What I Spend a Month in Chicago: January 2021

What does a millennial in Chicago spend per month? Clo Bare analyzes her spending in January 2021 by sharing her budget, what she spent that month, and she’ll also dissect the budgeting categories she messed up in. 

Watch What I Spend in a Month on YouTube

I don’t know how it’s already February of 2021. This last year has flown by while simultaneously feeling like it would never end.

It makes no sense, right? But with one month of budgeting in the new year, I’m happy to say I’m back on track, fam!

In January 2021, I managed to spend less than $4k on my expenses and I saved $2,200 for my “buy-a-rental-property” fund! I’m feeling good after taking a look at my preliminary numbers, and honestly? There weren’t a ton of fuck-ups. There were a few categories that were definitely higher than normal– health/medical I’m looking at you– but overall I was under budget by $130 and I hit every single one of my goals!


So let’s dive in, shall we?


What I Spend in a Month in Chicago, IL: January 2021 Categories

December 2020 budget

Total Spend: Looks High, But Actually Isn’t 

At first glance, my total spend for the month looks insane. $10.8k?! I don’t have that kind of money to be spending! It’s actually a lot lower though when you take a closer look.

  • $2.2k of that spend was savings
  • $5k was taxes which I actually paid from the interest income on my real estate investment. I had to pay the taxes because of the interest income anyway, so to me, it made the most sense to pay the taxes out of the same pile of money. 
  • $672 was on debt

So really, when you subtract that all, my discretionary spending was closer to $2,951. Not bad.


Woo! I only spent $277 on groceries last month. That’s a lot better than what I’d been doing which was around $300 to $350 in the last couple of months. I stopped ordering Instacart so I think that alone saved me about $30. 

Dating and Entertainment

I met my goal! In my December 2020 spending report, I said I wanted to spend only $150 on entertainment for the month and $100 on dating.

I did BETTER than that!

In January, I only spent $89 on dating, and $102 on entertainment. And really, a lot of my entertainment budget was actually extra groceries. They were things I didn’t NEED but wanted, like bulk ordering tea, so I decided to loop it into entertainment so I didn’t blow the groceries budget.

I also rented “Promising Young Woman” one date night– and it was totally worth it. If you haven’t seen it, I absolutely recommend it. Dating was also mostly groceries because I’d buy food to make for our date nights. 


This was a dooooozy. I spent more than $400 on health and medical for a few reasons. If you’ve read my latest spending reports— I bet you can guess why… Sleep.

Read November 2020 Spending Report to See How Much I’ve Spent on Sleep.

I am on the never ending quest for a good night’s sleep and I finally decided to see a sleep doctor for it. That was $30, and I also started going back to therapy, which was another $60, and then I also purchased a weighted blanket, blackout curtains, a curtain rod, and REM Fresh melatonin. AND THEN I also went to the eye doctor and stocked up on contacts which was $178.

It was an expensive month for medical, and I realized my expenses for medical this year are likely to go up quite a bit because I’ve switched my insurance plans.

Instead of doing a PPO with a flexible spending account, I decided to switch over to the high deductible plan so I can start contributing to a Health Savings Account (HSA).

In the future, I’ll do a post on what an HSA is, but in short, it’s basically a tax-advantaged brokerage account that allows you to put pre-tax dollars into the account for medical expenses. If you use the money for medical expenses, you never have to pay taxes on that money– which is amazing. 

Learn about other tax-advantaged accounts in Retirement 101.


There’s some other cool benefits, but that’s what it is in a nutshell. I’m excited to start using one but it will lower my paychecks by about $300 a month. That will suck because I won’t be able to save as much for a down payment BUT at least I’m investing money for my health in the future. 


That’s pretty much it! Not a lot of fuck-ups, as most of this was pretty positive. I’m glad– because after a few months at the end of 2020 of not really worrying about the budget, I was worried it’d be hard to get back into the swing of budgeting. 


Apparently, I needed the break to be able to get into the swing of things in 2021! 


Anyway, on to the spending report, shall we?

what I spend a month in chicago

What I Spend in a Month: January 2021 Spending Report


$34– Groceries

$1,000– Transfer to Home Fund, Home Fund

$22– Groceries for dinner, Dating


$75– Groceries

$137– Oak Park Parking, Parking

$25– Nicor, Utilities

$25– The New Jim Crow, Personal


$1,419– Rent, Home 

$30– Therapy, Health/Medical

$72– Aldi, Groceries

$85– Painting Supplies, Clo Bare


$21– Jewel, Dating

$67– Sprint, Cell Phone

$22– Tea, Entertainment 


$5,000– Taxes

$62– Aldi, Groceries

$46– Jewel, Dating


$74– Comcast, Utilities

$30– Therapy, Health/Medical

$15– Pee Spray, Dog


$43– Blackout Curtains, Home

$100– Sleep Blanket, Health/Medical

$25– ComEd, Utilities

$30– Sleep Appointment, Health/Medical

$50– REM Fresh, Health/Medical

$1,000– Home Fund


$26– Groceries, Entertainment

$68– Aldi, Groceries

$22– Robe, Personal

$20– Promising Young Woman, Entertainment

$13–Toothpaste, Personal


$15– Program, Health/Medical

$200– Home Fund

$45– Dog Food, Dog

$672– Student Loans, Debt

$55– Igloo, Special Occasions


$178– Contacts, Health/Medical

What I Spend in a Month January 2021 Totals

  • Total Spent: $10.8k
  • Total Spent after Deducting Taxes, Debt and Savings: $10.8k
  • % Spent on Savings: 37%
  • % Spent on Debt: 11%
  • Living Off Of Post-Tax Income: 51%

Net Worth Update: January 2021


  • Emergency Fund: $10k
  • Home Fund: $6k
  • 401(k): $75k
  • Real Estate Investment: $63k

Total Savings: $154,000

Total Debt: $28,669

Total Net Worth: $125,331

Woo! Look at that net worth climb!!! This was a big difference from December because my real estate investment completed I made 20% off the last round of investments. Unfortunately, the contractor I’ve been working with just got bought out so I won’t be able to invest in this way moving forward, but I’ll be getting into buying rental properties instead.

Goals, Goals, Goals

So, let’s check in on my goals from last month. 

  1. Save $2k for the Home Fund: DONE. DID IT. Saved $2.2k!
  2. Pay $5.5k for quarterly taxes: Only had to put down $5k and did it! 
  3. Spend only $150 total on entertainment for January and only $100 on dating. DID IT. YES.
  4. Eat out only once every two weeks. DONE! In fact, I think we only ate out once in January AND my boyfriend paid for it. So double-win.

Goals for February 2021

  1. Save $1k for the Home Fund. I just upped my contributions to retirement and my HSA account is going to be active so my goal is to save at LEAST $1k for my home fund account.
  2. Only spend $150 on entertainment and $100 on dating– again. 
  3. Do my taxes! I’m waiting on some tax forms from my real estate investment, but once I have those I plan to get those done.

That’s about it! We’ll see how it goes. It’s nice getting back into the swing of things and I’m excited to see what this year brings.

Your Turn: What's next in 2021?

How about you? What’s on the docket for you in February 2021 and beyond? Share in the comments below and if you liked this post? Be sure to share in order to support this blog.

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