DMT Beauty Transformation: A Week In Chicago, IL, On A $105,000 Salary
featured Khareem Sudlow

A Week In Chicago, IL, On A $105,000 Salary

April 21, 2020DMT Beauty

#DMTBeautySpot #beauty

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

Today: a consultant who makes $105,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on wine.

Occupation: Consultant
Industry: Management Consulting
Age: 24
Location: Chicago, IL
Salary: $105,000 + $25,000 bonus
Net Worth: $75,000
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,420.86
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,200 (I live with my boyfriend and he pays about $800 because he makes less than I do and has student loans, this includes utilities)
Student Loans: $0 (I was lucky enough to have my parents pay for college and I don’t have a car)
Hulu: $13.07
NYTimes: $10.95
Weight Watchers: $13.96
Recurring Human Rights Campaign Donation: $25 (plus other donations throughout the month as they come up)
Savings: In addition to my 401K (15% after-tax dollars deducted from my paycheck), I contribute $500 to Roth IRA monthly, $600 to an investing account with betterment, and transfer extra cash every few months (plus my annual bonus) to a high yield savings account.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I wake up when my boyfriend, N., heads to work. He still has to go into work because his company has been deemed essential. I, on the other hand, have been working from home for about two weeks at this point. I typically travel to be in the same city as my client Monday through Thursday, so it’s a very strange change of pace to be home for so long. I notice my card was charged for the keyboard and mouse that I ordered from Target — my company will reimburse me for this purchase, given the new WFH mandates ($28.36 expensed).

8 a.m. — I do my morning skincare routine (basic drugstore cleanser, Drunk Elephant moisturizer, and Neutrogena sunscreen even though I likely won’t be going outside). My friend texts me that she was just staffed to a new project and I get excited that she may be joining my project. At my company, we are staffed on one project at a time that lasts anywhere from one month to over a year and my team happens to be looking to add another consultant. I FaceTime her to hear the details, but it turns out she’s joining a different team. I’m bummed about it since consulting tends to be very male-dominated and I’d love to have another woman on the project, but I’m happy that we end up talking on the phone until 9 am when we both need to join other meetings.

11 a.m. — I realize I haven’t had any food yet, so I make a bowl of oatmeal and pour a glass of pre-made cold brew. My current project is in a transition phase because of COVID-19, so the work is very light at the moment. During normal times, I work 50-70 hours per week depending on the project, but lately, it’s been much closer to 40 hours per week.

3:30 p.m. — I have a weekly team check-in for a volunteer consulting group I’m part of and discuss scheduling virtual meetings with one of our clients, who works to improve access to services for people experiencing homelessness. I also get an email about a fundraiser that analysts at my company are running where they’re asking people to donate part of their next paycheck to a Chicago-based relief fund. I quickly oblige, because if I don’t do it now, I’ll forget to come back to it later. $220

6 p.m. — N. gets home from work and we decide to order Thai food to be delivered from one of our favorite local restaurants. We are trying to support local businesses and choose a no-contact delivery for everyone’s protection ($34.70 + extra tip, split). $24.85

8 p.m. — After dinner, I do my skincare routine (same as morning minus the SPF), we crawl into bed for an early night and watch a few episodes of Veep, our current obsession, and go to sleep.

Daily Total: $244.85

Day Two

9:30 a.m. — I have been struggling to sleep in lately I think because of so many changes to my routine, so I am thrilled when I wake up naturally at 9:30. While N. keeps sleeping, I FaceTime my dad in our kitchen. He tested positive for COVID-19 a few weeks ago, so I’ve been trying to talk to him on the phone as often as possible. He was really sick for about a week, but thankfully he seems to be on the mend. His appetite is back and he is no longer falling asleep three minutes into our phone calls from lack of energy.

