A Week At University In Central Illinois That Costs $16,085 A Year

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

Today: an advertising major at a university in Central Illinois who spends some of her money this week on a Straw-Ber-Rita Tallboy.
Major: Advertising
University Size: 32,000
University Location: Central Illinois
Age: 22
Salary/Allowance: $10.75/hr from working at the gym, $60 flat every two weeks from my radio job (I don't get a set allowance from my parents, but they do pay for books)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): ~$350
Tuition Cost: $16,085 (I pay for most of this with loans and my parents pay about $2,000 a year to cover the rest)
Student Loans Total: $37,000 (I will start paying these once I graduate)
Gender: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $465 (for a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment I share with my best friend, I pay for this with money from my two jobs)
Water: $15
Electric/Gas: $27
WiFi: $10
Spotify/Hulu/Showtime: My parents pay, but in return, they get Hulu and Showtime for $5!
Netflix: Parents pay
Phone: Parents pay, I'll start contributing once I graduate and get a real job!

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm and feel incredibly tired despite going to bed around midnight. I check my email, see that my check was deposited into my account, pay my roommate my half of the utilities (included in monthly costs), and transfer the rest back to savings. I fall back asleep til 8.
8 a.m. — Get up for real this time to shower and eat breakfast before my 9 a.m. class. I am so tempted to skip, but it's econ and I barely understand it so I know I have to go. After class, I'm tempted to buy Starbucks because I'm still exhausted after making a cup of coffee, but I resist it because I've been spending way too much money lately. I go home for an hour to do homework before work.
11:15 a.m. — I arrive at work and buy a book I've been needing for class. $120 to buy an access code so I can do my homework...ridiculous. Thankfully, my mom gives me her credit card information. I pay for rent and utilities but my parents pay for books and the small amount of tuition my loans don't cover. V thankful for that!
2:30 p.m. — Home from work and hungry! I complete a crossword puzzle, eat some chips and carrots, and do homework for a little. I also put fries in the oven because I am the epitome of health. I hang out with my roommate, C., and nap a bit. I don't do any homework and plan to stay up later doing some tonight.
6:30 p.m. — I heat up leftover mostaccioli before my 7 p.m. meetings. I leave for the first meeting, a monthly all staff at the radio station I work at. Once that ends at 8, I arrive at the other meeting that started at 7. It doesn't really look like I've missed much and I'm irritated that I'm here when I could be doing other things...oh well.
11:30 p.m. — I am dragging. My plans to stay up late to finish homework are thrown out the window. I have to complete an advertising campaign for a class tomorrow but my mind is blank and I convince myself my ideas will be better after a good night's rest!
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

7:55 a.m. — I wake up five minutes before my alarm after a very intense and slightly scary dream. I get up because, despite the weird dream, I feel extremely well-rested. I take a shower, drink some coffee, and get ready for a meeting with my professor at 9:30. I eat a Perfect bar before leaving and head out the door with C., who has class at 9:30.
10:30 a.m. — I leave the meeting feeling very inspired! I reached out to this professor, who taught me last semester, to go over my portfolio as I am an advertising student. He gave me a lot of great tips, so I work for a little bit on my website and other homework before heading home. Once home, I do a crossword puzzle, make a breakfast of eggs, hashbrowns, and toast, and let C.'s dog out. Before leaving for class, I see that my tax return was deposited into my account! I did my taxes super early this year because I was bored one day and my savings looked really low. I normally work over winter break, but I had an internship this summer so my savings looked a little bare after not working for the month of break. Thankfully with my refund and a recent paycheck, it's back where I want it!
3:50 p.m. — Done with classes! I stop at an ATM and take out $10 for a happy hour cover before running home to eat and change. Once home, I eat a Balanced Break with a Bud Light because #college and also apparently my friends were pregaming the whole time I was in class? Once I'm ready, I meet them out.
6:38 p.m. — Surprisingly, happy hour does not have a cover. I buy a 40-ounce of Miller High Life for $3 and hang out with my friends N., K., and O. Two of my other guy friends, P. and Q., show up too and it's very fun :) We leave after we all finish our 40s to get food. I order wings, fries, and a drink combo for $11. $14
7:50 p.m. — I stop at home to say bye to C. before she leaves for her boyfriend's for the weekend. I told my friends I'd come back out with them, but a different friend of mine isn't going out until 9 and I want to be able to stay out with him. I stay at home for a bit to chill and do another crossword (I am obsessed).
8:58 p.m. — I meet my friends back out and begrudgingly pay the $5 cover. I wait until my friends more drinks to get one, but by the time they do I feel kinda sick and just get water instead. $5
10:30 p.m. — Okay, I told myself I'd stay out until at least 10:30 to wait for my friend, but I truly cannot make it. I have had two drinks in the last seven hours and I feel awful. Definitely time to go home. I say goodbye to my friends and walk the two blocks back to my apartment.
10:45 p.m. — I planned on sleeping but as soon as I get home I get invited to a different bar by a cute classmate/friend of mine, G. I consider going as the bar is definitely a calmer vibe than the last one. Then he tells me he decided to stay in with his roommates and he invites me there instead. I then begin the 30 minute battle of trying to decide if I want to go or not. I brush my teeth in the midst of this. On the one hand, it would be a chiller environment and he's fun to hang out with, but on the other hand, he lives on the other side of campus and has a girlfriend (I promise I'm not a homewrecker and I doubt his invitation was anything more than friendship). I finally decide not to go and go to bed. I skip washing my face and use a face wipe instead (whoops), take my contacts out, and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $19

