Dating and Debt: Would you date someone in debt?

In the waning weeks of 2021, I joined Instagram as me (as opposed to Afrop Penny) after refusing to join for years. Much as I expected, it is the same fun, interactive, time sink that Facebook was when I joined in 2004; I haven’t been on Facebook in years. However, perhaps that is true of all social media. In any instance, thus far I have enjoyed the mix of information and engagement while doing my best to tolerate the rampant advertising and consumerism. Occasionally, there is a post that encourages me to be thoughtful or write a blog post, and I appreciate that. Today as I was scrolling, I read a shared post from a woman, in which she stated:

I was dating a rich guy and he asked me, “Would you ever consider dating someone who was struggling?” I told him no. That for personal reasons, I would not consider dating someone who did not have their life together. He then said, “Well, for me, you are that struggling person.” He ended the relationship shortly after this conversation.

Unfortunately, as is the case in many parts of the internet, the comments that she received were not…positive. Many folks shared unhelpful, and often misogynist, thoughts that essentially called her a gold-digger and shamed her for her dating preferences. After reading a follow-up post, for the most part, it seems she took the end of the relationship with this rich person in stride, as she feels that everyone is entitled to their preferences, including her rich exes’ desire not to date someone who wouldn’t date him if he were struggling.

As is obviously the case, this got me to reflect a bit about my own experiences and preferences. The answer to the blog title, “Would you date someone in debt?” is a “yes” for me. I think it would make me the worst sort of hypocrite if I refused to date someone because they had debt. That being said, it would need to be made evident, through honest conversation, that we had a shared perspective about the utility of debt in our lives. I once dated a guy with poor credit and significant financial debt. He also had really bad anxiety issues. I told him that developing a plan to pay off his debt and improve his credit might help. He demurred. Years later, we are still really good friends (this is the one instance where I am friends with an ex) and he is still in significant credit card debt.

And then there have been other guys, like Gentleman Avery or the guy I dated before him. Guys who, like the man in the Instagram post, are either rich or are in a really strong financial position. Previously, I have felt insecure and ashamed about my financial position in contrast to theirs and so I didn’t really talk about it. Or I held back emotionally for fear that deeper intimacy would eventually force me to disclose how much debt I had. And I never wanted that to happen because how could someone know of my debt and still want me?

I think shared values are important to the success of any relationship. Given the outsized role money plays in our lives, I think that it is even more important that even if we aren’t starting in the same place, we have shared values and beliefs around our approach to managing money and our long terms financial goals. I’m obviously still not where I want to be with money but I have come a long way from my lowest point, and I am no longer struggling.

February 2022 – Life Update

I know, I know, where have I been and what have I been doing? And even if you don’t care about that, why haven’t I been writing? Honestly, I didn’t feel like writing. So, I didn’t. I hope you all have been well and haven’t been too disappointed by my absence…

1) Work – Organization C: So far, I like my job, I love my colleagues, and the networking has been incredible. That being said, I dislike my boss. At first, I thought it was just a difference in communication styles or how we show up but…no. I don’t like him. He is a much older gentleman who comes across as condescending, dismissive, and entitled; and there is a clear gender bias as he behaves this way towards all of the female employees but not our male colleague who is his age. Initially, I thought it was just me who perceived him this way but…no. Not only have my colleagues divulged that this is also their perception but so has one of our principal donors in an “off-the-record” conversation. This is such a great opportunity for my career so I plan on enjoying it as much as I can, networking, and positioning myself well for my next jump but this is looking more and more like a 3-year stint than the long-term role for which I was hoping. Unless there is a leadership change…

University B: Most days I think, “Why did you decide to keep doing this?” (I actually asked that question out loud to a friend/colleague and she replied, “Honestly, I don’t know. At the time you said you were trying to pay off your student loans…” And then I said, “Right.”) I am putting in about 18 hours a week at University B and my pay rate is $23.00/hour. I will receive my first part-time paycheck from them on the 25th of this month and actually should receive a final “salaried” paycheck that includes the first couple days of this month and potentially the stipend from my on-call work which I have continued to perform. I was given the option of changing my 403b elections but I left them the same. I have no idea what this paycheck (I billed for 37 hours over two weeks) is going to look like at the end of the month and will be totally surprised. I am still doing the weekend work for University B at the moment but that will taper off completely come April. I am just trying to stick it out until then. Once April rolls around, my work from then until the end of June will mostly be end-of-year communications and reporting which I actually enjoy.

