A Week In Chicago, IL, On A $156,000 Salary


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Today: a software consultant who makes $156,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Babybel cheese.

Occupation: Consultant
Industry: Software
Age: 33
Location: Chicago
Salary: $156,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $5,504.17
Gender Identity: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,900 for a one bedroom loft (I live alone and technically rent is $2,000, but I rent my unused parking spot to a friend for $100/month)
Loans: $0 (I had a full scholarship for undergrad and my parents helped me pay for graduate school)
Netflix: $0 (I use my sister and brother-in-law's account)
Utilities: $60-$100 depending on the season
Gym: $0 (my apartment has a gym onsite that I use for free)
Imperfect Produce Delivery: $20 on average
401K: $716 withheld from my paycheck each period. (I max out my 401K withholding each year and my employer matches a portion of that.)
Insurance: $60 for Medical + Dental, withheld from each paycheck.
Savings: $500 - $1,000 varies month to month depending on what else is going on, but I'm trying to retire before I'm 80, so I'm currently aggressively trying to contribute to some Index Funds and an IRA, in addition to my 401K. I have about $70,000 in a regular old savings account right now that I try not to touch at all.

Day One

6:15 a.m. — Alarm goes off, and I groggily hit snooze. My boyfriend, M. and I are trying to get into the habit of going to the gym before work at least a few days each week, and so far we're only having intermittent success. He just isn't a morning person, and I'm not a "work out in the morning" person, so we're having a hard time motivating each other. We snooze/cuddle for a few minutes and then drag ourselves out of bed to get the day started. Technically we don't live together, but our apartments are only a couple blocks apart, so when I'm not traveling for work, I spend the night at his place most nights.

10:30 a.m. — I travel for work a lot, but when I'm not traveling, I split my days between my office and working from home. Today is a work from home day, because as soon as I finish my workout I get pulled into client meetings that last most of the morning. I finally take a break for food and realize my fridge looks like that of a bachelor who lives alone (beer and condiments and not much else), so I run down to the 7-11 across the street and grab a banana and an RX bar to tide me over. $4.25

1:30 p.m. — A couple more hours of meetings and I'm hungry again. Turns out, no groceries have materialized in my apartment in the past few hours, so I run around the block to Starbucks where I grab an order of their sous vide egg white bites (my current favorite go-to snack) and two miniature vanilla bean scones. $6.80

4:30 p.m. — I finally shower for the day, dry my hair, and apply Bare Minerals tinted moisturizer with a little bit of Bare Minerals powder and some mascara before deciding I'm hungry again. Monday nights M. and I usually stay in and cook, but I know it will still be a couple hours before he's home from work, and I may waste away to nothing before then, so I scrounge around my kitchen and come up with a snack of peanuts, a piece of dark chocolate, and some carrots and hummus. Embarrassing. Grocery shopping needs to happen sooner rather than later. I decide I might as well keep working a little longer since there's plenty of work to be done.

7:15 p.m. — I made a three bean soup in the slow cooker overnight at M.'s house last night, which we'll eat for dinner with chips and salsa. On my way to his apartment, I stop by the grocery store to grab an avocado to slice on top of the soup, as well as a jar of pickled jalapeños, a jar of his favorite salsa, and some sharp cheddar cheese. When we shop/cook together we usually take turns paying, but for one-off items here and there, whoever ends up making the grocery run ends up paying. We're both fine with that, since it seems to balance out pretty evenly over time. $18.58

9 p.m. — After we eat and clean up, we start looking at plane tickets for a long weekend trip we have planned. A few weeks ago we drunkenly bought concert tickets for a show at Red Rocks in July, and have decided to make a long weekend out of it. We check flights and discover that the best deal we can get ($378 each) is by using my company's corporate travel site (we're allowed to use it for personal travel as well, which is a nice perk), so I book the tickets on my credit card and M. immediately sends me a Venmo for his half. We watch a couple old episodes of South Park on his laptop (he just ordered a new TV that hasn't been delivered yet) and get in bed around 11:15. $378

Daily Total: $407.63

Day Two

6:15 a.m. — Alarm goes off, and since we didn't drink last night and went to bed at a decent time, we agree we're going to make a morning workout happen two days in a row. I'm not saying that's our longest streak so far but...(okay, that may be our longest streak so far). IT'S A WORK IN PROGRESS, OKAY?? But because we have our priorities in order we cuddle for a few minutes and have morning sex before we actually get out of bed.

