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I'm a 17 year old Ohio high school student who makes ~$160 a month working minimum wage. I have a $3500 loan (4 year duration) to pay off for a car with ~$2880 left.

Monthly payments are ~$80 for the car plus an additional $70 for part of insurance (my father helps pay since I'm required to have full coverage). I'm struggling to maintain a steady and reliable flow of income with this job and haven't been able to find another after ~3 months of applying to dozens of jobs with only three follow-ups and no interviews.

I also have mental disorders that are interfering with my ability to meet work and general life expectations. Turning 18 in January, I don't see any plausible way to be able to support this lifestyle independently with what I have.

Are there any benefits or financial moves I could make outside of acquiring a new job (which I'm continuing to pursue)? I'm at a loss seeing classmates with much better vehicles make payments seemingly effortlessly.

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    It sounds like you got a loan that is vastly too great compared to your income. How were you able to get the loan? Is it secured? To put your situation in perspective; it's the equivalent to me buying a brand new Ferrari, and I'm nowhere near wealthy enough to afford a brand new Ferrari – Jon Barker Apr 30 at 15:37
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    Just realized, with the job suggestions in my previous comment, that I assumed you were male. However, regardless of gender, you have other skillsets that are valuable, for instance, you write very well, this could lead to jobs, even online ones such as proofreading, or scoring English language learners test essays. – Glen Yates Apr 30 at 15:58
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    @JonBarker If the car was 3500, that wasn't an unreasonable price for the car. the issue here is that OP is working very very few hours. – opa Apr 30 at 19:11
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    @CMew3 If you could clarify a couple of issues, I think it might help the community to better answer your question. Is getting rid of the car a potential option (ie could you get around in other ways (bus, bike, family, friends), or do you rely on the car)? What do you mean by "support myself"? I assume not "live on my own", but that you still live with your parents and just need extra spending money? How much? What is your parents financial situation? How are you currently financing things like gas, etc? Do you have savings? How many hours could you work if you were to find work? – tim Apr 30 at 19:28
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    Don't judge your financial success based on what other people pay for "seemingly effortlessly". Lots of people can't really afford the things they have and struggle a lot to pay for them, even though that's not obvious from the outside. Set your own goals independently of what people around you are doing, and you'll be much happier in life. – Kat Apr 30 at 21:47

14 Answers 14

82

There are two ways to improve your personal finances:

  1. Make more money
  2. Spend less money

That's literally the secret. To afford the car, you either need more income, or lower expenses. Don't fret, though. It's good that you are learning this lesson early in life because a lot of people live paycheck-to-paycheck their entire lives without realizing that some small changes in spending and earning can have significant, compound results later in life.

Don't worry about the knuckleheads driving fancy cars. People buy cars they cannot afford all the time.

For you, I suspect increasing income is the easiest way to reduce your money stress (as opposed to getting rid of the car). Focus on finding another part-time job or a higher-paying job, and reduce your spending however you can in the meantime to keep up the car payments. It'll be ok, and it's nice that Dad is there to help you. Talk to your school or local community college about career/job options that can accommodate your disability.

Job hunting is often a frustrating series of "no, no, no no, no..." but eventually you'll hear a "yes!". Keep at it!

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    Kids especially are bought cars that they couldn't afford, but their parents can. I wouldn't be surprised if some of those kids were just given cars by rich parents, and weren't making payments on them at all (because they were given to them) – Nic Hartley Apr 30 at 17:47
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    he clearly said income is the problem (he is hardly spending anything.. unless you are telling him to take the bus..).. telling him to earn more or spend less seems rather unhelpful? – sofa general Apr 30 at 18:31
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    @sofageneral it's helpful in the sense that OP was asking if there's more they can do apart from finding a new job, and the answer is no. – Alexandre Aubrey Apr 30 at 20:50
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    @sofageneral $40 a week isn't a living wage, period. There is no way anyone could "support themselves" independently on $40 a week, unless they were living on the street and engaging in illegal activities (e.g. theft). But high school students don't need a living wage, because most of their living expenses are paid for by their parents. Since the OP has medical conditions, personally I wouldn't attempt to answer the question, because it doesn't seem to be based on a realistic view either of his/her actual situation, or how the real world works financially. – alephzero Apr 30 at 21:06
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    @tim You want a list of things that aren't a solution to the problem? That's a pretty long list. – Matt Apr 30 at 23:23
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$160 a month is less than $40 a week (except in February when it can be exactly $40 a week). At the Ohio minimum wage of $8.55 an hour, you should have something like $8 an hour left after FICA taxes (and not pay income tax until working more than twenty hours a week). That's only five hours a week. Five hours is a single shift, not even a full day (eight hours with a mandatory half hour break for someone under eighteen). Presumably your classmates with cars are working more hours than that.

