Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

I am not the first to admit that saving money as a college student is hard. Honestly, hard is an understatement, because between drowning in student loans, putting gas in my car, and other everyday expenses, money burns faster than you expect.

I started working when I was fifteen, so for the past four years, I have learned what works and doesn’t work for me. My first job was at a Subway and surprisingly I ended up with decent amounts of tips in my tip jar. I didn’t spend any of my tips. I mean never. Anything that came out of the tip jar went straight into my savings and then I used money from my biweekly paychecks to purchase the things that I wanted. I continued this as I got older and started to have to pay for my own subscriptions or certain things for school. 

When I left Subway, I became a hostess at a local family restaurant in my hometown and I continued the same practice that I started. Every little bit adds up. I save my small bills and change from tips, and it builds faster than most people would anticipate. This was the first way I started saving money, and when it comes to jobs with tips, it is helpful. 

This changed when I shifted to serving, where most of my pay was tips, so I devised a new plan. Necessities get allocated first: bills, subscriptions, and food was set aside so that way I knew they were covered. Then I always put at least $25 from each shift’s tips directly into savings. After a few shifts, I could guarantee what I needed to pay over the next two weeks or so was covered so I would split the remaining money into wants and savings. Half of what I made went into my savings and I couldn’t touch it unless it was an emergency. The other half was spending money to go out with friends, online shopping, or anything else I wanted to get. It was hard to manage cash without a plan, but creating one made budgeting ten times easier for me.

Naturally I have a little more responsibility now I am in college, but the idea didn’t change much. At my on-campus job, I get paid biweekly. At the beginning of every month, I check what subscriptions and bills need paid, so I know what needs to be set aside out of the first paycheck. This isn’t a job where tips are typical, which means my savings come from my paycheck as well. I split my checks (roughly) in half every pay day. The first half I divvy out my necessities and my wants. The other half is where I pay some of my student loan off and then the rest goes into savings. If I have a smaller check because I haven’t worked as much or know my bills are really stacking up, I do two thirds to cover necessities and spending money to get me through the week and put less into my savings.

Every situation is different, but this is what works for me. It’s how I saved up to buy a car for myself and how I prepare for the future. The awesome thing about financing and saving money is it can look different for everyone. While for me, maybe I have less bills during certain parts of the year from living on campus, someone else may be paying utilities, so their savings looks a little different. These are methods that helped me set up for college and be able to balance a work life along with my school and social life. My biggest piece of advice is to find what works for you! If this can help anyone even get started, then I take that as a win in my book! However, I am also the first to recognize that life and money looks different for everyone.

Mikia Lawrence is the current Vice President and Co- Campus Correspondent of MSU's Her Campus Chapter and is starting her first year of the position. She oversees chapter operation and assists with internal as well as external affairs such as meeting planning, brand partnerships, and recruiting. Lawrence is also a part of the design and editing teams to create graphics and edit content for her chapter. She is a junior journalism major at MSU with minors in broadcast journalism and leadership of organizations. She was an anchor and the producer for her high school's daily live announcements throughout her four years. In the 2024 spring semester she was an intern at HOMTV in Meridian Township. In her free time, she enjoys watching sports with friends, reading, writing, and playing dinosaurs with her little brother.