Tag Archives: Paycheck to Paycheck

So Much More

Remember this rant? About how I’m floored at how average humans afford to live, even when they are working full-time jobs that make above minimum wage (with the reality that most of them can’t afford to live, aside from being paycheck-to-paycheck, finding another job or splitting incomes with a partner or friend)?

That hopelessness and the overwhelming, “What the freak am I supposed to do?” feeling has only increased in the past week.

First off, though, there was a surprise: I actually got a raise. (I know, I’m just as shocked as you are.) Though the budget library wide made that impossible to happen, which is why I was so convinced that wasn’t an option, the university pulled through and gave eligible employees a raise! Sure, it’s only .45 cents for this kid, but this kid isn’t complaining at all. She’ll take it.

And then, within a span of 24 hours, I learned of two additional things. First was that Kansas state taxes are increasing not only this month, but in January of 2018, as well. So not only are they taking more out of my paycheck each month, but the amount I owe the government come April will most likely increase. Worse, the bracket of incomes that are projected to be effected the most are “single households fresh out of college making $30,000 a year.” Sound familiar? So that’s going to be fun.

Then, secondly, my retirement options email came through today and I have a month to figure that shit out. Talk about adulting slapping you in the face and making sure you’re well aware that you’re no kid anymore. I’m just overwhelmed trying to begin to discern which provider to choose, let alone all the nuances that go with retirement I’m not even sure about. I wish I would have learned a bit more when I was younger about how to navigate these waters. Granted, I knew retirement would be taken out come September and even if it wasn’t mandatory by my employer (which it is) I still would have opted into it, because I recognize how important it is to start saving as early as you can. That said, that doesn’t make the process any less daunting, nor the pay-cut any less painful for me now, even if I’m looking out for little old lady me in the future.

So yeah, I’m just a tad bit stressed financially. What else is new?

It’s taken up a lot of my thoughts, recently. So much so that I keep forgetting what really matters.

There is so much more to life than money.

Granted, that is easy to say and a lot harder to believe, let alone live by. Because money dictates a lot of things. Bills have to be paid and in order to make money, you gotta work, which makes up for a lot of the time you spend in your life. Yet you can’t let it be everything, even if it is a major part of your life. Recently, that’s all I’ve really been able to think about.

Yet I’ve been reading some really good books lately. I actually made it to the first (free!) Mythgard class over The Treason of Isengard last night and nerded out over Tolkien with individuals all across the globe, and that was invigorating in and of itself. I think I’ve finally found a running routine that I enjoy and is both feasible and productive. It’s the summer time, so even though it’s hot as everything else, swimming has been amazing. I’ve been editing my favorite story and love the progress of this draft. PitchWars starts in a few weeks and I’m really stoked to enter into that contest and continue to learn from and get to know such a supportive community. I’ve started a D&D campaign with some friends and learning the ropes alongside them has been wonderful. I have a couple of coffee dates in the future that I’m super jazzed about. I’m doing well at work and excited for the new semester to start. I’m getting new ink the first week of August and cannot wait to see what my new artist has come up with. Plus, only 36 days until I’m on a plane and heading to freakin’ London.

Yeah, life is stressful, right now. Money is stressful and I feel like I can never get caught up, that I’m always behind paying this bill or trying to get away from this debt. But at the same time, there are a lot of good things going on in life and a lot of good things ahead. Just like there are a lot of trying times and a lot of difficult things ahead.

You can’t just focus on all the negative things. You’ll drive yourself into a depressed spiral that’s really hard to get out of, if you do that. You gotta remember to focus on the good, including the little things (like hearing your favorite song on the radio, getting to hit snooze on the weekend or crossing something off of your To-Do list) to the rare things (like seeing a friend from out of town or spending an entire day doing nothing) to the grand, exciting things (like traveling abroad or achieving your dreams). That’s what I’m trying to do: focus on the good and remembering that I can handle the bad, no matter what’s thrown at me.

