How NOT To Be A Broke College Student

Written by: Savanna Illinger


So this topic may seems kind of boring and kind of dry, but seems to be increasingly relevant as I near graduation: budgeting. The phrase “broke college student” is a stereotype that’s thrown around all the time, but for good reason. As students, it’s incredibly difficult to work enough hours to keep up with our expenses without drowning in our course work. These are the tips I have so far for budgeting, I’m sure there are plenty more (please comment any suggestions!) but I figure this is a good starting point

1) Limit how much you eat out: This seems so obvious but it’s incredibly difficult sometimes. When I say eating out I’m including the Pavement coffees you need to start your day. Start simple, limit yourself to one or two coffees per week, every other day make it at home (if you’re in a dorm, French presses are allowed and the dining hall coffee is totally drinkable). $3 a day adds up.

2) Track your spending: I’m not saying write down every single time you swipe your debit card (I’ve tried and failed several times). Try using a budgeting app, such as Mint or even have alerts set on your online banking accounts. It’s ridiculously easy to thoughtlessly swipe plastic, just paying attention to the frequency of your spending helps to control it.

3) Do FREE things: There are numerous fun and expensive things to do around Boston, but there are also plenty of free events and activities. With a little bit of digging and websites such as “” and “” it’s pretty easy to find some frugal fun. (Last week I went leaf peeping at the Arboretum, I highly recommend it and I also recommend bring hot chocolate with you because hot chocolate makes everything better).

4) Shop with a list: Whether it be grocery shopping or backpack hunting, go out with a list of specific items in mind and do your best not to stray from it (unless you find some really cool/necessary socks or something). Set a list of items and a ballpark number of how much you are willing to spend on each item or in total.

5) Set a Budget: Again, probably the most useful tool in this case are apps like Mint or PocketGuard that you link to your debit or credit card to keep track of your spending. You can set weekly and monthly budgets and specify how much you want to spend in each category (ex. Restaurants, Groceries, etc.).


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