A Week At A University In St. Louis, MO That Costs Over $60,000 A Year

Welcome to Money Diaries — College Edition, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern women: money. We're asking college students how they pay for school and how they spend money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a student majoring in Biomedical Engineering who spends some of her money this week on a Dooney & Bourke tote.
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Age: 21
Location: St. Louis
Yearly Cost Of Tuition: $62,868 (including housing, books, and fees)
Scholarships/Financial Aid: $18,000 (I receive this yearly, $16,000 is a merit scholarship and I receive an additional housing scholarship of $2,000 for living on campus as an upperclassman.)
Current Student Loan Total: $121,964.33 (private & federal, taken out in my name)
Salary: $9.60/hour (I work 20 hours a week as a supervisor and lifeguard at the university's gym. I also worked a full-time job over the summer as a biomedical engineering intern, so I did make some money this summer.)
Allowance: $0 (I do not receive an allowance — I pay for all my own expenses except for travel home for the holidays.)
Gender Identity: Woman
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Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I live in a 2-bedroom on-campus apartment with one roommate, which is included in the cost of my tuition)
Loans: $0 (deferred until graduation)
Netflix: $0 (I use my aunt and uncle's)
Amazon Prime: $0 (my parents pay for my Amazon Prime Student)
Phone: $0 (my parents are kind enough to still pay for my plan)

Day One

7 a.m. — I wake up for work reluctantly. Thankfully, the 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. shift isn't usually very busy so I can kind of zone out until I'm actually awake. Today my shift is as a supervisor — I make sure other student workers are doing their jobs and take care of any sales that need to be made (memberships, locker rentals, etc). I make myself hot water with lemon and pour some oats into a container to make at work later. I also pack chia seeds, flax seeds, and peanut butter as toppings.
10 a.m. — I was right, my shift wasn't very busy. I answered questions about the facility, sold a renewed membership, and filed a maintenance request for a broken fan. My boyfriend, L., surprises me near the end of my shift by coming to workout, which is a nice surprise. I leave work right on time and head back to my apartment to change for the day — it's going to be hot!
1:45 p.m. — After completing some homework and watching the latest season of 13 Reason Why, I head out to my first class of the day. I'm starting to get hungry, but I don't grab a snack because L. and I decided we were going to grab an early dinner, since we both get out of class at the same time.
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2:45 p.m. — Out of class two hours and fifteen minutes early — that seriously never happens! I decide to take advantage of the time and park myself outside on the patio at the student center to get some more homework done. I'm taking marketing and management theory classes this semester and they both have big chunks of homework due on the same day later this month, so I'm trying to get that done early.
3:45 p.m. — L. gets out of class early too, so we can eat now. Yay! I order a black bean burger with lettuce, tomato, and onion and a side of sweet potato fries. The total comes to $6.28, but I'm able to pay with my dining dollars. This is essentially “campus currency” and you can use it at any food service place on campus, instead of a meal swipe (included in tuition/housing cost). L. and I try to take turns paying for meals when we go off campus to eat, but when we stay on campus, we each just pay with our own dining dollars.
4:15 p.m. — While eating, L. and I discuss student loans, how much we're going to owe, and Vans, but then I'm interrupted by a sale I've made on Mercari. I text my mom to let her know, since the dress I've sold is at home, and then forward her the shipping label. This reminds me that I've been needing a new purse for a while and have been eyeing a Dooney & Bourke tote on Poshmark. L. convinces me to bite the bullet, and I reason that because we're flying to California in October, I'll need a travel-friendly bag. I submit an offer for $70 and we head back to our respective apartments.
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4:45 p.m. — The owner gets back to me with a $78 offer and I counter with $75 (yes, I'm one of those annoying shoppers, but hey, I'm a college student) Thankfully, she accepts, and the Dooney & Bourke bag is mine! With shipping and my redeemable credit, the total comes to $79.74. $79.74
5:40 p.m. — After lounging around for a bit, I get changed for the gym. A membership to the university gym is included with tuition. I hurt my back earlier this week, so I take it easy with a good shoulder workout, finishing with some HIIT sprints on the treadmill. I get back from the gym, shower, and change for a study session at the library with L. I also make myself a protein shake to go.
9 p.m. — I finish another section of homework! Woo! We leave the library because we are both tired and want to unwind after our long days. We head back to L.'s apartment and I'm immediately overcome with a wave of nausea and stomach pain. I don't know if it's my period or the burger I ate earlier, but whatever it is, it's definitely not agreeing with me. I head to the bathroom, thinking it's the beans from earlier (oops), but it turns out it's my period, three days late. This doesn't alarm me though — I'm on the pill and the placebo pills usually take a few days to kick in.
10:15 p.m. — I'm still writhing in pain and nausea, but this time with a tampon in. L. is hungry, and I want something to settle my stomach, so we head out. First, we stop at one of the school's convenience store and I pick up saltines and a Sierra Mist to help my stomach. It costs me a ridiculous $7.89, but I'm able to charge it to my dining dollars. Then we head to a local late-night café that serves salads, sandwiches, pizzas, and soups and is typically overrun with freshman, tonight being no exception. L. gets food for himself and then we head home.
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12 a.m. — After a few episodes of Mindhunter on Netflix (highly recommend!), I start to doze off, so L. turns off the TV and we fall asleep.
Daily Total: $79.94

