I can’t wait to get paid this week so I can pay the minimum on one of my credit cards, my car insurance, another bill, another bill, and do laundry.  If I have money left over I might get a much-needed haircut.

Credit cards are evil. I know everyone already knows this.  But if you didn’t know, please heed this warning and don’t rely on them.

Yesterday I looked at a house, but I think I’m going to wait a year or so to actually buy one because there are all sorts of grants I can get for buying a home in downtown Buffalo.  I could potentially make about $12k in grant money… just for being under a certain income level and getting a mortgage on a house in Buffalo.


About Jessica Smith
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10 Responses to Income.

  1. yesIsaidyesiwillyes says:

    You going to pay cash for a house, or get a loan? I can’t imagine it’d be the former, or you wouldn’t be writing about paying a minimum on credit card. If it’s the latter, and the loan source is not family or friend, you may want to pre-qualify to see what a commercial lender might risk with you.

  2. I will be paying partial cash (from my Roth IRA, which I can’t use to pay off credit cards) and getting a mortgage.

    As you can see here there are a lot of good financial aid programs in Buffalo for low-income people (which is me) buying a house. Houses are pretty cheap here. But yeah, I am planning to start looking into it in the coming weeks so I know exactly what i need to do to be eligible for all this money as well as for a mortgage.

  3. Lydia says:

    I came across this post by Seth Grodin one night last week (wasn’t familiar with him-but am now impressed with his blog, very). This is so well-written, and such GREAT advice about personal finance and credit (which is the bane of my existence, but I’m doing better). The link-

    I never thought I’d own a home, but we bought this old house (1917) ten years ago. I was 47, and so sick of years of renting, and so grateful for this place. It’s small, has great character, takes to new ideas, and has enough land around it to muffle noise from neighbors. As I’ve watched friends and family go into enormous debt for 3,000-8,000 sq.foot places I’ve been more than pleased that we bought according to what we could afford, and have been content with it. We’re in town, walking distance from downtown and grocery stores, etc.
    You’ll be smart to buy in Buffalo and to take advantage of those financial aid programs. I’m very impressed that you’re doing this as a single woman. Write more about it in your blog, ok?

  4. Hi Lydia,

    Yes– it helps that real estate in Buffalo is tremendously affordable. I can get a nice place for $80k. And although Buffalo houses are huge (for accommodating big Victorian families?) it also means that most of them are split into apartments. So I would be buying a double and renting one floor and living on the other. Each floor would likely be between 2-3000 sq ft.

    I don’t think it’s impressive to be doing it as a single woman. I’m getting lots of great advice from my parents, my friends who’ve recently bought houses, and my real estate agent. So I’m not a “single woman” in the sense of being alone in the world. As for not dating men, I think it would be much more impressive to buy a house that I actually liked, could afford, etc. with a male partner. In my dating history, any of those men would’ve made house buying much more difficult. It’s much easier when you can just buy what you want/can afford without worrying about accommodating someone else.

    My plan now is to do what I want– live where I want, buy a house that I want, work where I want, read what I want, possibly even have a child when I want to– and if someone happens to come along who wants what I want, then great. Otherwise, it is easier and less painful to just “do it myself.”

  5. Wanda O says:


  6. @Lydia … But this kind of advice (Seth’s) is kind of annoying. Because, like, I *don’t* eat out. I *do* eat beans and rice every night. I’m not a spender. I’m not as thrifty as some of my friends who grew up poor and can really live on like, water and breadcrumbs. But I’m certainly not going to restaurants, Starbucks, etc. I haven’t had a hair cut in two years! So that kind of advice is annoying because it assumes you have a certain income level or lifestyle. Like when diet plans tell you to stop drinking soft drinks. What kind of idiot who wants to lose weight drinks soft drinks?! I don’t need to know how not to go into debt. I need to get a loan and debt counseling and make more than I spend (since making only enough to pay credit card minimums is no way to emerge from debt, it’s just a way to plug the leak).

    I should note that debt did not come quickly or easily for me. I just lived a few hundred dollars a month over my $10,600/yr grad student income for a few years and with finance charges and late fees it’s continued to build up. Obviously, I should’ve taken out student loans or had a part-time job instead of going into CC debt, but I anticipated getting a job that would pay a real wage (with even $35k/yr I could easily pay off my debt in a year and live a satisfying life in the meantime). This has been harder than it sounded at the time, since I thought I’d be well-qualified for even a “bad” academic job. Part of the reason I moved to NYC was that there were so many jobs there that paid well, even just for a secretarial or receptionist position; but there’s massive competition for those jobs, too. There are fewer high-salary jobs in Buffalo but it’s a city in which I can live cheaper in the meantime and in which my credentials mean something in job applications. I still have faith that one day I will be able to get a job that pays over $30k, but until then I am looking at alternative solutions (like buying a double and letting my tenant pay my rent/mortgage; getting loans and debt consolidations; having more than one job).

    The real solution, as with dieting, is to rebalance one’s intake-outflow. No matter how many empty calories you cut, you still probably have to exercise to make your caloric expenditure more than your caloric intake and thus lose weight. No matter how many expenditures you cut, you still have to work and make more money to pay those bills back.

    (Someone on the phone last night told me they couldn’t afford to go to the Orchestra because they only make $2200/mo. To me, this sounded like a lot of money.)

    @Wanda O. … yeah… I should state for the record that it’s not just that having a boyfriend would make buying a house more difficult, but having a girlfriend would too. Any major purchase like that is going to be a pain when there are multiple people who have to agree on it… it’s not a gender-biased thing.

  7. Lydia says:

    I realize that I filtered Seth’s article through my own set of problems. You’re right, it does assume a certain standard of living. The jolt comes when you think that his advice is intended for folks in the upper earning brackets: this stinking economy is affecting even them. But, yea, not to the extent it zaps those eeking by. I have a cousin who has two gift stores, one in Boston and one in Cape Cod. She emails about how much they need business in order to keep their “little business” afloat. Then tells me that she is returning to the island of Iona, Scotland, in August with a good friend of hers (first time was a retreat for women artists). She truly doesn’t get it — and that’s what is most disturbing. My husband and I haven’t had a vacation ever. We live 2 hours from the coast and haven’t been over there with our dogs for nine months. I hope we can go this weekend or one very soon for a day trip, where, by the way, we WILL eat out. The sweet restaurants along our Oregon coast are really suffering in this economy. And I doubt that the owners have an itinerary drawn for overseas travel in ’08.

    btw, in no way could you get a house in Oregon for 80k! Not even a little dump, no kidding. If you can get this accomplished (with the help of those you mentioned) (without a boyfriend or a girlfriend) and can ride out this rough patch that will eventually get you a job worthy of you, then that is absolutely wonderful. 🙂

  8. @Lydia … I also like how the concept of “eating out” is different for everyone. Sometimes I “eat out” in that I spend $6 on sushi at the grocery store. Where for some people, “eating out” means a 3-course meal with booze that could cost anywhere from $50pp up. Stuff like you mention just makes me want to roll my eyes. I hope you can get to the beach with your dogs too!!

    Thanks for the support… I hope I can do it!

  9. your friend buck downs says:

    I thought one advantage of Buffalo would be that you did not need to get a haircut.

  10. true, i should probably keep growing it out so i keep warm in the winter.

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