Author Topic: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?  (Read 9646 times)

plasticblue94

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So my S/O and I are graduating from college in about 2 weeks and I'm looking for some advice about what pitfalls to look out for at this stage of our lives and generally how to minimize certain "starting out" types of costs.

He has a job lined up and will be making 70k/year, I am looking for a job currently up to an hour away from where we will be moving to because at this point in my life I will basically take whatever job I'm offered to get experience, even if the pay/commute is total garbage and expensive. I just need anything to get experience in what I actually want to do (teaching science) before I can really be picky about jobs and try to work closer to where we will be living.

Anyway, we will have a fine amount of income, no kids, but there are still expenses to deal with. We will be renting and are currently looking for apartments in the range of about 1300/month. We will need to get furniture-all the furniture I guess. I don't have a car but I am supposed to be getting an old car (2008 PT cruiser, only worth about $4,000 on the market) as a graduation gift, however, until I have it I have had to spend a lot on car rentals to make in-person job interviews (our university is extremely far away from major cities and public transportation is about on par in terms of cost and not feasible). He has a car which his parents gave him as a gift, which is a Subaru Crosstrek, but he won't let me use it due to car insurance. I will have to start paying for car insurance if I get the gift car, and as of now I will be graduating with basically no income or savings so until I find work I don't know how I would afford the car. I have some student loans -about $17,000- not from tuition but mostly from my university forcing me to pay for their expensive health insurance plan, and I have a 6 month grace period before I will have to start paying on them. Other than that I have no debt. I opened a cashback credit card 6 months ago and I have been paying it off each month, basically using it for the better security, cashback, and as a way to track non-fixed cost spending.

I guess what I am asking is for any advice that might help in this stage of life. I don't have much debt but I don't have much else either- possessions, relevant work experience, furniture, transportation, health insurance after the next 2 months... etc.
Help?

EDIT: This thread took a huge turn towards focusing on my relationship with my boyfriend. Not what I expected exactly but that's fine. I want to make it clear though that we have a happy, normal relationship, have been dating for close to 3 years, and we do actually want to move in together. The decision was made primarily because it is what we want and is not merely to save money. If the relationship turns south I plan to ensure that I have other options and enough money to support myself.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2016, 01:06:22 AM by plasticblue94 »

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2016, 04:08:38 AM »
$1300 a month is more than you need to pay in most of the country. Try apartment complexes that are kind of old but in safe areas.

I'm confused about the car thing. You know people borrow each other's cars all the time, right? Is this coming from his parents?

If you expect to get married, consider doing that. It's really useful for insurance and tax purposes, and you'll do better approaching finances as a team.

If you can't find a job in education, consider signing up for temp agencies and looking for generic office work.

former player

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2016, 04:18:49 AM »
This is the sort of situation in which people with family to support them win out big time over those who don't, such as looked-after children or family that can't or won't help, and is one of the major reasons why moving from working class to middle class can be so difficult.

So, what do you have in the way of resources to see you over this patch?  These could be -

1) Family.  Could the graduation gift of the car come now rather than later? Is a loan to cover running costs for a couple of months a possibility?

2) State/government.  Are you entitled to any benefits?  Unemployment benefit?

3) Get a job.  Any job.  In any location, not necessarily with your Significant Other.

4)  In fact, reconsider your location in total.  You are not tied to where your SO is.  You can go anywhere and do anything.  You have a dream of teaching science - go wherever that dream takes you.  Don't give it up, or make it more difficult, for a college boyfriend.  This is particularly the case if you are not currently married or engaged.  (I have to say, his insistence on you not using his car because of car insurance, which unless you have a bad track record of accidents and lawbreaking is relatively easily resolved, is a bit of a red flag to me, particularly in the circumstances of a relatively remote location and an ongoing job search - does he not want to help you to succeed?)

plasticblue94

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2016, 05:45:28 AM »
Thanks for the replies! These posts have addressed a lot of my thoughts about things. I'll try to address each aspect in some form of order.

1) Relocation- I have not limited my job search to where my S/O is going to be living. However, since my lease is up in two weeks at this point and I will be forced to move anyway, his place (when he gets one) is by far the best place for me to go. Moving back home isn't really an option because neither of my parents have stable or comfortable living situations. From there I plan to continue looking everywhere I can but living with him has the benefit of not paying additional rent/ other costs to move elsewhere.

2) Rent- this one is hard to say because it is mostly my boyfriend looking at places online and we aren't living in the area we are moving to, so we are relying on internet searches that might not be showing the most cost-effective places. There is an agent his company uses to help with the relocation process and according to him, they anticipate that their employees will want nicer/more expensive places than what he would prefer to pay. I think about the lowest we have seen online for 1-bedroom places is roughly $1000/month.

3) Car things- I agree that it is very strange that he wouldn't let me borrow his car. Definitely his parents influenced that decision and his mom even offered to pay for one of my rentals. I declined of course. According to him he doesn't have guest driver insurance, but I still thought that regardless the insurance follows the car not the driver. I was pretty frustrated/angry over it but I know it's partly because I do not have a lot of driving experience so I am trying not to let that influence the relationship.
In terms of the gift car, my dad was supposed to bring it up to me in April but that got postponed until graduation. And now he can't afford to make my graduation, so it has been postponed until June. My parents are basically broke, worse off financially than me so they can't help with much of anything. The car is my aunt's and she is willing to sell it to them for a very low price so I guess they managed to scrape together a grand or two for that, but it needs new tires and then needs to be brought up here, and then I need to buy insurance. So it's kind of shaky and I'm not sure how it will work out at this point.

4)Marriage- S/O has agreed to propose by next May. I'm not sure when we would get married after that. There are a lot of benefits to it but he doesn't want to "rush things" I guess, even though it would be a huge tax break for him. I have brought up the idea of just doing it on paper and having a ceremony later on but he wouldn't have it. He thinks it's better to be "settled down" before marriage which I know is a common view these days, but I think financially it's pretty backwards. I also don't think he puts much critical thought into different options- If I bring up something that isn't in his default concept of how life should go, he shuts it down without much consideration. But, I also suppose there are a lot more benefits to it for me than for him (health insurance being a big one) besides a tax break that he can afford to go without.

5) I could possibly qualify for EBT after graduation although I probably wouldn't need it with boyfriend making as much as he does. He should be at least willing to keep me fed. Probably not unemployment but I'm not totally sure, since I'm just coming out of college and I've only had work-study jobs.

6) Other resources- not many. Family is broke, including extended family. In all honestly, my boyfriend and his family are the best financial resource I have because they are willing to pay for things for us and can afford it. They like me enough and paid for me to come down to Florida where they live for my Winter Break. They're solid middle class but to me they're basically loaded, and the small costs they will probably be willing to help with down the line are huge for someone like me who comes from nothing.


Drifterrider

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2016, 06:00:24 AM »
Clothing.  What type of jobs are you guys seeking? 

plasticblue94

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2016, 06:13:58 AM »
He has a chemical engineering job. I am looking into science education. I double-majored in chemistry and philosophy but didn't study education so I'm looking at apprenticeships and jobs in private schools which don't require certification. From there I want to do a Master's in Education but I think I would have a better time getting accepted with some work experience in education since my grades are pretty awful especially in chem/science. I also don't want to jump straight into a Master's program just in case I decide I hate teaching and want to pursue another path.

garion

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2016, 06:38:43 AM »
Really consider looking for jobs more widely than an hour from your SO's job. You don't want to limit your opportunities.

Also, have you considered outdoor education-type jobs (like at camps or retreat centers) that may come with room and board? These don't generally pay well, but they are relevant to science education and also allow you to avoid living expenses. Just a thought!

Metric Mouse

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2016, 06:47:37 AM »
If you haven't found a job, why are you thinking about buying furniture? That sounds like money saved right there...

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2016, 06:54:32 AM »
Getting married is such a huge financial opportunity for the two of you. You don't need $70,000 a year to live on, so he should be maxing out his 401k from Day 1. Ideally you could also each contribute $5500 to a tIRA before next Tax Day to reduce total taxable income by $29,000.

That said it sounds like the two of you need to live independently from his parents' influence before you can be sure. The car thing is just very, very weird.

plasticblue94

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2016, 07:08:43 AM »
Idk is it normal to just not have any furniture? I have never known anyone who did not, even really poor people. I've tried sleeping on the floor long-term before- it was pretty painful.
Anyway even though I don't have a job, boyfriend has a job and, I assume, will choose to use his money to purchase furniture. Probably cheap/used furniture, but still... I'm not ready to give up my adaptation to things like tables and chairs quite yet.

Thanks for the numbers on how much we might be able to save getting married! Maybe if I show him some cold hard numbers on just how much he could reduce his taxes he might reconsider postponing marriage for several years. Fortunately his parents aren't the super controlling type or anything, but he does tend to listen to their opinions over mine.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2016, 07:11:03 AM by plasticblue94 »

Freedomin5

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2016, 07:29:51 AM »
Sure, there are lots of people who live with minimal furniture. When I was in grad school, I got most of my furniture free off of Craigslist or friends who were moving and had extra furniture they wanted to get rid of.

