Woe and sorrow! Spring break is over, and you can’t help but daydream of the vacation you just took to Mexico or all of the amazing food you ate while you were visiting home. Can we just agree that spring break is the best academic vacation?
Unfortunately, we’re oftentimes left daydreaming about the full savings account we had prior to all of our spring break expenditures. The money spent on gas, Starbucks breaks, travel and all the frivolous-yet-fun activities really adds up by the end of vacation, and that can leave a girl super stressed about how to make it through the rest of the semester with the money she has left.
Never fear! Her Campus is here to help by offering several realistic tips on how to recoup your money after spring break.
Start budgeting like crazy
It’s painful to hear, but you’re going to have to start ordering a tall latte instead of a venti.
Budgeting takes serious mindfulness, self-control and determination, but it’s the most effective way to slowly accumulate back the money you spent over break. What you’ll need to do is take an inventory of all the money you have, along with estimates from your paychecks or any allowances that your family gives you, to see how much money you can realistically spend per week. Next, you’ll need to find a budgeting system that works for you! The goal of this should be to create a system that lets you spend less and earn more.
One tried-and-true budgeting method is the envelope system. Gather some envelopes and label them with your typical weekly expenditures, such as gas, groceries and bills. It would also be nice to create an extra envelope for fun activities, like eating out with friends or taking a day trip, because “treat yo’ self." You’ll need to fill each envelope with the reasonable amount of cash you could spend on that thing each week. When the envelope runs out, that’s it…until the next week.
Last year, Laura Parker, a third year student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, took a spring break trip to Iceland and found she had a lot of anxiety about her finances for the rest of her quarter. “I made a system where I put all my money in envelopes," she says, "because that sort of thing worked the best for me, since the money I was spending was physically in front of me instead of just being online. It was hard at first, but making myself budget out my paychecks helped me save money long-term, and even after a few weeks I felt more comfortable with where I was at financially."
The benefit of this system is that you limit your spending, but it’s also a way to make you much more aware of your spending habits, specifically if you’ve been overspending on something.
Mint is a free app that connects to all of your banking accounts and helps you budget based on your account activity. Mvelopes is similar to Mint in the way that it keeps track of your account activity, but it also utilizes the envelope method we talked about above. Both apps are really helpful for building long-term money saving skills and will definitely ensure that you can recoup your funds after spring break.
Pick up an extra shift at work or even look for another part-time job
Sometimes the only way to earn back the money you had before your spring break trip is to work twice as often as before. Even with a college student’s hectic schedule, picking up an extra shift or two at work offers a reward that’s worth the cost. While this may mean sacrificing some of your social life or free time, it will ultimately leave you happy in the end. You’ll be making money so that you actually can have a social life without being broke.
“I only went home for spring break, but even then I spent a lot of money driving everywhere and going out with my friends from home,” says Frances Glaser, a senior at the University of San Francisco. “When I got back, I had to buckle down and devote more of my time to work. Obviously it wasn’t always fun, but having extra money and getting back to being in a good place financially felt like a huge relief.”
If you’re the type of person who isn’t in a place to spend more time at work, there are less time-consuming jobs like pet or house sitting, and even babysitting. Yes, these are the weird little jobs we did for our neighbors growing up, but they’re still just as relevant and useful! Try posting in groups on Facebook or making a Craigslist to advertise that you’re out there and willing to help, and eager families will be hiring you in no time. Pet sitting and babysitting both usually require less time and steady commitment compared to a retail or serving job but can still give you the extra bit of pocket money that your wallet is so desperately craving!
One final option to consider is searching for an on-campus job. Since these tend to be seasonal and work around an academic calendar, many students are able to create their own work hours. You could even take up tutoring for GE classes offered in your major or look for shifts that have hourly pay rates.
Make a website and sell your stuff online
If you have a closet that looks similar to any other collegiette’s, then it’s most definitely filled with extra clothes you haven’t worn since high school and random knick-knacks that are just taking up extra space. While you practice your spring cleaning, consider making your own website or a fashion Instagram instead of throwing your reject items in a trash bag.
“I’m kind of a hoarder, but of really neat vintage things that I’ll never actually wear or use practically,” says sophomore Brinn Tomlinson at Drexel University. “I made a themed Instagram called ‘Brinn’s Closet’ where I sell all of my old quirky stuff, mostly to people who live in my area, and so far it’s been nice to have extra money, while making sure my things still go to a good home.”
Selling your stuff online is a really popular way to make money for you deal-seeking people out there who are also looking to earn back the dough you spent during your spring vacation. There are so many different online shops—from Ebay to online consignment stores—that you’ll be able to find the perfect fit to rebuild your budget.
If you’re a crafty little goddess, you might even want to consider making an Etsy and selling your work there! People sell things like jewelry, geeky treasures from our favorite TV shows and even hand-decorated Bibles. Storenvy is a great option for selling clothes and accessories that collegiettes tend to have an excess of. You can really profit from anything, so put your creative genius to work and all that money you spent on your vacation in Miami will be back in your hands in no time.
Try simple, small scale approaches
Not all of us can be responsible budgeters or crafty online business owners, and because of that we have a few more small scale tips to help you out. We got you!
To cut back on gas, offer to carpool with another car-owning friend of yours. Whether you’re going out to study or driving to campus, carpooling could take the weight off your wallet for at least a few days of the week. If you really want to be an overachiever and save gas money, you could swear off driving altogether and pick up the happy hobby of walking!
Also, this may be news to you, but most cities have recycling centers where you can bring in your bottles and cans in exchange for some cash. These can often be found outside supermarkets, liquor stores and sometimes even on campus. While doing this won’t make you filthy rich, you’ll probably make enough money for an extra burrito while also helping out your environment! We would say this is a total win.
Finally, your school might be a participant of Pocket Points, the lovely app that saves you money if you don’t use your phone in class. While this is not available at every college, you can check the list on their website to see if your campus is a participating location. You open the app and lock your phone while you’re on campus, and points will be accumulated while your phone is locked. The points can be used toward free items and discounts at stores and restaurants in your college town. While it may be hard to put down your phone, saving the money should be worth it.
Never fear, collegiettes. You’ll have your money back in no time, and all your financial anxiety will dissipate and leave you at peace with where you’re at. Now all you have to worry about is budgeting in advance for next spring break and somehow making it through end-of-the-semester laziness.