It’s come to my attention over the last few months that I am making more than I ever have in my life, more than the combined income of my ex and I when we lived together, and yet I am drowning at the end of every month, which is something that I’ve never had happen before. I am very good with money. I save, I try to keep my expenses down and I’ve never had a problem being able to splurge because it’s a once in a while thing, and I usually have the excess in savings to meet the cost.
In 2007, I took three weeks off from work and went around the world to Malaysia and Singapore. On essentially 40% of what I am making now. Right now, I couldn’t even conceive of making that trip because I couldn’t afford it. So what’s the problem? I’ve been thinking about it as I laid back in bed all week closing my eyes. New York is expensive, but it’s not that expensive. And I can see how the doubled and tripled costs of everything add up to thousands of dollars that is making me fret about finances in a way that I never have before.
My groceries, internet and cable are roughly $270 more a month than they were in Pennsylvania. That’s not too much, and considering the prices in New York, I could be spending a lot more.
My rent is $450 more in New York than it was a year or so ago. Again, there’s nothing really to do about that because my rent is pretty cheap for the city. But that’s already $720 more that I’m spending.
The biggest line item after that is student loans, which I did not have to pay before because I had a scholarship for undergrad. At $40,000 worth of debt at 6% interest, the payments are structured to be $500 per month. I actually pay $850 per month because while this is considered “good debt,” it’s not good when the interest rate is more than I can make on the average return of a mutual fund. Also, I’ve veered out of the tax bracket that allows me to take deductions for interest payments. That’s right, I will no longer be able to take deductions for my student loans. This is why Penn State is never getting a dime from me in charitable contributions. Suck it, Penn State.
The next albatross around my neck is my car. That I had to buy because it was required by my old company. Except after the first couple of months, I rarely had to use it for my company. It now sits in a parking lot unneeded, at 8 months old. It’s a 24 month lease, so I have 16 months to go on it. I looked into lease swapping this weekend because it would be awesome if I could get rid of it. But alas, my leasing company does not permit lease transfers. For the lease, insurance, and parking I pay $600 per month. Tack on the fact that I do use the subway all the time and that costs me $105 per month. So, $705 for transportation that I mostly don’t need and would desperately like to get rid of. Come July 2012, I’m going to see essentially a $7200 pay raise.
This all comes down to $2275 more a month that I’m spending, just for being alive in New York! And I am not even some unsavvy consumer who doesn’t know how to take care of finances. It’s no wonder that I’m struggling to live within my means. There has got to be a creative solution out of this jam, but I’ll be damned if I can see it right now. A few months ago, someone said to me that it’s difficult to live here for less than a six figure salary. This is why.Finances, New York, psyche