Inspired Woman Magazine

Beauty 101: Beauty on a College Budget

By Lexi Kerzman  | Submitted Photos

I survived my first year of college, and I learned a lot, not only about my classes, but about budgeting, about beauty, and about loving myself.

The worst part of college life is the price tag—$20,000 just to attend. Knowing I had to pay my own tuition, and that I couldn’t just grab a $20 from my mom’s purse, I quickly learned about priorities and spending.

I have had a job since I was 15 years old. In the past, my paychecks were my “fun” money.

Now the money I make working goes to adult things like food, gas, and tuition.

Going to college has made me much more aware of my money and my spending habits; things you can’t learn in a lecture. Things my mom calls “life lessons.”

Before college I thought I had to spend a lot of money on clothes, makeup, and name brand items to be beautiful. I was wrong.

You don’t have to change everything about your beauty routine to make it college budget friendly. I like to shop a lot, and I like makeup a lot; that didn’t change when I went to  college. What did change was how I shop.

The first important thing to do is cut out any unnecessary purchases. For me that was acrylic nails. I used to spend $75 every two weeks on a set of acrylic nails. As nice as they looked, I quickly realized they were not worth it for me. College is about budgeting and learning to decide what is a need and what is a want. I decided trips to the nail salon were a want, so I eliminated them from my budget. I started painting my own nails. My roommate and I soon made painting our nails together our Sunday night routine. We made memories that will last a lifetime, and that’s something you can’t put a price tag on.

When I was in high school I was convinced everything I wore had to be name brand. I wore only Victoria’s Secret leggings and only Nike shorts. Now, at the wise old age of 19, and with a year of college under my belt, I realize brand names mean nothing to me. In my opinion, having shorts with a little Nike symbol doesn’t make them any better quality than my clearance rack Old Navy shorts. Sometimes name brand is good, but I refuse to pay full price. My advice is to look online for deals on all name brand items or watch the sales. Everything eventually goes on sale, and if it doesn’t, I probably don’t need it anyway.  

I have always loved makeup so going into Ulta or Sephora is always an expensive trip. I used to constantly try out the newest name brand makeup. I  would even try and convince myself that it worked better than it actually did. As a broke college student, I learned that some of my favorite makeup is from the drug store and, for me, works just as well as the name brand version. When it comes to makeup, it’s important to remember that what works for some might be a disaster for others. My experiences have taught me that I always need to try the makeup before I determine which is the best. Because I like to have first hand experience with all my makeup products and not rely on online reviews, it is better for me to go with drugstore options. That way, if I don’t like it, I didn’t waste as much money.

Makeup also expires, which is something that is often forgotten. Makeup should be thrown away and replaced regularly, so when it is name brand and twice the price, it is hard to toss it into the garbage can. If expired makeup is continued to be used it can cause break-outs or infections. If there is a name brand item you know you will love and use before the expiration date, absolutely buy it. If there is a product you love, budget for it and splurge. You deserve it! But learning to cut costs where you can is an important thing to learn.

College teaches us many skills for the future, even how to love yourself. In my first year  of college I learned how to love myself for my true self; not someone obsessed with her image, but for who I am after all the makeup and clothes come off. Once you can truly say you love yourself for you, you will be so much happier, and you will find cutting out unnecessary purchases will be easy. Makeup and clothes might help make you feel beautiful on the outside, but true beauty is something that is grown inside you and is priceless.   


Lexi Kerzman is a sophomore at the University of South Dakota where she is studying journalism and media. She is spending the summer at home with her family, where she is enjoying homemade meals and her own bathroom.


Inspired Woman Magazine

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