8:30 a.m. — One of the best things about my apartment is its proximity to public transportation. After my workout, I shower, fix my hair, and do my usual makeup routine of tinted moisturizer, powder, blush and mascara, then hop on the train, which happens to stop right next to my building and also stops right next to my office. I don't think I could get any more spoiled when it comes to this commute if I tried. I have a pre-paid Ventra card that I reload once every few months, which I swipe to get on the train. My ride is usually less than 15 minutes, and I'm trying to get better about using that time for something other than mindlessly browsing social media, so I start an episode of a podcast I've been listening to lately, Revisionist History, and listen to that instead.

9:30 a.m. — My office does a really good job of stocking snacks, so I rarely buy breakfast when I go in (and often I end up eating office snacks for lunch as well). This morning I grab a banana and a greek yogurt and fill up my water bottle with sparkling water from our fancy coffee maker/water machine. I send a quick email to my mom, which I do every morning, then buckle down and get to work.

12:15 p.m. — It's a busy morning, and I don't really want to take the time to go out for lunch, so I grab some pretzels and hummus and a banana from the kitchen, refill my water bottle and call it good. I eat at my desk and spend a few minutes browsing summer concerts in Chicago. There's a Ben Harper/Trombone Shorty concert in August that I really want to see, so I text M. to see if he's interested as well. Obviously he is, (because who is going to say no to that combination of artists??), and thinks a few of his buddies may be as well, so I hold off on buying tickets until he confirms with them.

3:50 p.m. — My sub-par meal choices today are catching up with me, and I'm ready to eat my own hand. I still have another meeting to get through though, so I get a couple sticks of string cheese and a KIND bar from the office kitchen. What I really want is a bag of chips and a cocktail (my office keeps alcohol on-site and we are allowed to drink in the office, which is cool), but I manage to resist the temptation...for now.

5:15 p.m. — Finished for the day, so I take the train home to drop off my laptop and do a quick wardrobe change. M. takes guitar lessons on Tuesday nights, so I'm going to meet up with a friend I haven't seen in several weeks. He lives pretty far north and usually makes the trek downtown to hang out, so I offer to come up to his neighborhood this time. Since it's too far to walk and I don't want to stand in the rain to wait for a bus, I order a Lyft instead. $14

7 p.m. — My friend suggests a cute little Japanese bar. I'm currently interviewing for a new job with his former employer, so we spend a lot of time talking about the company, including lots of interview tips he gives me. We also catch up on life and relationships while I drink two hot toddies and he has a couple beers. He picked up the tab last time we hung out, so I pay for our drinks and tip tonight. $50

9 p.m. — We close out and I order another Lyft. M. texts me that he's almost home from his lesson, so I decide to just go straight to his house, since he has food and we've established that my apartment is a barren wasteland right now. I justify using Lyft/Uber, especially when the weather is terrible; I sold my car years ago when I moved to the city, therefore I don't have a car payment, gas, or car insurance to worry about. Plus, it's chilly and dark and rainy, and waiting for a bus is the last thing I want to do right now. When I get to M.'s house we heat up some leftover bean soup and eat it while we catch up on our days. He's much more of a night owl than I am, but I finally convince him to get in bed around 11:30. $11.33

Daily Total: $75.33

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — Definitely did not get up at 6:15 for a morning workout, but it's fine because I plan to work from home today and will do a workout at lunch. Cuddles and morning sex are more fun anyway. I pop in the 7-11 on my walk home from M.'s house and get a banana and an RX bar, while promising myself I will absolutely buy real groceries today. $4.25

12 p.m. — One perk of my job is that because I travel so much and work some pretty crazy hours at times, I have a fair amount of flexibility when I'm home. I have a break midday today, where I have several hours with no meetings, so I take advantage by going to the gym in my apartment for a workout. After my workout I head to the grocery store. I get avocados, baby carrots, sugar snap peas, hummus, a couple of apples, an onion, frozen peas, wheat crackers, Babybel cheeses, frozen zucchini/lentil noodles, cereal, almonds, and some hard seltzer water. I also pick up my birth control prescription from the pharmacy; it happens to be fully covered by my health insurance, so no copay required. $60

1:30 p.m. — I'm meeting a friend for dinner and drinks after work and I don't want to fill up on a big lunch, so I make myself a snack of almonds, raw vegetables and hummus, and an apple. I finish up the last of my work for the afternoon. I also text with my mom about some arrangements for a baby shower I'm hosting for my sister in a couple weeks.

4:45 p.m. — On work-from-home days, I admit, it's often mid-to-late afternoon before I get around to showering, and today is no exception. I wash and dry my hair, then do my standard makeup application. My skin is prone to dryness and these Chicago winters are no joke, so I also slather on some Tula moisturizer while I'm at it. I'm a 33-year-old woman who never learned how to do make-up, so I tend to stick to the basics. I've been working a lot of long days the past couple months and don't want to stay out late tonight, so I convince my friend to meet right after work at 5:30.

