I love thinking about next year- school is good, my friends are wonderful, I like my apartment, I love my neighborhood, but I want to be a nurse now (and have an income). I was thinking today that since I’ve never had a career I’ve never really had much money. I’ve always had whatever I’ve needed, but I’ve never earned it, and I don’t actually know how to deal with money. I know more than I did before this year, but that isn’t saying very much. Nurses make good money, but I have lots of loans, so even though I’m single and childless I don’t think I’ll be living it up too much. How much of your income are you supposed to save? How much are you supposed to spend on rent? I think I pay a lot of rent right now, but I was sort of hoping to get a bigger place next year (it would be nice to have room for a table, and maybe a couch). I hate to say it, but I didn’t do a very good job finding a place when I moved to Baltimore- I kind of just took the first place I could find and wound up living with a couple of nightmares for six months (in an attractive apartment in a nice neighborhood, but my room was small and cold). The upside to moving back to Western NY is that I’ll have a home base, and won’t have to pick an apartment in a single weekend or without seeing it in person. I’ll also presumably have some time before I start working, though I haven’t figured out those details yet (I graduate in July, and then I’ll take the NCLEX, but I don’t know where I’ll take it. My lease is good until July, but it might make sense to take the test in NY while I get situated. This is all also based on my assumption that I’ll be able to find a job in either Rochester or Buffalo). Anyway, Craigslist isn’t yielding the information I want, in part because I don’t know Rochester, so I don’t know which neighborhoods are nice. Right now I have multiple Google Maps tabs open, and I’m trying to find a place that’s close to the hospital, contra dancing, the farmer’s market, and Trader Joe’s (priorities people!). I know I’ll have to get a car eventually, but I’m sort of hoping to get by with just a bike, at least for a little while, and so I need to really think about location (and getting a bike). I want a car (…kind of), because it’ll make things easier (it’ll also complicate things, but after a year of bumming rides and having to take sketchy Baltimore cabs I’ve decided the benefits outweigh the costs), and if I have a car I’ll be able to see my family more often, but right now I enjoy not having that expense.
Back to money though. I know you shouldn’t spend more than you make, and you should save, but how much are you supposed to spend on life stuff? Before I moved here, back when I was applying for my loans, I tried to figure out how much I would need to spend on groceries every week, and I was way way off (everyone says food is expensive in Baltimore, and I’m inclined to agree. I could be more Spartan, but as much as I joke, I’ll never get scurvy because I flat out refuse to eat lentils and rice two meals a day for a week). I’m lucky that nurses don’t have to wear business clothes, and scrubs are downright cheap in comparison, but it would be nice to be able to buy clothes from time to time. I’d like to go to concerts, and out to eat (occasionally), and I’d like to get another pet (I love Flora (my hedgehog), but she’s a little…antisocial. I’d like a pet that will willingly cuddle with me), and darn it, I’d like to travel. According to Facebook (and you know, talking to them) my friends/peers travel, and it looks fun. How do you do all those things? They’re frivolous, but not absurdly so, so is it possible to do that stuff and be financially responsible? (The travel is less of a priority, but all of my friends are about to be scattered across the country, and I’d like to be able to visit them, and my sisters are all hither and yon, and I’d like to go to Scotland at some point. And Hawaii. And lots of other places.)
I know it doesn’t make any sense to work out an elaborate plan when I haven’t even applied to any hospitals yet, but I want to be more prepared next time. It may or may not be the case, but I want the next phase of my life to be more permanent than my previous couple of phases (nursing school, living at home after college, college), so I want to do things right.