Day Three

8:45 a.m. — I wake up and shower before my 11 a.m. class. I put on black Under Armour leggings and a gray sweater with my maroon Converse before making an egg and toast and watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I skip coffee as I'm going to the opposite side of campus for a doctor's appointment later and plan on treating myself to an iced chai tea from my favorite coffee place. Before leaving, I fill in my eyebrows, put on mascara, and throw a warm jean jacket on that I thrifted a few weeks ago. I blast Beach Bunny for the walk to class.
11 a.m. — So I don't actually make it to class. By the time my class starts, I'm still a block away and I don't feel like walking in late as it's a small discussion. I compromise by going to the library to work on homework for that class instead. Whoops.
11:55 a.m. — I leave the library to meet a potential new writer for the writing team at the radio station. I also see that I get paid for this job, woo. I keep this paycheck in my checking account and use it for my spending money, saving the paycheck from my other job (that is more consistent and pays way more) for my savings to use for rent, utilities, and other major expenses.
12:45 p.m. — The interview is pretty quick and goes well, especially after reading his writing sample, so I hire him on the spot. I head over to my doctor's appointment on the other side of campus and wait in the lobby.
1:30 p.m. — I leave my appointment and almost cry out of frustration. I've had a rash on my leg and my forehead for the past couple of months and both doctors I saw were perplexed and recommend me to a dermatologist but now I have to go and figure out which one is covered by my insurance. UGH. I am so irritated and just want the rashes to be gone :/ I stop into Starbucks instead of the other coffee place because I absentmindedly pass it and don't feel like turning around. I have a gift card that covers most of it so I only spend $1.87. I end up staying at Starbucks because I don't feel like going home and I want to work on my website. $1.48
3:30 p.m. — Back at home and I call around to make an appointment but the earliest one is a month away. Frustration tears are back! I am also about to start my period so maybe that's why... I make a grilled cheese and fries and have a packet of Chick Fil A sauce on the side. I turn on another episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and do another crossword puzzle (surprise surprise).
7:30 p.m. — I do some homework out of pure boredom until I decide I NEED human contact. I text a few different people to see what the move is for tonight. After I think all hope is lost, my friend, N., invites me to a pregame! And my friend from class, G., snapchats me to ask what I'm doing. I put on a Beach Bunny vinyl (I swear I listen to other music) and start getting ready. I also prep my bag for tomorrow because I have work early.
8:33 p.m. — I throw on another record that my brother got me for Christmas, Khruangbīn, and finish getting ready. I put on black ripped jeans (I literally wear these every night), a cute low cut maroon top, and black platform vans. I throw on a black jean jacket to wear under my coat after I realize how cold it is. While getting ready, G. invites me to his frat's party. Perhaps I can make an appearance…
9:30 p.m. — I stop at a liquor store to get another tallboy Straw-Ber-Rita, as I already have one leftover from the other day. I have no cash and my regular ATM randomly closed? There is a $4 minimum on cards or a 50 cent charge so I bite the bullet and put it on my card. I realize I left my debit card in a different coat and put it on my credit card instead. I head over to N.'s apartment and we begin the long trek to the pregame, on the other side of campus. N. also needs alcohol, so we stop at a gas station that does not have a card minimum. Sigh, I should've waited. Oh well. On the way to the pregame, a car SPLASHES us with water!! It's mostly on my jacket and jeans and I'm trying not to think about the gross water as we continue on to the pregame. $3.40
11:23 p.m. — I leave the pregame for G.'s party. Thankfully, both parties are roughly in the same neighborhood so it's not too bad walking alone. I am slightly drunk but nervous about going to this party alone as I've only met G.'s friends once while I was already very drunk. Fingers crossed it's not awkward.
12:45 a.m. — I get to G.'s and it is three guys sitting in his living room. They decide they do not want to go to their frat's party but their neighbors are throwing a party so we head there instead. They have a keg and G. convinces me to leave my second Straw-Ber-Rita at his house so I can "take advantage of the free beer." Lol, I honestly am not a big fan of beer but I also am drinking Straw-Ber-Rita so who am I to judge. We hang out there for a while, which is pretty fun, but I get tired and I have work early tomorrow. I originally planned on Ubering, but I'm close to a bus stop. When I get to the bus stop, it's still ten minutes away and I decide I want to walk instead. It's snowing and I love to walk so I put on my slow/emo/winter music and listen to that while I take a very introspective walk home, trying to catch falling snowflakes with my tongue. To be honest, it's the highlight of my night.
1:20 a.m. — Arrive home and eat a few strawberries from my Gone Berry Crazy package from Trader Joe's. I quickly change, wash my face, take out my contacts, and put on my acne treatment before passing out. I also lock my front door and my bedroom door because I hate sleeping alone in my apartment and get super paranoid about it.
Daily Total: $4.88

