A Diary Of Adulting On $12.50/Hr With No Outside Financial Help

A Diary Of Adulting On $12.50/Hr With No Outside Financial Help

A response to a recent Refinery29 "Money Diaries"


Refinery29 recently released an article as part of their "Money Diary" series featuring a 21-year-old intern working in New York City. The internet had a lot of feelings about it.

The piece has been heavily criticized because although she makes $25 an hour her parents pay for most of her expenses, and she also receives $1,100 in monthly allowance from family members. Some of her expenses for the week include a Brazilian wax, a weekend trip to the Hamptons with her best girlfriends, and a $23 goat cheese wrap.

Since I'm also a 21-year-old intern I figured I would throw my story into the ring.

Monthly Income

Industry: Environmental Health

Age: 21

Location: My internship is in Wisconsin, but I live in Syracuse, NY the rest of the time.

Income: $12.50/hr

Additional income: On top of my salary, my parents give me $0/month and my grandpa also gives me $0/month. He also forgets my name sometimes when I visit him in the nursing home.

Monthly Expenses

Rent: I live in a two bedroom, the third floor walks up (aka attic). I'm also renting a dorm room while I'm in Wisconsin. My share is $709 (My parents don't pay for it, I do).

Student loan payments: $50. Although I am still in school I'm hoping to pay a little now will pay off in the future.

Health Insurance: $0, but I pay my own copays (and make my own appointments).

Car & Car Insurance: ~$325.

Hulu & Spotify Premium: $4.99. Gotta love that student discount!

Gym Membership: $35 because the trainer gave me a student discount.

Day One

6:45 AM: My alarm goes off for work. I wake up alone in my twin bed. I feel tired as usual but complete my morning routine which includes putting on makeup and getting dressed. I pack some workout clothes into my backpack for after work.

7:56 AM: Luckily my office is only three minutes away from my dorm so I'll be on time for work as usual. When I get to the office I make a cup of coffee using the communal Keurig. Aldi sells fair trade, recyclable K-Cups so I don't feel as bad about using a Keurig. For breakfast, I have a cup of strawberry yogurt with some almond granola.

10:37 AM: I've spent the last 2 1/2 hours working on my research project and I'm ready to gouge my eyes out. I found a new snack that's gluten-free while buying more coffee at Aldi. They're really good and should hold me over until lunch. I take a stroll to the water fountain and fill up my reusable cup before getting back to work.

12:47 PM: I take my lunch break and make an off-brand lean cuisine in the microwave.

1:03 PM: I can take an hour break for lunch but one of the work cars becomes available so I head out to one of my clients for a follow-up. The location is 40 minutes away. The car that's available is a 2016 Chevy Impala and it's the nicest car I've ever driven. Everyone in the office fights over it.

2:50 PM: I arrive back at the office. I spend 20 minutes filling out paperwork then go back to the intern office to continue my research project. I share this office with two other interns but it's the same size as every other office in the building with one person. Even so, coworkers store some of the things that won't fit into their personal offices or department storage closet.

3:57 PM: I snack on some veggie straws so that I don't feel hungry during my work out.

4:30 PM: It's time to leave so I don't have to worry about my project anymore. I head straight to the gym where I work on legs and do some cardio for 25 minutes.

5:47 PM: I decide to buy something for dinner because all I have at home is rice. I head to Trigs, which is a grocery store found only in Wisconsin. They have my favorite Angie's popcorn, but they want $4 for a bag. I begrudgingly take it because I don't feel like going to the organic store in town. I wander around until I find the prepared food section. They want over $7.50 for one salad. I decide it's not worth it and put back the popcorn and leave.

6:53 PM: I usually would just get a salad from McDonald's for ~$5 but they are having a cyclosporiasis outbreak from their salads so that's not an option. I go to Culver's and pay $6 for a chicken cashew salad.

7:03 PM: I eat my salad while watching YouTube videos. In a perfect world, I would be YouTube famous and be paid thousands of dollars for brand deals and driving something fancier than my Subaru Forester.

