financial discussions with the girl next door

School. March 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlnextdoorfinance @ 8:47 pm

Man, thinking about money is REALLY no fun while I’m back in school. I’ve been accepted to a couple of PhD programs and will probably start one in the fall, which means I have another 4 years (maybe more) of being broke like this ALL THE TIME.

Right now it looks like I’ll be moving to Boston in the fall. I’m still waiting to hear from a school in Washington DC, and if I get in there then that’s a possibility for the fall. Hopefully when the move happens (regardless of where I go) I’ll be able to start focusing on money stuff again. Not because I’ll have money and it’ll be fun, but because I’ll be super, super broke and paying crazy cost of living expenses, so I’ll have a stronger need to focus on money.

Right now I make enough money to cover my bills and have still been contributing $200 per month to my Roth IRA. During PhD, I’m not sure that I will even be able to manage that, and for the first year I’ll likely be living almost entirely on student loans. At the program I am most interested in, I’ve been offered a research assistantship for next year, and will have the option of teaching during the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years. I spoke with some students in the program who told me that after the first year, you can usually scrape by on the money you make teaching (taking out minimal or no additional loans).

The entire PhD admission and decision process has been quite expensive, taking most of the money I had left over each month. When it’s all said and done, I’ll try to total up my expenses for the whole process. I can tell you right now, though, that I’ve been to Boston twice to visit programs there (including a last-minute trip last week over my spring break, because one school I’ve applied to requires a $400 non-refundable deposit to hold your spot by 20 March, and I really wanted to visit the program before making a decision).

Any advice or suggestions to someone who is now re-evaluating long-term finances and planning to be super broke for 4+ years? I feel like the preparations I need to take (especially mentally!) are very different than they were a year ago when I was considering the one-year Master’s program that I am doing right now.

And a side note, for anyone who may care :)
My focus on school rather than this blog and other fun personal finance stuff has paid off to some degree. I have been offered a decent (though not awesome) package at the school I visited last week, and I was told on Monday that I’ve been named this year’s Outstanding Graduate Student for my department (one other person also received this honor).


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