A Week At A University In Michigan That Costs $3,500 A Month

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: a Student/Nanny/Researcher who spends some of her money this week on five subject notebook.
Occupation: Student/Nanny/Researcher
Industry: Medicine/childcare
Age: 21
Location: Michigan
Salary: $5,000 stipend from student loan yearly, $15/hour nannying, and $10/hour for my research job
Tuition Cost: $20,502 after grants and academic scholarships
Current Student Loans: I have taken out $5,000, the rest of my tuition is covered by my father and my uncle
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (shared house with five other girls, my parents pay the $835/month)
Credit Card: $50 towards my $1,900 in credit card debt
Tuition: About $3,500 a month on a payment plan (graciously paid by my parents and uncle)
Water: $35 (every three months for my share)
Wifi: $15 (for my share)
Electric/Heat: $40 (for my share)
Netflix: $10 (I share it with my family)
Spotify+Hulu Student: $5.35
Aaptiv Workout App: $15
Amazon Prime: $6.49
iCloud Storage: $0.99
Allure Beauty Box: $15

Day One

4:45 a.m. — Time to head back to school from winter break! I wake up sweaty and cold so I surprisingly make it out of bed quickly. I finish packing and head off to the airport which is about an hour drive. Despite being notoriously late for the airport, my mother wants to stop for coffee and more gas. Who am I to deny Starbucks? We both get a Cafe Misto with almond milk. Not my usual, but I can't do the sugar this early in the morning. My mom pays.
5:15 a.m. — Well, here we are folks. Already behind schedule, police lights go off behind us. The officer informs us our registration expired less then a week ago, a headlight and brake light are out despite repairing them YESTERDAY! He lets my mom off with a warning but now we are chronically behind schedule.
6:05 a.m. — AND MY MOTHER MISSES THE EXIT. I bite my tongue and say a quick prayer.
6:15 a.m. — I run to the check-in desk, and despite having checked in at 4 a.m. and having a seat assignment, she informs me that the flight is closed even though I still have 43 (!) minutes to get to my gate. I know it's because the flight is overbooked. She informs me that there is a single seat left on a flight out in three hours but I'll now have a connection that puts me at school a full seven hours later then I was supposed to arrive. I take my new ticket and plop down in the middle of the still-quiet airport. Might as well use this time to be productive... I order a five subject notebook that has thick paper on Amazon Prime. It's the little things in life, and in this case, it's quality paper for note-taking. $10.37
8:15 a.m. — Okay, the ONE positive to this whole dilemma happens to be in the form of Chik-fil-A breakfast! We don't have any at school so this is a major win. I order two four-count chicken minis and a vanilla iced coffee. I shoot my mom a picture of breakfast so she doesn't feel so bad about me missing my flight (we are taking joint responsibility for this one, but mostly blaming Starbucks). $11.56
8:30 a.m. — Since I am not on my flight, I jump on a Skype call for the executive board I just joined for the upcoming year. Our recruitment starts tonight, so despite not having much to contribute right now, my responsibilities will take up the majority of my time for the next two weeks.
10 a.m. — More airport boredom so I make a lap and get a water for the flight. $3.99
11:30 a.m. — I land in New Orleans (my connection) and wonder why oh why I passed up my acceptance to school here for the cold winters of Michigan (insert sun emoji here). I indulge in more comfort food and get an Auntie Anne's cinnamon sugar pretzel. $3.64
5 p.m. — Finally arrive and call an Uber ($34.42). My Uber driver asks me if I'm okay. I guess I need sleep. $34.42
6 p.m. — Make it home finally. This day is far from over so I drop off my bag, grab my other bag, and call an Uber to the recruitment orientation that I am helping run. $5.60
8:30 p.m. — Well, I made it. I had to present to my group and I definitely came off as scatterbrained and unprepared. Hoping I can show them tomorrow that I am a better leader!
8:45 p.m. — Head to the corner Walgreens that's on the way home and grab granola bars, chocolates, mints, and fruit snacks for my group tomorrow since it's a long day of recruitment. I also buy oatmeal, mac and cheese, and cookies for dinner and breakfast. $33.46
9 p.m. — I quickly make some mac and cheese to eat before bed and end up sitting down with my two roommates, S. and B., to talk. I realize that I don't have milk, so I ask S. if I can use some of her almond milk. However, after two bites of my mac and cheese I wonder why it's so sweet... and realize that the almond milk is vanilla flavored.
10 p.m. — Completely exhausted, I do a body shower, brush my teeth, and lights out. Today was a day y'all.
Daily Total: $103.04