You should not expect to be able to live independently working five hours a week. That's a nonstarter.

Your post is unclear as to what you are doing after high school. If you are going to college, you should not be planning to live independently. You would continue being dependent on your parents until you graduate college. The college will assume that in handing out financial aid.

If you are not going to college, you should plan on working forty hours a week. If your mental health issues prevent that, you either need to resolve them or apply for disability. You should be talking to a mental health professional who can give you specific advice rather than to the internet, which can only give you general advice.

Note that even working forty hours a week at minimum wage is not going to let you live independently. At minimum expect to have a roommate (possibly more than one). Many people live with their parents at that income level.

You should probably not be putting much effort into applying for jobs at more than minimum wage at this point. It is unlikely that anyone will hire you without more of a work history. I.e. first get a job working more hours (possibly two jobs). Then once you've established that you can work full time, look for a better job. If you're struggling to work five hours a week, employers aren't going to want to hire you.

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    I wish this answer had more visibility. Working additional hours per week is likely the only real solution, even if it is unpalatable. – Michael W. May 1 at 18:52
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    +1 for everything except the last paragraph. Sure, don't apply only for higher-paying jobs, but by all means do apply for those too. You could always get lucky, and even if you don't, all you've lost is the time you used to make the application. And you may still gain some valuable job-searching practice in the process, anyway. – Ilmari Karonen May 2 at 11:17
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    "except in February when it's exactly $40 a week" except once every four years, when again it's not. :-) – a CVn May 2 at 19:50
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    @aCVn except once every hundred years, when it is :-) – Rad80 May 3 at 8:30
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    Except once every four hundred years when it's not. And don't forget leap seconds. – Brythan May 3 at 8:43
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About your mental health, I trust that you are seeking professional help about that as others have mentioned. My answer is here to help you with the financial part of your question, which should (hopefully) alleviate some of the stress you're experiencing that comes from debt.

It's great that you're looking at your expenses and thinking about how to overcome them. This is a great first step. I'd like to post an answer here that others have hinted at, but (surprisingly) nobody has said outright yet.

It's time to sell your car.

I'm sure you bought your car for compelling reasons (you need reliable transport, etc), but the fact is exactly what you've realized. You can't afford this car right now. I know it's hard, but you'll have to find other ways of meeting your transportation needs (public transit, friends and relatives, bicycle, uber, and eventually saving up for a cheaper used car). You're right that you can't sustain this lifestyle, and you're in a position where it's difficult to guarantee that you can secure a more stable income, so it's time to get rid of that debt (not to mention insurance and gas expenses)! Sell your car for at least the loan amount (or as close as you can get to it), and plan your next move.

Once you have sold your car, you can start saving up for a good used car that you can buy outright without signing yourself up for more debt.

Don't worry about your classmates who seem to be effortlessly "paying off" (maybe) their fancy cars. Given general statistics, it's likely that they are in the same situation you are, and maybe don't realize it. Or they're amounting debts in other areas. It doesn't matter, really. You know what makes sense for you.

