In order to move forward in your career, there are some sacrifices you have to make, and accepting an unpaid internship is one of them. Taking an unpaid internship has it benefits: it gives you excellent experience in your field, but the major drawback is the lack of money you’ll be earning while devoting your time to the job. You’ll have to learn how to budget and how to prioritize between what you need and what you want to pay for while you live under a tight budget.
Before you start planning your budget, talk to your employer and see if they offer any kinds of benefits. Some employers offer a stipend to interns for living expenses. Other jobs, such as a fellowship, may offer you company housing, which gives you a free place to live without worrying about utility bills and other expenses that come with living in your own place.
If your internship doesn’t offer any benefits, then see if you can fit in some time to take on a paid part-time job. You can take on a part-time job where you can only work weekends or a job from home. This will help alleviate your financial situation by offering a source of income. If you think that managing an internship and a part-time job is overwhelming, then look to see if you can take out a loan. Taking out a loan will give you cash you can use immediately. Take this money and all the money in your checking account and place it in your savings account. This will make your money accumulate interest over time as you use it.
The number one mistake people make is taking out credit cards. Then, during the course of their internship, they max them out. This money isn’t free. At the time, it feels great having these magic cards that pay for everything, but soon the bills will start coming in and since you don’t have a paying job, you won’t have money to pay them back. So, avoid using a credit card as much as possible. Only use it for emergencies.
Plan out your budget. Sit down and write what you really need to spend your money on such as rent, utilities, transportation and food. Re-think your utilities. Do you really need cable? Chances are you probably won’t have much time to sit down and watch it, and you can watch practically anything online these days, so ditch the cable bill. You can also save some money by ditching the wi-fi bill as well. Instead, just go to a nearby coffee shop that offers free wi-fi and it’ll get you out of your apartment as well. Do you drive a car to your internship? Maybe think about other ways to get to work that aren’t so costly, such as a train, bus or biking.
Finally, if you’re looking for a way to really save some money, if it’s possible then move back in with your parents. This will save you money on rent which is a huge expense. You’ll also have food pretty much covered. It’s difficult giving up that independence of living on your own, but if you find yourself struggling to do so then moving back home with your parents may be the best option. Lastly, enjoy your internship. Through all of the hardship, remember how important your internship is and how this is a great experience that will help you move up in your career.