Day Two

5:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off and despite an early bedtime I am not ready to get out from under the covers. I use my favorite part of my phone: the snooze button.
6:30 a.m. —I finally resist the urge to snooze again and crawl out of bed. I do a quick morning routine of Kiehl's ultra face cream, Tarte mascara, and Maybelline concealer while my oatmeal is cooking. In 15 minutes, I'm dressed and out the door.
7:15 a.m. — Recruitment! Most of my job entails making sure everything is running smoothly, and getting people to where they need to go. Despite the rocky start yesterday, a good night's rest has me feeling more confident and focused.
9 a.m. — I realize that my credit card is missing from my phone wallet and it's the only card I have (may or may not be waiting for my replacement debit card as well). Load $10 on to my Starbucks card since it uses Apple Pay and order an iced caramel cloud macchiato as an energy boost. $10
1 p.m. — Finally lunch and thankfully it was paid for by my organization and I don't have to figure out my credit card situation! However they have trouble using the right code to get me into the dining hall, so a cute athlete boy behind me volunteers to use one of his guest swipes. Thank you cute athlete boy. I have chicken parm and snack on a couple of Dove chocolates from my bag.
3:30 p.m. — With the end of recruitment not in sight, I run to the cafe in the business school and get an iced latte using Apple Pay. This week will be fueled by lots of caffeine. $4.45
8 p.m. — The rest of the day is a blur. A whopping 13 hours of recruiting later and I am ready for bed. My boyfriend, N., texts me that he made a dinner reservation for us since he has been away in Tokyo over break, but I convince him to stay in with me. He's a phenomenal chef and cooks us a duck curry recipe he came up with.
12:30 a.m. — I've been up way too long. I head home, wash my face with a Dear Klairs cleansing oil, brush my teeth, and proceed to pass out in bed.
Daily Total: $14.45

Day Three

8:20 a.m. — My first alarm goes off. First day of classes start today! I swear when I wake up I am a different person entirely. That me decides that I should change my 9 a.m. lecture to a later one in attempts to go back to sleep. THANKFULLY there is a sliver of my reasonable self that gets me out of bed at the last minute and calls an Uber (a waste of money, I know) to make it on time. I throw on leggings, an Urban Outfitters bra top, and a sweatshirt. On the bright side, I see my credit card laying on the floor of my bedroom so crisis averted! $8.30
10 a.m. — I am so thankful I made it out of bed, this professor is clearly the best for Organic Chemistry II. I am going to need all the help I can get. I spend a solid ten minutes panicking when I realize I have no idea where my next class is, but I manage to get there before the professor.
11:30 a.m. — I have a break from classes until 5:30, but it is currently dumping snow and windy. I shuffle to a nearby cafe to get started on assignments. I shoot my mom a text saying that my tuition installment is due. I know that I have careless spending in some areas like for food and transportation, but I genuinely feel like I am stretched so thin at school that I don't have time to meal prep or even make the 15-minute drive to the grocery store. Sometimes I just don't eat lunch to avoid the unnecessary eating out and cost, but it ended up having a huge impact on my health last semester when I wasn't putting a sustainable level of calories into my body.
11:45 a.m. — I order a peppermint mocha and a piece of banana bread and get to work. This has been my go-to order at this cafe for the past three years and it never gets old. $8.45
12:30 p.m. — I mull over finances for a while and plan out a budget. I also remember I need thank you cards for the family I nanny for, so I Amazon Prime a pack of cards that will get here before I see them on Friday. $6.35
3:30 p.m. — My stomach starts growling and the caffeine is making me really jittery. I go next door and grab two slices of cheese pizza because it's the cheapest option and I need food ($7 + $1 tip). After I'm done I still feel oddly jittery so I trek home to rest before my 5:30 class. $8
7 p.m. — Out of class for the night, so I stop in at N.'s to snuggle and watch TV. I get invited out to trivia by my friend V., but I don't want to spend the money and I am really tired from the last couple of days. I somehow end up falling asleep in my clothes at N.'s around 11:30. He gently sleepwalks me into his room and tucks me in. My heart.
Daily Total: $31.10