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    +0: while it would be a good advice to a 20-30 year old person, I wouldn't recommend that to a teenager, period. Bear in mind this: selling a car bought brand new almost always generates a monetary loss; until OP sells it, he at least has a car he/she wanted. After he sells it, assuming it'll sell for, like, 3/4 of the buying price (and that's an optimistic prognosis), OP will still has debt, and won't have any car, at the same time simply ditching about $800 he worked hard for... basically depriving him of everything. Working more hours or finding a better job is a lot better here IMHO. – vaxquis Apr 30 at 21:31
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    Depending on where OP lives, a ~$3000 car is quite reasonable and selling it (and therefore being short on transportation) may be a path to even harder job prospects. Uber is simply not an affordable transportation mode for someone making minimum wage. A bicycle may not be reasonable for the distances required. Public transit is laughable in many areas. – Bryan Krause Apr 30 at 22:03
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    @Harper OP is 17 and makes $160 a month. Where can OP afford to move to? – Bryan Krause Apr 30 at 22:05
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    A car payment of $80 is extremely reasonable, even including $70 for insurance. The first car I bought was $150 just for the loan. Paying $10 a day/ride for Uber is not. Not everywhere has good public transit, and I can say from experience that riding a bike can be dangerous in a larger city or extremely difficult in rural areas. The car may be a problem, but not the biggest. The OP can save money on repairs by doing most of them themselves. That's also a good lesson in self reliance. – computercarguy Apr 30 at 22:40
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    I don't think a car is getting much cheaper than $3500. And a car is a requirement to get to work in much of the country. The OP needs to increase his income. – Andrew Lazarus May 1 at 22:52
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Whenever someone asks about money issues, I refer to the book "America's Cheapest Family". I don't have any affiliation to the book, I'm just another happy customer. (Any referral link was added by SO/SE, as happened in other links I've posted.)

This family has several kids and has bought vehicles, home appliances, houses, taken vacations, and more on very little income. It's basically a well explained laundry list of ways to try to fix your budget. I'm using budget as the result of your income and your expenses, whether you have one written out or not. The book will help you set up an actual budget if you don't already have one.

For immediate examples of working your money for your benefit, staying int your parent(s) household may be the answer, for now. Once you get a better job, your car or loan paid off, and have a more steady financial situation in general you can think about becoming independent. Staying at home may not always be an option, but it's a good one to take if it's available. It saved me from being homeless in bad job markets.

As others mentioned, getting a better or 2nd job will go a long way. Since you've mentioned mental issues, only you, your family, and your doctor(s) know what kind of work or stress you can handle, so that's entirely up to you. Maybe find something that doesn't feel like work, so you can do it more?

I don't recommend getting rid of your car. There's too many uses for it, such as being able to get to interviews quickly and easily. Cars are an investment, not simply an expense. You might have to learn car repair, like I did, in order to make the repairs less costly, but with the little you are paying for it, it's about as inexpensive an option as you can get.

Also, don't spend money on anything that isn't absolutely necessary. The caveat here is that sometimes entertainment is absolutely necessary. As they say, "All work and no play..." It's absolutely true. If you don't have a minimum of entertainment, you will have a hard time wanting to do anything else. Been there, done that, and too many times as well. Small items that you'll use repeatedly are the key here. Puzzles, books, movie ownership, board/card games, or anything that you can use many times works. Even better, do stuff that's free. Take walks, meditate, talk with friends and family, play games at friends places, etc.

This isn't the ideal situation, but it's what most people face. About the only time people don't go face these problems is when they are rich, which the large majority of us aren't. If you can't figure something out, ask someone (friends and family) about it. Most likely they've gone through it and already know some solutions you can try. It's good that you asked here to get some answers, but this isn't the only place for answers. Your real life people are a good source of information, too. Unfortunately, people IRL don't have as much tact as people who can craft their answers in text and links, so please try to be understanding if they come off blunt or pushy. They are trying to explain what worked for them and will often believe it automatically works for everyone else, too.

Good luck and I hope the answers here helped!

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So there are two issues here, and the first is a bit broad. You claim to have mental issues. If you have a mental disorder that cannot be overcome then perhaps disability is in order and that needs to be your main focus.

There are other mental disorders that can be addressed with medication and/or counseling. Which kind you have is beyond the scope of this site and probably any random stranger on the internet. You will need to address this with a doctor and this should be your first order of business.

Assuming you can overcome your mental disorder then you need to go about working more hours. At minimum wage you are working less than 20 hours per week. Your first order would be to increase that to more like 40. While challenging, it is possible for a full time student. Keep in mind that you might need to do this with multiple jobs.

Once you graduate it may be necessary to increase your hours worked to 60 or more. With that you should be able to live on your own. Loans, at this stage in the game for your, are just dumb. A mortgage will make sense, but that is way off so there is no need to really think about that now.

It takes time to be established, your parents have had many years to build a household. You were not there or were too young to remember some of the struggles they had when they just started out. You cannot replicate their lifestyle overnight.

