College-Dropout Diary: How I Manage Money and Time

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I wrote this article on taking a stance and committing. Here's how I adhere to that principle in my everyday life.

Facts:-I took a semester off from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in upstate NY.
  • I do not have a current source of income
  • I live with my parents in suburban NJ and commute to NYC daily
  • I am 19 years old

My situation does not have a traditional foundation. I do not have a degree or a job. Yes, you read that correctly: You are reading an article from an unemployed college-dropout.

But despite the popular stereotype of college-dropouts, I'm not an imbecile who spends her days playing video games or browsing everything social media (well, only a little...).

What do you do all day?

I spend my days working on a variety of projects:

1. Javascript projects and tutorials (I'm working towards becoming a front-end software engineer!)
2. Contributing to the AOL Jobs articles
3. Making a new meetup group to encourage programming. (Check us out!)

Where do you work?

There are two free New York City co-working spaces I use: Wix Lounge (235 W. 23 St., 8th floor) and Ace Hotel Lobby (20 W. 29 St). The former is like a regular office, with free coffee and tea and open from 9-5 Monday-Friday. The latter has dim lighting, a delicious coffee shop (with coffee art!), slightly more comfortable chairs, and is open 24/7 all week.

What is your day like?

Whenever I'm in the city, I attend meetups (meetup.com, eventbrite.com) so I'm always learning, working, or meeting with someone. I drop my brother off at school at 8:40 am and get to the city at 9:30. I'm even productive on the bus inching away at #1. At the co-working space, I work on #2 and a bit on #3. Between 6-7pm, I head to a startup, UX, or tech meetup for two hours. Then I head back home by bus via Port Authority. I usually get home by 10:30-11pm and cozy up and watch an hour of TV before the cycle starts again.

How do you make money!?

Simple answer: I don't. I'm currently living with and off my middle-class parents (rent + food). But that doesn't mean I spend copious amounts either. I take a lunchbag to "work" everyday and most of the events I go to are free.

I'm also starting a new tradition where every Friday, I buy a book from the Strand bookstore. This keeps my mind in check and Friday nights usually free and minimally cost-effective.

Monthly Expenses:

$136 monthly bus pass

$40 subway

$75 occasional lunch + coffee + incidentals

= $251 from parents x 3 = $750 - 900 for 3 months

Compare this to $1500 RIT tuition w/ loans + $600 food+extras =$2100/3 months from parents. Not bad.

Pros:

This is not a daisy life, but its pretty excellent. I never have to cook or do laundry (thank you, parents). Occasionally the dishes. And I "pay" my little brother in IOU's to pack my bag in the morning (that includes lunch!).

Cons:

There's no more hand-holding. What a pity. I have 24 hours in a day that are essentially "free" and now I have to decide if I want to sleep in and be lazy. Fortunately, I've realized that, college or not, this is my life and my decision to spend it how I want. And right now my goal is to get good at front-end development without the structure of class and homework.

Most importantly, in terms of learning computer science, I'd like to think I'm learning all the practical "stuff" and therefore, getting a lot farther along. It was certainly a challenge. But more on productivity and the decisions made in a future installment of College-Dropout Diary.
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