A Week At A University In California That Costs $14,000 A Year

Welcome to Money DiariesCollege Edition, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. In partnership with Target, 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: a Political Science and Communications double major at a university that costs $14,000 a year spends some of her money this week on yerba mate.
Major: Political Science and Communications Double Major
Age: 20
Location: Southern California
University Size: 24,000
Yearly Cost Of Tuition: $14,000
Scholarships/Financial Aid: My tuition is 100% covered by a state-funded financial aid program. Other student-related costs (books, school supplies, etc) are paid by myself and my parents.
Current Student Loan Total: $0
Salary/Allowance: $23/hr from a part-time marketing internship (I make about $1,500 a month from this).
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $100 (My rent is actually $775, but I only pay $100 a month because my financial aid covers the rest. I live in a three-bed, two-bath with five other roommates. We all share a room with another person in the house.) Car Insurance: $150
Internet: $11 (I split the bill with my five other roommates)
Spotify/Hulu/Showtime: $4.99 (student deal)
Acorns Investment: $10 (plus all of my debit card roundups)

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I wake up begrudgingly to my alarm and end up snoozing twice before actually getting out of bed at 7:45. I am sharing my bed this morning with a friend who is visiting from out of town so I try my best to keep quiet as I collect my things for the day. Last night ended up more lively than I had expected and I can feel a headache looming already. I get dressed, dab on some concealer, boy brow, mascara, and highlighter and run out the door for work.
9:10 a.m. — By the time I drive to work, park, take the shuttle to my office (parking at my job is an actual joke), and sit down it has already been 50 minutes. I grab a double shot espresso from my company's coffee machine and some protein bites from the snack drawer and try to hunker down.
12:15 p.m. — Work is pretty busy on Monday mornings so the first part of the day goes by faster than I expected. I end up walking over to a different part of the office to get some work done because I'm pretty sure the AC near my desk has a personal vendetta against me. Around noon, I pick up my lunch, its a Mexican Ceasar salad today, yum. The company I work for subsidizes our lunches so we only pay $5 for each meal (deducted from our paycheck, so not counted in my weekly expenses). I typically order lunch twice a week so I think the deal is worth it.
4:50 p.m. — Finally time to pack up and get out of the office. The second part of the day slowed down a lot, I had to force down two green teas to keep focused. I take the shuttle back to where I parked and catch the 5:15 TRX class at my gym.
6:30 p.m. — I stop to refill my gas tank on my way home. Gotta love those California gas prices. $30
7 p.m. — I finally make it home. I live in a pretty lively college town so things are never exactly quiet. I open my car door to some ODESZA song and at least three table games being played on my block. I run inside my apartment and hit the showers.
8 p.m. — My roommate, Q., and I get into my car and head towards our local Vietnamese restaurant for a quick dinner. It's Monday and we're both still exhausted from the weekend and school just starting, so cooking isn't in the cards for either of us. We both get a bowl of pho and split an appetizer. We split the check down the middle making my share. $13.70
10 p.m. — When Q. and I get home, we're greeted by our four other roommates. We live in a three-bed, two-bath apartment where everyone shares a room with someone else in the house. I brush my teeth, wash my face, moisturize, and then watch a couple of episodes of Gilmore Girls with Q. before passing out around midnight.
Daily Total: $43.70

Day Two

9 a.m. — I slightly overslept this morning, giving myself only fifteen minutes to get out the door. Q. and I have class at the same time this morning so we bike to campus together. Luckily, I make it to my first class with five minutes to spare.
10:45 a.m. — I stop at one of the campus stores on the way to my next class because my stomach growls were embarrassingly loud as I was sitting through my last class. I opt for some cheap PB&J crackers to hold me over. I also try to grab an iced coffee but the line is way too long and I'm already running behind. Caffeine will have to wait. $1.20
12:30 p.m. — After class, I stop at a bike shop on my way home to fix my loose bike seat. The fix costs $5.88, well worth the price of making sure my seat and I don't fall off my bike. On my way home, I also stop at the co-op and grab a mint yerba mate because caffeine has now become vital ($3.44). $9.32
1:45 p.m. — I microwave some Trader Joe's chicken tamales for lunch and add about three million kinds of sauces and salsas. My secret trick is to always add a spoon of unflavored Greek yogurt — it has a longer shelf life than sour cream and it's also healthier (I think?). I spend the rest of the afternoon procrastinating homework and readings and watching three episodes of The Politician in bed.
4:45 p.m. — I bike back to campus for my last class of the day. Luckily, we're talking about climate change deniers today so my attention is definitely sparked. At the end of class, I get about twenty texts from people letting me know that my Snapchat has been hacked. And now I'm locked out of my account. Great.
6:30 p.m. — By the time I get home most of my roommates are back from their days as well. We catch up as we all make our dinners (Trader Joe's General Tso's chicken and quinoa for me). I end up procrastinating some more after dinner and watch three more episodes of The Politician.
11:15 p.m. — I finally get around to doing a little reading and draft an email to a professor in the poli sci department asking him to be my senior thesis advisor. I decide not to send it just yet, wanting to look over the email one more time tomorrow. I get ready for bed and fall asleep around 1:15 a.m.
Daily Total: $10.52

