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How much does the average college student spend per semester on personal expenses?

felicityboundfelicitybound Registered User Posts: 13 New Member
edited July 2012 in College Life
I'm enrolling in college in the fall and money looks a little tight. I'm going to get a job probably (approx 10hrs/week) and I think I''ll be making a little over $1200 per semester (approx 4 months). Does this seem okay? I don't know if I'll bring a car but if I do, i'll probably only use it for longer trips when riding the bus isn't an option. Plus have a meal plan.

So would $1200 be okay for 4 months for lunches w/ friends, shopping for random things I need (like detergent), some clothes shopping, and entertainment?

By clothes shopping, I mean like getting a cute shirt/ pair of shoes once in a while to treat myself. Also, any tips you have would be helpful!

Post edited by felicitybound on

Replies to: How much does the average college student spend per semester on personal expenses?

  • sopranokittysopranokitty Registered User Posts: 1,506 Senior Member
    How much a student spends per semester/quarter on personal expenses depends entirely on where they live. If they go to college in a highly affluent city, I doubt they're going to be spending as much money as students going to college in less affluent cities. Also, for students living in an apartment (for example, at my school, after freshman year, students have to find an apartment to live in), $1200 would run out quickly before 4 months, since not only would they need to purchase food, they'd also have to pay rent each month, along with utility bills.
  • AtemporalAtemporal Registered User Posts: 219 Junior Member
    You have a meal plan, and since it sounds like you're an incoming freshman, I'm assuming you're living in the dorms. If this is true, then $1200 is easily enough for a semester.

    I eat out fairly frequently and live in the dorms, so I only incur some ~$200 in food and gas expenses each month, so $800 a semester. That's eating out a lot for someone in the dorms. Probably add on another $100 or so for entertainment. Also, location matters, as the poster above me said. NYC is going to cost a lot more than St. Louis, for example.
  • AUGirlAUGirl Registered User Posts: 2,890 Senior Member
    $1200, no matter where you live, should be sufficient.

    That's a budget of about $75 a week. With your meals already covered and your rent covered, that's enough to pay for transportation, a movie, and dinner with some left-over for misc items.

    Just think about how it was for you in high school. Did you have an allowance? If you did what was it? If not, think about how much you spent per week on stuff. That's vaguely going to be about what you spend in college.

    Personally, I've found that people generally want to spend less money in college, so when friends suggest to do something, it's usually on the cheaper end. I know that me and my friends took advantage of the free second-run movies on campus and free concerts/bowling nights that the student entertainment club put on. There was almost always something to do on the weekends that was free.
  • felicityboundfelicitybound Registered User Posts: 13 New Member
    I don't have to pay rent, and I have a meal plan that includes breakfast and I also don't have to pay for books, and school fees. So the $1200 would be strictly for lunches w/ friends, shopping for random things I need (like detergent), some clothes shopping, and entertainment? Oh and also grooming. I'll be getting a haircut once every 2 weeks!
  • fluteloopfluteloop Registered User Posts: 278 Junior Member
    That is more than enough! I had 100 for 4 months for personal expenses. 100 enough and I had to do laundry in my sink, but 1200 is more than enough!
  • b@r!umb@r!um Registered User Posts: 10,168 Senior Member
    We can't budget for you, but you should be able to figure out on your own what you can do with $75 per week. Make a list of all of your "regular" expenses: lunch, personal items, haircuts, laundry fees (if applicable), transportation fees (if applicable). Whatever is left over, that's the amount of money you can work with for entertainment or clothes.

    We can't budget for you because we don't know anything about you. Take lunch, for example. Will you eat lunch for free in the dining halls most days or do you have to buy lunch every day? What would you eat for lunch when not in the dining halls? Some would eat an apple or a yogurt or a pretzel for 50 cents and be done. Some would pay $5 for a sandwich or a salad or a slice of pizza. Or you could spend $10 on a large sandwich with a soda and a cookie for desert.

    Or take hair-cuts. Are we talking about $10 trims or $100 chemical treatments?

    Personal items. Do you buy the cheapest shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste and laundry detergent and call it a day? Or do you use more products from more expensive brands?
  • jaico22jaico22 Registered User Posts: 65 Junior Member
    Oh man, what I could do with $75 a week.
    I'm working on my budget for the year right now and if I don't manage to find a job on campus, I'll only have $200 to last BOTH semesters. (Note, personal items such as toiletries, bedding and some clothes are taken into account.)
    that being said, 1200 is more than enough. Then again, I come from a poor family and have supported myself on minimum wage for the past year with parents only providing a roof over my head.
  • BigwigBigwig Registered User Posts: 321 Member
    Last semester was probably my most conservative semester money wise. I spent the usual $125 on club dues, but otherwise I probably spent around $100 on things like the occasional dinner or grocery shopping. My other semesters I have spent maybe an extra hundred. $1,200... I wouldn't even know what to do with all that.
  • 12Artleye12Artleye Registered User Posts: 129 Junior Member
    If you are planning on going out to parties, clubs, bars, ect. i could see $1200 going pretty fast. But since you are a girl, you could probably mooch off of guys for those expenses if you start running short.

    I do think that it will vary a lot depending on where you go to school and the kind of lifestyle you are used to. I'm going to D.C. where expenses like the metro, clubs, restaurants, shops, and of course getting chicks can suck up $1200 in month. But i have friends going to school in rural areas that can probably easily make $1200 last all of freshman year!
  • TracyJacksonTracyJackson Registered User Posts: 197 Junior Member
    As a freshman, I would not have a great estimate. But I am realistically expects between $3,000 to $3,500. But if you consider buying school supplies (computers, printers, beddings, etc), these tack onto your budget...
  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes Registered User Posts: 32,478 Senior Member
    That's more than enough for just walking around money.
  • felicityboundfelicitybound Registered User Posts: 13 New Member
    @I2ArtLeye That's awkward, I'm not a girl...but thanks for the advise guys
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 24,516 Senior Member
    Honestly, I dont know anyone (I have kids in college and work for a U) who budgets "lunch with friends." You do lunch/dinner with them on the Meal Plan. Then, only occasional pizza or a dinner out. You do your basic shopping (toothpaste, soap, underwear, snack foods, whatever,) at home, at the best discount stores around. I usually pay for these refresher shopping trips in August, December and at spring break, but even if your parents don't, it's cheaper than some local shop. If you plan to date, most kids seem to settle for on-campus activities, ime, and it isn't formal enough to be called "dating," anyway.

    That being said, my kids earn about what you project, party hard, and still have money left over. (Left over for "cute shoes, "eg. Or something they plan with friends over breaks.)
  • 12Artleye12Artleye Registered User Posts: 129 Junior Member
    lol, well when i see the phrase "a cute shirt/pair of shoes" in the original question, i automatically assumed it was a girl
This discussion has been closed.