7:45 p.m. — We meet at one of my favorite places in the city and end up sitting at the bar, where we each have a cocktail and two glasses of wine then share several different small plates and appetizers (scallops, octopus, and ricotta dumplings). This particular friend is also a coworker, but because we're on different projects with different travel schedules, we're rarely in town at the same time, so it's a lot of fun to catch up when we can. The bartenders always take good care of us here, so we split the check and I tip extra generously. $72

8:30 p.m. — I text M. to let him know I'm closing out, and he texts back that he's with one of his friends at our favorite neighborhood bar and invites me to meet up. So much for having an early night. I mean, I could say no, but let's be honest...I'm usually not one to pass up a chance to hang out with my man at one of my favorite spots. I take a Lyft to the bar and join him and his friend for a couple beers. M. picks up my tab and we walk home to his place afterward. I decide to take a hot bath to unwind and warm up from the chilly walk home. In bed around 11:30 and I'm asleep almost immediately. $7.15

Daily Total: $143.40

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — M. passes on a morning workout in favor of a little extra sleep (he drank more than I did last night), but I have an early meeting, so I have to get up either way. Lame.

10:30 a.m. — I'm having a hard time focusing on work and feeling pretty burned out in general. I do some online shopping while sitting on the most boring conference call in the history of creation. M. needs some new summer clothes, but would rather eat glass than go shopping, so I've convinced him to delegate that task to me. He's picky though, and this is the first time in our relationship he's agreed to let me dress him. Nordstrom Rack has a ton of men's clothes on sale. I pick out several shirts and have them shipped to my apartment. If he likes them he'll pay me back, otherwise anything he doesn't want to keep can be returned. $120

12:30 p.m. — This day has turned out to be busier than expected, so I end up not having as much time to work out as I had hoped. I still manage to get down to the gym for a quick one — I do a couple miles on the treadmill, some ab exercises, and some squats before running back upstairs for another client call. Not great, but better than nothing. I put together a quick stir-fry with vegetables and some of the frozen zucchini/lentil noodles, with a peanut/soy/chili oil sauce that I eat while I work.

3:30 p.m. — Mid-afternoon and I am way beyond the point of losing all motivation to work. I text some of my friends to see if anyone wants to skip out a little early for happy hour. I've got a couple takers, and one of my friends has a gift card for a spot that's close to all of us, so we agree to meet for a quick drink after work.

6:30 p.m. — I have two glasses of wine and a couple shared appetizers that my friend generously pays for with his gift card. The rest of us put down cash for the tip. I text M. as we're wrapping up to see what his plans are and he suggests I meet him at his office (he's still working...what a nerd!). $15

6:45 p.m. — It's really nice out, FINALLY, so I walk over to M.'s office and we debate going home and eating leftovers vs. going out. We've been in a bad habit of eating out a lot lately, but it seems we're not going to break that streak tonight. We're actually both pretty busy and stressed about work right now (not to mention I'm trying to keep my head above water while also hunting for a new job). We walk to a local ramen spot in our neighborhood and discuss our days over soup and beer. M. offers to pay, which is sweet, and we walk back to his place for sexy cuddle time on the couch before bed.

Daily Total: $135

Day Five

7:15 a.m. — It's finally Friday — this week feels like it's lasted an actual decade. I have a busy day for sure, and we're going out tonight, so I'm anxious to get the day started.

11:30 a.m. — It's a busy morning, but I realize I'm getting hungry and can't decide if this is breakfast or lunch. I make myself an avocado toast that I eat while I work.

4 p.m. — I take a quick break to run downstairs and pick up my dry cleaning. This is the first time I've ever lived in an apartment with actual amenities, and it took me no time at all to get completely spoiled by having an on-site dry-cleaner. It's expensive, but a lot of my work clothes are dry clean only, so it is what it is. I'm also paying a premium for the convenience and frankly, I'm more than okay with that. $80

4:45 p.m. — Ugh! Just as I think I'm ready to wind down for the day I get a last second request from a client to come onsite next week. I hate last second travel requests, but this client is one of my favorites and they're in a tight spot, so I agree. I use our corporate travel site to book a flight, hotel and rental car and text M. to let him know I'll have to be out of town for a few days next week. My travel schedule is something I've really tried to get a handle on since I started dating M. He's a good sport, but I know it's not easy to date someone who is gone as much as I am. ($785 expensed)

