Why/how do living expenses go up upon entering the real world

I have heard from alot of people that surviving in college is alot different than surviving in the real world financially. I will agree with this fact somewhat as new expenses are added outside of college. Kids for example, or medical attention (due to aging), things like that.

However i fail to see how this could make such a dramatic difference. I always hear people who survived fine on $900/month in college say that $3000 a month in the real world isn’t enough. What all expenses get added to require 3x as much income just to survive?

My brother and his wife didn’t go through that. when he graduated with his M.A. his living expenses only went up about $300 a month, and thats because rent was a little higher and they got an almost new car. However they still are essentially free of medical problems, and do not have children.

Clothes. In college, you can wear whatever you want, but most employers frown on jeans/t-shirt/other college-type clothes.

Gas. If you’re staying on campus, you probably won’t drive as much as a commuter in the Real World. Wear and tear on the car may be another thing.

Debt. Student loans come due shortly after you graduate, I think.

Living expenses. If you stayed in the dorms or something, it may be shocking to find out how much rent is.

I wondered about that when I graduated, too. But then I experienced it. I’d say the main factors were not having a roommate, needing not just a car, but a reliable car, and not having as many free entertainment options.

Good heavens, $3,000 a month?

The husband and I have never grossed anwhere near that, much less had that net to spend. Yet we still own two vehicles, a nice place to live AND I fly freakin’ airplanes for a hobby!!!

Yes, expenses can and do go up after college, for reasons mentioned. However, investing in a “work wardrobe”, assuming you’re graduating college in your twenties as opposed to being some sort of prodigy leaving with a PhD at fourteen, you should be able to handle that as a one-time investment since you won’t (presumably) be outgrowing them quickly. Student loans can be paid off (mine were, back in the 90’s)

But folks who can’t make ends meet on $3k a month either have a serious “keeping up with the Jones’” problem, or a whole bunch o’ kids. (even so - I think I could support a couple of kids on our current income). Folks get into a lot of trouble because they don’t know how to budget and those don’t exercise self-restraint. They don’t live within their means. Or else they racked up way too much debt during the college years, which happens - then you graduate and have to start paying it back.

actually its the other way around in regards to dorms from what i’ve seen.

My brother used to live in a dorm at the local state college. $800 a month for a cement room slightly bigger than a prison cell. Right now he and I share a 2 bedroom apartment in the same town (has about 70k people in it) for $490 a month/245 each.

Gas may add another $80 or so a month, but thats still doesn’t really account for the whole ‘i made it on $800/month in college now im struggling on $2500 a month in the real world’ thing. However, after graduation that 2500 a month may have to support a wife and 2 kids so thats different.

a reliable car is about $9k for an almost new corolla (about $170/month for a 5 year loan). Entertainment, why isn’t it free anymore? My main sources are cable TV and broadband and thats $90/month, 45 with a roommate.

Yea, but a lot of people get dorms covered in their Finanacial Aid packages, y’see, whereas apartments aren’t covered.

It’s the Stuff that does it.

You’ll want stuff. I don’t know what. A stereo. A nice couch. A dishwasher. New dishes that match and aren’t orange melamine.

And if you need to stuff-ify an empty house, hoo nelly it adds up.

When we got out of school our expenses ramped up slowly after the initial hit of student loan repayment. We had a beater car and started setting money aside for the next one…bought one or two nice® furniture pieces and some kitchen gadgetry, took some trips. We’ve managed within our means ever since, and now have a pretty comfortable lifestyle.

The thing I’ve seen with some new hires at my company, just out of school, is they immediately load themselves up with crazy amounts of debt so they can immediately have a new car and a “hip furnished pad” with matching leather furniture and a sleek german entertainment system. It’s all a matter of priorities…

Or they live somewhere with a horrible cost of living. I’d love to leave Massachusetts but with ageing and ailing family that we really don’t want to leave behind we are stuck in a state with a horrible cost of living. Starter homes are 250,000 and if you can rent a place for under 800/month it is a one or two bedroom someplace you don’t want to live or so far from anyplace you could work that your commute would suck all your free time away. Add to that two kids and suddenly what sounded like an unheard of amount of money barely pays the bills.

Gack! I’m in college now (finishing next week) and I’ve spent most of my college career focusing on not accumilating a ton of debt. Between scholarships and a grant my tuition was paid for and I have a job which put a few extra pennies in the bank. My family still pays most everything else, and I haven’t shopped for clothes in months (most of my wardrobe were presents).

Things I have on my side: I live on campus, so no need for a car, and my dorm room and meal ticket were paid for by my grant, so even that doesn’t come out of my pocket. I still fit in most of the clothes I’ve had since I was 13. No student loans. And I’m frugal by nature, and can survive on about ten dollars a month.

Nichol_storm - what do you mean you can survive on $10 a month? What all expenses would that cover?

Broomstick - i think in a way im just looking for validation that one doesn’t have to end up making $40k a year or more just to make it comfortably in the real world. I dont plan on having kids or a wife to support so i dont see why $30-40k or so a year wouldn’t support me nicely unless i end up in the same situation tanooke is in where i have a $1200 month rent.