10:30 PM: I watch House Hunters on Hulu until I fall asleep. I love House Hunters because it gives me ideas for things to look for in houses for when I can afford a mortgage when I'm 40 years old. Until then, this show is all I have.

Today's Expenses: $6

Not everyone can be so lucky to come from a family with extra money. Even so, I feel incredibly fortunate for what I do have, and that I've been able to sustain myself (for the most part) since I've been in college. I may not be able to afford $23 lunches a few times a week, but I am able to pay my rent on time.

Cover Image Credit:

Photo by Chan on Unsplash

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A Letter To My Dancers

Everything your dance teacher wants you to know.

When anyone (especially a child) chooses to invest their time, talent, and passion into dancing, it's nothing to take lightly. These kids spend more time with me at the studio than they do at home with their parents. Before long, they're my "kids," too. When I only have an hour to lead a warm-up, teach choreography, and rehearse a number, there isn't much time to express the thoughts and feelings I'd necessarily like to. Being a dance teacher is the most spectacular and rewarding job - and I want my students to know that. Between the great rehearsals and the frustrating ones, the competitions and recitals, and the endless hours we spend together each week, there are just a few reminders I need to share with them.

Dear Dancers,

Please love yourself and love what you do with every ounce of your being. Do it with so much passion that your heart wants to burst. Dance is the most special thing; it's something we are privileged and lucky to have, so don't take it for granted.

Please believe in yourself. You are worthy. You are talented. You are strong and capable of everything you set your mind to. Strive to be the best version of yourself every day, not the reflection of the girl next to you. Dance like you. Move like you. Experiment and find what makes you, you. Be an individual. Trust me when I say I don't want 20 carbon-copied robots. I want you.

Trust that I have your best interest in mind. Sometimes my choices and decisions won't make sense, you might be confused, hurt or frustrated, but keep the faith that I'm on your side. I don't want to see you fail, and I'll do everything in my power to help you find the success you're looking for.

I want you to succeed, but for me to do that, you need to tell me what you need. Do you need the counts again? Do you need me to review the transition to floor one more time? If you understand, tell me. If you don't, tell me that, too. Be vocal, be present, be smart, and be prepared. Practice on the sides. Pay attention to the small details. Ask questions. Don't be late, and definitely don't forget your choreography. Take responsibility for your responsibilities and lead by example. Do you have any remote idea how many children look up to you? Who want to be just like you someday? Dance just like you? Kids watch, listen, and copy. Make sure the behaviors you're teaching them are behaviors you're proud of.

Make memories with your dance family while you still can. Cherish every 9 a.m. Saturday morning rehearsal, every competition you attend, every fundraising event, and every team sleepover. It'll be gone so fast. You're going to miss these days. Please, enjoy them.

Don't compare yourself to other dancers. You are you, and nobody can do "you" better than yourself. Don't wish away your abilities by secretly wishing you had Suzie's feet, Betsy's port de bras, or Charlie's center. The only thing you need to worry about is being a better version of yourself than you were the day before. You are your only competition, so don't be too hard on yourself. Be kind to your mind and body. You work day in and day out to perfect your craft and artistry. You work to mold and create yourself. You'll be rewarded with time if you keep fighting and don't give up. Usually when you want to throw in the towel, it's after you don't get the part you wanted or you don't make the team you hoped to. What you need to understand is the answer isn't "No," the answer is "Not yet." You know you're trying and working hard, and those efforts don't go unnoticed -- even if it seems they are.

Please, remember that it's not going to always be fair. You're going to be let down, and you're going to feel disappointed from time to time. You're not always going to win the trophy. You're not always going to get the featured solo part, and not everyone can be the front row and center dancer. This doesn't mean you're "bad" and this doesn't mean you're not "meant" to dance either.

Quite frankly, it's just how it works, you guys. It doesn't mean I don't like you, and it doesn't mean the dancer who does have the solo is my favorite. The dancer just might be more talented. Yeah, I said it. They might have better lines, straighter knees, or stronger stage presence, and that is entirely okay. You're going to run into this for the rest of your adult life. Someone is going to be smarter, more qualified, more desirable for a particular job or position. So instead of despising and resenting these dancers (and especially me), try to learn from them instead. You'll learn more from each other than you could imagine. But if you take away one thing from this, know that you are still worthy of my best training, my best analogies, my best choreography -- whether you are featured, in the third row, or even off-stage for the turn section.

