Financial Makeover: College Students Maria and Caroline
Maria and Caroline are college students who are barely scraping by. Their monthly income is nearly that of their monthly expenses.
It sounds like you’re in a tough place, and I know that can be difficult. There are a few options for you, and right now none of them are terribly appealing, but here they are.
First, discretionary spending is always a vague category and has room for improvement. If you’ll recall from my previous Moneyshot post, I blew through about $1,000 in ‘discretionary spending’ and the vast majority of that was eating out. Did I need to eat out? No. I was already doing groceries too, so I was essentially burning my candle at both ends.
I don’t necessarily think it should be scaled back, but just take a look at how much you’re spending on groceries too. I found recently that eating in, groceries were expensive because I had made so many prepared foods–canned tomatoes and beans, both of which are half the price if I’d bought them fresh and made them myself. They’re handy shortcuts, but you’re paying essentially for someone else’s time canning your food. Once I realized that, I was able to save more money by buying the components of prepared foods that I liked.
Your real area of opportunity here is freelancing. She’s doing head shots right now, but is there any way to increase that? Additionally, you could be doing something freelance to bring in additional income. Writing is an easy one to start, and we have a series on how to freelance right here on Queercents. It might be beneficial for both of you, because you look as though you’re mostly doing okay. In the event of an emergency, though, what happens? That’s why it is so important to try to increase your income. A modest increase of even $100 a month would mean quite an emergency fund by the end of next year.
Does anyone else have advice for Maria & Caroline? Let us know in the comments below.