WINGING IT: I Make $450 a Month, & Spend Most on Clothes and Food

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. As a part of our 10th anniversary, we’re launching Winging It, 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: 19-year-old student from Massachusetts

School: Simmons University Class of 2022

Avg. college tuition: $40,850 per year

The $$$ I earn each month: $450

The $$$ I’m given each month: $50

The $$$ I get from scholarships, etc: $200

Where I live: On-campus dorm

Current Job: I work in a gift shop as a work study student.

Dream Job: Something in the Marketing/Communications field.

How I try to save money: I try to be smart about thrifting and shopping when I go home since it is a lot cheaper then in Boston.

The Breakdown

How my friends talk about money:

I am one of the only other people in my friend groups who has a job/works a lot (14 hours per week) so I feel like I am "the one with money.” Most of us come from middle class families so we know how to spend money wisely (for the most part) and don't like to pay for things that are overpriced but love a good deal.

Asking for money:

The only relatives that I would feel comfortable asking for money are my parents, but I would only do that if it was a dire situation or something directly related to the cost of college. Coming from a middle class family, asking for money is always a tricky situation. I also work 14 hours a week so I have a pretty good and consistent incoming flow of money for a college student.

What about friends?

As for my friends, the only time I’d ask them for money is if I was going to pay them back. None of us have a lot of money so we’re all somewhat stingy. If we’re out somewhere and someone forgot their wallet or doesn’t have cash, then someone will usually pay for them, then get payed back on Venmo.

Fast fashion? Yay or nay?

I’ve definitely fallen into the trap of fast fashion at times so I’d say that if a new trend comes out that I’m seeing a lot on campus then I’ll usually buy whatever it is, from turtlenecks to Chelsea boots. I thrift new clothes a lot though which is a good habit to get into.

My relationship with money:

I worry about not being about to pay my bills (car insurance, school fees, etc.) because Boston is very expensive. My friend group and I like to experience the city, which usually costs money. Luckily, I feel like money doesn't play too much of a role in my ability to get my dream job, which I know can be stressful since you have to play the part. My dream to work in Marketing/Communications seems very doable in a world that’s becoming more and more digital everyday. I love looking at how companies market online and I am really excited to become a part of that world someday. My dream job may not make me a billionaire by 25 but its something I’m genuinely excited for and interested in so I don’t mind!

My week in terms of $$$:

I spend the most on food, save on transportation by walking everywhere, and splurge on online shopping/thrifting. I’m lucky in the sense that I have expendable income so I’m able to afford to participate in important college moments. But everyone is not as lucky as I am. Ticket prices, travel, and food costs, can all be really expensive so sometimes the cost of an event can make it not worthwhile. I only live two hours from school so it’s pretty easy for me to travel home whenever I want but I have friends who have to fly halfway across the U.S to get home and some have to fly halfway across the world to get home.

Here is an example of my spending from a week earlier this month:

Monday: Skip breakfast and opt for a lunch at home in my dorm (usually something cheap like ramen noodles).

Tuesday: Light breakfast at home before work (usually a granola bar or some apple sauce), get lunch at work in the cafeteria (overpriced but I don’t have too many options), dinner after work in my school cafeteria.

Wednesday: Splurge for a breakfast sandwich after class (they’re so good!!), grab a quick lunch on campus during a break in class, grab dinner in the schools cafeteria after work.

Thursday: Same schedule as Tuesday means I eat the same food as I do on Tuesday.

Friday: Quick breakfast in my dorm before class then a breakfast sandwich after class for lunch, dinner sometimes in the schools cafeteria or at home depending on my weekend plans

Saturday/Sunday: If I stay at school I’ll usually order food to my room for lunch then grab dinner at the schools cafeteria for dinner but I normally don’t eat breakfast on the weekends since I sleep in. If I go home then I don’t spend money on food since I either make it or my family does. If I stay on campus during the weekend then I usually spend about $20-$30 on something to do during the day (thrifting, aquarium trip, event on campus, etc.) and if I go home then I usually spend $30-$40 on things I need to bring back to school (new clothes, more food, etc). 

Why should we talk about money?

I definitely think it’s super important for women in college to openly talk about money. Personally, I go to a women’s centered college so female empowerment is super important to me and everyone around me. Being able to openly talk about money is important because it allows women to spread information about things like spending habits, equal pay, unfair prices like the pink tax, etc.

Are you winging it? Share your story with us.