However, once you are a bit established it will be time to focus on increasing your income. What kind of things do you enjoy doing that can serve your fellow man? Going to college to become an engineer or taking an apprenticeship to become an electrician are two very good options. Getting a masters degree in Russian Literature is not.

There are no real short cuts in life, and it does nothing to focus on your friend's better cars or whatever. Asking or thinking about a loan is a path that will lead to bankruptcy. This should be the order of things: address the mental illness, increase your hours dramatically, learn a skill to increase your income.

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    I wouldn't recommend working 40 hours per week to a healthy full-time student, let alone someone with a mental disorder. That's about 11 hours every single day of the week. Add housework, homework, travel time and sleep, and you have absolutely no time to relax. How can this not lead to burnout? I also don't see how it is necessary. OP would earn 1k+, but there is no indication that they need this amount of money right now, so why sacrifice their health over it? – tim Apr 30 at 17:15
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    mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/… psycnet.apa.org/record/1992-98188-000 link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00335-013-9488-5 sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022399903005737 -- Stress does cause health problems, especially mental health. I cited sources, and you can find more by Googling "stress health effects papers". Where are yours? – Nic Hartley Apr 30 at 17:59
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    @PeteB. You may have done it but it’s still terrible advice. – Konrad Rudolph Apr 30 at 18:59
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    "While possible challenging it is possible for a full time student" uh what world do you live in? Technically it is also possible to work every waking hour for 84 hrs a week. But you know, that isn't reasonable. It also isn't reasonable to expect people to work 60 hrs at shitty jobs, and I can guarantee you his parents never had to deal with that (not to ding them, times have changed). And working 60 hrs a week isn't going to allow him to go to university. My uni didn't allow me to work > 20 hours and be a full time student, and 60 wouldn't have covered the cost anyway. – opa Apr 30 at 19:06
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    (Little correction: OP said they earned $160 per MONTH, not week.) -1 because they said that they are actively trying to find more work. Telling OP "Ok but just work 8x more hours" is not the most helpful advice. And yeah, overworking can cause health problems. People in law school and doctorate programs aren't a great sample of the general population, you need high stress tolerance to get there in the first place. It's like saying "it's easy to be in good shape, just look at those two Olympians". Your answer and your comments show your lack of empathy towards OP's situation. – Alexandre Aubrey Apr 30 at 21:05
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The answer that seems to be missing from this list of answers (so far) is "talk with your parents." Get them in on this.

You list yourself as earning $160/month, with on the order of $150 in expenses, and that you are a high-school student. If I may read between the lines, this strongly suggests to me that you are a full time student living at home. Otherwise you would have listed things like rent and food which you will find are spectacularly higher than $160/month.

So go explain the situation to your parents, and ask them their opinions. Find out how they think things should be handled. They've been around the block a few times.

If you think talking with your parents isn't the solution, permit me to offer some tough love phrasing. If you're already comfortable with my suggestion to talk to them, don't worry about the tone of voice and the numbers here. But if you really think you should be managing this on your own...

For some perspective, the poverty line in Ohio is $1012/month. Do not for a moment think you can be independent on $160/month. You are dependent on your family. That's okay. In fact, I would argue it is good. Family raises children! But when it comes to independence, understand that you cannot and will not be independent on $160/month.

I stress this because the best answer is to go talk to the people you are dependent on: your parent(s). You may not know this, but for every dollar you are learning to be fiscally responsible with, tens of dollars are flowing through your parent(s) accounts keeping a roof over your head and food on your table. You are fundamentally a dependent of your parents, and will be until you are making literally ten times as much as you are right now (probably by working full time rather than what appears to be 5hr/wk).*

Now, with that tough-love phrasing aside, let's talk about what you can say to your parents.

It does appear that the vast majority of your income is going to your car payment. Your dad helps with the insurance (a wise move on his part... insurance for our children is important!) So most likely your discussion with them will be centered on the car.

My recommendation would be to focus on the co-signing. Show them that you understand what it meant when he cosigned. If you search this site for questions about cosigning, you'll often see "Should I cosign with ... on this item?" And the answer is always always always "No. Do not cosign under any circumstances." This is the answer because cosigning puts you up for all of the risks, gives you none of the benefits. Cosigners almost always get burned.

