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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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