Author Topic: Badass PhD student ;)  (Read 4914 times)

Verdandi

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Badass PhD student ;)
« on: March 31, 2015, 01:46:31 AM »
... sorry, couldn't think of a better headline :D
Since I've started reading MMM, I made a lot of changes that help me save around 40-50% of my income (actually 55% if you count the money that goes into retirement accounts as savings. But I just see the money going out for now).

I thought I could share some of the stuff I changed to accomplish that, because I hear from many people in my income bracket (quite low as a PhD student obviously) that it's not possible to save, especially (?!) as a lady. So, here is what I'm doing:

- I'm cutting and coloring my hair. As I'm unnaturally ;) blonde, this alone saves me around 100 every 6-7 weeks. I buy the color for 7, have cutting scissors and just do it on my own with the help of youtube videos. So far, people were really surprised when I told them. Apparently I don't to a bad job :)
- No paid sports classes / fitness studio etc. I go running and once a week meet with a friend for a DVD workout class. I'm also known to travel with a laptop and workout DVDs.
- I have a freezer full of homemade burritos. I take either one of them, a salad or leftovers to university every day. No paid lunches.
- I bought a used juicer on ebay and buy cheap vegetables and fruit at Aldi. The fresh juice is taken to university in a stainless steel bottle. I just realized how much money that is saving me when I took a recent walk around the university area and saw juices offered for 4,50-8,50 (!!) per serving. Those guys are crazy.
- For beauty, I buy cheap healing earth (about 4 for 15 masks) for facial masks and use coconut oil afterwards for moisture.
- I make a meal plan every week so I have nearly no food waste. I spend around 35-50 per week on groceries, eating really well.
- I take full advantage of my university library for books.
- For this year I made a resolution only to buy 2nd hand clothing, with the exception of underwear and jeans if something needs to be replaced. There are so many people selling beautiful clothes online for next to nothing because it's "last season".
- I'm always in for a nice side hustle, like selling some books or helping someone with problems in my field (I'm a lawyer, so there are many^^)

With those lifestyle choices, my living expenses are around 950 per month, the rest goes into retirement accounts, savings accounts and is invested. I thought, maybe I can show to other people that don't earn that much that saving is possible and you can really progress in your financial goals.
I've come a long way, and I'm quite proud of those changes. Have a nice day :)

MashedBanana

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Re: Badass PhD student ;)
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2015, 02:10:25 AM »
Love your work!!

mjb84

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Re: Badass PhD student ;)
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2015, 03:44:39 AM »
This is great, I've recently finished my PhD but during that time (before following MMM) made a number of similar lifestyle choices on a low salary. I too cut my hair, although the compliments weren't so great (asked if I was wearing a toupe was one.. ha ha).

I'm in science, and post-doc wages are still nothing to get too excited about ~$55,000, but able to save around 50%. I guess a PhD in Law will be different financially after graduating?

Great work, will be following your ways and working on sharpening those habits.

Verdandi

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Re: Badass PhD student ;)
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2015, 04:37:55 AM »
lol I couldn't do it for short hair on my own, as well. Long hair is much easier.

The PhD helps financially instantly if you want to slave your life away in a big law firm and work 70 hours a week. They will pay around 100,000 per year for an entry level job. But that's not my plan. I tried it once after my exam, and that's just not for me. Not enough spare time to do fun things.
So, my plan for the moment is to find a good position in public service. They pay decently and the PhD has no instant effect on your salary. In the long run however, you need it if you want to get the really good jobs, that are also paid better. Plus, there are next to no women in my specific field, and it helps me being taken seriously. I'm doing the tough stuff, business and insurance. Thus, it's more of a long term investment. I'm pretty quick with my thesis though, aiming to finish it in 9 months total, so the time investment is not too big.

@mjb84: What's your field?

DagobertDuck

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Re: Badass PhD student ;)
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2015, 05:13:39 AM »
I hear from many people in my income bracket (quite low as a PhD student obviously) that it's not possible to save

Weird standpoint imo. PhD candidates can basically have the same lifestyle as MSc/MA students doing research internship/writing thesis. So if you manage to keep your expenses at the same level as when you were a student, while having roughly twice as much income.....
« Last Edit: March 31, 2015, 05:16:12 AM by DagobertDuck »

forummm

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Re: Badass PhD student ;)
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2015, 10:26:54 AM »
You can totally save money while being a student. Controlling costs is even more key. But there are a lot of ways that being a student helps you keep costs down. I saved a lot of money while in school. It helped that I worked a lot. But my spending was under $10k/yr for most of my time in school--even in a high-cost area.

