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Leahlearns

Budgeting/ Financial independence

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I'm just wondering how other people plan on budgeting...

I guess the big question in my mind is that it doesn't seem to make sense to divide the money allotted for living expenses (room and board minus board) by the number of months in the school year because there will be many more expenses early on as I accumulate basic things (furniture, basic cooking ingredients, kitchen utensils, cleaning supplies, etc.) than I will have later on.

Do I just wing it the first month or two, trying to save whereever I can, and budget later once I have a better idea of what things cost?

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My experience has been that the first few months will be full of large expenses, exactly for the reasons you listed. Last time I moved, I only bought essentials in the beginning and tried to postpone buying everything else I could, but in the end you're talking about basic things you need for every day life and there's no avoiding it. However, after you've moved you can find out about markets/second hand stores where you can save some money. I saved up before I moved (doing it again right now, planning on at least 1000$ worth of expenses in the first couple of weeks. sigh.) I also have a habit of having every visitor I get bring me something(s). Don't be ashamed to ask - most people are happy to help and it's a great way to get your old stuff from back home. So basically I think you have to buy the absolute essentials, then try to budget later on based on how much you've spent. The beginning is the hardest, it gets easier after you get to know your surroundings and can start planning your budget.

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Hmm...Good to know about the $1000. Sounds like I'll just have to bite the bullet. The money I'm making now is covering my current living expenses and very little else so this is all somehow going to have to come out of my stipend, or at least a good 90% of it. I think my visitors are going to be limited to friends from other schools. I'm moving about as far away from home as I could without leaving the US and it seems very doubtful that family will come visit my first year--sounds like a good scheme you've got going there though! I will definitely hunt down goodwill, salvation army, etc.

I'm also discovering that the more affordable apartments (under $700/mo) are tiny! I'll be in a big city and I come from a tiny town so the average rent/ apartment size is definitely a bit shocking. I don't need much space, but I'm wondering if I'll be able to fit a desk, a bookshelf, and a small couch into a 7x11 space. Preferably I'd also get a small table in there. If it has to be just a small end table I could make do...ideally would be able to fit a (cheapo) coffee table.

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I'm moving from overseas, so I have to buy everything new (/used). My calculations are based mostly on my experience moving to Germany a couple of years ago and on prices on craigslist and the ikea site. And on having a really good mattress, because I have to sleep well(!!). That's not including the flight over and stay my first week in the states (another 1000$) and a new laptop I have to buy. Ugh. But I just realize it costs money to move, so I've been saving for a while, and my super-cool advisor gave me an increase on my stipend since I've been accepted to grad school to contribute to my move--out of his own research funds. So hopefully I can manage once I get there and have enough money to last me throughout the year.

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I blew $1900 on buying stuff the first week I was here (and yes, part of that is the unnecessary" necessary HDTV :-)). Thank goodness my first stipend check came two weeks after.

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I am one of the fortunate individuals who has relatives paying for my furniture. I got new, discounted furniture (e.g. a $700 bed frame on sale for $450). Shop at those stores. Sleeping on a quality mattress and bed was important to me.

When I get a permanent job after graduate school, I will have nice, high-quality furniture that would look great wherever I move.

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Do I have to join or something? I'm getting a little key symbol???

after you get the key symbol, click the address in the address bar. then press enter. it'll load then.

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My first MA year, I forgot I was only paid on a 9-month basis. Ever since, I've been stashing a couple hundred bucks per paycheck in a separate account that I don't let myself touch until summer. It really, really helps.

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after you get the key symbol, click the address in the address bar. then press enter. it'll load then.

They just went to a new look, and it's buggy. You have to refresh the page every time you go there.

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The hardest part for me is that I will be incurring all kinds of expenses before I actually get paid. Our lease started this month even though we're not moving up until the middle of August, and by the time I get my first SSHRC check I will had to pay three months rent (August, September, plus the last month of the lease). My first TA check doesn't arrive until the first of October and tuition fees are due on September 28th.

