Friday, January 12, 2007

Making it on a budget

Making it on a budget
Making it on a budget,
originally uploaded by shainelee.
My experience may be more or less similar to that of other staffers during this session. This came to mind today while the House discussed the issue of salary caps. If you are making the cap, you may live fairly well in Austin. You'd have enough to rent a decent apartment and maybe even go out to eat. Chances are that if you are earning less than the cap, it's much less than the cap. Chances are that you are either making the max or are not even close to it. That's human nature; and the Reps are human.

If you are in the latter, you can't afford to eat out. In fact, you can't afford to eat at the Capitol Grill either. Let me do the numbers for you. If you spend $6 per meal, that means your cost for lunch and dinner is $12 per day. Let's assume you skip breakfast. You will spend $48 a week working 4 days a week. $60 per week in a 5 day week. That's $240 per month, not including weekends.

Housing in Austin should cost roughly $500 per month. Utilities another $200, maybe. We are up to $940 per month. If you have a car, without payments, you can expect to pay about $80/mo on insurance. If you have car payments, may God bless you, because you still have to eat on weekends. Cell phone? $60/month or more.

We are up to roughly $1200 per month. Let's eat on the weekends and skip breakfast. That's $144. We are up to $1344. Gas? $1424.

We are talking basic survival. There is no shopping for clothes. There is no going out for a few drinks. Haircuts are not included. Toiletries are not included. If you think you'll walk away from this job in better shape than you started, you are kidding yourself. After this session, you'll be broke. The ONLY place you can cut corners is in eating. Shop at HEB and find out where all the receptions are that welcome staff. Whatever you do, do NOT get caught up in the illusion that you are all powerful. The almighty laws of Economics will kick your ass. Make your own lunch. Buy food you make for yourself. Do your best to walk away from this experience making a profit. You should have money left over at the end of the month. That's profit.
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