2) Taxes and a Sinking Fund – I completed my taxes earlier this month and was happy to find out that I was actually entitled to a small federal refund (~$1,000.00) and owed $11.00 in state income tax. Once received, I moved these funds to a savings account and promptly checked off 2021 Revised Financial Goal #2 of establishing a $1,000.00 sinking fund that is separate from my emergency fund. Well, the universe decided I was far too self-satisfied and my car’s check-engine light came on for the first time since I have owned the car. More on that below…

3) Dating – I am taking a break from dating in general. There is so much going on at work that I just haven’t felt like it. I also have made friends here and they need attention too. If I’m really honest, I think I also needed a break from Gentleman Avery. While the chemistry and interest are clear, I feel like maybe we missed our moment… Generally, when I decide that a romantic relationship won’t work out, I have a mature conversation with the other party, and we amicably part ways. As I explained in a post earlier this month, that’s never worked with Gentleman Avery. I could pretend to be confused as to why that is the case but that would be disingenuous. I don’t want to part ways. There is still some small part of me that hopes it will work out. I’d like to smother that part of me. Or at least make it quieter.

Lunar Do-Over Day FAIL: Still Chuggin’

1. How much did I spend today? – $0.00 – I haven’t spent anything today because it’s Sunday and as I have previously recounted, Sundays are usually days I stay at home. My spending (register below) since I last posted it on February 5th is pretty typically of what I spend during the month. Including the far too many sweets, around my cycle, during the middle of the month. The only other things of note are 1) the $3.00 ATM fee will be rebated by my bank at the end of the month (I know there are some folks who would have immeidately gasped at frugal person paying an ATM fee) and 2) I will get around to telling the automotive story in another post. This one is already far too long.

$29.76 doesn’t seem like a lot of money for what remains of the month but given that my pantry, fridge, and freezer still have food in them, and my gas tank is full, I suspect I’ll make it pretty easily.

February Variable (food, gas, misc.) Budget Initial Balance: $463.77
February Variable (food, gas, misc.) Budget Remaining Balance: $29.76

2. What financial information have I learned to help me when I’m debt-free? – I’ve learned that it’s probably going to be okay… Since sharing my debt story with Mr. Pokémon, he has talked to me a lot more about investing and the power of compound interest (Like…don’t I know it? Who better than a person in thousands of dollars in debt to tell you about the power of compound interest?). He consistently has talked about the power of investing early and given that I am not done paying off my debt, in many ways I have been a bit down about my investing prospect. Allowing myself to get hung up on how much time and money I have “lost.” However, this article from Investopedia gave me a reason to feel a bit more hopeful. Specifically,

An employee in this age category who is offered a 401(k) at work should consider funding it to the maximum amount. To provide you with a sense of how powerful maxing out a 401(k) can be, consider the following: An individual who is 40 years old and who contributes $17,500 annually to a 401(k) could accumulate more than $1.3 million in savings by age 65. This assumes an 8% return and no employer contributions...

While this is by no means an excuse for my past financially irresponsible behaviors, it does give me hope that if stick to my current plan, and pay off my student loan debt before I turn 40, that getting more aggressive with my 401K savings at 40 can still leave me comfortable in retirement.

3. How have I lived abundantly? – Today is a rest day. Sometimes, on Sundays, I force myself to be productive and get all of my personal tasks and cleaning done. And if I don’t, I feel incredibly guilty. Today, I’ve decided to let my body rest and my mind wander. I’m happy it wandered over to my neglected blog.

Dating and Debt: “Anchor seeking yacht.”

One of the great things about my 28 days of blogging in February is that it is forcing me to finish a lot of posts that have been lingering, half-finished, in my drafts…

Recently, I have tried dating again. Apps, online, being social, etc. I’ve been doing a little bit of everything. Dating is exhausting but can offer you a great deal of insight into what you value about yourself and other people. I think I had gone on my fourth date when I realized that I was far more confident with where I am at in life and what I have to offer a potential partner than I was a couple of years ago. A couple of years ago…

