Skip to main content

How to Save Money during an Unpaid Internship

Save what little money you have during an unpaid internship by making creative adjustments to get by.


  • Step 1: Spend real cash Ditch the plastic, which can cost a fortune in interest. When you spend cash, you can see it disappearing, which tends to limit spending.
  • Step 2: Write it all down Write down all of your expenses in a ledger to prioritize expenditures and keep track of your spending. The organization and discipline will come in handy later when you have some money to manage.
  • TIP: Many websites offer free money management and budgeting software.
  • Step 3: Scope out leftovers Volunteer to clean up after meetings or office luncheons, which often involve fancy food that just gets tossed. Snag some free food, coffee, and donuts while you're at it. Waste not, want not.
  • Step 4: Walk to work Walk or bike to work to save money, get exercise, and enjoy some fresh air. If you have to drive, try to carpool.
  • Step 5: Attend happy hour Get in the habit of attending of happy hours at local joints, where for the price of a cheap drink you eat free.
  • TIP: Get together with other interns for potluck dinners or split big entrees at restaurants.
  • Step 6: Find a side job Find a side job that can work around your class and internship schedule. In some jobs, you may even be able to get some homework done while you're there, or at least relax while padding your pocket for that rainy day.
  • Step 7: Go to free events Entertain yourself at free concerts or cheap leisure activities that are happening around town or on campus. Internships are all about expanding horizons, so do it any way you can.
  • FACT: In 2008, the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 50 percent of graduating students had held internships -- 17 percent more than were shown in a 1992 study.

You Will Need

  • Cash
  • Ledger
  • Leftovers
  • Bike
  • Happy hours
  • Side job
  • And free events
  • Internet access (optional)
  • Other interns (optional)

Popular Categories