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — Hahaha NOPE. I snooze for literally an hour before dragging myself into the shower. I make coffee and an everything bagel and put on black jeans and my staff shirt. I'm interviewing another writer today, so I bring a sweater to change into. I brush my teeth, put on a black beanie, and begin my journey to the other side of campus, listening to Wallows for the walk.
11:30 a.m. — So. Bored. I work front desk at both gyms on campus and the one I'm working at right now is the smaller and quieter one. I mostly sit on my phone and contemplate what to get for lunch, stopping intermittently to check out equipment to patrons. At one point, I pull out my homework and make some progress. My old roommate, Z., stops by to work out and we discuss potentially going out tonight.

1:30 p.m. — FINALLY FREE (until tomorrow). I quickly change into my sweater in the bathroom and while doing so, my coworker walks in on me. Yikes. No time to be awkward about it though, my interview is in less than 15 minutes!!

2 p.m. — Another relatively quick interview. The girl seemed nice but also involved in a lot of other heavy writing activities so I'll have to see who else I hire first. I order Panera for pickup and they are out of cream of chicken and wild rice soup AND the bread I want. I also try to get a chocolate chip cookie but the entire bakery is out of stock? I'm mildly annoyed but have already committed to getting Panera and I have a $1 off coupon anyway. I stop at an ATM on the way to get out cash in case I decide to go out tonight. $6.68

2:35 p.m. — Apparently Panera did have cookies, so I buy one when I get in ($2.30). After I eat, I finally get started on laundry that is long overdue (a dollar for the washer and dryer, so $2) and do my dishes from the morning. I watch old episodes of Shameless throughout this. $4.30

5:56 p.m. — Bless the gods! A kind soul has taken my morning shift tomorrow, which means I can sleep in. I have two positions at work, one that is scheduled and one that I set my own hours, so I'll just go in at some point tomorrow to make up for the lost hours. I check my laundry and see that it's still relatively damp, so I grab more quarters to run it again. This dryer is allegedly the “good” one too... $1

8 p.m. — Sad story of the day: Yesterday I confronted my best friend, V., about how I felt like I was putting in more effort into our friendship than he was and today he told me that he felt like he needed space. In a fit of frustration, I told him off and now I think our friendship is truly over...did I mention that our friendship troubles started when we began hooking up in the fall? Never hook up with your friends! I keep crying on and off and C. offers me one of her edibles to make me feel better but I decline. I get invited to a party with one of my other good friends, K., and decide to go, hoping alcohol and being with friends will take my mind off it.

