A Week As A Student In Texas On A $7,000 Income

Refinery29
·12 mins read

Welcome to Money Diaries — College Edition where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We’re asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

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Today: a student making $7,000 a year who spends some of her money this week on a throw pillow for her dorm room.

Major: International Business
Age: 18
University Location: Texas
University Size: 30,000
Tuition Cost: $16,000 (paid by scholarship)
Current Loan Total: $0
Occupation: Student / Beverage Cart Attendant / Server / Nanny
Salary/Allowance: $7,000-$9,000 depending on hours worked. I do not receive an allowance, but my parents help with housing.
Net Worth: checkings: $1,200, savings: $11,000, Roth IRA: $4,600, Investments: $3,300
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Housing: $4,500 a semester (scholarship pays and parents pay for my meal plan)
Gym: $32 a month (only pay for this May through August when home from college)
Netflix: Cousin pays
Apple Music $4.99
Charity & Tithes: $25
Car Insurance: $250 (I bought my car in cash when I turned 18.)

Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
Ever since I was little, my parents have brought up and encouraged college. It’s a requirement in my family and I never even thought about not attending college. I worked extremely hard during high school and fortunately received an academic scholarship that pays for all of my tuition and housing for four years. My parents and grandparents are generously paying for other expenses such as textbooks, meal plan, parking pass, etc. My brother received a full ride for athletics and he is currently in college as well.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Money was not taboo in my household. My dad grew up extremely poor his whole life and often did not know when he would eat next. Money was a major struggle for him his whole life. My mom, on the other hand, grew up extremely wealthy and never had to worry about money. Their extremely different upbringings contributed to a lot of martial disputes but opened my eyes to the different ways of saving and spending money. When I was 8, my parents took me to the bank to open my first savings account. Any money I got had to be divided between charity, savings, and spending money. When I was 10, my parents told me I had to buy my first car, so I started babysitting, dogsitting, housesitting, and teaching dance to save as much money as I could. It paid off and I was able to buy my car at 16! My parents ultimately are frugal but do like to spend their hard-earned money on vacations and rental properties as opposed to nice cars and material things. My dad taught me everything I know about investing, stocks, and budgeting. He has helped set me up for financial success and I am so appreciative of him!

What was your first job and why did you get it?
Babysitting/housesitting/dogsitting. I started teaching dance at my local dance studio as an assistant when I was 13 to pay for my car.

Did you worry about money growing up?
No. My parents both worked at their dream jobs and I always knew that we had plenty of money. They wanted me to be financially smart and independent, so I had to pay for a lot of things by myself. (eating out, clothes, movies, car, etc)

Do you worry about money now?
No. I feel proud of my savings and investments and am excited for the future.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I am still financially dependent on my parents for living and food as I just turned 18. Once I graduate college, they will be cutting me off completely. I have ample savings for only being 18, but my parents and grandparents will continue to support me until I graduate college.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I will receive an inheritance from my grandparents and parents but do not know the sum or any details about what it entails. I do not have an allowance or a trust fund.

Day One

7 a.m. — I get up and get ready for work. I stop on the way to work to fill up my gas tank. I usually fill up every other week. Today I’m working at my nanny job from 8-1. $30

1 p.m. — Nannying is done. On my way home, I stop at Chik-fil-A for an Arnold Palmer — my favorite drink. I need it after the kids today — there was lots of crying and big emotions and I’m tired. I nanny for a one-year-old, two-year-old, and seven-year-old. Their parents both work at a nearby hospital so my hours can be super crazy and long, but I love the kids. I have been their nanny for the past four years and always feel like a part of the family. $2.50

1:30 p.m. — Finally get home, shower, walk my dog, and go hang out with my friends. We head to the neighborhood volleyball courts and stay six feet apart. I have been around the people at my job, my family, and my five friends since March and none of us have tested positive, so we are very blessed!!!!

6 p.m. — I head home to eat dinner with my family. I’m in charge of cooking tonight. I make açai bowls, chicken nuggets, and Annie’s mac and cheese. I am terrible at cooking and feel so bad for my future husband and kids — whoops. After dinner, I look at my investments, watch Netflix and TikTok, and fall asleep.

Daily Total: $32.50

Day Two

8 a.m. — I’m up and at ’em since I’m working 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the country club.

2 p.m. — I buy a grilled cheese with my employee discount since I already ate all the food I packed. It’s 105 today, so I have been chugging water all day! Wearing a mask in the heat can be annoying but I know it’s worth it. The tips are amazing today, so I can’t complain — I love working Saturdays on the golf course. $2

8 p.m. — I leave work to head to my friend’s house for a bit. I pick up my friend’s Chik-fil-A order on my way. They pay me back in cash when I get there. I only stay at my friend’s house for an hour. I am so tired and head home and immediately fall asleep.

