Getting My Financial House in Order Before I Get My Physical House in Order

mad men peggy apartment hunt

So I got a call on Monday from an apartment company in Portland. This is one of the companies I had called a few weeks ago, asking about vacancies.

“We have a one-bedroom renting at $805,” the company representative told me. “Would you like to submit an application?”

At that point, my June rent check had just cleared and I was down to $345 in my checking account, plus the $480 in my savings account that could, in theory, get absorbed into “moving expenses.”

Plus, I hadn’t ever seen the apartment or its surrounding neighborhood. And I wouldn’t have much time to figure out how to see it; the rep told me that the unit would be rented in two days.

So the options were:

1) Say yes, fill out the application, cancel all plans, take the bus to Portland that afternoon, start texting friends to find a crash space, see the apartment, and hope that my next check would arrive in time to put down a security deposit and first month’s rent. (It would have, by the way.)

2) Say no.

I said no. I feel a little weird about this, because I have always been of the belief that people will do the things they want to do, and if I say no, does that mean I don’t want to move?

Or does it mean something more like “I did the math, I have way too many expenses this summer to afford to move to a new city, and if my first goal is to get my financial house in order (before getting my physical house in order) then I have to stay here for a few more months?”

It consistently floors me that the more money I earn, the more cautious I am about spending it and the more broke I feel. When I moved to Seattle, I put most of the costs on a credit card because I wasn’t earning enough to pay for it myself. That year, I put my flight to see my parents at Christmas on a credit card. Now I’m paying down all of that debt while trying to avoid taking on any new debt. It makes sense that I still feel broke, because I’m paying off all of the expenses I had when I was, actually, broke.

And the part that makes my jaw clench up is the worry that I will never be not broke. That I’ll pay off all the debt and then have some kind of life emergency that puts me back in debt again. By the end of this year, I could have $4,000 in a savings account, or I could have nothing.

But yeah, I didn’t jump on the chance to move into an apartment sight unseen, which seems like the thoughtful, prudent thing to do.

On the other hand, that means I’m still exactly where I am.



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