What is life like as an adult financially?
When you are through with college and you have a job, a car, and a home, what things do you have to pay for? Insurance, mortgage, bills, tax, etc. What is life like as an adult?
Asked By: chef - 7/9/2009
It's a little scary at first, because there's always something creeping up—and when you first get out of college, you have the least money to deal with it.
But it changes over time, as you make more money and can better predict expenses.
• phone bill
• car insurance and maintenance (tires every 50,000 miles can run $400 or so, plus regular rotations; oil changes, brakes, filters, plugs, etc.—check the maintenance book for your car)
• renter's/homeowner's insurance
• probably a credit card bill (if you rack up debt)
• car payments, if you have one
• gas for the car
• grocery bills
• saving for the future (future down payment, vacation, retirement. Start with what you can. Even $50 a month adds up)
• other incidentals (sometimes things like a water bill, garbage collection, homeowner's due—which are required by law if you are part of an HOA, something a lot of people don't consider when buying a house)
You do also have to pay taxes and health insurance, but those usually come out of your paycheck before you get it, so you can't "forget" to factor them in.
Those are just some of the regular bills, though. There's always something creeping up, like:
• Car repairs
• Medical bills (even with insurance, you have deductables and co-pays)
• Prescriptions, if you have any
• Christmas presents (if you don't set money aside, it can be a big hit)
• Vacations (which ALWAYS cost more than you expect)
• Entertainment (can't go to the movies for less than $20)
• Restaurants—really adds up if you eat out a lot
• Hair cuts (can be expensive for women)
• Furniture and other home stuff (if you buy a house—lawn mower, etc.)
• Kitchen stuff (have someone throw you a house-warming party when you move into your first place—pots and pans, flatware, plates, etc.)
• Other on-your-own startup costs (shower curtains and the like add up quickly)
• Home repairs
• HOA dues (if you buy—there are advantages to renting for a while)
• Dating (mostly if you're the guy—a classy guy, anyway)
• And other incidentals I can't think of right now (the occasional $162 speeding ticket—not that I know anything about that)
And...dun dun dun... children. That's a whole new ball of wax, but I wouldn't worry about that right now.
It sounds scary, huh? But it's really not.
A couple general rules: Don't commit to more than 1/3 of what you make for rent or a mortgage. So if you make $30,000, no more than $10,000 a year ($833/month) on total rent/mortgage payments. (Remember, there are hidden costs in a mortgage, so you can't just divide the cost of the house by number of weeks.)
That rule alone should keep you from getting in way over your head.
Second, cars. They also have hidden costs—like annual registration. A new car registration can cost $500-600 on top of buying the car. It goes down every year, but when you've forgotten you're going to get a $400 bill, it can hurt.
So even though you might suddenly feel flush at $30,000, buy a cheaper car. Buy a used car. The registration and insurance will be much cheaper, and you'll be able to save faster for a nicer one later. Then, when you buy a nicer car, you will have more money to put down, and your monthly payments will be less.
Check out Jane Bryant Quinn's "Making the Most of Your Money." She gives great advice for each stage of your life—how much to save when, etc.
A couple other notes: If you're good with Excel spreadsheets, you can create a budget there. Maybe someone can set it up for you (if you're not good), and it does the math for you so you can keep track of what's coming in and going out.
Also, I keep a list in my checkbook of all my regular monthly bills, with the months listed out to the right. As they come in and I pay them, I check under the month. That way, I don't ever look at my bank balance and think, "Wow! I've got a lot of money!" only to have a hefty bill come in the next week.
Yeah, sounds scary. But you'll get the hang of it pretty quickly—just try to be organized, and you'll stay on top of things. Get a box to keep files, and get a desk. Really, this will help you a lot.
Hope that's not too much.
@jcurrie—oh yeah. Don't forget to buy condoms.
Answered By: Holly Golightly - 7/9/2009