My spouse and I are staring down the barrel of an ugly budget situation. I’m teaching now, but come 2010, I got nothin’, and that’s putting us through a bit of stress. There’s about a $500/month gap between our current expenses and our 2010 monthly income, and I’m entirely sure how we’re going to close that gap. I’m not freaking out…yet.
This is part of being a graduate student, of course. I remember a former adviser warning me that graduate school is an exercise in well-read pauperism, or something to that effect. It hasn’t been that bad for me, mostly because my spouse has been pulling the load. But I’ve also had pretty steady work as a TA and now as an adjunct, so I’ve been chipping in to the family budget. That stops in January. Originally, the idea was that we would save up while I did the adjunct thing, and then I’d stop teaching and dissertate full-time. That didn’t go quite according to plan, so now I find myself in a position very similar to that of other graduate students, I imagine. I’m firing away fellowship applications, hoping that they come in so that I can pay for research and life expenses. I’m hoping that promised summer and fall teaching jobs come together, so we’ll have that income. And I’m toying around with getting a proper job, at least enough to cover the expense/income gap.
For the next couple of years, this will probably be my life. There will be times when the cash is flush (while I’m teaching or when a fellowship comes in), and there will be times when we’re leaning pretty hard on my spouse’s salary. It’s not a condition unique to graduate students–migrant workers, seasonal labor, or start-up/slow-down factory workers all have to deal with this shit. And hell, that’s real work, so I really shouldn’t be complaining. I just wish I had learned this particular lesson earlier.