5 Little-Known Ways To Make Money And Get Free Sh*t In College

“Broke college student” is a stereotype for a reason. Many of us don’t have jobs, or if we do, we’re being paid minimum wage. Tuition, books, room and board, and everything else our parents we have to pay for are f*cking expensive. But there’s good news, too. College students are the future. The tremendous power we hold can and should be exploited! Brands know this, and companies view universities as the perfect test market, a place of young tastemakers whose opinions matter. We are as relevant as we’ll ever be in college, and it’s up to us to take advantage of that. And that means finessing as much free sh*t as we possibly can before our powerful student status runs out. If you’re wondering how your friend with under 1,000 followers is able to post #ad on her latest Instagram, or simply looking to save money, here are six ways to make money and get things for free in college. 

1. Become A Campus Brand Ambassador

The days of being an unrealistically hot Instagram model in order to be an ambassador are long behind us. Today, the standard for entry is lower—MUCH lower. Companies are on the quest of gaining brand awareness. They’re increasingly willing to pay or give free sh*t to students to be campus representatives. Free bar tabs, merchandise, and even food can be major perks that come with being a rep. Your feed is probably sprinkled with subtle yellow Bumble hats, #Beanoutsider, and #Aeriereal captions. However you choose to embark on your ambassador career, make the most of it! Becoming an ambassador is as easy as sliding in a brand’s DMs on Instagram or applying to be part of the ambassador directly through their website. 

2. Be A Notetaker

elle woods taking notes

Are you literate? Do you attend classes? Do you have a laptop? If you answered yes to these three questions, which I sure hope you did, you’re qualified to be a notetaker! By being a student notetaker, you can make hundreds of dollars for your class notes by the end of the semester. Make money for something you would be doing anyway! Whether it’s through an academic center to help someone who is actually unable to take notes, or a dumb rich douche who doesn’t show up to class—money is money! There are general platforms, like OneClass, that let you apply to online, or you can reach out to your campus’s version of the Student Accessibility Services Department to see which classes are in need of notetakers. 

3. Join A Research Study

I’m not talking about a Stanford Prison-type experiment. You won’t be locked up by some power-hungry fraternity dude or forced to do anything that requires crazy bodily commitment. I mean you can volunteer to be a test subject for various surveys and in-person studies on campus. Often times you can find out about these studies via flyers posted around campus hubs or by simply searching online for “research opportunities” at your university.

There are some really low-key research studies, and some are actually pretty fun. Payment for participation varies depending on the study and level of commitment. But honestly, any added value to your college bank account is worth it. For example, I made $300 just for talking about my feelings for two hours. It was like the therapist was paying ME for once. Win-win! 

4. Pocket Points

Sitting in class. Texting your ex retracting the drunken Snapchats you sent. Making eye contact with the professor every few minutes to make it seem like you’re paying attention. Typical lecture behavior.

Bff Texting GIF

We’ve all done it, but if every few classes you feel guilty for having learned nothing, you’re in luck. Pocket points is an app that gives you rewards for turning your phone off during class. You just have to open the app while you’re on campus, then lock your phone. A few hours of actually paying attention and you can earn points. Points can be redeemed at a variety of local stores, restaurants, and even Lyft. What’s better motivation than that?  

5. Student Discounts

Beyond a great education, the second most valuable thing your tuition gets you is a little plastic card, aka your student ID. Not only is your ID a lifeline to school, it also often gets you at least 10 percent off at salons, clothing stores, restaurants—you get my drift. You’ll either have to flash the merchant your student ID, enter a student email, or login through UNiDAYS to get the deals. But seriously, a sh*t-ton of places offer student discounts, you just have to do a little digging to find them. Hoooowever, since you didn’t read this whole thing to be shortchanged on intel, here’s some places I know off-hand* that give student discounts:

Clothes: Madewell, J. Crew, Steve Madden, Urban Outfitters, Toms, H&M, ASOS

Workout: Corepower Yoga, SoulCycle 

Media: Wall Street Journal, New York Times

Tech: HBO, Apple Music, Spotify, Adobe Software, Amazon Prime

Transportation: Student Universe, Amtrak

Food: Dairy Queen, Arby’s, Chipotle, Buffalo Wild Wings

*Sometimes, participation may vary by location, but I haven’t had any problems with this list thus far!

