TGIF! We have another installment of our interview series to share today. And this week, we need your help! Our guest, Kelsey Y., is having a budgeting dilemma. We really appreciate her honesty and openness in sharing her situation. We hope we can help her out today!
Tell us a little about your situation.
I’m 23 and almost 9 months into my first full-time job since graduating from college in December of 2013. Previous to this job, I was working at a local hospital in the nutrition services dept., where I was in a very casual position. Transition to my new job was hard, as I had been living paycheck to paycheck for quite some time; I saw this as normal for being in college and never felt I was really struggling. But the budget was tight. I had high hopes that since I was working full-time, I’d be making more money and would be able to budget better — but it’s been hard. I’m up $2 from my starting wage, which puts me at $15/hour. We moved right before I interviewed for this job, so a change in rent/utilities affected my budgeting as well.
I’ve found a way to make sure I break down my paychecks into bills and savings, and while it’s worked, it’s hard with my boyfriend not making as much as I am. I find myself picking up the extra errands (trust me, we only get the essentials at Target) and bills because I feel bad that he isn’t making as much. But I’m close to being a bit fed up. I really want to start putting more money towards my student loans, but it just isn’t feasible at this time. I’d really like to be able to find a budget that WORKS and that I can manage easily. I’ve tried Mint and Every Dollar, and it just hasn’t clicked yet. I want to learn how to better allocate money for groceries, ‘essentials’, gas, etc., and find a way to still enjoy the little things in life.
So what are your goals? And what’s the “why” behind each of them?
- Increase my savings. I want to be able to have a nest egg so that when car issues arise, I’m not strapped for cash out of my normal checking account.
- Start to pay down my student loans. I want this $22,000 to be out of my life as soon as possible. I want to be able to get married in the years to come, and not feel that I have all of that weighing down on me.
- STOP living paycheck-to-paycheck and budget in a way that works for me. I think it will help me to have a game plan that works for me.
What do you struggle with most with budgeting?
Figuring out how to allocate money for groceries/gas/etc. from paycheck-to-paycheck. I also think about how to balance the “fun” purchases — coffee dates, a lunch out every once in a while, etc.
Walk us through a regular month of income and expenses: what do you take home and where does it go?
$1823.62 is the total of my April paychecks; I’m paid hourly, so some months/paydays it can vary.
- Rent: $343 (of $685)
- Electric: $24–30
- Heat: $53 (of $105 – budget billing)
- Car Loan: $118 (only have about $500 left!)
- CrossFit: $157.50
- Car Ins.: $95
- Student Loan: $40 (this is the only one I’m paying on at this time)
There’s also gas, which can range depending on when I decide to get it; a full tank is around $35, I think. Groceries are about $50/week, but that can vary based on how long we go in between visits. I have a few mail subscriptions, totaling only about $16/month.
Any final words?
Help! Haha…I just want to be able to find a way to budget that can work for me and also maybe roll over into helping my boyfriend figure out a budget for himself as well!
Thanks, Kelsey! If you have any budgeting tips/tricks/methods/secrets that have worked for you, please share them in the comments below to help Kelsey out!