Transition Skills: Budgeting a paycheck

Today, Annie and I went one step further with the “how money is spent” theme we’ve been on this week. We came up with a mock budget. Don’t @me about the numbers, please – these are very hypothetical. (Annie did insist on looking up the prices for the groceries, though)

In her scenario, Annie is working for Petsmart in Cleveland Heights. She makes $150/wk. We quickly discovered she would need a roommate, and would not be able to afford a car. She plans to live near where she is working (ideally, she wants to live off of Coventry) so that she can walk for groceries and anything else she needs. She’ll have a bike and use Fare-Cle for emergencies.

We put her in the 10% tax bracket, and figured she would not qualify for benefits from her job so we didn’t take those out.

Annie has some advantages here. If you have a kid who eats a very rigid diet, it’s easy to calculate the grocery expenses. Annie lives on rotisserie chicken, cucumbers, Lighthouse blue cheese dressing, and popcorn. She also enjoys a rice dish her grandmother makes for her, and in this scenario, grandma is still supplying this once a week. Annie drinks mostly water, and an occasional juice box. Another advantage is that she is very opposed to drinking alcohol, using tobacco, or recreational drugs – good choices given her medications and her budget!

The high cost of medication is a disadvantage. Assuming she will need to stay on the meds she currently takes, that will be a major chunk of her income. Another disadvantage is her obsession with someday owning a pair of sugar gliders (they’re like flying marsupial squirrels), which would require a very specific and costly diet, and may not be permitted in an apartment because they’re nocturnal. She conceded that point and switched to a “small dog named Milly”.

After walking through her budget, if everything went right and she was very, very careful, she had enough left over to start a small emergency fund. We talked about what you would need that fund for (What is the power goes out and the groceries are ruined? What if a dog pees on my shirt? What if I get sick?)

There are obviously variables we didn’t/couldn’t account for. Annie has a STABLE account she would have access to in this scenario. Would she qualify for SSI? We can’t predict. But the point of the exercise was to learn about expenses, and we achieved that goal.

Me: Did you learn anything?

Annie: I think I need to be really careful with money.

Me: Yes.

Annie: Also, I need a house for my sugar gliders.


***There are links to Fare-Cle and Ohio STABLE account in the post***

In addition, Ohio Means Jobs has a budgeting tool available on their website. Check it out at this link.

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