A Week In Tallahassee, FL, On A $19,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a medical student who makes $19,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on groceries at Publix.
Occupation: Medical Student
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 25
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Salary: $19,000 from unsubsidized Stafford loans, after tuition is deducted
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $485
Student Loan Payments: $0. (Scholarships covered my undergraduate education, so thankfully I don't have loans from that.)
Spotify Premium: $5. (I get the student deal.)
Amazon Prime: $5
The New York Times: $4. (I get the academic rate.)
Health Insurance: $0. (Last year on my father's health insurance plan!)
Cellphone: $0, also paid for by father.
Car Insurance: $0. (Thanks, Dad!)
Gas: $60
Additional Expenses
Blue Apron Subscription: $60/week

Day One

7:30 a.m. — It's Saturday, but thanks to my internal alarm clock, I wake up earlier than I want to. I catch my cat munching on my already struggling plant (it's nontoxic to cats, I've already Googled) and while trying to swat him away, I end up knocking over the plant. The pot breaks and my cat doesn't look guilty at all.
8:20 a.m. — I sweep up the mess and the rest of my room while I'm at it, then toast a bagel for breakfast.
9:20 a.m. — Spend too long searching for ways to prevent my cat from making my plants his personal buffet and then browse Reddit before I study! I have my board exams in three months so I'm cracking down now by doing as many practice tests as possible.
12:20 p.m. —I'm not as productive as I want to be and I reheat a slice of pizza from earlier this week and eat it with raspberries. I head out to the local plant nursery and buy a pot for a plant stand I have at home, plus a cute cactus. $23.10
2:10 p.m. — Stop by Trader Joe's, where my sweet tooth takes over. I buy a chocolate cake and frozen macarons, as well as a bagged salad, frozen veggies, mango slices, bananas, and an almond butter and turmeric salad dressing I'm excited to try. I drop off the groceries at home, grab my book bag, and head back out. $24.51
2:50 p.m. — I haven't wheel thrown anything in weeks and I make my way to the ceramic studio and pay to get early access before the class session officially starts. $7.50
5:10 p.m. — I make a couple of coffee pour overs because they are popular in my Etsy shop, plus some vases for fun. Then, I go to the library, where I can hopefully focus on studying.
8 p.m. — Starving, I go home and eat General Tso's chicken with bok choy I made yesterday. (I love leftovers.) I chat with my roommates in the kitchen while eating macarons.
10 p.m. — Do another practice test while my cat snuggles on my lap. Pass out at midnight.
Daily Total: $55.11

Day Two

8 a.m. — Wake up and make a bowl of cereal. I bask in the morning sunlight for a bit because my room has huge windows, and then focus my attention on churning through flashcards.
12:30 p.m. — K.*, the man I'm dating, comes over; we planned to go hiking and I need a study break. We make a packed lunch with selections from the hot food section at the grocery store. Unfortunately for my wallet, that area is located next to the bakery and drinks. I also buy a cookie and sparkling energy waters that are on sale. $21
2 p.m. — We catch up on new episodes of my favorite podcasts, 99% Invisible and Hidden Brain during the drive. K. pays the park entrance fee and we have a good hike that ends at a lighthouse.
5 p.m. — Get home and watch an episode of Broad City with K. while we hang out.
7 p.m. — K. leaves because I'm feeling guilty about not studying. Thankfully, tomorrow is a holiday, so I don't have school and can catch up. Dinner is lunch leftovers and cherries because I'm too tired to cook.
9:30 p.m. — Roommates and friends want to have a bonfire! We gather blankets and feast on s'mores — so much for being productive!
Daily Total: $21

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — Wake up and spend too much time in bed scrolling through Instagram. I eat a breakfast of frozen waffles (because I'm a child) and a banana while watching review videos on the current block we're studying in class.
12:30 p.m. — Lunch is chicken leftovers with the new salad dressing — it's A+; would recommend.
2:30 p.m. — Finish another flashcard deck and head over to the pottery studio. My pieces are semi-dry and ready to be trimmed and fired for their first time in the kiln!
5 p.m. — I trim and throw a few big, bottle-shaped vases I'm really proud of. Then I go to school for a few hours of undistracted studying.
8 p.m. — Head home so that I can cook my first Blue Apron meal of the week. Blue Apron is super convenient and the ingredients and recipes are always interesting, plus it saves me the process of planning a grocery list for only one person. Tonight, I'm making Mexican-spiced barramundi with a kale, sweet potato, and an avocado salad.
12:30 a.m. — Check my school calendar before passing out. Turns out I have no required classes for tomorrow, so it's gonna be another studying-in-leggings type of day! I make a to-do list so that I'm more productive than I was over the long weekend.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — Wake up to my cat stomping all over me. We walk to the kitchen for breakfast and I make a chia smoothie bowl with loads of strawberries, coconut shreds, and almonds.
12 p.m. — Finish reviewing another practice test and start tackling my to-do list. I send a couple of emails and then take pictures of my new ceramic pieces for my Etsy shop. I spend my lunch break editing pictures and posting them while eating leftovers from last night.
2:30 p.m. — Back to flashcards, made more exciting this time with the addition of a sparkling water energy drink.
5 p.m. — I'm feeling stir crazy and go on a bike ride for a change of scenery. I spin around my neighborhood and stop by CVS to pick up hydrating Korean face masks. I went to the dermatologist for the first time ever a few weeks ago, and my skin is still getting used to the retinoids. $9.62
8 p.m. — I take a break from studying to eat dinner — more of the Trader Joe's salad and gyoza I found in my freezer. The rest of the night consists of (you guessed it!) studying the recorded lectures from the morning and dancing with my cat to a particularly good Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify.
Daily Total: $9.62

