Job hunting and money hacks for less-than-shoestring budget while returning to school? Help me not become a fatality of class warfare. Very complicated and snowflakey stuff inside.
posted by Ephelump Jockey to Work & Money (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Okay. This is going to be a little long, so I'm sorry.
First, some background. I had a very nontraditional high school experience and some severe medical problems that hindered my ability to attend college immediately after I graduated. Once those problems abated, my drive was totally sapped. I'm visually impaired and have been able to subsist on government aid for the majority of my twenties. It's been a totally miserable existence. Eventually, I attended college majoring in English. I had some naive ideas about automagically turning into a writer with the right degree. You can guess how that turned out. The short version is that I spent two years in school, ran into some mental health issues, left for a semester (as of last May) and reverted to my old way of doing things. While out of school, my dad passed away, my sister did some terrible things to me related to a drug addiction, and I fell into a seriously deep depression. It's been a shitty year. But there's a silver lining.
A friend of mine from school left for a semester at the same time I did. He bounced around a little bit, and eventually lucked into a decent living situation with some seriously cheap rent. Five bed, two bath house at $250 per room per month. When I was in school previously, I lived on campus. Between my advanced age and the dismal dorm environment, I think that contributed to my dissatisfaction with higher ed. So when I heard about this friend's living situation, I asked about rooms opening up. Two did. Bless the mercurial nature of college towns and students! It looks like I've scored one of the rooms. The house is also only a mile from campus, so walkability is definitely there. Basically, I couldn't have asked for a more fortunate set of circumstances if I tried. I'll be re-enrolling in Summer courses, and I'm moving in February.
Here's the rub. I'm still on government aid. It totals to about $550 a month. That's fine if you've got the support of someone else backing you, but it's just not sufficient for the situation I'm moving towards. Thing is, even scraping by is more appealing than my position of comfort with no autonomy. I know this is a little reckless, but I feel like I need to make a reckless move to get back on my feet.
My school funding is covered by Pell grants and Vocational Rehabilitation, so educational programs won't eat up any of my meager funds. Basically, my budget while unemployed is about $200 per month. I can and will scale back my cell plan to add as much to that as I can, but I rely on my cell for a lot of accessibility related needs, so there are limitations. I need the data for accessible GPS, for instance. There's only so much I can trim without crippling myself further.
So here are my questions.
1. First and foremost, employment is a priority. When my father passed away, I met a lot of family I didn't know, as he and I were estranged. One of my uncles is very wealthy, and has offered help. I don't feel good about asking for money directly, but I'm happy to ask for work. So that's my first line of defense. But I need to prepare for the potential of that not being viable. With minimal job search experience, I'm not entirely sure how to go about the process. I figure I'll hit the pavement and ask anyone and everyone I know around campus and in the immediate city if they know of anything, but outside of making contacts, what are some good job-hunting techniques I can make use of? Tangentially, are there any resources for finding jobs that are more friendly to folks with disabilities? I know what I'm capable of, but finding employers that are more amenable to my circumstances would be ideal. I'm not picky about the job, but I am understandably a little limited in what I can realistically take. I'm no invalid, but I'm very intimidated by this.
2. Assuming it takes longer than anticipated to find work, how can I stretch that $200 as far as it'll go for food. I'm operating on the assumption that this is literally all it's going to go towards. I don't see being able to feed myself for less. There are other essentials I'll need too, but we're concerning ourselves with me staying alive and relatively healthy here. I know this sounds ridiculous, but humor me. I've chosen the course and I'm sticking to it. Plus, this is a worst-case scenario.
3. Any other general tips for getting established on one's own with almost no external support? I'm not going to get any financial help from my family. All of my friends are pretty strapped too. There's the possibility of student loans, but I have a golden opportunity to get my degree debt free and I feel like I shouldn't pass that up.
Anything else I'm failing to see or ask that seems obvious? This is an immense undertaking and I'm some combination of excited and terrified all at once. If there's obvious blind spots (har har) I've overlooked in making the decisions I've made, please let me know.
I'm poor and blind. I'm trying to support me and only me on $200 a month till I find work. I need financial strategies for a less-than-shoestring budget and job searching techniques to maximize employment opportunities. I'm seriously against the wall here. On the upside, I thrive under pressure and education-related expenses are a non-issue. So sorry for the length and verbosity of this thing, but the hive has come through for me before, so thank you in advance.