A Week At A University In Upstate New York That Costs $45,000 A Year

Welcome to Money Diaries — College Edition, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern women: money. In partnership with Target, 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 Television, Radio & Film and Public Policy who spends some of her money on Häagen Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond ice cream.
Major: Television, Radio & Film and Public Policy
Age: 21
Location: Upstate New York
Yearly Cost Of Tuition: $45,000
Current Student Loan Total: $0 (The best decision I ever made was picking the school that gave me a scholarship. I receive $15,000 per year from a merit scholarship and $7,800 from FAFSA every semester, for a total of $30,600 per year in coverage. The rest ($14,400) is covered by my college fund which my parents and my grandparents contribute to.) 
Salary: $11/hour plus tips (This is for my job as a hostess at a local restaurant, I also intern at a local TV station for college credit)
Allowance: My parents help me out with rent, gas, and groceries. I cover everything else with summer pay and my job as a hostess.
Gender Identity: Woman
Advertisement
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $975 (utilities included — my parents pay my rent)
Loans: $0 (see above)
Spotify: $4.99
NYT Digital Subscription: $22
Lola (Tampon Subscription): $10
Savings: I saved $1,200 from my summer internship after blowing all my money during study abroad. It feels amazing to have some of my salary saved.

Day One

10 a.m. — I wake up much later than I thought I would. It's a Sunday though, so it's okay to be slightly lazy. I text my friends about our plan to go to the New York State Fair. It's the best part of going to school in Upstate NY! It's so much fun to walk around and explore.
11:30 a.m. — I fix myself a small breakfast of hummus toast and cold-brewed coffee. I was a barista all through high school and find myself cringing every time I spend money on coffee when I know how to make it. It's so easy to do and way cheaper!
1:30 p.m. — Off to the fair! I drive my three friends and we make our way to the fairgrounds. We stop and hit some traffic, but ultimately make it with little stress. During the weekend, it's $1 for entry. Such a steal. $1
2 p.m. — We stop for lunch. My best friends are vegan and vegetarian, so I let them choose somewhere we can all eat. The local vegan chain has a stall, so that's where they pick. I get a vegan chicken parm sandwich ($9) and it's very good. After walking around for a little, I decide to get the obligatory fair “mini ice cream cone” that truly is mini ($1). We head out a little later because it looks like it's going to rain. $10
Advertisement
5 p.m. — I head to my sorority's chapter. We have weekly chapter and I try to go when I can. I like to catch up on all the weeks' announcements. After, one of my best friends comes over for dinner. He is doing a semester in the city this term, so he is visiting for the holiday weekend. We make spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and catch up.
10 p.m. — I go over to a friend's to pregame a party. Of course, it's pouring rain and I get stuck trying to find my Lyft. I normally wouldn't have called a Lyft to go so close, but because it's raining, I indulge myself. $7.73
1 a.m. — After party hopping to a few places, I decide to call it a night. I walk home (rain has slowed) and make my way into bed after a quick shower and my skincare routine. So happy for no school tomorrow!
Daily Total: $18.73

Day Two

10 a.m. — I wake up so groggy. I am happy I slept in, but am really disoriented. My boyfriend, C., FaceTimes me after he wakes up and we chat. We've been doing long distance for about a year now. We met at school, but he graduated in 2018 and moved out west to do Teach For America. I'm so proud of him, but I miss him all the time!!
1 p.m. — My best friend/roommate, H., and I head to Trader Joe's. The best part about having an apartment is the kitchen, so I get to choose what I want to eat! Since moving off-campus, my parents help me out with groceries because I am not on a meal plan anymore. I like to cook, so I try to buy a lot of groceries and do some meal prep. I get bread, chicken, baby kale and romaine lettuce, bell peppers, coffee for cold brew, green tea, baby tomatoes, honey, avocados, string beans, brussels sprouts, and almond milk. I put this on my parent's credit card (I have access to it, but I don't abuse it).
Advertisement
2:30 p.m. — I decide to bag another day of partying because the weather isn't great and I have things to do. I do some meal prep for the week. I work and intern part-time so I like to have plastic containers with lunches/ quick meals ready to go. I roast the sprouts, cook some chicken, make frozen quinoa I had in the freezer, and a salad for tomorrow's lunch. I snack on various ingredients as I cook.
4:30 p.m. — I FaceTime my mom to ask her a question about a case I am reading for my com law class. I like the class so much and am trying to understand the material to the best of my ability. We catch up for a minute before she has to hang up. I heat up leftover spaghetti for an early dinner because my snacks were not enough.
7 p.m. — H. and I are trying to set up our cable box. I took my sister's old TV to school this semester, but she had to send me a package with the power cord and remote in the mail. We try for 30 minutes until we realize we are failing miserably. We agree that we should call the cable guy, and much to our surprise, he agrees to come tomorrow morning. We are relieved — Bachelor in Paradise is on and we need to catch up!!!
9 p.m. — I finish up some homework and try to get ahead on readings. After feeling extremely fidgety, I decide to take a walk to see if there is any good ice cream at the convenience store. They have Häagen Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond on sale. Done and done. $4.69
Advertisement
11 p.m. — I take a shower, do my skincare routine, and read some more of my book before I go to bed. This book is for my sociology class and it's all about hookup culture on campus. I love when professors assign relevant books for discussion.
Daily Total: $4.69