Also, have you considered substitute teaching? I don't know if you need an education degree in your area, but most of my substitute teachers growing up didn't have a teaching degree. Actually, some of them could barely speak English.

Also, are there any Saturday schools/tutoring centers where you are? After I graduated, I spent a year teaching science and math on Saturdays to students who wanted a leg up on their coursework. Basically, I was teaching eighth grade material to seventh graders so that they could do well the following year in their regular school.

Noodle

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2016, 07:47:07 AM »
First of all, congratulations on graduating college, with relatively little debt (only $2000 more than me, and I graduated a LOT longer ago than you.) I love your can-do attitude and I am sorry your family isn't in a position to help you more.

Now I am going to put on my "crotchety aunt" hat and argue against some of the other posters who are suggesting you get married quickly for various financial advantages. If you were my niece, I would say to you that a young man who listens to his parents more than you, isn't interested in options that are different than his vision of life, is stalling on getting married because he wants to get "settled down" first (sounds like his preferred timeline is even farther out than a year) is just not ready to get married yet. In fact, I would encourage you to keep looking for any options that would give you housing and let you accumulate a little nest egg so that you can move in with BF when it's the right choice for both of you, not the least bad for you. I will keep thinking about it...summer camps? Position at a boarding school? Live-in nanny? It doesn't have to be for long...just enough to get started.

pbkmaine

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2016, 07:54:04 AM »
Why do you want to teach science when your grades were "pretty awful"?

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2016, 09:01:13 AM »
he does tend to listen to their opinions over mine.

Don't get married until that changes. And yes, I was one of the people above encouraging marriage.

Why do you want to teach science when your grades were "pretty awful"?

This is a good question.

plasticblue94

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2016, 10:22:24 AM »
Teaching high school level chem is not quite the same as college level subject matter like inorganic, physical chemistry, and organic. I would never teach 90% of what was covered to get the degree- all of that is presumed knowledge or breezed over in the first week of college gen chem. I might suck at things like trying to learn multivariable without ever being taught it formally but I can certainly teach high school chem topics like atomic structure, stoich, basic thermo and pH. Regardless of that most of my bad grades had a lot more to do with mental health problems in college and to some extent the grading system of my school rather than inability to learn the material. I plan to look into retaking some of the classes at a CC at some point, and probably make As or Bs because of the difference in academic rigor compared to my school and previous exposure to the material, but I don't know that that would really do much for me. I might also try to retake them if I got a master's if the school allowed that. The reason I would rather teach science than a humanities topic is just supply and demand- STEM teaching is where more jobs are and I know I could do it pretty well with some training.

I will definitely look into subbing and camps. The main thing keeping me from trying to do anything in public schools is the whole certification process but now that I look into it, it doesn't seem like subbing is too difficult to break into. I have interviewed with many private schools for positions where I would live on campus, but none have hired me. Many of them are looking for people with more experience or who studied education though. Somehow when I apply to jobs that explicitly state what I majored in I still get asked about "student teaching" and have to remind the person interviewing me that I didn't study education... I don't really understand that one. I am also considering private tutoring as I know that I could charge quite a bit with my degree and I could probably generate decent business tutoring the SAT, especially the essay portion.

notactiveanymore

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #15 on: May 17, 2016, 11:09:49 AM »
My degree was in Math Education and I would strongly caution anyone against teaching without extensive classroom experience. Subbing could definitely help some to gain that experience, but putting together unit and lesson plans and knowing how to write assessments to measure state standards and knowing how to alter lessons for both underachieving and overachieving students, it's all really difficult. That said, you probably have some options for alternative certifications. In my state, http://abcte.org/ is an option - check with your state dept of education for alternate certification options.

You should also check your local state schools or community colleges to see if they have a non-degree seeking certification program. A master's will take you 2 years, but you could probably get certified much sooner than that with an alternative cert - also, many schools choose not to hire someone who has a master's with no teaching experience (student teaching doesn't count here) because they have to pay you more but you're just as inexperienced as a new ed grad. So keep that in mind if you decide to go for the masters.

If I were you this summer, I'd check out the YMCA, community centers, and school district summer programs as my first attempt for a job search. You would't get paid much, but you'd probably only be locked-in for the summer. If those fail, you need to find something right away just to be working, so the next round of apps would go out to retail stores and offices (administrative/clerical positions). Making some amount of income will help you as you plan for the next step.

Getting certified to substitute teach is usually pretty easy, but you probably will have to pay for your transcripts to be sent to the state and for a fingerprint background check. If you can during the process, make it clear that you have a science degree, teachers love it when they can get a sub who can do more than just hit play on the dvd player.

The next thing I would do, once you have at least temporary employment set up and probably before doing subbing, is look at teacher's aid and paraprofessional positions open in the public school districts. The pay is a less, but it sounds like you don't have any employment history in a youth or school setting, so you need to start establishing that now. It can also start getting you networking contacts in the school districts. Even though the hourly rate might be less than subbing, you have guaranteed hours and you might have opportunities for some teaching practice.

Finally, I'd do my best to start making money asap even as you're waiting for job responses. Maybe print some babysitting fliers and see if your husband can put one up at his new employer. Then you could get on care.com for free to start looking for more babysitting jobs.

Additional questions for OP:
  • Does the town you're moving to have decent public transportation?
  • Will you have health insurance through your parents? If not, check out the ACA marketplace or see if you qualify for medicaid.
  • Is there an entry-level position in science that you could start in while you explore further training in education?

garion

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #16 on: May 17, 2016, 11:16:16 AM »
Also look into Americorps and Student Conservation Association jobs. Some of these are teaching related. They don't pay well but may help with living arrangements and also offer student loan forgiveness.

accountingteacher

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #17 on: May 17, 2016, 11:38:15 AM »
When I started teaching I was really surprised how much I could make doing private tutoring on the side.  Chemistry is also an in-demand subject that lots of teens seek tutoring for.  I charge $50 / hour to tutor accounting to kids in university who didn't take my course in high school!

Another way to get experience would be applying to one of those large tutoring franchises like Kumon or Sylvan.

mxt0133

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #18 on: May 17, 2016, 12:14:56 PM »
I'll echo that a Masters is not necessary to be a teacher a certification course that is about 8 weeks long will qualify you to be a teacher.  The way most people do it is to substitute first and once the administration likes you then they encourage them to get their certificate and have a job lined up.

While you're doing that definitely take any job you can.  You just need to earn income right now to support yourself.  It seems like you are counting heavily on your SO to support you.  Was this your plan while in college?  What if you were single and didn't have a SO to support you?  How did you plan to shelter and feed yourself?

Maybe it's just me but I would not want to depend on someone to support me.  I need to know that I can take care of myself before I get into any serious relationship.  I would not want anyone to hold that on me.

From your SO perspective he might feel responsible for you and feels forced into marriage.  That would not be the best starting point of any relationship.  People change and grow apart especially at such a young age and if there is any resentment things can escalate quickly.

TheMoneyWizard

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #19 on: May 17, 2016, 01:01:00 PM »
I'll chime in on a few questions since everyone else is taking the reigns on the teaching and relationship side of things.

Regarding the apartment, settle for less than you think you need. When I graduated school and was looking at my first places, I was debating heavily between a really "nice" place that cost $1,100 a month or just an "okay" place which cost $900 per month. The main difference? Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.

You're renting, not owning, so ignore all the frills and focus on the most important factors: location and cost. Pretty countertops are worse than worthless to you - they are money sinks. You won't be able to sell the place later and recoup their costs, so you are basically paying $X per month for the equivalent of a painting on the wall.

I did end up going with the cheaper apartment option, and I thanked myself every month while I imagined what I could do with that extra $2,400 per year.

As far as furnishing the place: craigslist, craigslist, craigslist. Things that are heavy and hard to move get sold cheap on craigslist. Hell, when I recently moved someone got a screaming deal on my basically brand new $600 sofa, which I sold for $200, just because moving it would have cost more than it was worth to me. Opportunities like this are endless on craigslist, and don't be afraid to haggle. Another possible source - around here local thrift shops have some great eclectic finds on tables, lamps, paintings, etc. for next to nothing.

Other than that, just avoid lifestyle inflation and don't give in to trying to impress your friends. You will soon notice a race to impress as your post-grad friends want to flaunt their new jobs. Ignore it all. A huge bank account is most impressive anyway.

charis

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #20 on: May 17, 2016, 02:24:39 PM »
I see a huge red flag in how you talk about your relationship with your BF.   You are hitching your wagon to (making location, job, furniture, apt decisions based on) someone who won't let you drive his car and has "agreed" propose next year.   You are suggesting it now for financial reasons.  This is far from being on the same page.

