In China last summer I had a free place to stay, uber cheap foods downstairs, transport payed by employer, and free concert tickets from my previous employers. But this summer is a bit different. I need to pay rent, cook food, entertain myself, and balance that against a small but not impossible paycheck at NPR.
So, I’m giving Mint.com a try. The online service imports my spending habits from my bank and credit card, and analyzes what I spend money on. It even allows me to set a monthly budget, so I can see if I’m overspending on one thing or another. I want to really get down the details of this. Where does each dollar go?
As I argued in a MiddBlog post a many months back, college students at Middlebury (and to a lesser degree more generally) have a hard time gauging their financials when everything is tied up in a comprehensive fee (tuition). Food comes plentiful in the dining halls and going out can mean purchasing subsidized drinks. As a result of the skewed perception of cost, it can be very hard for Middlebury students to understand what cutting costs means when it comes to hard financial times. It’s no wonder that when asked what could be cut, Middlebury students just scratched their heads.
So even though I’ve lived independently for long stretches of time in a foreign country, this summer is back to the basics — what does it take to live? Live simply and live well, and I’ll see where that takes me.