Budgeting for a bootcamp

The $15,000 or $18,000 price tag advertised on a bootcamp’s website can be misleading when you’re trying to sort out your finances. Make sure you understand exactly how much you need to save before quitting your job and committing to a new career. Getting this step correct will avoid so much stress, as you’ll know exactly how big of a runway you have.

Most people will calculate living expenses for the 12-week duration of the bootcamp and forget to factor in the job search period which can be just as long.

Tuition

This is the big number most people have in their heads when considering a bootcamp program, generally between $10K and $20K for a good program. Some programs charge upfront, others have a deferred tuition model where you pay based on your starting salary.

If you opt for a deferred tuition program, read the contract very closely – the bootcamp may require you to perform your job search in the specific city of the bootcamp for 6 or 12 months – this additional time should be factored into your living expenses.

Housing ($7,000 – $15,000)

Most bootcamps worth attending are able to brag about their placement rates because they train students in a market that is thirsting for people. This usually means you’ll need to move to a city with astronomical rent prices like SF or NY. You’ll not only be living in one of the most expensive rent markets in the world, you’ll also want to live relatively close so the commute doesn’t eat up 4 hours every day. Six months in these cities can cost as much as the bootcamp tuition. Make sure to add 10% for utilities and internet.

Food ($2,000 – $5,000)

If you are not an avid cooker already, you probably won’t make any huge changes during the program. It doesn’t help that you’re moving to a city with some of the best and most accessible restaurants in America. Plan to eat out twice a day for at least 12 weeks. After the core curriculum is done, you will have a bit more time to plan out your meals and make better life choices (I didn’t).

Soylent is made for these programs. An entire day’s nutritional requirements in prepackaged bottles. No prep, no cleanup, and you can ‘eat’ while studying. Try it out for a week before committing – it’s not for everyone.

Transportation ($750 – $1,400)

Hopefully the housing accommodations you chose are close enough to the bootcamp that you can rely on public transit. Having to pay for parking or scour the city streets looking for an open spot drains precious time and money. Forcing yourself to study which days you can and can’t park on a certain side of the street takes away coding time. Besides, public transit is the best place to review materials and study algorithms.

Entertainment ($700)

Beers with classmates, a museum ticket to keep yourself from going insane, a night to go see the latest Avengers movie, your Netflix subscription. The process is a grind and you need a few nights out to keep from hating your life.

 

Ways to save

Depending on the program you selected and how cushy you want your bootcamp lifestyle to be, you should try to save $20 – $40K before enrolling.

If you already live in the area, consider tolerating a longer commute so you can stay with parents or a relative rent-free. Don’t waste the commute by napping or browsing Facebook, use it to do some offline studying (your recall will be really good when you practice with no internet!). If you do this, use the bootcamp’s address on your resume – companies are more likely to take a chance with someone when they’re local.

Opt for the deferred tuition model. On paper, a 23% commission of an average starting salary of $110K is much higher than a $15,000 flat fee. But that’s $25K you’re paying while you’re working versus $15K you’re spending before you have anything to show for it. Programs have more vested interest in your success when they offer a deferred tuition model, and they will hire more career coaches to get you employed and out the door.

If you have any other tips, feel free to leave a comment!

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