So, this Friday I get my first official postdoc check …. YES!!! Well, I shouldn’t celebrate, being that I will need to spend most of it to a) buy health coverage, b) get furniture to replace the pieces I left/sold prior to relocating, and c) pay some of the more than 20k I ran in debt while being in grad school.
I also need to take into account that out of my >3000 CADs stipend (Canadian dollars), I must save ~25% for when tax season comes. I’d love to pay my 23,793$ in debt in no time, but for the first few months I’m here I’d also like to save some money for (hopefully) next year’s vacay with the boyfriend and his parents. I also need a computer, possibly a laptop since my 2004 Dell is in good condition, but has no monitor and runs a bit slow (plus I don’t have a personal computer at work, I used to have one when I was in grad school).
Let’s break down the monthly costs of living as a postdoc and sharing an apartment with the BF:
- Rent is 985$, which we break in half.
- Cell phone – ~50$
- Car insurance – for 2 people 230$ (I know it’s a lot, I didn’t shop around).
- Card payments: Card 1- owe 14100, with a minimum payment of 350/mo. Card 2- owe 4600, with a min. payment of 130$. Card 3-owe 4090, with a min. payment of 95$ and a 4th account, for which I owe 930$.
This does not take into account gas expenses for the car, and any maintanance fees/charges associated with keeping your car running and functioning well. It also does not take into account that I rarely cook, since I’m either too tired, or lazy, or just plain too stressed.
I’d love to knock out 2 of those debts by the end of this year. It’s a promise I made to myself prior to starting in my new lab. I hate living in debt, especially because I had no real reason to get in debt, other than wanting to live the american dream and trying to fill in gaps and things in my life with nothing other than stuff.
I knocked a couple of smaller debts prior to moving, but I’d love to be able to stop feeling guilty everytime I cannot afford something I like, yet put it on the card because I “need it/deserve it). I’d love to stop feeling guilty about not telling the BF I’m in debt, because of my own irresponsibility. I’d love to purchase the things I need right out my pocket, without using a credit card. That’s my true dream. Not to have a fancy lab and tons of expensive equipment. My dream is to live debt free, to enjoy life and to stop worrying about money …. live as I used to back in college.
So you see, because of stupid mistakes I’ve made I cannot truly enjoy the fruits of my labour and sacrifice now that I have my first real job. Instead, because I was too stupid and consumed by capitalism, a weak mentality and laziness, I robbed myself of that chance. And I’ll be dammed if I let this happen again, and if I don’t warn future grad students and postdocs about the importance of planning and staying out of debt.
My dears, save your money. I know it’s hard, especially when you have a truly hellish day/week/month/year in the lab or at school. But like Dave Ramsey says, you need to live below your means, so you can live like no one else because you’ve done things like no one else (referring to saving money and spending it wisely).
My goal for now is to keep paying my debts, use the debt snowball method and in ~ 2 years finally knock this debt off. I don’t know if I’ll have the same job next year (I hope I do a great job in the lab and the reviews go well); but if not, I’d love to reduce my debt significantly, so that I can live like no one else.
I’ll write more about this later. And also, about any and all progress I make towards erasing my debts.