As you can see, student status presents a multitude of opportunities for capitalization! Be creative, think outside the box, and reach out to random brands you love. Hell, maybe become an ~elusive~ female club promoter. Society values its ability to exploit youth and for the next four years, we’re here to provide it.

Images: Joel Mott / Unsplash; Giphy (2)

4 Ways To Save Money As A Bridesmaid

I feel like most people who saw 27 Dresses were thinking, “This poor woman!” because she was forced to wear 27 monstrosities to 27 different weddings.  I was thinking it quite literally because being a bridesmaid is f*cking expensive and I would surely go bankrupt if I was enlisted to serve in more than three weddings during my lifetime. Unfortunately for my friends with pending nuptials, I’ve already been a bridesmaid twice, so only one more of y’all gets to experience the pleasure of listening to me sneeze behind you at the altar because there are too many damn flowers everywhere and I have allergies—I mean, being your bridesmaid. Anyway, as much as I’d be filled with sunshine at the prospect of being a bridesmaid only one more time in my life, I’m only 25 and I feel pretty damn confident that I will be asked to be a bridesmaid again at some point. Joy.

The older I get the more I want to know exactly how Katherine Heigl’s character could afford to be a bridesmaid in 27 weddings.

— Betches (@betchesluvthis) April 23, 2019


Like most things in life, you have to make a lot of mistakes before learning the lesson, and my first time as a bridesmaid was no exception. I literally spent a few dollars shy of my rent (!!) on this shindig, which is saying a lot because I live in Manhattan and, for anyone who has a friend living in New York, you know how much we love to complain about our rent. Anyway, what I learned too late was that I don’t have to live without running water for a month because I threw my money for bills at being a bridesmaid. Luckily, Credit Karma’s Dana Marineau, VP of Brand, Creative, and Communications is here to impart some of her wisdom on us regarding how to save money as a bridesmaid, so we don’t have to choose between being a good friend and having wifi.

1. Create A Budget

Saving as a bridesmaid

This seems obvious, but so does not responding to a “u up?” text and we all seem to ignore that. Before you spend one f*cking cent on this wedding, map out your expenses and set a budget so that you don’t walk down the aisle looking for a sugar daddy to pay for your next monthly unlimited subway card. Marineau says, “It can be easy to lose track of what you’re spending, so create a budget and stick to it. Between gifts, decor, bachelorette activities, your bridesmaid dress, and more, you don’t want to be caught surprised once the wedding is over on how much you’ve spent.” Exactly. This isn’t a drunken night at Catch, people, this is real life and we can’t go spending our entire paycheck on a pair of heels that either no one will see or we will take off as soon as “September” revs up. Some things you’ll def want to splurge on (Goose for the bachelorette weekend), which is fine as long as you cut back on other things. Get the nice Airbnb for the bachelorette weekend, but maybe skip the Swarovski hair clip, you know? You will feel so accomplished and proud of yourself at the end of the night when you still have some leftover money to shorten your bridesmaid dress and wear it again! Lol jk, literally no one does that, but every bride insists on it. 

2. Be Honest With The Bride

When it comes to your spending habits on someone else’s big day, honesty really is the best policy. As self-involved focused as the bride is on her ~special day,~ she most def doesn’t want to make any of her closest peeps feel like they have to spend their life’s savings on her or her wedding, so telling her your financial concerns is most def the move. And do it early. Saying you can’t cover the cost of the Airbnb the day before you leave is rude and not very sisterly, so make sure you voice your woes early on. Maybe like, before any of the activities even start. “The sooner you can have an honest conversation with the bride about your financial situation, the better. Costs, big and small, can add up quickly, so share what budget you’re working with to set expectations as early as possible. This way, there isn’t pressure as you get closer to the big day to overspend,” Marineau says. Your financials are the one thing people really can’t argue with because you are the only one who knows what’s happening in your bank accounts, so being honest about where you stand cash-wise is important. Odds are, if the bride loves you enough to have you share her big day with her, she will love you enough to understand that you have a smaller budget than she does for her wedding, which makes sense since you are not the bride! If she doesn’t get it or tries to guilt you into paying for things you can’t afford, quit because this job just ain’t worth it, honey!