Day Four

9 a.m. — N. wakes me up by tickling my face with my hair. I know this is his way of wanting some intimacy but boy, can you let a girl sleep in later than 9? One of N.'s gifts to me from Japan was Japanese lube…. It's the thought that counts right? Well anyway, upon trying it out, I feel quite the burning sensation in places that should not burn like that. Considering the packaging is in Japanese, I cross my fingers that I'll be fine.
10:30 a.m. — N. is in a good mood now, and wants to grab coffee and breakfast at a really cute cafe down the street. I get an iced vanilla latte and a glass water bottle so I can reuse it. $7.46
12 p.m. — I don't have class until 5:30 so I manage to shower, eat a bowl of oatmeal, do the house dishes, respond to emails, and put out a few fires for the executive committee I'm on. Somewhere around 1:30, I feel exhausted and know if I don't nap now, I am going to be fighting to get through today. Unfortunately, I wake up at 4 from this “little” nap.
7 p.m. — I really loved my English class! It is the same professor I had last semester and he is so interesting. I warn him that I want to try to write more “disturbing” pieces after I watched Shutter Island last week, with “disturbing” being the psychological twists and the hero ending up somewhat of a villain. I am studying Biology to eventually go to medical school, but I love taking writing classes to balance out my STEM courses.
7:30 p.m. — Desperately in need of food, I head to Trader Joe's. Trying to be realistic without totally restricting what I buy, I come out with a decent array of food options. I buy turkey burgers, buns, mozzarella, spiced chai mix, tortilla chips, bananas, watermelon, eggs, milk, yogurts, peanut butter, a prepared salad, a bottle of wine, baby bell cheeses, tortellini, a La Colombe draft latte I want to try, and chicken sausage. $50.55
8:30 p.m. — Whip up a turkey burger and realize I could have used dijon mustard and mushrooms on it, but I'm more of a plain kind of person when it comes to food so I just add some cheese on top and call it a day. I snack on watermelon while I cook.
9 p.m. — My two housemates who are here this semester (the other three are studying abroad but one of those three is here for the weekend) and I open a couple of bottles of prosecco and chat while we watch Netflix. We get into a debate about learned/innate attraction to others and the prosecco definitely keeps the conversation heated. It feels good to be with them though. At school, my anxiety/depression gets so bad that all I want to do is lock myself away in my room but I've been feeling distant from them and want to put in the effort to hang out.
10:30 p.m. — Out of nowhere our house becomes filled with people who I don't know very well so I take my exit around 11:30 to go to bed. Nighttime routine of brushing my teeth, washing my face, and using Kiehl's face cream.
3 a.m. — The roommate who is going abroad still has people downstairs and they've started screaming/singing to loud music and stomping... the lack of social awareness astounds me. Both me and another roommate text her but she doesn't appear to have her phone with her.
4:30 a.m. — It's FINALLY quiet. I should have gone downstairs to quiet them down earlier but I was in my underwear and a t-shirt.
Daily Total: $58.01

Day Five

8:20 a.m. — Once again this is a painful wake up, this time due to the late-night noise. I snooze until the last second (a trend, clearly), throw on a sweatshirt, jeans, and my snow boots and I'm out the door in a hurry. Yes, I should have brushed my teeth but here we are. I make it to Chemistry on time and eat a granola bar from my bag.
12 p.m. — After two more classes, I have a meeting with my executive board to go over recruitment and reflect on our goals for the next semester. Puts me in my feels to be surrounded by such driven and caring women leaders.
2 p.m. — Once I'm home, I whip up another turkey burger and try the La Colombe draft latte I bought yesterday. I've been daydreaming about coffee all day but I stayed strong and waited to drink one at home and it was definitely worth it! I could sacrifice cafes for this, which means I can cut way back now in spending in this area! Thank you MDs for the recommendation. After lunch, I grab some old textbooks that need to be shipped out and run to the UPS store before I have to pick up Q. for my nannying job.
2:30 p.m. — As I leave early to go to the UPS store, I realize my back tire is flat again. I guess it wasn't just the missing valve cap that I replaced... I have gone through so many sets of tires in the last four years from embedded nails, I do not know why this keeps happening!! I fill up the tire with air for now ($1.50) and put some gas in my tank while I am at the gas station ($12.11). At the UPS store, I have prepaid shipping so it's free. $13.61
4 p.m. — Q. and I set up shop at her kitchen table to do some homework. I end up getting distracted since a SoulCycle is opening up in my city this week, and it is my favorite kind of workout class. For Christmas, my mom said she would split a gym membership with me moving forward, but this month I will do the "SoulCycle Original" package instead. It's on the pricier end so we decide to split it. I get a six-class pack for $125 which I'll take advantage of as a treat for the next 45 days. My half is $65. Considering I have to pay out of pocket for my therapist ($75 per session), I will use this as an outlet for my anxiety/depression. $65
6:30 p.m. — After I drop Q. off at tutoring, I head home and crawl into bed to relax for a little while. I decide to finish the movie Seven Pounds on Netflix and BOY was I not prepared for that. I end up full-body sobbing and go on like that for a solid 10 minutes after the movie ends. I go downstairs to talk to my roommates as I'm still sobbing about the movie and they all laugh at me. I still highly recommend.
11:30 p.m. — Most of the night goes by uneventfully. I see N. but he falls asleep within the hour from residual jet lag. I watch the premiere of The Bachelor in bed, wash my face, brush my teeth, and lights out by 12.
Daily Total: $78.61

