From 1982 to 1986, I attended Northeast Missouri State University in Kirksville, MO (it’s now called Truman State University).

My tuition coverage was fairly balanced; my parents paid for two years, I got a grant one year, and took out a loan for the last year.

At the end of my freshman year, I got kicked out of the dorm (for which my parents were paying) for smoking pot. No biggie, I was wanting to move off-campus anyway.

I knew an apartment would probably cost more than the dorm, and my folks wouldn’t like that – plus, you don’t get the meals bundled into the dorm package.

I decided I needed a job to pay for rent, bills and food. So, like most folks back in the day, I looked in the local newspaper.

Lo and behold: an ad wanting a guitarist for a local band. I called, auditioned, and was hired.

For three years, we played pretty much every Friday and Saturday. There were five members in the band and we usually made $250 a night. My weekly take: $100. Monthly average: $400. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but always cash under the table.

I had a roommate, and our rent was $150, so that was $75. Split utilities were another $25. So I had $300 a month for weed, booze, and food. I moved around a decent amount, but that was the average.

Weed: Liked the good stuff, so about $125 per month. Back then that bought a lot of sharing with friends and long drawn-out stories.

Booze: Would usually pay for it about 12 times a month (we generally got free drinks while playing at bars). Always got the cheapest rotgut and piss beer. Usually bought booze and brought it to a party. I’d say $10 a pop, so around $120 per month.

Food: That’s roughly $65 a month for food, toiletries, all and sundries, etc. Sometimes, if we had a few days off for the month, I only had $5 a week for food. PROTIP: A dozen eggs and a cheap loaf of bread will make several meals.

Any leftover money: Used to bribe local officials.

MORAL OF THE STORY: If you can pay your bills by strictly being an artist, do it. It’s worth the egg sandwiches.

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