Dear Kathi,

I have just graduated from college and would like to organize my life and my finances. I still live at home but want to move out as soon as possible and also to buy a good used car. I have several odd jobs but none of them pay a lot of money. I also take dance classes and want to continue with them. How do I figure out how to make all of this work and save money towards getting out of the house?

Juliana, Encinitas


We all have the same amount of hours in the week. Decide how many hours you are available for work. Add up the hours that you currently work and how much revenue you produce. Break down the pay for each job. This will help you decide later in this process if each job matches your goals.

Make a list of what you wish to accomplish financially and note the time frame. For instance, maybe your goal is to purchase a used car in three months and spend approximately $2500. You want to move into your own apartment within six months. Factor in the average monthly rent for the area you wish to move to and your apartment deposit (usually 2 months rent). Consider moving in with a roommate to reduce your costs. Your moving startup costs will be the sum of these 3 factors. Take this number and divide it by the number of months built into your plan.

This exercise will provide a clear picture of how much money you need to save to reach your goals.

Determine if you will make the amount of money in your proposed timeline. Analyze each job’s weekly hourly commitment and the pay you receive. Does each job provide the hourly rate you need to meet your goals? If the numbers don’t add up, you have several options.

Reframe your timeline and extend the goal completion date. Switch your workload to jobs that will provide more income for the same amount of hours. Increase the amount of hours you will work every week. Save more money by cutting back on expenditures that aren’t part of your larger goal.

Once you have purchased your car and saved the deposit for your new apartment, you will need to set another plan into action. This plan will include a budget that covers all of your expenses once you are on your own. You need to factor food, gasoline, insurance, utilities and all other monthly expenses. Before you move, you will need a secured work schedule that can handle all of these monthly expenses.

You are well on your way to reaching your goals by simply going through with this process. A clearly defined goal is much more likely to be achieved than an unplanned daydream. Good luck Juliana. Write again when you are ready to organize your new apartment.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: [email protected]

San Diego Professional Organizer