I’ve always been a money saver versus a money spender, which is a good thing because I’ve never had an after-school job or a legit summer job, aside from the odd house-sitting gig. I’m a pretty blunt person (I usually don’t have the patience to devise a more tactful delivery) and, to be frank, I consider myself a first-class miser. So vet school has been particularly eye opening, because I still can’t wrap my head around the $20,500 federal unsubsidized loans I have to take out for the next 4 years. (To give you perspective, I think spending more than $30 on a Christmas gift for a family member is extraordinarily extravagant, and paying $200 in car insurance every quarter just seems like undue punishment.) In an effort to be informed about how much money I spend and where exactly it’s all going, I enter expenditures into a clunky Excel spreadsheet every month. It’s not the best system, because any cash I spend usually doesn’t get accounted for, since I track my debit and credit card purchases online.
Besides all the normal expenditures of room, board, and car expenses, sometimes veterinary school throws a wrench in the works. In September, I was off my budget by $165 because of club dues and a textbook purchase. Equipment such as coveralls, boots, a stethoscope, and a dissection kit meant I ended up putting in a pretty hefty one-time expense in my August column. To save a good $50 every time we start a new course, I opt out of buying the printed version of the syllabus and make do with the version posted online. I do like having a hard copy of certain materials, like the large animal lab reviews, so I just print those out at home. I’m still learning how I personally spend money, and so I’m still learning methods of reigning in my expenses. If you have any good budget tips, I’d love to hear them!