Alex in Transit(ion)

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brave new world: budgeting for graduate school


Ladies and gentleman, I present my budget for graduate school.

Student Loans  I’m going to be enjoying my academic deferments. Even though as I defer, I’m adding up more debt! Yeee ha!

howard dean

Car Insurance Approximately $254 a month. Yikes. It’s not because I’m a bad driver; my last ticket was in 2010 and my last car accident was in 2004. It’s because I’m buying a new car and I’m moving to Newark. Even though I hate talking bad about my new city, it is the 20th most dangerous city in the US and as a result, the insurance rates are sky high. Truth be told, I’m not planning on driving a lot because of the ample amount of public transit around me. The only reason why I want a car is so I can see my family during the breaks and they live in an area where public transportation is non existent. If I didn’t take a car with me, the only way for me to get home would be to take the train to the station, which is a hour away from my family, and make arrangements with them to pick me up. Given the nature of their lives, especially with my little brothers who are between 4 and 8 years old, it isn’t feasible. Also, if I decide to go back into my former career, I will need a car. It’s going to suck paying so much for something I will barely use but the money is here for me to replace my vehicle and it is an investment.

To cut down on the insurance, I’m going to sign up for a defensive driving course and Progressive has this really neat program called Snapshot. It’s kind of like inviting Big Brother into my vehicle but beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to this insurance premium. It counts whether or not I make hard brakes, how many miles I drive each day, and how often I drive from midnight to 4AM. I’m a little concerned about the hard braking part because I will be living in the NYC Metro area but since I’m barely going to drive, this seems like an awesome way to save money.

Maybe we can bring it down to $200? Here’s hoping!

Renter’s Insurance $40 a month…although I may not go with it. The main reason for pursuing renter’s insurance is to protect my bicycle against theft. It is a top of the line hybrid and after my car was stolen, I don’t want to take any risks and not be covered. I know that if my bike is stolen, especially with my current financial situation, it’s going to take years for me to buy a bicycle of that caliber.

But I was only thinking about what happens if my bike is stolen. I didn’t consider the possibility of what could happen if I was the victim of a traffic accident, which is a very real fear. Two of my friends were involved in accidents where they were hit by cars. One of my favorite bloggers, Dottie of Let’s Go Ride a Bike, was a victim of a hit and run. You never know what can happen. So what I need to do, probably tomorrow, is call Progressive and see if they would cover the damage of my bicycle if I, God forbid, was in a traffic accident. If not, I’m going to look into getting bicycle insurance. We shall see…

Rent About $850. Not going to lie, I’m starting to get nervous seeing all these figures add up. It’s alright. Show’s gotta go on.

With that said, I will be living in the graduate student apartments on campus. I don’t know if I will be living in them for the duration of my program or if I will live off campus but I know that for this semester, I’m only paying $850 in rent, which is about the going rate for the Newark market for a 1 bedroom. The $850 is pretty reasonable considering utilities, cable, and internet are included. My friend who went to grad school at Rutgers lived in the grad apartments and said that they’re worth it.

Groceries $160 a month, assuming I spend $40 a week on groceries. I’m going back to being a pescatarian again so that will make grocery shopping cheaper than if I was eating meat.

Fun? NJ Transit Fare? For right now, I’m giving myself a fun budget of $100.

Grand Total $1,404 a month for bills.

Good tim-uh…oh boy. Well. This is going to be a learning experience.

This can be done! Nobody puts baby in a corner and I’m going to figure out a way to do this. What is going to be nice (for a month) is that I’ll apply my tax refund to whatever bills I need to pay. I’m applying to jobs right now, I’ll see if there’s anything available on campus, I’ll waitress- I will do whatever it takes to make this work. I even made sure all of my classes are at night so I can get a job during the day.

The good thing about this is that it’s only going to be like this for this semester. Next semester, I will be eligible for TA positions and scholarships which I will be able to put towards my housing bill and I won’t need to worry about this. And glory be, next year I will be considered a New Jersey resident and will receive in-state tuition so this situation is only temporary. I could have taken out a $5k loan to help out with the housing but I thought it was silly to pay interest on a 5k loan, especially since I still have undergrad loans to pay when I get out of grad school.

It’s going to be alright.


Author: Alex

Hello! My name is Alex but you can call me Alexandra if you're feeling fancy. Here you'll find my adventures about exploring my new city of Hoboken, NJ, scurrying over the Hudson River to NYC, my bicycle excursions, and how I'm learning to embrace in medias res.

2 thoughts on “brave new world: budgeting for graduate school

  1. Good luck with your new grad school budget! $40 per week for food is tough but manageable if you plan ahead.

    • Aw, thank you! Haha, my former roommate, who is also in the same boat, told me to prepare to lose a lot of weight. Thankfully, I’m really good at making healthy soups with low sodium! Thank you so much for stopping by =D

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