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Old 03-06-2012, 07:14 AM
 
Location: Arlington, VA and Washington, DC
23,638 posts, read 33,429,727 times
Reputation: 32355

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As most know I'm currently trying to secure employment back in NoVA. I have received referrals for GS-5 positions in NoVA. Now say I hook one (which I know is a longshot but let's just say if) how do most who make GS-5 money in the DMV manage to survive? I currently live on $12 on hour in Louisville, pretty decently even with some debt.

I have a paid off car that should last at least a couple of more years, I'm willing to rent a room or even (gulp) roommates, learning how to cook a bit so hopefully I can draw down on eating out and going out. I do have student loans that I'm going to have to start paying on at the end of the year.

So what are your tips? Also I've seen that I can get elevated to a GS-6 provided that superior academic achievement happens which is above a 3.0 GPA on some hiring announcements. Is that the case with most agencies?
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Old 03-06-2012, 07:25 AM
 
1,783 posts, read 3,361,195 times
Reputation: 1374
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alanboy395 View Post
As most know I'm currently trying to secure employment back in NoVA. I have received referrals for GS-5 positions in NoVA. Now say I hook one (which I know is a longshot but let's just say if) how do most who make GS-5 money in the DMV manage to survive? I currently live on $12 on hour in Louisville, pretty decently even with some debt.

I have a paid off car that should last at least a couple of more years, I'm willing to rent a room or even (gulp) roommates, learning how to cook a bit so hopefully I can draw down on eating out and going out. I do have student loans that I'm going to have to start paying on at the end of the year.

So what are your tips? Also I've seen that I can get elevated to a GS-6 provided that superior academic achievement happens which is above a 3.0 GPA on some hiring announcements. Is that the case with most agencies?
You can actually apply for GS-7 jobs with the superior academic achievement rating. I think you have the right attitude to do ok here. You will probably have to just rent a room out and you likely won't be in the exact location you want. But it's doable. Make sure any job you apply for is a ladder track though so that you can get your promotions each year and move up. So if you start as 5 make sure it's 5/7/9 or higher.
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Old 03-06-2012, 07:29 AM
 
Location: Censorshipville...
2,711 posts, read 6,264,230 times
Reputation: 1579
What step?

I remember about 10yrs ago when I started contracting I was making around 40k. I was able to afford a 1bdrm apt for about 1k a month plus utilities. I had no car payment or school loans so I was pretty comfortable. I knew how to cook so I brought in lunch about 3 days a week and still managed to go out to eat a few times a week. Also had enough money to play pool at Fast Eddies one or two times a week. Still managed to put money away in savings.

My advice is to learn how to cook good tasting food. If it doesn't taste good, you're not going to want to eat it so why bother wasting the money to throw it out. Eating leftovers will save you a ton of money.

Cut your extraneous expenses. I was able to ditch my gym membership 'cause the apt. had a small gym. No need for a land line since I had a cell phone. No TV service, though I did NEED high speed internet.
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Old 03-06-2012, 07:53 AM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,740 posts, read 8,973,313 times
Reputation: 3858
The three biggest things you can do to save money:

1. Ditch the car and avail yourself of the free public transit (at least, free up to $120/month) courtesy of Uncle Sam. (That does most likely mean taking a bus, as living near a rail station will mean high rents.) 2. Eat out rarely, and don't drink at bars at all. 3. As others have suggested, get roommates.

Other things willl help (e.g., scrapping the landline and cable TV), but the three things above will have the biggest impact.

Best of luck.
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Old 03-06-2012, 07:54 AM
 
Location: Fairfax County
1,534 posts, read 3,322,497 times
Reputation: 507
If you land a position, be sure to ask about student loan repayment. Some agencies have student loan repayment plans, but many are capped based on how many employees are already using the benefit.

Student Loan Repayment Program
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Old 03-06-2012, 08:10 AM
 
Location: DMV
10,136 posts, read 11,645,983 times
Reputation: 3181
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alanboy395 View Post
As most know I'm currently trying to secure employment back in NoVA. I have received referrals for GS-5 positions in NoVA. Now say I hook one (which I know is a longshot but let's just say if) how do most who make GS-5 money in the DMV manage to survive? I currently live on $12 on hour in Louisville, pretty decently even with some debt.

I have a paid off car that should last at least a couple of more years, I'm willing to rent a room or even (gulp) roommates, learning how to cook a bit so hopefully I can draw down on eating out and going out. I do have student loans that I'm going to have to start paying on at the end of the year.

So what are your tips? Also I've seen that I can get elevated to a GS-6 provided that superior academic achievement happens which is above a 3.0 GPA on some hiring announcements. Is that the case with most agencies?
Let's just say my grade is much higher than a 5 and I ask myself that all the time . Given that you are just starting out, I would say getting to a position now that will provide comfort to you will help you in the long run. As you start in the government, your salary will increase (not sure what your grade potential is for the positions you applied for) and that means that it will become much easier. Maybe the best thing to do is to live modestly for a year or two and make some sacrifices. That may mean getting a roommate, using public transportation as other have mentioned and also cutting back on eating out (I know not fun).

But what I have found is by doing these things, a year or two from that point, you will be in a great financial position to have more luxuries. That is how my wife and I have survived. My best advice to you is, if you can, PAY OFF YOUR DEBT. Debt follows you forever and ever if you neglect it. It honestly makes a huge difference in how far your money goes. Some people focus on salary, but the reality is, if you have a lot of debt, getting a high salary will be negated, but if you pay it off, a modest salary for an entry level government employee can go a long way to living comfortably up here. Good luck with the job search.
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Old 03-06-2012, 08:24 AM
 
4,043 posts, read 4,853,919 times
Reputation: 10630
Start learning how to cook now so you've got the essentials down before the move happens. You don't want to be spending money on the learning curve after you're already working on a reduced disposable income amount. Youtube has lots of technique videos so you know how to properly use a knife, how to cut round objects, how to sautee properly, etc. If you only get one cookbook, get a basic one (Bittman's "How To Cook Everything" for example). Rachel Ray's "Week In a Day" cooking show on the Food Network is a good one for fairly inexperienced cooks that sets out a full menu that uses the leftovers from one meal as a base for another meal later in the week. Alton Brown's Good Eats is another if you're interested in the why this works approach to cooking.
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:31 AM
 
Location: NoVA
230 posts, read 1,050,320 times
Reputation: 124
Tip to survive as a GS-5 in DC area: Obtain your GS-7 quick.
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Old 03-07-2012, 01:25 PM
 
100 posts, read 145,203 times
Reputation: 37
Getting the front door is important ... get the gs-5 position somewhere you can advance, as others stated here. You are absoltuely better off climbing the ladder at the fedgov than making 12 bucks an hour at the dmv in lousiville, even if you struggle to make ends meet here.
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Old 03-07-2012, 01:40 PM
 
2,728 posts, read 7,363,563 times
Reputation: 1062
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZakAttack View Post
Tip to survive as a GS-5 in DC area: Obtain your GS-7 quick.
Find a single woman who is currently working and that 7+7 = 14.
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