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Kelly's Korner –– How to Budget for Your Summer Internship


An internship is a rite of passage for those transitioning out of the educational sphere and into the working world. Whether you think of it as getting your feet wet or a foot in the door of opportunity, there is a bit more to manage than the string of busywork tasks that come with the territory. If you're planning on interning over the summer, but you're not sure how to manage your expenses while working and on a limited income, we've got the article for you. Whether you are asking, "Where do I begin?" or "How do I stretch my Ramen budget to fit drinks out with the team?", we have some insight for you. This week's edition of Kelly's Korner helps to understand how to manage your budget while interning, without breaking you or your bank.



Budget the Basics

Start with the rent, bills (electricity, internet), food, phone (look for the most valuable mobile plan), commute or longer trips, household supplies, and toiletries. Then, list things that are a little less important, but you feel you need it. For this to work, you must differentiate want and need. It would be best if you were honest about it as well. 

Juxtapose films or music with clean laundry or toiletries. Balance gaming or apps and eating out or going out with clothing needs, transportation, work events, or family gatherings; Anything that is important to your personal routine should be included as well... Make sure you designate a budget line to things like alcohol, cigarettes, Starbucks, etc. — we're not encouraging you to spend on these things, but it's so expensive it needs to be included in your budget. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when knowing how to manage your budget: 

  • Be realistic about it
  • Guess low for income
  • Guess high for expenses
  • Include savings as an expense in your budget
  • If you can, work with two accounts: one for the big charges (rent, bills, and savings), and another for the daily expenses. Transfer only the money you need on a weekly / monthly basis on the second account in order to avoid overspending.
  • Differentiate needs and wants
  • Add a "Miscellaneous" category for random/unexpected expenses
  • Review and recalculate your budget in order to make sure you stay on track




Exact your Expenses

Keep track of all your expenses regularly, and run a review at the end of the first week or month to see if there are adjustments needed to match the whole plan you made. There are mobile apps that can help you track your expenses. You'll find some examples here. They can help you learn how to manage your budget.

Once your budget is set up, you can start working on minimizing your expenses. The first things you want to look for are student discounts and deals. They're usually available in a lot of stores and restaurants, especially chains. For travel, enquire about the different types of subscriptions available with your local or national transport company. See if there are special offers for students, or the 16 – 25-year-olds, both for your commuting trips and longer travels. If your internship takes you internationally, apply for an International Student ID Card. The ISIC gets you into museums, free/reduced fare public transportation, and various discounts in a number of countries. 




Do the Deals

Depending on your location, you might also find services such as Groupon, that can give you access to products and services at very competitive rates, for example, for a new haircut or new clothes. You can also go to second-hand shops for clothing, where you can find decent and original clothes for a very affordable price. If your UBER or LYFT, take advantage of deals and times to travel that are more cost-effective. 

To save food money, you can learn how to cook. It's usually cheaper to buy the products you need and put together a dish rather than to purchase ready-to-eat processed food. It's healthier too! If you're living with other people, a solution is to share the food expenses and the meals together to reduce the costs even more. 

When shopping in-store, choose the value products and supermarket owned brands over premium brand-specific items. If you have a Costco or a Sam's Club card, make sure to buy commodities in bulk whenever you can, especially for household products such as toilet paper and kitchen towels, pasta, rice, and other products with a long shelf life.


If you follow at least a few of these tips, you shouldn't have to worry too much over money during your internship or study abroad period. And of course, feel free to question your colleagues and other interns if they have ideas and advice to help you enjoy your foreign experience without spending a fortune! It will be a time of memories that last you a while, so make sure you are not stressed out by making ends meet while enjoying your adventure and growing your experiences.

As RMCU offers a Platinum Rewards VISA Card that rewards you for every transaction you have, or remember to get your nickels every time you swipe your debit card with Swipe Checking from RMCU. Click below to find out more. We are happy to help you and give you some advice along the way.

Non RMCU links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Rocky Mountain Credit Union of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual. RMCU bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of the external sites.

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