I don't know your parents, but if my child approached me explaining that they're having trouble making car payments, and because they cosigned on the car, this affects us and they wanted to give me an opportunity to weigh in on my investment, I would be incredibly proud. I would be proud that my child understood what cosigning actually meant, and that they cared enough about me to work with me rather than just sticking it to me with the precise legal rights and responsibilities associated with the term.

Your parents understand you far better than we do. They know your life, your friends, your medical conditions. They can help, if given the chance. They are in a far better position to offer advice than any random stranger on the internet.

Their advice may indeed be sell your car, as CullenJ recommends. Or they may be able to help you earn more money or spend less money as Rockey recommends. Or they may be able to do things inbetween. Perhaps you've been doing something with the freedom of your car that makes them nervous, like staying out late. Perhaps they are willing to subsidize a larger portion of your car in exchange for you coming home earlier, until you can find a job with a sufficient income to cover the payments on your own. Perhaps they have some errands that need to be done, and they're willing to help subsidize the car so you can do those errands for them. Family can be endlessly more flexible than any other solution for one simple reason: They want you to succeed.

So go ask them. And, if they come back with solutions you find unpalatable, then come here with specific questions asking how to avoid needing to fall back on their solutions. But more than likely, they know the solutions better than anyone here.

3

There are two sides to the equation: income and expense. Your car loan and insurance expenses are fixed, and if you don't want (or can't) reduce your expense by selling the car, then your only option is to increase the income side of the equation.

Please don't fall into the trap of comparing what you drive to those around you or measuring your success by it. When looking at your classmates' cars; you don't know if they are actually owned or financed by their parents or see the debt attached.

Hang in there and keep looking for another job, and keep thinking of ways to create a job for yourself. There is a job out there for you, but right now your job title is "job seeker", so plan on investing the hours needed at that job.

Is the nature of your mental disorder such that with counseling or other treatment you will in time be able to be able to successfully cope with the demands of adult life?

  • +1 for Please don't fall into the trap of comparing what you drive to those around you or measuring your success by it. - I totally wasted like $20k on my car when I was younger. What a waste. I got NOTHING out of it except a few tickets and a roaring engine fire. – Kai Qing May 3 at 0:08
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Other answers have suggested your car payment is 50% of your income, and this percentage is too high. We have not even seen your housing expenses or your healthcare expenses, but what I suspect is that your net income upon independence is going to be negative.

I will note that if with your skills you are only able to earn $160/month, I think you should take seriously the possibility that your mental health interferes with your ability to earn an income. This is precisely the purpose of disability benefits, which are payable by the Social Security Administration in the USA.

Take a look at https://www.ssa.gov/disability/disability.html and see if you qualify. If you do, then I would recommend that when you become independent from your parents as planned, you sell the car and build a lifestyle for yourself that doesn't require personal transport.

Additionally, you might think about ways to keep yourself occupied in the event that you are (for practical purposes) unemployable and eligible for benefits. You will need to keep busy to avoid depression. Here are a few ideas:

  • Volunteering activity, for instance caring for animals at a shelter or zoo
  • Getting a place to live where you can create a garden (either with food, or with something pretty like shrubs and flowers, or both)
  • A natural extension to gardening may be beekeeping
  • If you have some skill in any kind of art or music, you could invest your time in making this
1

You're fortunate to live in an era where conventional employment is not a necessity, especially for young people. Money may be required for all financial efforts. If not money then the willingness to invest a lot of time.

We don't know what mental issues may have, but if they happen to be ones of anti-social nature or general depression that keeps you isolated then you may find a certain degree of benefits from having a condition that removes motivation, or at least motivation to go out into the world. Here's why:

I make a very healthy income on the side that would be perfect for someone your age. I'll give a realistic number of $1,000 - $2,000 a month (and yeah, it actually involves stuffing envelopes from home but not in the way those ads promise). I make stuff and I sell it online. I make anything I feel would be a funny gift for someone, then post it on ebay and etsy, and amazon in some cases. A listing costs 20 cents, give or take, so like I said, you would need some money to start. And not all items listed sell.