You 100% need to strike out on your own for a while, not be trailing after your BF and his $1300 apartment search.  Cast your job search as wide as you're comfortable and get a job subbing during the day and waiting tables or bar tending at night or weekends.  Get your own, affordable apartment, preferably with a roommate.    If my long-term BF, now husband, had seriously suggested marriage to me at 21 or 22, I would have run for the hills, so I get where your boyfriend is coming from. 

plasticblue94

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #21 on: May 18, 2016, 04:53:27 PM »
Hi! so I should probably clarify a few things.

1) I think this got buried above but I should probably clarify how my job searching process is going. I have been looking for work in the whole northeast area, not just where my boyfriend is moving to. However, in the 6-ish months I have been looking I haven't had any offers, so now I have to move out in less than two weeks meaning I will be moving to where he is moving because I have to go somewhere and moving in with him seems financially like the best option (which I will clarify next). If I find a job elsewhere then I will move there, but for now since I have to move in the first place, it would be nice to find work in that area to avoid moving again.

2) Regarding my decision to move in with my boyfriend. I understand where a lot of people are coming from when they say it would be best for me to first establish independence then look to move in with him, but I believe that moving in with him financially makes the most sense because rather than throwing all of my money into rent, I could actually save money by living together. These are basically all of my options right now:

a) Move back home. I am from Los Angeles county which is an incredibly high cost of living area. Neither of my parents have stable living situations that would be good for me, mental health or finance wise. My mom rents a single room with one of her friends (who hasn't even been paying full rent on the house she lives in because she can't afford it) so she may have to move from there soon and she probably couldn't afford her own place and would have to rent a room elsewhere. My dad lives with his girlfriend in a very small apartment where I would not feel comfortable. The job market in LA, from my experience, is remarkably saturated, so it would be rough to find even a low-paying job. Also LA public transportation sucks so you basically need a car to survive. I really don't think it would be a smart move in any respect.

b) Stay in my college town and work. Again, this is an extremely high cost of living area with something of a rent crisis. If I were single and just needed to survive, this is probably the option I would take and it's a lot of what my friends have done for a year or two after graduation. I would pretty easily be able to get a lab, retail, and/or food service job and make 12-14 dollars an hour, but the minimum I would spend in rent would be about 600-700 a month just to rent a room, and more for a parking space which cost something like $100 a month in this area. So it would be difficult to save money and I would face the same issue of being in a remote location while looking for work (and thus needing the car to avoid spending a ton more traveling for interviews hundreds of miles away). Job opportunities are also limited because this is a remote area in a pretty small town, so I don't see staying here as a good choice for career growth.

c) Move in with other family members. I have a couple of aunts who would take me in if necessary but I don't have strong relationships with any of them. This would also be a "basic survival" option. One of them lives just outside of detroit, another lives somewhere else in Michigan- not really sure where, and another lives in an extremely poor area on the border of kentucky/Ohio. So I could go to one of those places and maybe find work, but this would put me in the same financial position as moving in with my boyfriend but also mean having to be in a long distance relationship, so I don't see how this would outweigh moving in with him.

d) Move in with boyfriend. I could personally pay relatively low rent if we split the cost based on income, and compared to everywhere else we have lived the cost of living is much lower. I guess 1300/month doesn't seem as crazy to us since I'm from Los Angeles and he's from Miami, and then we both moved to a very rent-inflated college town. He currently pays $710 a month for a room and paid $1200 for a parking space for the year, and I pay $585 a month for a room, so if you combine our current rents we are already paying $1300 to rent rooms in poorly maintained college slumlord housing- surprisingly this is still cheaper than living in dorms on campus. I would be moving to a more accessible part of the northeast, so it would be easier to travel for interviews in northeast cities. The area is a somewhat bigger city and I could afford to take a low-paying job then pay something like $300 as my contribution to rent, and still manage to save quite a bit of my own money.

I hope that decision making process makes more sense now. I'm not relying on him, but moving in together means I could actually save my own money because we could share costs instead of just throwing it all into rent if I were on my own. I am still willing to move if I find I job elsewhere but I haven't found anything yet.


3)Thanks so much for all of the tips on job searches! I will definitely look into subbing, the YMCA/camps, tutoring centers and other assistant types of positions and try to get in on the public school route since that's kind of what I want anyway. I believe the state of New York requires teachers to have Master's degrees for some reason, but one of the alternative routes like ABCTE is probably a much better choice since I am moving to a state that doesn't require a master's.

Also since I'm not especially paranoid I will just say the cities I am in/moving to. I go to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY and we are moving to Allentown, Pennsylvania where boyfriend will be working for a large company there. There are a few companies in the area where I might be able to work as a lab tech or something. The pay would probably be less than a tipped service job but would look better on resumes.

notactiveanymore

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #22 on: May 18, 2016, 05:33:47 PM »
The paraprofessional route is what I'd recommend the most. Subbing can be really spotty, but paras are in the classroom, working with teachers, and employed over 75% time. From the Allentown School District:

Quote
The District has acute needs for qualified special education paraprofessionals to assist with instructional delivery to students in special needs areas, including, autistic support, personal care (PCA), life skills, multiple disabilities, and emotional support.  Interested individuals are strongly encouraged to submit applications in anticipation of position openings. Applicants will be notified of consideration status based on review of credentials and the availability of positions.
 
Instructional paraprofessionals, including special education paraprofessionals, assist with classroom instructional delivery.  Non-instructional paraprofessionals (e.g., cafeteria) do work in a classroom or support instructional delivery.  All instructional paraprofessional candidates must satisfy Highly Qualified (HQ) requirements in order to be considered for an instructional positions. The minimum Highly Qualified requirements include the following: (1) possession of an Associates or Bachelors degree, OR (2) completion of two years of college (minimum of 60 credits), OR (2) passage of the Paraprofessional Knowledge Test in reading, writing, and mathematics.

Here is also the list of alternative certifications accepted in PA: LIST.

As for your other questions in the OP, definitely do your best to sort your life choices by "Price: Lowest to Highest". From the cost of living indexes, it does look like Allentown is just a bit higher in cost of living than the national average, but they also list the average rent price as $850. I'd do everything I could to get your rent amount to at least under $1000. Even if you end up in a crappy place for one year while you get a feel for the hidden gems in your new town, that's okay. It's totally normal to start out after college in some less-than-ideal apartments.

For furniture, don't rush. You need a bed (or mattress at least). The mattress is really the only thing that I wouldn't buy second hand. Just take your time looking for deals at garage sales or on craigslist as you figure out what else you really need. If you don't get a job right away, use that time to challenge yourself to be super frugal on grocery shopping and cooking. Don't let yourselves feel the full force of the bf's salary and let your lifestyle creep up to where it's normal to eat out multiple times a week or enjoy premium cable.

I'd recommend that you and your boyfriend start doing a monthly budget together. Sure he's got rights to all his income until or unless you decide to combine finances. But you can still set a budget together for groceries, entertainment, etc. Being unified now in your attitudes about money will be very helpful moving forward. Talk about where you want to be financially in 5, 10, 20 years the backwards plan to figure out how you can get there together.

Finally, congrats on finishing school and making it out of Cornell with only 17k in student loans. Especially with unstable family members, that is truly impressive. Just keep getting after it!

galliver

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #23 on: May 18, 2016, 08:47:57 PM »
First of all, congratulations on graduating college, with relatively little debt (only $2000 more than me, and I graduated a LOT longer ago than you.) I love your can-do attitude and I am sorry your family isn't in a position to help you more.

Now I am going to put on my "crotchety aunt" hat and argue against some of the other posters who are suggesting you get married quickly for various financial advantages. If you were my niece, I would say to you that a young man who listens to his parents more than you, isn't interested in options that are different than his vision of life, is stalling on getting married because he wants to get "settled down" first (sounds like his preferred timeline is even farther out than a year) is just not ready to get married yet. In fact, I would encourage you to keep looking for any options that would give you housing and let you accumulate a little nest egg so that you can move in with BF when it's the right choice for both of you, not the least bad for you. I will keep thinking about it...summer camps? Position at a boarding school? Live-in nanny? It doesn't have to be for long...just enough to get started.

Hey there plasticblue64. I'm with Noodle (mostly, at least).

In deciding whether to move in together, look at it this way: pretend you have a decent job lined up in the same geographical area (you can afford shared housing). Would you move in together then? If yes, you're probably fine--that's how your relationship would naturally evolve. If not...take pause. Someone shared this a while back and I think it's applicable to your situation. https://thebillfold.com/a-story-of-a-fuck-off-fund-648401263659#.dhler7e5b Not casting aspersions on your bf! Just that relationships can take turns, and you don't want to have to stay in a relationship you no longer want to (even if it's just lack of love, not abuse) because of financial reasons. And you don't want his change of heart to leave you on the street... (I know, it's weird double-think like that when you're in a steady relationship...but relationships do take turns, so you have to consider "We don't plan to break up, but if we did...")

