College Life-Make the Most of Your Part-Time Job

Woman holding forms in hands while looking at computer monitor

College life is fun but can quickly get expensive! Not only are you paying for your classes, but also for clubs, sororities/fraternities, sporting events, travel, and more. Usually, even if just for spending money, college students find they need a part-time job to make ends meet. So, how do you make the most of your part-time job in college? Here are some things to remember!


Search for on campus positions

The downside to on-campus positions is that they’re hard to come by. But there are multiple benefits to having one!

Since they’re on campus, you’re already saving money because you aren’t spending any money on transportation.

Also, depending on your position, sometimes supervisors will allow you to work on your homework if there is any downtime. Plus, you are making some great connections and possibly some new friends since everyone you come into contact with either works or studies at your school.


Bring your lunch or snacks

Are you tempted to go grab a snack during your break, simply because there’s a vending machine in the breakroom? Or do you find yourself next to a delicious coffee shop or bakery? When you have a few minutes to rest, it can be easy to feel the need to pull out a few dollars for a soda or a snack. But, let’s do a little math (don’t roll your eyes just yet)!

Let’s say you make $7.25 an hour. Since you’re working part-time, you are probably working about 20 hours a week. That’s $145 a week before any taxes are taken out. So, let’s say each day you decide to grab a candy bar ($.75) and a soda during break ($1.25). And then later, on your way to class, you grab a sandwich at the restaurant next door ($7). That’s $9 a day (which is more than 1 hour of pay!) and comes to $45 for just a five-day week. So now, without including your tax deductions, you’re already making less than $100 a week.

So, break the cycle and start buying your own snacks and lunches for the week. Yes, you’ll still be spending a little bit of money, but again let’s do a little math.

Buy a 6-pack of soda for $2, a package of granola bars for $3. Then, for your lunch, you have lunch meat ($4), bread ($1), cheese ($3), then some chips ($2) and bananas ($1) to go with it. So now, for the entire week’s worth of healthy(ish) lunches and a snack you have only spent a grand total of $16! That’s a savings of around $29 a week!

So, don’t fall into the trap of purchasing a snack or lunch here and there. It may not seem like you’re spending a lot, but by purchasing your groceries in advance you’ll be able to eat a little healthier and save some money.


Carpool if possible

One of the biggest expenses in working, especially only part time, is if you need to drive to your work daily. Though gas prices are a little lower than they have been in recent years, that’s still an expense that quickly adds up.

So, talk with your coworkers and friends who are working close by. See if you can line up schedules so you can drive together at least once a week.

More math! Let’s say you drive 10 miles to and from work a couple of days a week. And your car drives 25 miles per gallon. So, that’s around 1 gallon (approximately $2.50) every day you work. If you work 4 hours a day, that’s $12.50 a week (again, more than 1 hour of pay!). So, by taking out just 1 day a week that you have to drive, you’re able to save about $10 a month.


Set up your budget

You see how we’ve been approximating costs and doing a little math? Taking half an hour to do this with all your finances will keep you from overspending, and possibly help you save a little money for expenses down the road. So, set up a simple budget. Here are a few steps to get you started:

  1. Calculate what your weekly or bi-weekly income will be.
  2. Calculate any routine expenses you know you must pay each month. This can be a tuition payment, phone bill, car payment, etc.Put it all together. Here are some line items you may want to include:
    1. Savings (Yes, you want to try and save some money! See why here!
    2. Groceries
    3. Gas
    4.  Rent
    5. Utilities
    6. Other Bills
    7. Entertainment / Eating Out


Take the extra hours, but not all the time

Once you make your budget, you may realize you don’t have as much spending money as you would like. It can be tempting to take all the extra hours your company offers you. And occasionally when you’re saving up for something specific or if you had an unexpected purchase come up, it’s smart to work a little extra to pay it off quickly.

But, don’t forget why you’re going to college! You’re going to prepare yourself for entering the workforce in the field you’ve chosen. So, if working extra hours is going to make your grades suffer or keep you from an important opportunity, then you may need to cut back. These 4-5 years are important growing years. Working is a part of that, but so is having time to focus on your studies and making lasting friendships.

So, before you say yes to the extra hours, look at your budget. Can you miss out on the extra money? If so, it’s OK to pass that opportunity onto a coworker who needs it. Just make sure your employer always knows that you’re appreciative of the opportunity, and possibly explain to them the reasons why you’re saying no.


Respect your employer

This may seem like a given, but many times people fall into the attitude of “this won’t be my job forever … it doesn’t matter … it’s just a way to get a paycheck.” And that kind of attitude will easily follow you into your first full-time position.

Remember your employer may be a needed reference when you get out of college. Respect them and the job that they’ve given you to do. Respect really does go a long way.

Your part-time job should not be taken lightly! By budgeting, you can make the most of your paychecks and keep from stressing out between payments.


If you need some direction on how to pay for college, check out this article!