Day Three

9 a.m. — I wake up because the cable guy is supposed to come at 9:30. I laze around in bed and wait for him while researching places to go for spring break. After working my internship this summer, I saved almost 30% of my pay so I could take a trip! I have never gone on a spring break trip, so I really want to make this one count.
10:30 a.m. — I have class at 11 and I realize the cable guy is probably not coming. I fix myself avocado toast with balsamic vinegar, only to hear a knock on the door. He is here! I'm annoyed because I have to leave in five minutes, but he ends up fixing the problem in record time while I speed eat my toast. I'm very happy and I even make it to class on time!
2 p.m. — I finish my morning classes and head home to work on some assignments and eat lunch. I eat the salad I made yesterday. It's pesto chicken, kale, romaine, avocado, baby tomatoes, bell peppers, cold orzo, and parmesan crisps. Weird combo, but don't knock it till you try it.
4:30 p.m. — I head to my last class of the day — a three-hour comedy writing class. It's really intense, but the workshop makes my writing so much better. I stop to print out my homework that's due. At school, we get $25 on our accounts for printing costs. It's hard to go over it, so it's “free” to print, even though I am sure that the $25 is built into my tuition somehow. I bump into an acquaintance in the lab and we chat about our classes for a minute.
Advertisement
8 p.m. — Out of class! I pick up one of my friends who I met while studying abroad and we head to dinner. We split a chicken Caesar salad, French fries, and cookies for dessert. It's always nice to catch up with my friends that I don't see every day. $17
10 p.m. — Finally home. I take a much-needed shower and do my skincare routine. I am breaking out!! My sister calls me and we FaceTime and gossip about our brother. I read a few more pages in my book and finally head to bed.
Daily Total: $17