Daily Total: $2

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — I get up and get ready for church. I make eggs, sausage, and avocado toast for breakfast and then head out to church with my family. I am so happy to be able to go to church in person again (with masks and six feet apart, of course). I give $10 to the church (not included in my monthly tithes). $10

12:30 p.m. — I head off to the nanny the kids. I’ll be here all night and into the morning, which will be exhausting, but I love these kiddos. When I get there, the oldest and I make slime and eat a late lunch. Then, I wake the littles up from their naps. We do crafts, bubbles, puzzles, and play Just Dance on the Wii.

5 p.m. — The seven-year-old reads while I put the other two in a playpen to make dinner. After dinner, it’s bath and bedtime for the kids. After they’re asleep, I settle in for what I know is going to be a long night.

1 a.m. — The baby wakes up crying. I try to get her to go back to sleep, but no dice. I sit with her until she falls asleep.

2 a.m. — The baby finally goes back to sleep — it is a miracle. I tuck myself in and try to get some sleep before the kids all wake up.

Daily Total: $10

Day Four

6 a.m. — Well I’m awake. All three kids are up and begging for breakfast. I make eggs and smoothies for the older kid and bottles for the babies. Once they all wake up, there is no going back to sleep so I use the last of my energy to entertain them throughout the morning.

1 p.m. — I finally head home from nannying. I am exhausted. I get home, shower, and fall asleep until dinner.

6 p.m. — I wake up and find out my brother picked up Chipotle for me — what a man. I get the kid’s build your own tacos even though I am arguably not a kid. They come with a fountain drink and chips and are cheaper so it’s a win-win for me. $6

8 p.m. — I go online dorm shopping. I buy a rug, a mirror, and two pillows for my dorm room. Hopefully, it all comes together. I send pictures to my roommate to get approval and she loves my choices. We were randomly assigned and won’t actually meet until move-in day, so I’m hoping that we are able to become friends. $80

Daily Total: $86

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and head off to another 12-hour shift at the country club. I pack two sandwiches, apples and peanut butter, grapes, blueberries, a granola bar, and two cookies so I should hopefully have enough food to get me through the day.

3 p.m. — I cave and buy chicken tenders from the clubhouse. Today is going so slow and the lack of tips is making me depressed. The chicken tenders help and my favorite coworkers come in, so it ends up being a much better evening. $3

8:30 p.m. — I stop by Target on the way home and buy two swimsuits for the lake next week with my family. We have a lake house and since I am always working, I never get to go. I finally get a few days off next week and am so excited to head out there again. $55

Daily Total: $58

Day Six

7 a.m. — I get up and get dressed before heading out to nanny. On my way over, I pick up groceries for the family. The mom pays me back in cash as soon as I get there. I’m only here till noon today, so a pretty easy day. The kiddos are angels this morning and I am reminded why I love this job so much. ($160.80 expensed)

11 a.m. — I spoke too soon. This day has taken a serious turn for the worst. Two toy trucks have been thrown at my face by the two-year-old, the baby won’t nap, and the seven-year-old hates me because I won’t let her watch another episode of her favorite show. I’m ready for the parents to come home.

1 p.m. — The parents get home a little late. I have to run to my next job, so I quickly grab Chik-fil-A before heading to the country club for a five-hour shift today. This Money Diary has made me realize how much Chik-fil-A I eat, oops. $5

7 p.m. — I finish off with work and head straight to the gym. I run two miles then do ten minutes of abs.

8:30 p.m. — I finally head home. I eat leftovers for dinner, play with my dog, shower, and fall asleep in bed as soon as my head hits the pillow.

Daily Total: $5

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I wake up and head to the baseball field nearby to watch the team my brother coaches. Spectators are allowed as long as we wear masks. It is so good to see my brother out there doing what he loves!

11 a.m. — I buy my brother and I bbq sandwiches from the stand at the baseball field. These will always be the best bbq ever. We hang out and watch some more games before heading home. $10

3 p.m. — I bite the bullet and go shopping. I hate shopping. Nothing ever fits me right and I always leave disappointed. I end up buying white shorts, a brown belt, and a cute pair of heels. I then head to work. $70

8 p.m. — After a quick three-hour shift at the golf course, I head home. I like working at the golf course because it’s relatively easy and good money. On the way home, I stop at a boutique and buy some jewelry for my friend whose birthday is tomorrow. I then head home, walk my dog, eat leftovers, and FaceTime my friends until midnight. I’m going to miss them so much when I go to college. $25

Daily Total: $105

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