Wednesday, August 31, 2011

a small (and scary) step towards independence

I reached an important milestone in my journey to adulthood yesterday: I purchased my first car completely on my own.

After much research and deliberation, I settled on a 2011 Honda CR-V. I’m in love. It’s a great little buggy with 4wd and a sunroof. In a perfect world I would have gotten leather, but I couldn’t justify the extra $2,000. Plus, having to peal my thighs from the seat after a 10-minute test drive wasn’t all that appealing. I’ll take cloth, please.

It was an exciting day, of course. But it was also very stressful. My mom calls it “good stressful.” Maybe when I’m halfway through the payments it will be “good stressful.” For now, it’s just stressful.

The new payments won’t put that much strain on my finances. I live at home rent-free, I have minimal student loans, and I’m pretty responsible with money. Ideally, though, I’ll move out before I’m 30 (if you’re reading this, mom and dad, I can’t promise anything).

And lets be honest, rent is not cheap. The thought of paying rent actually makes me nauseous – mostly because it’s money thrown away. There’s no investment there. At least I’ll own my CR-V some very far away day, so I can justify the $400 monthly payment. But I also can’t justify an hour-each-way commute. I do it now and it’s hell. So if I end up working in Boston, I won’t have much of an option when it comes to renting.

Anyways, it’s not so much the new car payment that stresses me out, but the thought of having a car payment on top of rent and whatever other bills come my way in the next 5 years. I’ve come to accept that I probably won’t be making the big bucks as a journalist, so $1500 (give or take) a month on living and transportation alone is kind of a lot.

How do people do it AND save? It seems impossible. And I don’t buy that it has anything to do with my generation and our poor work ethic and/or obsession with materialistic things. The cost of living and education has grown dramatically while wages have stayed relatively the same.

Think about it.

A $400 car payment for a very modest vehicle (I’m not driving a BMW people) is a lot for someone who makes approximately $500 a week. That’s basically a quarter of my income. Imagine is if I had $400 in student loans and $800 in rent to pay on top of that each month? I’d be left with $400 for food, gas, other necessities and fun.

Maybe I will be at home till I’m 30, at least.

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