Additionally, I don't think it's quite clear from your post if you have talked through this moving-in-together plan with your bf. Is he really down to have you live with him rent-free, or paying proportional-rent? Is he ok with providing the food and other necessities at least until you find a job? Will these things be gifts or loans (i.e. he expects the value paid back once you're employed)? This has to be spelled out crystal-clear, explicitly between you. Moving in can be a stumbling block for couples in the best of times. It's wonderful, too, of course! But the first months, figuring out the new arrangement, can be a little rough, so the more you have pre-determined as "this is ok, this is not ok" the better. Ours went something like this: split rent, groceries, utilities, and such 50-50. Live at my (grad student) standard of living--I set the price range on apartments (1000-1500 1BR in the LA area). He buys the car but we share gas/insurance/maintenance and he lets me borrow it when needed (rarely). But then, we both had a reasonable income, though his was/is twice mine.

As far as jobs: I know at least one person who did substitute teaching after college before finding a job--it got him by but I think he lived at home; another that dropped out and was a teacher's assistant. I worked at a YMCA summer camp between college and grad school (I wanted to see some sun!). It was a fun job, I made pennies and banked most of them, and I would totally recommend except they hired in March/early April IIRC. Can't hurt to look (around the country) to see if any positions are still open, it's just likely going to be...scant. [Sidebar: go to http://www.acacamps.org/staff-professionals/job-center and apply for everything <1mo old RIGHT NOW! But also seek out local day camps, etc.] I also had a friend who tried a similar tack to yours: applying to private schools. It didn't end up working for him; in spite of tutoring experience at Kumon during high school. He ended up going to chiropractor school and joining his dad's practice (not a bad path, but probably not an option for you!) Another friend moved from another country, invalidating teacher credentials, and worked in afterschool care for several years (before staying home with Baby). Try all of the above! And everything else: care.com/nannying/babysitting, tutoring (online and in person), lab work, retail, food service, etc. One thing someone else on MMM has suggested that I would likely not have considered after college: job hunt on Craigslist. Apparently applicants who can format an email with proper punctuation, grammar, and manners are fairly rare. At this point, you just need something to get your foot in the door. And it's hard! My sis graduated last year from a very reputable institution and had a hard time finding anything for months; eventually landed a very  nice entry-level temporary (1yr) job, made better by the fact she can live at home.

One thing LA might have going for it is they have an alternative credentialing teacher internship program. http://achieve.lausd.net/districtinternprogram IIRC from looking at it months ago, you're actually in the classroom and paid, at least during the school year (there are also some courses and tests that you may have to do first...). I realize this has numerous problems (no real family support, hard on relationship) so I mostly offer this as a demonstration of what's out there and that it's worth to look in PA and neighboring states(/major cities) for similar programs. But maybe it interests you, I don't know.

Best of luck! I really hope things go well for you, the relationship works out, a job comes forth and becomes a career, and so forth.

Oh, as far as minimizing costs...if bf is the primary earner most choices like furnishings, etc are primarily  his to make; I'd avoid forcing any issues while depending on him... but if he's open to it:
-> Make do with what you have, at least for a while. Don't rush into getting everything at once.
-> Consider alternatives; maybe you don't need chairs, or a couch. Or at least, not right away. Sit on the floor. Watch Netflix from/on the bed.
-> CL or thrift for household goods you do need; I haven't had much luck looking for very specific things, it was more like we did the rounds every week or two at first and saw things that filled certain gaps--plates, bowls, french press, spice rack. We got a coffee table but didn't have any luck with chairs for many weeks. 2-3 months in we got some from Costco at $30/pop. [Note: we were starting out with some stuff from previous apartments with roommates.]
-> Cook. This might fall mostly on you if he's the only one working. Accept it.

Basically I like theotherelise's suggestion: "sort your life choices by "Price: Lowest to Highest"" Honestly, the only way to ever minimize costs! Just much more critical early on.

I have to catch a bus (LA Metro btw!) so I'm going to stop rambling.

pbkmaine

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Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #24 on: May 18, 2016, 09:45:43 PM »
You go to Cornell. Use it. Take advantage of the job placement services. Use the alumni office to find alumni in Allentown you can network with. Call the alums and ask if they would have a cup of coffee with you. What school are you in? Arts? Ag?
« Last Edit: May 18, 2016, 10:29:00 PM by pbkmaine »

mozar

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #25 on: May 18, 2016, 10:28:25 PM »
I don't think you should be so worried about saving money right now. It will be ok if you just break even for a few years until you figure things out. I have a similar story where I got myself into an elite (though lower ranked) university. I graduated with a lot more debt and floundered around for a few years, trying different jobs until I decided to go to grad school. It wasn't until I was 25 that I could save any money.  It's scary but it's ok to be broke for awhile. Don't move into a potentially emotionally abusive situation to save money. And just because other people are living together before marriage doesn't mean it's the right choice for you. There is a healthy marriage thread on here you should read. My heart goes out to you.



K-ice

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #26 on: May 19, 2016, 12:36:19 AM »

My best general advice is to keep living like a student.

I was a student for so many years it is good training to be frugal.

My bff was $80K in student loan debt but kept her apartment & lifestyle & was debt free in 2y after she started to work. 2 more years like that & she had enough for a condo down payment.

If somehow you can keep just one car that would be the best. Of course it depends on the city but we had no car for about 4 years.

No car or cable TV,  we lived in a student type rental ~$800/month combined income of $60K. After 4 years we had enough for a down payment a rental deuplex.

Actually, I've never noticed the 4y trend between me & my bff but I think that is what it takes to establish yourself. Then you can let a bit of "adult" lifestyle creep set in.

Please work out a budget together. Be clear what you think you can spend. If he wants to subsidize more, that's his call. Splitting proportional to your incomes, as you mentioned, is a good idea.

For the furniture I bought bed, couch, table. One each about every 6 months. So in about 18 months until our place was furnished. Until then "free" or borrowed stuff was a place holder.

Wishing you the best in your job search etc.



ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #27 on: May 19, 2016, 05:52:08 AM »
Also since I'm not especially paranoid I will just say the cities I am in/moving to. I go to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY and we are moving to Allentown, Pennsylvania where boyfriend will be working for a large company there. There are a few companies in the area where I might be able to work as a lab tech or something. The pay would probably be less than a tipped service job but would look better on resumes.

Whoa! My wife and I both went to Cornell and we live adjacent to Allentown. PM me if you need local information.

ender

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #28 on: May 19, 2016, 06:01:50 AM »
Craigslist and garage sales can be great places to get furniture.

So can thrift stores, depending on your location.

plasticblue94

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #29 on: May 19, 2016, 09:41:42 PM »
Thanks for the advice everyone! For the person who asked I am in Arts and Sciences. I haven't met with career services in quite a while, at least ever since quitting pre-med (haha). I know I should and will probably try next week. I kind of didn't figure out until this year really that one of the major benefits of going to "big name" schools is developing a network. For most of college I just viewed "networking" as a nice way of saying "being fake and schmoozing," which might be accurate in some cases but I now realize is a foolish and unhelpful attitude to have. Also I've realized that alumni do actually care and want us to succeed, it's not just about being "fake."

I will check out paraprofessional work in addition to subbing. I checked out the Allentown school district paraprofessional page and it seems like a great way to get an "in" with the local system and they could maybe help me find the best route to certification. Looking back on applying to private schools I've realized a lot of them also want you to coach sports and since I never played sports that probably puts me at a major disadvantage, so I might just put the whole private school option on the backburner.

I will try to turn to craigslist for most of our furniture. I'm also no stranger to yard sales as that was one my dad's ideas of "fun" when I was a kid. I would probably want a new mattress as theotherelise mentioned. I would probably also want a desk for computer work/writing  and maybe a table with a couple chairs, since I have a back issue that makes sitting on the floor for long periods painful. But other things can come a bit later. However, boyfriend's mom might also insist on buying us furniture. The mattress will probably be the only expensive thing.

I don't think there is a possibility of only having one car but mine will be a gift and so was his so we won't be making car payments, we will just be paying for insurance. This is partly because I might move out at any time. I don't plan to get on his insurance as of now, I will just be getting my own. I am going to try not to constantly be using it though and want to get a bike for traveling around town.

My boyfriend and I have already discussed finances and we are on the same page about things. He just took a personal finance class so he even has a planned out budget that only includes his income which can be adjusted to include whatever income I earn. He has no problem sharing costs and no problem with me not paying as much for things as him. We already sort of live together, not on paper as we have separate rooms in separate houses but we live about a 4 minute walk apart and basically function as though we are living together already (i.e. go shopping together, cook and eat together, sleep at my place together). Actually he did live with me one summer because I figured that was smarter than paying half his earnings renting a sublet if he was just going to mostly be at my place anyway. So really the only change in our relationship dynamic would be combining finances rather than keeping them separate, and the fact that he is coming into a lot of money whereas I don't know yet what my earnings will look like and have no chance of being as much as his. His sister also took the same path of moving in with her long-term boyfriend right after college so I think he sees is as a fine option and something he wants. I am not concerned that I wouldn't be able to leave if I have to. I know something could always go wrong and I could always move in with someone else just to leave if I really had to, although I don't foresee it becoming a major issue. But this is also why I would definitely want my own car.

