Thursday, February 22, 2024

What does the average college student spend on?

We had two of our reporters track their expenses for a month

April 20, 2015
<p>Journalism junior and State News reporter Andy Merkle pumps his gas April 17, 2015, at the Shell gas station, 1831 E. Grand River Ave. Merkle spent about $35.01 on gas this month. </p>

Journalism junior and State News reporter Andy Merkle pumps his gas April 17, 2015, at the Shell gas station, 1831 E. Grand River Ave. Merkle spent about $35.01 on gas this month.

Photo by Erin Hampton | The State News

Admittedly, I am terrible at budgeting my money, much to my dad’s chagrin. Some months I come in well under my projected budget, while during others I blow right past it by the second weekend.

As I said before, eating out takes up a large portion of my budget. Dining out costs me on average of just under $16 — $15.83 to be exact — and that tends to add up after eating out often enough. Keep in mind, I’m also often paying for two — my girlfriend and myself.

There are several reasons why I eat out so often. For one, I am the anti-Gordon Ramsay as soon as I walk into a kitchen. I can make things that come in a box, but that’s about it.

Along with not being able to cook, I very much enjoy eating out. I take my girlfriend out to eat at least once a week, and oftentimes I’ll spend another night watching a game at a sports bar.

Interestingly enough, parking expenses did not set me back as much as I thought they would have. I paid for parking seven times during the last month, mostly for work, and I was expecting to have to spend a lot.

As it turns out, I was wrong. Just one parking ticket from PACE can cost $35. The total cost of parking in the garage during the last month cost me less than that.

Lastly, the bar. Turns out, bars are not cheap. Who would’ve thought? I went to the bar four times in the last month — once each week on average. That may sound like a lot to some people, and I have friends who never go to the bar, but I also know a few people who go out way more often.

I spent less than $10 during each night out, but after four nights out, that does add up. I probably could have stayed in for one or two of those nights and been just fine. 

Following reporter Jessica Steeley for a month

Through tracking my expenses, I have realized I spend most of my money on necessities.

As a college student with two jobs, working about 25 hours a week, I make around $300 every two weeks. The larger paycheck goes into my checking account and the smaller one usually goes into my savings, as I am almost always saving up for something.

This month I saved up for a new tattoo, which cost me $150. Tattoos and vacations are usually the luxuries I save up to buy.

My spendable money usually goes toward food, gas or — as a 21-year-old — alcohol. Gas and food are necessities that probably cost me about $200 a month altogether.

Alcohol is one of my constant “luxury” buys, and how much I spend on it varies. I am usually stocked with at least one bottle of wine and a case of beer at home, but if I go to the bar for a night out my alcohol spending goes up by about $30.

My other necessary expenditures are prescriptions, which are at least $20 a month and sometimes $30. And then there is my share of the apartment’s heating and electric bill, which is usually between $25 and $30.

I’ve noticed almost all of my money goes to necessary monthly expenditures. I am lucky that I don’t have more expenses, such as having to pay rent, or I wouldn’t have any extra money left over.


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