This week has been an emotional one for me. I don’t do well with an overwhelming change in schedule and right now I feel like my life is going at warp speed. Currently I’m trying to get a paper published but am running into technical issues with the last few experiments I need to get done and that struggle translates into 12 hour days, I’m working hard for my program’s recruitment weekend that’s coming up in February, and am stressed about figuring out how to save extra money or make extra money to put towards our loans. We had a tense conversation two nights ago about how we need to cut back on eating out, going to bars, whether or not we should pick up tutoring jobs on top of our current lab work and classes, our approach to spending extra money (like that $400 I won), and how long we’re going to be in debt. I’m facing the reality of our situation and it’s hit me hard, so my natural response is to DO ALL THE THINGS to make it better. I want our debt to be gone right now, and I want to figure out all the ways to do it right now. That’s not realistic at all (especially considering how much we owe), but it’s my Type-A way of feeling like I can make a difference.
(Kim feels my pain)
In the end the conversation was helpful. When my life moves fast I move fast, but I don’t necessarily share those thoughts and actions with my husband because I’m either trying to a) protect him from my emotional craziness or b) don’t want to stress him out further about our situation. He does the same thing with me and then we end up in a non-communication hole, which eventually turns into all the communication at once, and then we both get stressed and upset. So our approach from here on out is to check in with each other more frequently about money and talk about how we’re feeling about it.
A few easy things I know we can do right now are to cut back on eating out, making coffee and bringing it to work, and reserving meals out or bar nights for special occasions. Sure, a happy hour beer once a week won’t hurt us in the long run and will probably help our mental states (grad school is really, really hard), and I don’t want to completely restrict our fun just because we have student loans. However, we spend wayyyy too much going out (around $500 last month) and can definitely be more mindful of our choices. I’m also looking into a few side hustles that I’ll be posting about later, and want to start selling my clothes or equipment I’m no longer using so that we’ll have more space in our apartment and hopefully make a few extra dollars to put towards debt or use for a night out.
I have to keep reminding myself that we aren’t in a terrible position. We have about 3 months worth of expenses in our emergency fund, enough money for our travel this summer in our travel fund, some extra savings that we still need to figure out what to do with, and an investment account that we use for a few stocks. Our life in Seattle is pretty cushy and we both have full-time jobs that pay a livable stipend and provides health benefits for the time being. Now the focus is going to be on debt repayment, and how we can begin saving at least 20% of our income. I truly believe we can do that with a few small changes to our lifestyle, and that eventually we’ll be on autopilot and won’t have to be so concerned about making these choices since they’ll come naturally. Since I like to make lists here are my goals for February:
1. Make coffee every morning at home & bring to work
2. Make and bring lunch to work every day of the week
3. Limit eating out (restaurants, take-out) to once per week or less
4. Limit happy hours/bar outings to once per week or less
5. Research side-hustles and get one going
It’s not rocket science – bringing my lunch to work every day should be simple, especially since The Frugalwoods just gave out their awesome vegetarian lunch recipe that they use every week. The key is planning ahead so that when we do have long days we don’t have to spend extra time grocery shopping (which translates to ordering take out or buying lunch) and instead will be all set for the week.
And lastly…..GO HAWKS!!!!!