I am going to try to avoid getting on his lease in case I move and he is aware of that and is fine with it. I am a bit concerned about him adapting to spending a lot more than I think is wise, but while it is easy for me to ask for things its not as easy for me to tell him not to spend his own money. I guess we will just have to see where the balance is. We haven't had as frugal a lifestyle in college surprisingly as I would probably prefer mostly because getting schoolwork done gets prioritized over everything else. So sometimes it can be really hard to do things like cook and plan inexpensive meals and reduce driving when the priority system is more like "eat whatever I can get quickly so I can finish this paper in 12 hours." Not to mention some of the costs that come with socializing in college. I don't go out and party much but a lot of hanging out with friends tends to involve purchasing alcohol. I probably have a less frugal life now than I did growing up because my parents were so poor we couldn't afford anything, whereas in college I've worked enough to have some extra spending money. I see graduating as an opportunity to lead a much more controlled, pre-planned and moderate lifestyle (with hopefully a lot more sleep!) and I don't know if he sees it the same way, but that's the kind of thing that will only come with experience.

I should also mention I have some small amount of income from some 1099 contract writing that I just started doing that should bring in 100-200 or so a week (don't know how long it will last though and it's based on a bidding system, so there is no guarantee of work). I still have my student job for another week or so. I don't foresee being unemployed/without any income for long. My boyfriend and I might actually be living off of my income (plus his parents) until he starts work in mid-July.

Goldielocks

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #30 on: May 19, 2016, 10:09:43 PM »
OP, your post seems like it could be a Troll.  But I will take it at face value...

Comments on your original post.
1.  You don't need furniture.  Maybe a futon and a set of sheets and a towel, would be nice.

2.  Why not move somewhere with a low cost of living but in a large town or small city where you can get work of some kind? (try to delay car insurance need for a while if you can)


4)Marriage- S/O has agreed to propose by next May. I'm not sure when we would get married after that.

If you have agreed to be married at some point in the future, one of you has actually proposed already and you are already engaged... no need to go to the expense to do it twice.   unless one of you is trying to delay and just avoiding the topic without dealing with it.

5) I could possibly qualify for EBT after graduation although I probably wouldn't need it with boyfriend making as much as he does. He should be at least willing to keep me fed. Probably not unemployment but I'm not totally sure, since I'm just coming out of college and I've only had work-study jobs.

Why should BF keep you fed?  Should you not feed yourself?   Why not get an interim job if you don't find a interest job quickly?  No one likes a mooch that won't do for herself and contribute to a relationship, especially at the start of a relationship...  A single young person does not need much money at all to make ends meet.   Don't even think about EBT until you have exhausted any possibility about work.

Did you think that maybe he wants to try life on for size for a while, without being in school, and without committing to something he may change his mind about (but probably not)?  Maybe he wants to marry a strong capable woman as a partner instead of someone he needs to support?   Maybe you should move on your own to a lower cost area, with job prospects, and have a long distance relationship for 6 months or so, to figure things out / become an independent woman.

And really, if you have had no employment other than work study, your REALLY need some work experience.  Even working retail or fast food for a few months while you seek teaching employment would be useful on your resume....   bonus marks if your entry job involves helping kids and reinforces your career goals..  or just volunteer after work in a program with kids...


plasticblue94

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #31 on: May 20, 2016, 12:31:29 AM »
What makes me seem like a troll?

On agreeing to get married- I have never ascribed to the idea that a proposal should just be thrust in front of a woman for the first time without ever being discussed. I know its atypical but I think that a general idea of the timeline for the steps toward marriage should be discussed mutually in the relationship. I have been dating my boyfriend for close to three years and we discussed when both of us would begin to consider marriage and how that would go. So the "official" proposal and related expenses will happen sometime between now and next May, and then we can move on toward getting married in the several years after (probably 1-3 years). That is just what we agreed would suit both of our interests.

On EBT/Unemployment- I was just answering someone else's question as to whether I would qualify for any benefits. My point was that I probably wouldn't, but even if I did qualify for EBT, if my boyfriend was bringing in 4k a month after taxes, it would be pretty unusual for him to say "No, we aren't sharing groceries, go get EBT." Wouldn't that be kind of a dick move in a healthy relationship? I don't know anyone whose relationship dynamic works that way. Regardless I don't believe I would be in a situation where I had absolutely no money for food, but if I were in that situation it would be less likely for me to apply for EBT than it would be for him to cover those costs.

On job history- In addition to work-study jobs I have volunteer and extracurricular experience to put on resumes. But I don't see why either of my work study jobs are any less valuable than retail or food service when looking for work. They were both office jobs that I had to apply and interview for just like any other type of work, but with a more limited applicant pool.

If I get there I will probably take any random job yes. But that's not really what I'm concerned about. Also if what he says is to be believed my boyfriend actually wants me to live with him and is looking forward to it.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2016, 01:17:53 AM by plasticblue94 »

Metric Mouse

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #32 on: May 20, 2016, 04:47:17 AM »
What makes me seem like a troll?

On agreeing to get married- I have never ascribed to the idea that a proposal should just be thrust in front of a woman for the first time without ever being discussed. I know its atypical but I think that a general idea of the timeline for the steps toward marriage should be discussed mutually in the relationship. I have been dating my boyfriend for close to three years and we discussed when both of us would begin to consider marriage and how that would go. So the "official" proposal and related expenses will happen sometime between now and next May, and then we can move on toward getting married in the several years after (probably 1-3 years). That is just what we agreed would suit both of our interests.

On EBT/Unemployment- I was just answering someone else's question as to whether I would qualify for any benefits. My point was that I probably wouldn't, but even if I did qualify for EBT, if my boyfriend was bringing in 4k a month after taxes, it would be pretty unusual for him to say "No, we aren't sharing groceries, go get EBT." Wouldn't that be kind of a dick move in a healthy relationship? I don't know anyone whose relationship dynamic works that way. Regardless I don't believe I would be in a situation where I had absolutely no money for food, but if I were in that situation it would be less likely for me to apply for EBT than it would be for him to cover those costs.

On job history- In addition to work-study jobs I have volunteer and extracurricular experience to put on resumes. But I don't see why either of my work study jobs are any less valuable than retail or food service when looking for work. They were both office jobs that I had to apply and interview for just like any other type of work, but with a more limited applicant pool.

If I get there I will probably take any random job yes. But that's not really what I'm concerned about. Also if what he says is to be believed my boyfriend actually wants me to live with him and is looking forward to it.

Good luck with everything.  I hope everything goes according to plan, and that you and your boyfriend are super happy with the furniture you get!

plasticblue94

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #33 on: May 20, 2016, 11:01:20 AM »
I am pretty sure that was sarcasm but thanks, I guess I also hope I will enjoy any furnishings that we obtain.

Metric Mouse

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #34 on: May 20, 2016, 11:17:18 AM »
I am pretty sure that was sarcasm but thanks, I guess I also hope I will enjoy any furnishings that we obtain.

I did not intend it to come off that way.

charis

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #35 on: May 20, 2016, 01:42:08 PM »
OP, I think some people, including myself, are reasonably questioning the idea that you move in with your college boyfriend directly after graduation (after essentially living together during college) at 21 or 22 years old for financial reasons.   It would behoove you and your relationship a lot to strike out on your own and find out how strongly you and Mr. can't borrow my car feel about that agreed-upon proposal.    Even if yours is THE love affair of a lifetime and you can't ever imagine been apart, it's worth it to grow on your own for a while, even if it "costs" more.

galliver

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #36 on: May 20, 2016, 01:55:01 PM »
OP, I find myself wondering what you have now. Because, thinking back, a number of things I moved out with I had in my college apartment: some wire shelves  & plastic drawers, an office chair with leaky hydraulics found in the trash room (after long periods of sitting it "deflated"), kitchen stuff (1 frying pan, 1 pot, 6 $1 glass dishes, a few mugs, set of plastic mixing bowls with lids, set of nylon cooking utensils, maybe a whisk for pancakes, can opener, a few kitchen towels...probably <$50 total). I traded flatware sets with my parents (they had received one they didn't like as a gift, but liked mine), and arranged to take my sister's desk (she was at a public magnet boarding school and only used it for storage). All the stuff fit in the back of the family minivan, and my mom was able to take me down to grad school (which I realize was a big blessing). I also benefited from moving in with established roommates so they had other kitchen stuff, a table, chairs, a couch, etc. Some of my roommates had quite the eye for Craigslist and skill in refinishing furniture...I haven't been able to replicate their success with it. I got an inexpensive mattress and put it on the floor for 1-2 months before I got a bed and dresser.

Depending on your moving arrangements, it might make sense to trawl Craigslist in Ithaca as students are moving out to snag some of those things you think you can't live without like table&chairs. But if you're trying to accomplish the move with just the Crosstrek, that might require an extra vehicle or extra trips which would negate the savings; just CL/thrift when you get there. (That said, I could see a folded or disassembled basic  table taking up very little room in the back of a Crosstrek under boxes/stuff.