It does depend a lot on where you live. I was amazed there were states out there that had nice homes in nice towns that were 70k! Out here condos go for 160k all the way up to as much money as you want to spend. There is a 55+ community they built the next town over… for a townhouse they start at 350k. They are very nice townhouses but still… And that doesn’t even take into account taxes and insurance. That adds another 300/month to our housing payment.

The 8k a year that paid tuition/fees/housing/meals in college doesn’t happen in the ‘real world.’

I have friends who moved to Maine and bought a house on a lake for 89k. I’d love to find a place for 89k :slight_smile:

I was only being a little bit facetious. During the semester, I have very little need for transportation, a residence and utilities are provided, as is food. What else am I going to spend money on? I’m also very healthy, and I’m sure that someone with a serious medical condition (like cancer or AIDS) would be spending a good bit more than me.

Since I don’t have any rent, tuition, board, or utilities, and I have no pressing need for transportation, there’s not a whole lot left to spend money on. Clothes? I rarely buy them myself, and most of mine were gifts. Entertainment? I’ll go see a movie once in a blue moon, but that’s about it. The ten dollars pays for incidentals – snacks, gifts, washing machine quarters, etc.

I’m currently in a position where I don’t have to spend very much money. Your friends are not. If I had bills, rent, groceries, a car, and children to pay for, I’m sure I’d run through some cash very quickly.

Ha, I don’t know. Through college, I lived on 400 a month. 200 for room, the rest for beer, food, cigs, and other things of evilness. I paid for school via loans and grants, and had about 30 grand in debt afterwards. It is only 260 a month though. Nothing compared to my cost of living after getting a real job.

With a quick run through the bills, it is about 2000 a month, and I am living in a 900sqft apartment, and have a new car.

It adds up real fast. Toss in food, clothes, and hobbies, , cats, and low and behold, you are grown up after all.

If I lived in an area where 3k a month didn’t get it, I think I’d be moving.

I have to agree it’s the Stuff, but it’s not all just stupid crap. Like if you go from a dorm to an apartment, you’ll be bleeding money for quite a few months. We were when we moved from a shared apartment to our own place, because we needed all kinds of stuff. Just like desks and chairs and tools and bookshelves and lamps and…basic stuff.

One thing I noticed quickly after leaving school, moving to another city, and starting work was a big jump in entertainment expenses.

In college, we’d typically buy Buckhorn beer at 99¢ a six-pack and congregate at somebody’s place. Once I started working in a career, I found out that, if I wanted to socialize with my professional associates, meet new friends or date women who were past college, I had to spend money.

It wasn’t so much that I’d suddenly acquired a taste for drinking in bars or dining in Italian restaurants. More so, it was a matter of, if I wanted to participate in the social setting of my new environment, I had to spend money in ways that I hadn’t been in school. Dating in particular was a drain.

There were other things, some already mentioned, such as clothes, insurance, rent in a more expensive city and a car (I didn’t have one when I graduated).

See, I cleverly fixed that problem by not going on any dates…:rolleyes:

It was a boring couple of years, let me tell you. And…frustrating.

Re: the OP. I got by on quite a lot less than 3K a month after graduating college, and it was in a town (Boston) with a high cost of living, especially for housing. But there were sacrifices: I did not have a car, so I took public transportation to work. I didn’t have my own place, I shared a broken down apartment with three other guys. I moved all my bedroom furniture from home so I didn’t buy anything new. I had gone to a state school and won a couple of scholarships so student loans weren’t an issue. And I really didn’t go out to bars or restaurants for quite a while…entertainment consisted of going to parties at friend’s places which were free. I cooked all my own meals to save money, or ate lunch in the subsidized cafeteria at work.

Things that you end up with in the real world that do not matter as much in college:

Higher rent payments or house payments
water and sewage
television (cable or satellite)
garbage disposal
cooking fuel(?)
local occupation taxes
school taxes
home assessments (if owning)
state and federal taxes
Food expenses
Beer, other alcohol
dining out
special events (concerts, etc…)
hobbies and interests
Home repair
Medical insurance
Life insurance
Home insurance
…and this is a partial list.

Most of these things are provided by parents or are included in the residence agreement at college. (When did a college student worry about the trash being picked up at the dorm?) It gets expensive when you pay them out yourself.

This summarizes a good bit about what I meant about fewer free/ low cost entertainment options. The other piece of that is for me and many of my friends, entertainment meant going to campus events like lectures, concerts, and club meetings. Entertainment doesn’t have to cost money after college, but for many people it will.

I have to go back to the point about the car, too. In college, I had a car I paid $1000 cash for. The jump to your $170/mo. car payment–well the money has to come from somewhere.

And I think one of the things that gets overlooked is it has to come from after tax earnings. You will probably take home about 65 cents on the dollar. Based on that, the $170/ mo. car payment is about 26 hours work at a $10/hr. job.

This was about 10 years ago, and I found I went from about $10K/ year to about $20K/ year without noticeably improving my standard of living.