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Career > Money

What I Spent In A Week As A University Of Pittsburgh Student

In Her Campus’ series Where’d My Money Go?, we’re taking a look at what one college student spends in a week on campus. In this piece, Julia, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, shares her weekly spending habits.

When it comes to budgeting and tracking my spending in college, ignorance is truly bliss. Most of the time, I simply don’t want to know how much I spend. But as I’m getting older, it’s becoming more important for me to be aware of my finances. As a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh with no job, budgeting can get pretty difficult. Living in a city is amazing, but there are plenty of opportunities to spend a lot of money. The main expenses that I have in a typical month are food and drinks, groceries, clothes, spontaneous activities, and streaming subscriptions. Normally, my money goes mostly to clothes that I get, since I’m a chronic online shopper. I also end up getting food and coffee out a lot, usually with friends as a social activity. 

My current budgeting strategies aren’t super complicated. I budget using a monthly spending tracker on my Notion, where I list everything that I spend money on that month. Instead of setting a strict budget for myself, I like to be flexible and just be mindful of my spending behavior. The reality in college is, most things cost money. I want to allow myself room to have fun! Here’s a breakdown of what I spent this week as a college student.

Courtesy of Julia Caterino
  • 10 a.m.: Starbucks — the beginning of a pattern. My order was an iced dirty chai with oat milk, add decaf espresso because of anxiety. $5.30
  • 12 p.m.: My roomies and I took a trip to a local apple orchard! I bought a cute little pumpkin and a ticket to the corn maze. $8
  • 2 p.m.: We finished our trip with a visit to the market where I bought a jug of apple cider and a fresh-baked apple cider donut (so fall). $5.49
Courtesy of Julia Caterino
  • 10 a.m.: I started my week with a Saxby’s coffee from our on-campus cafe using my dining dollars. (Even though I don’t want to believe it, dining dollars are real money.) $5.77
  • 12 p.m.: I went to the cutest little farmers market downtown where I got surprise cookies for my roomies! $6.75
  • 6 p.m.: I finished all of my classes for the day and immediately went to get my favorite grain bowl, which single-handedly cured me of sad girl autumn. $13.54
Courtesy of Julia Caterino
  • 10 a.m.: You know the drill by now, started the day with my Saxby’s coffee. $5.62
  • 5 p.m.: I ended up getting charged for my Disney+ subscription, and it reminded me to watch Hocus Pocus 2. $8.47
Courtesy of Julia Caterino
  • 12 p.m.: This was the one single day this week where I didn’t get a coffee — so off-brand for me. I realized I was charged for my Spotify account, but luckily, I’m on the student plan, which is such a great way to save money. $5.29
  • 6 p.m.: I ended up going to a local Italian specialty grocery store where I got gorgeous ravioli for dinner. It was crazy cheap, too. $2.50
Courtesy of Julia Caterino
  • 10 a.m.: Another day, another Saxby’s coffee, of course. Today, I got an iced chai with oat milk. $5.89
  • 12 p.m.: I headed over to an adorable Thursday morning farmers market and got a few produce staples. $9
  • 6 p.m.: I ended the night with a beautiful burrito bowl from Chipotle (with guac, always). $11.40
Courtesy of Julia Caterino
  • 11 a.m.: Very predictable, just Starbucks! This time I got an iced chai with almond milk. (New milk alert!) $6.05
Courtesy of Julia Caterino
  • 11 a.m.: Coffee this morning came from a local cafe. I had the time to take the bus off-campus (public transportation is amazing for saving money). I visited one of my favorite small businesses and got a classic iced chai with oat milk. $4.50
  • 3 p.m.: After the coffee shop, my friend and I went to Target to get decorations for our roommate’s birthday. I’m genuinely so shocked that I didn’t wander off and buy clothes. $13
  • Later that night, my roommates and I watched New Moon for all the fall vibes. I rented it on Apple TV. It was a great end to the day! $3.99

Weekly total: $120.56

As much as I’d like to say that it was an off-week and that I don’t usually buy coffee every single day, I can’t lie… I do have an excuse though! How could I pass up Starbucks’ 2022 Star Days?! Throughout the week, I found myself thinking I could be putting my money towards better, more “useful” things. I thought about how I rarely spend money on experiences like road trips or travel, choosing to spend most of it on food, drinks, and clothes instead. This week has helped me challenge this mindset. After all, these seemingly “useless” things I spend money on allow me to romanticize my life. If the only way that I’ll get work done is by spending $7 on a latte and sitting in a bougie coffee shop, so be it! I love unwinding after a long school day in front of the TV with my favorite comfort meal from a local restaurant or getting little surprise gifts for my friends from the farmers market. I love the excitement of seeing a package waiting for me, knowing I have a new sweater or jacket to open. Even if they aren’t considered the most meaningful purchases, it’s the little things that make a huge difference.

Julia is a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh studying Media and Professional Communications with a minor in Gender, Sexuality, & Women's Studies. She loves to go thrifting, grab a coffee with friends, and go on walks with her dog!