Day Six

7:25 a.m. — These early wake-ups aren't getting any easier. I don't remember snoozing my alarm but it happens. I get a call asking me about logistical changes with recruiting today so that gets me out of bed.
7:45 a.m. — I grab a TJ's yogurt, brush my hair and teeth, and I'm out the door. Another full day of recruiting, and the earlier the wake-up, the more likely that my morning routine will be nonexistent.
9 a.m. — I have a little break so I check in about starting my research job next week with my principal investigator for the lab. I mobile order an iced matcha latte from Starbucks since I have money left on my app.
12 p.m. — Lunch break and thankfully I have until 3 so I trek home in the rain, coat still wet from this morning. I feel like a wet blanket.
1 p.m. — My stomach is growling so I whip up some tortellini and snack on watermelon while I cook. After I'm done eating my sub-par tortellini I finally get my bedding into the wash. I also get paid for nannying and find that I had a Venmo balance I forgot about! Pleasant surprise!!
3 p.m. — I wake up disoriented, definitely didn't mean to take a nap. But here I am pantless and sweaty post-nap. I throw my pants back on and head to the next phase of recruiting for the day.
4 p.m. — I arrive at the auditorium and thankfully my nap has me more energized and ready to take on the next challenge. I spend the next few hours corralling recruits and organizing with recruiters. During my breaks, I get to spend time with my friend, K., who is also on the board. She is the serene presence that I needed.
5:30 p.m. — I mention in a text to N. that I'm aching for another coffee, and he responds by heading to Starbucks and surprising me with a vanilla latte. He is incredibly thoughtful and it makes my day.
9 p.m. — I end the workday in a haze of disorganization and chaos. I head to N.'s and crash on the couch, exhausted, but somehow his roommates convince me that I need to have some fun despite wanting desperately to go to bed. I finally give in and go home to quick change, apply bare minimum makeup of concealer and mascara and head back to their house, with a frozen turkey burger in a bag. Sometimes you just need to make your meal on the go.
10 p.m. — After my turkey burger dinner, N. makes me a stiff drink of whiskey and seltzer with lemon and we head out to the bars. His roommate calls the Uber.
11 p.m. — We end up waiting in line for 30 minutes in the cold, and by the time we get in the bar is way over capacity, like dangerously over. We only last a half an hour and I call it a night. N. Ubers us back to his house and I walk the short distance home.
12 a.m. — Body shower, teeth brushed, face washed, and I'm in bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

8:45 a.m. — This is one of my later wake ups of the week and I'm glad. I have a little extra time for a morning routine for the last day of recruiting, so I put on some concealer and mascara, brush my teeth, and make myself a bowl of brown sugar oatmeal with bananas on top. I pack a random assortment of snacks and my pre-made TJ's salad and call an Uber to where I will be stationed all day. While clearly I have a problem with Ubering excessively, in this case (and many others) there is legitimately no parking and some of these places are a 15-minute drive away! $8.65
9:30 a.m. — Arrive at my station, ready for recruiting to be over. It's a lot on my plate and I need to start buckling down on my school work and research job. I get snapped at by an organizer for her own lack of knowledge but I try to not take it personally since it is a high-stress time. Today's work will mostly be checking in with the recruits and making sure they know where to go. There is a lot of off time today, but they only come in little chunks so I try to make the most of the 20-minute bursts of productivity.
1 p.m. — I am already worn down, and it is absolutely FREEZING outside, so me and the woman I am partnered with decide to treat ourselves to Starbucks since we won't be able to venture all the way back home. I am pleasantly surprised by how nice she is and end the day with a new friend. I cut off contact with my best friend last summer because of some pretty horrific things that she did, so I definitely had a hole in my life where she used to be, plus the emotional toll of what happened still lingers. That makes it even more refreshing to meet someone I click with now. We eat our packed lunches at Starbucks and I order a new drink on I see, a cocoa cloud macchiato and a piece of the lemon loaf that I could eat every day. I top up my card and use stars for the lemon loaf. $10
6 p.m. — My new friend, P., and I trudge through the rest of the day. We are both visibly exhausted from these long days and do our best to keep everyone else organized despite this. When we finally are finished around 6:30 we walk the long way home for some fresh air and quiet. We end up living only a street apart so it looks like this friendship is really working out. Once I get home, I end up sitting on the floor of my shower in the hot water for 20 minutes, thankful that I am done with recruiting, but also because I need the relaxation after such a long week. I take my time with my nightly routine; turning on my oil diffuser, playing quiet music, and snuggle into my freshly washed bedding. I'm asleep astonishingly by 7:30.
Daily Total: $18.65
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