by Stacey Carroll, Contributing Writer
My first job out of college was working as an overnight stocker at Walmart. Even with a college degree, I only made $8.10 an hour. After taxes, my checks were $498.96 every two weeks. That didn’t leave me much wiggle room in the budget and my rent was $474 dollars. That left with me $523.92 for the rest of the month.
Being single and female with no kids also meant that I wasn’t eligible for food stamps or rent assistance. I would have had to have been earning less than $800 dollars a month to qualify for government assistance. So, I made due with what I earned.
I immediately put my student loans into forbearance. At $210 a month, there was no way I could pay them and eat or pay my electric bill. It wasn’t something I wanted to do. I had planned to pay off my student loans as fast as possible, but with the barely over minimum wage job, I couldn’t afford to do that.
I scaled back my car insurance from full coverage to limited liability. It cut the bill from $80 a month to $50 a month. It was a car insurance risk I didn’t want to take. If I got into a car accident and it was deemed my fault, I wouldn’t be able to repair my car. Thankfully, I didn’t get into any car wrecks while I was making $8.10 an hour, but I was extra careful when driving. I knew a wreck could mean a financial catastrophe.
I found a mechanic shop that listened to me, and I explained to them that I was poor. I also made sure that they were the only car repair shop I patroned. This meant that they didn’t try to sell me anything extra. When the heater core went out, they were willing to bypass it. I spent an entire winter with no heat in my car because I couldn’t afford a $600 heater core, but that was better than having no car.
Holiday Pay / Triple Paycheck Months
We received Holiday pay for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day, and Labor Day. During those weeks, I made sure to work my 40 hours to spite my employer's insistence that I take an extra day off. The extra eight hours on my check meant a lot more to me than the extra time off. It meant I could eat and save a little back for emergencies.
I did the same thing on triple paycheck months. Typically, those months were in December and June, and I would save most of the money on those extra checks to help with expenses during the next six months. It typically worked out very well. I’d use part of the Christmas money to buy new plates for my car.
Rent wasn’t due until the fifth of every month. Sometimes I could stall and pay rent on the second or third with my first check for the next month instead of trying to pay it on the 26th or 27th of the prior month. It depended on how the pay weeks fell, but it was always better for me to pay using the first check of the month rather than the last. My electric and cell phone bills were also due at the end of the month.
I survived on $8.10 an hour, but it wasn’t easy. I spent a lot of weeks eating .88 cent frozen meals, kielbasa, and pork and beans, but I made it. The only extra debt I incurred was from the interest on my student loans.
Stacey Carroll is the author of the thriller series - Avia. She also authors the paranormal erotica series - The Blooddoll Factory. Stacey grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. she went to college at Indiana State University (ISU) and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in aerospace in the professional pilot program. She has flown Cessna 152s, Cessna 172s, the Pipe Seneca and the King Air. She also graduated with a minor in computer science that specialized in web design.
She has always been interested in reading and writing, and the first book she was ever read was the Grimms Brother's Fairy tales. From the ages of 6 to 11, she read the Nancy Drew series. By the age of 11, she had graduated to Stephen King novels. A few of her favorites include Carrie, Tommyknockers, The Dark Tower Series up to book 3 (That's where it stopped in the late 80s/ early 90s), Pet Semetary, The Shining, Night Shift, The Stand, It, Cujo, Christine, The Eyes of the Dragon and Thinner (Richard Bachman). In her teen years, she moved on to Anne Rice and got through about four of those books before they degraded. If you've ever read Anne Rice, you know book 5 isn't readable. Stacey has read a couple Harry Potter books as she was introduced to them in the early 2000s, and she's never read or watched anything Twilight or 50 Shades. Sorry. I'm a vampire purist, and nothing needs to be said about the latter. You already know.
She is currently an author and freelance writer. She received an honorable mention in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine in 2008 for a short story entitled The Field. In 2014, she was published in 13 Stories by Us by MacKenzie Publishing.
Other books by Stacey
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