I Lived In A Trailer To Pay For College: Oh, The Horror

Let me start out by saying that this post was inspired by another post featured on Millennial Money Man yesterday The post was written by The Savvy Couple and titled, Moving Back Home: Temporary Pain for Future Gain. It was all about how they both moved back in with their parents post college graduation to dig their way out of debt and stash cash on their way to full-fledged adulthood and home ownership. As I read the post, I couldn’t wait to make a comment – so I did. As I was writing that comment I felt like I had so much more to say but didn’t want to be a comment blog hog 🙂 So, I thought I’d finish my thoughts here in this post. Lucky you!

Growing Up Poor

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Yours truly at my 4th birthday party in the trailer

It’s no secret on this blog that I grew up in an 8′ x 50′ 1950s trailer. Thankfully, that trailer was on the right side of the tracks and I had the opportunity to attend an excellent public school. You can read more about that here. I loved my childhood and our little trailer was always neat-as-a-pin. You could eat off the floor. It was perfect inside and out – that’s my recollection anyway. My parents didn’t have high school degrees, let alone college degrees. They didn’t understand how to go to college without money; hence, they didn’t understand how to send their children to college without money. Being a kid, I didn’t understand this stuff either. I also didn’t know who to turn to to figure it out. My course was set. I would graduate high school and find a good full-time job and make my life from there. The issue was that I actually wanted to go to college. I graduated with hundreds of other students who were accepted to colleges and guidance didn’t let me forget it – especially during our graduation ceremony. No matter. I didn’t have the money. I wasn’t going to go.

High School Graduation And Full-Time Work

I graduated high school and started looking for full-time work right away. You can read all about the various jobs I had here. I finally landed a full-time, temporary job soldering electronic components for a global company. It eventually turned into a permanent position with health benefits and I was making almost $10/hour! I was excited. Despite my excitement, I knew that making $20k/year was enough to rent an apartment, but not enough to build an entire life around. At least not the life I wanted. I wanted the life I watched everyone else living when I was in high school. I’m pretty sure the parents of other kids were pulling in more than 20k/year. So what, my 20k/year (with benefits) was more than enough to rent a nice apartment in a nice area. I did just that. I was going to work, making plans with friends, throwing parties, and trying to figure out who I actually was outside of the trailer and high school.

I kept working at that job and eventually was inspired by an engineer who worked there. I was inspired to apply to a community college and pay for classes with the money I was making at my job. What?! But how could I pay for tuition AND rent? Answer: I couldn’t. Unfortunately, I had to attend a community college in a neighboring county, therefore, the tuition was double because I was a non-resident. It was still very cheap, of course, but when you’re not making much to begin with, anything extra is tough to tackle.

And so I was left with a decision. How badly did I want a degree? How happy was I that I had escaped the trailer? Could I figure out a way to pay rent and still go to college? I considered getting a second job. I considered getting a smaller apartment. Interestingly, I never considered a roommate. Even with a roommate though, it would’ve been quite a stretch.

College…And A Trailer!

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Here it is. Looks like the feature pic, doesn’t it? 🙂

My decision was made. A college education was much more important to me than paying rent to live in that nice 2-bedroom apartment. I gave notice to the apartment manager and set up a payment plan so I could afford to break the lease without affecting my credit. I also suckered a few friends into helping me load up the boxes in exchange for a few slices of pizza. And I inevitably swallowed my pride and moved back into the trailer I worked so desperately to escape.

But this time it was different. This time I had a concrete goal that would blaze a permanent trail out of the trailer for good. It took years. I had to put my head down, put my blinders on, do the work, and get through it. I did. I graduated and I moved out of that trailer.

Now before anyone gets upset and thinks I’m putting anyone down for living in a trailer or mobile home or manufactured house – or whatever they’re called these days – just know, I am not doing that. Remember at the beginning of the post I said I loved my childhood in that trailer? I did. As I grew up though, I experienced some teasing from a few other kids here and there. Because I lived on the right side of the tracks, living in a trailer was foreign to the other kids I went to school with. Even though the teasing was minor and sporadic, it was enough to make me feel embarrassed and tainted the fact that I lived in that trailer. The feeling of embarrassment made me want to escape the trailer and never ever live in one again.

Oh youth, it can be so damn funny sometimes. I now embrace the entirety of my life. I now love the fact that I grew up in that immaculate tiny trailer with loving parents and 3 siblings. I now love that I had to work so hard to obtain a college education. And the funniest part of all, I now wish I could move back into that trailer! Yes, you read that right. Ha! How awesome is that 🙂

What have you done in order to reach your goals? Have you made sacrifices? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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Mad Money Cat – lush

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Lisa is the creator and resident writer at Mad Money Monster. She's a mother, scientist, and financial guru on a mission to save Generation X from working until they die!

Mad Money Monster
6 comments… add one
  • Smart Provisions Jan 20, 2017, 2:04 pm

    It’s awesome to see how far you’ve come, MMM!

    Mad Money Cat is really cute! Is she friendly?

  • Financial Panther Jan 19, 2017, 7:29 pm

    You are a great example of how anything is possible if you decide to do it. A lot of us naturally have limiting beliefs, and these stop us from seeing things like moving back into the trailer as an option.

    Hey, do you think Mad Money Cat would get along with Financial Pup?

    • Mad Money Monster Jan 20, 2017, 7:34 am

      Thanks! Mad Money Cat lives with 2 Mad Money Pups! I bet she’d get along with Financial Pup splendidly. Word of caution though, she’s a bit of a lush 🙂

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