Six steps for a summer budget: from gas points to Redbox, every dollar counts


Well DePauw, it's almost here: time for hot summer temperatures, icy cool snow cones and three months of pure relaxation. A season of unlimited time and seemingly unlimited budgets. Like Danny and Sandy sing, "Summer lovin,' had me a blast."

Yeah, right.  Summer finances might be considered the opposite of easy summer lovin'.  Some DePauw students have summer jobs that bring in a modest amount of spending money.

But us crazy kids? We go out and find summer internships.  In reality, summer is a time for a bunch of already-broke college kids to spend all their money driving to unpaid internships just for the "experience" of the real world. 

So to all the interns out there: more power to you!

But, if the reality of internships this summer has got you feeling blue, I've thought of the best budgeting wisdom I can to impart to my fellow unpaid interns.

Step One: Fill your prescriptions at a pharmacy that also provides gasoline, like Kroger. When you fill up where you buy your prescriptions, many large pharmacies offer discounts up to 50 cents per gallon!

Step Two: Be a responsible "Redboxer."  If you like to rent Redbox movies (like myself), you need to be uber-responsible.  Don't think that the dollar rentals over a week's time period do not add up.  Don't rent a movie that you don't plan on watching right away.  Or, you will end up like me when I kept "The Last Song" for entirely too long.  Miley Cyrus and I have never been so well-acquainted.  And for the love of Cyrus, just drive back to McDonalds and return the movie!

Step Three: Be a babysitter.  You can make bank with a weekend babysitting job.  Find the right family.  Boys, no need to be shy here.  If I was a little boy, I would not want some girl babysitter who didn't know how to play football or didn't like monster trucks.  Babysitting is a great, almost-too-easy way to make some extra cash.

Step Four: Get fit y'all.  Spend an hour every day working out instead of spending money or thinking about spending the money you don't have. 

Step Five:  Make a budget.  This seems way too simple to be true, but it is.  Based on what you have, write out how much you want to spend on gas, food, entertainment, family vacation, etc.  Here's the tricky part:  don't spend more than what your budget tells you.  Really, though, don't! 

Step Six:  I hate to say it, but I have "uncommon success" as a budgeter because I excel at mooching.  Not the bad kind of mooching where you are an eternal nuisance on society, but a more stealthy type of mooching.  Like if your parents give you ten bucks and don't ever ask for the change, don't give it back.  This isn't being dishonest, but being smart.  My philosophy is that if your parents don't ask for the change back, they meant for you to keep it in a subtly-nice way motivated primarily by pity.  Take the pennies you can get and roll with it, baby.  It's summer -- maybe it is time you get a little frisky with your budgeting!

I believe that these six steps to summer budgeting success will lead you straight to financial "summer lovin'."  Remember, there's no shame in keeping a summer budget, especially if you're an unpaid intern. Embrace your broke status -- when you look back on it as a wealthy doctor or lawyer, you will miss the days of mooching quarters from your parents to buy your gas.  Trust me, "summer lovin,'" it happens so fast! 

— Hendrickson is a sophomore from Indianapolis, majoring in English writing and communications. features@thedepauw