Day Two

7:15 a.m. — I was out cold and having some weird dreams when L. shakes my foot to wake me up, since he has to leave soon for work. I get dressed quickly and we walk together until we have to go our separate ways. Once I get back to my apartment, I make myself some warm lemon water to get my day started.
8 a.m. — I realize that time is ticking by and that I should probably eat something. I quickly plate some apple slices, a stack of saltines, and a handful of cereal to eat because oatmeal sounds gross right now. I top the apple slices and saltines with some peanut butter.
8:40 a.m. — I leave for my first class of the day and feel gross thanks to my completely random breakfast. All because I wasn't in the mood for oatmeal, ugh. Once I get to class, I chug a bunch of water to help alleviate how gross I feel. I have to hustle out of my first class and sprint to my next class across campus. I manage to make it on time for the pop quiz.
11:50 a.m. — I have a break for about an hour, so I go home to nap for a bit. I'm surprised I'm still not hungry, but I'm sure I'll be hungry after my next class. My friend, T., and I make plans to walk to our last class of the day together.
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2:10 p.m. — Finally done with classes for the day, but my day is still going to be a long one. I lounge on my bed to unwind before work, a club meeting, and my roommate agreement meeting. I listen to a podcast (And That's Why We Drink) and watch a bit of 13 Reasons Why. I start to get hungry after a while, so I make balsamic vinegar sautéed mushrooms, sautéed spinach, a slice of toast, and a cup of cereal for dessert.
6 p.m. — I get out of work on time and rush straight to the first meeting of the semester for a club that I'm involved in. The meeting only takes about 15 minutes, which is nice, since I've had a long day.
7 p.m. — Although my roommate and I live in an apartment, it's still on-campus, so we have a resident advisor (RA). He comes over to fill out our roommate agreement, which is essentially a contract about sleep habits, when we can borrow stuff from each other, etc. We've lived together for the past three years, so it's fairly easy and goes by quickly. After this, I head to the gym to do a quick leg workout and 10 minutes of HIIT sprints on the treadmill.
9 p.m. — L. texts me on my way home from the gym asking what I'm doing tonight. My very exciting plans tonight are to take a shower, make a protein shake and PBJ, pack my breakfast for tomorrow morning at work, and go to bed. However, L. persuades me to come over so we can watch some more of Mindhunter.
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10:30 p.m. — L. is taking too long to get home from the baseball game he's at, so I text him to let him know I'm going to call it a night since I work in the morning tomorrow. I snuggle myself in my own bed and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

