Celebratory Spending

The main reason I’ve been absent from EPF and the blogosphere generally is that Kyle defended his PhD last week!  You may now address him as Dr. Kyle.  (Not that kind of doctor.)  (Just kidding.  We can all call him Kyle after just this one post.)


trust me I'm a doctor

Dr. Kyle has been working toward this moment for nearly seven years.  It’s just staggering all that went into this accomplishment.  I can’t even tell you.  I’m so proud of him!


this guy!


We marked the occasion of Dr. Kyle’s defense with each of our families of origin plus some extended family members coming into town to attend his defense seminar and several other events we organized – a post-defense dinner out at a nice restaurant, a gathering at a local bar that evening to which our friends stopped by, and a brunch at our house the following day.  Additionally, Dr. Kyle’s parents were in town for a week, so we went out to eat with them at least once per day.  I’m exhausted just listing all the events!


Needless to say, we’ve been spending a bunch of money on all these events.  Dr. Kyle’s parents have been extremely generous to pay for many of the meals, but we still picked up a couple of small tabs and paid for the food we served at our 11-person brunch.  Going beyond the celebrations themselves, graduating also involves some other random only-sort-of-optional costs like printing copies of Dr. Kyle’s dissertation ($50 each), a frame for his diploma ($150-200), and (possibly) a gown and hood for the graduation ceremony ($600ish).  (Dr. Kyle will officially receive his diploma in September and has the option to walk in the graduation ceremony next May.)  I even bought Dr. Kyle a card and small gift to mark the occasionI didn’t let our joint finances spoil the secret, either.


I’m not complaining, just observing.  Thankfully, we had the cash flow this month to cover the food and we have our general savings that we can dip into for the graduation stuff if necessary.  I wasn’t really aware of some of these costs until they were upon us so we didn’t save specifically in advance as I prefer to.  Spending money is totally worth it for this once-in-a-lifetime milestone; I’m grateful that we have the financial flexibility to take on that attitude.


What were the one-time costs you incurred around your graduation(s)?  Do you think celebratory spending is worthwhile and how do you afford it? 


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35 Responses to "Celebratory Spending"

  1. Many Congratulations to Kyle! It’s so awesome that everything he has been working for for his education has been completed. It’s a relieving feeling, if he is anything like me. I think about three people called me Dr. after I defended, and I thought it was hilarious. It sounds so absolutely foreign.

    I still haven’t printed off a copy of my dissertation. My uni went to all digital copies now, so I never printed it out. Honestly, I did want to but it got put on the back-burner and I forgot about it. Maybe this will be my kick in the pants to get that completed.

    My parents gave me my degree frame as a graduation gift, which was very nice – those things are quite expensive! I didn’t buy robes because I don’t think I’ll be in Academia for all that long. There aren’t many occasions to wear my regalia… and if I do happen to stay longer, and sit on lots of stages dressed up with that… then, I will buy it later 🙂

    PS, you look way happier/excited about this accomplishment than Kyle! He’s responsible to make the super proud/happy face when you defend.

    1. Kyle says:

      Thanks for the congrats. I’m definitely excited about being done, but I think Emily might look more excited because she is the big planner in the family who stresses and anticipates the life events. I’m just glad to have it over with.

  2. E 2 says:

    Wow, congrats to Kyle! It’s an expensive time, for sure, but sometimes you have to just take what comes and enjoy it if you can.

    1. Kyle says:

      Thanks. We had a fun time spending a little more with our family. If you can’t enjoy these times, what can you enjoy?

  3. Great job, Dr. Kyle! Congratulations. Spending money you can afford in celebration of a great accomplishment is just part of living. If we can’t spend some of our hard-earned money, why have it?

    1. Kyle says:

      Thanks, I agree. Of course we’ll really spend when we vacation after we both defend.

  4. SarahN says:

    Yay congratulations! It’ll be you soon enough.

    At my university, we all hire our gowns! Even PhDs I think (though I don’t have one, so can’t know for sure!), same with the mortar boards, the whole deal!! It saves a bucket but does mean photos are time limited to get them back for the next session.

    I’ve also never framed or displayed my Bachelors… So I skipped that expense. I know it’s common here, but I just couldn’t see myself displaying it anywhere, so it seemed not worth the cost to me.

    But eating out – well I ALWAYS spend on that, so high five to enjoying this great moment!

    1. Kyle says:

      Thanks. The gowns and stuff we’ll deal with if we decide to actually attend the ceremonies next Spring. We never framed our Bachelors degrees, but I think the Ph.D. from a more recognizable school might be worth putting up.

  5. Leigh says:

    Woo! Congrats, Kyle!

