Job One

Alan Cronk

USING HIS CONTACTS and connections, our son landed an interview with a New York City health-care system. He was hired as a business analyst and started work in August 2016.

Along with his roommate—also a graduate from the University of Pennsylvania—our son chose to live in Jersey City, N.J., because it’s cheaper than Manhattan, plus his roommate’s job required that he split time between Newark, N.J., and Manhattan. The rent on their 600-square-foot apartment was $2,500, of which our son paid $1,200, since his room was smaller.

He had finished college with $1,600 in his bank account. But that wasn’t enough for the security deposit and first month’s rent, so we loaned him $3,000, which he agreed to pay back after he received his $5,000 signing bonus in September.

A $55,000 salary for a first job would be good money in North Carolina. But it makes for some tight budgeting in the New York metropolitan area. Our son’s $14,400 annual rent constituted 26% of his gross salary, slightly under the suggested maximum of 30%. On top of that, his monthly PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) train pass and a New York City subway pass cost $209 a month.

Food, on the other hand, is actually quite similar in price to North Carolina—as long as you don’t buy it in a restaurant. Our suspicion is that he ate out more than he should have. But it’s quite tempting for a single, 22-year-old to avoid the kitchen, especially if his friends are also avoiding kitchens.

As of today, he and his friend are still roommates. They just moved to their third apartment. (After moving him from North Carolina to his first apartment, the prospect of moving two additional times—hauling furniture up and down four flights of steps—isn’t appealing to me, but it hasn’t deterred him.) Now, they are living in Manhattan. He can easily walk to his office and area grocery stores, and he has a $15-a-month subscription to Citi Bike, so his transportation costs have been significantly reduced.

How has he fared, now that he’s handling his own money? Here’s one indication: Shortly after graduating in 2016, his credit score was an excellent 810. In June 2017, it was 808. Today, it stands at a still healthy 791.

As many have discovered before us, parenting never really comes to an end. But these days, we don’t dispense financial advice—unless our son asks.

Alan Cronk retired after spending 32 years in the newspaper industry as a marketer, editor and writer at the Winston-Salem Journal. This is the seventh and final part of a series about his and his wife’s experience educating their son about money. Previous articles include Baby Steps, No Laughing Matter, Generating Interest, Getting Carded, No Use and On His Own.

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