I started with pillow covers. I bought material from a local sewing store, and made simple slip on covers. They sold at a profit of some $8 a piece. I ventured to other kinds of pillows. Some of which sell for over $100 a piece. Without divulging exactly what I sell now and thus running myself out of business, it suffices to say that I diversified my products simply by wondering what I wanted and looking them up to see if others sell them, how much, what they cost to make, etc. I now have over 400 items and generate between $40 to $100 a day just passively making things for about an hour a day, stuffing them in envelopes, and sending them in the mail. For $1,000 a month or so, it is very comfortable. It is easy work you can do while watching TV. Anyone can do it if only you have the motivation to spend several hours searching on ebay and etsy for things you think are neat and figuring out how to be the one selling the item and not the one buying them.

I freely suggest you make pillow covers simply because I proved the concept already and know it will sell. Plus, I don't sell sewn items anymore. A reasonable sewing machine can cost about $150. I have a fancy $1k one that is trash compared to my brutal janome machine that was less than $100. Just to give an idea about initial start up costs. You're not in a position to save, but you may be in a position to ask your family to support your efforts. I can't speak on how to set this all up. Only that I did it and it makes enough for someone your age to be effectively rich (relative to your needs).

Now, as time went on, my products changed. I always sought smaller, flatter, lighter. That way shipping costs are low, envelopes are cheaper than boxes, etc. Your best products are the ones that cost you the least in money and time to make, and can fit in a small envelope. Look at uline.com for shipping materials. A padded envelope is $3 at walgreens but 30 cents when you buy a box of 100 from uline. So keep all that in mind.

All sounds good, right? Well, it's useless if you don't know what to sell or how to make things. The bottom line is that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE has the skill to make something. Kids have those little bracelet making kits. Guess what, beaded bracelets sell on etsy all day long. Many of those sellers have sales in the hundreds of thousands. You can put beads on a string, yes you can. How about those bottle cap earrings? Or bottle cap tie clips? Point being, there's a market for almost everything. A little time and effort will show you what you like doing and what is realistic. I've been at this for about 8 years now and I promise you everything I have tried to sell will sell eventually. Diversify your products to appeal to many different types of people and you too can build up a healthy revenue stream that will always ensure you have a little something even if you're between jobs.

Now, for the juice of it, assuming you do this to some degree of success. As you grow older you should consider the normal path as like an insurance policy. Have a normal job to get by, to pay bills, etc. Have this side income as "play money" and by that I don't mean buy a fancy car. I mean use this money to invest in a variety of things that build your passive income and general future. Mutual funds, bonds, etc. All safe. Or more equipment to diversify your products even further and build the passive income. I do both now. And try not to tell people what you do because they may do it also and do it better and run you out of business. I abstract it the same way I am here. I sell online. You can too.

The one gem I will give you from all of this is that I am moving into digital products. Thus, removing nearly the entire cost of materials and the whole shipping process as well. Eventually I intend to build up a portfolio of several thousand digital items that trickle in a passive income of some $2k a month. It is looking very possible.

You can try to message me directly if you want more details.

0

One possibility would be to look for any local stores or restaurants that offer delivery services. I say "local", as many of the chain stores and francises require their drivers be 18 and have 2 years of driving history.

The local stores may be willing to hire you at the younger age.

However, the body of your question does seem to extend your question out to your future, so I will address that as well.

Once you are 18 and have 2 years of driving history, a pizza chain (pizza hut, dominos, papa johns, etc) can be a very good way for a young student to earn some cash. With all of the general delivery services also coming online (grub hub, uber eats, etc), those may also give you flexible ways to earn the funds you need to pay for your car's expenses, as well as your other expenses. Depending on the age and condition of your car, you might also look into Uber or Lyft as well.

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    Be careful! If you are a delivery driver, make sure either your employer's insurance specifically covers your car, or call your insurance company and note that you are driving for work. Otherwise, you may be charged with driving without insurance. – ChrisInEdmonton Apr 30 at 20:10
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    Ohio law states that a 17 year old cannot be employed in "motor vehicle occupations". That includes driving unless it's incidental to the job, so delivery jobs are out. – mkennedy Apr 30 at 20:28
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    Uber and lyft both require their drivers to be at least 21 years old. – Alexandre Aubrey Apr 30 at 21:40
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    OP is already dramatically overextended/insolvent with the car - totally unprepared to keep up with maintenance. Taking a job that requires driving the car more will only make the overextension worse, unless it pays quite well. – Harper Apr 30 at 22:09
  • 12-20 hours of delivery driving a week would earn a few hundred dollars a month, with likely a few hundred more in tips (greatly depending on location and how busy the store is). This is significantly more than his current $160. – Michael Richardson May 2 at 18:32
0

You've gotten some good advice here, as well as some bad advice. While I can't address your mental health issues, beyond recommending you get some professional help (don't see it as a stigma, millions of people have therapy every single day).

