My name is Ashley. I am a volunteer coordinator and administrative assistant for City Team. I make $43,500 a year. My finances are something I struggle with from time to time. Yeah, my parents, they let me know quite frequently that I'm poor. So, they want me to be secure and financially stable. And because I work here in the Bay Area, there are a lot of people in the tech industry. The techies, that's what I like to call them, and they make a lot of money. And so sometimes I have to remind myself not to compare my salary to what they're making. Because they're making two, three times as much as I'm making. And I'm like, God, I'm doing this work and I know it's meaningful but I want to be able to to spend money when I want to every once in a while. So for college, my parents paid for my undergraduate degree. But they left me on my own for my graduate degree. It's just understandable, I'm not going to complain. My first two years, I did not have a job. So I pretty much lived off of my student loans. So for the first two years, school cost about I want to say around 10 to 12,000 dollars including books and stuff. Plus I took out money to pay for the apartment that I was renting in Charlotte. Then when I realized it was costing so much, I decided to get a job at a pharmacy and working to pay for my basic needs and then only taking out enough money to pay for school. And so I did that for a while until I came here. And now, I am paying for school out of pocket. So once I get finished, I'll probably have a little over $60,000 worth of school debt. I don't want any debt so hopefully I'll be able to pay off probably around $800 to $1,000 a month on that student loan to get it out as quickly as I possibly can. I feel financially secure in the sense where I have a budget and I'm living within my means. However, I don't feel financially secure if something happens. What will I do? 2015 was a rough year. You can go from having a nice savings account to not having anything really quickly. My dog choked a bone. That cost me about two three thousand dollars. I got hurt when I was in Thailand. And when I came back to the United States, I got sick. So I went to the emergency room. But I didn't have any insurance. Because I had already canceled my insurance because I was moving here. But then that was an extra $3,000. So I depleted pretty much all of my savings. Came here, and was only making about $800 a month. If it wasn't for that 800 like being pretty much broke, I would not have learned how to struggle properly. How to succeed while struggling. I make about $3,625 a month, about $988 of that is taken out non-profit does take care of you so in that 988 is my medical. However I do get a commuter discount. So what I do is pay pretaxes for my commuter card which is the Clipper Card. It gets me around through the train and the bus. So that's taken out of that as well. And then money towards my retirement which is my 403B. So all of that comes out to about $988 comes out. After that, I'm taking home about $2,637. From that $2,637, 1,000 of it goes towards rent. My rent actually includes electricity and internet, cable, all of that other stuff. On the side, I pay for Hulu and Tidal. So, those come up to about $15 a month. So I use my laptop or my iPad to watch stuff on that. Then my phone bill is $50 a month. I am on a shared plan with my parents. So I just pay them $50 a month for that. For my car, I paid off my car before I got here. So I pay $85 a month for insurance and probably 85 for gas. So 85 for gas. Probably less than that on weeks when I'm only catching the BART. We're only paying $20 for gas if i'm catching the BART. And then for my student loans and for classes and things like that, I pay about $350. So $350 goes to that. $120 goes to groceries for the month. Probably about $30 a week. $400 I have towards tithes and offerings. Tithes and offerings are what I pay towards church. It's based off of the biblical foundation that 10% of our earnings goes back to God. Some of the other recurring expenses that I pay for regularly are the donations that I give to different organizations. So that $121 includes center for student missions, which I donate to the people who were over me, my city directors, I donate to them because they're missionaries. And they are the reason why I fell in love with mission's work and the reason why I do what I do. And so I give about $40 to that. I give money to Harbor House Ministries which is a after school program. Christian program for kids in the area. And it's just a way for them to be able to do their homework and have something in their bellies to eat while their parents are at work. And I donate to them because the kids there, I love, I tutor with them. And they just have my heart. So that's important to me. I donate for Let My People Go. Which is a trafficking organization. They try to help bring people out of trafficking so I donate for that. That's something that's important to me. I also donate for Miracle Messages. Which is a way to get homeless people back in contact with their families so that they can get the things that they need and be able to provide them housing and help with the homeless situation here in The Bay. So I didn't realize that I was giving away that much. But it's amazing how you're able to give away so much and still be able to afford to live a comfortable life. And then I have about $180 that I use towards entertainment for the month. So I try to do maybe about $90 every two weeks. And I can spend it to hang out with friends, to go out to eat or whatever. After all of that, I'm left with about $231. From that $231, I try to put about 200 in savings and anything left over, I pile it up and then I send it off to pay for my student loans. My financial goals right now is just to kind of get rid of any debt and then save up for my emergency funds. And then my next goal would be to save up money to be able to at least pay for my next car in cash or only have to pay it for in a year's time. What I learned from the past is I want to be better prepared for surprises. What I wished someone would've taught me probably at age 15 was the value of a dollar. And if I would've known that then, I probably would've been wiser about taking out my student loans. And I would've learned the valuable lesson of calculating the worth of a dollar I would say. So when I want a new jacket or a new coat or a dress or something, and I don't really need it, I look at the price and I say, I make about $22 an hour. How long would I have to work in order to buy this thing for $150? Is it worth it. Do I really want to have to work for six hours to pay for this? So if the answer is no, then the purchase is a no. And so, if I would've known that then, I probably would've not spent as much money on stupid stuff when I was younger. Because I just had it to throw away. That's important for me. And I wished I would've known that. Funny how things kind of turn back around. I've been into undergrad wanting to be a behavioral psychologist. And then I spoke with my advisor and we talked about it. And we talked about grad school and how much it was going to cost after grad school. And I was like, this is not worth it. No, I don't want to do this. And so I switched over and I was like I want to do pharmacy. Went there and then I had to come to terms with the fact that I am going to be okay with not making as much money as I wanted to be make and I have to accept that. And just go from there with the funds that I have. And be a good steward of what I'm given and see if the blessings roll in from there.
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