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Neula Ha

WINGING IT: How Saving for Grad School Affects My Daily Budget

For a long time, women have been afraid to talk about money. It’s been seen as taboo, tacky, and straight-up awk.But not anymore.  Winging It is an anonymous series where we ask college women how they spend their money, make their money, and think about money. Sometimes, we’re planning our finances well in advance; other times, we’re straight up winging it. Either way, we’re getting real.

The Basics

Who I am: 21-year-old white woman from Virginia. She/her.

School: University of Mary Washington, Class of 2019

The $$$ I earn each month: $250

The $$$ I’m given each month: $50 (someone pays for my credit card)

The $$$ I get from scholarships, etc: $1,000

Current job: Paid job on campus

Dream job: Working at the MET Cloisters and being a published author

Where I live: On-campus in an apartment

The Breakdown

How I spend: 

A budget is the most useful thing to have. I am trying to save for grad school, so keeping everything on track is super important to me. 

I tend to buy generic instead of brand names, and I try and say no to going out to eat every weekend. I always go for water at restaurants when I do eat out — a $1.50 soda might seem like nothing at the moment, but it adds up fast. It’s the little things that really matter.

The only time I spend money is really when I need groceries so I can have a quick meal or snack when I am running from classes to club meetings to practice.

How my friends talk about money:

We normally try to be fairly open about money without making anyone feel bad about their financial situation (good or bad). We work together to get the cheapest options and make budgets if we are shopping together.

Many of my friends also have on-campus jobs, so I feel like this helps us be more open about it.

$$$ + anxiety:

As I said, I’m saving up for grad school (which is very expensive) so making sure I have enough for that worries me the most, especially if I were to go abroad where you need all of the money upfront. 

Sometimes I feel pressure to keep up with my friends financially, but not necessarily all the time. I always have a good time if we go out for drinks and I just drink water.

My week in terms of $$$:

I normally go to the grocery store on Sundays to stock up on fruits, veggies, and snacks for the week ahead. If I go to Walmart, I buy cheap sangria. If I buy snacks, I try to go for the generic brands instead of name brands, especially if they taste the same. If I splurge on anything, it’s ice cream. I can always use a pint of Ben and Jerry’s for the week ahead.

Are you winging it? Share your story with us.