7 a.m. — I'm actually awake for work today and I'm glad I packed my bag the night before, so I have time to relax this morning. I make myself a cup of warm lemon water and settle in to read some Money Diaries.
12 p.m. — Whew! What a busy shift — membership renewals, guest passes, and lots of cleaning up the fitness areas. L. visits me again and it's nice to see his cute face in the morning. T. texted me while I was at work asking if I wanted to get coffee before our class together — yes please! I rush home and quickly make and eat a PBJ, as well as an apple. Then I head out to meet T. at his apartment. We stop at a local coffee shop and I get an iced latte with almond milk. I charge $4.28 to my dining dollars and we sit outside on the patio by the lecture halls and catch up.
3:45 p.m. — Out of class early! In-between taking notes, I applied to a few jobs on LinkedIn. I'm graduating in the spring and I'm looking to get a job after graduation, so I can have a bit of work experience before (possibly) getting my master's degree, most likely in business. I walk home with T. (we live in the same on-campus apartment building) and lounge a bit before going to the gym.
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5 p.m. — I finally get around going to the gym. It has been very crowded lately. I thought it would wear off as the semester got underway, but I guess not this year. I still manage to get a good leg workout in (I'm trying to grow my quads and booty) and some HIIT sprints on the treadmill. In between sets, I check Instagram stories and send my roommate an ad someone posted for a fundraiser at a local bar. We make (very) tentative plans to go because she has a class at 8 tomorrow morning.
7 p.m. — On my very sweaty walk home, I call my younger sister and we catch up. I try to call her once a week. We both go to college more than a five-hour drive from home, but it's been a lot harder on her, so I like to stay in touch to make sure she's doing okay. I miss a call from L. while I'm showering and once I'm out I call him back and he says he's chilling in a hammock outside my apartment and wants to know if I can hang out with him for a bit before work. I agree since I have hardly seen him at all today. We cuddle on my bed for a bit while he tells me about his very busy day.
8 p.m. — L. leaves for work, I blow-dry my hair, and then get dinner started. I drink a protein shake while making mini bowtie pasta and sautéed spinach. I also cut and pan-fry a vegan sausage link. I mix them all together and sprinkle salt, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast on top. While eating, I watch 13 Reasons Why and drink the rest of my now flat Sierra Mist (those dining dollars will NOT go to waste). My roommate texts me saying she's just going to have a chill night in instead of going out, which I totally get. I pour a bowl of cereal as dessert and mindlessly scroll through Instagram.
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10 p.m. — I'm hungry again! Argh. I get peanut butter and saltines, put my phone on the charger, and settle in to do some homework. Closer to 11:30, I pack my backpack for tomorrow so I'm ready to go in the morning at L.'s.
11:30 p.m. — I go to hang out with L. at work until he gets off at midnight and then we head back to his apartment. We each have a beer while we watch YouTube haikus (playlists of super weird and random videos) until we fall asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I'm awake before L.'s alarm, but alternate between closing my eyes and scrolling through Instagram. I try to get L. to wake up with me, but he's not having it. I contemplate getting up and getting Starbucks, but the warmth of the bed is just too nice.
8:30 a.m. — L.'s alarm finally goes off and I get dressed frantically once I realize L. has no breakfast food I can snag — I'll have to buy something at the vending machine. I am also upset I forgot to pack my water bottle, so I'll have no water until a break at lunchtime.
8:50 a.m. — I buy a chocolate chip Clif Bar for the overpriced amount of $2.25 (I basically empty the coin section of my wallet) and head to my class. $2.25
12 p.m. — I have about an hour break before my next class, so I rush home and pack my work uniform (swimsuit, lifeguard shirt, running shorts), gym clothes (sports bra, leggings, training sneakers), and a small dinner (dairy-free strawberry yogurt and almonds) since I have to leave straight from class to go to work. I make myself a quick lunch of a protein shake, apple, and PBJ while I check my emails. I subscribe to a lot of newsletters, like Girls Night In, Refinery 29 (duh!), Zoe Report, and Apartment Therapy. Sometimes I click through them during class when I get bored.
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1:40 p.m. — Got out of class early, the best! Now I have just under an hour before work instead of only 30 minutes. I unpack my work clothes, change into them, and play some Candy Crush before I leave for work.
2:30 p.m. — I start my shift and it's a HOT one! I get in the pool to cool off since no one's there when I open. In the middle of my shift, a fraternity event starts. The guys are being super obnoxious, but not disrespectful, which I can manage. L. and I make plans during my shift to go out tonight and get some alcohol since neither of us has any.
6 p.m. — I get off of a very hot and sweaty shift and change into my workout clothes. L. meets me at the gym and we work out together, which is so nice.
7:15 p.m. — We finish up our workout and both need dinner, so we get Subway. I get a spinach wrap with all the vegetables (but no banana or jalapeño peppers!) and a little oil and dressing. It costs me $7.49, which I charge to my dining dollars. The oil and dressing ended up being a mistake because as soon as I open it at home, the wrap is drenched and very messy to eat.
9 p.m. — L. and I make an alcohol run at the gas station next to campus. He picks up a pack of Smirnoff Ice and I get a pack of Cape Line sparkling cocktails, which I've never tried before. I get a little flustered at the counter (sometimes I get nervous talking to people) and the cashier gives me a bit of a hard time with my out-of-state ID (but I'm really 21!). We each pay separately. $9.31
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11 p.m. — After a few drinks, I get cold and wrap myself in a blanket. I'm suddenly extremely tired. I just want to close my eyes and go to sleep, but I'm mad at myself because I know I want to go out. But my eyes won't stay open! L. is disappointed but understands. He tries to convince me and resorts to playing Cardi B — how can you not want to dance to Cardi B?! I get up out of bed and dance around and moving makes me feel much better. I call an Uber for us, since I have Uber Gold, and give the driver a $3 tip $13.08
11:15 p.m. — The place where we got dropped off is a classic “going out” spot for kids from our school. It's a two-level sports bar events space with a few different bars on the upper level. Tonight, they're charging a cover for the upper level, which L. and I decide isn't worth it. We do a lap around the lower level to see if we know anyone, which we don't. So instead, we head to a rooftop bar that I've been itching to go to a 5-minute walk away. The rooftop bar has a $10 cover, which this time is worth it. I pay the cover for both of us, and L. and I each get a drink (vodka lemonade and vodka soda), he pays. $20
12:30 a.m. — L. and I really liked the bar, but we don't know anyone else here, so we decide it's time to head back. I call an Uber back to his apartment and tip $1 (it was an okay ride). After eating a vegan sausage on a roll with some ketchup while watching The Office, we pass out. $12.02
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Daily Total: $56.66

