This is the story of a girl in New Orleans… trying to go back to school after some time away.
I’m a 23 female living in New Orleans, LA. I went to school for 4 years and stopped after I was in a bad car accident last spring. I moved back home to get back on my feet. I also was unsure of where I was going and not doing so well in school, which I have discovered is due to recently diagnosed ADD, so I decided against immediately returning to school. I live rent free at home. In return for free rent, I am obligated to clean the house from top to bottom twice per month. Good deal, if you ask me.
It was about 9 months ago that I moved back home, and in that time I’ve impressed myself quite a bit – I paid off $3,000 in credit card debt, purchased a car with my own money, saved money, and held down a full time “real” job and been very successful, overall. I also have a 30 hour per week part time job. After taxes, 8% to my 401(k) at my full time job, and health care, I take home about $2,100 or so depending on my hours at my part time job.
My monthly expenses break down something like this:
Car Payment: $300
Personal Care: $250 (includes entertainment, toiletries, food, clothing, pocket money)
Student Loan Payments: $200
About my auto expenses…they are high and they drive me crazy, however, I am overpaying on my car loan by $75 automatically to reduce the term of my loan so I can own my car sooner. I have a 40 mile commute, but if I didn’t commute, I would not have a job.
I would love to move out on my own, but following Katrina, rents have skyrocketed in New Orleans and I don’t feel paying 50+% of my income for a hole in the wall in a not-so-nice neighborhood. Despite the successes I’m having, I am not too happy with my current job or situation. Part of the reason I am saving so much in lieu of getting an apartment on my own (or buying anything for myself) is because by August or January, I want to go back to school to finish the year and a half it would take me to complete my degree. I think I’ve finally figured out what I want to do and am ready to commit to it. I wasn’t before. I think it took getting me out in the real(ish) world to figure out what I wanted my life to be and focus me.
In college, you can be as optimistic and dreamy as you want, but I don’t think anyone really knows what their goals will be once they step out. Personally, I think that will make me even more marketable once I get my degree. My degree will be thoughtful, not forced. I’m sure there are many people who know exactly what they want to do from the start and are able to do that – I’m not one of them. I’ve also decided that my life is going to be about happiness and success, not about working a job I hate (like I am now) for the sake of paying my bills and having stuff. I have dreams, and I finally figured out how I can do it. Or at least try it, anyway.
My parents have agreed to let me live with them rent free, but they’re not going to help pay for school again. My goal is to have at least $10,000 before I go back to school, although I’ll be more comfortable with $15,000, which I can accomplish if I wait until January. Since I plan on going to LSU (Louisiana State University) where rent is actually affordable, I should be able to live somewhat comfortable on that for a year with part time income supplementing.
As for my career aspirations, after I graduate, I actually don’t want to start working right away – I think I might go into the Peace Corps. I hope to find contacts and friends there who will help me find a job in the international realm working with emerging markets – specifically Africa. I spent half of 2006 in South Africa and hope to move back there on a more permanent basis eventually. I’m now willing to work for it – in college, frankly, I wasn’t.
That’s my story and I’m definitely sticking to it =)
Wow… Seasicksquid is working 70 hours a week (full time real job + 30 hour/week part-time job) AND has the time and energy to clean her house twice a month. I am impressed… that’s a hard schedule. I wish her the best of luck!