How to Make the Most out of Your Internship: Financially

As the semester winds to an end, many K-Staters look forward to a summer full of sun, friends, and internships! Internships are an excellent way to gain valuable experience for your future career and to begin applying what you have learned in the classroom to the real world. Depending on your field and the location of your internship, an internship can range from unpaid to beaucoup bucks. Whether you are struggling to make ends meet or don’t know what to do with all that excess money, here are some tips to help reduce your financial stress over the summer so that you can make the most of your internship!

So Your Internship is Unpaid, Now What?

Unpaid internships are the norm in some industries and may be your only option to get the experience needed to jumpstart your career. An unpaid internship may seem scary, however, here are several ways to make help make ends meet. Remember, there are countless other ways to reduce your cost of living during an internship that can be found in the resources listed below.  The main ways are budgeting, eating in, and commuting differently.

Budget

Budgeting is a key skill that helps eliminate unnecessary stress in your daily life, especially when you’re tight on money. By being aware of how much money you have, whether that is through savings, a part-time job, or another source of income, and how much your expenses are expected to be, you can reduce the stress that comes with uncertainty. With budgeting, you can also establish your needs versus your wants and start cutting back in your “wants” category or by finding less expensive ways of obtaining these wants. For instance, without school in session, you may not need internet. You might be able to fulfill your social media and web browsing desires by taking your laptop to a location with a free Wi-Fi spot. For help finding free Wi-Fi, download the Free Wi-Fi Finder from the app store! To help make some of your “wants” easier to obtain, there are several discount sites, such as Groupon out there that offer daily discounts for up to 90% off of fun things to do in many cities.

Eat In

When you’re working all day, it can be really tempting to grab some fast food or dine out. Eating out can cost over 50% more than eating the same meal at home. It may seem impossible to cook at home, however, there are several options to help ease this burden! First off, if you prepare meals in advance and in bulk, you can have meals ready to eat in seconds of coming home from your internship! Depending on where your internship is, you may not have enough time to go all the way home for your lunch break. Instead of vending machines or fast food, bringing your lunch to work can save you money and give you more time to relax.

Commute Differently

Driving might be the quickest and easiest form of transportation, but gas can add up, especially if you have a long commute. If you live close, you can try biking or walking to your internship, both of which are free and great for you and the environment! If you live farther away, you can opt for carpooling with a fellow intern, or utilizing public transportation such as a bus system or subway.

What to Do With a Paid Internship

On the other end of the spectrum is the paid or partially-paid internship. With this, you probably are not worried about how to make ends meet over the summer, but you may have questions about what to do with the extra income. Below are some few smart ways to not allow these dollars to go to waste!

Create An Emergency Fund

You never know when something unexpected might happen and it’s important to establish an emergency fund before that time comes. An emergency fund is money you set aside that would cover approximately 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses. You would only tap into this fund in an emergency such as unemployment or car troubles. Saving up for this now will save you debt and stress in the future.

Reduce Your Student Loans

Whether you have $50 in excess or $5,000, any amount you can put towards your student loans will help you in the long run. Most student loans start racking up interest the minute you accept the loan, so the more you pay off now, the less you will owe down the road. You can also put this extra cash towards your tuition, which means fewer loans you’ll have to take out over all. Both of these options are great ways to reduce your student loan debt!

Obtain Your Financial Goals

If you’ve had a goal in mind that you’ve been working towards, it’s okay to treat yourself! Whether that’s paying off a car loan, getting a pet, studying abroad, or finally buying that Apple Watch you’ve had your eyes on…  It’s okay to splurge a little as long as you are still able to meet your expenses.

Paid or un-paid, an internship is an amazing opportunity to take advantage of! These once in a lifetime opportunities will allow you to apply your knowledge and get a leg up when it comes to a future job. With your finances in check, you will reduce your stress and be able to maximize your internship experience.

Resources:

http://college.usatoday.com/2011/06/02/5-ways-to-live-on-an-unpaid-intern-budget/
http://internjustice.com/2013/07/11/how-to-survive-the-unpaid-internship/

Jillian Taylor
Peer Counselor I
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.k-state.edu/pfc

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Be Your Own Business

We continually look for ways to grow as individuals and establish ourselves. The world we live in now revolves around us going to school, getting a job, buying a car, buying a home, getting married, and possibly creating a family. We are surrounded by our family, friends, and millions of businesses. A business is considered an entity that is either commercial, industrial, or professional. When we hear the word ‘business,’ we typically think of an organization that offers a product or service. But has anyone ever thought of themselves as their own business? As an entrepreneur? We go our whole life trying to make a living to take that next step towards our short and long term goals. We generalize ideas, take steps, create a process, and attempt to follow through with those ideas like any business would. To successfully be your own business or an entrepreneur, you must think logically and take careful considerations when thinking about your financial position and how to obtain your goals.