A couple of years ago, I met Dude Gentleman Avery. Gentleman Avery is incredibly smart, well-educated, funny, curious, engaging, and attractive. He is all the stuff. He has faults, and I could enumerate them, but to what end? Despite them, in spite of them, I love him very much. Unfortunately, mistrust arose early in our relationship as a result of our shared desire to “hide” from each other. While it would impolitic for me to speak for him, I can say that my desire to hide from him resulted from insecurity. I met Gentleman Avery in March of 2019 before I had even started this blog. At the time, my debt felt like it was crushing me and I could not see a way out. I felt like I had so little to offer someone. Conversely, while Gentleman Avery was divorced, he had gotten everything else “right” in life (divorce can also be “right” but I know it is a sore spot for him and not how he would characterize the experience). He was attractive, fit, had a great career, a great income, had paid off his $100,000.00+ professional school debt, and was generally in the prime of his life. He also liked me a lot. But I couldn’t understand it, couldn’t imagine how someone like him would want me, and even if he did, I couldn’t imagine he would after he knew how much debt I had. Why would a yacht seek an anchor?

And so I held him at arm’s length. Enjoying his company and intimacy, while always hiding a bit of myself and hoping I would somehow never have to share with him about the coins that go clink in the night. As you can imagine, over time, this became exhausting for both of us. Both of us hiding and unwilling to be entirely vulnerable with the other person. At different points we tried, I tried, to just be friends. Hoping that this amazing connection could be something if it couldn’t be everything. I dated other people. He dated other people. But it never quite worked out. There has always been this thing with him. This thing that makes you feel warm, excited, annoyed, and a bit crazy. When being friends didn’t work, I tried to cut him out of my life entirely. More than once. But he always found me. Always assured me that it wasn’t how our story ended.

So here we are, years later, both single and tentatively reaching out once again. I don’t know that our story will have a happily ever after. I don’t know that it works like that in real life. What I do know is that I’m not an anchor. And I’m done hiding.

Lunar Do-Over Day 6: February 6th

1. How much did I spend today? – $0.00 – As a result of my upbringing, I generally treat Sundays as a day for family and rest; with preparation at home for the upcoming week. Most Sundays, I don’t leave the house, and consequentially, don’t spend any money. Today was such a Sunday.

February Variable (food, gas, misc.) Budget Initial Balance: $463.77
February Variable (food, gas, misc.) Budget Remaining Balance: $339.37

2. What financial information have I learned to help me when I’m debt-free? – As I shared in my post earlier today, I am currently reading up on Roth IRAs and trying to decide whether opening a Roth IRA or pushing my debt goal even further this year makes more sense. Both choices are about the future but one is decidedly more long-term than the other.

3. How have I lived abundantly? – I made a ton of kimchi fried rice for dinner. Kimchi can be expensive but I bought it fresh, whole, and bagged at my local HMart rather than in a jar. This means I had to spend time chopping it up but it was worth it. I love fermented dishes and Kimchi always makes my meals feel a bit more extravagant than they are.

October 2021 – Life Update

I haven’t written a life update in some time and I figured it was time I wrote one as life things often change your finances…

1) Applying to medical school – Not too long ago, I wrote “When the universe decides to call your bluff…” and I thought (and maybe you did too…except maybe C, she seems to be a soothsayer of sorts) that I was done with the “will she/won’t she” apply to medical school waffling until April. Yea…no. I know this is a life update and I hate putting off telling you what I have decided until another post…but I am. For the moment, I will say that I am the most content and the least anxiety ridden I have been in some time.

2) Dating/Social Life – Despite my very demanding schedule at University B, I have managed to squeeze in a couple of dates. I had a nice time, and great conversations with all of them, but no real attraction. I also thought that Dude (he actually hates the word “dude”…it’s probably why I initially used it) Gentleman Avery and I had finally moved on from whatever lingering mental pull we had on one another…but that was not to be the case. It was disappointing because I thought I had gotten to a place where I admitted I loved him (to myself…had been fighting this for some time), was comfortable with that, and with the idea that for several reasons, it just wasn’t going to work out. It only took one conversation between us to really “wreck” all the “progress” I had made in terms of moving on. I take a small amount of comfort from the fact that I know he hasn’t been able to move on either.

In between odd dates and work, I have also managed to make a few friends and good work colleagues. This is the first time in my adult life that I have really established significant connections and friends in a city and it’s pretty great. I went out for drinks and a late dinner with a new acquaintance (we’ve decided we will be friends) and I had the most fun I have had in some time. It must have showed, as the hostess stopped by our table to ask about our “girl’s night” as we “seemed to be having so much fun.” It was a pricier hangout that most nights for me, however, over the course of the evening, I learned she is also a pretty frugal person with significant student loan debt she is working to pay off (she is only 31) and pursuing public service forgiveness. I have more in common with her at this current point in my financial life than I have with anyone else and I am excited about the possibility of being able to be a bit more open with someone in real life about financial goals, plans, etc.

