WINGING IT: I’m 22, I Make $425/Month & I Have Credit Card Debt from My Medical Bills

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. As a part of our 10th anniversary, we’re launching Winging It, 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: 22-year-old woman who goes to the local state college 

School: Keene State College in Keene, NH, Class of 2019

The $$$ I earn each month: $425

The $$$ I’m given each month: $0

The $$$ I get from scholarships, etc: $0

Avg. Tuition: $13,613 for in-state (which I am)

Where I live: Off-campus apartment

Current Job: I make $9 an hour working at a movie theater near campus

Dream Job: I dream of becoming a college professor

The Breakdown

$$$ + Debt

Do I have credit card debt? Yes.

How it happened:

I was thoughtful about what I spent money on when it came to college, in the sense that I go to the college that's less than two miles from her house growing up, which is obviously more affordable than traveling really far and moving for college. Why do I have debt anyway? Because my medical bills were due and I put them on my card. I had no other choice.

How I try to save money:

I try to save money by eating less and limiting the amount of time I spend with friends so I don't end up buying food, snacks, etc. that I don't actually need. I worry that I limit myself too harshly with spending in hopes that I can use extra money to pay off credit cards. Either way, it's not going well.

How my friends talk about money:

Me and my friends and money... we don’t talk about it. Like, at all. Our college is economically diverse and not in a good way: about half are wealthy, and about half are poor. The locals at KSC are poor, and those from out-of-state are wealthy. We (meaning the local students) don't talk about money. We don't look for other reasons to feel more like outsiders in our own town.

Money + anxiety:

I worry about getting sick if I go without, well, anything that I need. It definitely gives me anxiety to even think about it. 

My week in terms of money:

Here's a general look at how I spent my money throughout the week. It's worth noting that since I have an autoimmune disease, I am very limited in options for "budget" grocery shopping.

Monday: I spend about $60 on groceries. 

Tuesday - Friday: About $20-30 on eating out. My eating out has been closer to $50/week lately because I'm dating a new guy. I would love if we could cook together to save money, but I feel guilty about how I can only eat very specific foods to prevent getting sick. He shouldn't have to eat the way I do if he doesn't have to.

Anything else I earn goes to medical debt. I usually take home around $100 a week in my paycheck.