8:50 p.m. — I get ready, listening to the same Khruangbin album from yesterday. I put on the same black ripped jeans from yesterday (I washed these after I was splashed!), a cheetah tank bodysuit, and a light wash jean jacket with my black platform converse. As for makeup, I put on Pore Professional Primer, Hoola bronzer, High Beam highlighter, and “They're Real!” mascara, all from Benefit. Every year my sister gets me makeup for my birthday or Christmas, so most, if not all, of my makeup comes from her. I try to buy dupes if I run out before then and use eye shadow I bought from Marshall's. I make a peanut butter sandwich and eat that with carrots before my former roommate, Z., comes over.

11 p.m. — Z. and I finish the only drinks we have, tallboys of Twisted Tea (her) and Straw-Ber-Rita (me, lol) so we go to the gas station to get more alcohol. I grab two tallboy White Claws for $4.50, but one is for my friend so he venmos me. $2.25

12:36 a.m. — Home for the night. I contemplate getting food as I have a gift card, but my friend convinces me to save it. I also contemplate texting my ex hookup, as I have been seeing numerous Instagram stories with him in them, but I decide against that as well (I am ~30 days clean of contact, lol). I text my roommate about a reference from Broad City instead before passing out.

Daily Total: $14.23

Day Five

10:15 a.m. — It feels so good to sleep in. I do a face mask while making my to-do list for the day and wiping down my bathroom. After my face mask is done, I get in the shower. I put on leggings and a fuzzy pullover and skip makeup as it's Sunday and I try not to wear makeup on Sundays.
11:50 a.m. — I make a breakfast of eggs, hash browns, and toast (I could literally eat this every day) and watch the newest episode of Saturday Night Live. After, I do the dishes and clean up a bit before heading out to work. I really don't mind going into the office, but the actual act of walking is always so hard to get into. I put on an old black pair of hand me down sneakers from my sister and blast Lorde for the walk.
4:45 p.m. — I get a lot of work done and I'm hungry so I head home. I call my mom on the walk home and chat with her, my dad, and my sister who apparently stopped by. When I get home, I ask C. when she's returning home and she says that she's not coming home until tomorrow. Oh the joys of your only roommate being in a long-distance relationship…
5:15 p.m. — I do some work for the radio station and make a grilled cheese. I ask L. and his roommate if they want to go to trivia tonight as I cannot stand being home alone at night in my apartment. I put on an old episode of Girls while I eat because I am avoiding homework.
8:50 p.m. — My homework is killing me. I have to take an entry-level macroeconomics course and while you'd think it'd be easy, it's actually really hard (for me at least). I still have homework due tomorrow but I'm frustrated and annoyed with the class and myself, so I stop. I see that my mom buys something off Amazon, but accidentally uses my Amazon credit that I was saving to buy new headphones. She venmos me the difference, but I'm still mildly annoyed. I swear its the econ homework...
9:30 p.m. — I give my homework another go and it starts to get a little easier. Two of my friends are down for trivia, so I change into a gray frat shirt over my leggings and put on a black beanie, my jean jacket, and a pair of maroon velvet combat boots before leaving.
10:30 p.m. — Trivia is packed so we go to another bar to do homework. I realize I left my laptop at home and hang out for a few until I decide to go back for my laptop. Once I get home, I don't really feel like going back, so I let my friends know I'm not coming and watch an episode of Shameless before bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

