The last time I wrote for this fine paper, I said it'd be my last. Once again, I was wrong, but I'm glad this time around. To be honest with you, I've been a bit nostalgic about college in the two weeks since graduation. But I'm not missing the frat parties and random keggers, and certainly not the papers and deadlines.
No, I miss the money.
You see, I planned my finances perfectly - so that I would have just enough money to last me until graduation. And I did: the last of my college loans dried out during finals, and my credit cards maxed out during senior week.
Unfortunately, my "perfect" financial planning was still far from good. I forgot this month's rent, a tuition payment to law school, money for gas and booze, and that my waiting gig down the Jersey shore doesn't really make money until July (which is good, because I also "forgot" to go to work last week and subsequently didn't get put on this week's schedule. Whoops!)
If you're reading this, odds are you're a student sticking around Penn this summer for an internship or classes (or you're so bored you'll read my asinine drivel in the SP). Money's probably tight, so I'm here with some advice, a lot of which I should have taken ages ago.
Keep track of your money. Figure out how much you need to spend each month on fixed costs like rent, utilities, hookers, etc. Compare that with how much you expect to earn - trickier for those of us who work for tips like waiters, bartenders, hookers, etc., but not impossible - and that's your excess spending cash. The truly financial savvy will take a part of that and put it away in savings. I'm not one of those nerds, though.
Eat in, not out. That Wawa hoagie you eat every day for lunch will cost you $330 over the course of the summer. That's the cost of something like three textbooks you'll never read! More importantly, doubling and tripling that cost by buying breakfast and dinner adds up fast. A creative shopper can eat well on five dollars a day, although, depending on your cooking skills, you might offset any savings with trips to the emergency room with food poisoning. Be careful.
Find the cheap deals! Want to explore what the city has to offer? Every Wednesday this summer is Center City Sips, which means appetizer deals, two-dollar beers, three-dollar glasses of wine and four-dollar cocktails during happy hour at some of Center City's best bars.
If Wednesdays don't work for you, look for bars that offer the citywide special: a PBR pounder and a shot of Jim Beam for $3. Even the poorest alcoholic or college student can get drunk on those deals. And, of course, there's always 50-cent drinks at Smokes on Wednesdays and the Blarney Stone on Thursdays. Skip the bars on weekends-throw a kegger at that sweet house you're subletting instead.
Of course, if none of that works, it helps to have wealthy friends. This past weekend, I would have spent a few hundred bucks on drinks, if not for my overly generous and handsomely employed friends. My masochistic liver and I both thank them.
A recent New York Times article offered some of the same advice. but it was gleaned from recent graduates making $60,000 a year. So think how lucky you are to live in cheapo Philly! In fact, since many Penn students have their sights set on New York post-graduation, consider it great training for what lies ahead.
So I have $20 in my pocket and a week to go before I work. It'll be tough, but I'm confident that I can take my own advice and survive. Hopefully, this prediction will be better than my last.
Jim Saksa is a 2008 College graduate from Toms River, N.J. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.Comments powered by Disqus
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