Here's how to use the calculator:
First, select your city.
Then, decide if you're going to live alone or not. If you select roommate, the calculator will factor in the amount you would save by having roommates to split the cost of a three-bedroom apartment, instead of a one-bedroom all to yourself.
Next, choose the lifestyle choices that apply to you. You can select as many or as few as you like. Are you a jetsetter who plans to travel a lot for fun? Will you spend extra by buying organic at places like Whole Foods? Or will you save by going green and driving a hybrid car and using public transportation? Will you have a pet, belong to a gym, or play philanthropist by donating a bunch to charity?
The related costs for each activity will be factored in depending on your city — a gym membership will cost less in Tampa than in New York City.
If you plan to spend on shopping, go ahead and hit the fashionista button. If you want to eat out a lot, select foodie. If you want a nice, luxury apartment, hit MTV Cribs. If bottle service (or at least a few mojitos) are your thing, note that you're a party animal. Remember that dating also typically carries a cost.
If you're a student, or you're uninsured, add that too.
This calculator is built primarily for the childless — kids, of course, come with a whole slew of costs that also vary depending on where you live.
Yiren Lu is a senior studying mathematics and computer science at Harvard.
Contact Yiren Lu at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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