Post # 1
I’m reaching out to all of those in grad school or with spouses/fiances/BF’s in grad school, especially if you have kids too. How do you do it all? How do you survive financially?
My FH and I both work full-time and make a decent living for the two of us – we will be getting married next year. However, I just started a 2-year Master’s in Education program and when I finish, my FH (then H) will be starting a 4-5 year Ph.D. program in Psychology. We also plan/want to start a family around the time that my FH will be at the mid-point of/finishing up his degree. How does a couple go to school, work and make money, have kids, and make it in this economy now? Is it even possible? I could get a teaching job as soon as he starts school, but since we want to have kids soonish thereafter, I’m not sure if its possible for me to teach for 1 or 2 years and then quit to raise our kids if he is still in school. There is no way that we can live off of his $20,000 graduate school stipend!
Is anyone currently doing this or plan on doing this? How do you plan on making everything work? How does a family/couple survive? Any thoughts?
Post # 3
My husband and I were just discussing this last night. I am the school goer, I am currently on my Masters (about 50% complete) and have a desire to go all the way through to PhD. The problem with this is it could potentially require us moving for 4 years from a place where my husband has worked for 5 (by then 6 years) and our home which we will have owned for 4 years…but thats neither here nor there but adds to the complexity.
Essentially we came down to an aggreement that one of us should always be working. We are both working right now and live off less than 50% of incomes, so we are saving up bigtime. I think in your situation its extremely important to save as much as you can before having children in a situtation where you are already privy to the lack of funds. I think you will have to come to concessions and sacrifices to make it work but I am sure it is completely doable.
I think if you should plan as much as you can and then cross each hurdle when you come to it. A lot can happen in 5 years!
Post # 4
My Fiance and I are both working on PhDs fulltime (several states apart–lucky us) and I will say that, while finances are extremely tight it’s amazing how well a person can live on "below poverty-line" income if you’re frugal and careful with your budgeting. Our two salaries combined are less than $30,000 a year and somehow we manage to rent two apartments, basically run two households, and even fly across the country to visit each other every six weeks and still have money for the occassional fun item without taking out student loans. The set-up of grad school helps a lot, I think, whereas people making the same salary outside of grad school might not have such an easy time (I definitely had a lower quality of life when I made twice as much money at a regular job). A good grad program will subsidize a lot for its PhD students–health care, dental, vision, public transportation, child care–things that I know ended up eating most of my salary in the "real world." So all of that helps a great deal. You also get other perks, like useage of what are usually some pretty nice quality gyms/rec centers, free movies and events on campus, loads of workshops of all sorts of useful or interesting topics, even free tax service sometimes. I really can’t say enough about how lucky I feel like we are in this economy right now.
So, while we don’t have kids I can see how it can be helped a lot despite the small stipends most grad students live off of. There are also, of course, student loans, which are not the worst option in the world, particularly if you’ve got a strict plan to pay them off post-graduation. The people I do know in grad school who have kids generally have one spouse working while the other goes to school full-time, take advantage of the really great daycare/early childhood ed programs that a lot of universities offer their employees, as well as the felxible schedules that graduate work often allows. I do know some people who are both in school fulltime and make it work too. Some people have relatives who pitch in a lot too. I guess it depends on your situation, and your particular priorities. It’s definitely not easy, but it’s also definitely do-able for a lot of people.
Hope that helps!
Post # 5
I was just looking at your post and noticed that you mention you two were planning to start a family during the last year or so of your FH’s PhD. I will say that, in my field at least, the last year or two of a PhD is generally when you’re writing your dissertation and done with coursework. Many, many people I know choose to teach full-time during this period at another school (as an ABD). That would certainly put you guys in a pretty decent financial situation, especially if you’re working too.
Just a thought!
Post # 6
Thank you both for your insights – it’s comforting that other people experiencing similar life dilemmas are able to successfully get through them. frugal faye – that is true that my FH could teach towards the end of his PhD…I’ll talk to him about that possibility.