I'm still so tired so I fall asleep by 9.
Daily Total: $4.25

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — This is not a fluke. Wednesdays are my early days for work so I start my day earlier as well. I hop in the shower for a much-needed hair washing. I do my morning route while my coffee is being brewed. I have been eating overnight oats every morning for about a week. I heard they're good for you but I really don't want them this morning. I grab the leftover guac in the fridge and make some avocado toast with extra lemon and hot sauce. I top it with Trader Joe's Everything But The Bagel seasoning and log in for work.
12:30 p.m. — It has been a crazy but quick day. I feel like there is a lot going on, but it is tedious work. It keeps me busy and my mind focused. I break for lunch a little later than usual today but I am excited to eat my salad (same as yesterday with the cheese and olives added). My toast did not do it for me and now I remember why I tend to save that for my weekend breakfast. I chat with M. about how the rest of his day was yesterday and we talk about what I am dealing with at work. I add more items to my H&M cart (the obsession is real). I plan on doing a wardrobe refresh of work clothes when these stimulus checks finally come through.
4 p.m. — Work is done for the day and I'm glad to be able to relax! I feed the cats their wet food dinner (one is a tad overweight and needs it daily) and grab my iPad to do more of my Fashion as Design course. I'm taking it slowly but also don't want it to take me forever to get through it. I decide around 6 to take a break and do some yoga.

8:45 p.m. — Wrapped up in The Crown again! I'm content with my cats snuggling and I play some more Bingo Pop on my phone while watching the episode. I turn the TV off when it's done and am asleep by 10.

Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6:10 a.m. — UGH. These cats. I'm telling you. I drag myself out of bed and do some very light yoga. Morning skincare routine begins while I make a raspberry chocolate latte. Not the healthiest of choices but it sounds perfect. It rained last night and my poor fluffy kitty gets scared, so I didn't sleep that well. I feel like coffee and sugar are what I need right now. I grab my breakfast, slide under a blanket, and watch some Guy's Grocery Games before work. I try to doze off, but with no luck.
8:45 a.m. — 15 minutes into work and I realize that I need to transfer money for Apple Music! I panic slightly until I remember it charges me tomorrow and not today. So I transfer $10 from my savings to my checking account to cover it. Not the best option but I'll put the money back in when I get paid anyways. I settle back into work and focus on writing another memo. I get final edits for another project and get that finished and emailed off before lunch. I am so excited about this one. As far as employee engagement goes, this is by far my favorite idea we have done yet.
12 p.m. — Break time! I look forward to lunch these days. I get to spend time with M. and relax. I play some games on my phone while he chops salad stuff. I also end up adding more items to my H&M cart. I'm up to nine items now and I feel like I need to stop soon before this gets insane. So I turn my eyes to DSW because....well I don't have a because. I blame an app notification that caught my attention. M. and I sit and eat and enjoy time outside on the patio before he leaves for work.
5:15 p.m. — I get changed and do a HIIT workout. I've been stressed all day and I'm not fully sure why. I think this COVID-19 thing is getting to me. We are both considered essential but M. cannot work from home. I worry about him pretty regularly now. The workout is intense and makes me feel really good. I take a super quick shower before sitting down to write my grocery list. This is now my Thursday night thing. I write it out so I can shop Friday on my lunch. Free's up Saturday for any other running-around I may still need to do.
9:15 p.m. — I'm not sure why but suddenly it is so late! I mean not that late. But late for me. I wanted to try reading at night but end up watching Queer Eye for the 1000000th time. I do light stretching while contemplating what store to go to tomorrow on lunch. And yes, I browse H&M. Thankfully only added three more items. I feel like this is going to end badly for my wallet.

