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Today: a lawyer in Chicago with a joint income of $352,000 who spends some of her money this week on children’s winter boots.
Occupation: In-House Counsel
Location: Chicago, IL
My Salary: $137,000 + potential $20,000 annual bonus
My Husband’s Salary: $215,000
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $6,200
My Husband’s Paycheck Amount: (2x/month): $5,500
Gender Identity: Woman
Mortgage: $3,970 for a two-bedroom condo (includes payments on a 15-year mortgage and HOA fees)
Student Loans: $2,810 (cumulative student loans for my husband and myself)
House Cleaner: $140 for one visit a month
Savings: $300 (This is automatically transferred each month; at the end of the month, I manually transfer money to either savings or loans.)
401(k) Contributions: My husband and I both max out our annual 401(k) contributions. My company matches up to 6% of my income. My husband’s company doesn’t formally match, but tends to contribute a healthy amount each year.
Insurance: $675 for term and a whole life policy (I deeply regret entering into the whole life policy, but the penalty for exiting now is prohibitive.)
Cell Phone Plan: $17 (We are currently on a promotion; this will end in two months.)
Audible Silver: $14.95 every other month
Sephora Play: $10
Netflix and Hulu: $21
1 a.m. — Argh! I am startled awake by my own cough. I have a cold and am dried out from mouth-breathing all night. I peek at my phone and see that my e-paystub has arrived. I received a referral bonus this month for recruiting a former coworker to my company’s legal team. Although I am happy for the extra cash, I am still grumpy to be awake. I put my phone away and try to fall asleep.
6:30 a.m. — It’s time to officially start the day. I hop in the shower while my husband, D., sees to our two-year-old daughter. When I am done showering, I tag D. out and entertain our daughter while making myself breakfast (oatmeal with Craisins and a little coconut oil). I take a prenatal vitamin. I am about 16 weeks pregnant with our second child (I am happy to report that morning sickness has passed!). When D. is out of the shower, we switch baby duty again and I finish getting ready. I use the Proactiv system in the morning (when I am not pregnant, I use a retinoid product), followed by EltaMD sunscreen and a vitamin C eye cream. I then apply Tatcha primer, Glossier concealer, Nars liquid blush, a Charlotte Tilbury eye shadow, and mascara. I recently purchased some maternity clothes, and I put on a new maternity top and a pair of jeans.
8:15 a.m. — I do daycare drop-off today, although typically D. does drop-off and I do pick-up. Once baby girl is deposited at school, I head to the train station to go to work (my Ventra card is loaded with pre-tax money each month through WageWorks). I listen to a few episodes of The Slowdown (this is a podcast where former poet laureate Tracy K. Smith contextualizes and reads a poem — I love it because it makes the poems accessible to me, and every episode is less than five minutes long).
9 a.m. — I arrive at the office. I fill up my water bottle and immediately get to work; I am taking a half-day today and need to get a few things completed before I leave. I snack on dried mangoes while I respond to emails. I talk to the coworker I recruited and tell him that I would like to treat him to lunch now that I have the bonus in hand. I also take advantage of my access to the office printer. I am appealing the valuation of my parking spots with the city and need to print an appraisal I had completed, as well as two market analyses.
12 p.m. — I head home on the bus. My cousin and her 10-year-old daughter are visiting us this weekend, and I need to clean the house a bit before I pick them up from the airport. I wolf down a Trader Joe’s frozen mac ‘n’ cheese while tidying up, then head to the airport. We drop their luggage at the condo and take an Uber ($14.52) to the first activity I have planned for their visit, a Halloween-themed pop-up (I purchased the tickets last week). We drink cider, wander through a corn maze, and giggle at all the people posing in front of the Instagram-bait decorations. We Uber back home ($11.99). $26.51
7 p.m. — We join D. and baby for pizza at the condo ($59.88). We spend the evening relaxing and catching up. I take the opportunity to ask my 10-year-old cousin very important questions: What is a VSCO girl? Who is JoJo Siwa? The answers to both these questions appear to revolve around scrunchies. I start my bedtime routine around 9:30. I apply Beautycounter’s Overnight Resurfacing Peel and Paula’s Choice eye cream. I crawl into bed and hope to sleep better than I did last night. $59.88
Daily Total: $86.39
3 a.m. — No such luck. I get a drink of water and try to fall asleep.
