I graduated from college this past May, which means that I have officially joined the ranks of the post-graduated. I was one of the lucky ones; I was able to snag a job before I graduated. Like a real job, with a salary and benefits and everything. So about a month and a half after turning the tassle on my cap, I was off to the big city to get started. Unfortunately, it seems that once you have a job, everyone starts assuming you can afford anything and everything you have want or need of. I can assure you this is not the case. What’s worse is their need to call you out on your claim that you can’t afford something.
– “Oh, I can’t afford that.”
– “Don’t you have a job?”
– “YES BITCH NOW SHUT THE FUCK UP.”
Salaried ≠ Well off. Below is a list of freedoms that having a job does not ensure you in any way shape or form.
#1: That I can go out to dinner with you
One of the great joys of living in a major city is all of the incredible food that seems to surround you at any given moment. At night you can stroll down the street and see so many cozy settings and smell some of the best eats imaginable. So it’s not rare that I get a call from a friend asking me to go out to dinner with them. “A delicious dinner at a trendy restaurant with an old friend? What could be better?” I’ll think to myself. That is until I catch site of the prices on the menu.
The Reality: The idea that once you get a job you’re officially living an “adult lifestyle” is just another lie Hollywood told us, one that my friends seem determined to live up to. I’ve found myself at several dinners scouring the menu for something that’s priced within reason while thinking “how can these bitches afford this dinner? We have similar jobs in the same industry.”
Maybe I’m just more savings-minded than my friends, but until they amend their concept of “an affordable dinner locale” or until I get a raise, I’ll be kickin it with people who love Chipotle and The Waffle Truck just as much as I do.
#2: That I can go out for drinks with you
I was never much of a drinker in college; I’m able to count the number of times I’ve been truly drunk on a little more than both hands (note: this does not mean tipsy, I’m talking about the number of times I’ve been smashed. Tipsy is a different ballgame). Getting drunk in college is generally a cheap endeavor, especially if you have generous friends, which I do (also when you don’t drink often people are surprisingly willing to invest in your intoxication). Whatever your drinking habits in college, you imagine that once you get a job you’ll be laughing obnoxiously over ridiculous, artisan-crafted cocktails on a rooftop lounge.
The Reality: I’m not a super penny pincher, but I do make an effort not to spend money on dumb things when the money can otherwise go towards cooler things. So that means one of the first things to go out the window was drinking. When I was in college it was tons’o’fun, and I love the happy hour setting, but if you expect me to spend $6 on a rail cranberry vodka when I could just as easily spend that on Chipotle or The Waffle Truck, then you’ve got your priorities mixed up.
Funny thing, it’s the same friends who are buying all these damn dinners that are buying all these damn drinks. If you’re thinking “don’t you have a job? can’t you just splurge a little?” maybe I should remind you that “no, bitch, I can’t.”
#3: That I’ll be dressed nicely
This is the kind of thinking that will come into play more once I go back to my alma mater. When you show back up on your old campus and everyone knows you’ve got a job with a good company (especially if that company is in New York), they expect for you to bust out with a Burberry raincoat and Manolos and stomp the damn yard.
The reality: No. I own nothing from a designer label. The last thing I bought for myself was a faux leather jacket from Target and I’m planning on returning that after Halloween. There will come many a time when you’ll get your check and think “Yessss, time for a new pair of shoes!” Only to be struck with a sudden sickness and suddenly your shoe money is going towards paying the only shitty doctor that your insurance covers and paying for your generic prescription, which still costs $50 despite being discounted. It’s up to you which is more important.
#4: That I can afford to come visit you
When I was chained to my campus by classes and extra-curriculars and minimal income, I dreamed of the day I would be set free by a paycheck. I would take weekends in the Hamptons, travel to California, then spend Christmas in London and Paris. But of course…
The Reality: If I can’t afford to eat dinner, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I didn’t spend a single weekend in the Hamptons this summer. Do me a favor, good friends, and when we get on the phone, don’t you dare ask me “OMG When are you gonna come visit meeeeee?!?! I miss you soooo muchhhhh!!!” It’s a surefire way to make me want to kill you.
I can’t afford a plane ticket. Plain and simple. When I can afford a plane ticket I can’t take the time off. If I spend my money on a plane plane ticket, I won’t even have enough money to get Chipotle, or The Waffle Truck. So stop talking about it.
#5: That I have disposable income/Can Afford Anything
This one is the simplest of all. During any given month, here’s what my money will be spent on:
- Storage Unit
- Cell Phone
- One garment that can be worn cross-seasons and both at work and on the weekends -OR- a doctor’s appointment
- Matinee Movies
- 75¢ Bodega Snacks
- The Waffle Truck
Anything on top of that goes into my savings so I can afford to move out of my great-aunts house and thus does not qualify as “disposable.”
You thought “Once I’m done with my classes and have my degree, I’ll have a job in what I’ve been studying for four years, and I’ll get to spend my spare time exactly how I want to. I’ll be surrounded by the kind of people whose work I’ve looked up to for years. I’ll have good-looking friends with great apartments and we’ll tear up the town whenever we want because we’re adults.”
The Reality: Once you get a full time job, most people work around 50+ hours a week. You spend about 1-2 hours getting dressed/undressed and commuting every day. You sleep about 7 hours a night. That leaves you 5 hours a day to: use the bathroom, do all of your reading, stay up-to-date on any industry developments, foster your relationships, develop any hobbies, eat, watch your shows, do any kind of exercising, grocery shop, get your laundry done and look for better damn job. There’s no joke here. Welcome to your life. Week in and week out. The only freedom you’ll have is the freedom to eat Chipotle and The Waffle Truck whenever you want (read: can afford) it.