I remember having “Money noise” in college. For my first few years at school, I was working at the school paper, making a few dollars, but it was barely enough money to put gas in my car — shopping and pricy bar tabs were out of the question.
During my senior year in college, I started working 40 hours a week, in retail, to try and straighten my money situation. It helped, but working 40 hours and taking 15 hours of classes was a tough gig. I drank a lot of Red Bull.
When I graduated college, I was a bartender, which gave me nearly $300/shift — way more than I made at the mall. But my rent was a cool $900/month, plus food and other bills. I soon took a second job as a cocktail waitress.
I worked double shifts on Saturdays, and Sunday was my only day off. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the pain in my feet for those months. My cocktail job required high heels for the entire 8-hour shift.
About six months after graduating college, I landed a full-time job. It was a great job, with an impressive starting salary, and pretty amazing benefits. However, I stayed working at the bar for nearly a year into my job. It was freeing to have the extra money.
I still work at my same day job — I just hit my six year anniversary July 1. I don’t work at the bar anymore, or as a waitress, and I’m thankful for that.
However, I work for the state, and when you work for a school in the state that doesn’t really value education, your wallet doesn’t see much of a change. Over my six years, I’ve seen one raise.
So I’m a mere couple of digits from the salary I was making as a fresh college grad. It’s not something I particularly proud of. Because the cost of living keeps rising, the bills keep coming, and yet, my paycheck stays the same.
And so, I’ve done what I’ve always done — found extra work. As a writer and an editor, I’ve been lucky enough to find paying gigs every week, whether it’s editing someone’s book or helping a company with a press release — I’m able to pay my bills, eat, and have a little fun.
But truthfully, I spend a lot of my nights and weekends working. If I want to take a vacation, that means I’ve got to pick up extra gigs and sleep less.
My coworkers say, “You’re so driven,” but that’s how I have to be if the money in my bank account is getting low, right? And don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful that my writing is even good enough to supplement my income. I’ve been able to get a nice car, take trips, and do some things my paycheck wouldn’t normally afford.
But it’s not a position I pictured myself in at 29. I saw more security. A bigger savings account.
And truthfully, I go back and forth with my feelings about money. There are times when sure, I wish I had more of it. But I know that if I had more, I would spend more.
My wants are usually petty, after all, I’ve got a nice apartment, food in my fridge, and gas in my car. No, I don’t have money for a down payment on a home; but I’m not sure if that’s something I even want.
I suppose my relationship with money will change over time; after all, I’m kind of in a weird, transitional point in my career right now. so for now, I’ll just have to see where things go… and how the money stacks up.