3) University B – I am just going through the motions at University B as I am mentally checked-out. And I admitted as much to my boss during my glowing (seriously, this man didn’t give me any constructive/critical feedback) performance review. I will continue to perform well in my role and do my best to support students, but beyond that, I am just counting down the days until June. A committee of which I was co-chair, whose work will be made redundant before the report to which we contributed is even published, has gratefully come to an end. I also have taken a step back from one of the “additional” duty jobs I had which resulted in a small stipend each month. Of course I decided to step away from it just as they increased the amount of the stipend…but that’s often how it goes. I may consider serving in this role again for the Spring semester but we will see.

My actual role at University B is incredibly demanding, in terms of my time, at the moment. I have worked three weekends each in September and October and will work two weekends in November. The Saturdays I give up for this role are really long days (usually 6:00AM-5:00PM) and I feel like the next day (like today) I spend a lot of time just trying to recover, and don’t feel like I have gotten a “real” weekend. Eh. It’s another reason I am excited to step away from this role in June.

This life update is a bit shorter than most because my gig work has meant I haven’t really been pursuing consulting work, and I have been doing gig updates in separate posts. I expect to pursue more consulting work in the next year but I am pretty happy with my gig work/full time work balance at the moment.

June 2021 Budget

Whew, May is mostly over and not a day too soon. Neither my wallet nor my waistline could handle it for much longer. To the budget…

Unplanned Spending – Okay, let’s talk about the obvious: I had unplanned spending of $2,426.22 in May. How did that happen? Well, I spent a month traveling the eastern seaboard with my best friend. We visited Williamsburg, Virginia Beach, the Outerbanks, Charleston, Savannah, Panama City Beach, Mobile, Biloxi, and New Orleans. Generally, we spent a couple of days in each city, staying longer in Charleston and New Orleans. It was an awesome almost month’s long trip and I only regret not budgeting better for it. Initially, the plan had been to stay in two different places for the month and perhaps split the cost of a house rental. However, things changed late in the game and my bestie suggested we visit a bunch of different cities. As I have stated previously, my bestie and I are in much different places financially and I should have maybe pushed back a bit against this idea. Spilled milk.

My only saving grace here is that as a result of tuition reimbursement and an outstanding consulting work payment that paid, I was able to immediately payoff the balances from this trip without dipping into my emergency fund. Yay! However, this means I will also have the lowest debt repayment month update on July 1st that I have had in awhile since it also took all of the money usually targeted for debt repayment to pay it off. Nay.

FDGM – The next thing you probable noticed was the skimpy $122.91 food, dining, gas, and miscellaneous budget. Yea, I know. Even if I scrimp, it is unlikely that I will be able to get by on that little in June. However, a couple of things are working in my favor… First, my new diet. So the traveling also meant eating out almost every night and enjoying decadent foods. While delicious, it did terrible things for my waistline, and my budget, and I will tighten it up significantly in June when I also get back to regular exercise. The move out of my parents’ home (more on that below) means I will also spend less on gas getting to everywhere. Additionally, I am expecting one more very small check (less than $150.00) that I would love to put towards debt repayment that will actually go towards helping me meet ends so that I can resume meaningful debt repayment on July 1st.

Rent – I am really excited to be moving into new digs on June 1st. The property is cute, centrally located, and a steal at everything included for $550.00. While staying at my parents’ home would have been the better financial choice (and they have suggested I stick around several times since I told them I was moving out), this is the much better choice for me overall. While I told Paula (hey, lovely) I would break down what the “true” cost of moving my June budget update, I am thinking it’s better left to another post.

I recently admitted, under direct questioning by Dude Avery, that I, ya know, like, like him. He seems to, ya know, like, like me as well, so hopefully another bonus of moving back to the city is getting to spend time with him.

Storage – Because I can’t move into my new digs until June 1st, I had to keep my storage unit for June. It is my hope that I will be able to ditch this for July or at the very least downgrade to a smaller unit. We will see.