Verdandi

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Re: Badass PhD student ;)
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2015, 11:30:25 AM »
I'm at the most expensive city in one of the richest countries on earth. It means basic living expenses can add up very quickly if you're not careful. And it means here are a lot of "Joneses" you might be tempted to keep up with. Most of my students have complete apple equipments, pay more than 500 in rent and have designer clothing. I don't say they (read: their parents) can't neccessarily afford it, there are many people with a lot of money here. That's one of the reasons why I didn't study here. So @DagobertDuck, The MSc/MA students here spend way more than I spent when I was in that phase. It's Jonestown, so to speak (is that an existing expression? Not my mothertongue, so no idea).

DagobertDuck

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Re: Badass PhD student ;)
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2015, 02:33:22 PM »
Oslo? Geneva?

Verdandi

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Re: Badass PhD student ;)
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2015, 04:05:10 AM »
Munich. We're in a big real estate bubble and every year 15 000 more people. There are tons of jobs here, but not enough space to live.

mjb84

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Re: Badass PhD student ;)
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2015, 04:28:35 AM »
I hear from many people in my income bracket (quite low as a PhD student obviously) that it's not possible to save

Weird standpoint imo. PhD candidates can basically have the same lifestyle as MSc/MA students doing research internship/writing thesis. So if you manage to keep your expenses at the same level as when you were a student, while having roughly twice as much income.....


I think Verdandi is saying that people on a low income bracket say it is difficult/not possible to save and being a PhD candidate is within the low income bracket.... but here is how I do it.

In principle, I agree with you that one can live the same lifestyle as an MSc student but it can be harder when factoring in 'trying to keep up' with friends/colleagues who are much higher earners, which un-mustachian in itself, may increase spending above undergraduate student/MSc days. Although, I enjoyed a hearty 8 years of student days, now I'm willing to pay a premium for a room in a shared house that isn't a complete student squat and a premium to drink a pint without a load of student jocks ruffling feathers. Here in the UK at least, being a student isn't as cheap as maybe it should be. Landlords/businesses targeting students is big business and to keep ones' mustachian wits one must be vigilant and pro-active (which I believe the post is addressing from a postgraduate angle).

I think, financially, it can be more difficult transitioning from a student to PhD candidate for the reason that one is started earning and one wants to grow up a little from the party scene but is still immersed in that environment. One might still get a 15% discount on Apple products but by no means does that warrant a purchase.


clarkfan1979

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Re: Badass PhD student ;)
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2015, 04:45:44 AM »
When I was PhD student, I had a great time with the other students. I never felt deprived. We always managed to find fun things to do that were on the cheap. However, my friends with real jobs often wanted to meet up for expensive dinners and I almost always cancelled. I still saw my friends with real jobs, but no dinners.

yoga mama

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Re: Badass PhD student ;)
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2015, 10:09:34 AM »
Awesome!  Thanks for sharing!  I just started cutting my own hair and am so thrilled with the results, and the savings!

Verdandi

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Re: Badass PhD student ;)
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2015, 09:48:40 AM »
@ yoga mama you're welcome :-)

Over the last days I made from scratch: burger buns, cookies, chickpea and spinach curry. All in the freezer now, waiting for me to come home like a hungry grinch. And all the food that would have gone bad in 2-3 days is used, so no food waste :-)

Next weeks menu will include: tuna sandwiches (made with the buns), chickpea curry, baked portobellos with herb cream filling, and greek chicken with potato and tzatziki and salads. Yummy meal plan ahead, and this weeks shopping trip only 17 because I used up so much I already had. Score!!

Adventure Chick

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Re: Badass PhD student ;)
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2015, 05:08:48 AM »
I'd love to see the YouTube hair tutorials! I just got mine done and want to maintain it myself from now on (got ombre so the roots can grow free lmao!) Awesome job though :D

thor800

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Re: Badass PhD student ;)
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2015, 06:57:32 AM »
@Verdandi - "I have a freezer full of homemade burritos. I take either one of them, a salad or leftovers to university every day. No paid lunches.
- I bought a used juicer on ebay and buy cheap vegetables and fruit at Aldi. The fresh juice is taken to university in a stainless steel bottle. I just realized how much money that is saving me when I took a recent walk around the university area and saw juices offered for 4,50-8,50 (!!) per serving. Those guys are crazy."

Totally agree.  Keeping up with the Joneses goes along with buying expensive juices and dinners / clothes / etc.

Unfortunately I work in a high cost area (New york city) but live in a slightly lower cost (jersey city) but its still a big chunk of my income.  People spend absurd amounts of $ on housing, cars, everything here, but saving on food & beer (especially) here is the only way I can save.

Keep up the good work !