What will your lifestyle look like when you finish postsecondary education and training? Will you be living in a house or apartment, eating out every night, riding a bike, going on vacations around the world? Your plans now will affect the choices available later.
Use the AKCIS.org Reality Check budgeting assessment to get started. Budgeting begins by knowing where you would like to live. The AKCIS Reality Check starts there, too. Living expenses vary by city size and region of the state. In the Lower 48, usually the expenses are higher in the big cities. In Alaska, we often find living expenses are higher in the smaller, more remote locations. From Ketchikan to Barrow, and many points in between, you can start planning where you expect to live after school.
Remember, we are talking about YOUR lifestyle here, not your parents’. They have a lifestyle. You still are developing yours.
After selecting a geographic area, you would like to live in the program looks at expenses. Expenses can add up quickly. Breaking them down into monthly increments helps put them into perspective.
Where will you live? Do you plan on renting or buying? When looking at apartments or rentals, look for lines like “expenses paid”. Which ones are included?There may be some outstanding, like electricity, heat, water, and trash. These necessities do not come with the price of the house.
Plan for your cell phone, cable/Netflix, and internet. Chances are mom and dad won’t be paying for these any more. Maybe the internet at the library isn’t so bad?
Do you like to cook or eat out?Perhaps you like to do both Either way you look at it, you will need funds for food expenses and you should keep in mind while planning that ramen noodles get old after a while. AKCIS can help you figure what an appropriate amount to plan for looks like in the area of Alaska you’d like to live.
Any lifestyle plan wouldn’t be complete without talking about transportation. What will yours look like? Are you going to use public transportation or drive your own car? What kind of vehicle is right for you? Don’t forget there will be insurance, gas, and upkeep. Even if you choose to bike everywhere, plan for repairs and maintenance – new tires, chain, or seat – and weather appropriate outerwear!
Does the kind of work you want to go into require a special wardrobe? Uniform, suit, dress clothes, tools? AKCIS’ Reality Check will help you separate out and plan for work clothing; entertainment; personal care – gym memberships, hair-dos, massages; pets; vacations; and technology gadgets and upgrades.
While you are thinking about all of the amazing things you can be doing and where you can be going, remember no one plans to get sick. But everyone gets sick from time to time. Budgeting for bandaids to doctor/dentist visits will keep sick time from becoming overly stressful due to the price of health care. Will your new employer offer health care? Will you be self-employed and provide your own?
Cost of Education
Next think about, the gap between cost of attendance for your college and career training and the funds you have available through scholarships and grants. An education loan could help you close the gap. Paying back student loans takes time and diligence. The AKCIS Reality Check assessment can help you estimate what monthly payments for student loans could look like for public or private schools.
What is going to help you out the most in budgeting? Saving! Don’t forget to SAVE! Dave Ramsey, personal finance guru, encourages a “Starting Emergency Fund of $1,000.”I do, too. An emergency fund prevents surprises from repair bills, loss of job, and illness from sneaking up on you.
After you make your monthly expenses budget, the AKCIS Reality Check helps you narrow the list of over 570 occupation choices. How long you want to pursue education and career training, what Career Clusters interest you, where you would like to live, and what salary needs you have to support your desired lifestyle all factor into the list of occupations the Reality Check will give you.
For some, knowing how much monthly expenses are for common everyday items might be the Reality Check they needed: for others, though, seeing the list of occupations available might give them a Reality Check. Want to be teacher with a $200,000 salary? There may be some changes needed to your plan.
Seeing the possible outcomes for 6 months to 6 years from now before those choices are made can be life changing (or maybe at least lifestyle changing). Start planning today with the Alaska Career Information System, AKCIS.org. Don’t worry this part is FREE!