3. Suggest Cheaper Or Free Alternative Activities

Cooking as a bridesmaid

This is a big one. Yes, the dress may be expensive. Yes, the gifts may expensive. But you know what makes all of that sh*t look cheap af? The bachelorette weekend. I mean, you def can’t put a price on a good time, but you don’t have to spend every dollar you have on a weekend during which you’ll likely only know half the people there and will be drunk 97% of the time. Unless you’re a Kardashian, you don’t have to host the most extravagant weekend of your young lives. As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t. The bach weekend is about bonding, drinking, and eating, activities that can be made cheaper if you so choose. That doesn’t mean it won’t be fun af, it just means you can have a great time and save dat money à la Lil Dicky. Marineau says, “From bridal showers to bachelorette parties, costs can add up. But, not wanting to overspend money doesn’t need to ruin the mood! If you’re afraid to kill the mood when your friends invite you to do something you can’t afford, instead of saying ‘I can’t,’ suggest a fun, affordable alternative.” Chances are, you aren’t the bride’s only friend who is, as Jonathan Van Ness says, “struggs to func,” so be the brave one and say something first. Everyone loves saving money, so they will feel #grateful that you were the one who spoke up. One easy suggestion is cooking instead of going out to eat. Even if none of you are chefs, cooking an easy meal like pasta could be a fun way to bond with the other bridesmaids and it’s like basically free. Cute!

4. Do Your Own Hair And Makeup

This goes without saying. Unless you are truly horrendous at hair and makeup (which none of us should be because YouTube exists), just do it yourself. Marineau says, “These days, hair and makeup for a wedding can be in the triple digits. If the look the bride is going for is relatively simple, consider offering to do your own hair and makeup. You can do a few trial runs before the wedding so you feel comfortable being your own glam squad on the big day.” As far as hair goes, flip your head upside down and move a dryer through it for five minutes and, boom, you have a blowout with serious volume. That’s a trick I learned at my unpaid beauty internship and it’s probably the most valuable lesson I’ve ever learned at any internship. Who needs to get paid as a struggling college student when you can get lessons like these that last a lifetime?? Anyway, you will not be the star of the photos, so there’s no need to spend all of your money on your face. Also, maybe just remember that natural beauty is in and that you are beautiful, so there’s no need to go ham on foundation and smokey eyes. And honestly, getting a f*cking blowout is like $50 and I can’t even fathom how much makeup would be, so spare your wallet and your dignity the shame and just DIY.

Images: Giphy (2); Unsplash

I Tried To Keep A Budget For One Month & Here’s What Happened

If you’ve read any of my other articles, you know I’m all about being a betch on a budget. But I have a confession. I don’t actually “budget” my money. Sorry, I’m a fraud.

To earn back your trust, I decided to turn things up a notch for a month and set hard limits on how much I can spend on shopping, going out, groceries, and literally everything else. Here’s how it went down.

Part 1: My Plan

TBH I had a head start when it came to managing my funds. I’ve been tracking how much money I make and how much I spend for the last three years. No, I don’t use an app designed for this exact purpose. How do I do it? Yup, you guessed it! I created my very own color-coded, personally-customized spreadsheet, complete with formulas, monthly summaries, and labels galore. But I don’t budget anything. I literally just tally up how much comes in and how much goes out every month, then cry about how much I could’ve saved.

Here’s how much I usually spend every month:
Shopping: $100
Going Out: $300
Groceries: $200
Coffee: $100
Gas: $250
Bills: ~$2,000
Total: $2,950

I promise I didn’t just pull those numbers out of thin air. To prove it, here’s a screenshot from my spreadsheet so you can see what the weekly damage typically looks like:

As you can see, I love egg sandwiches, but those delicious bad boys add up. So do groceries, and lattes, and sushi lunches. I obviously had to reel it in to save any money. I had to try to spend as little as possible on everything I’m generally so carefree about.

Here are the hard limits I planned to enforce for the month:
Shopping: $0
Going Out: $100
Groceries: $200
Coffee: $50
Gas: $200
Bills: ~$2,000
Total: $2,550

I planned to cut back my spending by $400.