Day Five

8 p.m. — Chia pudding bowl for breakfast, then the usual procrastinate-and-study routine. I watch lectures from the comfort of my home but will need to go to school for a standardized patient exam to test my clinical skills. I change out of my comfy clothes for the first time this week for a more professional get-up.
1 p.m. — Lunch is the last of my barramundi leftovers. I go to FedEx to get my picture printed and then to my school's international affairs office to renew my passport. I have a couple of weeks off after my board exam and I am using that time to travel abroad with my family. The passport process is an inconvenient nightmare: My picture was printed on the wrong paper and I have to buy a money order because the office doesn't take cards. Thankfully, my father says he'll pay some of the passport fees. $135
4 p.m. — Time for my clinical skills exam! The "patient" is coming in for a follow-up on their chronic hypertension. As a second-year student, I should have a handle on things, but I still struggle with interpreting an EKG!
6:30 p.m. — Get started on dinner, a brussels sprout and pearl couscous salad with harissa frying cheese. It's delicious and hopefully balances out the slice of chocolate cake I eat afterward.
7 p.m. — K. comes over and we catch up on our weeks, discuss the news, and watch Netflix before he leaves so that I can get some reading in.
11 p.m. — I don't get much done because I'm exhausted. I plan an outfit for tomorrow and pass out.
Daily Total: $135

Day Six

8 a.m. — Wake up and do household chores while my bagel toasts. I spend the morning researching public health statistics because today I'm going to the Capitol building to lobby for a bill expanding needle exchange facilities statewide. It's a topic I'm passionate about because I used to be an HIV tester before starting school. It's really unfortunate that the state cut even more funding for public health programs last year.
10:30 a.m. — Unbeknownst to me, I accidentally get on an express elevator and it shoots me up more than 20 floors in a matter of seconds. I survive the tower of terror, go to the correct floor, and arrive just in time for the press conference. It is inspiring seeing all the lawmakers, medical students, and pharmacists who are here supporting the bill! After the conference, I tag along with a group of medical students to lobby. We spend more time navigating the hallways than speaking to aides and legislators, but it still is a good experience.
12 p.m. — Head to school, where I eat my leftovers from last night. I try to buy tickets to see Ira Glass speak in a couple of weeks but the affordable student tickets are sold out. I kick myself for not getting them sooner.
2 p.m. — In my mandatory small group meeting, where we discuss patient cases relating to hematology and oncology with a doctor facilitator. Afterward, I go to the library to study.
8:30 p.m. — It's late and I'm too hungry to cook. My only remaining motivation is to order tacos from my favorite place near school. When I drive up, the place is unlit with a note saying they've permanently closed! The classmates in my group chat share my sorrow, and I begrudgingly go across the street for a Chick-fil-A sandwich. $5.68
10:50 p.m. — I halfheartedly do some flashcards and spend the rest of the night catching up on news, Instagram, and dumb YouTube videos while slathering on a clay face mask.
Daily Total: $5.68

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — Breakfast is cereal with a banana. I spend the morning snuggled in bed with my cat, watching review videos for my upcoming exam next week because I'm starting to feel the pressure! I check my credit card and my Blue Apron box for next week gets charged.
11 a.m. — I go to school for a lunch-and-learn about minorities in medicine. I love these events because, as a student, I am always down for free food, and the speakers are usually really interesting. Today is no exception: the speaker talks about his personal experiences as a minority physician training in orthopedic surgery in the South. I relate to a lot of the stories he shares.
4:30 p.m. — Head over to USPS right before closing time to drop off some Etsy orders and then head to Publix for fruit, iced coffee, bread, and hand lotion. $24.30
7 p.m. — Thanks to Blue Apron, I make a ginger-marinated steak with bok choy in less than an hour. I complain to K. about not feeling up to socializing tonight because I'm so stressed about studying, but I make plans for tomorrow to go to Cascades Park and a brewery with classmates so that I don't become too much of a shut-in.
8 p.m. — Finish my self-pity party and then have a bathtub soak, do my extensive nighttime face cleanse routine, and light a nice candle. (To be honest, I like my Mrs. Meyer's cheap candles best!) I get through today's lectures while listening to Spotify to keep me pumped, and then crash at midnight.
Daily Total: $24.30
*Name has been changed for anonymity.
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