Also you are not a mooch for relying on your bf for a little while; that's how stable relationships work. It's not like you just threw your hands up and said "That's it, I'm a homemaker now!" You're looking for opportunities, and even that 100-200/week one is something (in fact, it's a decent chunk of what one needs, post-rent, when first starting out or living frugally). I'm glad you've talked it through and are definitely on the same page; and I agree with you about relationship timelines. My bf and I talk with certainty about getting married and kids in the next few years, but we're "stuck" at the proposal stage because he believes a ring needs to be involved and I refuse to go shopping with him for one (I think it's tacky to do so). Also I sort of initiated the relationship and expect I'll have a large role in the wedding planning, so gosh darn it, ball is in his court on this one! Show me you can stand up (or kneel down) and ask the darn question, haha. :) We've been together almost 5 years now. And I think it's quite weird that someone seemed to imply college relationships aren't serious? I would say most of the married couples I know (at 27) dated at least 1 year in college and continued their relationships after, eventually leading to marriage (and for some, kids). I won't guess at the statistics, but it's at the very least not UNcommon like high school relationships lasting into adulthood (and I know a few of  those, too).

Keep having a good head on your shoulders, and you'll come out of this transition just fine! :)

notactiveanymore

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #37 on: May 20, 2016, 02:02:00 PM »
Wow. Yeah, it's one thing to encourage someone to be financially independent and emotionally independent and not tie their hopes and dreams 100% to another person. It's another to questions parts of their life that weren't really on the table for judgement.

My husband and I talked about when we wanted to get married before we were engaged. We didn't move in together before marriage, but it's not the most ridiculous thing ever. There is no benefit to staying in NY (even a downside with the costs) and so you have to move somewhere. Why would you force a long-distance relationship when you have just as decent prospects in PA?

OP, it sounds like you will probably start working somewhere and making some money even before the bf starts his job in July. It sounds like you are staying off the lease and keeping yourself open to career possibilities in other places. It sounds like you two have had mature conversations about if/when you'd like to be married and have even planned together about finances. It sounds like you're going to figure out how to get on a path towards teaching in these 6 months before your loan payments start coming due. It sounds like you and the bf are on the same page but that you also have options (living with a friend) if something unforeseen happens. It sounds like you have no intention of sitting in the apartment letting the bf pay for all your things while you refuse to find work. It sounds like your bf - like a normal person in a healthy relationship headed toward marriage - would be just fine covering groceries for a month to make sure that you're getting on a good track for long-term career growth.

Gosh. smh

pbkmaine

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #38 on: May 20, 2016, 02:20:03 PM »
Theotherelise makes some good points. Take what's helpful in the advice you get and let the rest go.

onlykelsey

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #39 on: May 20, 2016, 02:37:13 PM »
Hello, fellow Cornellian!  I'm 29, so a fair bit older than you, but left Cornell in a relationship of similar length and have some thoughts. 

1. Relationship. In my case, it was him who followed me across the country without a job lined up.  I don't think it was the best choice for us, without being engaged, something that he and I (we are both now married to other people) agree about.  It created a lot of resentment on both sides (I felt like I had to foot all the bills and was in a semi "marriage" at 21 since we had merged finances and rented a house, he felt like he had thrown his lot in with mine for us and that choice should be respected, and was depressed about having an M.Eng. from Cornell with nothing to show for it).  I would tread very, very carefully.  There are a lot of landmines in living together without marriage (if marriage is something you want), and especially when in your circumstances.  You should absolutely NOT rush in to marriage, but if you've agreed you want to get married, I see no real benefit in waiting (except to plan, but that's a concrete, finite period of time).  It seems like someone or both of you are hedging their bets.  I really think you should either go all in and get married if you think this is your life partner and you are both committed to making it work and prioritizing the health of the "unit" over your personal goals, or break it off/revisit in six months.  I don't think there is anything to be gained from the middle path, it sounds like it's putting off a painful choice here (and it was for me).

2. Networking. I also came from a crappy background (orphaned by single mom before i graduated high school) and thought networking was fake and schmoozy.  Sometimes it is, but it is SO IMPORTANT.  Start immediately.  I think I actually sometimes had an advantage over the more privileged kids, even if I couldn't keep up on all the more stereotypically middle- and upper-class topics, because my background let me talk to everyone from CEO to janitor in a genuine way.  I think that was always a strength of mine in interviews. You've lost time by not starting earlier, but you can still do it.  If you do go to Allentown, which I don't think is that great of an idea, find a local faith or fitness or alumni community and get involved immediately.  Be nice to people, offer to babysit their kids or help them with projects if they're older, and make friends.  SO MANY jobs come this way.  Very few come from cold job postings.

3. Allentown.  Allentown (I'm a Pennsylvanian) is not a booming economy.  Tying yourself to there is not a brilliant choice.  Are you comfortable just using it as a base and then jumping at a great job in Phoenix?  How highly will you prioritize living with him over your career?  I can't tell 100%, but assuming you're a woman, your 20s may really be your best earning years, before you get the "she's a mom/probably is about to be a mom" and "she's old and past the hill (i.e. past 32)" bias.  It's bullshit and stupid, but it's there.  I would think carefully before throwing any of them away.

charis

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #40 on: May 21, 2016, 06:29:39 AM »
Quote
"she's old and past the hill (i.e. past 32)" bias

As an elderly mother of two at 36, this made me giggle.   A person's best earning years is almost never their 20s.  Unless they retire at 30, and even still.  I make more now than I ever did in my 20s, and I have earned more each year.

onlykelsey

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #41 on: May 21, 2016, 09:33:46 AM »
Quote
"she's old and past the hill (i.e. past 32)" bias

As an elderly mother of two at 36, this made me giggle.   A person's best earning years is almost never their 20s.  Unless they retire at 30, and even still.  I make more now than I ever did in my 20s, and I have earned more each year.

I plan on earning more for a while too, but I think it's foolhardy to pretend women really get much in way of raises after 35 (http://www.financialsamurai.com/median-income-by-age-and-sex-in-america/). I'm expecting now, and I've seen the employment contracts negotiated for 35 year old men vs women.  It's a small sample, but studies seem to say the same thing.  I guess I was sloppy, though, I meant more that those are the years you make huge salary strides.  Base salary and salary in your early career are so important, since future raises are based on it.  Of course everyone on this board might be the exception to the rule, but mothers are offered lower salaries after each child (based on identical male/female resumes), and fathers are offered higher ones after each child (or at least up to 3).

I am not saying this is good or that you should accepted it or give up (I earn six figures and have two graduate degrees), but it's not something to ignore.

charis

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #42 on: May 21, 2016, 10:39:23 AM »
Quote
"she's old and past the hill (i.e. past 32)" bias

As an elderly mother of two at 36, this made me giggle.   A person's best earning years is almost never their 20s.  Unless they retire at 30, and even still.  I make more now than I ever did in my 20s, and I have earned more each year.

I plan on earning more for a while too, but I think it's foolhardy to pretend women really get much in way of raises after 35 (http://www.financialsamurai.com/median-income-by-age-and-sex-in-america/). I'm expecting now, and I've seen the employment contracts negotiated for 35 year old men vs women.  It's a small sample, but studies seem to say the same thing.  I guess I was sloppy, though, I meant more that those are the years you make huge salary strides.  Base salary and salary in your early career are so important, since future raises are based on it.  Of course everyone on this board might be the exception to the rule, but mothers are offered lower salaries after each child (based on identical male/female resumes), and fathers are offered higher ones after each child (or at least up to 3).

I am not saying this is good or that you should accepted it or give up (I earn six figures and have two graduate degrees), but it's not something to ignore.

Yes, but this takes into account all the female workers who drop out for a period to have/raise children and those that work less after starting a family, which they do at much higher rates than men.  I'm  not ignoring anything.  I have never dropped out of work and have gotten steady promotions and raises since having children.  Within a year of having my second child, at 35, I received a higher position job offer with a 20% salary increase.   Many of my male counterparts are making less.  I'm not an exception to the rule, either (for my field, location etc). 

I agree with commanding the highest starting salary because I do think women typically start off making less than men and it's hard to make up for that later on. 

FINate

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #43 on: May 21, 2016, 10:44:50 AM »
Anyway, we will have a fine amount of income, no kids, but there are still expenses to deal with. We will be renting and are currently looking for apartments in the range of about 1300/month. We will need to get furniture-all the furniture I guess. I don't have a car but I am supposed to be getting an old car (2008 PT cruiser, only worth about $4,000 on the market) as a graduation gift, however, until I have it I have had to spend a lot on car rentals to make in-person job interviews (our university is extremely far away from major cities and public transportation is about on par in terms of cost and not feasible). He has a car which his parents gave him as a gift, which is a Subaru Crosstrek, but he won't let me use it due to car insurance. I will have to start paying for car insurance if I get the gift car, and as of now I will be graduating with basically no income or savings so until I find work I don't know how I would afford the car. I have some student loans -about $17,000- not from tuition but mostly from my university forcing me to pay for their expensive health insurance plan, and I have a 6 month grace period before I will have to start paying on them. Other than that I have no debt. I opened a cashback credit card 6 months ago and I have been paying it off each month, basically using it for the better security, cashback, and as a way to track non-fixed cost spending.

