28 June 2010

The Secrets to Surviving

Surviving Your First Year as a Law School Wife (in no particular order)


1. Do something that doesn't involve the hubby.  Do two things, actually. One must involve meeting other people. Take a class, join a book club, get a job,. volunteer There are a MILLION things you can do that are completely free or have a modest charge. The second thing is something you can do when you are home together but he is studying. Read, scrapbook, play computer games with headphones. Take up a hobby (he'll probably like it to be quiet) that you can do when you're at home and he's busy.

2. Have a date night. Don't let the riggers of law school destroy your marriage. Set aside at least a few hours once a week to do something together. There are MILLIONS of cheap date nights out there, just Google it.

3. Don't take his mood swings personally. He is going to get angry and depressed, he is going to yell and throw things. When he vents, just listen. Wait until he is feeling better before discussing any serious concerns that arose during the anger spell. Encourage him and acknowledge the good things he does when he is in a more positive mood.


Surviving Your First Year Far Away From Home (in no particular order)


1. Get to know the city. Get a map, a good one. Drive, bike, and walk around the city. Discover good places to eat and shop. Check out the tourist traps, the local favorites. Figure out how the lights at intersections work. The better you know the city, the more comfortable you will be in it.

2. Befriend a local. Hit them up for advice for everything from good restaurants to seasonal weather patterns. Never underestimate the power of the advice.

3. Find a way to claim a part of the city. Join a church, take a class, join a library book club, volunteer somewhere. Do something that lets you feel like you are engaging with your new environment.

24 June 2010

Adjusting

I was munching on some Caribbean imported papaya this evening while cutting up some mango when I realized how different my life is that what I'd planned. I've moved around a lot, but I always stayed in Michigan. Then suddenly, I upped and moved from one of the northernmost states to one of the southernmost (maybe even the most?). I never saw that coming. But here I am, scoping out iguanas in front of the grocery store and eating Caribbean papaya. It makes me wonder how little control we really have and what the future will be like. Or maybe we do have a lot of control, but also a lot of decisions to make. In reality, people live where the jobs are. If you can't do what you were trained to do in your preferred state, you can either change what you do or where you live. Because we/Matt are/is committed to a higher calling (religious liberty), we will go where the jobs are. We will go where the institutes and the firms and the associations are, whether that's Scottsdale, AZ, Boulder, CO, or Washington, DC. So that means my life goes too. As much as I love to plan and imagine life in each one of these locations, at the end of the day, I just have to get through tomorrow. I guess one of the secrets to succeeding is to make the best of it. Right now I will enjoy $.25 kiwis and white translucent geckos.

He's white when he's outside and not in my apartment : )

23 June 2010

Reunion

Well, we're back in the same state again. I was finally starting to get use to the peace and quiet and enjoy my alone time. But I am glad to have him back. Can you believe it: he even unloaded the dishwasher without my asking him to yesterday! Tonight, however, he is working on his application to the International Law Review, his backup plan should he be denied the Law Review.

The weather down here is in full-blown summer. Super hot, super humid. I've pretty much given up on having a good hair day until October.

I am sorry that I am not very witty or exciting today. I am very tired and sick of electronic things.

15 June 2010

L1 Grades

The grades are all back now and the verdict is great! I don't know how detailed he wants me to go, but let's just say that I've very proud of him : )

13 June 2010

Phone Relationship

5 days, 17 hours.
It helps when you have a countdown calculator to do all the dirty work.

I am adjusting to his being gone, finally. The funny thing is that now he is starting to un-adjust. We predicted this would happen because at first the hotel was new, the people were novel, and everything was different to keep him distracted. But now that the novelty as worn off, he is sick of the hotel and wants to come home. Because of the time difference and his busy schedule, we usually only talk for 1 hr a night (plus some texting, of course). Yesterday we talked for 2 1.5 hour blocks, as he had more time in his schedule.

It is weird transitioning into a phone-relationship. We spent a lot of time on the phone while we were dating. But since we got married, we really spend no more than, I don't know exactly, maybe 20 minutes tops on the phone with each other when someone is driving home. Anyway, it's weird adjusting to hearing his voice on the phone and having to use solely words to express our emotions, no physical actions.

I get fewer "important" things done when he is gone. Of course, the house is clean and I did the finances, but I haven't worked on a few monotonous tasks that I would normally have done. I have done way more crafting than normal. I also have been way better at sticking to a diet. I've dropped more weight this past week than I thought was possible. I also stuck better to my gym schedule, and it was easier to do. I think with those last two things, is that we both verbalize our desire/the temptation to skip the gym and eat junk food. Since we find we have support to cheat, we end up doing so. I am naturally fairly disciplined, so when left to my own devices, I can keep up a decent schedule.

I think I need to channel that discipline to finish those boring tasks today : )

11 June 2010

Side Effects

One of the side effects of one's husband going off to a two week conference to hear premier speakers in the field of his dreams at a Ritz Carlton is that he will get to go out to bars on karaoke night with his new friends while you sit at home alone. Do you know what I did today? I went to work. Oh yeah, and I took the trash out this morning. I even managed to score 30 minutes at the gym this morning. Oh yeah. I'm living it big.

