Today I want to reflect a bit on my gradschool budget. I got a stipend of about $2350 each month. We split our bills 50/50 in gradschool, and we each had our own spending categories. Below was my average monthly budget, including my half of the bills.

Monthly bills

  • Rent – $567 (1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment)
  • Water, sewage, trash – $30
  • Electricity, gas – $45.50 (on a budget billing plan)
  • Cellphones – $15 (Mint Mobile was really cheap!)
  • Internet – $46
  • Netflix -$5
  • Groceries – $225
  • Food – $60 (we cooked a lot at home)
  • Fuel – $40 (this includes a few pandemic months with less driving)
  • Household stuff – $37.50 (too much TJ Maxx)
  • Oskar – $140 (includes vet bills, pet insurance, food from Chewy, sweaters for Michigan weather)
  • Amazon prime – $2.60 (we were on the Student Prime plan)
  • Costco membership – $2.50

My own expenses

This include some subscriptions, car loan, and some wants.

  • iCloud – $1
  • Spotify – $4.99
  • Car loan – $378.81
  • Car insurance – $42
  • Car maintenance – $22.83 (occasional car wash, oil change, etc)
  • Clothing and shoes – $63
  • Personal Care – $40 (I was addicted to skincare, OK?)
  • Bicycle maintenance – $10
  • Health – $70 (prescription meds, fitness classes at the University’s gym)
  • Books – $10 (occasional book purchase; I visited the library a lot)
  • Hobbies – $60 (lots of cross stitch purchases)
  • Textbooks and stationery supplies – $51 (includes planner purchases, stickers, cute stationery…)
  • Gifts – $40
  • Investments – $50 (into my Roth IRA)

And I had a few sinking funds:

  • Glasses – $20
  • Vacation – $20

For a grand total of: $2048.73/month

My stipend was around $2350 after tax and deductions, so the leftover amount went to building up my emergency fund, my Roth IRA, going out with friends, and savings.

I bought my car new with $5000 down, and the APR for the loan was 0.9%, so my car payment was not horribly expensive. And we didn’t drive much since the university was so close by. Occasionally, I would take the bus there since it stopped right outside of our apartment complex.

Our health insurance was fully covered by the university, and I purchased a more expensive dental insurance, since I have constant teeth problem. The university gym was free, but the classes were not. Since I have a chronic condition, I budget a lot for prescription medication.

We definitely lived pretty frugally during gradschool, opting for a home cook meal or potlucks vs going out, lots of movies at home vs going to the theater, going to the library vs buying books. I also unlearned my shopping habits from undergrad, especially on clothing and somewhat on makeup.

Building these frugal habits have been incredibly helpful during gradschool and afterwards, when I started working, since it prevented some lifestyle creep. We’re still able to save and invest towards our future, while budgeting for wants like more stationery and planners.

Hopefully this gives you some inspiration to look at your own budget, and maybe cut out some unnecessary wants.

What was your budget like during college and/or gradschool?

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