Gazette Money Diaries: Lauren Medeiros | Culture


Age and program

I’m a 20-year-old, third-year media, information and technoculture student. 

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How do you pay for school? 

My parents pay for the majority of my tuition and I contribute a small percentage. I pay for my utilities and my parents pay for my rent. 

Do you have any debts? 

I do not have any debt and I don’t anticipate having any upon graduation. My parents have been putting away money in a Registered Education Savings Plan since I was born which covers most of my tuition. 

Monthly Expenses:

Rent: $0

Utilities: Varies slightly month to month, but $80 on average.

Streaming Services: I use my roommate’s Netflix and Disney+ accounts.

Internet: $18.83 

Average spent on groceries: $350 — I spent slightly less last month since I went out to eat  more than usual. 

Phone bill: $0 — I’m still on my family’s phone bill, paid for by my parents. 

Car insurance: $0 — I don’t have a car.

Did you have an expectation to attend higher education? Are you continuing your studies after your undergrad?

Growing up, I never questioned whether I would attend university — it was always something I knew was in my future. Both my parents were the first in their families to attend post-secondary school, which they paid for themselves. I wouldn’t say it was an expectation for me to attend higher education, but rather an opportunity I have always been aware of.

I haven’t decided whether I will continue my studies after earning my undergraduate degree, but I know it’s an option. If I decide to take this opportunity, I would like to study abroad. 

What conversations did you have about money growing up? Did your parents teach you anything?

My parents rarely spoke about money. But they always talked about how they grew up and the opportunities they had. Since money and how much we had was somewhat secretive growing up, I remain very curious about my parents’ income. 

I was confident my family wouldn’t undergo financial hardship. My mom has been semi-retired for the past three years and my dad is considering retiring in the near future, as he approaches 60 years old. 

I’m aware retiring this young is not the typical situation, but in my hometown, it doesn’t seem to be. I grew up in an upper-middle class neighbourhood, so I was used to myself and my peers returning from March-break vacations in the tropics. 

When I started making my own income, my parents began to have conversations with me about budgeting, saving and spending wisely. Their approach was fairly hands-off, allowing me to make my own decisions. And it worked — I never did anything crazy with my money, and I don’t regret anything I’ve bought. 

Overall, I’d consider my initial interactions with money a fair balance between taking responsibility, but also receiving the support I need. 

What was your first job and why did you get it?

I got my first job as a sales associate at Ardene when I was almost 16 years old. My mom said getting a part-time job as a teenager was just “a part of growing up.” I didn’t fully understand why she was such a strong advocate for this at the time, but as I’ve grown up and begun to manage my money independently, I’ve appreciated her advice. 

My service jobs helped me understand the value of a dollar. I still calculate how many hours of work it takes to buy a shirt at the mall, according to what my wage was back then. 

Did you worry about money growing up? Do you worry about money now?

I would say “worry” is the wrong word to describe my attitude to money. Rather, I have always been aware of its importance.  

Money didn’t enter my everyday thinking until my various part-time, full-time and contract jobs. I thought about it more when I moved away from home and came to Western University, where, for the first time in my life, I regularly purchased things like food and toiletries on my own. 

Living off-campus over the last two years has taught me I need a better way of tracking my finances than looking at my bank statement every few weeks. For example, I’m aware that, last month, I spent more money than I ever have in a single month. 

A lot of this excessive spending had to do with the lifting of lockdown restrictions and finally spending time with friends in public settings like bars and restaurants. I did all of this without much consideration for budgeting — I was having fun and I didn’t want to stop. 

I plan to cut back and track my finances more closely this month. I’m not sure of my strategy yet but it’ll likely fall somewhere in between being blissfully unaware of the concept of money and creating a fully fledged, colour-coded Excel spreadsheet. 

Here’s how I spent my money last month: 

Groceries: $277.18

Dining out: $242.34 — the majority of this expense was over Reading Week while on a trip to Toronto. The remainder was spent in London on pad thai, sushi and the occasional McDonald’s chicken nugget run. 

Beverages: $90.18 — this category is driven by my addiction to visiting new coffee shops. It also includes bubble tea, cocktails and gas station slushies —  all the best drinks. 

Clothing: $100.78 —I discovered a vintage store this month and revisited it three times. When I find something I like at a second-hand store, knowing it’ll likely be gone the next time I’m there always pressures me into making a purchase.

Skate rentals: $30 — also in Toronto. I wiped out on the ice and bruised my back, so I’m slightly regretting this one. 

Nails: $74.80 — I usually do my nails at home but I was feeling inclined to treat myself over the break. 

Gifts: $38.45 — it was both of my roommates’ birthdays at the beginning of February.

Uber: $90.50— after reviewing my credit card statement this month, this expense shocked me the most. Nearly half of this amount was spent in one night travelling to and from a restaurant on Richmond Street during a snowstorm.  

Toiletries/Cosmetics: $22.57 — skin and body care products. 

Total: $966.80

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Gazette Money Diaries: Lauren Medeiros | Culture

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