Summer Sun, Summer Employment

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Ugh. This is almost as bad as my search for a part-time job back in the day. I opted to continue to get paid through the summer, so it’s not that I am not going to be able to pay my bills; however, that’s three months I could have a significant secondary source of income. I would be idiotic to not take advantage of it. If anything, it’s been harder to find a summer job. There aren’t a lot of opportunities available for only the summer, or that you can apply for now that will start in late May/early June. PLUS, many of them are solely either for teenagers or for current college students.

My best bets so far have been summer camps and summer school. I’ve applied to teach summer school and for several camps, but so far I’ve only had a phone interview for a nonprofit international camp in New York…which I haven’t heard anything back for so I’m not hopeful. I do have an interview on Monday that seems like it’ll pan out, so wish me luck! It’s with a summer camp that is a little further away than I wanted, but it’s still employment! Plus it’s in the same area that Favorite’s family lives, so maybe I’ll get to hang out a little more with him and do fun summer stuff.

The plan for this potential additional income is to use it solely for debt repayment and my emergency fund.

Some of my accounts are behind (one in particular VERY behind), so the goal for the summer is to completely pay off debts that are not attached to a card/tuition and to catch up all of my delinquent accounts. I would also like to have a month’s income put back in my EF by the end of the summer. I really would love to buy a “new” car by the beginning of 2016; however, in order to do that I need better credit, a better credit history, and money put back. Once I have money for emergencies and a higher credit score (for lower interest), I can concentrate on putting cash back for that purchase. My car is not doing well right now, so if I need to replace it ahead of schedule, I would be able to use my emergency fund for that.

Anyway. I’m planning with money not in hand, and I can’t predict the future, so the best I can do at this point is apply for summer positions as they come and hope it works out for the best!

Wish me luck 🙂 

Start your Emergency Fund … Now!

An Emergency Fund…you know, I had the best intentions of having one. You can even read earlier posts if you don’t believe me. I had reasonable budgets drawn up and had resigned myself to the student loans necessary for tuition now that my 4-year scholarships are up. I had it made in the shade so to speak. I had even looked at cutting my work week (at one of my jobs) down to 15 hours from 20 because I was taking more classes than usual. I had started getting my financial ducks in line.

This could have been me.

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[Background: In the states, you apply for financial aid through something called FAFSA. It has your (or your parents’) income, general info, etc on it and determines whether you are eligible for need-based aid or just regular loans]. Mine is generally filed by my mother, but it was filed a few months late (another story for some other time). I got a confirmation email Monday stating it had been sent to my school, so I should be expecting some sort of offer. I knew the loan amount I needed and since it was not need based, I knew I would be eligible. Day 1: No info, Day 2: No info, … Today: No info. Finally, out of sheer frustration, I started looking under every single tab. This is my 12th semester here [I did a lot of summer school], so I know what I’m doing by now. Under an arbitrary tab I’ve never seen before, it says “Form Required: Grade/Loan Appeal.” There is no link, no further information. To Google! So I find out that I am not making “satisfactory academic progress” (More Backstory: Fall ’10 was a rough semester for me. A lot of family tragedy and bad grades). Now, more context: I am 3, that’s right, 3 classes away from completing my math degree. So I have to fill out an appeal. I look all over the site for the form, and it is nowhere to be found. Then I find a single line that says it was mailed to me.

It's unsustainable & takes too long

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Why am I not happy about that? Well, for one thing, if it was sent, it was sent to my campus address (I haven’t been on campus since May, Canada remember). It wasn’t sent to my home address (so my parents couldn’t give me a heads up), and under that single line it says: Please mail back within 3 weeks of receiving. I have NO idea of when it was sent. The time-stamp under the tab was 8/2/11, but I’ve learned that it doesn’t mean anything. So why am I really unhappy about this, and what does it have to do with an Emergency Fund? (I swear it’s not just mindless ranting!!!)

