Help me. I have to somehow figure out some kind of workable, not-going-to-starve-or-run-out-of-gas budget for my immediate future, and this involves figuring out the horror that is a W-4 Withholding form. I have gone through the IRS Web site and have even taken its Withholding Tutorial, and I have managed to get three different answers from its Withholding Calculator, with a variance of $500. ACK!!! Does anyone have any great wisdom to offer on how, exactly, I can figure out what I’ll be taking home at the end of the month (from the new job)?
The second part of my budgeting problem is that I’m in the middle of the student loan consolidation process (and, recent graduates, now is the time: interest rates go up dramatically on July 1), and I don’t yet have any clear picture of what my payments will be. I hit a run of bad luck at the beginning of the loan payments process — for instance, I am not eligible for the lower, extended payment program because my first loan originated one month before that plan became an option (October, 1998). And blah blah blah, it’s all complicated and frustrating and I’ve now filled out and mailed in the same forms at least twice and am still in a holding pattern.
The moral of this story is: I am not impressed by either irs.gov or ed.gov today.
My third budgeting woe is in figuring out the “hidden” costs of different apartments. I have my eye on one particular complex in town that is within walking distance of my new job and offers, among its amenities, a 24-hour fitness center, free breakfast on the weekdays, and free DVD rentals. So that all sounds great, but… it’s more than I want to pay for an apartment. The question then becomes, will I save enough by walking instead of driving, using the on-site fitness place instead of buying a membership elsewhere, etc. to make up for the additional cost? If my apartment is right there, will I walk home for lunch instead of going out to eat, thus saving myself huge chunks of money each month? Or will I get so bored of working and living right in the same little square that I’ll go out all the time? Would it be better, then, to rent the place that’s waaaay on the edge of town but offers cable and water included in its (significantly cheaper) rent?
Again, if anyone has any wisdom, let me know, even if it’s a nudge toward a helpful Web site or a decent place to live in town.