*gulp*

Part 2: What Happened (By Category)

Shopping

Since my monthly allowance was a whopping zero dollars, I wasn’t supposed to shop. At all.

Whereas I’d normally fall for sponsored Instagram fashion posts on the regular and risk taking a $10 loss on lingerie from China I’ll never wear, I had to not do that. Do you know how hard it is to close out of a website full of amazing deals, or scroll past an ad for super cheap bikinis? REAL HARD.

Anyway, I had ants in my apartment for the first time ever so, of course, I had to blow my limit on something super boring like ant traps. So I went to Target to buy them and bought one box instead of two to save $5. I could’ve only spent $5, but I ended up spending $24 because I also needed nail polish, and then I found a cute bra on clearance…because it’s Target and nobody ever walks out of Target with only what they originally came for. Don’t judge me.

Goal Spend: $0
Actual Spend: $24
Pass/Fail: FAIL

Going Out

I rarely go out to bars, but I always go out to eat, which is where a lot of my money goes every month. The month I was budgeting, I only went out a few times and kept my orders to a minimum when I did. I also let people treat me to dinner or a drink for once in my life, so I didn’t have to be a total hermit. Shout out to my real ones. #blessed. It was a struggle fighting off all of my brunch, sushi, and margarita cravings—but I did it!

Goal Spend: $100
Actual Spend: $86
Pass/Fail: Pass

Groceries

I have a huge appetite, and I f*cking love food. So, yeah, I basically starved this month. Jk. I was just forced to eat and cook the stuff that’s been in my fridge and pantry, when I’d typically go out to eat and let perfectly good groceries go to waste.

I forced myself to get only what I needed, when I’d normally buy a ton of new snacks and random sh*t that caught my eye while wandering around Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. I also meal prepped for the week and tried to not eat all of it in two days. And I succeeded.

Is it healthy to live off waffles, instant ramen, and almond milk lattes? Because I've been doing it for a few months now and I feel p r e t t y damn good

— Morgan Mandriota (@MorganMandriota) March 1, 2019

Goal Spend: $200
Actual Spend: $194
Pass/Fail: Pass

Coffee

my favorite winter activity is complaining about the cold while I’m chugging iced coffee

— Betches (@betchesluvthis) February 23, 2019

I write for a living, and I love getting my work done from coffee shops 3-4x/week. But a $5 almond milk latte with cinnamon plus $1 tip every time I hit Starbucks or my local coffee shop adds up to almost $100/month on coffee that I could brew at home for free. This month, I basically worked from home more often and went to the coffee shop less often to save a few bucks. Not much else to document here. Love you, caffeine.

Goal Spend: $50
Actual Spend: $37
Pass/Fail: Pass

Gas

When I’m not at the gym, on my couch, or hanging with friends, I drive around aimlessly for hours. Weird? Let’s call it therapeutic. Doing this obviously eats up gas. I drive a Jeep that fills up at around $30/tank. $30 in gas for a week can easily become $60 if I end up driving to the Hamptons just to look at crazy houses two times per week. Shut up, it’s inspiration and motivation to achieve my goals. I stopped doing this, though, and put my time to better use instead—and definitely saved some cash in the process.

Goal Spend: $200
Actual Spend: $126
Pass/Fail: Pass

Bills

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I’m too expensive for myself @hannahmlplanet

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Between my rent, phone, car, phone insurance, car insurance, Netflix, and other little expenses that pop up, like doctor visits and monthly cloud storage subscriptions, I spend about $2,000 every month in bills. Bills are a must, so I couldn’t reel that in any more than I already have.

Goal Spend: ~$2,000
Actual Spend: ~$2,000
Pass/Fail: Pass?

Part 3: Final Results & Thoughts

Here are the final numbers:
Shopping: $24
Going Out: $86
Groceries: $194
Coffee: $37
Gas: $126
Bills: ~$2,000

Usual Monthly Spend: $2,950
Total Goal Spend: $2,550
Total Amount Spent: $2,467
Total Goal Saved: $400
Total Amount Saved: $483
Pass/Fail: PASS! (WITH ROOM TO SPARE)

I was able to save almost $500 just by budgeting my spending for one month! Not shocking, but definitely difficult.