Day Five

10 a.m. — I wake up with a faint headache and chug some water. L. and I are hungry, so we make plans to stop at Starbucks before I go pick up my new purse in the mailroom. Sadly, the line for Starbucks is ridiculously long (it's rush week, so all the sorority girls need their coffee). I skip it and plan to eat something at home.
10:30 a.m. — Once I'm at home, T. is hanging out with my roommate since we decided earlier this week we were going to go grocery shopping together. I quickly open my new purse (it's sooo cute), then slap some peanut butter on bread with a drizzle of agave syrup and eat an apple. Then we head to the store and I pick up frozen sweet potato fries, frozen Nashville chik'n tenders, frozen broccoli and mixed vegetables, cashew milk ice cream, Raisin Bran with bananas, bread, sliced mushrooms, baby spinach, an eggplant, coconut yogurt, tofu, tampons, makeup wipes, razors, and floss. $57.36
1:15 p.m. — L. comes over to hang out with me and we lounge around watching Men in Black and go to get wraps from a restaurant by campus, L. pays.
5 p.m. — I awake from an accidental nap with an appetite. I pour myself a bowl of Raisin Bran with banana and sit in front of my computer while L. drifts in and out of sleep. I shower after eating and feel a bit more awake. L. is awake now and wants a snack, so we plan to go to one of the convenience stores on campus and then he'll head back to his place. I pick up an almond milk Starbucks Chilled Mocha Frappuccino, a Clif bar, and Nutter Butter bites. To my surprise, this costs almost as much as the crackers and soda I bought earlier this week. I charge $7.49 to my dining dollars account. I head back to do homework in my apartment.
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11:30 p.m. — L. is heading back home from hanging out with his friends, so I meet him at his apartment. I have another one of my sparkling cocktails and we watch a few episodes of Mindhunter before going to sleep.
Daily Total: $57.36

