A budget? Ew. What am I, an accountant? I spend my money until the number on my banking app makes me nervous and then I tough it out until payday. Making a budget sounds stressful and tedious, but an hour of my time every other Sunday sure beats eating Ramen and Saltine crackers because I balled out on Domino’s pizza and Chinese take-out every night this week.
Take a look at a week in this Seminole’s college student budget.
College: Florida State University
How do you pay your tuition and fees?
I stayed in Florida for college so I could cash in on Bright Futures. I didn’t spend all those hours studying and volunteering for my health. That covers a good portion of my tuition and I get need and merit-based grants and scholarship from FSU to cover the rest.
What are your monthly expenses?
On average, my rent and utilities cost about $505 a month. I spaced out in October and had to pay a $50 late fee but usually I’m on top of that sort of thing. I cook for myself a lot, so when I go to the grocery store, I usually spend about $70 every two weeks. Some weeks are better than others and I could make $40 worth of groceries last two weeks if necessary. Other than that, I take the bus to school, so I don’t have transportation costs.
How do you pay your expenses?
I’m on my own as far as money goes in college. My mom supports me emotionally when I’m stressed about school, but the money is all me. I pay the rest of my expenses with loans. When I worked a part-time job, I stuffed my savings account every week with the hundreds from my check. So if I made $175 one week, I’d deposit $100 in my savings and spend the rest $75 on whatever I wanted. I was saving up to go to Paris but now I guess I should start saving to start my life after I graduate.
What are your budgeting plans for after graduation?
I’m working on getting a part time job now since I graduate in December. Just something to get some money coming in, not necessarily a career. I recently applied to graduate school so my future’s a little up in the air. If I get in, I’ll have to work full-time during the summer because the program is so intense, I won’t have time for a job once I start. And I’ll definitely need more loans to pay for my master’s degree.
My goal is to save at least $6,000 by the time my lease is up in July 2019. That way, once I figure out what I want to do next, I’ll have a little something to start me off in a new city while I look for another job. As long as I can pay my rent, eat what I want (within reason) and save some dough, I’ve got a pretty solid budget as far as I’m concerned.
How did you spend your money last week?
Tuesday November 13
On my way back to Tallahassee after a weekend at home, the Greyhound stops at a gas station with a Church’s Chicken inside. I’ve been on the road since 6 a.m. and didn’t have time, or the appetite, for breakfast before we hit the road.
$3.40 at Church’s Chicken – A side of mac and cheese, small fries
Wednesday November 14
My fridge is empty and my laundry hamper is full. Lucky’s and Dollar General are next to each other in the shopping center down the road from my apartment.
$13.81 at Lucky’s Market – Brown rice, quinoa, kale, vegetable broth, avocados, lime, tomatoes and some hot bar lasagna
$7.72 at Dollar General – Laundry detergent, dryer sheets and a can of Pirouline wafer straws
Thursday November 15
Even though I spent the morning at home, I didn’t realize I skipped breakfast and lunch, until I was on my way to class. Consider this the perfect example of me mis-managing time and money.
$4.17 at Dunkin Donuts – One bagel with cream cheese and hash browns
Friday November 16
My friends and I are ready for the weekend. I go to their house after class and stay there all day. Unfortunately, I didn’t pack a lunch, so we head to Taco Bell before the pre-game to the pre-game.
$5.58 at Taco Bell – Two spicy potato soft tacos, a cheesy bean and rice burrito and cinnamon twists
$3.90 at Poor Paul’s Pourhouse – One Yuengling draft
$11.14 at Township Tallahassee – One ‘Tequiling Me Softly’ beer cocktail plus tip
Saturday November 17
Some friends from out of town come to visit for the weekend and we hit up all our favorite spots in Tally.
$6.29 at Los Compadres Mexican Restaurant – One veggie quesadilla plus tip
$6.56 at Long Garden Chinese Restaurant – One vegetable spring roll and an order of cheese wonton Krab rangoons
$3.50 at Bullwinkle’s Saloon – All-you-can-drink cover for ladies
Sunday November 18
My out-of-town friends and I are looking for some way to kill time on a Sunday, so we walk around Walmart and go to the sex shop, obviously.
$15.83 at Walmart – Neutrogena face wash and an Elf eyeshadow pallet
$16.11 at Rick’s Toy Box – Handcuffs
$6.72 at Momo’s Pizza – One slice with pineapple and feta
Monday November 19
I catch a ride home from break and pick up some snacks for the road.
$7.37 at Chipotle – One veggie burrito bowl, tortilla on the side
$6.11 at Sunoco Gas Station – One bag of Tostitos Scoops and a Reese’s Big Cup
Week Total: $118.21
- Food: $61.01
- Drinks: $18.54
- Entertainment: $16.11
- Personal Care: $15.83
- Household essentials: $6.72
- Transportation: $0
- School supplies: $0
How does seeing this influence your spending habits?
Well, I must admit that was an abnormal week for me. My friends were in town for the weekend, so I wouldn’t usually spend that much on alcohol, but eating out at restaurants is definitely a problem for me. Seeing this doesn’t really make me want to change my spending habits, because having fun and living in the moment in college is important to me. But it does make me realize the necessity of a part-time job for that philosophy. I’m positive, however, that opinion will change once I don’t have student loans paying my rent.