There are two ways to get more positive cash flow. Make more money or reduce expenses. I decided to tackle both.
I live and work in the Boston area. They don’t lie, it is expensive to live here. Groceries, gas, car maintenance, everything. I lived in a four bedroom apartment right in Boston for a year after I graduated for $800/mth not including utilities or parking. After that year, an opportunity opened up in a suburb (about 30 mins away from the city) for a spot in a house with three girls. The rent was $150/mth cheaper and as you would imagine so was mostly everything else.
This was about when I started getting serious about paying off my debt. I started working at the YMCA there and getting diligent about extra expenditures. A year and a half into that living situation the roommates changed and I was very unhappy. I left that lease with six months to go and moved into another place close by.
This place I found off of craigslist. It was a woman with an extra bedroom in her house and who wanted help with her dog for reduced rent. I believe the rent ended up being about the same at this next place, maybe $750, but this time only sharing with one other person and I was supposed to have my own bathroom once it was finished.
The first month I was there she had a boyfriend and they were having very loud sex. Thank God they broke up. There was one time she told me she was annoyed I wouldn’t put her dirty coffee cup into the dishwasher. Almost a year after I moved in, I still didn’t have a bathroom, it turns out the dog was very aggressive and not well behaved (he bit a dog walker before I got there), and she asked me to lie about taxes but wouldn’t give me rent back to leave early.
It was getting ugly pretty fast toward the end, so I had to find something quickly. I turned to Craigslist again. This time, I went out on faith and asked for exactly what I wanted and believed God for it. I posted an ad looking for a room with rent for $400-600 a month. The first time I had a pervert answer. The second time, no one. The third time, which was only a three weeks before I had to leave, I had four people respond. One of which was EXACTLY what I was looking for. It was a spare bedroom in a woman’s house in Framingham for $450 a month, no strings attached. While I was there I paid off the rest of my loans. She was a God send, literally. I had the whole upstairs to myself. She had a dog and a cat and was gone virtually all summer up to NH. I will be forever grateful for her help and kind heart.
She had a huge house, she inherited it from her family, but she was all by herself. She decided to sell it, and here I was again looking for a house. I posted on different forums (craigslits, my Catholic Young Adult groups have housing google sheets) and looked high and low. I was looking for something in Newton, not entirely sure why, mostly because I liked working at the JCC and it’s not too far from work.
While perusing I found an ad for a caretaker in Newton on one of the Catholic Young Adult groups social sites. They were looking for someone to watch a 92 year old woman in her house in Somerville. I contacted the guy. It turns out he had found someone, but there was a spare bedroom if I wanted to stay (see a trend?). The rent? $400 a month. Do you know what is unheard of? Finding a room in Somerville with laundry and a driveway for $400. All just to live with an old lady? Absolutely. (Disclaimer-I was very anti-Somerville. Not sure why).
I found my next living space. I moved in on Sunday and then that following Wednesday the 92 year old dies. Yup, you read that right, dies.
The family comforted me and was great the whole time, letting me know I could stay. As the family is figuring things out, it comes to light that they’ll be keeping the house. I end up agreeing to stay living there with one of her grandson’s and his friend. My first time ever living with men! My rent is $800 a month again, but this time I have parking, have been promoted twice, and don’t have student loan debt. My commute is 20-25 minutes to work. Much more manageable.
Living with men has been great so far. Almost the same as living with women, except sometimes when I go to the bathroom the seat is up. They are more into gaming/tech/sports than any of my previous roommates, but that’s not *necessarily* gender specific. I contemplate other things like, do they get annoyed with my fallen out hair all over the place? Can I walk around with a t-shit and no bra?
This living situation will do for now. Someday I’ll be able to live on my own or with my husband. I am still stuck between that rock and hard place of saving for a downpayment on a house. I believed for the room with cheap rent, but now I need to believe for that downpayment/multi-family house. I’ll keep sowing and asking and believing.
I’ve learned a lot about what I like and what I don’t like in a house and location. I’ve learned a lot about how to negotiate living situations and what to ask when trading my money for services. I’ve learned my lesson to ask a lot more questions instead of rushing into an agreement. It has been a pain to change my address so many times, but I’ve learned a lot. Made mistakes. Now I’m in a good place to make better decisions, and that’s what life’s all about.