Budget by Necessity

I’ve decided to share my financial situation and track how I am able to stretch it through the end of the semester and summer (hopefully).

I will not receive my next loan check until mid-August. And while I plan on obtaining a paid summer job, I do not current have one.

So, let’s look at the current state of my accounts:

Checking:          137.24
Reserve:         1031.42
Savings:            758.18
Total $ =        1926.84


CC    $3,293.69

Monthly Bills:

Rent                650.00
Phone             100.00
CC                   100.00
Internet            22.50
Electric             40.00
Water               20.00
Total Monthly =  932.50

 Income = $80/week

Based on these calculations, if I spent nothing outside my monthly bills, I will have enough money for two months (May/June). However, I have a weekly bill until May of $245 ($980/month), cost of medicine, down payment and first month’s rent on a new apartment, food, and gas to travel home (~$400).

I am not complaining. I got myself into this mess by making foolish decisions (i.e. dog, Starbucks, Amazon.com). I will document all my purchases and update my current financial snapshot each week.

I hope that this can be insightful to current or future college students, because having to worry about how you are going to afford rent on top of your busy course load is not fun.

How would you cut corners to live on a restricted budget? 

Law School and Budgeting: My Arch Enemy

Decisions. We make them every day. They shape the way our day goes. They can change the direction our path leads us. Yet, do we ever really think of them?
Yes, I know we all (hopefully) put a lot of thought and deliberation into the larger decisions that obviously affect our life. What about the smaller decisions?
The decision to start your day off with a steaming hot, recycled-paper cup, filled to the brim with a sweet caramel macchiato seems minor. It appears to have little impact on your life. Until you sit down and calculate how much is being spent. An average drink at Starbucks costs about $4, if you go five times a week that is $20. In a month that is $80. A year is about $1000 (i.e. $20 * 52 wks). If you saved that $20 every week, you’d have $1000 + interest saved. That can go towards a down payment, the cost of an unexpected car repair, or that spur of the moment vacation you always wanted to take.

As a broke law student, the impact of a cup of coffee or a bag of chips hits me more drastically than it did before. A lot of people start college with unrealistic dreams–I was one of them. I thought that I could work a few part-time jobs, save up money, and have at least two years of loans paid off by the time I entered graduate school. Then I’d receive a full-ride to my number one law school and would be able to work and pay off the other two years of undergrad by the time I received my J.D.

Well, let us look at my current financial situation, shall we?

Student loans (2006-current):    $102,448

Credit Card debt:                             $3,647.47

Expected loans by May 2014:      $118, 000

Total:                                            $224,085.47

After eight years of education to become a criminal law attorney, I will be about $225,000 in debt. How am I going to pay that back? How can I expect to buy a house, raise a family, and save money when I have to pay that all back? Oh! I forgot to account for the approximate 6.8% interest that will be accruing until it is paid off.

Had I been smart, I would have saved all of my money from the age of sixteen and not made foolish purchases. From the necessary 2004 RED Dodge Stratus SXT when I was seventeen to the essential 46′ Samsung LCD flat screen television. The purchases did not seem like a huge deal at the time, but now I realize that had I set aside all that money and placed it in a CD or savings account, I could be in a far better financial situation than I am currently.

I may not be the best advice for financial security; however, I think it is important to sit down and develop a budget. You need to know how much money you have, live within those means, and do not buy any luxury items (i.e. Starbucks).

I fully admit that I am a Starbucks addict. I crave it. Other coffee just seems, well, blah. Yet, I know that I need to make a conscious effort to avoid it. I need to make my own coffee, pack my lunch, and not spend money on foolish, spur of the moment purchases.

$225,000 is a lot of money. It will not be easy, but somehow, I will develop a plan to pay it down in 10 years. Ten years is my goal. I hope to be able to reach it. I want to also save money. I need to start following Suze Orman’s advice… maybe I’ll buy her book… or see if the library carries it! I will be frugal. I will miss out on dinners with friends. Yet, in the end, I want to feel what it is like to have money in the bank that is not already marked for that month’s bills.

Any one have financial advice or some tips/tricks that have worked for you? 

Better Late than Never

Tomorrow I will turn 24. Birthdays are not really as exciting as they used to be when I was young, mostly because you no longer look forward to getting another year older. 

I have decided to make changes in my life this year that will improve my life now and in the future.

  • Follow a budgetImage
  • Take a long walk/run with Toby at least 3x week
  • Complete “My Daily Walk” One-year Bible
  • Journal
  • Work on forgiving those that have hurt me
  • Eat healthier meals
  • Limit sweets to 2x/week
  • No soda
  • Make a schedule AND follow it 
  • Treat law school like my ONLY job 

This is just a start and I am sure my list could be way longer, but I think this is a great start. 
I want to do well this semester/year and I believe that trying to organize my life is the first step. I believe that I have started this semester off on the right food and I just hope that I can continue to improve daily. 

By the way… ALL of my professors this semester are amazing and I am excited to get to know them better and REALLY take this whole thing seriously and start working toward my future goals… once I figure out what those are exactly.