How To Budget Your Internship in Hollywood
I am currently an unpaid intern for an online entertainment publication based in Hollywood, California. Hailing from the Midwest, this move to Hollywood has meant more than simply adjusting to perfect weather and a crazy metro schedule. As a first-time navigator in this bigger than big city, I have compiled a list of budget tips that I think will be useful to any college student looking to spare a dime or two.
1. Nix the habit - A tall iced latte every morning is not a 'treat', it's an addiction - and an expensive one at that. Purchasing one of these babies every morning increases your bill by almost $30 per week, $120 per month. I assure you there are much grander things to purchase for $120 on Rodeo Drive. Instead, treat yourself. Savor the warm coffee next to the water cooler most days and save that sweet treat for a day you really need it. Just remember, the little habits add up.
2. Make everything count for two (or three) - Just get multiple uses out of everything you can. If you buy an ingredient at the grocery store, try to incorporate it into two different meals. If you buy a piece of clothing, make sure you can dress it up for work and down for a night out.
3. Pack your lunch - For this tip to save you money, it's a two-part system. Pack your lunch and make sure it's something you actually like. Don't allow your boss's Chipotle burrito to put your meal to shame. Packing a lunch only saves money if you actually eat it. This tip also applies to packing a dinner if your job requires working late.
4. Ask the locals - Question local college students about where they purchase groceries and shop for other essentials. During my first week, I shopped at the local chain grocery store. After that first week, I spoke to a local student and discovered a much cheaper store that sells even fresher food. My grocery bill was cut in half. Never underestimate the knowledge of locals.
5. Split the tab - If you're interning with other budget-conscious interns, suggest traveling together. Not only is it safer when gallivanting around an unfamiliar city in the evening, it's cheaper! For my internship, I often attend events that run past midnight, and the LA metro stops running before midnight. Oftentimes, my only option of returning home is by taxi. Splitting the tab can make this form of transit comparable to bus fare.
6. Invest - If you're living in a different city for at least a month or more, it's smart to invest in various deals including bus passes (instead of paying individual fare), grocery cards and drugstore cards.
7. Take advantage of your apartment complex - Between your apartment and the apartments of your fellow interns, you collectively have several pools, hot tubs and gyms at your disposal. You are already paying for it so take full advantage!
8. Free events - Luckily, the nature of my internship provides me with a plethora of free events to attend. This means cheap fun and, at times, free food. Whether your internship offers free events or not, take advantage of cheap opportunities around town. Large cities (and small ones) have a lot to offer.
9. Pay attention - Keep track of your finances online! Understand what your budget is and plan. Don't be afraid to check the numbers and adjust. Your first two weeks will most likely be the most expensive because you're adjusting to a new atmosphere. Know how to recalculate.
Finally, just remember that a budget is supposed to enhance an internship and delete some of the stress. Staying on top of your finances and knowing what you can afford can make it a lot easier to indulge in the good stuff sans guilt. Good luck!