A Response to Refinery29 Money Diaries

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

A response to a recent Refinery29 "Money Diaries"

Aly Cook
Aly Cook

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

Popular Right Now

The Truth About Young Marriage

Different doesn't mean wrong.

When I was a kid, I had an exact picture in my mind of what my life was going to look like. I was definitely not the kind of girl who would get married young, before the age of 25, at least.

And let me tell you, I was just as judgmental as that sentence sounds.

I could not wrap my head around people making life-long commitments before they even had an established life. It’s not my fault that I thought this way, because the majority opinion about young marriage in today’s society is not a supportive one. Over the years, it has become the norm to put off marriage until you have an education and an established career. Basically, this means you put off marriage until you learn how to be an adult, instead of using marriage as a foundation to launch into adulthood.

When young couples get married, people will assume that you are having a baby, and they will say that you’re throwing your life away — it’s inevitable.

It’s safe to say that my perspective changed once I signed my marriage certificate at the age of 18. Although marriage is not always easy and getting married at such a young age definitely sets you up for some extra challenges, there is something to be said about entering into marriage and adulthood at the same time.

SEE ALSO: Finding A Husband In College

Getting married young does not mean giving up your dreams. It means having someone dream your dreams with you. When you get lost along the way, and your dreams and goals seem out of reach, it’s having someone there to point you in the right direction and show you the way back. Despite what people are going to tell you, it definitely doesn’t mean that you are going to miss out on all the experiences life has to offer. It simply means that you get to share all of these great adventures with the person you love most in the world.

And trust me, there is nothing better than that. It doesn’t mean that you are already grown up, it means that you have someone to grow with.

You have someone to stick with you through anything from college classes and changing bodies to negative bank account balances.

You have someone to sit on your used furniture with and talk about what you want to do and who you want to be someday.

Then, when someday comes, you get to look back on all of that and realize what a blessing it is to watch someone grow. Even after just one year of marriage, I look back and I am incredibly proud of my husband. I’m proud of the person he has become, and I’m proud of what we have accomplished together. I can’t wait to see what the rest of our lives have in store for us.

“You can drive at 16, go to war at 18, drink at 21, and retire at 65. So who can say what age you have to be to find your one true love?" — One Tree Hill
Cover Image Credit: Sara Donnelli Photography

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Junior Year Was A Learning Experience About Who I Am In Order To Be The Best Version Of Myself

This year was a changing experience.


I walked inside with a sure enthusiasm that this year would be better than last. I told myself that I wasn't gonna man the same mistakes and fall into the same traps that can left my grades in the dust for so many years. I said that this was the first year I was going to be stress free and without any problems. I also said this would be the year I would get in shape and stop eating cookies but the day that I'm writing it is national chocolate chip cookie day and I'm enjoying a nice and warm one.

This year is puts so much stress on friendships and the way that people interact with one another. Everyone is so on edge due to a lack of sleep and understanding that we all can tend to lash out at each other even though we wouldn't if we weren't in that state of consistent tiredness and sadness. Running on 4-5 hours of sleep really makes it difficult to understand any conflict that may occur. For example, on the day of the hardest Chemistry test of the year, I saw two of my friends lash out at each other in a moment of pure emotion. But almost as fast as the argument began, it was over and they had overcome the conflict between them. It really is a testament to your connection with the other person if you can make it through the whole year without running into any problems. In terms of personal experiences, each day was a challenge due to the little brain function I had, but I managed to not give into my issues. I was able to work around them and keep myself going.

Junior year was an experience that I'm going to keep with me forever because of the good and the bad. First off, I would like to thank my parents for never giving me that resolved look of contempt or happiness. This only motivated me or to work harder and I would like to say that I think I made you guys proud with how hard I worked this year. The next people I would like to thank are my friends, you guys are the actual goats. I know that many of you guys don't know how much I appreciate you and I would like to say that I really take it to heart when you guys help me with a certain problem, whether its academic, social, or none of the above.

As for the plot that most people were waiting now, the grades of the haunted Junior Year. I consider myself to be a very average student and I thought that my grades were going to be once again average by junior year standards. I though that they were going to fall so low that I would not be asian failing anymore. Surprisingly, this was the first year out of all my years in high school that my hard work paid off with consistent grades. That does not mean good but that does not mean bad. As a junior at Northview, I was amongst the 200 that took 4 AP classes and etc etc. Grades do not have to define you and getting a single bad grade will not kill you is the lesson I learned this year. That was the single most important idea that I could have taken from this year because it gave me a new perspective on my education. It was time I lived a little.

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