Hello again, it’s Jordan, writing from the comfort of her own apartment, and I’m here to give yet another update to my amazing journey that started when I had to leave home suddenly due to a falling out with my mother! Check back for more details on how I planned my move and did it.
First things first: I survived my first 30 days! Here’s how it went:
The last time I wrote to you all, I focused on my wish-list, which consisted of a dresser, a desk, and a decent vacuum. Unsurprisingly, I’ve only managed to get a nightstand, an end table, and a pretty nice desk, all for less than $100. I am keeping myself to a strict budget, which means my dreams of a dresser will have to wait a little while longer. My nightstand holds my socks just fine!
Secondly, I want to talk a little more about my bills. For any readers who are in a similar boat, or on a similar path, this is the most important part of the first month or few months: keep track of the bills. MFA offers tons of resources to help with budgeting and knowing how much you can afford, and I strongly encourage you all to look through these and keep all of that information in mind. Even working as often as I can, my budget is tight.
Here is a full breakdown of the bare minimum of my bills, to give you an idea:
Rent: $490 – Due on the 1stof every month.
Car insurance: $304 – Due on the 1stof every month.
Phone bill: $75 – Due on the 18thof every month.
Internet: $50 – Due on the 18thof every month.
Electric/Gas: $60 – Due on the 18thof every month.
This can vary, but I strive to limit my environmental footprint as much as I can, so I’m keeping my baseline at $60
Approximately $150 every two weeks, and this includes the basics such as toilet paper and dish soap.
Gas: $25 a week, or about $100 a month.
My commute to work is about 30 minutes one-way.
Altogether, I pay about $1,380 every month. I have applied for food stamps/food assistance, but I am awaiting the response for that.
Find out if you qualify for food/rent assistance
I strongly suggest applying for food assistance if your state offers any programs like this. It is nothing to be ashamed of, and it is not some sort of defeat. It is okay to take the help where you can get it as you are trying to get back on your feet, and admittedly I did not want to follow my own advice at the beginning.
Set up system for paying bills
I also strongly suggest setting up a system similar to mine. Pick a day, or a few days, where you will never be in danger of forgetting to pay a bill. I picked the 1stand the 18thfor all of my bills. Most companies have a way to set when you are billed, and when payments are due. Each of my due dates give me at least two weeks to make sure I have the money in my bank account to meet my amounts. Be aware of your late fees.
Don’t be afraid to have fun
Yes, money is tight. Yes, it can be the most stressful thing you have experienced so far. But it is a whole new adventure. If you’re anywhere near my age, enjoy your youth. It’s a bit different than how I expected my time at 18 to be, but I wouldn’t change a thing. This weekend is my 19thbirthday, and my boyfriend and I are going to a local exhibit of one of my favorite painters. The tickets are $6 each (use apps and check local newspapers for cheap/free shows!), and I cannot think of a better way to spend my birthday than with my favorite guy, at my favorite exhibit, with some of my favorite cheap take out. And after the show? I can unlock the door to my apartment, crawl into my bed, and think about how much I have accomplished at such a young age.
As a final note: I have contacted the local university I have applied to. I have been accepted, but since I do not fit the criteria for an independent student, I will be paying at least $19,000 on my own each year. If I take out federal loans, I’ll only be paying $14,000 a year. With my monthly costs being $1,300 and I am just getting there, it is going to be near impossible. But when has that ever stopped me?