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I wake up again to a FaceTime from C. This is a blessing because I have already slept through my second alarm — oops. I speed out of bed and throw on my favorite pink pants, fill up my tumbler with cold brew, grab a Clif bar, and do a 30-second makeup look. We talk about his day while we both get ready. I intern three times a week at a local TV station near my school. The position has been such an awesome experience for me. When I graduate, I want to work in television. This is my second internship working in the TV industry and it's nice to be at a smaller company because I am given a lot of responsibility. This is my second semester working there, so I know everyone and feel really good about the work that I do.
8:30 a.m. — I make it to the office pretty much on time and get right to it. I am working on a holiday gift guide for the magazine and it's been so much fun. I get to find local gifts in our area and do little write-ups for them. I find a variety of items and prices to include.
Advertisement
12 p.m. — I finish the draft of the gift guide and e-mail it to my supervisor. I duck out of the office and drive back to campus for my 12:45 p.m. class. I am tempted to get a smoothie on my way home from a really good place downtown, but I decide against it because I want to make it to class on time.
2 p.m. — Finally done with my class and I get to eat my lunch. It's roasted brussels sprouts, quinoa, and pesto chicken from the other day's prep. I sit in my college's version of the commons to eat and catch up on some readings for my next class. I hate when people take huge tables with outlets FOR ONE person!!
3 p.m. — After I finish my readings, I embrace my craving and walk to an on-campus spot to get a smoothie. I get a green smoothie with a kale base. I always use my Apple Pay when I can, so I don't have to take my wallet out, and I tip $1. $7.25
3:45 p.m. — Next class! This one is with a phenomenal professor who keeps me engaged. Although, I can't really say I've ever had a bad professor at school. I love my majors and have had such an amazing time here.
5:05 p.m. — I am free! I am signed up for 5:30 yoga at the new gym. I don't love going to exercise classes at school because it's always filled with people that I know, but it's free, so I just go. The gym has an entire floor dedicated to group workout classes, so there really are worse things I could be doing. I make my way there with my mat, getting some weird looks because I am carrying my backpack, my reusable water bottle, my reusable coffee cup, and my yoga mat. Haters truly going to hate.
Advertisement
6:30 p.m. — Leave yoga feeling pretty zen. I used to hate group classes because I like to work out by myself with headphones in, but I've been into yoga lately because I am working on my flexibility and headspace. I let myself get way too stressed over things I can't control, especially when I'm back at school. The hour of movement really helps me re-center. I'm not great at it yet, but I can see the improvement and it makes me want to continue!
8:45 p.m. — After a shower and dinner of leftovers, I head over to my friend's apartment to hang with people before the bars. It's a Wednesday, which is a huge night at my school. I hate it because I have class the next day, but it is really fun to go out and see the entire senior class in one place. H. drives me over to my friend's apartment because she has to pick someone up to come back to our apartment.
11 p.m. — This bar is absurdly packed and I am grateful they opened the back porch. It's pretty good weather and I am able to bounce around and chat with everyone! I never really had a concrete friend in high school and when I got into college I learned that I probably never will. I like having many friends in different spaces. These nights are great because I can see everyone I want to see! I buy one drink and tip the bartender. $10
Advertisement
1 a.m. — I leave the bar with some friends to grab a slice of pizza. The best part about college is the ubiquity of food available at such a late hour. Mmmmmmm. $2
Daily Total: $19.25

Day Five

10 a.m. — Waking up is hard to do!
10:30 a.m. — I make myself get up and eat breakfast. Now that I have an apartment with a fully functioning kitchen, I am trying to get into the habit of eating breakfast. I make hummus toast with olive oil and prosciutto and tomatoes. Soooo good.
2 p.m. — Done with class! It's the weekend again, even though it feels like the weekend just ended. I lied before — three day weekends are the best part about college. I head home to eat and change before work. This year, I got a part-time job as a hostess in a local restaurant. I really love the job, but I am balancing a lot of things right now: school, internship, and job. I'd like to think I am better at time management when I have a lot going on, so I'm feeling it out to see if this is something I can continue to keep up with.
5 p.m. — Shift has officially started. I am mostly responsible for greeting customers and seating them. It's pretty fun. The waitstaff is incredibly helpful and kind, which I know isn't always the case when you're the new kid! We're pretty slow for the first hour and a half, so I clean some tables and pour water to pass the time. People start to trickle in and I am happy to see it pick up.
Advertisement
7 p.m. — Red alert. All of a sudden, all the electronics stop working. No phones, no internet, no computers. We can't even swipe credit cards. Everyone is freaking out, rightfully so. After what feels like forever, we sort it out. The owner comes in and does some schmoozing. Everyone leaves without saying anything to me, but I am still smiling through the anxiety when it settles down.
9 p.m. — I want pasta! I turn the stove on while I take a shower. I make a bootleg college version of cacio e pepe (butter, black pepper, and a lot of parmesan cheese). I eat and get ready for our party while I talk to my sister. My sister is actually my best friend in the whole world. I don't get to see her that often because she moved out and lives in a different city, but we talk on Facetime a lot. We cover lots of topics and discuss her latest Hinge date.
11 p.m. — I meet my friends at a pregame in the building next door to us. I step inside to a 90-degree apartment with 100 people in it. I immediately start sweating. I take my jacket off and do some mingling. I see a couple other girls in my sorority and I chat with everyone for a while.
12:30 a.m. — Everyone heads off to the bars, but I am beat from work and just want to go home. I call C. while I do my skincare routine and put on my pajamas. I am really missing him this week. We won't see each other until next month, which will be here before I know it, but I am feeling the loneliness lately. We talk for about a half-hour until we both fall asleep.
Advertisement
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — I wake up stressed. I have a big day ahead of me, starting with my internship. I brush my teeth, wash my face, and do my makeup. I try to get into the office at 8:30 for maximum hours, but on Fridays I cut myself a little slack. I have a wax appointment scheduled for today and am nervous. I don't like going to new places, but I have to squeeze it in today between my internship and work. Lots of driving around to do!
9:30 a.m. — At my internship, my supervisor takes me to the editorial meeting. She gives me a huge shoutout for working on the gift guide so diligently. I love the work environment at my internship. Everyone is so positive, and it's such a good feeling to get some recognition in front of everyone.
12 p.m. — I finish up my work and complete some other tasks for my team. We're working on a photo contest, so I post some of the submissions on Instagram before I leave for the weekend. On my way home, I pick up sandwiches for H. and I. There's a small Italian market near our apartment, and they have the best food. I am Italian and have gotten H. into the habit of craving quality eats. She Venmos me for hers. $10
1 p.m. — I laze around on the couch with H. while we watch Friends and eat our sandwiches. I try to rest up before I have to leave for my wax appointment and shift. I tried to plan it out so I could go straight from my wax to work, but I think I am going to have to kill some time in between.
Advertisement
2:45 p.m. — I make it to my wax appointment. I have an eyebrow, lip, and full Brazilian scheduled. I have incredibly thick hair, so I have to do it pretty often. I am hopeful it will go okay.
3:30 p.m. — The woman did an incredible job! I love how she did my brows, and she ended up not even charging me for my lip! She gives me a student discount, and I end up tipping her $20 because I am just so happy with how it all came out. $80
4:30 p.m. — I have time to kill. I stop at a coffee place by the wax studio and get a small iced green tea. I have tried to stop drinking so much coffee in the afternoons. I go on Twitter and read some articles while I sip it. So much bad news. I'm getting so sick of it :( $3.24
5 p.m. — Make it to work on time, clock in, greet people immediately. It's going to get busy!! My friends stop in and order a bunch of food. Everyone commends me for bringing people in, even though it is packed! The shift flies by, and I'm happy to be hustling.
9 p.m. — My boss tells me I'm good to go, and I head out. I am exhausted. This day has been insane. I don't even want to move when I get home. I make dinner and have garlicky string beans, pesto chicken, and brown rice. I eat slowly, do the dishes, and retreat for a night of self-care. I take a long shower, exfoliate my entire body, wash my hair, and moisturize. It is amazing. I take it one step further and do a Lapcos sheet mask when I'm out of the shower.
Advertisement
11 p.m. — I get into bed and get on my laptop. I am supposed to be doing some readings for class, but I end up signing up for a yoga class tomorrow morning at a studio downtown. They have a student discount rate and I bite the bullet because I want to find a studio that I like at school. I put on The Office to laugh and immediately fall asleep. $15
Daily Total: $108.24