First, I'm shocked at the cost of the insurance you were forced to pay. Dafuq!!! I had no idea this was a thing...

Now back to the topic at hand, and by that I mean how to save money getting started, not your relationship :) Be aware that after scraping by in college there's often a huge desire to reward yourself with nice things: Apartment in a trendy area, new furniture, eating out a lot, and such. It's hard to resist this, but I think it's worth the effort and sacrifice 5-10 years down the road. Some specific tips:

  • Go for the cheapest apartment you can live with, something not in a trendy area.
  • Furnish your apartment by buying used stuff (Craigslist, second hand stores), or freebies from family and friends. Same for kitchen stuff.
  • The money you spend on new things should be small amounts on decor/accents from places like Target.
  • Avoid cable. It's expensive and a time sink.
  • If you haven't already, get a low cost cell phone (Republic Wireless or similar)
  • Eat your meals at home. Plan out a weekly menu and shop to that menu. Set this up such that ingredients can be used multiple times throughout the week.
  • About that PT Cruiser: Not very fuel efficient, and below average reliability. Consider selling it and purchasing a used Corolla, Fit, or similar.
  • If you are healthy overall, go for a catastrophic health plan. You want health insurance in case something bad happens, not a prepaid health plan.

munchabunch

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #44 on: May 22, 2016, 08:55:14 AM »
After reading all of this, I thought I'd drop back to your original question about minimizing costs.  Plenty of other posts gave some good advice.  When I graduated college I was in a similar situation, except I was accepted to grad school and I told my then very serious boyfriend if he stayed with me I would cover the costs.  I owned/paid for everything then, and we've been married for almost 5 years now.

If he has the job and you don't, it's likely he'll be picking up the tab for things like utilities or more groceries.  Show him that you're a good guardian of the cash, and that you recognize the effect it on your quality of life.  You'll also have more time at home, even after accounting for spending several hours a day job hunting.

- Buy a slow cooker and a casserole pan, and push for planning meals.  This is the #1 way to save on groceries - know what you need to buy, buy that, and don't buy anything else.  Use your extra at-home time to make dinner.  It doesn't have to be fancy!  Learn to make a great lasagna, pasta bake, soup, or stew (I love beef stew and chicken with dumplings).  All of them are filling, hearty meals that don't cost too much and are easy to make.  Even if your "dinner making skills" consist of tossing cut veggies and beef into a pot and pushing a button, you're showing thoughtfulness for your partner, keeping the budget low, and reducing stress.

- Price compare the local grocery stores.  This sounds silly, but I consistently have found grocery stores will try and upsell certain items and bargain you with others, making up their margin on the "everything else" you buy. There's usually one store that's really good in general (Aldi, Woodmans, Wegmans) and it's worth a slightly longer drive to save 15-20% on a weekly grocery budget.  Use your at home time to look for big sales fliers and coordinate a "swing by" trip to another store if they're having a good sale on meat or other staples.  Yes, I have walked in with a spreadsheet with all my usual staples to different stores, priced them out over the period of 2-3 weeks, then settled on the most economical.

- Know what's necessary, and what's a splurge.  Soda/pop is a splurge, steak is a splurge, the olive bar, booze, most organics and brand names too.  Love the generic brand; sometimes it's even better than name brand!  Find discount options when you can.  Love popcorn?  Get the giant bag of popping kernels for $1-2 and not the microwave stuff.  If coffee is die-hard on this list, get the bulk grocery store brand beans and grind your own.  We managed to live on ~$40 a week for two people when we didn't have any income.  I didn't love it, but it meant we were never bankrupt.  Just knowing you have the knowledge and ability to do this is an incredibly powerful tool.

- Second, third, quadruple, etc. what other people said about thrift store furniture.  I have bought only one piece of brand new furniture thus far in my life, and I'm 30.  I've picked up an amazing couch on CL for <25% retail almost brand new, and the only kitchen table and chairs I had were a cheap set someone was dumping when they moved.

- If you're the kind of person who likes a well-decorated living space, consider DIY instead of buying.  It's easy to drop a lot of money on fancy furniture, wall art, clocks, etc.  Pintrest/Google image search are amazing things.  With a trip to a thrift store and $10, you could have a couple afternoons expanding your skill set and making your own wall art.  Make it a move in present for your partner, and now it has more meaning than something bought in a store.

- When you make friends, don't go out for drinks/food.  New friend group, try new things!  Have a potluck board game night, or a DIY craft, or scrapbooking, or "walk the arboretum" followed by a picnic.  If money is tight, $20 on a night out now has the same price tag as dinner for 4 at home.  Some of my best memories are hanging out with my grad school friends on Thursday night board gaming, where we alternated bringing a 6-pack and some food.

- Find some way to make a little cash.  Could be online work, could be re-selling goods on eBay, P/T job, doesn't matter.  I made and sold stuffed animals online and made enough to cover rent.  If you show you're bringing in something and you manage that money, it shows your partner you're working through a tough period and not just mooching.

Probably nothing earth-shatteringly new, but thought I'd share from a non-relationship perspective.

Physicsteacher

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #45 on: May 22, 2016, 10:08:40 AM »
I agree with the advice to gradually accumulate used furniture but to consider buying a new mattress. I spent a year sleeping on a $40 camping air mattress which I then lent to a friend for the following year, but while it was comfortable for sleeping on alone, it shifted way too much with the movement of the other person for me to reccomend for long term use with a partner. When DH and I went to buy a mattress, I was surpised to discover that telling the sales guy that we were leaving to go shop around elsewhere resulted in an offer to cut the price of the mattress and box spring set we were considering by 1/3. Don't be afraid to haggle.

plasticblue94

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #46 on: May 22, 2016, 10:37:20 PM »
Thanks everyone so much for the advice! This post will probably be a wall novel of text so here goes...

I actually got hired for a teaching job Friday as an Apprentice Science Teacher. It will start in late August in New Jersey. The salary is a (quite shocking imo) $45,000 for ten months. I really was not expecting to get hired for this job and was definitely not expecting that salary if they did offer. I was thinking it would be something closer to 28-30K if I even got an offer. Just a random job I found on the internet, which I know a majority of the time are a waste to even bother with. I guess I got really lucky. I will have to take a couple tests to get a Provisional License by August since charter schools are public, so that will cost about $600 I think, but there will be some paid summer training. So I will still try to get a random job in Allentown until then at a tutoring center/waitressing/babysitting etc. then move again in August. I'm extremely happy of course but the downsides are that I am uncertain if there is a benefits package (I will have to ask about this) and will have to move again in August. The job is in Plainfield, NJ which is roughly an hour from Allentown, close enough that commuting would be possible but horrible especially if I end up working 10-12 hour days.

The next day (Saturday) I went on a surprise trip to Allentown to actually see some apartments. My boyfriend was planning to go and at the last second I decided to go along because I didn't feel like staying home that day. We ended up getting approved for a 2 bedroom for 1190/month which is beautiful- being newly renovated, but in a not-so-nice part of town so it's slightly cheaper than the two other places we saw. I ended up getting on the lease because they were going to have a problem with me getting mail there otherwise, but they know I will most likely be getting removed from the lease after 3 months. Still not a great price range overall but they don't have a 1-bedroom available until August and we need to move now. This way though if he decided to move he could potentially move into a 1-bedroom in the same building without much hassle. Those run for about $900-1000. However, since I won't be living there after August I guess that will be his decision to make.

Now I can definitely see what people were saying about $1300 for a 1-bedroom apartment. The ones we looked at that were $1300 were either overly fancy or places where you would be paying mostly for convenience rather than how nice the place actually is. Definitely very different from what I am used to. For perspective, I spent about 2 years living in half of a converted house that was divided into 2 units and was probably 600 sq ft. for $1450/month, and that was back in 2008-9 (yeah I payed attention to that crap when I was 14).

Also Mister Mouse sorry for thinking you were being sarcastic! I'm hoping we will get sufficient furniture for now and if he wants to get fancy stuff that it should wait. First of all, if he starts working in mid-July he won't even be getting paid until the beginning of August, and we will probably want some basics by then. Second, having moved like 15 times in my life I know that moving leads to furniture getting damaged. Especially moving in and out of a 3rd floor apartment. So I'm hoping that angle will work. In terms of what we have now, it's not much because the apartments in the area are furnished

I agree with the advice to gradually accumulate used furniture but to consider buying a new mattress. I spent a year sleeping on a $40 camping air mattress which I then lent to a friend for the following year, but while it was comfortable for sleeping on alone, it shifted way too much with the movement of the other person for me to reccomend for long term use with a partner. When DH and I went to buy a mattress, I was surpised to discover that telling the sales guy that we were leaving to go shop around elsewhere resulted in an offer to cut the price of the mattress and box spring set we were considering by 1/3. Don't be afraid to haggle.
Great to know you can haggle with mattresses! I didn't know that this was a thing at all. When my parents first divorced I used to share an air mattress with my little brother when we were at my dad's place on weekends. I was like 7 years old and he was like 4 or 5. Horrible when the other person moves around a lot.