11 a.m. — When N. is finally awake, we make brunch (breakfast tacos) and put away the laundry that’s been sitting in our dryer all week. Once that’s done, we gear up for a trip to Trader Joe’s. We spend about half an hour figuring out our meal plan for the next week and developing a list, then drive over to the store. This is a new development since social distancing started. Usually, I’d make at least one trip per day. We wait in line for about 45 minutes to get in, but once inside it’s very relaxed — social distancing is much easier when the grocery store isn’t packed. We load up on basics and TJ’s favorites like frozen turkey meatballs, jicama, jalapenos, popcorn, goat cheese, chicken cilantro wontons, and a few bottles of wine. We also get Everything But the Bagel seasoning and paper towels, since both are in stock. We split the bill ($137.65) evenly between the two of us. $68.83

12 p.m. — After wiping everything down and aggressively washing our hands, we unload the groceries and watch Veep for hours. Unfortunately, we are spending more time watching TV these days than usual. I take a break for a Zoom date with my siblings and cousins for about an hour while N. plays video games. I then see on Instagram that a friend is promoting a fundraiser to use local restaurants to feed hospital workers, so I donate $25 to that. I figure I’m saving more money than usual by not buying lunch, shopping, taking Lyfts, and eating out, so I’m trying to put the money I would’ve spent towards good causes. $25

7 p.m. — By the time we are hungry, I’m craving noodles with peanut butter and soy sauce (sounds gross but google it, I promise it’s great). We also make a few drinks while cooking — vodka soda with extra lime for me, bourbon for N. We fall asleep early after continuing our Veep binge (I’m trying to convince N. to watch Tiger King with me, but so far he’s unconvinced).

Daily Total: $93.83

Day Three

8 a.m. — I wake up at 8 and sneak out of our bedroom to let N. keep sleeping. I FaceTime my dad again (he seems to be doing well still!), then spend time talking to my sister, who lives in Vermont, and my mom.

10 a.m. — When N. finally wakes up, we have yogurt and coffee for breakfast then decide to go for a walk around our neighborhood. The mayor recently closed the lakefront because people weren’t taking social distancing seriously enough in Chicago, so we try to stick to quiet side streets to decrease the chances we run into other people.

2 p.m. — When we get home, we work on a puzzle for a few hours (it’s been taking over our kitchen table for months but I have so little motivation to actually finish it). We make very little progress, so decide to cook an absurdly early lunch/dinner combination meal. We rarely cook red meat at home, but the Trader Joe’s meat selection was lacking on Saturday, so we decided to take a chance on steak. We bake potatoes, roast asparagus, and cook steak, and we are done with dinner before 5 (new record).

8 p.m. — N.’s boredom has finally gotten the best of him, so he agrees that we can try watching Tiger King. We watch an episode and are fascinated, but also feel uneasy, so switch to Veep for a lighter show before bed. I also help him draft a few emails to law schools where he has been accepted to ask about increasing his scholarship offers. He’s trying to figure out if law school is still right for him if there’s an impending recession. Afterward, I have trouble turning off my brain, so I take melatonin and am out within 30 minutes. I sometimes wonder if it’s a placebo effect, but it works for me, so I try not to question it too much.

Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I wake up when N. goes to work and decide to do a virtual yoga class because I feel like I haven’t moved my body in weeks (probably true). After, I shower, make oatmeal, and settle into my desk with a cold brew at 9. I get sidetracked from work reading the news and contribute $25 to a local restaurant employee fund that I see on social media. $25

10 a.m. — I call my parents to check-in. My dad seems to be doing well! My mom is getting discouraged by the need to be inside all the time and is worried about my younger brother, who seems anxious about the pandemic. I tell her I’ll give him a call later today and see if there’s anything I can do to help. When I give him a call, he assures me he’s doing okay, just stressed about how many people in his college town are ignoring social distancing guidelines.

12 p.m. — I eat leftover noodles and then have my virtual therapy session. I started going to therapy last summer after I got promoted and the stress from increased responsibility severely affected my ability to sleep. It’s awesome. Some sessions feel more directly productive than others, but I really like my therapist, so even the less productive sessions are still enjoyable and relaxing. Today is our second virtual session and we talk about small ways that I can feel more in control, even when bigger things in my life are out of my control. She also reminds me how lucky I am that I can work remotely and have a secure job. My insurance covers most of this, but I have a copay. $25

6 p.m. — The rest of the workday flies by with a combination of client calls, non-profit calls, and internal team calls, and before I know it N. is home. We make knock-off Chipotle bowls for dinner with homemade guacamole and extra hot salsa from Trader Joe’s, then play a few games of chess before bed. I win one and he wins three (but who’s counting?) then go to sleep before 10 pm.

