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Top 5 Budgeting Tips for Struggling Interns

Sun, Mar 25, 2012

Internship Information

Taking on internships in college may be the best way to plan for your future, offering not only the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience pertinent to advancement in your field, but also to nab a job after graduation. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a cost associated with forgoing a paying gig in favor of an internship. For the college student struggling to stay afloat, this compromise could make for major hardship in the here and now (even if it delivers a high likelihood of better future prospects). So if you’re looking for ways to develop a budget that allows you to cut back on your wage-earning hours as you undertake an internship, here are a few of the best budgeting strategies to help sustain you until you get back to bringing home the bacon.

  1. BYOBB. Bringing your own brown bag (as in lunch) is one of the best ways to cut costs and stick to your budget. While it can be tempting to dine out in order to network with new friends at your internship, see if you can find other ways to connect with these people that don’t require you to blow your limited budget on lunch. Instead, use your meal plan at school to snag the nutritious and balanced meals you need to get through shifts at your internship. You’re already paying for it so you might as well put that money to good use instead of double paying for food.
  2. Ditch the ride. A car may be handy, especially when you start an off-campus internship, but it is also an unnecessary expense. So non-op your ride and leave it at home with your parents when you head off to school. This will save you the cost of insurance, gas, parking, a portion of registration, and other associated costs. Instead, ride a bike (bonus: exercise!) or take public transportation (you may be able to secure discount or even free passes through your school).
  3. Seek paid internships. If you can kill two birds with one stone by getting paid for your internship hours, why wouldn’t you? You might not get course credit, but the real goal here is to gain experience for your résumé anyway. And it could allow you to give up your PT job and continue earning the money you need to get by.
  4. Raise awareness. If you don’t know where your money is going chances are good that you’re overspending on stuff you don’t need. And you might not even realize how big of a hole you’re digging for yourself. Responsible money management starts with tracking your income and expenditures so keeping accurate and up-to-date records will help you to stick to your budget.
  5. Pay in cash and spend wisely. Plenty of credit card processors will try to convince you that opening a line of credit is essential for students who are one emergency (or one meal) away from being totally broke. But this is a fallacy. You don’t need credit to survive and often it is far more detrimental than it is helpful. By sticking to whatever cash you have on hand you’ll avoid overspending and ensure that you don’t have an extra payment, plus interest building up each month. If you’re okay with paying twice as much (or more) for every purchase, go ahead and use your credit card. But if you’d rather try to live within your means, simply stick to cash payments.
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