Day Six

9:30 a.m. — L. and I both have an in-service that we have to go to at work (he works at the gym too). An in-service is a training session where saves — back-boarding, CPR, first aid, and jumps are reviewed. We also must swim 300 yards during this in-service. I grab a banana because L. has no breakfast food, and we vow to stop at Starbucks after.
11:15 a.m. — After the in-service, I head home to shower and make plans with T. to study at the library. A shower feels great after being in the freezing cold pool. I have plans to meet T. at the library, so I stop at Starbucks on the way and get an almond milk cappuccino, an everything bagel, and a mango dragon fruit refresher for T. I charge $10.33 to my dining dollars account.
2:30 p.m. — I leave the library to unwind before going to mass. I'm also hungry again so I make a sandwich with baby spinach, pan-fried tofu, and sautéed mushrooms topped with hot sauce. I freestyled this sandwich and it's actually really good! I make plans to go to the library with L. after mass.
4:15 p.m. — I leave for mass and halfway there I realized I should've packed my lifeguard shirt, so I don't have to walk home and back before work since the library is right across from the gym. I plan to go back home after mass first and then go to the library. Going to mass is one of the few things I enjoy doing on my own while at school, it gives me time to reflect and give thanks.
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5:45 p.m. — After mass, I go to the study room L. is in and we both work in silence. He has an exam tomorrow morning and I'm thoroughly reading my textbook. I get a surprising amount of work done before my shift.
10 p.m. — That was a long, dull shift. Lifeguarding late at night on school nights is super boring since there's usually only one or two people in the pool at a time. I'm tired and somewhat hungry once I'm home. I contemplate making a snack, but figure drinking tea would be better. I make myself a cup to drink while I finish the textbook reading from earlier and then pass out.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I wake up a bit later than I want to since I kept hitting snooze on my alarm. I make myself warm water with lemon and oatmeal. My oatmeal exploded in the microwave, so that's a great start to my morning. After cleaning the mess up, I top my oatmeal with peanut butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, and agave syrup. I scarf it down and rush off to my first class.
12 p.m. — I have a break in classes, so I head home and pour myself a huge bowl of Raisin Bran with bananas and snuggle up in my blanket to watch some more 13 Reasons Why. I have a couple of spoonfuls of ice cream for dessert and then curl up on my bed to nap for a bit.
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12:45 p.m. — T. and I walk to class together. During class, my professor announces we won't be having class next time and instead we'll be volunteering on-campus. We will be helping to pack meals for families affected by the hurricane in the Bahamas. T. and I both agree that it sounds like a good idea, but he has to check his work schedule first.
2 p.m. — I'm done with classes for the day and unwind a bit before my first shift at work. I pack an apple and PBJ sandwich for later, as well as some homework. I'm lifeguarding a Bid Day event at the outdoor pools, but since they won't be in the water, I can be on my phone, computer, or doing homework.
7 p.m. — After my shift, I get a good leg workout in. Then I head home to shower and eat again. I make myself a protein shake and a vegan sausage on a slice of bread with ketchup (sorry, I'm hungry!). I also pack my bag with clothes for tomorrow morning, since I'm planning on sleeping at L.'s.
9:45 p.m. — I head back to the gym for my second shift, this time as a supervisor. I have a very tiresome shift and mess up a membership renewal, which throws off the rest of my shift. However, my boss is very nice and understanding, so I send her an email to let her know.
12 a.m. — Finally, off my shift! I head to L.'s apartment and we both immediately pass out.
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Daily Total: $0
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