That seems to be the side-effect of law school. He pursues his dreams: his dream law school, his dream internship, doing way fun things 2,300 miles away while I take out the trash. So much for my dreams. I'm paying the bills while he's pursuing his dreams. When the hell will my dreams matter?

I'm trying to find a book club and taking adult ed classes to keep busy. All my friends live in Michigan and the tentative friendships I made down here all fell apart when I had to work so much overtime in Season that I missed 3 girls' nights in a row. The few that survived all moved back to their various homes for the summer.

I'm not saying his life is usually easy or that my life is particularly hard. All I'm staying is that I'm in a bad mood, damn it.

08 June 2010

Loneliness

I am extremely lonely. I even lost my appetite. I never lose my appetite, much to my dismay. I am never too excited or too nervous too eat. Usually when I get sick, I eat more than usual, since I am home all day! But I am not really hungry at all; which is a total shock.

I found that is isn't harder to fall asleep, at least, not yet. I have been getting up at 6am to work out, so when I head to bed around 10am, I'm usually tired and fall asleep pretty quickly. When Matt would stay up to read for school, I would toss and turn, unable to get comfortable without him there.

I still keep a fairly normal schedule. I thought I would get sloppy. I guess I still have time, after all, it's only Tuesday of the first week. My hope is that I am settling into a routine that will continue once the true doldrums hit. Yesterday I had a photoshoot at work, so I therefore worked 13 hours straight (full 8 hrs at work, then a 5 hr photoshoot). By the time I got home, it was so late that I pretty much went straight to bed.

We text a few times throughout the day and he has called me at night all three days so far. I find myself getting choked up, but at least not bursting into tears, which I did quite often on Sunday.

It is so eerily quiet being home alone. After a few hours of silence, it is weird even hearing my own voice. Even one of my cats is deaf, so I don't really talk to her.

Oi, I guess that's enough for now. Not very exciting. 10 days left.

06 June 2010

12 days until our reunion

Well, he's gone. I guess we'll find out how strong I really am.

PS, I have been awake since 4:30am.

05 June 2010

El Dia Final

Matt leaves for Arizona tomorrow. He will be gone for two weeks for Phase I of his internship. Each and every day will be so full of lectures and presentations (even on Saturdays!) that even if we could afford me a plane ticket and the time off work, I would never see him. He'll have a few hours in the evening with which he is planning to call me. His plane leaves at 7:30am tomorrow morning. It has been a little over two years since I was alone and I am dreading two entire weeks on it.

I am trying to figure out things I can do to fill the time. I am thinking about taking another adult education class. I've taken one about digital cameras and their series on Photoshop. They have a writing class that sounds good. Work was not excited about me taking those Photoshop classes b/c they like me to be on call every evening, even though the Photoshop class was for work. I am hoping to go to dinner with a friend of mine. That is all I have that will get me out of the house and keep me distracted. There are lots of other little things I can do, but they are all things I can do at home.

Our vacation finished very nicely and we were both very satisfied. It was the first time we'd spent a vacation alone since our honeymoon! I really love being with him all day. We started working out in the morning so that we'd have more time in the evening. It was really fun getting to come straight home from work (not picking him up from school), and finding the laundry done, or dinner cooked, or some such deal.
Then, we would get to hang out and do stuff together! No homework to do! It was awesome!

Oi. I can't wait until June 20th. When that day arrives, I will stand here looking back at the past two weeks and will be very, very happy.

04 June 2010

Money in Law School: The Twist (Part IV of IV)

If our path continues as planned, we’ll save from Matt’s internship, I’ll get more raises and bonuses at work, we’ll start saving money. According to our plan, by the time he graduates from law school, we’ll be debt-free and have a respectable savings, not many people who didn’t come from money can graduate from law school and say that.

But no plan is ever perfect. Everything will change if we have a baby or if one of us gets sick. That’s why Ramsey recommends a good $10,000. Who knows what we would do if one of us got sick, we’ve never talked about it. We probably won’t cross that bridge until we come to it, which is probably not the smart thing to do. But having a baby is a little less unpredictable. We’re young and Catholic. Need I say more? Anyway, with no family to baby-sit for free, I’ll probably switch to part-time, working mostly from home or quit my job. I have a spreadsheet plan all laid out if I get pregnant for each semester, how much we’d need to borrow, and how long it would take to get out of debt (if you couldn’t tell yet, I’m a planner). Even if the numbers aren’t concrete, I’ve at least got a ballpark estimate in which to stand.

The moral of the story is that should we get pregnant and my boss refused to let me go part time, the plan wouldn't work out so perfect. We'd graduate with debt and things would be a little more stressful. I've found among no-income families in law school down here that Medicaid is pretty usefully. But the plan kind of plans for unexpected things. Even if I was pregnant right this second, We would be able to afford the medical bills and we could live off the subsidized debt. At least until he graduated, we would have things under control.

If you like the sound of our budgeting process would like a template of the easy-to-use spreadsheet that I use to track everything, I would be more than happy to give it to you.

