Monday, 29 August 2011

Graduate Myth #4: Disposable Income

Disposable income makes the economy go around. It's what makes us all have the ability to buy sparkly eyeshadow, stupid extras for cars, and life-affirming holidays.

I love disposable income.

Despite opinions to the contrary from Mr DG and my parents, I am not particularly profligate in my spending. I spent my time as a student eating on a basic level and not buying many clothes. Money as a teenager came via a badly paid part-time job, and I used most of the cash for driving lessons. So when I came out of university and fell into my first full-time job, it was like the singing of the hallelujah choir. Despite a fairly low wage, I was still living with my parents. They asked, and received, a rent to cover my living expenses. After that, the money was all mine!

… then I remembered that living with my parents was basically crap, and moved out. And lo, I have no disposable income again.

This is true of most people I speak to. Any kind of wages over the basic minimum you used to scrape by with as a student seemed like a gargantuan sum of money, but there was a lot more expenses to being a grown-up than you might first imagine. My two bugbears are the horror that is maintaining a car – necessary in order to get to work – and saving for a wedding. Now, a wedding is exactly the kind of thing that you need disposable income for and yes, it's exactly the kind of thing I couldn't afford a student. But as Mr DG and I sit in our living room and debate whether or not we can afford a pint this weekend (answer: no) I wonder: does any recent graduate actually have any disposable income?

The answer is, yes, a little. We sit and complain that we have no money – but we have no money because we're saving for houses, or we've just been on holiday, or we're getting married. The sad truth is that depressingly, if you work full time and have a couple of incomes and no kids, you do have money. The expectation, though, is that if you have an annual salary approximately four times bigger than your annual budget as a student, the money will be somehow neverending. And, of course, it isn't.


Plus, you get the delightful knowledge that whinging because you can't afford new shoes is the absolute worst kind of first-world problems. That's an added bonus.

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