Money Diaries: College Student Edition

One student’s record of everything she spent last week.


Rhianna is a sophomore at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA studying Forensic Science and Law. We asked her to record a money diary so we could peek into a college student’s wallet. Below, she shares her financial situation and how she spent last week.

The costs of my room and meal plan are currently factored into my tuition — I live on campus — so I’m lucky that that’s already taken care of. Other than occasional groceries and Uber charges, I don’t find myself blowing my money on much. I can’t really afford to randomly buy things for myself. That being said, I notice that most of my friends are more conservative with their money and are better at budgeting than I am, which is why I’d prefer to have more of a cushion. I spent all summer applying for jobs to make some extra money and didn’t receive any call backs. I’m still feeling that.

My biggest spending issue is with food. I’ve tried to cut back on eating out and ordering in and buying so much coffee. Those kinds of expenditures are coming out of waning birthday money, a lot of which took the form of Starbucks gift cards.

Here’s what I spent this week.


Today I went a little overboard. However, I tell myself it was necessary because it’s the Christmas season and I love buying people gifts. I also can’t help myself when it comes to overpriced coffee. It’s just so good.


Well, I’d say that today definitely made up for my overspending yesterday. And since I used up a gift card, did I really spend anything? 🙂


Today was a fairly cheap day. Along with cheap, it was also very boring. As you can see, the Starbucks on campus really does rule my life.


So I paid about seven extra dollars to have someone deliver Chipotle because the ten minute walk was just out of the question for me. But then, later in the day, I found myself walking to CVS. Nothing I do makes sense. Oops.

Also at CVS I just got some household supplies like cotton balls, pretty boring.


I was good today. The only thing I purchased was breakfast! Ending the week on a lighter and cheaper note. 🙂

Total spend: $159.13

Overall, I’m fairly proud of my spending this week. If I wasn’t purchasing Christmas gifts then most of my money would just be on food and drinks. But it was also a mild week in terms of other basics. I normally buy little things like gum and Chapstick and more and more food. It adds up quickly! I’ve never tracked my spending this way, and it was interesting.

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  • Alanis

    Love the college edition! The struggle is real

  • Lindsay Stollings

    This is such a mature college student I’m about to fling myself out the 6th floor window of the library I’m in right now. Where is the $5 cover to a bar? The happy hour bar tab of too many Coronas? I would like to shake this girl’s hand because she budgets so much better than any person I have encountered at college.

    • Imaiya Ravichandran

      and no 10$ tequila shots!!! A true saint if I’ve ever seen one.

  • Sydney Garland

    This is my first sighting of the College Edition ~I’m loving it! I definitely have some spastic spending habits and life in the Midwest, especially in Iowa, usually only gets exciting with the addition of alcohol, so I’m definitely missing that too in this article. Also, the Starbucks spending.. guilty as charged! Why would I take 5 min to make my own coffee when Starbucks peeps can do it for me and I can feel cool with a red holiday coffee cup in hand..

  • college student in nyc here, and her lack of $2.75 subway swipes is truly a gift

  • Grace

    My money in college definitely all went to drinking, late night food after drinking, and “going out shirts.” Who is this mature sophomore?!

    • Amy Brumbpo Tungus

      I completely forgot about “Going out shirts” but it’s definitely a thing

  • Laura

    I feel like a total spelling nuisance, but Pittsburgh is actually spelled with the “h”! And as a fellow college Pittsburgh homegirl, I very much accord to ordering delivery in moments of weakness (a pizza may be in the works as I type). ugh guys finals flop but pizza prevails!!

  • Leliforever

    Being a univercity student myself, I can absolutely vouch that this is 100% correct. Thank God I decided to get a coffee machine and stopped giving all my money to Starbucks 🙌🏻🙌🏻

  • cameronevans

    I wish as a college student I was this judicious with my spending. Unfortunately every Friday and Saturday night I would have about a $60 charge for tequila shots I just had to buy for everyone in my vicinity. You go Rihanna!

  • Abby

    This is pretty mature but is she counting meal plan expenses as dollar amounts? Because seriously if you have a meal plan and eat out that much, you are doing it wrong.

    (Can I get a meal plan for adults, please?)

  • HK

    ugh……. I wish I could afford to spent 13$ on a good day. I live on a $200 strict budget and about 80$ goes to total groceries each month (not on a meal plan–I cook everything), maybe $20 for eating out, 25$ for monthly savings transfer, 5$ for spotify (one luxury I can’t quit) and the leftover $50 for emergencies and necessities as they come by–which are surprisingly expensive when added up 🙁