I realized that I spend WAY too much money on unnecessary sh*t when I could be saving it instead. I have goals, like eventually owning a house and traveling the world, so I need to be more mindful about where my money is being thrown around in order to achieve those goals.

As tough as it was to fight the urge to get an egg sandwich or a margarita when I desperately craved one, it felt awesome to exercise willpower that I didn’t know I had, and save money while doing it.

Moral of the story: Budgeting your money is 100% possible and 200% worth the struggle when you have hundreds of extra dollars laying around at the end of the month. Do it.

Second moral of the story: I really just need to be a gazillionaire who doesn’t need to budget her funds anymore. Venmo me, plz.

Images: Giphy (2); @morganmandriota, @betchesluvthis / Twitter; @betches / Instagram

These Are The Perfect Budgeting Apps For Every Personality

Happy new year, Betches. We’ve said thank you (next) to the past year, made our 2019 vision boards (ok, maybe that was just me) and have mustered up a more motivated outlook on life. Still, we’ve spent the entire month of December buying sh*t for our loved ones and it’s very possible (ok, entirely accurate) that our bank accounts are empty AF.

So many people want to get their finances in order in the new year. But it’s hard. Literally, every article you read is like, “skip the Starbucks” and you’ll literally be a millionaire. I’m here to tell you that is not the case. If I skip Starbucks, I’ll just be cranky. And still poor.

For me, the hardest part of getting my finances in a somewhat respectable state is knowing how much I can and cannot spend if I want to save a certain amount of money in the right categories. Like, do I need to start taking Uber Pools? Or not order Postmates so many times a week? Probably all of the above, but whatever.

A busy betch might not have time for all that planning and luckily, there are a zillion apps to help you figure this hard sh*t out, so you can get back to watching Love Island. We’ve outlined the perfect budgeting apps for every personality type.

The Type A Betch: Mint

Mint is a free money management and financial tracker app that pulls all your credit cards, bank accounts, investments, (LITERALLY all your finances) together in one neat little package.

TBH, I use Mint all the time. And yes, I’m Type A as f*ck. I like that I can see everything going on with my money in one place, get notifications about unusual spending (usually some online sale let’s be real) and budget out in different categories.

Mint essentially analyzes all your spending and then shares what you are spending in each category. It’s semi-intense with all the graphs and charts, but for anyone who likes to be in control, this will be your financial heaven.

Because you can link your checking or savings account, it also can see how much money you bring in every month, allowing you to see if you are ending your months with positive or negative funds.

You then can create a budget based on what you spend in each category and how much you want to save each month. It’s super easy, and the notifications are frequent, but not annoying. Perfect for any Type A betch trying to save her way to the top. Or at least to a new pair of shoes.

The Straightforward Betch: EveryDollar

EveryDollar LITERALLY only keeps track of your budget, so if you are looking for any sort of detailed money tracking (investing, etc) this is NOT the app for you. I personally like this app because it’s focused and if you are on top of your sh*t, it’s super easy to use. Hence: a straightforward betch.

When I signed up for EveryDollar, I had to input my own money goals and my own spending, for things like my electricity bill or my water bill, you know, the important stuff.

So I input everything manually and estimated the best I could all my basic expenses. Then you pick your money goals, to which I wanted to say, uhhh to be able to live?! Instead, I chose to save like a few hundred dollars each month. I should mention the free version of the app doesn’t connect your bank account to the app, but the visuals created based on your manual inputs are enough to help get your finances in order. Super easy, straightforward and to the point. Got it?!

The Chatty Betch: Albert

If you like texting a random person about your finances, Albert is the app for you. Kidding. From what I gathered in my very serious journalistic research, when you use the Albert app, you also have the opportunity to text a real person about your finances. Pretty neat-o.

If you are a chatty betch who likes to talk to your Uber drivers and make conversation with random people in public places, this is the app for you because you can LEGITIMATELY text a financial counselor (if you want) by using this app. I had to add “Albert” to my phone contacts in the sign-up process for the app, because apparently there are human financial experts at my fingertips now. Lucky me. Even though I have no idea who the f*ck Albert is, it’s really nice that I wouldn’t have to Google all my finance questions and could literally just text someone and be given the answer.