Daily Total: $50

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — I realize I’m almost out of the coffee beans I use to make cold brew, so I order a big replacement bag using N.’s Prime account and venmo him for the charge. $25

10 a.m. — I decide it’s almost an appropriate time for lunch, so I simmer canned black beans with a bunch of spices and mix it with leftover brown rice in my fridge. I also realize that I didn’t receive my mid-month paycheck due a few weeks ago, so send a note to HR to check out what’s going on. It turns out that there was a data entry issue on the back end, so they’ll add the money to my next paycheck. I don’t usually audit my paystubs, so I feel lucky that I decided to look this one time.

2 p.m. — I pause work to call my dad and we catch up for a bit while I snack on blueberries.

6 p.m. — N. gets home from work and we make homemade pizza for dinner. We use a shortcut for the dough (equal parts nonfat Greek yogurt and self-rising flour, I have no idea how it works but couldn’t be easier) with plenty of cheese and veggies on top. We crawl into bed and feel our bed frame immediately break — oops! It’s a bummer but an old frame, so I try not to get too hung up the inconvenience. We order a new frame immediately ($110.07 split), watch more Veep from our new mattress-on-the-floor set up, and go to sleep around 9. $55.03

Daily Total: $80.03

Day Six

8:15 a.m. — After my usual cold brew, my friend from New York calls to catch up. He and his immediate family all tested positive for COVID-19 a few weeks ago, but thankfully they are recovered now. We talk about how his law school classes are going remotely and how his family is feeling. We also talk about the idea of virtual grad school for me — I am planning to go to business school in the fall (I already put down a deposit for a school), and I’m lucky enough that my company will pay for me to go full time. In return, I’ll return to my current job for a few years after school. I’m trying to decide if I would rather delay a year if social distancing goes through the fall or just risk my first semester being done virtually.

12 p.m. — I break at a more acceptable lunchtime today and eat my version — kale, leftover wild rice, goat cheese, chopped almonds, apples, chicken, and fat-free balsamic vinaigrette. It’s just okay, I’ll never be able to make mine taste as good as the $12 version. I FaceTime my parents while eating and am glad to see they’re both doing well.

6 p.m. — My company gives us a budget for team bonding, either in the city we travel to or at home in Chicago. Given the current situation, we can now use it for “virtual” case team events where we all order takeout from the same place. I order a chicken caesar salad with a side of parmesan fries, and we all eat dinner over video chat. I share the food that I ordered with N. and he waves hello to my colleagues before going to play video games. ($27.00 expensed)

9 p.m. — After another episode of Tiger King, N. and I fall asleep before 9:30. We’ve been getting a ton of sleep during this whole terrible situation, which is something I’m going to try to continue when the world goes back to normal.

Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and do another virtual yoga class. Then I shower, make scrambled eggs, and am drinking cold brew by 9 at my desk.

12 p.m. — After a morning of calls, I break for lunch — the final peanut butter soy sauce noodle leftovers (can you tell I’m a creature of habit?), which I eat while reading today’s Money Diary.

5 p.m. — N. gets home earlier than usual, so I decide to log off at 5 to cook an early dinner with him. We make chicken fried rice and work on our puzzle while we eat. Afterward, I log back on for a few more hours to finish up my work.

8 p.m. — I FaceTime with my sister and high school best friend, F., and I hear about how F.’s virtual grad school is going. She’s staying with her boyfriend’s family during the crisis and is starting to feel antsy being a guest for so long. I feel bad that I can’t help, but it’s great to talk to both of them. After the call, N. and I have fall right asleep. No TV for the day feels like a win! We didn’t used to be so glued to screens, but it’s hard to feel like there’s enough to do otherwise.

Daily Total: $0

COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.

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.

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Refinery29, Khareem Sudlow

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