7 a.m. — Up and at ’em. I make biscuits for everyone for breakfast, and we all get ready for the day. I shower and do my typical morning skin-care routine. I apply Hourglass primer and Glossier eyeliner. I throw on a maternity top and a normal pair of jeans. It is pouring down rain, so although I had planned on taking my cousins window shopping this afternoon, we buy tickets to see a movie tonight instead (my treat for the three of us). $37.50
10 a.m. — We drive to Water Tower Place to go to the LEGO store and (gulp) the American Girl Doll store. Although D. puts up a brave front, I suspect the American Girl Doll store kills him on the inside a little. Fortunately, our daughter is not into dolls or LEGO yet, so we escape without buying her anything. My cousin does not fare so well, and we leave laden with packages.
12 p.m. — D. drops my cousins and me off in River North. We are going on a food tour, and we start at Lou Malnati’s (I purchased the tickets last week). The tour features famous Chicago dishes, and over the course of the next three hours, we eat deep-dish pizza (yum), an Italian beef sandwich (one nibble confirms this is not for me), a Chicago-style hotdog (my 10-year-old cousin wants ketchup and, honestly, so do I), and Garrett’s popcorn (yes, please). We Uber home full and happy ($13.96). $13.96
5 p.m. — I take a quick nap when we are back at the condo. Then we drive to the movie theater (D. stays home with our daughter; she is not ready to sit in a theater for a movie yet). We order concessions and my cousin pays.
9 p.m. — We are home and I am spent. I wash my face, apply a Beautycounter serum and Paula’s Choice eye cream, and hit the hay.
Daily Total: $51.46
6:30 a.m. — My daughter is awake, and therefore so am I (she is sleeping in a pack-and-play in our room while my cousins are in town). I wash my face and apply Hourglass primer. When everyone is awake, we head out for doughnuts ($22.57) and Starbucks (my cousin treats). We head back to the condo to eat breakfast. D. heads to the Bears game, and I spend the last few hours of their visit catching up with my cousins. $22.57
10 a.m. — I drop my cousins at the airport, then baby girl and I head to Target. It’s a cliché, but I go in for one thing (food-allergy-friendly Halloween candy) and spend almost $100. I buy Annie’s Halloween treats (gummies and graham crackers), dried mango fruit leathers, blueberry cereal bars, cheese snacks, candy corn, two Amy’s frozen enchilada meals, a mask to wear to a black-tie event next weekend (I agreed to help my friend man the event’s registration desk), and a mirror to see my daughter while she is in her rear-facing car seat. $97.12
12 p.m. — My daughter and I head home to have lunch and take a nap (yes, both of us — sleep when your baby sleeps, as they say). When I go into her nursery to fetch her after her nap, my daughter points to her closed closet and says, “Scary ghost.” The hell?! I scoop her up and hightail it out of there.
3 p.m. — D. is home from the game, sunburned and disappointed that the Bears lost. He bought food and drinks during the game because his friend paid for the tickets ($57.25). I snack on an apple. $57.25
5 p.m. — I make Smitten Kitchen’s Emmentaler on rye grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. I save half of the caramelized onions for tomorrow. D. gives our daughter a bath while I pack my lunch for tomorrow and pick out our Hello Fresh meals to be delivered on Friday (we used to order boxes often in the first year after our daughter was born, but we haven’t recently; I am looking forward to receiving one again). Our daughter goes to bed, and then D. and I [I have read enough MD comment sections to know there is no acceptable way to say it, so insert your euphemism of choice here]. D. and I watch SNL. This weekend was cold and miserable, and I decide I need a maternity coat sooner rather than later. I order a coat from Old Navy and a pair of adorable winter boots for my daughter, too. I look at Madewell maternity jeans, but I spent a small fortune on maternity tops this month and can’t justify the cost. $77.56
9:30 p.m. — Bedtime. I place a patch over a blemish I can feel developing on my jaw and apply Beautycounter’s Overnight Resurfacing Peel. I am out like a light.