In terms of budgeting, the Albert app allows you to set specific spending goals (i.e. I want to buy a car) and work specifically to save toward that goal. I like that it keeps you very focused on your financial goals, in addition to sending a ton of reminders through texts. A lot of texts. so you better be ready to talk to Albert…a lot.

The Lazy Betch: PocketGuard

Similar to the other apps, PocketGuard will connect to your bank account and do the heavy lifting for you in terms of understanding what’s going on with your finances. I imagine if someone is looking at mine they are thinking, “does she really wear that many clothes?!” to which I will answer, “YES, yes I do”.

You can also create spending limits and savings goals, but there is one different quality that makes this whole process slightly less tedious: it finds where you COULD be saving more money.

PocketGuard will analyze your finances and tell you where you could be saving money, which I kind of love? Like, yes, tell me what to do – I’m clueless in this department. You can also upload bills that and get someone named BILLSHARK™ (a mysterious person on their end) who will go and make your bills cheaper by finding you deals and sh*t. This sounds too good to be true but who the f knows.

And there you have it. I hope you all go and download an app, remember your bank password and are able to pick out all the stop lights in recaptcha in order to download one (or many) of these apps to meet your money goals. Who knows, before we know it all of us will be buying new purses and going on vacation, regardless of whether or not we are a lazy or chatty betch.

Is one of your 2019 goals to start saving money? What apps do you love for budgeting? Lmk, because I need as much support as I can get.

Images: Shutterstock; Giphy (2)

Realistic Money Diaries: How I Survived In San Francisco On $45K A Year

You might remember that Refinery29 published a failed attempt at a ‘Money Diaries’ about (what they consider) relatable women who live in f*cking expensive places. The reality is that these stories actually sound like someone is calling up their d(z)addy every time they want to go to Glossier or brunch. Meanwhile, the rest of us are here having sleep for dinner, wondering what the heck we’re doing wrong.

Now, five years or so after college, one might say I occasionally can treat myself to an avocado toast or a non-happy hour drink. My poor (literally) post-grad self might have *slightly* moved up in the world (you might find me freelancing on resumes and sh*t on Betches because I’m a freak and have a *passion project*), but it wasn’t always that way. So, what better way to explain that than to pimp out the first few years of my twenties. Here is a much more realistic money diary of how I lived in San Francisco during these miserable years of my life.

After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill as a journalism major, I decided, “why would I use everything I learned in the last four years towards my future career? I’m going to go into sales.” So, I moved to SF after getting an entry-level job at an ad tech company. After landing the job through one of my sister’s friends (networking at its finest), I accepted a $45K salary and moved to one of the most expensive cities in the country. Good job, brah.

The Basics

Salary: $45,000
For some perspective, there was actually a homeless man (Google: The SF Bushman) that was reported to make over $60K from his “street performance” in SF. So, the fact that I was making $45K was pretty dismal. Oh, and the average salary in SF is well over six figures, making it impossible to find a place to live that doesn’t resemble Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs.

Rent: $1,300
At first, I was paying $1,600 for a crappy apartment with this dude who was not only like 15 years older than me, but also was most likely a drug dealer (this part would have been fine if he shared). Two months in, I actually found out the apartment had f*cking fleas. I *immediately* exited the vicinity. Thank u, next. I ended up finding a place for $1,300. The new apartment was 500 square feet for two people (and somehow included a living room, kitchen and bathroom) but hey! At least I was flea-free.

Bonuses: $200/mo
I got paid overtime at this job so on average about an extra $100 a paycheck, so $200 in total. TBH this feels like a waste of money considering the slave labor coffee runs I was being forced to do on a daily basis, but whatever, money is money.

The Sh*t I Paid For

Internet: $50
Ugh. Literally, what does a girl have to do to stream Riverdale on a Friday night? Give up her first-born child to Comcast? I am literally not even a human without working internet so my roommate and I split this bill.

Phone: $Free$
At this point, I was traveling for work so I asked my company to pay for my phone bill. They said yes. You never know until you ask, right?!

