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Hit the wall

August 18th, 2013 at 10:24 am

I've been thinking about money long before I've chosen to blog about my money issues. Working as a temp changes the way a person thinks about money. At least it did for me. Back in the day when I had a permanent job, I could count on a certain amount of compensation on an annual basis and was compensated for vacation and sick time. Even though my income is arguably steady, I've never thought of it as something that could be relied upon. It changes so much from project to project. However my fixed costs are such that they require steady compensation. It's difficult looking at a minimum of $1500 a month in expenses, including $900 for my student loan.

Recently I had surgery and I was fortunate that my project wrapped up two days before my scheduled surgery. I'm in recovery and the doctor recommended that I take 2 weeks off, but I can't see myself having no income for 2 weeks. Since I am in between projects, I have some time to recover, yet I am looking for work as well.

Many times I feel as if I "hit a wall." I start out with the best intentions that I will save money and not use my credit cards and then life gets in the way. The combination of unsteady income and high fixed expenses and life circumstances can derail the best of intentions. Sometimes the only thing a person can do is stay positive and ride it the lean times and try to make up for it when times are flush.

Unlike many of my colleagues, I have not put my student loans in forbearance or defaulted on my credit cards. I have been able to keep up with my expenses in spite of short times.

I do get frustrated at the thought of limitations. Worrying about small things like lunches, transportation or little indulgences is frustrating to me because I do make good money even though it disappears quickly.

Trying to stay positive for now. I just finished paying my monthly bills and I am happy that I have paid everything for August and the beginning of September.

6 Responses to “Hit the wall”

  1. Wino Says:

    I hope this doesn't sound cruel, but it really sounds like part of your problem is spending too much rather than earning too little. The phrase that caught my eye was "small things like lunches... or little indulgences." This indicates that you're probably eating out for lunch and buying unnecessary items. If you're really living project-to-project and paycheck-to-paycheck, you should be packing a lunch and cutting all of your expenses to the bone.

    Do you have a budget? Even with an uncertain income, you need to have a budget. Also, are you trying to pay down your credit cards and student loans? You really need to try to stop using the debt cards (my phrase for credit cards), and you really need to cut those unnecessary monthly expenses that you can cut. Otherwise, you're probably not going to have a good time of it in the long run.

  2. soogar Says:

    I've posted my thoughts on the lunch thread. I bring coffee, fruit, cereal and cottage cheese from home to work. Lunch is the one meal that I prefer eating out because I feel that I can get a better value on a salad that I would actually eat from a restaurant as opposed to buying all the ingredients and bringing it from home. And in Manhattan, groceries are not that cheap. But either way, it's difficult because most people who work in Manhattan buy lunch from outside. And when someone makes decent money and doesn't really spend a lot in comparison to his/her peers, it's frustrating to worry about things like lunch. Anyway now I am recovering from surgery and am eating lunch at home.

  3. Wino Says:

    I am not trying to start an argument, and I'm certainly not trying to tell you what to buy or where to spend your money. Everyone who finds himself considering bankruptcy - you're nowhere near this point - looks back to figure out what happened and where things went wrong.

    There's no way to go bankrupt without spending more than you earn.

    Let that sink in: The only way to go bankrupt is to spend more than you earn. You started out in the hole with your student loans. "Everybody has student loans when they start out," most people think. And in many cases it's true. So, you've already started spending more than you earn, and you haven't even earned anything yet (for the typical college grad).

    You just had surgery, and you think eating out is cheaper than fixing it yourself. Let me just tell you, fixing it yourself is cheaper. I live in Dubai, and if you think Manhattan is expensive, I suggest you not come here for dinner.

    You can always find reasons to do what you want to do. Heck. You work to earn money so you can buy what you want, when you want. That's the whole reason for the effort-reward thing.

    But the reality is that unless your income exceeds your outgo, you're going to have problems. Your choice is to either increase your income or decrease your outgo... or deal with the problems.

    One last comment: You didn't answer my question about whether or not you have a budget.

  4. PatientSaver Says:

    Actually, $1500 for monthly expenses plus the student loans in NYC sounds positively cheap. I absolutely understand what you say about temporary work. Each new assignment you have to prove yourself all over again; you can never just settle into the job because it could end unexpectedly at any time.

    Until your work becomes more reliable, aka a salaried job, you will have to rein in the "small indulgences," as you put it.

  5. laura Says:

    My brother is an attorney who was recently unemployed. He said that while interviewing it was made aware to him that his credit is checked as well as references. I would think that it is important to keep your credit blemish-free if you wish to find secure employment one day.

    Also, in your defense regarding eating out, my best friend is a single person who regularly eats out - mostly at Middle Eastern restaurants where the portions are generous and the prices are moderate - so she gets leftovers for lunch or the next dinner. I don't of course know if this is your case.

    I'm also not sure of your gender, but what are the small indulgences you speak of? A $7.00 bottle of OPI nail polish in lieu of several $19.99 manicures or pedicures. The occasional $12.00 scarf at TJ Maxx to perk up an older outfit? A first-run matinee on a Saturday?

    The first thing that I do when I need a reset is to become acutely aware of the expenses for the month, then rank in priority the "wants" in accordance with what remains. I've got a large family and sometimes all that funds that remain are for gas and basic groceries at Aldi's. However, we go to the park or the library. My kids participate in all the free programs that our public library offers. My daughters have had to reduce their dance lessons down to once a week and they no longer work with a driller from Ireland. My oldest daughter practiced tons and passed the first several tests to become qualified to teach and has drilled younger dancers.

  6. WISEWOMAN Says:

    One step at a time. I suggest making a budget, writing down all expenditures to get an idea where your money is going. Start making cuts/sacrifices on non essentials. If you enjoy eating lunch out daily and feel it's cheaper than making your own then budget for it. Maybe a compromise? Can you brown bag it twice a week?

    If you have cable, cut it or look for a cheaper package. Do the same with phone, car insurance, etc.

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