The Sister

I mentioned in my last post that my sister will probably be moving in with me. This is a HUGE change.

She’s 16, she’s going to be a senior in high school in the fall graduating in December. Her high school is online and the last semester she won’t have any classes that require actual “in the class” time. We had talked before about her coming and staying with me for a few weeks on Facebook.

Well, my sister has had continual issues with her mom (she’s my half sister, we share a dad). And a lot of those issues I completely understand and sympathize with. After my dad married my (now-ex) step mother I didn’t visit him again because she was a very difficult person to live with and be around. I could only imagine how much worse it would be as her daughter.

Things haven’t gotten much better for my dad since I last wrote about him. He has been taking care of my grandma who (at 95) is getting much worse in her condition and requires essentially 24/7 care. He still continues to work part-time at Costco. However, my aunt has decided that he  has outstayed his welcome in her home and has asked him to leave. She and my cousin will take over the responsibility of taking care of my grandma. I don’t think they fully understand how much work this will be.

My dad was initially very put out about being asked to leave, but from talking to him recently he seems to have found a peace about it. He can now go out and find himself a full-time job that he couldn’t get while taking care of my grandma. He’s moving in with a friend for the time being. So the moral of the story is, that while my sister would normally go and stay with my dad – my dad himself is going to be squatting with non-family. Thus, I have volunteered to take my sister for as long as she wants to stay with me.

I have mentioned my sister before in this blog. She is one of my primary motivations to become financially solvent. I want to be able to help her pay for college as much as I can. I want her to go to a 4-year school her freshman year and live in the dorms. After that she can live off campus or even switch schools if she wants, but there is an important development that occurs and relationships that are built in that first year in the dorms. All of my friends from college are people that I met in the dorms.

So she’ll be staying with me as she finishes high school in December. The apartment I’m in is just around the corner from a very good community college, so I’ll get her enrolled in classes for the Spring semester after she graduates high school if she decides to stay with me. And I’ll get her to take her entrance exams for college and get all the application due dates together for schools that we decide that she can afford to go to/she wants to go to.

My location in Kansas is such that she would be able to drive from my apartment to three different major state universities. All of which have a great emphasis in the fields that she wants to study. So if she wanted to stay in the state she could also use me as a home base for her applications to these schools.

The school that I will teach at also offers tuition remission for spouses and dependents of their employees starting your second year of employment. I mentioned this to my dad. I am not sure what will happen, but there is a possibility that my sister may become my legal dependent for the purposes of school tuition. Then she can continue to stay with me after her freshman year (my school requires ALL freshman to live in the dorms), so her room and board will be essentially nothing after her first year. My second year the remission would be 25%, my third year is would be 50%, my fourth year it would be 75%, and my fifth year it would be 100%. So she could get a private, liberal arts education for the cost of 1.5 years of school (or about $30,000 total including room and board that first year). Still a lot of money, but very little for a private education. Also, she’ll probably qualify for some scholarships on top of this. This is all hypothetical of course.

Okay, now how my sister living with me impacts ME.

First, I had to rent a 2-bedroom apartment. It was still within my budget, but costs more obviously than a 1 bedroom. (Also, my bedroom will be smaller, BOO!)

Second, I’ll have to buy more food. Granted my sister has had to live very frugally living with my dad and her mom who have both not had more than a part time job in the past two years. I also know that when my sister is there I’ll be more likely to “eat out” – but we may have to just make these for special occasions (like pay day).

