Portraits: Going for broke without going broke

Terra Molengraff/Daily
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By Haley Goldberg, Senior News Editor
Published November 13, 2012

Name: Alexis Christie
Hometown: Grand Rapids, Mich.
School: LSA senior
Concentration: Anthropology

How would you describe your spending habits?

I think that I’m 21 years old and my spending habits tend to reflect that of a 21-year-old, but I’m also independent of my parents completely so I’m definitely not throwing down hundreds of dollars at the bar every weekend either.

Do you view purchasing drinks as a treat for yourself?

Definitely, and even then it’s Happy Hour drinks, but it’s still a splurge. So, I’ll never pay full price for a drink, but even then it’s, “Hey, let’s go out I’ve finished exams” or “I’ve survived the week” or some point of success.

Do you think being 21 has increased your spending?

Originally, yes. The first six months of being 21, definitely. I could live just off a loaf of bread for groceries so I could have the extra money going towards going out and now it’s like, it’s not worth it. I’d rather eat more than oatmeal for every meal and go out less. Not to mention just going out and the impact it has on your schoolwork in general beyond finances.

Do you cook for yourself mostly, or do you find yourself purchasing food?

I definitely cook most of the time. Like, all of the time. I mean, throughout the week it’s just easy things like mac n’ cheese and oatmeal that are not necessarily grand meals. Definitely on the weekend I’ll make a little bit of a meal for myself, like black beans and rice and quinoa. Something kind of nutritious.

Do you feel that, compared to friends that aren’t independent, you have a different perception when it comes to spending money?

Definitely. I even discuss this with my friends who aren’t independent from their families on a regular basis because it is just two different worlds. So for me, money is constantly on my mind. I mean, I have to have a job in order to pay rent, to get groceries, and there’s weeks when my income is different than other weeks. It’s always on my mind and it’s an added stress. But when your parents are paying for it, of course you have the stress of thinking about what you’re going to do after college, but it’s not a current concern, whereas for me, it definitely is.

Do you feel like that makes you more comfortable with the idea of having to continue your independence when you graduate?

Yeah. That’s not something that frightens me. Getting through college frightens me more.

Can you break down what you spent your last paycheck on?

Rent, electric, groceries, I don’t think I even went out at all with my paycheck that time. Yeah, that’s it. I work for AmeriCorps Jumpstart reading program.

When you decide to splurge on going out, what would you splurge on?

Probably going out to the bar would be my splurge, but even then most of my friends know that I am independent and they aren’t independent here, so they are fairly understanding of my situation and (they'll say), “Hey, I’ll buy your drink for you because I know my parents are paying for my drink and you’re paying for your drink independently.” Even then it’s not so hard to go out because the friends that I do have that aren’t independent are understanding, so they’re willing to give what they have.

Do you find that you prefer your independent situation?

No. I think it’s cool, and it’s nice that I’m mature and independent and aware of my financial habits. But when it comes down to it, it would be a whole lot easier if I just wasn’t thinking about rent and bills and food everyday.

So you’re a senior, do you have an idea of where you want to live after you graduate?

Yeah, I want to live in Philadelphia … I have siblings that live in Philadelphia right now so it’s a place to crash for free for a little while. And there’s a pretty good bar scene there and I have a decent amount of bartending skills so I feel like if anything I can employ that after if I can’t find a job once I graduate. If anything, I can put that to good use even if I can’t put my degree to good use.

Are you concerned about Philadelphia being a more expensive city to live in?

It is a more expensive city to live in, and yes, it’s concerning, but you just get to the point where you think, you’re going to spend a lot of money regardless, so you might as well live some place where you can be happy. I mean, I’m going to be broke no matter what, so I might as well be broke in Philadelphia.