Summer Budgets for the Frugal Intern

A summer of interning can be expensive, especially when you have to move to a different city. Even worse when you’re unpaid or making hardly anything. Being in a new city can add to the stress of money problems, since you don’t know what’s an expensive store or where the best bargains can be found. But there are ways to easily save your money while learning a lot at your internship—without having to call up your parents to get you some money pronto. By the end of the summer, you’ll be a money saving machine.

The best way to insure saved money is setting up a budget for each week or month, whatever’s necessary. But don’t just set up how much you’ll spend here and there for show—you need to actually stick to it. To make a successful budget, you need to first anticipate the necessities. If you’re in a housing arrangement not already paid for, rent is obviously a first priority (and don’t forget about utilities if those aren’t included). After subtracting rent from the amount of money you can afford to spend, food is priority number two. Think carefully about how much you actually think you’ll need to spend on food. If you want to save money, you should plan on stocking up on groceries to cook for yourself and pack a lunch instead of eating out at every meal. Instead of stopping by Starbucks on the way to work everyday, make yourself some Folgers. Carry a water bottle in your bag for throughout the day. These little things add up to a lot of money left in the bank.

Within this budget, you should plan to have extra money—not spending it all until there’s $0 left. By including some savings, you’ll always have something to fall back on if necessary, and saving your money is a good life practice in general. You do not want to go into debt because you were in the city and just couldn’t resist going into every store and buying a little something. Even if it’s not a shopping spree, every purchase counts toward that budget and could eat into your next meal or subtract from your rent—neither of which will end well for you. Plus, you never know when the unexpected could pop up. What if you get hurt and need to go to the hospital (even with insurance, this can cost you and your parents might not be able to take care of it immediately)? Or it’s late at night and you feel a little freaked out by your surroundings so want to take a cab home to be safe. Having extra for the unplanned for events will make you feel better and more prepared. Besides, having a big 0 staring at you is not going to make you feel good about surviving the rest of the summer on your own, no matter how pretty the new outfit or how awesome the new video game is.

Of course, you also need to think of the wants and needs. Obviously we all want a killer wardrobe and to go to an amazing concert, but we don’t need these things—you need clothes, duh, but not items that come with a $100 price tag. That doesn’t mean you can never splurge a little, but make sure you have room in your budget for it first. Keep your paycheck (if applicable) in mind and think about what you can actually afford to splurge on. If you already ate out several times this week and rent’s coming up, don’t tempt yourself with shopping trips No one said being frugal was easy, but to survive as an intern, sometimes we have to make sacrifices on the more fun aspects of life for a bit.

Saving money can be hard, especially with an itty bitty paycheck, but it can be done. If you’re serious about having money always available in the bank and not spending your summer entirely broke because you can’t stop spending, you need to carefully weigh your purchases. Buy groceries instead of dining out—you’ll save money and you’ll learn a lot of great dishes to prepare. Try not to buy new clothes or video games unless you really have the money to spare or actually need a new dress for a special work event. Don’t let yourself fall into debt because you decided to buy a new TV for your summer apartment. It isn’t worth it, and it’s better to get into good spending habits now so you’re prepared for when you’re alone in the future. Be strong, be smart with your money and try not to stress too much—it is summer after all.

Happy saving!

– ToonyToon

Tonya Nelson

About Tonya Nelson

Tonya is a senior at Syracuse University majoring in art history and magazine journalism. She is currently spending the summer studying abroad in Italy. She loves to read, write, paint, and play with her dog in her spare time.

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