And so can you.

Cheers.


Another Rant On Adulting

Let me start off by saying I’m really freakin’ lucky.

I have a good job (that’s now full-time *throws balloons*). I have a reliable car. A cute apartment. I can afford groceries, utilities and Internet. I have good health and am in a pretty good mental state. For the most part, I’m completely independent when it comes to bills and taking care of myself, which is really important to me.

And yet.

*cue rant*

I’m a pretty frugal person, much to the annoyance to most of my friends and family. I have a budget spreadsheet of all of my bills each month, all the bills that I have to pay once a year (e.g., women’s clinic visit, eye exam, that sort of thing), the amount I’d like to save and a wishlist of things I’d like to own, from a toaster to a coffee table to new clothes to books to tattoos.

Every so often, I update that budget to try and stay in line with my spending or reevaluate my goals of how much money I want to spend/save. Recently, I got moved to full-time, which definitely requires a budget change. And as my first full-time paycheck comes in tomorrow, I was really, really jazzed about it. No more living paycheck-to-paycheck like I have been. No more need for a second job. I could actually afford to live and be able to go to the movies without guilt, actually start crossing off things from my To-Buy Wishlist.

Oh, how naive I was.

Earlier, I said I was completely independent financially, “for the most part.” It wasn’t until this year that I realized that my parents have been paying for my car insurance and my tag renewal every year since I was 16. So next year, I’m going to be taking that over. As I should. My parents have been awesome and supportive, but I’ll be 25 this year. High time I start lessening their burden a little bit. Next year is also the same year I get kicked off their health insurance, so that will start coming out of my paycheck. In September, retirement starts coming out, so that’s another cut. And then you have all those one-time expenses I always forget about: doctors’ visits and new contacts and oil changes and parking permits. Those add up really quickly. If I want to have any savings account at all, that’s another cut.

Looking at all of those expenses, by this time next year, I’ll be back living paycheck-to-paycheck again.

And that just…floors me.

I make very decent money. And like I said, I’m super frugal. Occasionally, I’ll splurge, but that occasion is more rare than common. I’ve already canceled my gym membership to try and cut back on expenses, but every other bill I have is necessary.

I just…don’t know what to do.

My job isn’t going to give me a raise. We’re suffering from budget cuts as it is and, if the trend continues, that cut is only going to increase as the years pass. Yet I work 40 hours a week, 3pm-12am. When would I have time to add in a second job, again? Do I just give up on ever crossing off anything on that To-Buy Wishlist? Do I let this one trip to London I saved up for this year (with the hope that I could save up and travel abroad to a new place once every year) be the only trip of that nature? Do I just accept that I’ll always have this feeling that I’m trying to catch the money I earn up with the money I owe, without ever having any extra money to spend?

I just don’t know, friends. Again, I’m very lucky, to have what I have and live the life I live. But I’m also so dang tired of being so stressed out financially and being that one person in the group that always orders a water or refuses to meet for coffee or is known for being the person who “doesn’t spend money.” It’s selfish, I know, but I’d like to be able to buy that cute sweatshirt without feeling guilt. I’d like to be able to go out to dinner with friends and not stress over how to shave off that money I just spent somewhere else. I’d like to get a new tattoo and not have to wait over a year to save up to get another one.

Like I said: selfish, I know. But goodness me, a person should be able to make 30K a year like I do and not live paycheck-to-paycheck.

Cheers.


Weighing Importance

I’ve been doing a lot of adulting lately. Which, strangely enough, actually looks very similar to panicking: the increased heartbeat, the sweaty palms, the tears threatening to fall past your eyelids.

The shrinking bank account.

disney scared aladdin nervous worried

Moving out and living on my own in a kickass apartment is fantastic, but the bills that have followed are not so much. Pair that with working a three-quarters time job that doesn’t allow for a minute of overtime. Add in the fact that the bills I have acquired are barely covered by what I make in a month. All this results in a stressed out pseudo-adult who struggles constantly with the reality of my situation and the choices that result from that.

