A week on a student loan budget

White piggy bank on wooden desk

Inspired by’s Money Diaries series

We track a dental student for one week to see what she spends.

Class: D2

Age: 27
Location: Las Vegas

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $500 per month / $116.67 per week
# Of Roommates: Three
Utilities: $80.08 per month / $18.69 per week
Transportation: Less than $5 per week – I ride a bike most of the time, so this is an average for gas costs plus the occasional replacement tube
Phone bill: $0 – I’m still on my mom’s family plan
Health Insurance: $0 – included in tuition and fees

RebelDay 1:

12pm: Monday morning is always busy in lab. We finish just in time, but I sense that I’ll be dragging through the afternoon in clinic. Rebel run! Coffee and pistachios from the Rebel gas station next door, $2.79.

5:30pm: I realize I’m running low on groceries and need to stock up on produce. I hit up my favorite new grocery store, Smart & Final. Assorted veggies, potatoes, coconut milk and yogurt should get me through the week, $24.79.

Total: $27.58

Day 2:

8am: Clinic all morning, then I inhale my stir fry while reviewing an assignment for tomorrow. I think at some point I go outside, but I’m so focused I’m not entirely sure. The afternoon is spent in lab learning how to use a CEREC milling machine and intermittently studying for my anatomy final this week.

5pm: After a soothing bike ride home, I take a quick nap, have some reheated rice and greens for dinner and hit the books.

Total: $0

Day 3:

8am: RPD class today involves learning how to bend wires to make our own clasps. Don’t tell anybody, but secretly I kind of enjoy it … even if it takes an embarrassing amount of time to do.

11:45am: I meet with my mentor during lunch to look over some radiographs. We finish and I realize I’m starving but forgot my lunch at home. I pick up a sandwich from the hospital cafeteria across the street, $5.01.

2:35pm: We finish the anatomy review session a little early. I know I’ll need some help staying focused during a two-hour pathology lecture, so I grab some major caffeine from Rebel, $3.19.

7:00pm: My roommate is feeling so sick that I pack up my notes and drive her to the ER. I probably seem rather strange staring at sketches of forearm muscles in the hospital waiting room. Eventually she’s released with instructions for fluids, anti-inflammatory medicine, and plenty of bed rest.

10:00pm: We stop at CVS on the way home to stock up on Tylenol and ibuprofen for my roommate. I pick up some juice for a study snack, $4.99.

Total: $13.19

Day 4:

9am: We start a little later on Thursday mornings this semester, giving me some extra review time before class. An hour to go before the exam… there’s plenty of water, caffeine, and last-minute memory tricks going around.

11:45am: The exam is over! I realize I completely forgot to pack a lunch but figure I should eat something before clinic in the afternoon. I pick up a sandwich from the hospital cafeteria, as well as a coffee/energy drink to sip during our 1pm class, $9.82.

5pm: It was a slow day in clinic with lots of cancellations and no-shows. I get some studying done for tomorrow’s exam and head home after our team meeting.

Total: $9.82

Day 5:

8am: Two back-to-back written exams start off the morning. I’m glad I brought some fruit with me to eat during breaks, since I skipped breakfast.

10am: We’ve got another two-hour pathology lecture and were forewarned that it was pretty dense material. Rebel run for a moral-support coffee, $1.61.

12pm: We’re done with another week of finals, and we hear about a food truck event nearby. A few of us brave the rain and thoroughly enjoy our cheese fries, $7.49.

Total: $9.10

Day 6:

7am: Egg, lentil, and avocado tacos for breakfast! I get a little creative in the kitchen when I’m trying to use up ingredients. With a little hot sauce, though, they’re not bad.

1pm: Cloistered in the house all day to study for the next written exam on Monday. I go through a lot of snacks but succeed in not going out to buy any new junk food. Potatoes with garlic, cheese, and green chiles for lunch. Sometimes my bottom-of-the-fridge kitchen creativity works out better than I expect!

8pm: A salad and popcorn for dinner. I give up on studying fairly early and attempt to get a good night’s sleep.

Total: $0

Day 7:

10:30am: I’ve been wanting to try the new donut shop that just opened, and all of my roommates are home. I pick up some donuts for them and a nitro cold brew coffee as a treat, $11.62.

5:15pm: I tag along for the almost-monthly trip to Costco to get supplies for the house. Toilet paper, vats of hummus, huge bags of pita chips, and multiple loaves of bread are easy to share and much cheaper in bulk, and we only have to buy them every month or two. We split the community items evenly, $31.56.

Total: $43.18

Total for the week, not including housing and utility costs: $102.87

Rachel Bush, Las Vegas ’18, electronic editor

Interested in contributing? We’d love to hear about dental student budgets from around the country. Contact us at [email protected]


Rachel Bush

Rachel is a fourth-year dental student at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas. She hails from northern Illinois and has enjoyed the transition to desert life. She is active in her school's volunteer Women's Clinic, which provides free care for abused women. She serves as an electronic editor on ASDA's 2017-18 National Editorial Board (her second year in that role).

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