TV: $10
Cable’s going to be a no for me, dawg. Luckily, my roommate was in the same situation, so cable was a no-go. If I had to choose between a few bottles of wine and getting to watch The Bachelor on time, I’m choosing wine. Sorry, not sorry Chris Harrison. I did treat myself to Netflix and steal my parents cable password so I did not die of boredom.

Groceries:  $60/week ($240/mo)
Trader Joe’s frozen meals literally (not literally) became my bitch. I mean, have you ever tried their fried rice? Five stars. If I could get two meals out of a $5 bag, that was great. This and the fact that I actually couldn’t fit in my kitchen if I ate bread the night before (that small, yes), meaning that I highly overused the microwave. TBH, I probably did this 3-5 nights a week.

You might have noticed that I only talked about dinner. Welp, in full saving mode, I ate the cheese out of the snack fridge at work most of the time for lunch, making some sort of sandwich. OFFICIALLY EMBARRASSED AT MYSELF. WOW.

Life tip: if you do this, just conveniently end up on a call or in the bathroom when the office admin asks where all the snacks went.

Transportation: $65
Having a car in San Francisco is basically equivalent to asking someone to break in and steal your sh*t. Enter: monthly clipper card (SF version of a subway card).

Gym: $0
What’s a gym?! Coming out of college, my metabolism was still fast AF (as if I needed another depressing thing of the past to come up while writing this post) so luckily, taking runs around San Francisco was enough to keep me *somewhat* in shape. That and the fact that my meals consisted of half a Trader Joe’s frozen meal.

Clothing: $30
I should have mentioned: I interned for free in NYC at Condé Nast for three summers prior, so I had artfully mastered the ability to make a Forever21 sale rack look like Balenciaga. I remember I let myself buy one new thing from Forever21 (specifically, yes LOL) a month, for about $30.

Self-Care: $0
I’ll be honest, this first salt mine job had occasional perks (occasional being the KEY word). Once in a while, one of the more senior account executives would take me with clients to get mani-pedis (this counted as a “meeting”), so that was covered in terms of making at least my hands look halfway decent. For everything else, it really didn’t happen while I was at this company. Once I actually cut my own hair (terrible idea, never do it) because I needed one so badly and ended up looking like Janice Ian from the BEGINNING of Mean Girls.

Savings: $100 ($50 from each paycheck)
Put $50 from every paycheck into index funds because my mom had sent me a graph about some sort of compounding sh*t.

Friends, Fun & Drinks: K ASSHOLE, YOU CAN STOP MOCKING ME NOW
The humiliation is sinking back in. I was actually the LAMEST 21-year-old in a new city because welp, money. I don’t have a budget for this because I DIDN’T HAVE ANY FRIENDS, OKAY? Geeeeez. Why are you making me think back to this time in my life?

The Numbers

Monthly Salary: $2,400
Paycheck came to about $1,100 each time after taxes (f*cking taxes). I got paid twice a month. This meant one of my paychecks went entirely to rent plus about $200 in bonuses a month. In total, take home $2,400 a month.

Rent: $1,300
Leaving me with a measly $1,100 (I’m honestly shocked looking back at how the EFF I did this). I’d burn through that in like, one trip to Whole Foods now.  

Other expenses: $595

So with $595 I like, I don’t know, tried to make a friend after moving to San Francisco. Maybe you know, treat myself to fight off the depression. Extra guac on my Chipotle burrito. Or go to a happy hour once in a blue moon.

What I Learned

To get *real* for half a second here, the hardest part of this situation was actually that I was lonely AF. I mean, not having enough money to socialize after moving to a new city is just plain pathetic and miserable. In hindsight, I also wish I had given myself more experience in a field that was growing.

I interned at Condé Nast (trying to be like Devil Wears Prada or something WHO KNOWS WHAT I WAS THINKING) for my summers during college. Although the experience was cool AF (wassup Anna Wintour), I was interning a) for free and b) wasn’t getting any experience in an industry that was growing (I was working in print magazines, for reference).

I also studied NEWSPAPER JOURNALISM college. That was literally the dumbest decision ever. Because when the eff did you last pick up a newspaper?

But *somehow* I survived. Barely. The trick was really keeping my expenses down. And even though I’ve moved on to other things, there will always be a little place in my heart for Trader Joe’s fried rice.

Images: Ian Schneider/Unsplash