A 6 month money plan for US interns

By American blogger Ashley Roberts. This article is ideal for those interested in how to find an internship or job in the States or for any American readers considering an internship or graduate job! Ashley writes on the situation in the USA – her views do not reflect those of Inspiring Interns.

Once upon a time interns used to earn nothing and new hires earned just above that. Today interns earn meagre stipends and new hires earn…well, their wages haven’t changed much. But fear not! There are things that you can do to get through that six month internship (or your first six months at a new job) without having to depend upon ketchup packets for nourishment.

Step one: Find roommates. If you are able to do your internship or start that new job while still living at university and taking advantage of the dorms and meal plans there, more power to you. If you aren’t that lucky, though, having roommates can really help cut down on expenses. You can cram four people into a two bedroom apartment comfortably. Do it!

Step two: Start building your credit now. You want a low APR and a reasonable repayment plan. If at all possible, you should aim for one of those cash back business credit cards. This way you can earn points on the purchases you make (the best points programs allow you to turn in your points for gift cards that you can use anywhere).

Do not charge everything to this card! Use it for only what you can afford to pay off in cash as soon as you get home. Use the card once or twice a month and pay it off each time. You’ll build a solid credit history and score for yourself that you can use to your benefit later on. So start shopping around for the best deals on credit cards.

Step three: Grow or make your own. Growing your own veggies, fruits and herbs saves you hundreds of dollars a year on groceries at the store. They taste better too. Make your own meals instead of eating out. Homemade meals are healthier than fast food and cheaper to make. This is especially true of your lunch—you can save hundreds of dollars a month by bringing a bagged lunch from home instead of hitting the closest fast food joint.

Step four: Learn to love your library. Instead of buying books and movies and subscribing to lots of magazines, utilize your library! You can sit and read magazines for as long as you want without anybody bugging you about buying them. You can check out books, movies and even CDs to read watch and listen to at home. Sure you have to take them back but you won’t have to worry about wasting money on something you might not enjoy as much as you had hoped.

Step five: Walk, bike or take public transport. Cars are expensive. A monthly transport pass costs a small fraction of what you’d pay on loan payments, maintenance costs, gas and insurance each month. Walking and biking are also healthier for you than sitting in your car.

Most importantly: Save every penny you possibly can. Money left over after bills and groceries should go into your savings account, not to the mall. Set aside at least 10% of every payslip you get, no matter how meagre. Having a savings account/emergency fund on hand will save your sanity. Trust me on this.

Good luck! In the future, you’ll look back at your period of scrimping and saving fondly.