It's that time of the year again; summer! School is over, final grades have appeared online, and you can breathe a sigh of relief. Hopefully you have received summer employment, whether it is an internship or actual job.
Unfortunately, not all internships or jobs pay well (or at all).
Many of my college major friends who do not live in the tri-state area are living in New York City this summer. The opportunities for media jobs are obviously more plentiful in "The Greatest City in the World" than rural Pennsylvania. The largest shock, however, is the expensive cost of living.
If you're a college student living on a shoe-string budget this summer, here are some ways to get the most for your money:
- Login to your online bank account or visit your local bank branch. Be sure your statements are up-to-date so you can allocate your money accordingly.
- Budgeting may not be easy--especially if you have never made a strict budget before. Ask your parents for assistance; they will be proud to help you in making mature decisions.
- Just like businesses, you may have some fixed costs that will be incurred each month. During the school year, some of my expenses are: my BlackBerry data plan, my Netflix subscription, my grocery bills, and my credit card bills. During the summer, I swap a gym membership for grocery bills. With this knowledge, I can figure those recurring costs into my budget.
- Print out a tentative budget and put it somewhere in plain site. The more you see your budget, the more you will want to adhere to the plan.
The goal is to not be broke before going back to college. For those of us who will spend a semester abroad or in another state, costs can add up quickly. Here are some summer money-saving tips:
- If you're working in a corporate environment, the cafeteria may drain your savings--especially if you're an intern. Bring lunch and snacks from home so you're not spending an additional $20-$30 a week on food.
- If you're working at a day camp or local business, see if you can car pool with co-workers. According to the news headlines, gas will not be inexpensive this summer. Splitting driving will be a win-win for all parties involved.
- Do your parents have the Optimum Rewards package with Cablevision? Go see a movie for free on Tuesday nights at any Clearview Cinema.
- Many of us love nothing more than going out to eat with friends. Unfortunately, many local restaurants are not budget friendly for college students. Consider meeting friends at an off-hour and ordering two appetizers. As a result, you'll receive fast service and an inexpensive mini meal.
- "Like" your favorite business's Facebook page. Many social media managers create exclusive promotions and coupon deals for Facebook fans.
- Look for special "summer student" gym deals. You may not have to pay the full gym membership if you show a membership representative your college student ID.
- Branching off that last concept, showing your college student ID at different businesses can allow you to take advantage of unpublicized deals. JCrew, for example, uses this quiet method to attract students and teachers to its stores.
- Looking to read for pleasure this summer? Want to catch up or start a television series? Disable Netflix or Amazon.com--your local library is the best place to go. Rent whatever you need for free. It's amazing how many people forget about libraries this day in age.
- If you're going to a beach or lake that requires paid passes, see if you can get a group rate and split the cost. Besides, who doesn't want to have outdoor fun with a large group of friends?
Hopefully, once you allocate all of your fixed costs and figure in your summer salary or parental allowance, you can better gauge your disposable income. The goal of a summer budget is to not deprive yourself of having fun, but to live within reason. Financial security is extremely important, especially to those who may not have a steady stream of income during the school year.