Stressing about finances when starting college qualifies as #relatable. There does not exist a single new college student who doesn’t think about how much they should spend, how much might seem like too much and where to begin in their financial planning so that they can make the most of their college experience without feeling like they missed out. Luckily, this interview below provides a real college student’s insight on spending habits and how they budget in their day-to-day life.
Take a look and get some insight for yourself.
Name: Clarissa Rodriguez
Major: Plant Biology
Year: 1st year PhD
College: University of California, Riverside
How do you pay tuition and monthly fees?
As a graduate student, my tuition is waived whenever I work as a Teaching Assistant (TA) for a course or work as a graduate student researcher (GSR) for the university. Attending a program that waives tuition when you work for the university is a huge help for finances. Additionally, I am constantly applying for grants and fellowships to earn extra income.
What are your monthly expenses?
I have a few bills such as rent, utilities, and groceries, and then every month I do set aside money for leisure (e.g. buying clothes or eating out).
How do you pay these expenses?
Like I mentioned earlier, I work for the university, so I do get paid in addition to getting my tuition fees paid for. I get paid on the first of every month, so that helps out by paying all of my bills on the first of the month and budgeting the rest for my needs.
How did you spend your money last week?
Last week I did splurge by going to get my hair done for the first time since 2019, so that expense was a little out of character. Besides that, last week the large portion of my check went to paying my rent and utilities and buying groceries for the week.
Include the spending breakdowns of each day over the course of one week.
Sunday, [7/31]: $0.00
Monday, [8/1]: $1,000
Tuesday, [8/2]: $100.00
Wednesday, [8/3]: $5.00
Thursday, [8/4]: $20.00
Friday, [8/5]: $150.00
Saturday, [8/6]: $60.00
Gas: $25-50, I walk to work and don’t drive often
School Supplies: $0
Personal care: $100
Rent + utilities: $977.00
How do these breakdowns influence your spending habits?
I typically try to save as much money as I can after rent has been paid. Although we do get paid to work, inflation has been increasing so I try to limit my spending to the necessities. Also, I try to be very eco-friendly, so using lots of reusable items or do-it yourself (DIY) hacks does help out a lot. I also cook most of my meals daily, and only eat out once a week or once every other week.
There you go! Budgeting may seem difficult and overwhelming at first, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier and more manageable. Every student’s spending experience differs. Some might decide they can’t live without their morning coffee, some might decide they can absolutely forego it. However you spend or save, plenty of possibilities exist out there for you as a college student. Just do your research and find the best plans for you.