When I entered college, I was so focused on the academic and social aspects that money and budgeting were barely a thought. I had saved up about $800 from babysitting and birthdays throughout the years, and, along with some money from my parents, figured I was set.
About a month into college, however, I soon spent a huge chunk of my money without even realizing it.
Although I had a meal plan, which consisted of meal swipes at the dining hall and 100 flex dollars (money I could spend at certain on-campus locations without tax), I couldn’t really stomach the dining hall food and often found myself using flex and spending money off campus. By about month two, I had completely depleted my flex dollars.
In addition to food, I found myself spending a ton of money on social activities. Because Georgetown is not dominated by Greek life, a lot of the social scene revolves around the city of DC, which is not cheap. Nearly every weekend I found myself buying $20 tickets to on- and off-campus events.
What I wish I had gone into college with was a sense of how to budget so that I wasn’t spending absurd amounts of money but also not restricting myself. My second semester, my parents gave me a bi-weekly allowance of about $100 to cover both necessesties and the occasional off-campus meal. I tried to only eat off-campus on the weekends and to use my meal plan otherwise but even that was difficult.
This past summer I stayed home and worked at a donut shop so that I could save up money for spending at school. It’s difficult not to spend money in an environment like Georgetown where so many people can swipe their cards without thinking twice, but now that I’m a sophomore and have a better idea of what to expect in terms of spending, budgeting seems more doable.
My goal is to be able to spend money without restricting myself by maximizing my meal plan use and keeping track of weekly spending so I can set a weekly and monthly budget.
Lily Westover is in the Class of 2022 at Georgetown University.