My money journey: first jobs, and first big expenses
By Avreet Jagdev
I started my first job when I was in Grade 12, as a private tutor. At the ripe young age of 17, I was ecstatic to be making sixteen dollars an hour. However, like most young people who first start earning, I had no idea what to do with my money and the newfound freedom that came with it.
It’s now a couple years later, and I’ve worked many jobs since then. I’ve had more tutoring positions, worked as a summer ride attendant at an amusement park, and even on provincial and municipal election campaigns! Each of these positions came with new experiences, and more money. But what was I to do with it?
I’m very lucky to say that my parents cover my university tuition, but it was a goal of mine to move out for my second year of post-secondary. I had commuted in my first year, since many classes were online and I didn’t have to go to campus too often. My second year was going to be fully in-person, and I wanted to have the complete college experience.
However, housing definitely isn’t cheap — especially in downtown Toronto. I did a lot of research and assessed my options: I could live on campus, but there was limited capacity. Other options were to find an apartment or try alternative student housing, which were dorm-style apartments in which students from different universities lived.
I knew that my first choice would be living on campus, because it was the most affordable and convenient. Plus, it came with a meal plan — which meant I wouldn’t have to worry about groceries or cooking. After sending an application to every residence at my university, I received an offer in August.
Living on residence also meant paying for residence, and this was something that I was well prepared for. Luckily, I had worked quite a bit over the last school year and the summer, which meant I had more than enough saved to pay for my dorm and meal plan out of pocket.
So, that’s what I did. I paid the deposit of a couple hundred dollars, and then paid the total fee well before it was due. It felt like a huge accomplishment to pay for such a large expense on my own.
As the school year began, I realized it was a lot easier to spend money when you live on your own — especially when you’re in a big city with countless opportunities to pull out your credit card. Although I was earning a bit of an income, I didn’t have a part time job with regular hours. It would be difficult for me to take one on, since school was my first priority.
That’s why I was ecstatic when I landed a position at Jobs People Do! I was able to write articles at my own pace and during my own time, which was ideal for me as a student. I also started a note-taking job, which required me to attend lectures and take notes for students whose disability affects their ability to take notes in class. These two jobs were a perfect fit for me, as they allowed me to make money and were flexible with my schedule.
Still, I’m definitely not a millionaire, and it’s important for me to save and budget my income. I didn’t have a clear way of budgeting until last month, when I started tracking all of my spendings in my bullet journal. This method worked really well for me, since I had to write down exactly how much I spent and what it was spent on, which forced me to be a lot more thoughtful about my purchases.
Now, my main goal is to save for residence again next year, as well as law school, which I hope to pursue after I graduate. This means I’ll have to continue earning a steady amount of money throughout the school year, and work a lot over my breaks. This also means being smart about where I’m spending, and thinking about where I can save.