03 June 2010

Money in Law School: Lifestyle (Part III of IV)

We do struggle to stay within budget every single paycheck period. Because food down here is so expensive, I only buy meat when it goes on sale, we eat a lot of pb&j, pasta and beans, I don’t get fancy, exciting bread, we drink water, we don’t buy baked goods. Occasionally, when store brand things go on sale, we’ll have extra money with which to buy some ice cream or potato chips, but for the most part, if we want candy, pop, juice, or alcohol, we use our free spending money. Netflix comes out of my free spending money, Matt pays for his Wall Street Journal subscription that way too. I only have one purse, I can count on two hands the pairs of shoes that I own, I drive an old car (10 years this year) that is falling apart, we pack lunches everyday, a friend cuts my hair for $15 (she is actually really great - best hair cuts I’ve ever had, so that’s not really a sacrifice : ).

How do we make it? Priorities. We don’t want to be in debt, so we live cautiously. There are lots of advantages to living this way. It is a lot easier for me to stick to a healthy diet because we don’t keep much junk food in the house, so I’m losing weight. We don’t stress when we get bills, nothing is unexpected with regard to the finances. Even when my car’s breaks all needed to be completely replaced and we had to put $1200 into it, we handled it without breaking a sweat. We don’t buy things, so our house stays clutter-free. We enjoy our purchases more because we had to save up a while to get them. And trust me, coming from a girl who had ice cream in her freezer every day growing up, it tastes a heck of a lot better when you don’t get it all the time.

According to the Dave Ramsey plan, we should not take the subsidized loan money and I should work a second job to save up a $10,000 emergency fund (Step 3 of his plan). I am not going to do those things. We are satisfied with the way things are going right now.

Well this post is short and sweet!

02 June 2010

Money in Law School: Our Expenses (Part II of IV)

To give you some perspective, my income is small, but gives us enough off which to live. We can live solely off the paycheck, but we only put into savings a meager $11.13 from it (as opposed to a category, see below). We also have to pay for our healthcare entirely out of pocket. We have health insurance, but it does not cover vision or dental, and of course, I need glasses/contacts. If my job covered insurance, we could afford to save more money.

We can afford a few luxuries, like renter’s insurance, $40/month (or $10/week) in free spending money (like an allowance) for each of us, and cell phones with $5/person/month for texts (which I need for work).

Our other budgets are very tiny. When I get a paycheck (2x/month), we dole the money out to specific categories that include Food, Household, Clothes (one for each of us), Charity (we don’t tithe 10%, but we do tithe what we can afford), Rent, Gas, Insurance, Utilities, and Medical. We also have a gifts budget that gets $10-$20 when we get a windfall, which isn’t very often. When the money runs out, we don’t buy anymore. Sometimes if one category builds up, we’ll “donate” money from that section into another section (often times, household gives money to food). Sometimes we’ll splurge and I’ll pull a few bucks from the savings account and we’ll go out to dinner. At the end of the month, there are always some “weakness buys” that we used the debit card on for which money must come out of savings. Hey, no one is perfect.

Matt is the designer of this budget plan. He brought it into our marriage thanks to his dad’s miserly ways. I have modified it using the Dave Ramsey plan, as I am now the one who handles the finances (thanks, Law School).

It is a very simple plan (I prefer things to be uncomplicated), but it is very effective in that it prevents us from overspending. If we want to upgrade our cell phone plans, for example, we think about the price per month. Okay, $10 more per month will buy us unlimited texting. But that $10 has to come from a budget. Most budgets have a small savings cushion, but otherwise run month-to-month. $10 more in Internet, TV, or cell phones means $10 less in clothing, food, or household. It is much easier to be fiscally conservative when you've been eating pb&j everyday of the last month for lunch.

If we had an increase in money, aside from increasing almost every single budget, I'd create an entertainment budget for date nights, and a book budget, which is pretty self-explanatory.

Note, our television is free with our apartment, so we just pay an the upgrade cost with Comcast to get Internet.

01 June 2010

Money in Law School: Our History (Part I of IV)


I spoke a little bit earlier about our finances, but to briefly recap, coming into law school, we had no serious debts aside from Matt’s undergraduate debt. We had a modest amount saved up, we had a small portfolio that included a few stocks, a few ounces of gold, a few more of silver, and a few savings bonds. (All that was thanks to Matt, I had no savings, but also no debt). Since starting school, we have a $1000 emergency fund saved up (Step 1 in the Dave Ramsey Plan. See more later). We received a windfall of inheritance money which we used to pay off the undergrad loan. Matt got a full ride to Ave Maria School of Law, which does not cover books or the cost of living.

We used to use credit cards and pay them off every month, but due to a change in lifestyle thanks to Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, we no longer do. However, every semester we do accept the loan money for the subsidized loan (no interest until Matt graduates). Matt has a paid internship this summer, and once we receive that money, it will function as “cushion” money and we put the subsidized loan money in a separate bank account. We will not touch unless there is an emergency and, barring none, pay it all back in one lump sum as soon as Matt gets a job after graduation.

Our history includes nothing serious, but a respectable position for two so young.