The Money Diaries: Five Days in Urbana-Champaign

By Riley Corboy


Inspired by Refinery29 and New York Magazine, we look at a woman in her 20’s and how she spends her money for five days. Tracking how you spend your money can give you useful insight into your spending habits and help you tackle your finances.



Age: 20

Location: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Salary: $8.90 an hour, average of 15 hours a week



Tuition: $17,040/12 = $1,420

Housing/Dining: $13,166/12 = $1,097

Credit card bill: $170-$200

Car insurance: $150

Loans: No payments until post-graduation




DAY 1:

8:30 am: Go to get breakfast with my friend before class. I eat scrambled eggs and cereal with almond milk, which is covered under my dining hall swipes for the week. Usually, I have an accounting discussion after but I’m suffering from a gnarly respiratory infection so I drop off dues to my friend and head home ($30).

10:30 am: Pack for my weekend at home (and my early birthday celebration). Snack on some Cheez-Its and oranges sent to me by my boyfriend.

11:05 am: Get on the bus using the tickets I bought last week. Hit a snag when I realize I bought tickets to the airport instead of the mall my family usually picks me up from. The driver kindly agreed to let me stay on the bus to the mall, but told me I would have to transfer my pickup location for coming back to school. I call the bus company and pay for the time transfer ($15).

2:45 pm: I arrive at the mall and my family is running a half hour behind, so I head inside and set up camp in a Starbucks. My throat is feeling awful so I buy a matcha green tea with soy ($5).

4:00 pm: Come home and collapse in bed with my mom. We watch Project Runway together for the next few hours, my parents make homemade pizza, but I unfortunately hit a nauseous spell and spend dinnertime on the bathroom floor.

8:00 pm: Fall asleep in the middle of PR. Mom wakes me up around 10 so I can drag my feverish self into the guest room.

5:00 am: My cat wakes me up by jumping on my face.






DAY 2:

10:00 am: Wake up to the family coming home with doughnuts. Score! I eat half a blueberry one and drink some herbal tea with Echinacea syrup for a health boost.

12:20 pm: Head out with my mom to find an Urgent Care that can give me some antibiotics to knock this crap out of me. The first clinic we go to is closed, the second one has been turned into a physical therapy office and the third one has a three-hour wait. Defeated, we stop by Panera for lunch where I get a large soup and half sandwich. She treats, so I buy dessert ($8).

3:00 pm: Family heads out for a nature walk in the forest preserve. It’s a beautiful, temperate day and I would love to get some fresh air but my chest hurts after walking around so much earlier. I stay in, make more tea, and call my boyfriend for an hour. I have two midterms next week that I need to study for, but getting my addled brain to focus is a serious struggle.

7:00 pm: We cook eggs, toast and bacon for dinner and I watch more Project Runway with my mom. Both of us love abusing the ugly designs and guessing who is going to be the winner/castoff each episode.

8:00 pm: Start studying for my law midterm because if accounting is out of the question I need to do something. I actually really enjoy business law so it’s not too painful, and my cat comes to snuggle with me halfway through. I grab a peach for dessert to keep me fueled.

10:30 pm: Quit studying, get ready for bed and Skype with my boyfriend for an hour. Long distance is hard (we’ve been apart for over a month and still have another month to go) so prioritizing regular “face time” is crucial. We talk about our days and he makes me feel better about my complete couch potato-ness today; I tend to be really hard on myself even when circumstances (hello, bronchitis) are out of my control.






DAY 3:

10:00 am: Late start to the day again, but feeling like a truck hit me overnight. I make some oatmeal and more Echinacea tea while my family is at church.

2:00 pm: Family comes home and we head to the Urgent Care again for an appointment. After 20 minutes, a doctor sees me and quickly diagnoses me with a sinus infection. Five minutes later, she comes back and tells me that my influenza test is also positive. She loads me up with prescriptions and sends me on my way.

6:00 pm: The whole day has been a blur. I try to choke down some pasta but I can’t taste any of it, which is fine because the nausea hits soon after. I’m supposed to be catching the bus back to school in a few hours but my fever is hovering around 102 even after taking ibuprofen. Mom declares me unfit for school and seeing as I already called off work tomorrow (highly contagious flu and food service don’t mix), I agree to stay home an extra day.

10:00 pm: I buy myself a cute new swimsuit to cheer myself up and then knock out for the night ($44).






DAY 4:

9:00 am: Wake up feeling slightly more human after my first round of prescriptions has made its way through my system. Even though I’m at home, I’m determined to be productive today. I make oatmeal, toast, and peaches for breakfast and–of course–more blueberry Echinacea tea.

10:00 am: I take a much-needed hot shower and plan my day. I need another ticket to go home tonight but my family graciously pays for it (honestly, they’re so sweet). We have to leave for the mall by 7:15 pm so I have a good chunk of time to be productive.

11:00 am: The studying begins. I crack out some law and accounting and take a quick homemade pizza lunch break in between. I try to spend the majority of my time doing work with only quick 10-minute breaks in the middle.

4:00 pm: Make a cup of English breakfast tea with honey and almond milk to keep up my momentum. Spend 40 minutes working through one really tough accounting problem, than take a break to pack for tonight.





DAY 5:

9:00 am: Today is judgment day. I wake up, eat scrambled eggs in the dining hall, and do nothing but study until 1:00. I’m working through old exam questions, recorded lectures, and old notes to get prepared.

1:00 pm: Calculus class. Nothing more to be said.

2:00 pm: Social psychology class. We discuss cognitive dissonance and different attitude research.

3:30 pm: I have half an hour until work starts so I choke down some cheese-its and an orange. I want to do more studying, but I start to get panic attack symptoms so I meditate for ten minutes instead. That was my body’s way of telling me to mentally take a break.

4:00 pm: Work until 7:00. My fever comes back in the middle of my shift and it’s really difficult to push through–everything feels like it’s coming to me underwater and I know I’m being slow but I can’t help it. Luckily, I’m just washing dishes so it’s nothing-high profile.

7:00 pm: Run from work to my exam. Buy a chocolate croissant to eat on the way to my test ($3).

9:15 pm: The test is over and it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I order Jimmy Johns for dinner because I haven’t had a proper meal since breakfast and the dining hall is closed ($10).






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