    My undegrad degree finally got framed this past year as a Christmas present from my parents. I still need to hang it up though. I actually took two days off work and traveled a ways to go to my undergrad ceremony. I stayed with friends the whole time though, so it was a reasonably cheap trip.

    1. Kyle says:

      Thanks. Yeah, hopefully some of our friends will still be around this area so we can crash with them which should make the trip fun and cheap.

  6. Congratulations to Dr. Kyle! Soon there will be a Dr. Emily as well. Your kids are going to have a lot of living up to do. 😉

    What a wonderful way to celebrate this achievement with friends and family.
    Well Heeled Blog recently posted..We love being tourists!

    1. Emily says:

      I’m getting jaded enough about my PhD that I think I’ll at least let our kids know about other great paths if not actively encourage them to take them. :/ But I need to earn the degree first before I get too deep into that attitude.

      It was a great week!

      1. It feels much better after it’s over. 🙂 Being sick of it is a sign that you’re ready to graduate!
        nicoleandmaggie recently posted..June mortgage update and Big lumps vs. drips and drabs

        1. Emily says:

          Apparently I’ve been ready to graduate for some time. 😉

  7. Gerry says:

    Hearty congrats to Dr. Kyle and it must have been a long and hard road to achieve this level of success. I graduated with an MBA about 10 years back and have been contemplating a PhD as well, so maybe I have now just been given enough inspiration by Dr. Kyle to follow this challenging journey as well.
    Gerry recently posted..Video Marketing Case Study : The One Dollar Shaver

    1. Emily says:

      What field are you thinking of doing the Phd in?

    1. Emily says:

      Thank you!

  8. Congratulations Dr. Kyle for achieving one of your goals! And nice to know that your parents are very generous to pay for the meals. Graduation is a very big achievement and I choose to celebrate it.

    1. Emily says:

      I guess we have the option of celebrating twice – once for the defense and once for graduation – but that might be excessive. 😉

  9. “Do you think celebratory spending is worthwhile…” Absolutely, 100% worth it. We did this when my wife recently completed her Master’s degree. We got dressed up in our Sunday best and went to a pretty expensive restaurant with the whole family…kids and all. They loved it and it was a way to mark the completion of the adventure in our lives. Plus, the whole family contributed to her efforts in some way. So it was a reward for all of us.
    Brian @ Luke1428 recently posted..Why I’m So Excited to Spend Money Again on Cable TV

    1. Emily says:

      Congratulations to your wife on her degree! I also felt like Kyle’s celebration was a reward for me and I’m sure he’ll feel the same when it’s my turn. Likewise for our families and so forth. You are right that the community deserves to celebrate with the primary accomplish-er.

  10. Congratulations!

    When I got my PhD, my mom came to the hooding. When DH got his PhD… we were already employed at our new jobs several states away (he dropped off his dissertation on the drive out of town to our new jobs) and I was expecting, so not much celebrating there– DH flew in for his defense and flew back. His parents did go to his Masters ceremony though.
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted..June mortgage update and Big lumps vs. drips and drabs

    1. Emily says:

      The jury is still out for us as to whether we’ll do the whole graduation ceremony thing as we hope to be living elsewhere. It seems important to our parents, though. I’m glad your parents got to observe a few graduations.

  11. […] worth to $100k while in grad school so it was kind of turning to a race between our net worth and Kyle’s defense/my […]

  12. […] worth to $100k while in grad school so it was kind of turning to a race between our net worth and Kyle’s defense/my […]

  13. […] was a really crazy month for us, both in general and financially!  Kyle defended, I had an (unsuccessful) out-of-town job interview, and we had both of our families come into […]

  14. […] @ Evolving Personal Finance writes Celebratory Spending – My husband defended his PhD this week, and money has been flowing like water as a […]

  15. Michelle says:

    Congrats! I think, from time to time, it is perfectly fine to have a celebration-especially for something like this! Congrats again!
    Michelle recently posted..I Don’t Want to Be Rich

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks (on behalf of Kyle)! No way we were going to pass up celebrating this milestone at least once!

  16. […] month, I only posted five times – yikes!  I wrote two articles on our personal finances – high spending to celebrate Kyle’s defense and our net worth topping $100,000 – in addition to last month’s blog stats […]

  17. […] #1: Kyle defended and became a postdoc in the same lab he did his PhD in. Essentially the only change was a salary […]

  18. […] our PhDs, and definitely the least fun or important of any of them. Just shy of a year ago, Kyle defended and we had a big family dinner. About nine months ago, I defended and we hosted a party for our friends and family. Eight months […]

  19. […] to that position before I graduated, but it turned out that I defended only a couple months after he did, and he stuck around in his PhD advisor’s lab to finish up a couple papers as a short-term […]

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