Category Archives: being broke

On moving home at 26

I think that there is something inherently perverse about moving back into your parents’ house at the age of 26. But that is exactly what I’ll be doing in six days.

After losing my job and deciding not to renew my lease, I am left with few options. And after much soul-searching and advice from both friends and family, I’ve decided to suck it up and live at home for a month or two while I save money and try to figure out what exactly I’m suppose to do with my life.

I am very, very lucky that I actually have parents kind enough to let me live with them rent-free until I get up onto my own two feet again. But at the same time, I can hear my dignity squealing in the background, emmiting the same kind of noise virgins burning in hell would make.

Will people look at me strangely if I tell them that I spent my Saturday night on the couch watching Murder She Wrote with my mother? Can I bring my boyfriend home with my dad snoring in the adjacent bedroom? Do I call my parents my “older roommates” or do I just blatantly lie and say I live in a van down by the river?

My mother told me that I am, infact, not “moving back home.” She calls it “staying a little while.” Last week, however, as I was unpacking my clothes into my old-new bedroom, I got this queasy feeling in my stomach. It was my pride shooting itself in the head with a pistol.

Why do I feel so defeated about moving back home? It feels like I lost at life. We are told all of our lives that we are suppose to be self-sufficient by this age. I see some of my friends getting married and having babies and buying homes and then I examine my own life, and see all of my stuff in boxes, and it kills me. Being unemployed and moving back home in my late twenties wasn’t something I had in mind for myself.

We set certain standards for ourselves and goals we’d like to accomplish by specific ages. We have parents and teachers that say that we can achieve anything if we only set our minds to it. When something goes horribly wrong, brings us to our knees financially and it’s all out of our control, what then? How are we suppose to feel?

I know it’s not the end of the world but it is ego-crushing. Maybe I shouldn’t think of it as “moving in,” but as “pushing onward.”

Money is my frenemy

ramenI honestly thought that once I had a real “adult” job that involved a 41K plan and a water-cooler that my days of eating Ramen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner would be over. Oh, how wrong I was.

In college I learned to love the taste of meat-flavored powder. I also learned how to pair Ramen with other food staples (such as bread) and condiment (spaghetti sauce)  to liven up my meal. But, after awhile, no matter how much effort you put into trying to spice the relationship up, Ramen gets old. Once I even went so far as to make myself a cheese and Ramen sandwich. 

Since graduating with a BA in English lit in ’07 and landing a job at a reputable newspaper, I’ve upgraded to Spaghetti-O’s. Sad, I know, but I’m broke and don’t know how to cook. I’m so broke in fact that just yesterday I ate my cereal with milk that was suppose to expire three days ago. And I washed my hair with dog shampoo. 

When you’re in your twenties, money can be both your best friend and your worst enemy. When you’re rolling in it, you think nothing of going out and buying round after round of pints for your 20 fabulous friends. But when rent is right around the corner and you have $1.27 in your checking account it feels like the world could end right then and there.

I try to be responsible with my money. I always pay all of my bills on time and in full. I no longer bounce checks. I have an ING account. I am trying to climb my way out of debt. I have a budget that I (very loosely) follow. My credit card is safely stored away in a mug of ice in my freezer.

But no matter what extremes I go to, it seems that at the end of the day I am broke. I am always broke. And I have no idea where all of my money goes. I mean, I do know where it goes. It just doesn’t disappear. But it all goes away so fast that sometimes, it feels like it’s doing just that. Disappearing.

I recently picked up a second job bartending at weddings on the weekends. Hopefully, this will help put me ahead. I really don’t like the idea of working six days a week, but drastic times calls for drastic measures. And I’m starting to really, really hate Ramen.

My mother once told me that your prime earning years are in your 40’s and 50’s. So this means, I still have a good 15 to 20 years to look forward to of being perpetually poor. 

Sometimes, I compare myself to my friends that make twice as much as I do and I find myself wanting to strangle them. I love what I do for a living, but there will always be that twinge of regret that I didn’t major in accounting or biology. 

So, until I write my novel, I’m going to be having Ramen for dinner every night. I think Ramen is recession proof. Poor people will always buy it.