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.
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.