As your teacher, it's my job to teach. Learning (and learning correctly) requires close attention to detail, incredible focus, and a plethora of corrections on my part. Yes, I will go out of my way to critique you, and I will continually tell you what needs fixing until it's fixed. I might have to tell you over and over and over again. And you know, I might even get frustrated with you once in awhile because of it, but here's what you need to understand: This doesn't make me mean or a bad teacher. This doesn't mean I hate you. What it does mean is that I see potential in you and I want to help. I just have to ask, do you see what I see in you? Do you see the talent and abilities I see?

Corrections are good. Success is an incredibly long and never ending process that takes time, but the corrections I give you are helping you get one step closer. So next time you catch yourself getting upset about receiving the same critique week after week or you want to complain about how mean I am, please remember that my intent is not malicious. I'm doing my job.

It's also my job to instill perseverance, dedication, discipline, trust, humility, confidence, creativity, bravery, and strong work ethic into you. I want to push your limits. Test you. Challenge you. I want to mold you into the person you want to be. Even though you probably don't even know who that person is, I do.

There are so many possibilities, opportunities, and challenges that are out there once you enter the world of adulthood. The dance world is so much bigger than your studio, competition routines, and conventions. At the end of the day, no one remembers or cares (especially your future employers) if you won a quadruple diamond platinum plus on your lyrical solo in 2016. They don't care about your first place overall at Showbiz. They don't care if you're Teen Miss Winner of the World. They don't care. What people do care about is your character, your heart, and how you made them feel.

Dancers, I will always support you. Whether you want to pursue a professional dance career in Los Angeles or New York City, in a company overseas, on your college dance team, I will support you. Whether you want to teach dance or choreograph locally in town, I will support you. Whether you don't want to dance at all and maybe be an engineer or a cosmetologist, I will support you. I will always fuel your dreams, goals, and desires, no matter where they'll take you.

I love you and I'm proud of you.


Your Dance Teacher

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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8 Old Katelyn Tarver Songs You Probably Haven't Heard

None of her new songs will ever go as hard as "Chasing Echoes" and that's a fact.


Years ago, I found (through iTunes recommendations) a pretty cool female artist. Later found out she was on "Big Time Rush", and then I found out she had some new songs out. I decided to give her new songs a listen, and they're good. However, I prefer some of her older stuff, which sadly isn't on Spotify. Fortunately, YouTube exists, and I'm here to share the best ones.

1. "Wonderful Crazy"

This is just a fun, upbeat song for when you're having a good day. Would recommend playing in your car with the windows rolled down.

2. "Rain"

I have a very specific memory of a time when this song blessed my life, but for all intents and purposes, it is a beautiful and happy song.

3. "I'll Make It Real"

This is a beautiful song with a wonderful message about staying true to yourself. I used to listen to it on the way to school every day my senior year of high school.

4. "Something In Me"

Featured in the greatest show of all time, "South of Nowhere" season 1 episode 6. A very relatable breakup mood.

5. "Love Alone"

This is definitely the second-hardest-hitting song she's ever released. The fact that this is not on Spotify or even iTunes anymore is just not fair.

6. "Favorite Girl"

This one's cute and upbeat, a definite crush mood. Not on the same level as "Love Alone", but it's still underrated.

7. "Closer to My Heart"

Another cute love song. I'll tie it with "Everything" for cutest love song on her first album. Highly recommend both.

8. "Chasing Echoes"

Facts are facts and the facts are that Katelyn Tarver's new stuff could never go as hard as "Chasing Echoes". I can't even begin to explain how deeply these lyrics cut through me when I was fifteen. Even now, this song can take me all the way back. She is robbing us by not making this available on streaming services (or even to purchase). Katelyn, bring this song back, I am begging you.

Anyway, I'm still enjoying the new stuff and am excited to see what's next.

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