View Full Version : Could someone help me evaluate my finances and guide me in the right direction?

07-19-2014, 01:25
I'm 24, recently graduated, and am moving back into my parent's house for a year. I will be applying to PhD programs in the fall/winter, which they support, and hopefully hiking the trail in the spring. I don't plan to hold a steady job but because I can pick up odd jobs/nannying hours.

My goals are:

1) Hike the trail.
2) Have enough left over to feel comfortable/capable of moving out.
3) Have enough money to afford a $800 side trip.

I have most everything I'd need to start hiking, with the exception of treking poles, a down coat, long johns and a rain jacket. I do intend to make the AT as rustic as I can... I want to feel deprivation and a disconnection from the world. I don't except to go into towns a ton.

Now, the nitty gritty about my finances:

Checking: $218
Savings: $8022.48
I am expecting a $1,100 paycheck at the end of the month and another $700 paycheck two weeks into August. So that means I can add, more or less, $1,800 to my checking.
I have about $2,200 worth of books for sale online. (Textbooks.) I can say that although it's difficult to tell when something will sell, but usually, textbooks do sell eventually. So I can say with some confidence that I will see about $1,500 of that money within a year.

Can I afford all three things? I'm 24 and a little lost. I'd rather pass up the side trip/take up some babysitting hours than give up my dream of hiking the trail.

07-19-2014, 01:32
have you worked this year and paid taxes? If so, you can/will file taxes beginning of february and then probably get a refund about 2 weeks later.

*PS* You can 'comfortably hike the trail already. I think most hikers take $4,000-$6,000. Since you already have the gear, that helps.

(rough estimate)
Every 2 nights in a motel is $100 you lose.
Every 4 nights in a hostel is $100 you lose.

Those are some of the biggest money killers.

07-19-2014, 01:34
Yes and I'll probably get an amazing refund again.

07-19-2014, 01:38
where is the side trip to?

If you are able to, I would get that done sooner, so that way you won't have to worry about 2 tips.

Just do the cheap trail as soon as you can, and then concentrate on the big one.

07-19-2014, 01:39
You already "have enough". Just don't blow much of it before then, and you are solid.

07-19-2014, 11:02
The best way is to do an estimate. 4-6k is normal for a TH. Then add up all the expenses of moving out: apartment deposits, utility deposits, utility hookup fees, moving van rental, renters insurance (yes, you need it), food, cable/internet, cell phone, rent for a couple of months, electricity, clothes, etc. If you spend $ for it, its on the list. After taking a conservative (high) estimate, then add another 20%.

07-19-2014, 11:14
Around $10,000 in liquid assets seems sufficient for a thru hike and getting started with an apartment after the hike but there would be little margin of safety in the form of an emergency fund if things don't go as planned after the hike. Can you stay with your parents a while longer if finances are tighter than expected after the hike? If so, I'd say you have sufficient resources to go for it. If staying with your parents is not an option, I would personally want to have another $5K or so saved up as an emergency fund in case things go wrong on the hike that require additional money. Also, I would make the hike conditional on having health insurance along with enough liquid cash set aside to cover the annual out-of-pocket maximum if needed. Good luck with the hike. I had the resources to do something like this when I was 24 but chose another path. Many people either do a thru hike when they are young or have to wait until retirement. I say seize the opportunity if it presents itself.

07-19-2014, 12:12
Your financial position is much better than many hikers who start the trail. You have enough.

Feral Bill
07-19-2014, 12:21
While you are staying with your parents, it would be much appreciated, I'm sure, if you make yourself as helpful as possible around the house. That can elevate their enthusiasm for you plans.

sympathetic joy
07-19-2014, 13:06
While you are living with your parents, will you be covered under their insurance policy?

07-19-2014, 15:49
I know your parents support your educational pursuits and all, but what a good kid you'd be if you used some of that savings you have to pick up some of the load.

07-19-2014, 19:50
My experience: Age 20 - moved out, had child, finished my last year of college (self-paid), and worked full time (hate to say it - but the job was necessary.)
My son's experience: Age 21 - moved out, went to law school (he paid for himself), worked part-time, BUT - his girlfriend worked 50-60 hours per week. (He did marry her in his second year of law school. Her vows? - I pledge to support you now, so you can support me later!).

My thoughts: While I think you should do the trail, I think you might be concerned about moving out with only a part-time job. If you could work uber-time in the summers (obviously, not the one you hike), I think you could shore up enough money for the school year. You might try to get some type of internship that would be beneficial to you later.

Whatever you decide, good luck!!!

07-19-2014, 19:52
Whoops, didn't address the "side trip" idea.

Honestly, for me, the trail would come first. The "side trip" will be easier to fit in later in life. The trail will be much more difficult to fit in later!

07-19-2014, 20:24
I'm confused on the timeline. When do you plan to start the hike? When does grad school start? Fall semesters here in Texas start in August. Moving and starting grad school after a thru hike will take some time. Starting your hike early to allow time to get home from Maine and settled before grad school might require additional gear. Do you have proper gear for a March 1 start? Will you finish by August 1? Have priced transportation to/from the AT in your budget?
Good luck. Have a great hike.


Sent from somewhere around here.

08-06-2014, 08:30
I'm a broke ass English BA with a crappy job still living with my folks--I have only about $1000 saved up but I have a job that gets really busy during Christmas and I have all of the expensive pieces of gear. If you're a student in the 21st century, I assume you are familiar with debt and how it is sometimes necessary to accomplish the things you really want out of life. Might I suggest looking into a credit card to provide a safety net, if you do not already have one?

As has already been said, you have more than enough for a rustic thru. You probably have enough to do that side trip and a really FANCY thru. But moving out AND planning on going back to school gets expensive very quickly.