- Buy a slow cooker and a casserole pan, and push for planning meals.  This is the #1 way to save on groceries - know what you need to buy, buy that, and don't buy anything else.  Use your extra at-home time to make dinner.  It doesn't have to be fancy!  Learn to make a great lasagna, pasta bake, soup, or stew (I love beef stew and chicken with dumplings).  All of them are filling, hearty meals that don't cost too much and are easy to make.  Even if your "dinner making skills" consist of tossing cut veggies and beef into a pot and pushing a button, you're showing thoughtfulness for your partner, keeping the budget low, and reducing stress.

- Price compare the local grocery stores.  This sounds silly, but I consistently have found grocery stores will try and upsell certain items and bargain you with others, making up their margin on the "everything else" you buy. There's usually one store that's really good in general (Aldi, Woodmans, Wegmans) and it's worth a slightly longer drive to save 15-20% on a weekly grocery budget.  Use your at home time to look for big sales fliers and coordinate a "swing by" trip to another store if they're having a good sale on meat or other staples.  Yes, I have walked in with a spreadsheet with all my usual staples to different stores, priced them out over the period of 2-3 weeks, then settled on the most economical.

- Know what's necessary, and what's a splurge.  Soda/pop is a splurge, steak is a splurge, the olive bar, booze, most organics and brand names too.  Love the generic brand; sometimes it's even better than name brand!  Find discount options when you can.  Love popcorn?  Get the giant bag of popping kernels for $1-2 and not the microwave stuff.  If coffee is die-hard on this list, get the bulk grocery store brand beans and grind your own.  We managed to live on ~$40 a week for two people when we didn't have any income.  I didn't love it, but it meant we were never bankrupt.  Just knowing you have the knowledge and ability to do this is an incredibly powerful tool.

- If you're the kind of person who likes a well-decorated living space, consider DIY instead of buying.  It's easy to drop a lot of money on fancy furniture, wall art, clocks, etc.  Pintrest/Google image search are amazing things.  With a trip to a thrift store and $10, you could have a couple afternoons expanding your skill set and making your own wall art.  Make it a move in present for your partner, and now it has more meaning than something bought in a store.

Great advice. I often half-ass try to do meal-planning and food budgeting but anything detailed always gets shoved aside for school. $40/week for two people is pretty incredible. I can probably spend the summer gathering cost data and trying out recipes myself during the summer, and then when I leave my boyfriend can use that info if he chooses to. The one difference with us is that I am vegan and he eats meat, but he will eat things I make if he likes them. I also minored in nutrition so I have a decent ability to plan complete meals already. Determining what is/isn't a splurge is where we differ, especially in what we are willing to give up. I don't think he would ever give up soda regardless of anything I did. He also has a terrible habit of buying food and then eating out instead of cooking it and letting it go to waste (gets it from his mother I think). So I'm hoping to help him see how much money he wastes by doing that.
I really want to get back into making artwork too. Another thing that has been shoved aside during college except during breaks. I would love to DIY decorate some cheap furniture.

I am probably going to sell the PT Cruiser soon enough. It already has 80,000 miles on it. I will keep it for as long as I'm at a point in life where I don't rely on it frequently, but after a while I'm hoping to trade it up for something more fuel efficient.

Hello, fellow Cornellian!  I'm 29, so a fair bit older than you, but left Cornell in a relationship of similar length and have some thoughts. 

1. Relationship. In my case, it was him who followed me across the country without a job lined up.  I don't think it was the best choice for us, without being engaged, something that he and I (we are both now married to other people) agree about.  It created a lot of resentment on both sides (I felt like I had to foot all the bills and was in a semi "marriage" at 21 since we had merged finances and rented a house, he felt like he had thrown his lot in with mine for us and that choice should be respected, and was depressed about having an M.Eng. from Cornell with nothing to show for it).  I would tread very, very carefully.  There are a lot of landmines in living together without marriage (if marriage is something you want), and especially when in your circumstances.  You should absolutely NOT rush in to marriage, but if you've agreed you want to get married, I see no real benefit in waiting (except to plan, but that's a concrete, finite period of time).  It seems like someone or both of you are hedging their bets.  I really think you should either go all in and get married if you think this is your life partner and you are both committed to making it work and prioritizing the health of the "unit" over your personal goals, or break it off/revisit in six months.  I don't think there is anything to be gained from the middle path, it sounds like it's putting off a painful choice here (and it was for me).

2. Networking. I also came from a crappy background (orphaned by single mom before i graduated high school) and thought networking was fake and schmoozy.  Sometimes it is, but it is SO IMPORTANT.  Start immediately.  I think I actually sometimes had an advantage over the more privileged kids, even if I couldn't keep up on all the more stereotypically middle- and upper-class topics, because my background let me talk to everyone from CEO to janitor in a genuine way.  I think that was always a strength of mine in interviews. You've lost time by not starting earlier, but you can still do it.  If you do go to Allentown, which I don't think is that great of an idea, find a local faith or fitness or alumni community and get involved immediately.  Be nice to people, offer to babysit their kids or help them with projects if they're older, and make friends.  SO MANY jobs come this way.  Very few come from cold job postings.

3. Allentown.  Allentown (I'm a Pennsylvanian) is not a booming economy.  Tying yourself to there is not a brilliant choice.  Are you comfortable just using it as a base and then jumping at a great job in Phoenix?  How highly will you prioritize living with him over your career?  I can't tell 100%, but assuming you're a woman, your 20s may really be your best earning years, before you get the "she's a mom/probably is about to be a mom" and "she's old and past the hill (i.e. past 32)" bias.  It's bullshit and stupid, but it's there.  I would think carefully before throwing any of them away.

Great to hear from others at Cornell! I have several friends who went through the M. Eng. program here and it seemed pretty rough. I'm hoping that since my boyfriend and I have been pseudo-living together for a few years that some of the issues that might come up when living together will not be so unexpected or drastic, but you never know. I agree that it is pointless to wait and if he ends up wanting to push the timeline out too far I would probably just break it off. I am hoping for better.
Thank you for the tip on networking. At this point leaving college, I have been trying to figure out what the word "network" even means for me anymore. I guess it can mean every interaction, not just formalized networking events like what the university holds.
Fortunately, my boyfriend is in a development program for only three years. From there he can take a job anywhere in the company, which might mean staying in Allentown but would have the possibility of being at a plant somewhere else. He might also leave the company for higher pay as a lot of engineers are doing now apparently. So Allentown won't totally be forever (thank goodness). I do not want to get stuck there and I'm hoping we will move somewhere warmer!

Thanks everyone for reading all my super long posts! I have been reading every single reply and thank you all so much for your input!

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #47 on: May 23, 2016, 04:29:48 AM »
Plainfield would be way more than an hour from Allentown during rush hour. Congratulations on the job!

galliver

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #48 on: May 23, 2016, 01:15:48 PM »
I actually got hired for a teaching job Friday as an Apprentice Science Teacher. It will start in late August in New Jersey. The salary is a (quite shocking imo) $45,000 for ten months. I really was not expecting to get hired for this job and was definitely not expecting that salary if they did offer. I was thinking it would be something closer to 28-30K if I even got an offer. Just a random job I found on the internet, which I know a majority of the time are a waste to even bother with. I guess I got really lucky. I will have to take a couple tests to get a Provisional License by August since charter schools are public, so that will cost about $600 I think, but there will be some paid summer training. So I will still try to get a random job in Allentown until then at a tutoring center/waitressing/babysitting etc. then move again in August. I'm extremely happy of course but the downsides are that I am uncertain if there is a benefits package (I will have to ask about this) and will have to move again in August. The job is in Plainfield, NJ which is roughly an hour from Allentown, close enough that commuting would be possible but horrible especially if I end up working 10-12 hour days.

Fantastic news! Very excited for you. I did a 1.5 hr commute each way one summer, living at home and working on campus. It was tough even though I was on a train or bus for over an hour of that (so I could nap!) But, it was tolerable for a few months; so if summer work doesn't go as hoped and you need a paycheck or two to put down a deposit, you could pull it off! Personally, I'd probably look for a roommate situation in Plainfield, which might avoid that problem. :)

K-ice

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Re: Graduating from College- How to minimize costs starting out?
« Reply #49 on: May 23, 2016, 09:24:53 PM »
Congrats on the job!

I would be looking for a small room to rent near your job. Let them know you plan to spend the weekends with your BF.

I hope you can find something for under $500 and you only need to "commute" Monday morning and Friday evening.