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I wake up and get ready for my yoga class.
11:20 a.m. — I LOVED the class! It was vinyasa flow with an awesome instructor. I feel incredible walking out of there. I am totally going to sign up for a membership. I drive back to the apartment to pick up H. and we go to a new breakfast place for brunch. It's packed and we end up having to wait a really long time. I get antsy, so we walk across the street for a coffee. She gets a latte and I get a cold brew with oat milk. I throw four quarters into the tip jar. $4.32
1 p.m. — After waiting for about forty-five minutes, they stick us at the counter. I don't really care because I am starving, but the place seems to be a little jammed up. I try to stay patient though because I know how crazy it can get in restaurants. I order eggs benedict with fried green tomatoes on a croissant. It ends up being totally worth the wait. I add a big tip because I know the struggle! $16.96
Advertisement
2 p.m. — C. FaceTimes me when we get home. We end up talking for a really long time about our relationship. Long distance sucks! I'm so happy with him and everything is going really well, but I miss him terribly. We talk about his week at school and my friends and everything that's going on. After we hang up, I'm feeling a little sad. H. motivates me to go to a tailgate (football school baby!) and I decide it's a good idea to get out of the house. It ends up being so fun and we hang around for a couple of hours!
7 p.m. — The day has flown by. We head home for dinner. I have a ripe avocado, so I make some homemade guac and decide to throw it on a turkey burger. Guac + turkey burger + wheat toast = amazing makeshift dinner. I work on a reading response while I eat.
10 p.m. — I am feeling pretty beat from the darty (day + party) and decide to stay in and chill. We actually have a big day tomorrow — our school has a September jam concert and I have to rest up for it. It's one of my favorite days of the year. I wash my face and text my mom before I settle into bed for the night.
Daily Total: $21.28
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
Advertisement
The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.
Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.
Advertisement

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series