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partyrock's avatar

How do people stay above water, financially? How hard was it for you, is it still hard?

Asked by partyrock (3870points) February 18th, 2012

This is a question that has a lot of other questions. This is for younger people, or I guess older too, who don’t have any college degrees and are just working. How do you find it possible to stay “above water” ?

I live in Los Angeles, so everything is very expensive. I can only imagine how more it must be in great old New York.

Anyway, how do you survive? How do you stay motivated and positive, when it seems each month you are barely getting by, and living from “paycheck to paycheck”? I guess I’d like to know what other young adults my age are doing, who don’t have kids, or don’t have advanced degrees yet.

Do you live with your family to save money? Do you need to ask or borrow money from parents? Do you save as much as possible?

I did the math and with minimum wage in California, even if you were working 8 Hour-Days, for 6 days a week, for a month, you’d make 1,536—- which would be barely getting by if you were renting a room (which is about 800$ for renting JUST a room), and spending 300$ on food a month, 200$ for gas, and 200$ for “fun or outings”... I know people can live this way, but it seems really hard.

How do people make it ? Sometimes I get really stressed out just worrying “What if I can’t pay rent on time?”. What do people do to bring in more income, and is it just all about saving?

Do you find it easier to just live at home with family, rent free and save (or pay some rent and/or help/groceries) than to live on your own?

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9 Answers

partyrock's avatar

I struggled for a while when I was 18 living in Hollywood and trying to make it on my own. I found out I had no idea how to really take care of myself or be responsible. I was working a minimum wage job and renting out a room, in a 2 bedroom, and we had another room mate living in the living room, and it was still hard financially. I had to even get another girl to share my bedroom with. I was depressed I was in that situation of barely getting by and envious of people who seemed to “have it all”. I wondered what the difference was between me and them. I knew I was smart, I knew I was capable,and I knew I was not meant to live in an obscure way. I’m really thankful for my parents for helping me financially during those times.

That’s my story. I’m 22 now, and even though I feel much more stable, responsible, and have money saved, I still get worried sometimes if I’ll be able to “make it”.

trailsillustrated's avatar

I am old, I live with my family like aunt charlie in the attic, it’s not bad, I am going out into my own, and I am going to make my own living. Am I going to ‘make it’? I have no idea. Am I afraid? Hell no. Do i have skills? yes. Do I see a future? yes, yes, and yes.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Hang onto yer socks, ‘cause it’s about to get a lot harder. The Fed keeps printing money with no backing, and inflation keeps creeping up. It’s not that things are getting more expensive, it’s that the money is becoming worth less. We’ve got about 20 miles of very rough road ahead. : (

nikipedia's avatar

Having a college degree doesn’t necessarily help that much, and can make your financial situation much worse if you are in debt. Before I went back to school I was paying over $500/month, and I have probably another 10–15 years of that ahead of me.

To answer your question, you live cheap and you work hard. I have had periods in my life when I worked 2 or 3 jobs. There was one 8 month stretch when I worked every single day.

But I realize that just being able to say that means I am very fortunate. I’m white, young, healthy, and have a lot of advantages that make it easy for me to get work.

Having lived in New York and San Francisco, I have never paid $800 for a room. You can live in cheaper places, they are just kind of shitty and usually have at least 1 person too many.

To make more money, I think it’s important to work in an industry where you can move up, and to be hardworking enough that the higher-ups want to promote you. When I got to the top of my last job and there was nowhere left to go, I decided it was time to go back to school.

zenvelo's avatar

It can get easier and then hard again. Ten years ago I was doing well, since then I have been through a disastrous divorce that cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars, and now most of my savings are gone. But I’ve sat down and figured how to restructure my savings and expenses, and it will work out. I just can’t rush out and buy the iPad I want, or even a new car (mine is 13 years old).

So, as @nikipedia so elegantly said, live cheap and work hard. It’s delayed gratification, which many of us are not good at accepting (especially me!).

gondwanalon's avatar

I suggest that you switch gears and make a dramatic change in your life. It would be very hard to do this but you could move to a less expensive area of California, work part time while attend a junior college or trade school. Perhaps your family can help you with finances.

I grew up in L.A. County and after high school I went to Chaffey College while working part time jobs and living in a trailer with other room mate. After I graduated from Chaffey I moved up to Eureka to attend Humboldt State Uni and worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken while living in another trailer with other room mates. I got very little help from my family. It was not easy and I had no social life for the 6 years (3 years at Chaffey and 3 years at Humboldt) that it took me to get my B.A. but the effort that I put into my education has been very rewarding. I would gladly do it all over again if I was young. I’m an old guy now and my wife and I are in good shape financially to retire soon.

If you are serious about getting out of poverty. Then get tough and then make it happen. You can do it!

deni's avatar

If you’re bent on living in a place where rent is THAT expensive, then you must really love it. So you do whatever it takes, I guess. It isn’t fun but, people make it work if they want to live a certain place like that.

I pay 500 a month for rent in a place I love living and that is a lot for me….I make ABOUT that per month, a bit more, right now, not working full time (usually about 30–35 hours a week, but I don’t make much per hour). But luckily I did a job for a month that was a cash cow so I still have some money saved up from that. But it’s dwindling, and yes it is upsetting and feels like a drag a lot. But that’s life. I just assume it will get better.

I live pretty cheaply otherwise….frozen meals and crap like that is where a lot of people waste money…I spend about 30 a week on food and luckily I work at a place where I get a 60% discount on GREAT food so I can eat cheaply whenever I want which really really really helps.

You take up side jobs….I clean 6–8 hours a week for a couple who work like 9 jobs and just don’t have time to do it. That’s 60 extra bucks in my pocket every week. 240 extra dollars a month! That’s huge!

I don’t know the answer though really because I wonder it a lot myself lol.

KateTheGreat's avatar

I’ve been financially independent since I was about 16. The best thing to do is track every dollar that you have coming in and going out. Set up a budget that shows what is necessary for you to live every month, then set aside money in that budget for “fun and entertainment”. Save as much as you can for emergencies and for future activities. Try to find a job that will suit the amount you need coming in. And most of all, ALWAYS look for new opportunities to make money.

Last year, I worked as an opera singer, a vocal coach, and a fast food manager to create extra revenue for myself. You just have to be determined.

janedelila's avatar

OH my. I live in a very depressed area of PA, where it is dog eat dog, or old money…I work at a preschool and a bar, and the other half works executive level in a computer component manufacturing company. If it weren’t for the bar money, seriously, we would never make it. In this town, in this economy, I have the perfect jobs. No matter how hard it gets here, they always drink, and they always fornicate. We share no time off, and don’t even have children at home. And we are the lucky ones.

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