When we founded EPF in 2011, a major component of is purpose was to keep us financially honest during our several anticipated life transitions. Well, it took until 2014 for the first one to occur, but now we seem to be on a roll.
Transition #3: I was accepted to the fellowship program that I applied for back in August! There are two major changes with this transition: I will again receive a stipend and I’ll be living in the DC area for the duration of the fellowship (3 months).
My Next Gig
The fellowship is in science policy, which is a career that I am quite interested in, so this is a great low-commitment introduction to the field and resume-builder. Kyle will stay in Durham for his postdoc. We plan to see one another most weekends. I will need to be at work M-F but Kyle might be able to negotiate some remote work time to possibly extend some of the weekend visits.
It feels good to have something come through even though I haven’t really been applying for work and therefore haven’t really been putting myself on the line. It’s a full-time fellowship but it only lasts for twelve weeks. I’m going to consider myself funemployed until I have a full-time job with no end date.
Change in Income
The fellowship provides a stipend of $8,500, which is basically just supposed to cover living expenses. 🙂 For the length of the employment period, the stipend is more than what I earned as a grad student but less than what Kyle earns as a postdoc. I’m going to receive the full stipend during orientation, which is going to be my first time not receiving monthly pay. Much better to get it at the beginning than the end, though!
My funemployment hasn’t been particularly lucrative – less so than I had hoped, really – so it is a major improvement to have this stipend. I think I will still continue with my contract job, but take only a fraction of the assignments that I have been, so that won’t be much of an income stream. I would like to keep working on my funemployment projects of Grad Student Finances and my PF seminars, but I’m not sure if they will result in any income during that period.
Change in Expenses
Over Thanksgiving weekend, I worked out my living arrangement in the DC area: my parents’ house. 🙂 I am VERY fortunate that they are willing to put me up rent-free. (The last time I lived with them, I did pay a rent-equivalent.) My parents live in the Virginia suburbs of DC so I will have a commute but it won’t be unreasonable. Living in DC would probably cost me $1,000/month in rent and even where my parents live rooms go for around $600/month, so this arrangement is helping me not-spend a bunch of money. Instead of reclaiming my childhood bedroom (now a guest room), I’ll be living in the basement suite, so I’ll have my own bathroom and more privacy and so forth.
Our new costs will be in commuting (both daily into DC and weekly to Durham), a professional wardrobe for me, an inexpensive gym membership, and some additional going-out expenses as I will be trying to get to know my fellowship class, network, and make new friends. I also wouldn’t be surprised if our spending on groceries rises a little as we won’t be able to share condiments and such and might not buy as many items in bulk.
The big question mark on our Durham expenses is whether or not Kyle will bring a roommate into the second bedroom in our current townhouse. I’m for it and Kyle’s against it. Having a roommate to split the rent and utilities with would help us not-spend at least $500/month, which would really help toward offsetting the new costs.
We are planning to keep fully joint finances while we are living apart, both because that’s what we want for our money generally and because this is such a short period of time that it’s not worthwhile to change any account structures.
I’m not sure if we’ll have a proper monthly budget that limits our spending in various areas. I definitely don’t want to go crazy with spending so we will keep tracking and reporting, but we seem to be in a low-spending habit right now so I kind of trust us.
I’ve drafted the numbers on whether we would be able to just bank the discretionary portion of my stipend and live on our ongoing monthly income. Even with Kyle taking on a roommate, it would be a big challenge to live on just Kyle’s income. We would probably have to be pretty tight with our spending in terms of the transportation costs, groceries, and going out and possibly spend significant time on our side hustles to generate a bit more income. There are just a lot of unknowns at this point in terms of our transportation costs and increased food spending.
Although living apart from Kyle will stink, I’m glad for both the work opportunity and the change in routine. Even the shake-up in our finances should be entertaining for us and you!
Have you ever lived apart from your spouse and if so did you take on a roommate? Do you live on one spouse’s income alone? Have you ever been paid in a lump sum for a work period longer than a month?
photo by Nicolas Raymond