Today I have a guest post from the lovely Kayla over at Shoeaholicnomore!
During my freshman year of college I lived in the dorms. I’d never lived on my own, paid rent, or bought groceries (other than snacks to supplement the dorm’s food plan). To be honest, I didn’t have a lot of real world experience.
Toward the end of the year my then-fiancé and I were looking for an apartment and decided we didn’t want to spend more than $600/month on rent. Where we came up with that number I’ll never know, but that’s the budget we used.
After viewing nearly 50 properties of varying degrees of disgustingness, we finally found a place for just over our budget. The rent on this one bedroom was $620, but it included all utilities so we could use as much energy as we wanted!
The down-side of this “great find” was that it wasn’t in the best neighborhood and truthfully it needed a lot more than TLC. There was a spot in the living room where I refused to walk for fear of falling through the floor into the basement apartment below.
After some very dramatic events, I ended up renting the apartment by myself instead of with my ex. This meant that I had to come up with the rent money and all my other living expenses on my own while going to school full-time and working part-time. It was a tough time for me financially, and this is when I started to ignore my finances and get into debt.
Because the apartment was in a not-so-nice part of town, I left the outside porch light on all the time and I would commonly leave the radio and a light or two on inside while I was gone at work and class. My hope was that someone would think the apartment was occupied and thus I could avoid a break-in. The porch light also helped during the winter months when it would still be dark as I left in the morning and would be dark again before I returned home in the evenings.
Near the end of my lease in May, the porch light finally burned out. The worst part about this apartment was that the building was originally a single-family house built in 1911. It had very high ceilings and being a college student, I didn’t have a ladder to change the outside light bulb myself. I called my landlord and requested that the bulb be replaced and didn’t think anything about it until I got a bill for the “service”. They wanted $40 for changing that one light bulb!
Of course I thought it was ridiculous so I ignored the bill completely. When my lease was up and I got my deposit back I noticed that $80 was missing from my original deposit. After asking why it was missing, they sent me an invoice showing that $80 was deducted for the light bulb incident! I was annoyed, but I didn’t contest it and went on down the road.
Now that I’m more wise and aware of the world, and my finances, I realize I could’ve done things differently to avoid wasting that $80.
I could’ve ignored the bulb since I would be moving out anyhow and prayed they didn’t notice during the inspection. Total cost: $0-80 and a load of guilt, 0-100% savings
I could’ve asked a friend with a ladder to help me change the bulb. Total cost: about $5 for a new bulb, 94% savings
I could’ve paid the bill the first time around. Total cost: $40, 50% savings
I could’ve contested the $80 bill. Total cost: $40-80, 0-50% savings
I’ve certainly learned a lot about life and finances since then. Now I know better when faced with an expected charge on a bill: always question it the first time and avoid paying late charges/interest if at all possible.
Have you ever paid for a ridiculous expense?