Reality and the ramifications of it: a budget
There's nothing like doing a budget and then... staring at your budget. I just wrote up the approximate value of USD I hemorrhaged during the month of Oct 19th to Nov 19th, and it is not pretty. I am losing about 1300USD/month.
This has massive ramifications for my life plans. I thought that I could do the work-part-time-and-focus-on-your-art thing, but it turns out that that literally doesn't pay for living. If I worked a 40-hour week at $12 per hour after taxes (and remember--minimum wage in Massachusetts is $11, so that's asking more than minimum), I would come out to $1920. My current rate of spending was $2000 in September and $1800 in November. I think I can get it slightly lower, but there's no way I can break $1500. My dreams of being a daydreamy artist and bolshevik are flying away like the money emoji. I'm going to have to find a full-time job.
This is kind of a horrifying realization I just had. I don't want to work a full-time job. I'm already working on a novel. Novels require a lot of work! And I've often found that when I'm working full time, I often can't work on the novel--whether because it's hard to concentrate on something other than work, or because I'm just uninspired when I'm work-addled. I worked full-time all this summer, and my wordcounts were pathetic. I was ranging 2000 per month. That's not even a story! Now it's November, and yes, I know it's National Novel Writing Month, but I'm writing 1000-2000 words per day. That's a pretty fucking big difference. And I think it has to do with not working all the time. Unfortunately, capitalism doesn't recognize my writing as labor, and no one is paying me for writing--not even minimum wage.
So I have to get a full-time job. I have to--if I don't want to go home to my parents. And I don't. How did this happen? Well, let's look at the budget.
The following are things I absolutely need to live/avoid debt/bankruptcy (numbers have been rounded:
- RENT/UTILITIES 500/month
- FEDERAL LOAN 50/month
- GROCERIES 250-400/month
The price of groceries varies. In Sept-Oct it was lower because I ate out more. In Oct-Nov I spent $200 less eating out, trying to cut costs, but I ended up spending $150 more on groceries to make up the difference. Regardless, you can see that it would cost me $1000/month for the barest minimum human experience bought by money--currently about $400 more per month than I am making with my part time jobs. And that $1000 doesn't even cover the basics necessary to maintain a job.
The following are things I absolutely need to hold a job--full-time or part-time:
- CAR INSURANCE 50/month
- GAS 100/month
- CELL PHONE 50/month
So including the things I need for a job, plus the bare minimum, I would be averaging about $1200 per month. That number, although it would probably let me survive (knock on wood), would include no healthcare and no emergency money. Unlike the rest of America, I see those things as pretty goddamned important.
The following things are ACTUALLY NECESSITIES imnsho:
- CVS (prescriptions) $70/month
- THERAPY $100/month
- GYM $60/month
- FOOD OUT $130/month
Next month, because my health insurance is switching (I am turning 26), I will have to also pay a health insurance premium. Because my therapist will not be covered by my new health plan, I will have to pay four times the amount I was paying per visit--instead of the $25 copay, I will pay $100. This is all very dire shit. I have to find a full-time job (a death knell to my plans to be a happy bohemian working on her art) and that full time job might not even cover my existence. Being employed seems kind of inefficient if it doesn't even cover your basic expenses.
The not-basic expense I haven't mentioned is what I call "online shopping" but also includes things like "buying myself potted plants" or "paying to mail things at USPS." Last month, this expenditure was as follows:
- "ONLINE" SHOPPING $330/month
It's absolutely true that I could cut misc. shopping, but even if I cut it 100% (which doesn't recognize that sometimes things happen, like you need a new computer charger, or--as happened to me, literally today--your Lena cup breaks and you have to order a new one as an emergency. I mean, god. What am I shopping for? A pair of winter boots, a book, one dress, flannel sheets, and those plants I mentioned. That is literally all I bought for myself last month. And yeah, maybe I didn't need the boots or the dress. But sheets are kind of important. And this month a Lena cup is pretty fucking goddamned important. Sometimes you need to buy new things.
I just wonder how anyone lives on minimum wage in Massachusetts--and Massachusetts has one of the higher minimum wages. Imagine if I were also attending school--the costs of books and courses would be necessary. Where would that cost go? You can't work more than a forty hour week and go to school, can you? Obviously people do this, but you have to wonder whether their grades and experience are limited by the number of hours they have to commit elsewhere.
So anyway, I think that they should raise the Massachusetts minimum wage. Higher than $15. I think that healthcare should be taken more seriously in America, and funded appropriately. And I think that I need to get a goddamned full-time job that pays more than $12/hour after taxes. This is not an easy task ahead of me. Not an easy task at all.