Day Three

7:45 a.m. — Going to bed past midnight is never a good idea for me on weekdays and yet I continue to do it time and time again. I feel exhausted as I wake up to the sound of my alarm and I decide to snooze it until 8 a.m.
9:30 a.m. — Traffic and leaving the house at 8:30 lands me at work late. I walk into work half an hour behind schedule and feel pretty guilty about it. Luckily, my manager happens to be out of town today so it doesn't reflect too poorly on me.
12 p.m. — Around noon, I walk over to lunch with my team. It's Wednesday, which means the company provides everyone with a free catered lunch. This lunch almost always makes my Wednesdays better.
2:15 p.m. — The rest of the afternoon goes by pretty fast, I had a couple of cool writing pieces to get done today which tends to make things more interesting. I snack on Mike & Ikes as I write (but only the red and pink ones obviously).
4:50 p.m. — Time to pack up and get out of the office. I take the shuttle and catch another TRX class before heading home for the night.
6:45 p.m. — I meet Q. at Trader Joe's on my way home so we can do some grocery shopping together. I end up spending $49.83 at TJ's on household groceries (eggs, yogurt, frozen meals, Trader Joe's takis, etc.) and $10.89 at the Albertsons across the street on Sriracha and Cholula because we're out and everyone in my house is hot sauce obsessed. $60.72
8:30 p.m. — Q. and I make it home and cook dinner alongside one another, I make fried rice trying to use up some leftovers and the rest of my old food. I catch up with my other roommates and chat about our days. The house next door is throwing a party and the blaring house music they're playing is our unfortunate background ambiance. What's new.
9:45 p.m. — Q. and I realize that we finished off our pint of McConnell's ice cream the other night and run out to the co-op to get a pint Talenti mint chip and fudge brownie. I pay for one pint and grab a mint yerba mate for my early morning tomorrow bringing my total to $6.33. $6.33
12 a.m. — After catching up on the two latest Succession episodes, it's lights out.
Daily Total: $67.05

Day Four

7:20 a.m. — Thursdays are pretty much my earliest morning because I have to be on campus for an 8 a.m. class. I drag myself out of bed, brush my teeth, apply some quick makeup, and get out the door. Just my luck, a guy that I kind of used to date is in my class. I thank myself for not rushing out of the house without putting myself together first. I try my best to ignore the guy for the rest of class and get the hell out of there as soon as it's over.
12:15 p.m. — After two more classes, I finally have a break and bike home for lunch. When I get home I eat some leftover yellow curry from dinner on Sunday night (don't judge me, it still tasted fine). As I eat, I send out the email I had drafted earlier in the week to my professor. Luckily, the professor replies right away and we set up a meeting for next week to talk about my thesis.
4:45 p.m. — After catching up on the latest Grey's Anatomy and The Good Place episodes (I watch a LOT of TV if you couldn't tell), I hang out with some of my roommates for a couple of hours and then head back to campus for my last class of the day.
6:30 p.m. — When I return home from class, I start to get into a bit of a mood. It's Thursday, which means college night at the bars downtown. All of my roommates are 21 and go out on Thursdays leaving me, the only 20-year-old, home and alone. I know I only have three more months until my birthday but every Thursday I am reminded of just how young I am for my year.
10:30 p.m. — After eating some leftover fried rice for dinner, I hang out with my roommates and some other friends as they get ready to go out. When everyone takes off for the night I finally have the house to myself, which I will admit, I enjoy. I get ready for bed and end up getting hooked into the show Unbelievable. I finally pass out around 1 a.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

