This post is a part of our Diploma Diaries series — our look at post-college life. Interested in submitting your own story? Click here to get the details.
By Jocelyn Hall, Alumna of the University of San Francisco
One of the worst things about being an adult has got to be paying bills. They show up every month and sometimes they look like they’ll never go away.
Currently, there is exactly $7.99 in my bank account. Broke doesn’t even begin to describe it.
I can’t go shopping. I can’t go to the movies. I can’t even buy dinner on my way home from work tonight. As frustrating as it all is, though, I try to look at the positives. And one good thing is that for this month and the beginning of next month, I don’t have to worry about paying my bills.
That’s a positive, right?
I try to think of it this way. Bills are expected to be paid every month. They don’t like it when they’re not, and when they’re not, they get mad. So mad that my entire credit score will get all messed up and will appear as a nice little hiccup for the next 10 years on my credit summary. It’s not worth it to explain why there are red flags all over my credit summary when I’m trying to buy a house six years from now or heck, even a new car next year. I try to think about the future and what one little late payment will do to everything I’ve been working to establish.
And then I always get the image of a 10-year-old me standing in the front yard of the house we almost got foreclosed on as I watched a tow truck haul away our only means of transportation. That idea alone will make me press the SUBMIT button on any bill.
So as I look at my sad little bank account, I try to feel better knowing that my car won’t be taken away, my phone won’t get turned off and my credit score won’t lower.
When I was dishing out that cellphone payment, I was definitely contemplating shopping … or bills? Drinks with the girl friends … or bills? Movie night with that cute coworker-who-may-or-may-not-be-paying-for-your-ticket-but-you-don’t-want-to-show-up-assuming-he’s-buying-your-snacks-ticket-and-maybe-dinner-afterwards-when-he-could-really-just-want-to-hang-out-as-friends-and-go-halfsies … or bills?
These are the tough decisions. And I definitely don’t need to put any more spending on my credit card. That was supposed to be for emergencies only, right?
But I do have a little system going on. I pay the majority of my bills at the end of the month. This makes me broke. But then I work my butt off at work, do more non-money costing activities and don’t think about how low my account balance is until midnight of the seventh when ta-da, my bank account will magically replenish itself (with my paycheck). Then I pay the bills I have left and GO GET MY PARTY ON! It’s a system. It’s a little flawed; but when you are working a part-time minimum wage job four days a week, interning two days a week and trying to keep your sanity on the one day you have off a week and there is absolutely nothing to do around the house but watch reruns of "Sister, Sister" on the DVR, you have to try and make it work.
This is the problem with the recent post-grads. If you hit lucky like some of my friends, then you have a good-paying job that you work five days a week with covered health benefits. If you’re like me, then you’re working to make ends meet while applying for jobs that actually spark your interest since your dream job is years away.
Remind me again why I went to college for four years just to end up serving oversized plates of barbecue dinner to people day after day?
And if I do get invited out tonight, I know that it’s much easier to tell my friends that I can’t go than it is to have to ask them for a ride every time you need to go to grocery store. Plus, my friends are awesome and if I just tell them the truth, I’m more likely to hear, "Don’t worry. I can cover you tonight." Yay! Is the Channing Tatum movie still playing?
One of these days, I know I’ll look back at this time period and laugh. I just think of the day (in 11 months) when I get the pink slip to my car and can say that no one helped me make a single payment.
For now, I’m just really considering using my credit card to go out to a movie before work today. It’s only $8 … that I don’t even have … that will just be piled on top of the other expenses I made that I still don’t have the money for. But it’s tempting.
In instances like this, I like to physically separate myself from my credit card. I’m only going to work today, and there’s already gas in my car, so I don’t need to carry my card with me. And if I get into any type of situation, I can just have my mom bring it to me.
Yeah. I’ll leave it at home.