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5 Ways to Save Money During Your Internship

Sat, Mar 3, 2012

Internship Information

The decision to take on an internship can be a difficult one for the average college student. While the benefits of such a move are undeniable (especially if you’re lucky enough to be selected), there are also some drawbacks to consider. You’ll get work experience, course credit, an addition to your résumé, and possibly even a job offer at the conclusion of the internship; but for an already busy undergrad, cramming in hours of unpaid work could put a crimp in valuable study time or even cut into the hours you currently devote to a paying job. In short, time and money are both potential problems to contend with when you accept an internship. And while you really can’t squeeze more than 24 hours out of any given day, there are ways that you can save money when you secure an internship. Here are a few tips to help you do just that.

  1. Create a budget. This is a good place to start any time you want to save money. Begin by listing your income (if you have a job or your parents send a monthly stipend) or any money you have cached (savings account, financial aid, student loans, etc.). Then list out all of your anticipated expenses for the duration of your internships (by month), including such items as rent, utilities, food, transportation, and even entertainment (and an emergency fund). Then assign monetary amounts to each category.
  2. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Spending your money before it’s in your pocket is a terrible strategy for saving. So skip that sale at your favorite retailer if you really don’t have the cash to cover your purchases right now.
  3. Brown-bag it. This may sound cliché, but if you’re eating out with your new work pals every day you’re definitely not saving money (and you’re probably contributing to your freshman fifteen). So skip the daily trips to Starbucks and McDonalds and opt to drink the coffee in the break room and pack your own vittles for free (or less, anyway). This is a great way to keep your diet healthy and your wallet intact.
  4. Hike, bike, and use mass transit. If you’re living on campus you rarely have to worry about transportation. But an internship will require you to travel outside the small radius that has been your life for the last couple of years. If the business is close enough you can walk or bike to work (and get some exercise in the process). Otherwise, look into options for public transportation like a metro or city buses. You can usually get a discount if you purchase a monthly or yearly pass, and colleges often negotiate student rates with the city so that you can pay even less.
  5. Lock up the credit cards. Many students go crazy with credit simply because they don’t realize that every purchase will end up costing them twice as much (or more) by the time they’ve paid off all the interest. Just because you CAN get approved for a dozen instant decision credit cards doesn’t mean you SHOULD. So if you find you’re having a problem keeping your hands off the plastic, cut up all but the card with the lowest rate and stash that one in a safe place for emergency use only!
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