Daily Total: $0

Day Six

6:55 a.m. — FRIDAY! I really look forward to these days now. I know I am one day away from having M. home for a few days and having good relaxation time with someone actually there. This isolation thing is a lot. I turn my alarm off and feed the cats. After a quick shower and morning skincare, I head off to Starbucks. I figure for Friday, I would treat myself even though I was just there. I get another Matcha Lemonade. $4.25
10:45 a.m. — For a Friday, things are going nice and smooth. Projects are getting done and sent out. The employee engagement idea seems to be a huge hit! I'm patting myself on the back. I'm SUPER proud of this one. I go over my grocery list one more time. I know I will be working while eating today so I want to make sure I have my list in order. I tend to hit a smaller chain store for my produce and lunch meat and a big chain store for everything else. Today, I'm going to the smaller store.
2 p.m. — Jeez. The store is insane. I grab my groceries (lemons, avocados, bread, lunch meats, goat cheese, and feta) and stand in line for about 20 minutes. This is the new norm here. Shopping goes fast but the checkout takes forever. I pay and head back home. I tell myself I need to stop doing this during lunch but it's nice to have it out of the way. I log back in and keep an eye on my emails while I put everything away. $43.75
5 p.m. — The week is done! I log out and pour myself a nice glass of wine. I allow myself Friday to not work out if I feel like I need an unwinding night. I put on a face mask and drink my wine while playing some Animal Crossing with Hulu on in the background. I text with one of my friends and we plan a virtual happy hour for next week. We went from seeing each other a lot to nothing. She is basically my family and it is the worst not being able to see anyone!
7:30 p.m. — The wine is gone. M. calls me early and I tell him I am tempted to go buy more but he tells me not to. Probably for the best. We chat about our days and he has some things for me to add to the grocery list for my morning outing. We plan our Saturday in. It's been nice being able to plan out what we want to do like this.
10 p.m. — I'm still awake and crying at Queer Eye. I tell myself I need to be up at a decent time, but I just can't fall asleep. I'm out of CBD oil and really missing it. I ran out right after lockdown happened and just haven't found somewhere that will deliver some to me. I try my meditation and hope for the best. I fall asleep finally around 11.

Daily Total: $48

Day Seven

7:15 a.m. — Big chain store grocery shopping time. I get up, wash my face quickly, and get out the door. They open at 8 now and I have some staples I really need that I can only ever find first thing when they open. I grab my rather long list of groceries and head to the checkout. I realize I forgot to look at the rug selection but decide that can wait. We really need a new one and have been pricing at different stores. I check out and head home. I unpack as quietly as I can since M. is still sleeping. $88.56
12:30 p.m. — We decide to skip lunch today. We are making sub sandwiches for dinner tonight and want to make them early so we can snack. Today has consisted of some TV and video games. We talk about taking a walk but decide its a bit too cold. M. knows I am going crazy at home so we decide to take a long drive around. There are some really beautiful areas around where we live. It is nice to be out. We chat about what to do when this all ends and about our wedding. We are waiting to cancel for a while just in case we can still have it in October. We discuss relocating some more too. We eventually want out of IL but aren't sure where to go yet.
3 p.m. — Sandwich time! We also realize I didn't grab any beer. So I run to the small grocery store nearby to pick up a 12-pack for us to share. M. is busy making our huge sub when I get back. We crack open some beers and wait for the sandwich to finish toasting. I manage to get him to put Queer Eye on the TV. I laugh at how amused he is by it. We end up snacking on our dinner lightly and have a few drinks. $12.78
6:30 p.m. — I have managed to keep Queer Eye going, but now my H&M cart is up to 24 items. Half of them are M.'s. We have a few more drinks and eat some more before turning in.
9:45 p.m. — I'm exhausted. M. decided to put on a really weird movie that does not interest me. I feel my head starting to hurt. I take some Tylenol and chug a bunch of water. I know tomorrow will not be fun. M. and I talk a little bit more about our Sunday plans before I fall asleep around 10:15.
Daily Total: $101.34
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
Calling all moms: It's almost Mother's Day and we want to feature you! Send an email to moneydiary@refinery29.com with the subject line "Mother's Day"  for a chance to see your diary published on Refinery29. 
Calling all nurses: Nurse Week is coming up and we want to feature you! Whether you’ve always wanted to do a Money Diary or want to write about your life as it is now - we want to read your diary. Send an email to moneydiary@refinery29.com with the subject line “Nurse Week” for a chance to see your diary published on Refinery29. Thank you for all you do!

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

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

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series