Daily Total: $254.50
6:30 a.m. — I am up and in the shower. I listen to the NPR podcast Up First. I do my typical morning skin-care routine and makeup and make oatmeal for breakfast. Baby is up, and D. heads into the shower to get ready. I put on leggings and a maternity top. We are out the door.
8 a.m. — I listen to angry ’90s music on my way into the office today to pump myself up for calls with a particularly challenging counterparty. There are free doughnuts in the office café — free food always tastes better, amiright? I check Mint and see that we have been charged for this week’s Hello Fresh. $60.54
11 a.m. — I head downstairs to use the gym in my office building. I joined this gym at the beginning of the year, and I love being able to work out in the middle of the day. I really look forward to my workouts in a way I haven’t historically. I do weights and use the stationary bike. D. reloads his Ventra card this afternoon, which he does every six weeks or so ($100). $100
1 p.m. — I eat a bagel and apple at my desk. I have a call with the counterparty that has been giving me heartburn the past few weeks. No amount of angry music can prepare me for dealing with these people, and I exit the call feeling agitated.
3 p.m. — Open enrollment for benefits is about to start, and I log onto my insurance dashboard. I am hoping to estimate how much money to add to my FSA this year to cover delivery and postpartum costs. I am puzzled, then alarmed, when I see that one of my claims was recently denied and that I “may owe” $7,500. WUT. The claim that is being denied is for genetic testing I had done when I was about 10 weeks pregnant. At the time, my doctor told me that most people found the test to be covered by insurance and that, if it wasn’t covered, people were billed at most $200 out of pocket. I didn’t call my insurance to verify this before I had the test completed, and I spend the next 30 minutes alternatively berating myself and practicing deep breathing. I text my friend who is a social worker at a hospital, and she assures me that I will not have to pay more than a few hundred dollars out of pocket at most, although I may have a bit of a letter-writing campaign ahead of me.
4:45 p.m. — I head out to pick up my daughter from daycare. I make myself a fancy grilled cheese for dinner and prepare my daughter something a little less inspired. D. comes home and, while he is ushering our daughter to bed, I make him a sandwich. I soak black beans overnight to put in the Crockpot in the morning. D. and I halfheartedly watch Shark Tank, then I head to bed after doing my nighttime skin-care routine.
Daily Total: $160.54
7 a.m. — I am up and showered. While D. and I take turns caring for our daughter, I make myself oatmeal for breakfast and put the black beans in the Crockpot (a Skinnytaste recipe; I am a devotee). I place a miscellaneous Amazon order (lotion and a drying mat). I throw on a pair of Loft maternity pants, a maternity top, and Blondo booties. I leave before D. and baby girl because I am heading to the Cook County Clerk’s Office to file my parking-space appeal. The lobby of the building gives me strong Ministry of Magic vibes, although the assessor’s office is appropriately drab. I file my appeal and head to work. $45.99
9:15 a.m. — I am in the office, burning my way through snacks that were supposed to last me all day (dried mangoes, a cheese stick, a yogurt). I text a friend who lives in California to make sure the wildfires aren’t impacting her. I revise a purchase agreement.
