So, January was a strange month for me for many reasons, not the least of which is that I have been unemployed and living off my emergency fund. Before I finished my PhD last month, I had been accustomed to getting up early, commuting in to work, working from 8 or 9 in the morning until 5 or 6 in the evening, and collecting a paycheck each week. And contrary to what is sometimes assumed about student lifestyles, I did not have time off during summers or between semesters, nor (with relatively few exceptions) did I take vacations or personal days or even sick days. So after five and a half years of that ongoing daily schedule, its sudden disappearance has felt profoundly odd.
Another weird, or at least surprising, thing about this past month is the fact that I’m not overly anxious about being jobless. I can’t live off savings forever, but somehow I feel like something will eventually come together.
I do have some news that I’m excited about (two pieces of news, actually), but first let’s see how I did with some of the intentions I set for this unstructured month of January (the original list can be found here)…
- Apply for full-time jobs. Yep, I have definitely been applying for jobs. More updates on that soon, I hope.
- Send out at least two freelance writing pitches this month. At this point, when I say “freelance writing” I basically just mean anything written by me that appears somewhere other than on my own blog, whether paid or unpaid. I procrastinated a bit on this but did finally get it together to submit two articles on January 31st. It will be interesting to see if anyone wants to publish them. I also submitted one of my earlier blog posts for possible syndication.
- Tie up the remaining loose ends in my lab. Pretty much done. I submitted my dissertation manuscript to the library (which, by the way, cost me $115 in “processing fees”) and finished revising one of the chapters for publication. This does not count as freelancing, by the way.
- Fully assess my student loan repayment situation. Done. I will share this as soon as I have a job and a repayment plan in place.
- Spend less than $300 this month on food. Oh my gosh, I finally did it!! I spent $266.08 on food in January! And I still bought fruits and vegetables AND went out to eat a few times. Amazing. In case you’re curious, I always break down my food spending each month into four categories:
Just-me Groceries: $201.42
Just-me Restaurants/Takeout: $2.12
Social Groceries (i.e., food involved in cooking with friends): $25.39
Social Restaurants/Takeout: $37.15
- Participate in at least two paid research studies. I’m happy to say I participated in five, earning a total of $354.00, plus I sold some textbooks on Amazon and clothing at Buffalo Exchange for $100.87. That’s a grand total of $454.87 in random income for January—hooray!
- Finish the Python course on Codecademy. I realized that brushing up my R skills might actually be more helpful than learning Python, at least in terms of some of the jobs I’m applying for, so I did that instead, using Codeschool and Data Camp.
- Work on an idea that I have for a new website. Well, I’ve been thinking about this in my head a bunch, but haven’t done much actual focused work on it, so that’s still on the to-do list.
- Go for a run every day. Hahahahahahaha, oh gosh, it’s so funny to me that I thought I was actually going to do that. However, I did make it to a lot of yoga and barre classes.
Okay, so here are the two pieces of news:
1. I made a student loan payment of $157.25. This may not sound like a big deal (or a big payment), but, fun fact, it’s the largest student loan payment I’ve ever made, and also the first one I’ve made since 2010. Realistically, this $157.25 did not make even a teeny dent in my loans, and it will soon be swallowed up by interest (it was just the minimum payment for the one loan where I’ve already used up the grace period, and while I would have loved to pay back more, I decided to wait until I have a real income again). But you know what? It still felt good.
I’ve noticed that one cool side effect of blogging about personal finance, and reading other people’s blogs, is that I am now able to check my loan numbers without fear. Checking numbers used to terrify me, so I basically didn’t do it. Ever. But now, when I log in to my account and check the numbers, I am not having a freak-out session. I am just checking the numbers. They are just numbers. Once I know what the numbers are, then I can calmly decide how much I am or am not going to freak out.
2. GUESS WHAT!? My new avocado pit is hatching! If you don’t know the back story on this, check out August (one of my favorite posts that I’ve written, even though it had almost nothing to do with money).
[Addendum: just when I was about to publish this post, I realized that I had accidentally missed another minimum payment on another loan, for $189.19, because the provider didn’t email me a notification about the due date. Whoops! I have way too many loans. Need to consolidate/refinance ASAP.]
How was your January? Know of any companies in Boston that are looking for an awesome employee? Want to help me name my new avocado pit? Want to give me feedback/suggestions on my new blog layout? Talk to me!