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Avoiding Ramen Noodles on a $50 Budget

When I was a freshman in college four years ago, my dad gave me $50 a week as an allowance. That money was for me to budget however I saw fit. I was fortunate enough to not be responsible for tuition, books, cell phone bills, etc. and so $50 as a freshman could go a long way. Here’s how:

First off, I had to decide in the beginning what was a want and what was a need. Which was hard. I had friends whose parents gave them endless amounts of money, but I had to learn how to resist the urge to “keep up with the Joneses.” I ultimately learned that if you feel pressured by friends to spend money that you don’t have, maybe those aren’t the friends for you.

Secondly, I ate on campus for just about every meal. There are so many options and I chose to visit different places for each meal, which made eating on campus super manageable. Plus it was fun to try out all of the options! Because I was required to have a meal plan, eating out just seemed silly most of the time. Of course, there were birthday dinners or special occasions where I treated myself. Save your money for those instances!

Additionally, a huge expense for me as a student was going out. That was one expense I couldn’t (and didn't want to) completely cut out, so I had to find a way to hit the town on a budget. Most restaurants and bars have cover and drink specials throughout the week, so being smart about where you choose to go can save big bucks.

Lastly, $50 just wasn’t enough sometimes. There were times when I wanted to splurge on a new outfit or buy concert tickets – so I had to come up with my own money. Through my sorority, I was able to network with families in Starkville and babysit in my spare time. If you look around, there are so many easy ways to put some extra cash in your pocket. There are on-campus jobs, tutoring services, lawn care services, and many other places looking to hire Mississippi State students.

If you’re a parent to a current or future Mississippi State student and you’re worried about how much of an allowance to give them – take my advice. I had friends that didn’t have an allowance at all and they made it work. I had friends who seemed to never have a shortage of money. I think my allowance was a happy medium - it taught me how to budget money and not spend it just because I had it.

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