All through college, whenever the holidays approached I would ask my parents for cash. I didn’t want to ask for anything too fancy, because as far as I was concerned, helping me pay my rent and tuition was gift enough. And the truth is, I wasn’t worried about the fact that I slept on a crappy futon, had used the hell out of my generic desktop computer, didn’t have a matching set of plates, and had been wearing the same glasses since high school. I figured that eventually, all of these things would get upgraded. I just never figured out when.
Several years later, it’s not always easy to scoop up items I need on the budget I’m living on. Sure, I’ve made more money since graduation, but let’s get real. I still sleep on that shitty futon. I just bought a set of silverware for the first time less than a year ago, and my plates are even more mismatched than they were when I was 20.
I suppose this is due to a variety of factors, laziness being first among them. Plus, when I do have money, I’d rather spend it on clothes, shoes, food, art…basically, anything but what I really need, if you consider curtains something you need. (I haven’t! Until now.) Typically my spending priorities are as such: Rent, new-ish/well-functioning computer and Internet connection, food (after my computer needs are fulfilled), bills, and then everything else. But my “everything else” list just keeps growing, and most of those items aren’t actually getting crossed off.
Like many people my age, I struggle to afford to pay for health insurance, rent, and a social life, and I don’t often find myself staring at a bank account that’s overflowing with funds. But since I’m older now, wiser, and indeed educated (according to my diploma), it wouldn’t be appropriate to ask my parents for a new bed or a couch. These are grown-up things, things that I’m supposed to be able to pay for along with the rest of life’s finances. Right?
What I’m starting to realize is that I should have taken better advantage of those college years and asked for upgrades on all the stuff that I can’t afford now.
Although the list of things people need differs by region, profession, and age, I think there are some crucial items that every student or recent graduate should consider asking for this holiday season. Even if you don’t think you want some of these things now, trust me, in a few years, you won’t want to pay for them. (And you’ll feel really stupid for buying the off-brand version at a steep discount after it breaks or wears out.)
If you’re graduating soon and think you might need to upgrade your computer in the next 12 months, ask for a new one now. It isn’t easy to save an extra $700-$1,500 from your “real life” job, and optimism will only take you so far. (I should point out that my parents still think I’m insane for spending this much on a laptop.)
Unless you live in a part of the country/world that never gets cold at night, you’re going to find yourself in need of good bedding. And damn, that shit is expensive. Comforters, duvets, throws, and all kinds of other British-sounding words go into making a proper bed. When I was 21, I used bedding I’d stolen from my parents’ house, but after I graduated it occurred to me that I couldn’t do that forever. Especially since the sheets had cartoon-y pictures of cars and trains on them.