7:45 a.m. — I wake up and shower before my class. I make coffee and an everything bagel and make sure everything is packed in my bag before work. I also put on a pair of black leggings and a school shirt along with running shoes. I have no energy to try to look cute today.
10:50 a.m. — Out of class and off to work! I'm also in the process of buying two tickets for the basketball game from two different people. I find one for $8 and the other for $40! Never mind about that then.
12 p.m. — During my shift, my boss messages me and asks if I want to train as a manager so I can pick up more hours. Lol at the fact that I applied and interviewed to be a manager last year and got rejected. My other position at work is already slightly managerial and I'm going to be graduating this semester, so I decline.
1:30 p.m. — On to my office hours, where I get to eat my peanut butter sandwich and a Perfect bar. I finish with my work quickly, and I have a meeting at 3 that I'm trying to attend, so I try to catch my boss to ask if I can leave early (my office hours go til 3:30). She is either not in her office or talking with the door closed when she is, so I try to do more work/look busy until she's free.
2:30 p.m. — My boss is still not free, so I send her an email saying that I am done with my work and I'll be back on Wednesday to help with anything else. I head out early to my meeting and play some Twin Peaks for the walk there.
4 p.m. — Out of the meeting. It was my first time attending it as I normally have work, but it wasn't too bad. I mostly did other work and worked on some ads for class tomorrow. I head to the library to do some work and run into my fellow ad majors! We talk about some work we're doing and I get some inspiration for my campaign.
5 p.m. — C. meets me at the library and we walk home together. My mom offers to let me use her card for Jimmy John's as she knows I'm not having the best day, so I gratefully take her up on it, ordering a Turkey Tom and jalapeño chips. I also have a reward for a free drink! C. and I walk to Jimmy John's together and discuss going out tonight. It's our favorite bar's birthday so there's cookies, logo glasses, and dollar drinks. Say no more.
8:30 p.m. — I eat my Jimmy John's and attempt to work more on my ads due tomorrow. They're not perfect, but everyone else in my class seems to be struggling too so I feel okay with giving it a rest until tomorrow morning. I put on black ripped jeans (lol), a sweater, and my platform black vans. I truly am a creature of habit.
12:30 a.m. — I pay the $5 cover and C. and I switch off on paying for rounds ($7). C. has class early tomorrow and I need to work on my ads, so we leave early. I also text my ex hookup because I love undoing 30 days of progress. I'd give him an initial, but I know there's already way too many floating around so there's no need for more confusion. Once home, I wash my face and head to bed. $12
Daily Total: $12

Day Seven

9:15 a.m. — After tossing and turning the last couple hours I finally get up to shower. I put on leggings and a striped sweater with my favorite pair of earrings (gold-plated faces) as I have a job info session tonight and want to stand out. I make some coffee and work on my ads and let out C's dog, as she left for class while I was still sleeping.
11 a.m. — I make my usual breakfast and work more on my ads before heading out to print them. For the walk to the library, I put on a mix of Whitney and Wallows. It's 35 degrees out but it feels beautiful!! That's living in the midwest for ya.
2:50 p.m. — My classes are finished — my writing class was pretty fun and people really liked my ads! Today is a great day after a string of not so great ones, so I decide to do my homework at Starbucks and treat myself to an iced chai tea. My gift card is all out and I don't feel like reloading a full $10, so I just pay with my debit card. $4.65
4 p.m. — Home and hungry. I make a pizza and do a crossword puzzle while I wait for the pizza to bake. I chill out for a little and watch an old episode of Shameless until I have to walk to a job info session at 6. The life of a college senior — applying to jobs and attending job info sessions in the hopes of getting a job. Someone hire me, please!
7 p.m. — I am out of the job session and NOT in the mood for my all-staff meeting tonight at 8. I don't feel like walking home just to turn right back around, so I walk to the gym early to do homework in the lobby. I text C. and ask if she wants to walk to the grocery store or insomnia cookies later because ya girl needs some chocolate.
8 p.m. — Freaking the HECK out because I got selected to interview for a very exciting position after graduation. I am literally grinning as I tell my boss (who I also have to tell that I will be missing my shift tomorrow) and she is equally excited. Ahhh! I barely pay attention throughout all-staff, and it's honestly just pointless reminders. At least I'm getting paid. I walk home and call my mom, extremely excited to interview tomorrow. C. and I go over common interview questions and talk about the position. I'm way too excited and nervous to sleep, but I somehow manage to sleep around 12:30.
Daily Total: $4.65
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