I deferred payment waiting for my loan offer, so I owe $473.66 by the 11th of August (not a big deal, I can handle that); however, I owe $1171.66 x 3 [due October 1st, November 1st, & December 1st]. My income is not large enough to be able to pay this without loans. I can’t. I’m not being pessimistic, I’m being realistic. I make $7.50 an hour and can work a maximum of 20 hours a week. I have another job based solely on commission, and donating plasma will get you around $50 a week. I have a starting amount of $1145. I have no fear about my appeal not getting accepted (I have a good reason and proof that my grades improved by leaps & bounds), but it’s a matter of how long will it take:

  • For the appeal to be approved
  • For the appeal to process
  • For the loan offer to process
  • For the amount accepted to process
  • For that amount to get sent to the school

So I am crossing my fingers that it would be taken care of by November 1st (or I’m SOL anyway). And so, this means I need to make sure I have at least $1171.66 on October 1st (unless it processes before then, then it’s just moot). Oh, and I have to buy textbooks & eat during this time, and buy my prescriptions, oh and pay for gas. So, this means a very tight budget.

The currency is obviously pesos

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The end all, be all point is that it wouldn’t be as big of a deal if I had an Emergency Fund or any amount of savings. I am going to have to scrimp, save, sell my body, & be very uncomfortable to guarantee to myself that I can pay for school at least through October 1st (I imagine if my appeal is approved, everything will process by then). If I had an emergency fund, my food budget for August & September wouldn’t be under $100, I wouldn’t have to sell plasma, and I probably wouldn’t be as frustrated. I know, when this is over, I really will pay myself first (a common PF thought) and have an EF. If you don’t have one, I suggest working on it. You never know when you’re going to need it (I guess that’s why it’s an emergency fund ha ha).

-L.

Budgeting as a College Student

It’s really difficult to budget as a college student, especially if you happen to live on campus (as I do). Most of my bills are paid during 2 months: August & January. This is when my tuition is paid, my rent is paid, my books are bought, and all those additional fees like parking tags are taken care of. So, it’s really difficult to budget out your money (some of which you don’t have yet) in a manner that satisfies your needs and leaves you with a little bit of a buffer.

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I initially started my budgeting ventures for this year by making a fall budget and spring budget, but after a bit of reflecting, I decided that it doesn’t really help me in the long run this way. I can’t see patterns in my spending and adjust for them, I can’t really set aside X amount for my Emergency Fund (EF) every semester, and it’s just difficult to keep things in perspective when you’re looking at categories of spending over the span of 5 months. So today, I listed all anticipated income and expenses (everything from haircuts to taxes), and made official budgets for every month in Excel. It’s pretty basic, no fancy calculations or anything, but I think it will be something that I can keep to a lot more easily than I could a semesterly sheet. So, what are the items I have to budget for?

  • tuition
  • rent
  • fees
  • books
  • food
  • haircuts
  • Netflix
  • Gas
  • gifts
  • applications to grad school
  • standardized testing fees

Those last 2 will really hit you for doozy (almost $900…ridiculous). Aside from my main, on-campus job, I am also working an internship during the semester and plan to sell my body sell plasma. Every cent of that money is going to my Emergency Fund/Savings Fund. Yeah, I know you’re supposed to have both, but my plan right now is to build up one “do not spend” account and then split them later. Does it make sense? Yes. To me at least. Right now, with my bank, I have a checking account and savings account. My savings account will be my “do not spend” account =). I’ll be keeping track of how well I keep to my budget on this blog (y’all will hold me accountable, right?). I’m hoping to increase my net worth by a bit as well, so I’ll post about that every once in a while. I’m really excited, because I’m hoping that next semester I’ll be able to split my account into the EF & SF (because without the test aps & ap fees, I’ll have another $840 to put in my budget!!! Plus I’ll be able to have a smaller present budget [no Christmas!!! – is that something I should be happy about?])…

-L.