Third, I’ll have to buy some furniture. She’ll need a bed in her room. I looked online and a place in Kansas near my apartment offers some really good Mix & Match box/mattress deals. Pillow top twin bed sets for $190. Can’t really beat that for a new bed. I’ll probably get a double so I can make the bedroom a true “guest” room, but I’ll check this out after I see the size of the room. Ideally I wanted my second room to be a “craft” room. So I may just get the twin and get some sort of desk in there that will double as a sewing table when she leaves (if she leaves). I’ll also need to get her some sort of clothes storage system. Will probably just go thrift store/garage sale/Craigslist shopping for this with her. There is a dresser I like at Ikea that would match the wood I want to put in the room, but it isn’t exactly the most “frugal” purchase. Especially because I (personally) think that dressers aren’t worth the money. I hang all my clothes and then have some $15 under the bed storage containers for my underwear/pajamas/ect. I suppose I could just get those for her and tell her to deal with it. 😉

Fourth, my social life. Of all the issues that her moving effects, my social life is the one that I’m most worried about. It will be more difficult to date, my challenging to stay out late with friends at a bar, actually more difficult in general to make friends, because I’ll have my sister “in tow” for much of these adventures. Yes, I know that she’ll understand that I have to go out on dates and stuff. But it is very different since she’s younger. I lived with my brother for a time while he was sick, and these things weren’t issues because I had already established friendships, my brother was an adult (20), and half the time my brother was in the hospital anyway. It will make things more challenging, but in the dating arena it will probably make me more selective of who I “bring home” – which to be honest – is probably a good thing.

Fifth, her social life. Since we will only have one car between us, her social life will also become one of my priorities. I’ll have to drive her to visit friends, potentially drive her to work, ect, ect. She claims she already has a friend in the area (she has a lot of people she knows online because of her favorite band), so I assume they would want to meet pretty quickly after she comes. If she stays longer than the 3 months, I’ll probably consider buying a second car for her to use. That adds in the cost of the car for me (I’d give her my old one and get a “newer” one for me), insurance, ect. I’d make her pay for her own gas.

There are a lot of unknowns and things to consider about her moving with me, but they are all things I will deal with and handle. The main concern is being clear with her about my financial situation, how much money we’ll have to spend on things in a two weeks period, and teach her how to handle money in the process.

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10 Responses to The Sister

  1. lifeasapurse says:

    I’m so proud of you for taking this on. Not that I am saying it is a burden, as I know it is family, but you are being really awesome about this whole thing. Your sister is so lucky to have you!

  2. Remember you sister is living under your roof and needs you to model the way for her. You can work together to make the household work. My brother moved with me last year. It hasn’t been easy but it has it flow now. When it comes to wants vs. needs your sister can work to pay for part or all of her wants.

    Depending on your income you may be able to qualify for assistances like food stamps. When I was in college and working part-time, I qualified and it was a big help.

  3. TeacHer says:

    It sounds like you’re doing a great thing for your sister. I have a number of students being raised by older siblings, and I have to say, they’re all very well-adjusted. I think it’s preferable to being raised by other family members (like a grandparent, for example) because you’re older than her by enough of a margin that she’ll respect you, but young enough that you have the energy to keep tabs on her and not accept goofy excuses for bad behavior – although, based on what you’ve said here, it doesn’t seem like bad behavior will be an issue.

    Kudos to you for stepping up to the plate!

  4. Huh. Her social life? isn’t that what bicycles are for:)

    Try ebay for furniture or a thrift strore

    • TMcImmy says:

      Bicycles are great, but in Kansas they’re no good at least 3 months out of the year due to cold and wet/snow. I agree that in the short/medium term 1 car + bicycle(s) is the best plan for them, but depending on her education plans, at some point she’ll probably want a car.

  5. Sharon says:

    You are doing a wonderful thing…what a wonderful sister you are!

  6. Pingback: Link Love Round-up: July 23rd (the 99th post edition) | Paying Myself

  7. what a wonderful big sis you are!

  8. Jen says:

    You might want to check out the free furniture listings in your local Craigslist and Freecycle.org My son outfitted his entire apartment with free stuff from those places.

    You can also use the listings for your “box” of stuff you intend to garage sale some day.

  9. munchkin says:

    Thats really great you are doing that for your sister. I honestly don’t think I could do it.

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