A College Girl's Guide to Budgeting and Making Money
If there’s one thing I’ve learned since coming to D.C. it’s that college life is not cheap. As if worrying about regular expenses like textbooks and groceries wasn’t enough, D.C. takes it to a whole new level with higher price points and a million and one things to draw your attention off campus. I’m glad .D.C. college students try to make the most of their time here and explore the city, but going out to brunch, taking Ubers everywhere and checking out D.C. nightlife adds up quickly. It was definitely an adjustment for me and a reality check that I couldn’t rely on summer jobs and birthday money to get me through the year. If you find yourself struggling through the semester here are some tips that worked for me to help you manage your money and make some more!
Budget – Earlier this summer I discovered the app, Mint. It helps you set a budget and lets you know when you’re reaching your limits. It also tells you how much money is going in and out of your accounts so you can track your spending compared to your saving. I honestly hate looking at it because it’s just a reminder I’m spending more than I should but it’s an incredibly helpful app and a great starter tool if you’re not sure about how to budget your income!
Something else I started this semester was actively trying to save money. In the past, I've always put a portion of gifts I received into my savings account but this summer I realized I had done a really terrible job of saving money during the school year. I decided to pick a small amount of money to take from my paycheck and put into my savings account each week. At the time it didn't feel like I was removing any considerable amount from my spending money and I was still able to save up a decent amount over the course of my 8 week internship. It ended up being a really good thing I did because upgrading from the iPhone 7 to 7 Plus was not cheap and I don't know how I would've been able to afford it otherwise. I'm planning on doing the same thing this year with my job at school!
Sell – If you’ve been following along for while, back in July I talked about my love for Poshmark to find cute, affordable clothes. In that post I focused on the buying, but Poshmark is also great for selling! Dorm room closets are small so if you find yourself packing and unpacking things you never wear list them on Poshmark! I’ve made a fairly decent amount of money from the app – whether it was shoes that gave me blisters or just things I didn’t wear anymore it’s a great way to make a few bucks with very little effort.
You can also sell old books or textbooks you have lying around and even other appliances and miscellaneous things. At American University, we have a “free and for sale” group students can utilize to sell things they no longer need. People sell everything from textbooks to mattresses and although everything tends to go for pretty cheap, the more you sell the faster it adds up.
Work – For my first year or two of college I was fine without a job because I stayed on campus and almost everything I did was focused in a 1 mile radius. As I got older, my expenses grew, I started to spend more time off campus, and I knew I would need an income if I wanted to maintain my lifestyle. Last September I started work on campus at our Career Center. Not only is it a great gig, but I love that it's barely 5 minutes away from my dorm and classes and it works with my schedule. If you’re lucky enough to get an on campus job it’s 100% the best way to go in my opinion.
If you can’t or if there’s nothing that works for you, babysitting is another great option because it tends to be weekend nights. If you're really lucky, you'll get a family who puts the child to sleep before you even get there and you'll get a chance to catch up on some work while you're there. If you don't know where to start, reach out to former professors who may have mentioned they have kids or ask older friends who may have had babysitting jobs in the past.
If babysitting isn't for you, dog sitting is another great option. I know Wag is really popular in DC – it’s a dog walking and dog sitting app that lets you use GPS to track walks and pays you per walk! If you don’t want to commit three hours of your Saturday night to babysitting, Wag is a less time-consuming alternative and another easy way to earn money on your own schedule.