An Intern's Week In Pittsburgh, PA, On A $300 Paycheck

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.
This week, we’re taking a look at the way interns are spending across the country. Internships can be a key way of getting experience, gaining entry into fields, and making connections, but not everyone has the ability — in terms of timing or finances — to make it happen. For those who do, managing an internship during the traditional work and school year, or working full-or-part-time over the summer can provide an exciting (or nerve-wracking!) preview of life after college.
Today: a tech intern who makes $600-$1,000 a month and spends some of it on laundry and birth control.
Occupation: Part-Time Intern
Industry: Tech Startup
Age: 21
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Paycheck (2x/month): $300 - $500
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $535 to share a three-bedroom apartment off-campus with three roommates. I have the bigger single of the three rooms.
Loan Payments: $0. I'm on a full-tuition merit scholarship.
All Other Monthly Expenses:
Utilities: $25 - $30 for internet, electric, and gas (after an even split with my roommates).
Cell Phone: $0. I'm on my family's plan, and my parents pay.
Car Insurance: $0. My parents encouraged me to bring a family car to school this year to make visiting home easier, and they pay for the insurance.
Health insurance: $0. I'm on my family's plan through my mom's job.
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9 a.m. — I snooze for too long. I only have time to fill a Ziploc bag with cereal and take it with me. Usually, I would just skip breakfast, but I've got a full day of classes and a test.

6 p.m. — I'm exhausted when I get home, but I already have pork chops marinating. Plus, I'm starving from skipping lunch to do some last-minute cramming for my test. (It was easier than expected though!) I sauté the pork chops with tomatoes and bok choy and make rice on the side. Since I'm always terrible at estimating portions, I make too much and put the rest in the fridge for later.

10 p.m. — I pay rent (emoji cringe face) before I go to sleep.

Daily Total: $0
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8 a.m. — I eat cereal and a grapefruit before my final-round interviews for a rotational program today. It's pouring outside, so I drive instead of taking the bus. Parking downtown sucks and garages are expensive. $22

12:30 p.m. — The last interview is over lunch. I order a shrimp po'boy with fries and bisque ($15). The company pays.

2 p.m. — My $25 birthday discount from Madewell expires today, and I think the interviews went pretty well, so I head to the mall. There's a sale going on, and I buy two shirts and a pair of socks. The full cost is $120, and it comes down to $60! I also stop at Sephora to pick up my birthday freebie and snag a few samples. I have a credit card linked to a shared account with my parents, but I try to be conscientious about keeping my expenses and spending below what I make. I stay on top of paying it off each month. Credit cards scare me, but my parents are insistent about me building credit. I treat this as a late birthday gift to myself. $59.34

4 p.m. — I see a matinee showing of Beauty and the Beast with some friends. Because it's still pouring, I drive, and they pay for parking ($5). Emma Watson is the best! $6.50

6:30 p.m. — I meet up with a friend for banh mi and bubble tea. We met on a dating app in the fall, but I started dating (and then broke up with) someone else and told this person I just want to be friends. He always insists on paying for food because he's a “real grown-up” with a “real job,” but that still feels a bit date-like to me. Then again, I typically pay for myself on dates (doing so makes me feel less awkward). I reach for the check but he's faster this time. It's $25 for both of us.

8 p.m. — We meet up with his friends for drinks and tacos at a cool new place downtown. I'm already full and just get a beer. $6

11 p.m. — One guy calls an Uber, and we all take it back to my friend's place. We hang out in the building's hot tub and drink champagne. I only drink half a glass; I'm a lightweight and also want to drive home instead of paying for an Uber. I don't get home until after 2 a.m. It's the most exciting Friday I've had in a while. I'm usually pretty boring!

Daily Total: $93.84
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12 p.m. — This is the latest I've woken up since my birthday. I heat up most of Thursday's leftovers (I still can't finish the pork) and do some homework.

3:30 p.m. — I snack on an apple as I drive to soccer. I usually walk because gas in the city is expensive, but it's cold today. I play in a recreational tech league with people from work. As usual, it's all guys, except for me. #DiversityInTech.

6 p.m. — Our university hosts free arts programming, and my roommates and I try to go to one event a week. (A bonus is that the events always have free food — possibly the best part of being a student.) There's a chartered bus downtown, and where we eat an awesome catered Italian meal before the musical.

Daily Total: $0
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9 a.m. — I wake up and make rice congee with the last part of Thursday's pork and duck egg. I figured how to do this on the stove a couple of weeks ago. I realize I'm getting low on groceries. I usually buy them twice a month, and also make a smaller trip to the Asian grocery store once a month.

1 p.m. — I eat three mangos because they're getting overripe and I'm too lazy to make a real lunch.

6 p.m. — All I've done today is sit in my room and study/apply for jobs, so I procrastinate by making dinner: a potato, carrot, zucchini hash with dressed tofu on the side.

Daily Total: $0
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7 a.m. — I have to wake up early to work from home on Mondays, but I don't eat yet because I'm tired of cereal. The office where I intern has a stocked kitchen, and it's nice out, so I walk to work to see if I can make the 9 a.m. meeting. It turns out it's cancelled, but I have some granola and a giant bowl of strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries anyway.

11 a.m. — I get a call-back from my interview on Friday ... and they give me a JOB OFFER! I'm super pumped. It isn't my ideal company/job but at least my parents will stop mentioning the MCAT now. I stopped being pre-med two years ago and they're still not over it. I grab a cheese stick, chocolate, and a handful of peanut butter pretzels before heading to class.

3 p.m. — I reward myself for the job by getting a bubble tea before tutoring. $3.69

7 p.m. — I've got frozen dumplings, so I make soup with some of those and add spinach, tomatoes, and mushrooms.

8 p.m. — I clean my room and run a load of laundry. I hate paying to do laundry here and usually try to wait until I visit home on a weekend, but I'm running out of underwear. I also move some frozen chicken to the fridge for dinner tomorrow. $2.50

Daily Total: $6.19
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9 a.m. — Cereal and a kiwi before classes.

4 p.m. — I pick up my monthly birth control. My parents asked me to stop taking it in November (they're pretty conservative), but I've really been breaking out. I disregard them and restart. $52.38

4:30 p.m. — Grocery run: I buy tomatoes, peppers, spinach, kale, grapefruits, a pear, strawberries, potatoes, eggs, milk, and ground beef. I also pick up sponges for the apartment; the four of us equally split all household/cleaning purchases. $37.04

7 p.m. — For dinner, I make mashed potatoes with chicken thighs, sautéed kale, and tomatoes.

Daily Total: $89.42
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9 a.m. — I snooze too many times and get up late for work, so I take the bus instead of walking. I eat strawberries, granola and a clementine at work for breakfast.

11 a.m. — I'm feeling tired and decide to buy a mocha at the coffee shop downstairs; I've recently started drinking coffee regularly, and it's a terrible habit. $4.50

12:30 p.m. — Lunch before I leave for classes is a prepared salad with kale, cauliflower, grains. I added chicken and tomatoes to it as well.

3 p.m. — I'm a volunteer tutor for a local refugee family as part of a student organization. The club is selling shirts as part of our fundraising efforts, and I buy one before I leave for tutoring. $15

2 p.m. — I filled out a survey for our landlord last week, and he just sent me a $5 Starbucks gift card for it!

7 p.m. — For dinner, I make fried rice with eggs, carrots, frozen peas, and frozen corn. I start looking at flights for a family trip this summer, but the cheat site I'm using advises that I hold off on buying for now until there's a better price.

Daily Total: $19.50
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