I have a spreadsheet I made that has stuff budgetted both on a monthly basis (i.e. $45 a week for groceries, $60 for cable/internet/phone, $400 for rent, etc.) and for one time costs ($1000 in moving expenses, three installments on my tuition fees, travel, etc.), plus costs that will be sporadic and spread out throughout the year (book purchases being the main one). The key for me when it comes to budgeting is to record everything you spend immediately so you can actually see how much money you have left.

I am sharing an apartment with my partner who is entering the same program with the exact same funding packages, so it does make things a bit more manageable. Plus she has managed to save more money than I have.

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The hardest part for me is that I will be incurring all kinds of expenses before I actually get paid.

Same here. I figure I'll have spent about 4,000$ out of my savings before I get my first paycheck.

The key for me when it comes to budgeting is to record everything you spend immediately so you can actually see how much money you have left.

That's great advice. Those small payments can sometimes add up to hundreds of dollars. It's hard to keep tabs unless you write everything down right after you spend the money.

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The hardest part for me is that I will be incurring all kinds of expenses before I actually get paid. Our lease started this month even though we're not moving up until the middle of August, and by the time I get my first SSHRC check I will had to pay three months rent (August, September, plus the last month of the lease). My first TA check doesn't arrive until the first of October and tuition fees are due on September 28th.

I have a spreadsheet I made that has stuff budgetted both on a monthly basis (i.e. $45 a week for groceries, $60 for cable/internet/phone, $400 for rent, etc.) and for one time costs ($1000 in moving expenses, three installments on my tuition fees, travel, etc.), plus costs that will be sporadic and spread out throughout the year (book purchases being the main one). The key for me when it comes to budgeting is to record everything you spend immediately so you can actually see how much money you have left.

I am sharing an apartment with my partner who is entering the same program with the exact same funding packages, so it does make things a bit more manageable. Plus she has managed to save more money than I have.

Yeah, I like the speadsheet idea. I'm really not sure how much to budget for even basic expenses though. I can look up how much Broadband will cost, but I figure for at least the first month or so my food expenses will probably be slightly higher as I accumulate basic ingredients. But I think what I'm going to do is just be really meticulous about recording how much I'm spending in each category and then after 1-2 months I could set some goals/limits. (In addition to, as you said, recording that you've spent money as soon as you spend it so you're entirely clear on how much you have leftover.) That reminds me I need to go figure out how I am supposed to get the stipend money into my (as of yet non-existent) bank account.

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Anyone use online budgeting sites? Love the layout of Mint.com but I was reluctant to link all of my information (cards, bank account numbers, etc.) for them to track. Is it worth it? Maybe I should do it, since I tend to be quite negligent with money :)

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Anyone use online budgeting sites? Love the layout of Mint.com but I was reluctant to link all of my information (cards, bank account numbers, etc.) for them to track. Is it worth it? Maybe I should do it, since I tend to be quite negligent with money :)

I used Quicken Online for a three month free trial period. It was pretty well done and convenient, but in the end it was nothing I couldn't do on my own with a spreadsheet for an extra ten minutes a week, so I let it expire. I did use it to model my spreadsheet though. I hope that's not a copyright violation : )

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buxfer.com is nice

it allows you to enter expenses which a split with your friends and then shows who owes whom and how many.

it is free

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Just some thoughts on setting up an apartment right after moving:

-Prioritize. What do you absolutely NEED in the first month or two?

-Don't overlook thrift stores and consignment shops for basic furniture (even pots, pans, and dishes). It's cheaper to have a couch steam-cleaned professionally than buy a new one and you can get a great deal!

-Things like cleaning supplies and other necessities are often available at a dollar store or a place like Big Lots (you can save a LOT on things like a trash can, toilet bowl cleaner, paper towels, and dish soap!)

This is stuff I've been figuring out as I'm right in the middle of a huge move. Good luck!

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