12 p.m. — I head to the gym, which is freezing cold today. More motivation to get my butt in gear, I guess. I buy a cookie and diet soda from the building’s café before heading back to the office (checks and balances?) ($4.73). D. buys lunch today ($10.47). I am back at my desk, emailing, marking up purchase agreements, creating redlines — living that glamorous corporate attorney lifestyle. $15.20
4:45 p.m. — I pick up my daughter from daycare, and we have black bean tacos for dinner. The recipe turned out well, and I brainstorm what else I can use the beans for. Dried beans are so cheap, and I feel like a domestic, food-prepping genius. After tacos, I feel a little fluttering in my belly. I think it may be the baby! I call my parents to chat for a bit, then I put my daughter to bed. I am in bed when D. Ubers home ($5.18). He tells me he will probably be working late all week. He is also living that glamorous attorney lifestyle. $5.18
Daily Total: $66.37
6:30 a.m. — I am awake and browsing Reddit. I get up with my daughter when I hear her calling. I make oatmeal for breakfast and narrow my eyes at the windows — it’s snowing!
8 a.m. — I bundle up and am out the door. I work from home one day a week, and I try to schedule my doctor’s appointments and other errands on those days. I listen to the Savage Lovecast as I walk to my ob-gyn’s office. I am chugging water because 1) you are supposed to give a urine sample at the OB’s office, and 2) I am getting a blood draw today, and the nurses complain about my “flat” veins. I am trying! I arrive at the clinic and sign in. No copay today. I text my sister good luck as I wait to be called back; she is interviewing for a promotion today. I have two sisters, and they are both so inspiring to me — great at their jobs, great mothers, great sisters. I head into my appointment. I get to hear the baby’s heartbeat and I melt a bit. I go in for my blood draw, and it goes predictably poorly, although they get it in the end.
10:30 a.m. — I tour a daycare facility. Although I love our current daycare, it is very expensive, and the hours are very limited. This facility is closer, cheaper, and has much better drop-off and pick-up times. However, the teacher/student ratio is larger than the current school. I am glad to have toured the facility, but I am not sold on changing just yet.
12 p.m. — I work out in the gym in my condo building while listening to The Daily (the series on vaping). I order Chinese food for lunch, and I also order an entrée for my husband to have for dinner or lunch tomorrow ($38.26). The food doesn’t sit well with me when it arrives, though. I work for the rest of the afternoon. $38.26
5:15 p.m. — I drive to pick up my daughter from daycare. I make her dinner, but I am not hungry yet. We watch Daniel Tiger together after dinner. Only the first two seasons are available on Amazon Prime, and we have watched these 14 episodes so. many. times. We FaceTime with D. because he won’t be home before our daughter goes to sleep. I put baby girl to bed.
8:30 p.m. — D. Ubers home. I eat cereal for dinner, and we chat about our days. I wash my face and crawl into bed. $5.28
Daily Total: $43.54
6:30 a.m. — I am up and in the shower. When I try to get dressed, I have to face just how dire my pants situation is. Nothing fits. I shoehorn my way into something and am out the door.
8:30 a.m. — Freezing rain is coming down, and I have one of the more miserable walks of my life getting to the office. I shake off like a dog once I arrive. I place an Amazon order for two pairs of maternity pants and some temporary tattoos for my daughter. $151.80
12 p.m. — I work out downstairs, then buy a soda once I am back in the office. I eat a bagel with Justin’s almond butter on it. I snack on pretzels during conference calls (hopefully I am muted while munching). $0.75
4:45 p.m. — I pick up my daughter from daycare. Our condo building is having a Halloween event, so we don’t have to brave the cold to go trick-or-treating. Two men come to the event wearing creepy costumes (an evil monk who was chained to a lizard or something?), and my daughter won’t stop talking about it. I am hoping this doesn’t become the root of some religious figure/reptile phobia.
7 p.m. — I feed my daughter dinner. We FaceTime D. before I put her to bed. I eat cereal for dinner again and watch Superstore. It’s the end of the month, and I assess how much is in our checking account before transferring $2,000 to our savings account. D. is home. We watch The Good Place together before I go to bed.
Daily Total: $152.55
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