As mentioned several times, you can either 1) Increase your income or, 2) Decrease your spending.

The best long term solution is to increase your income to a point where your spending habits literally don't matter. While this is practically unachievable for most people, it demonstrates a specific mindset. Your current expenses are nearly nothing right now. To reduce your spending more would mean that you would literally be spending nothing. This is not a good way to live your life in a long term fashion.. Although drastic expense cutting measures are very useful for many people, especially chronic overspenders, I'd recommend, instead, focusing on making more money so that you can support a stable life.

You state that you're making about $160 a month. This is very little. If I were in your position I would prioritize finding a job that paid better. It might be worth your time to learn some specialized skill that you can pick up quickly.

I'd also consider the fact that your long term skills and earning capacity are more important your your short term. Busting your butt to earn an extra $15 a month now seems silly when you could use that time to learn a skills that increases your earning capacity by $15,000 a year a few years down the road.

Regarding selling your car: if you need the car to get to work, keep it. $3,500 for a decent car that won't break down easily is very much a fair price. Again, try to increase your earning capacity so that the payments don't suck up all your income. This is also a valuable lesson. Many many many people buy, lease, or rent cars that are too expensive for them to comfortable pay for. Don't be one of those people. Only buy what you can afford.

Personally, I don't own a car, even though I have a well paying job and it would make my life much easier. Instead, I take the bus and train. This is because I'm single (don't have to make large grocery shopping trips for a family), and I can afford to sacrifice my time and energy for the several hundreds of dollars I save a month on not owning a car. Whether or not this can work for you depends on your city (things might be simply too far away, or no public transpo) and your personal realities.

At the end of the day, make lots of money and spend less than you make will always be good advice. The hard part is knowing where how to divide your energy appropriately between the two.

Good luck!

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You can ask you current job to give you more hours because you need more money. Make it pretty clear that if you don't get more hours, you'll have to bounce because 5 hours a week in nonsense.

The simple fact of the matter is that it cost money for companies to find people to hire. Since you already work there, it may cost less for them to just give you more hours than it will for them to deal with you quitting and then hiring someone else to do your job. This is one reason why they'd want to give you more hours.

Another is that doubling your hours literally has no negative consequences for the company. They still won't have to pay out benefits. There's no real reason not to. That being said, you'll have to appeal to your managers sense of humanity in order for this to work. The worst thing that can happen is that your manager says no and you quit this job till you can find a new one. In the grand scheme of things, that's really not so bad.

You might also look into taking odd jobs. They can be a nice way of generating income.

You can cheat the insurance costs but valuing your car at less money. The downside to this is that you'll get less money from insurance if you ever have to make a claim. The upside is that your monthly payments will be lower. Don't let lower monthly payments entice you to do this though, THIS IS A BAD IDEA.

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I'm at a loss seeing classmates with much better vehicles make payments seemingly effortlessly.

Generally, people don't see what payments others do or don't make, with the notable exception of professional accountants. Some people make more money. Some people saved earlier and have paid half of their car in cash. Some people got a car as a gift. Some people pretend to have a car but lie.


Reduce expenses

First thing is to do what you should have done at the start: Figure out how much a car is worth to you. Considering that you have only $10 to spend on gas, parking, and repairs, as well as an occasional drink, video game, snack, ice cream, etc, the value the car provides you is probably quite low.

Now find out how much the car will be worth to someone else. That's the amount you can sell it for. (Before you do that, check the second part of the answer, because once you need a car to make money it's suddenly worth a lot more to you) Notice that how much you spent, and how much debt you have is irrelevant. If you paid more for the car than it was worth to you, that's the past - consider it a worthwhile investment in a series of valuable financial lessons about debt, overspending, financial planning, cost of ownership, and the Sunk Cost Fallacy. Even if you end up selling the car and still have to pay $40 a month to pay off the aforementioned financial lessons, it may be better than spending $150 on a car you can't drive, because at least you can now enjoy ice cream again.


