With 5th Avenue in New York City and Newbury Street in Boston, summer internships in the city provide plenty of temptation for our wallets. It’s difficult to pack a lunch from home and wear a dress from last summer when Pinkberry is a block away from your work building and Top Shop is a short walk from your apartment. While interning in New York City, I had to learn the hard way that money doesn’t grow on trees. But you don’t have to. Cara Newman, editor of Young Money Magazine is here to help you create a summer budget.
Monthly Budget or Summer Budget?
When living unaccompanied without parents to help you financially, it’s important to create a budget. Newman advises readers who are interning for the summer to create a summer budget, knowing that most of these internships will be unpaid. “If you are in school and you have a set amount of money to spend during the summer then it might be easier to make a budget for the summer. Or, you can take that amount of money and set aside a certain amount for each month (divide the total by three for June, July, and August.” The choice is up to you. It doesn’t matter what type of budget you have just as long as you have one that is right for you.
Anticipate How Much You Will Spend
It’s very easy to be blindsided by fancy clothes and elaborate dinners when interning and living on your own. Be aware of how much you’re spending and what you’re spending your money on (especially when you aren’t bringing money in) and it will be easier to adapt. Newman suggests writing down everything that was spent for that particular month and breaking your expenses down into categories. This includes groceries, restaurants, books, clothes, etc. This list shows you what you spend your money on the most on, and shows you whether or not you need to change your spending habits.
What happens when you are living in an unfamiliar place? “But, let’s say you are doing an internship in a new city for a month and you really don’t know what things cost,” Cara suggests. “To start, you should know what your rent will cost. If you have a cell phone your bill probably won’t change. You can ask your new landlord how much utilities usually are each month. Next, make a list of everything else you will need. You know that you’ll need food. Do you have to buy clothing? Or books? Visualize an entire day in your mind and write down every time you spend money or use a product.”
Don’t Spend Your Nonexistent Pay Check
To our dismay, as interns, most of us are not earning any money. So let’s not spend money we don’t have, ok? Debt is definitely not something we want to be concerned about. Some of us are lucky to have an allowance from our parents, a majority of us have saved money over the year, and a few of us are fortunate enough to obtain a stipend from our internships. Whatever your source of summer funds, don’t go over it. The key is not to overspend on things that you don’t need like a venti coffee at Starbucks, or even something as simple as a pretzel. “Being in debt can be very stressful” Newman says. “You have enough things to worry about in your life without debt.”
Saving Money Tactics
Saving money can be easier said than done. But going into the summer with a foolproof plan will definitely make it easier. “When you make your budget you should budget in some savings. Even if you’re only saving $10 a month, it’s something and it gets you in the habit of doing it. I find that the easiest way to save money is plan for it in my budget and then put the money into a savings account. It’s also a great idea to have an emergency fund, this should be enough money for you to live off of for at least three months.”
Leave Money For The Emergencies
It’s always important to have a little bit of cash with you. You never know when you’ll have to use the cash for emergencies, and no, a sale at H&M is not considered an emergency. Newman suggests, “As a young woman, you should make sure that you always have a bit of cash with you—not too much, but definitely enough for an emergency cab ride home. As a safety precaution, your cell phone may be considered a need. However, buying tons of iPhone apps? Those are typically wants. If possible you should have an emergency fund. If that’s not possible, keep an emergency credit card, but be diligent about only using it for emergencies.”
Being financially independent, especially in a new city, is very difficult. Stay calm though, and think rationally about the persuasion the city provides. Are the financial choices you’re making worth it in the end? Ask yourself that question and you’ll be able to save money and have an excellent summer.
Using Newman’s suggestions, I created my own summer budget. You can use this as a model for yours. Check out my anticipated summer expenses below!
Subway Unlimited For a Month: $89
Emergency Cash: $30
Cara Newman, Editor of Young Money Magazine