Sunday, September 16, 2007

Money and career: starting to sort it out.

This week I got my first paycheck. Between my full ride (or as they called it on my bill “100% graduate tuition exemption,” God bless ‘em!) and my 10000/yr stipend, I’m going to be okay! Post-taxes, it comes out to…well, less, but not as much less as I’d feared. I’m technically below the poverty line, yet I’m luckier than so many of my grad-school compatriots. Grad school is the only place in America (outside the unemployment line) where you feel rich for making ten grand a year.

It was helpful that I scrimped all year to pay off all my credit cards, and Tom let me stay with him all July rent-free. Then, all August I stayed with my parents rent-free and got all my meals free. All I had to buy was the occasional tank of gas. Unfortunately, I still owe my parents some money.

There was a slight crisis a while back. My school didn’t reserve any city taxes from my paycheck, so I had to pay up big-time, not to mention a bill I had to pay to Fordham. That pretty much drained my savings, but I had to move from Spanish Harlem to Harlem. Suddenly I needed to rent a moving truck, first month’s rent, last month’s rent and deposit. Ouch. In New York, that’s a crazy-lot of cash, which I still owe Mom and Dad. I’m not ashamed of it, but it does bother me. I want to be an independent grown-up. Well, we all need a little help sometimes, right?

I’m hoping that in three years, with summer jobs, I can make enough to pay my bills, pay back Mom and Dad, buy a cheap car (a student told me she got a 2007 in perfect condition from the local police for less than $1000) with registration and insurance, etc., and have enough cash left over to move and establish myself wherever I need to go. I may be dreaming, though. Unless I win the lottery. Of course, first I’d have to play the lottery. Gambling just doesn’t suit me, but it’s nice to dream.

On the other hand, I may decide to get a PhD here, in which case I’d have 5 years to save up some cash. Unless I decided to get a PhD elsewhere. Oh, who knows. Part of me looks forward to the time when my life will be a little more settled. I’m getting tired of starting over time after time. Since leaving home for BVU, the longest I’ve lived anyplace was two years in the Spanish Harlem apartment. I just keep starting over any over. On the other hand, I feel like I’m in just the right place now. I’m trying to just enjoy the adventure of it all. I think coming here was the right choice.

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