PhD Student Budget Check

by financethrowaway368

Hey guys, my SO and I just finished our bachelors. I was in engineering, and she was in arts. I’m going on to do a PhD, she’s getting certified to be a school teacher (what she always wanted to do). Currently, we plan on living on my stipend and her salary. I don’t have tuition, but my stipend will be somewhat small ($1000/mo – probably slightly more). I’ll get an exact offer next week, but the deal I’m getting would last for four years. We’re in a low CoL area. Here’s a commented breakdown of monthly costs (in $/mo)!

Rent: 700

We found a nice house for the price that we didn’t want to pass up. Downside is we have to move in 2 months early, but I’m unemployed this summer (she’s not) and figure I could deliver some pizzas or something in the other town. We have the savings to take the hit and still have a solid emergency fund. Not a complete disaster for a place we intend to stay at for 2-5 years.

Internet: 60

Electricity: 80

Water: 40

Phones: 80

Netflix: 10

Toiletries: 30

Not much to say. We plan to use fans/space heaters to try to keep these low. My estimates might be a little lower than reality, I know. I really have no idea how much phone plans will be, but we plan to use wifi more than mobile data (same story with netflix, of course). Plan to get the best reasonable internet plan. No idea on the toiletries estimate, but shouldn’t be absurd.

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Groceries: 400

All cooking, no eating out. Hopefully this number is realistic.

Fuel: 200

I honestly think this number might be high. Our location is just a couple miles away and I have a fuel efficient car.

Health Insurance: Her:0 ; Him: 98

She’s still on her family plan for a while.

Car insurance: Her:77 ; Him: 90

Student Loans: Her: 50

I have 11k in loans (4% interest), but they’re deferred. She will be incurring some loans for her certification, but they’re pretty small and deferred for a year.

Misc. Fees: 65

These are random uncuttable things that I’ll omit for brevity’s sake.

Retirement: Her Pension: 242.25 ; His: 0

Teachers have a mandatory pension. I’m choosing to just wait on this (more below).

Total: 2218

Points of concern are that she might not get the teaching job by August. If not, it’ll probably be substitute teaching supplemented by weekend jobs or something. We could cut her pension in that scenario, of course. I think the budget still works as long as she’s full time something. We’ve been dating for a few years and are getting married once we are financially comfortable enough to pay for the wedding, so don’t fret too much about mixing finances or potential instability.

As for income, assuming she gets the base first year teacher pay in the area (the case if she gets a teaching job) and I get the minimum stipend, the spread after taxes is: Her: 2629 ; Him: 1000. This looks comfortably higher than budget, to me.

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If she just ended up getting a full-time job at $10/hr, that’d be 1600 on her end, which still puts us above budget with my stipend. I know that’d be a little tight (just $600 disposable income per month), but that’s the absolute floor.

One thing to note is that after my M.S. they intend to send me to a national lab to do some work there. I imagine that’ll come with a hefty salary that’ll make the PhD years more bearable, assuming I can save most of it.

As for assets, I guess the important ones to mention are cars. Mine’s solid and well taken care of (oil changes and all that jazz). Her’s is less major problems, but it just seems like there’s always some $20 thing breaking. It’s old.

We’ve been talking to credit unions in the area and are moving along there. Going to try to put monthlies on there and pay it off to build some credit (also has high APY for our emergency fund).

I’m mostly here for a sanity check, as I haven’t done this before. Anyone see any glaring concerns? Thanks!


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