To be your own business or an entrepreneur, one must start early to plan their short and long term goals. Develop a realistic plan of how you want to obtain your goals and when it could possibly be reached.  For an example, if you have student loans, you can start paying them off now while in school and become that much closer to paying your debt off. The closer you are to that, the closer you are to buying that first home, or the car you have always dreamed of.

Start thinking early about your credit. To get any kind of loan, one needs good credit. Some employers even look at your credit to see if you are financially responsible. That one number can say a lot about someone and can even be a factor that contributes to your employability. To start establishing credit, you can ask to be added to a relative’s source of credit until you have enough to get a credit card of your own, or you can apply for a secured credit card.

Although you are young at this point in your life, you also need to start thinking about retirement and savings for the future. Start contributing a small amount of your paycheck to your savings each month, or make sure to max out the contribution your employer will offer to your 401(k) plan when you get a job.

If you need help to get on the right track of becoming your own business or an entrepreneur, Powercat Financial Counseling will assist you in a free, friendly, and confidential environment.  You can create an appointment at http://www.k-state.edu/pfc/services.

Doni Lee
Peer Counselor I
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.k-state.edu/pfc

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Importance of an Emergency Fund

Along with making goals, creating a budget, and managing debt, it is very important to establish and maintain an emergency fund. Most people at some point in their life, have heard from their grandmother or some other person “save it for a rainy day.” This may seem cliché because it is said very frequently, however, in the world of finance and money management, there is a 100% chance, at some given time in life, it will rain. By having an established emergency fund you can save yourself a lot of pain and hardship when faced with a financial or life emergency.

Getting Started

The first step in establishing an emergency fund is calculation and saving. Many experts agree that a well-established emergency fund should be between three to six months living expenses. This is because many financial emergencies involve loss of income in some form. By having three to six months saved, this will give you ample time to find a new source of income while still paying all of the bills you may normally have to. Similar to budgeting you must calculate your monthly living expenses including mortgage or rent, vehicle or other loan payments, utility bills, groceries, gas, or other expenses essential to living month to month. Once you know the amount you will need monthly you can multiply it by three to six and start saving. This money needs to be somewhere safe but it must also be liquid, meaning it can be converted to cash quickly should you have an emergency and need it. Saving accounts are safe, however, once you begin to have a bigger savings you may want to think about putting that money where it has a better chance of making money through interest such as a money market account or a short-term certificate of deposit (CD).

It Takes Time

Your emergency fund does not need to be established overnight; in fact, it is very unrealistic to establish one overnight. Although, if you have the ability to establish one overnight, such as an inheritance or bonus, it is important to put that money away in savings and do not look back. If you have a hard time putting away or saving money, do not be afraid to start smaller and work up to a larger amount. Start with $10 per month, or per paycheck, and do this for a couple months. It will not be a lot of money, but you will develop a habit and eventually will not miss the $10 you have been putting away. Once this happens you can think about bumping the number up to $15 or $20. These small numbers will eventually turn into big numbers as long as you keep working hard toward reaching your goals.  You can set up automatic transfers or direct deposit so that the money is put aside before you even see it!  Remember:  always pay yourself first.

Emergency Means Emergency!

It is important to remember why you have this emergency fund and define what it should be used for. There will be times when it is tempting to use this money for expenses such as vacation, down-payments, going shopping for seasonal clothing, getting a new game system, paying down other debts, or other things along those lines, but try to abstain from this activity. Your emergency fund is for financial emergencies, which can come in many forms.:  you can make a list of acceptable emergencies and only use the money on the things on that list. Everyone’s list will look a little different, however, here are some of the common things emergency funds may be used for: unemployment expenses, medical emergencies, unexpected repairs such as vehicle or household (due to unforeseen causes), unexpected tax bills, emergency veterinary bills, to name a few. It is important to remember the purpose of this account is to keep you from adding debt as a result of trying to come up with money quickly. Plan for worst case scenario so when smaller emergencies arise they are easily covered.

Revise and Maintain

It is essential you maintain your emergency account. There will be times you draw money from the account because emergencies happen, but remember that the money you use on emergencies is money that can no longer be used on other emergencies. This goes back to starting small, if it has been a while since you have contributed a portion of your paycheck to saving, you may have to go back to saving $10-$20 per paycheck until you get your emergency fund balance replenished. You will also have to reevaluate your emergency fund throughout life to adjust to life changes such as marriage, children, etc. Choosing a number that will give you three to six months of living straight out of college could be significantly smaller than three to six months of living expenses when you are married with children. If in doubt, save more.

This concludes the Financial Literacy Month series on money management.  Look for other posts for more tips on both saving and spending money wisely.

Resources

http://financialplan.about.com/od/savingmoney/a/emergencyfund.htm

http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0812/why-an-emergency-fund-is-important.aspx

 

Shannon Vaughan
Peer Counselor I
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.k-state.edu/pfc

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