How a 23-year-old Maryland-based research assistant spends:

  • SALARY:  I make $37,500 as a research assistant based in Maryland. I have not yet negotiated for a raise.
  • SAVINGS: I have about $4,800 in my savings and $5,700 in a money market account.
  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $750 per month for rent. I also pay for utilities, Amazon Prime and WiFi. I'm still on my parents' healthcare plan. I was in an accident last year that required me to take four months of medical leave from my job. I was lucky that my position was held for me even though I did not qualify for FMLA and that I am covered by my dad's health insurance. If I had bought my own health insurance through my employer, I probably would have chosen a plan with more limited coverage, like an HMO, being young and never thinking I would have to heavily utilize its services. My dad's PPO plan is widely accepted and I didn't have to worry if a doctor or physical therapist took my health insurance -- they all did. While I was recovering, I lived at home with my parents and didn't have many expenses (i.e. rent) but we had to spend a great deal on basic wound care essentials that my health insurance does not cover because they are over-the-counter products (Ed. note: You can buy these products at the FSA Store with flexible savings account funds; your company will let you put pre-tax money into these accounts.) They were vital to my healing, and it added up! This experience opened my eyes to the realities of healthcare in America. 
  • DEBT: I am in debt. I have monthly auto-payments set up for my student loan. I still haven't decided if I should pay my undergraduate student loans off more aggressively than I do now. I'm in an income-based repayment plan that is reasonable, but knowing that I plan to go to grad school I wonder if I should pay more. 
  • SPENDING VICTORY: My MacBook Pro cost about $1,200. I purchased it in the summer of 2012, which was right after I graduated from high school. I bought it using what I saved from my cashier job at a fast food restaurant, babysitting, pet sitting and graduation cash.
  • SPENDING REGRET: Sometimes I spend money on experiences and other fun things, and I almost immediately regret it. Going to a fortune teller with my roommate and getting our tarot cards read was fun but definitely not worth $40. 
  • CHARITY: The last charity I contributed to was Partners in Health.
  • SIDE HUSTLE: I babysit on the side to pick up some extra cash. 
  • GOALS: I'm currently taking prerequisite classes for a master's program in occupational therapy. I take one class a semester at a local community college and pay for them on a monthly payment plan. It's pretty reasonable. I hope to start the master's program in fall 2019. I am nervous all the expenses of grad school. I hope I am able to get a graduate assistantship to defray the cost, or at least work part-time while in school full time. My goal is to figure out a common sense plan to make grad school as affordable as possible. 

- She Spends / Issue #28

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