Increase income

If the car ends up being worth enough for to you to justify keeping it, the next thing to do is earning money. You already tried getting hired, and my well get lucky if you continue doing that. Until that happens, there's another way to make money. I'm speaking of self employment. You could offer services: teach retired people how to use computers, mow lawns, be a dog sitter, offer independent advice for electronics purchases, be a personal shopping guide, translate documents, launch a youtube channel, etc. Or you could offer products: Hand carved toys, jewellery, clocks, paintings, etc. A quick google search will provide you with hundreds of suggestions, some of which will hopefully match your current or future skill set.

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First of all: Life is hard, you are not the only one and it will be that way for the next months. But it will get better when you get a full time job. The only exception would be, if you are lucky for example to be born in a rich family. This will not be a "Push this button and all will be good"-post nor "Everything is hopeless". I will try to give you some advises and things I learned in life and from talking with others and I hope it will help you to make your life better/easier.

About your classmates driving better vehicles: When others below 20 years drives to school with a car worth much more than 2000$, it would be clear that either:

  • it was the car of their parents
  • it was the gift of their parents or relatives who at the same time bought a new car
  • it was the gift of their parents who are rich enough to give each of their children multiple 100$ per month as pocket money
  • they are car fanatics who spend all their money in car parts and have no money for anything else and already have a full-time job and don't go to school anymore

because you are unlikely to save much more money for a better car from the summer jobs at age 15-18.

I don't know the specifics about your skills, mental disorders and the conditions in your area, but here are some ideas to temporarily improve your income:

  • gastronomy on weekend
  • saisonal jobs where companies have a spike in need of employees like in winter tourism in winter, the public swimming pools in summer, a company doing a promotion, ...
  • baby sitting, mowing lawns in the neighborhood, private lessons for younger students, ...
  • using your skills for neighbors like repairing computers when you are good at computers or helping a neighbor who is building/renovating his house

but I don't for example if you mean with mental disorders something which would prevent you from working directly with customers.

I don't know your local laws and benefit programs, but here are some fitting ones from my country for which you can look if they are also available in Ohio and if you/your family qualify for them:

  • school assistance for low income families
  • child assistance for low income families
  • emergency financial aid and minimum social security benefits since you earn much below the poverty line (but might be prevented because you are still going to school and are a dependent of your parents)
  • multiple disability assistance programs for recurring and on-demand costs
  • multiple disability assistance programs for help finding a job
  • In my country there is also a kind of super market chain which is operates in cooperation with charities where you can only buy if you are below an income threshold where they sell for example bread much cheaper because it is older than a week but still good

Since you are looking for working more hours, I assume you will find time to look them up online. I added some of those points because you hinted that you want to support yourself independently. But I advise you not to do this in your current situation because as you recognized yourself, it would be extremely hard to impossible. I don't know your reasons for it and I hope it is not something like you are mistreated by your family but with this amount of money it will be even hard to pay for eating let alone things like a place to sleep, heating, money for gas for your car, ... . In my country there are state sponsored shelters for homeless people and assisted living places for people with disabilities, but since your family seems caring enough about you that they pay part of your car insurance, I think you have a better place at your family, at least until you had a full-time job for multiple months.

Also don't forget that not all have that much money as it seems. Many fake it or spend more money than they have or hide it because they don't want others not to know about it. For example there was a friendly, always smiling girl in the class below me at whom you wouldn't suspect any problems in her life whom I gave my old school books after I learned that she had even less than me and lost her dad long ago. Or a couple in their 20s with a small child and both working (I think it was part time because they didn't find something better or it was with child care). Also nice and normal at the first glance, couldn't even afford a cheap car for years. What I want to say, is, don't believe that all live the good life they seem to live and don't measure yourself with it and don't be disappointed if yours isn't like the one that others seem to be living. Especially advertisers and influencers/stars on platforms like Instagram try to let others believe that they live a better life than they are.

Dozens of job applications and 3 months are on the lower end if you don't have much job experience. This is, what it took me after years of my first full-time job and with high above average grades (most likely because I am not good at talking and presenting myself at job interviews). So don't give up and ask friends/relatives/friends of the family if they know a position because sometimes job offers are not published in public. As I have written above, you can also look for disability employment programs and there are recruitment company specialized in this like specialisterne.

I wish you the best :)

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