The reality is that my bank account is pretty much stagnant, as all my income directly vanishes to pay bills. So the money that I had left over from the move and saved up during my time living with the ‘rents sits in my bank account without the possibility to increase. In fact, with bills such as utilities and groceries varying month to month, the chances are that my very small nest egg is going to decrease over time. It definitely isn’t going to increase.

This reality leaves me with two main choices that I switch between on a daily basis.

Option A: Getting a Second Job
The obvious remedy to my financial stagnation is to get a second job. That second job could help increase the nest egg that I currently have and also help take the pressure off to not spend any extra money, if possible. I still have plenty of things that I would like to get for my apartment. I really want to save up my vacation time to travel abroad once each year–can’t really do that when you aren’t able to save up money to fund said travels. I’d like to be able to go out to eat or catch a film in the theatres every once in a while without feeling guilt and freaking out about how much I spent. I want to start working on my sleeve that I have planned out in my head but never felt comfortable spending the funds on (plus, finding a good tattoo artist is hard). I have yearly doctors’ appointments that still need scheduling, an oil change that is looming and who knows what other one-time expenses that are going to pile up, thus depleting said nest egg. Getting a second job makes the most sense.

Yet at what cost?

The biggest one is time. Mainly, writing time. Since I moved out onto my own, I’ve been averaging roughly 5,000 words a day, writing roughly four hours a day. I have read four books. I’ve caught up on my editorial work. I’ve been writing more blog posts and book reviews. That output in extraordinary for me and something I am totally not used to. And it is something that I cherish highly, already, even though I’ve only done it for two weeks. I don’t want to give up that time for a second job.

But what does that cost?

Option B: Living off a Tight Budget
The cost of not getting a second job is obviously very literal. I’ll be living on a much tighter budget. I’ll have to really limit what I buy and when I buy it. I’ll have to minimize my utilities expenses any chance that I get. I’ll have to be more aware of where my money is going and be more on top of balancing my checkbook. Some of the things I’d like to have in my apartment might not get purchased. And unless my bills somehow lessen so I can make more than I owe, eventually, the money is going to run out and I’m going to be forced to resort to Option A. It’s inevitable.

But if I choose Option B, I can give my writing the attention it deserves. I can take it seriously and truly treat it like a second job (as I should). Though I’ll always be hyper aware of my financial situation and stressed out, I’ll escape from it all within the worlds I’m currently writing about or revising, at least for a little while. I can work towards my ultimate career goal of publishing books and making a living as an author. Even if choosing Option B is just for a few months, before I’m forced to get that second job (unless a miracle happens and my current job promotes me to full time. *snorts*)

Of course, I could try a hybrid of the two. Get a second job that I only work a few days in the mornings or work Fridays and Saturdays, so I don’t have a day off. Not write every day but still write a few days out of the week. Sleep a little less, be forced to prioritize my hobbies a little bit more. Yet I hesitate. I selfishly want a weekend. I enjoy the Friday Girls’ Nights that have happened the past two weekends. I’m able to go to my friend’s wedding this weekend without taking off of work. I can go home and see my family without trying to balance multiple jobs. And sometimes, I just want to be a bum on a Friday and play videogames all day, never changing out of my PJs and eating leftover mac and cheese.

*lesigh*

At the moment, I’m not actively searching for a second job. I’m going to begin the first round of edits on my fourth novel this week to prep for the #P2P16 contest happening in October. Yet I’m aware that while I really enjoy my schedule (working evenings and having the mornings and afternoons free to dedicate to my creativity), that schedule isn’t enough to live a life absent of financial stress. And I’m really tired of bawling my eyes out trying to balance my checkbook or watch as my bank account shrinks ever slowly. Yet is financial stability and comfort worth the price of creative output? Is creative output worth the stress of living paycheck-to-paycheck?

I don’t bloody know.

Cheers.