Sunday, August 31, 2014

Soon-to-be a Ph.D.

Hi there!

I have a new blog. For my doctoral seminar course we have to keep a blog about our journey through the program this semester, and I am hoping to keep up with it for the entirety of my program. I may link certain posts here if they are relevant, but go ahead and check it out! I promise not to make it totally academic, so hopefully it will be a good read into my mind about my studies that week:)!

Check it out at:

As for my first week of classes- so far, VERY good decision:) Loving all my readings and courses. I feel this will improve my professional work as well as my personal life satisfaction. I am excited!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Why is it so hard to know what you actually want?

What a whirlwind of a few weeks!

Making decisions is hard. I had the worst time and range of emotions throughout my decision on whether or not to go for my Ph.D., and, if I decided to, when to begin the process. I found it really hard to actually KNOW what it was I wanted. It was exciting to think about (I mean, getting a doctorate is a huge honor and accomplishment), but when it came down to it, was I ready? The whole process was accelerated and unexpected as I went from going to an information session in June (just to get some ideas!) to being offered a tentative spot a few weeks later, to applying right when I got back from Greece, to hearing nothing for weeks, and then finally getting an official acceptance just a week before class began, which I then had to ruminate over and ended up accepting the day before orientation. WHEW!

Many questions were going through my head to make a final decision. Did I want to keep living as I was for the next year and then go back to school? Did I want to stay in my same career forever? Did I want to work in high school or college? How did I want to use my finances? Did I want to get involved with something outside of work? Did I want to keep working side jobs for extra money as a way to spend my time? Was dating going to lead to my happiness or was it going to be something else within myself (I know, I know, stupid question, but keep in mind I am 28)? Could I stick with this decision for the next 4-5 years?

My thoughts on all this changed daily, and it resulted in a few weeks of me being in a "funk" and having a hard time. In life you make so many decisions; some big and some small; some with a lot of information to process and others with none; and you grow and learn from the good and bad in those decisions. This felt like a big decision, because I knew it would change me. I would become a different person professionally and personally from this journey. It would change my whole life and some of my priorities (good-bye traveling budget to pay for school!). Was I ready?

The answer came down to a very simple question: Would I be completely happy doing as I have been doing for the last few months for the next year or so? Was my job and extracurriculars and travels going to be enough? I decided it wasn't. As much a I live for traveling, I knew that waiting every few months for a big trip was not going to result in me being my best self, no matter how fun those trips are. I wanted to challenge myself again, do better work in my own job, and really put myself to the test of accomplishing a goal that has been in the back of my mind since I was in graduate school. I needed to do this for myself and my mind, or at least try to do it.

When it comes down to it- I LOVE school. I always have. I had a really hard time adjusting to the working world after graduate school, because it felt like a huge part of me was missing. It took me a while to figure out what it was that I needed to do to bring out a different side of myself in place of that aspect. I have always missed it, so I am very excited (and overwhelmed) with the possibility of being able to hopefully permanently be in a "school" position. My goal with this Ph.D. is to teach, advise and research, and that to me is very, very, very exciting. I will have the options to combine traveling with education and hopefully move somewhere when I am done to start a new life. Luckily, I can do this program part-time (2 classes per semester), and should be done with the classes in 3 years before I begin writing my dissertation.

Here's to the next 4-5 years of  "fun!"

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Saving Money in Your Twenties

At book club last night, some ladies and I were talking about spending money. We were lamenting on how expensive it is to date and be social, because you end up going out frequently for dinners, drinks and entertainment, and therefore spend more money than you would have left to your own devices. We also talked about how hard it is to not spend money when you are not working (aka when educators have their summer's off), because you aren't as busy and end up going out more. I remember feeling that way the past few summers and it being really hard to balance doing things but not spending too much money during my time off. That was one of the reasons I liked to have a summer job- not only to MAKE money but for keeping me from SPENDING money.

I am a big believer in frugal living, which I have talked about here. One of the big ways I save money is by reading as much as I do- I go to the library to get books for free (I love going to Barnes and Nobles and seeing their racks of recommended books and then requesting them at a local library), and they obviously provide hours and hours of entertainment. You can also read ANYWHERE, so I bring a book with me daily to keep from buying things or doing something costly when I have downtime during my day (like when killing time between appointments/meetings or just a slow day at work). I also have very basic cable plans (no DVR or multiple boxes because you can watch everything On Demand or online), pay almost nothing for my cell phone, and don't go out to eat much. With friends, we run or walk or just hang out at people's porches more than we actually GO places. I also usually eat at home and just order a drink or dessert when I am out OR just try to be budget-conscious when I am eating out. I don't like concerts, buy most of my gifts/do my shopping online at Amazon (thank you, Prime!) so I can find the best deals and not get caught up in what I see in the store that I don't need, drive an old, basic car that is paid off, and I am an anti-hoarder, so I don't buy knick-knacks. I want my money to go to travel and not necessary mundane things every month. All of this is how I live as frugal as possible.

A blog I really like showcased her monthly expenses as an example of how she lives, so I figured I would do that same (because I also think saving is FUN)! This is what a typical month looks like for me:

Mortgage/Insurance: $880
Condo Fees (including gym, lawn car, trash service, and pool): $200
Gas: $105 (I wish I didn't work so far away from my condo, but I can't give up city living!)
Groceries: $240
Cable/Internet: $96
Gas: $17
Power: $50
Cell Phone: $25 (thank you, not having a smart phone!)
Restaurants/Entertainment: $100
Shopping: $100 (usually for weddings, showers or birthdays...I typically only buy myself things at the end of the month when I know what I have remaining)

That totals to roughly: $1813/month. Give or take a little bit depending on the month:)

The rest of my money goes to a Roth IRA that I maximize each year, a certain amount of pre-taxed money goes to a 457(b), and the rest to savings or additional principal on my mortgage once my savings is high enough. My health insurance comes out of my paycheck, so that only affects my take-home pay. I pay off my credit card every month so I don't have to pay interest, and I don't believe in credit cards that have fees:) I think I do pretty well overall!

How do you do with a budget? Any tips for me or ways you like to save?