College students keep their plate packed between juggling schoolwork, extracurricular involvements, a social life and living on your own (if you dorm). Even if you don’t dorm, college costs can take over your life. A lot of times students get jobs to help pay expenses—even working on campus! It’s important to keep a steady income to either cover school or save up some personal spending money for your social life. Budgeting this money independently and figuring out how to save feels tricky because at this stage of life, a lot of us find ourselves learning how to do this for the first time.
Check Out the Week-Long Budgeting of a College of Staten Island student to see how they balance their finances and spending
College: College of Staten Island
How do you pay your tuition and fees?
My financial aid covers most of the bill, so thankfully I only have to pay a fraction of what I would have paid every semester. I pay for both the left over tuition fee and my textbooks out of pocket. My family is always willing to help support my financial situation, but they have also influenced me to work and pay my own bills now that I’m growing older. Almost every summer after I started high school I have gotten myself a seasonal job to invest into my tuition and other school resources. And since I’m an adult now, I get to help out my family with shopping and running errands when I’m not busy.
What are your monthly expenses?
Since I live on Staten Island and go to school at the local community college, I live at home and commute to my classes. Since I own a car with my step-dad, I take responsibility in paying for the monthly insurance. I pay about $118 a month for full car insurance, along with paying for gas every two weeks which is about $40. Since my aunt works a lot throughout the week, it’s usually my job to do a lot of the shopping at ShopRite and Costco. Like most families, we try to stick to buying things that are on sale and have coupons attached to save up money, so I spend about $80 on groceries every two weeks. I also pay for two phones monthly for me and my brother, so that is another $100 a month.
How do you pay your expenses?
Like I’ve said before I always had a seasonal summer job to save up for the beginning of every semester. However, this last summer I had gotten my first part time job which pays weekly and gives me certain coverages. I did plan on doing work study for this semester, but my family influenced me that having a real job throughout the year would help for when I got my car and for when I have an emergency. So, I did a lot of job searching for two months until I got this part time position at the beginning of the summer. I couldn’t apply for a full time position because of my classes, but thankfully my job is so understanding with their student workers that they are willing to be flexible with my schedule.
What are your budgeting plans for after graduation?
Depending on what I want my career to be I might have to go into a master’s degree which is a LOT more money than a bachelor’s degree, so I will have to start saving up for that if the need arises.
How did you spend your money last week?
Friday September 10
Since my aunt works until late afternoons during the week, she sometimes has me go to the store for returns or last-minute items. On this day she had me go to our local Costco to return an item and buy a few items like butter, some seafood, protein shakes and snacks.
Saturday September 11
I didn’t do any purchasing today because I work on the weekends, so I just drove to work and back.
Sunday September 12
I didn’t do too much on this day because I had to go to work, but I did buy myself a sweater from work. I work at a clothing/department store where you can return amazon packages, so before I started my shift I dropped off a package and was looking around when I saw a sweater I liked. I had a rough week and thought it would be nice to treat myself for today, so with a coupon I received from the return and my associate discount, I got the sweater for a good price.
Monday September 13
I had work right after my online class so I also didn’t pay for much on this day, the only thing I purchased was a water bottle from the break room vending machine during my break.
Tuesday September 14
I had class that day and was in charge of watching my dog all day, so I didn’t leave the house to do any shopping.
Wednesday September 15th and September 16th
My family actually went on a roadtrip to visit family so I was driving mostly. We had stopped at hotels and gotten food along the way, but my family paid for it so I would save my money.
WEEK TOTAL: $78.56
Food and Drinks: $1.60
Household Essentials: $51.47
Personal Care: $0
School Supplies: $0
How does seeing this influence your spending habits?
For the last couple of months, money was a rare thing I owned because school took up a lot of my time and finding a job was not easy. Taking a look at my week’s spending makes me feel kind of proud of myself. I work really hard to save up money for my expenses, so seeing this makes me want to keep up what I’m doing so my future can be more secure with my savings.