I rarely talk about life as a grad school family directly. This is mostly due to the fact I don’t think about our life that way. With Andrew working towards being a professor we will always have changing semester schedules and holiday breaks to look forward to. There will come a time with more responsibility and a bigger paycheck, but I don’t see it affecting our day to day life that much.
We’ve been super, hugely grateful for these graduate school years. It has allowed us to slow down our growing up. We didn’t need to rush into buying a house or figure out a million other adult things that go with the territory. With more time than money, we’ve learned to be a bit more creative with our problem solving.
We’ve learned the art of garage selling and thrift shopping (make a list of what you need for the season, keep your eyes out, and stick to the list!), sewing our own clothes, and building our own furniture or fixing what we have. With very little eye for interior design, we’ve had a few low cost disasters and are learning our style and taste. Our kids spend days outside playing and have incredibly limited screen time because we don’t pay for T.V. and we can’t replace our devices so they don’t get to touch them. We’ve become price matching experts and meal plan based on weekly produce sales.
For years we tracked where our money has gone, making sure we are living within our means. This last year though we made the switch to zero based budgeting so that we decide ahead of time where our pennies go. We sit down at the beginning of each month and work through this form from Dave Ramsey’s website. We have a running list of all the things we need to buy so that we can fit in priorities and remember what we really care about. We haven’t been getting to the list very often, but at least it keeps us on the same page so there aren’t any surprises between us.
These years have been full of abundance and blessings for us. I very rarely feel like we are going without. I also think God has a bit of a sense of humor. One of our neighbors and great friends is getting his PhD in physics. He does roughly week long trips to collect data during beam time. I don’t know many details, except the prep work involves a few garbage bags full of spinach. Once their family has taken what they need they pass the spinach to us to use and freeze as much as we wish. For daily green smoothie drinkers this is wonderful!