6 p.m. — Finally finished for the day! I'm meeting up with a friend for drinks while M. goes to a work happy hour, then he's meeting the two of us and we're all going to a burlesque show tonight. I love burlesque! I call a Lyft and text my friend that I'm on my way. She's coming from her own happy hour and says she'll meet me at the bar. $8.75

10:30 p.m. — It turns out her happy hour and the drinks we have while we hang out are enough to put my friend over the edge. We never really ate dinner, and it shows. M. shows up and we hang out for one drink before deciding we probably need to take my friend home. No burlesque, which is a bummer, but we'll be back another time. I close out, put my friend in a taxi (I confirm she's coherent enough to make it home), and M. orders us a Lyft home as well. We have to be up early tomorrow morning so this is probably for the best anyway. $110

Daily Total: $198.75

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — Up early because we agreed to help one of M.'s friends and his wife move from their apartment in the city out to the 'burbs. Supposedly this is only going to take a couple hours, so I make tentative plans to meet up with some friends later this afternoon to go to an art show. I run home to change clothes and grab us a couple 7-11 bananas. $2.50

2:15 p.m. — This is definitely NOT shaping up to be a simple "couple hours" endeavor after all. We finally get the moving truck loaded and drive out to the 'burbs, but by now everyone is starving so we agree to take a break for a quick lunch before we attempt to unload. We walk (in the freezing rain — what the actual hell, Chicago??) to a pub near the new apartment and order sandwiches and beers, which our friends end up paying for to thank us for our help. I text my friends to let them know I'm up to my eyeballs in moving hell and I'm not going to make it back to the city for the art show after all.

6:30 p.m. — We finally make it back to the city and have no desire to do anything productive for the rest of the evening. We stop by Whole Foods and pick up salad ingredients, pickles, chips and salsa, beer, wine, and a couple freshly made sushi rolls to share. M. pays, since I paid for the last round of groceries. Back at his place I take a hot shower, we each eat a 5 mg edible and then collapse on the couch for an early evening nap. Best idea ever or a huge mistake? Tough to say.

8:30 p.m. — We drag ourselves out of our slumber long enough to eat sushi rolls and drink a beer. Luckily, it doesn't seem like the nap is going to prevent either of us from going back to sleep tonight. In general, I have always been a terrible sleeper, and I've found that just a few mgs of weed are a total game changer. We clean up the kitchen and crawl into bed by 9:30. It's gotten chilly again and I'm feeling relaxed and satisfied by a productive day, so I'm more than content to snuggle up to M. and go to sleep.

Daily Total: $2.50

Day Seven

9 a.m. — Holy 12 hours of sleep, Batman! I wake up feeling well rested for the first time all week. We fool around in bed for a bit then cuddle and read the news/scan social media. M. tells me more about a really stressful situation he's been dealing with at work. As we're talking, he decides he probably needs to go into the office for a couple hours today to deal with some things before Monday morning. We agree to meet up later, and I head home to get some chores of my own done while he works.

11:30 a.m. — I start some laundry and clean my apartment, do a quick workout and shower, then read for awhile while I wait for M. to finish up. He forwards me a draft of an email he's planning to send to his boss and asks me to proofread it before he sends. I send back a couple suggestions; he lets me know he's almost finished and will be ready to get lunch/hang out soon. I agree to meet him back at his place.

1:30 p.m. — We decide to head to one of our favorite neighborhood bars for a late lunch. It's much nicer out today, which means we can walk over and man, does it feel nice to be outside. Maybe spring will finally show up after all. One of my favorite parts about this city is how walkable everything is, especially when the weather cooperates! We split a southwest salad and an order of wings and each have a few PBRs because they're on tap and we're classy like that. It's tough to beat a $3 beer! We decide to play credit card roulette for the check (we do this a lot and it seems to even out over time) and I lose, so I pick up the tab. $40

4:30 p.m. — We're getting restless but not ready to go home just yet, so we decide to head out and stop at another spot we like that's on the way home. We end up each having a couple more beers and talking about what M. wants to do for his birthday this year. It's still several months away, but he's turning 40, so we talk about doing something special that would include a lot of his friends and family. He pays for this round and we head home.

6 p.m. — Home for the evening and neither of us feel especially hungry yet. We each eat another edible and settle on the couch to watch a movie. We've tried to keep Sundays as our guaranteed day together and we're doing a pretty good job so far. Around 8:30 we decide to make a snack of leftover bean soup, chips, salsa, and some vegetables with hummus. By the time we eat and clean up the kitchen, my edible has kicked in and I'm feeling relaxed and content. We get ready for bed and cuddle until we fall asleep.

Daily Total: $40

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