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Severing the last ties of financial dependence
Weaning myself off student loans and my parents' financial support has been a drawn-out process. Sometime in the middle of college, my parents stopped paying my rent; soon after that I started paying for my textbooks; and the ultimate financial kiss-off came when I didn't get any money for my drive home at Thanksgiving.
But it wasn't until I graduated and started paying off my student loans that I felt that final big rip of that financial bandage. I had to radically reassess my finances and come to terms with reality.
Replacing the university support network
As a teaching assistant, I had been given health insurance through the university. Upon graduation, without a job lined up, I needed to find a new source of health care. Because I was under 26 years old, I was able to stay on my mother's health care plan as allowed by the new Affordable Care Act. This bought me enough time until I got a full-time job and was enrolled in my employer's health care plan.
But most significantly, my student loan repayments have suddenly added a few hundred dollars to my monthly expenditures.
In order to compensate for these monthly drains on my income, I've been forced to change the way I live. For example, since I no longer scrounge around for cheap campus food twice a day, I go to the grocery store more and am learning how to cook.
Organizing my finances
I also got a credit card for the first time in a few years to help me better manage my money and take advantage of rewards. Because I pay my balance in full at the end of every month, I'm not accruing any interest and am able to pay for groceries and big purchases before I get my paycheck.
Back to reality
Though I'm by no means a frugal consumer or a financial wizard, I'm learning how to live within my means and at the same time keep a more vigilant eye on money management.
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