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WINGING IT: I’m Working 4 Jobs While Everyone Around Me Goes on Expensive Vacations

For a long time, women have been afraid to talk about money. It’s been seen as taboo, tacky, and straight-up awk. But not anymore. Winging It is an anonymous series where we ask college women how they spend their money, make their money, and think about money. Sometimes, we’re planning our finances well in advance; other times, we’re straight up winging it. Either way, we’re getting real.

The Basics

Who I am: 

23-year-old white female from California.

School: 

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

The $$$ I earn each month: $1000

The $$$ I’m given each month: $800

The $$$ I get from scholarships, etc.: $500/month

Current job: I have four jobs: veterinarian tech (paid), classroom assistant (paid), assistant to the president of a private company (paid) and catering for a private catering company (paid)

Dream job: Teaching vocational agriculture with an FFA (Future Farmers of America) program

Where I live: An off-campus apartment

The Breakdown

My semester in terms of $$$:

At the beginning of each quarter, I purchase textbooks and school supplies and pay the utility bill for the next three months. Beyond that, I rarely spend money, unless I have medical expenses or something similar.

How I spend: 

I choose to focus my spending on necessities, like groceries, school supplies, medical expenses, gas, and utilities. If I have extra money I might use it to purchase something “fun”, like getting a drink downtown with friends, but for the most part I put extra money into my savings account. Once a week I go line dancing downtown, which is $5, plus gas.

How I save:

I ride my bike rather than drive, therefore I don’t buy a pass to park on campus. I rarely eat out and score free meals at catering work when I can. I rent tech equipment (cameras, video cameras, or other items needed for class projects) from the school rather than buying my own. I also use the free gym at my apartment complex rather than paying for a gym membership. I used the same laptop for 8 years and only bought a new one once it permanently died, and up until this year, I drove a 2002 Honda Civic (which blew a gasket after hitting 243,000 miles).

When I do splurge:

I splurge on higher quality food at the grocery store and vitamins, since I have health issues that limit my diet and can’t easily get all the vitamins and minerals I need. I occasionally splurge on makeup and beauty services, like getting my brows waxed and my hair cut, but usually try to save this for when I have coupons for Ulta or beauty services at my local salon.

Finances are for yourself:

I rarely do, honestly. I think that finances are something that you should keep with yourself and only discuss with your parents or your partner if you have a joint account.

$$$ + anxiety:

One thing I have been worrying about is having to take out student loans when I start my master’s degree program in the fall. So far I have been able to pay for school entirely with scholarships and money earned from work, so I’ve never had to worry about having the threat of student loans hanging over my head the way many college students have.

How other students at my college deal:

Most people at my school are pretty well off. Of the 23 CSUs in California, we have more students who come from a “1%” financial background than any other school (3.5% of our population; all other schools the 1% students make up less than 0.5% of the population). This can be frustrating since I come from a middle-class background and don’t feel like I can relate to some students who do not understand the struggle of having financial constraints. I try not to worry about it too much because I know that everyone has different struggles and that having to earn what I have will make me a more financially responsible individual.

$$$ + FOMO:

It’s definitely hard to see people getting front row tickets to an amazing concert, or going on trips to the Bahamas for spring break. It’s hard knowing that I don’t have the money for that, but I try my best not to let it get to me. I know that one day I will have the opportunity to experience those things when I have a career and more money in my savings account. For now, I just focus on paying for the important things, like school and rent.

Are you winging it? Share your story with us.

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