7:35 a.m. — I wake up this morning feeling pretty well rested and hop in the shower. I get ready for work and leave the house around 8:30 landing me at work around 9:10. There isn't as much work as I would like this morning so I try to keep myself busy by cleaning up some old spreadsheets and deleting old emails while listening to the latest episode of the Call Her Daddy podcast.
12 p.m. — It was my manager's birthday earlier this week so my team goes out for lunch to celebrate (on the company's card). Lunch ends up being two hours long and when we return to the office I am in no mood to work. I finish up a couple of small things and sneak out of the office at 3.
4:15 p.m. — When I finally get home from work, I hang out with a couple of my roommates to celebrate the beginning of the weekend.
6:20 p.m. — I'm just about to leave my house when I get a text from the guy I was supposed to go on a date with saying that he can't make it because he has a “sore throat.” Sounds like bullshit to me. I'm not angry or anything, but I am disappointed.
8:30 p.m. — Instead of a nice dinner out, my roommates and I decide to hit up In N Out. I decide to treat one of my roommates to dinner. Two protein burgers and a side of animal fries later, we head back to the house and get ready for the night. $9.26
10 p.m. — After getting ready, my roommate and I head out for the night and check out a couple of different parties. I run into some old friends and end up having a pretty fun night.
1 a.m. — I make it back into bed a little early tonight and I'm proud of myself for it. I fall asleep within five minutes of my head hitting the pillow.
Daily Total: $9.26

Day Six

12 p.m. — I finally wake up and get out of bed with the promise of bagels in mind. My roommate, L., and I walk down the street to our favorite bagel shop. L. covers my bagel and coffee but I end up paying for a bagel for another roommate who stayed back at the house. $8.66
4 p.m. — After watching Netflix for a couple hours on the couch, my two roommates and I bike over to a new coffee shop in town and try to get some homework done. I grab a disappointingly mediocre chai latte for $4.75. I'm able to get a little bit of work done, but after an hour or so I start to get distracted and decide to head back home. $4.75
5:30 p.m. — When I get home, I quickly clean up the house from last night's festivities and begin to get ready for tonight. Our soccer team is playing our rival tonight and it's the biggest game of the year. My school doesn't exactly have a lot of school spirit but for this one night a year, we like to think we bleed our school colors. Students get in for free.
8 p.m. — My friends and I finally make it to the game. Halftime is just about to end and our team is up by two goals. The rest of the game flies by and we end up winning 3-1. I buy a soda and a Gatorade. $7
9:30 p.m. — The rest of the night is kind of a blur. After making it back to our house, my roommates and I continue to hang with some friends. I pop over to a couple of houses on my street and somehow end up at 7/11 to buy Hot Funyuns and Hot Cheetos. $3.74
2:30 a.m. — I'm too tired to deal with taking off my makeup tonight. I quickly brush my teeth, get into my pajamas, and hit the hay.
Daily Total: $24.15

Day Seven

11 a.m. — I wake up exhausted and hungry but have absolutely no desire to get or make food. I stay in bed for another half hour and then finally put a frozen ham and gruyere flatbread in the oven.
12 p.m. — When my flatbread (okay really just a fancy way of saying pizza) is done, I top it off with some arugula and balsamic glaze. I Venmo Q. because it was originally her flatbread. $4.35
4 p.m. — After watching about five episodes of Gilmore Girls on the couch with Q. and her boyfriend, we try to go get some fresh air and hit the beach. Unfortunately, the tide is way too high and all the sand has been swallowed by waves. Instead, we end up running to the store a block down and grabbing some snacks. Q.'s boyfriend has been fronting all the money for food and drink this weekend. I can sense a big Venmo request is coming. Turns out to only be $30, not too bad for one weekend. $30
6:30 p.m. — After hanging out outside on our block for a bit, we call it a day and head inside to make some dinner. I heat up microwavable brown rice and Trader Joe's lentil curry. I also add in some spinach, sriracha, and greek yogurt. This is pretty much my go-to dinner nowadays.
9 p.m. — After a few more episodes of Gilmore Girls, I go out to the living room to hang out with my other roommates for a little. The Sunday Scaries are suddenly becoming very real for us. We all are trying our best to forget that tomorrow is, in fact, Monday.
12 a.m. — After treating myself to one last episode of Gilmore Girls, I cut myself off and head to bed. It's been a long weekend and I know it's gonna be a tough one tomorrow.
Daily Total: $34.35
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