Author Topic: Where to start?/Maybe I need a Face-Punch.  (Read 2441 times)

PhDifferent

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Where to start?/Maybe I need a Face-Punch.
« on: December 17, 2013, 05:47:30 PM »
Hello Folks!

MMM has always been on my reading list, I spend a lot of my tea breaks combing over the forums. However, I always felt like I was stuck in neutral as I don't have a full-time/established career. Yet. Still, I think I've done some good, albeit small, things over the past while. So, a case study...without much of a case yet.

The Sitch':

* I'm 30, Finishing my PhD (Social Sciences).
* Job: Part time (3 days/week) as a policy analyst for the Gov't. Contract goes until the spring and I'd say an 'okay' chance (trying to be optimistic, but realistic given the current climate) of getting on full-time after student contract is up. I'm working my butt off so that I know that should my contract not get renewed it was because of something out of my control (i.e. budget) rather than how I did at the job. So far everyone seems to be happy with the work I'm doing.
*Finances: By the time my contract is up, I should have about $8,000.00 saved. This includes deducting living expenses (I live at home, have been for a bit over a year now, previous to that I'd been on my own for about 8 years. I contribute to gas, groceries, food, and I help around the house).

The Good (Habits): Most of these are small accomplishments and 'attitudes' that lend themselves well to full-on Mustachianism once I'm done school.

- I'm still going on my own iPhone 3G and I'm going to run it into the ground. If/when it does, I will save for and buy a phone in full. Sadly I'm in the sticks and can't get a cheaper carrier a la Wind. Phone has long been paid off, so my current contract is month to month with the Dev-...Rogers. Once I move to the city, switching to a cheaper plan.
- I largely make my own 'beauty' products quite cheaply and in bulk (face cleaner, shampoo, etc) and haven't bought any makeup in over a year and a half, because I don't wear it much anymore - not because I have too much ;) And, this is from a former product junkie, so, a small step. When I do need clothes (i.e. skirt of dress pants for work), I shop at the local thrift stores. Even this is rare.
- I've identified that I like to buy gifts and do things (i.e. lend $, buy groceries) for other people as a way of expressing 'care'. This, however, isn't always good for me and I sometimes run the risk of putting myself out - so, I've cut back and been well within budget for this Christmas.
- My husband (American, moving to Canada in the spring) is also pretty frugal we don't plan on having children. He loves his TV...though, he might not after he sees the cost in Canada. I could care less about TV, I don't even watch it here at 'rents place, even though they have it.
- I prefer cooking at home, given the choice - and I'd say I'm pretty darn good at it. I also hunt.
- I don't care about owning a car (I do own a bike!) and I will walk, bus, bike everywhere. I would prefer *not* to own one. Hubby has one that will be paid off once he moves up here ('10 Corolla).
- My medium-term financial goal is to pay off my student loans, which leads me to...

The Bad/Face-Punch Territory

- I have student loans, there was no way my parents could afford to help. Despite working between 2-3 jobs while I was in undergrad, they were at 35G but I've got it around 31,000 now (paid off 4 last year, even though I didn't 'have to'). As soon as I'm working full-time, I want these paid off ASAP. I don't want to be in debt and like heck they're getting a boatload of interest off me!
- I will admit, last year being one of the first years I had a bit of 'extra cash', I didn't always spend or track it in the most wise way. Again, I did save enough for this years tuition (so, no loan) and paid off a chunk of student debt. But, I could have been better. Beyond the above mentioned (potential) savings, I have no other assets.
- I want braces. Badly. Something I needed as a kid, but parents could never afford. I'm pretty darn comfortable with myself, but my teeth are pretty jacked up and are about the only thing that give me a twinge of embarrassment. They're also more difficult to keep clean and in good shape as a result (hello, more expensive dental visits!). I'm likely looking at $6500 or so. I'm tempted (and maybe just writing that here will clear my head. Along with the face-punches) to throw 3.5G of that 8G come the spring to pay down more than half and then have a $100/mo payment over the next two years (interest free) to get the process started. I'm also waiting until spring to see if I get on full-time, if I do about 1/3 of my braces will be covered through my insurance.
Again, I fully admit that this desire is likely the result of having ignored it for so long (I always pretended that I 'didn't want them', but that was a defence because I knew it wasn't even a possibility) and now that I'm 'so close' to being able to pay off all of them/at the very least a good chunk of them (which, I know - not good for the rest of my finances) the 'want' is driving me bonkers. I'm hoping by 'airing it out there' it will help with that. Husband supports me getting braces at some point if that's what I want to do, but is glad I'm waiting until the Spring to see how the chips are going to fall.

So...what to do...?

a) Throw X into savings (since husband is moving up in the spring, we'll have moving costs, etc. That, and who knows what type of work I'll have then) and another X on the student debt (this is my only debt).
b) Save all 8G to see 'what happens' come spring and wait until I need to start paying back student loans (there is a grace period of 6mo, so that will be Feb 2015).
c) Pay X down on braces to have low payment over next 2 years, save X, put X on Student debt.

Any other advice to my future self?


Thanks!




ShortInSeattle

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Re: Where to start?/Maybe I need a Face-Punch.
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2013, 05:59:32 PM »
You've spent your first 10-12 "working years" pursuing higher education. That means you are starting your working (aka saving) phase later than most. What are your goals? Do you intend to retire early?

I hope you get a great job with your degree! You've paid handsomely for it, both in capital and in opportunity cost.

Unless your teeth are so terrible they are preventing you from getting a job, I'd prioritize getting a good job, establishing good savings habits, and paying off your loan.

Vanity can wait. You are already behind the curve financially. At least that's my opinion. :) Good luck.


PhDifferent

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Re: Where to start?/Maybe I need a Face-Punch.
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2013, 03:44:18 PM »
You've spent your first 10-12 "working years" pursuing higher education. That means you are starting your working (aka saving) phase later than most. What are your goals? Do you intend to retire early?

I hope you get a great job with your degree! You've paid handsomely for it, both in capital and in opportunity cost.

Unless your teeth are so terrible they are preventing you from getting a job, I'd prioritize getting a good job, establishing good savings habits, and paying off your loan.

Vanity can wait. You are already behind the curve financially. At least that's my opinion. :) Good luck.

Indeed, I'd say my saving phase is later than most - but I've always worked, even while studying full time. Though, to be fair, when compared to the 'general population', just because folks are working - doesn't mean they're saving! ;) And, if only to make myself feel better I say "well, at least I have no intentions of getting a car, so there's a debt load I won't have. My student loans are my car!".

Anyway! Should I get full-time out of my current gig, I should have a pretty good income as well as opportunities to gain pretty quickly. Saving habits are pretty good, considering I've never had much wiggle-room for saving. To be sure, keeping up on my reading here squelches any suckah purchase impulses. Up until now, being a Starving Student, I've become pretty good at living on under $1000/month (yes, while out on my own - rent, food, phone, going out on occasion and saving for next years tuition). Once husband moves up and we live together, I don't think I'll be able to go that low - but I'm good at stretching a buck so I'm not too worried about that part. The one thing I will have to watch for is that since I won't be living in 'scarcity mode' anymore that the novelty of 'having money' will creep up on me and I'll spend needlessly on silly crap I don't need.

As for goals? I don't know that I'll be in a position to retire at 40, but late 40's-mid 50's, perhaps. 'Earlier' than 65/67, for sure! I'd like to be FI enough that I know I can walk from something if I need to. I know what I don't want, and that's to be up to my eyeballs in debt (aka: get the student loans paid off as soon as I can) and surrounded by a bunch of stuff that I don't need.