April 2021 – Life Update

Once again, I have been missing in action in terms of posting. However, to be fair, I did try to set expectations for this in March when I shared that April was going to be a brutal month on all fronts…

1) Applying to medical school – In terms of completing the final prerequisites for applying to medical school, it’s really just a full on sprint to the finish line. Over the next seven days, I have five exams, several of which happen on the same day. The key here is prioritization.

The AMCAS medical school application widow opens on June 1st. This is the official start to the application season. Not to be overly cliche but “Where did the time go?” It feels like December 31st was not long ago and I was fretting over whether or not to go for it. For the moment, my plan is: 1) finish the semester, 2) take the second semester of organic chemistry, in person, over the summer (May 24th – July 14th), 3) study for the MCAT (July 14th – August 30th), 4) sit for the first September MCAT exam, 5) finalize applications by the end of September, 6) and pray for interview invites.

I have a friend who is already in medical school and she has remarked several times, “The hardest part of medical school is getting in.” I can’t imagine this is actually the case. However, it does often seem this way because you have so little control over the application process. Everything is incredibly subjective and highly dependent upon the medical school admissions committee and what kind of class they are trying to build…which is dependent on the changing needs of the medical field and the academic interests of their preceding classes. The best you can do is apply to schools that are a good fit and interview well.

2) Dating – Still not much happening on this front. Dude Avery and I have been in less contact. I think he remains on the fence about my decision to continue staying with my parents. To be fair to him, he doesn’t know my entire financial picture. That is, he knows I have student loan debt but he isn’t aware of exactly how much I have. And not because he hasn’t asked. He has. I have decline to share up to this point. I think talking about your debt with someone is incredibly intimate. Surprisingly, more intimate than many other things… In fact, in many instances, you are physically intimate with someone long before you would share the details of your finances with them.

Further, like a lot of logic oriented people, he tends to be emotionally dispassionate about finances. Which is probably a good way to be. But that’s not who I am. Or at least not where I am with my student loan debt. I could see him making an entirely reasonably comment about my student loan debt that inadvertently hurt my feelings. And, I just don’t have the energy to invest there at the moment.

3) University B – I have been grateful that my work at University B, for the most part, has been fairly easy to do while taking classes. Much of this is because my role at University B often requires that I work on evenings and weekends which means that I get lots of “comp” time. Comp time has allowed me to take time off during the work week when I need it to attend class or study. The end of the semester at universities means lots of reporting and that will ramp up in May, but I am hoping to get the bulk of it done between the end of my classes in April and the beginning of my summer class in late May.

4) Living at home – Continues to be pretty great. I finally broke down and shared with my parents that I am applying to medical school. I was afraid to share it with them previously because I was still on the fence but I finally admitted my plans in full and they were, unsurprisingly, very supportive. They even suggested that if I got into medical school in a nearby city, I could continue living with them to save money. That…that will not be happening. But I love them so much. For now, the plan is to stay with them through the end of this year (2021). By December, hopefully I will know my fate with respect to medical school.* If I am accepted somewhere, then most likely I will continue to stay with them until I move for the start of medical school in the summer of 2022. If I am not accepted somewhere, then I will start apartment hunting.

*Possibly not the case at all if I decide to also apply to D.O. (doctor of osteopathic medicine) programs as their application season doesn’t start until September and doesn’t end until March.

5) Consulting Work – This continues to be a balancing act. I have accepted a second project that will take me through the end of May but I will not accept any new work over the summer. I know! It doesn’t really seem as though I am in a position to be turning down lucrative work. However, taking the second semester of organic chemistry over the summer will be very intense, and other than work at University B, which is much more lax at universities during the early summer, I want that to be the only priority.

I know it’s pretty bland but that is my life at the moment. I have continued to make good progress on the financial front thanks to the free rent afforded by my boomerang child status (yea, I accept that it applies) and my May 1st update should show me still on track to pay off PSL 3 in June.

The so-called “Boomerang Child”

Oooooo-kay. It has been some time since I posted a budget. There was some laziness at the beginning of winter, followed by the unexpected flooding of my apartment, and me moving out of my apartment and moving in with my parents. The winter was…eventful, but I am looking forward to spring. Because my finances have finally settled since the move and I generally have a good idea of what my monthly expenditures will be, while living with my parents, I decided I would post a budget forecast for April (and I will). However, before I could do that, I figured I finally needed to address what it means to live at home, for me. I need to address it because I find that when I don’t work through how I feel about something that is tied to my finances, I often make a rash decision that is usually not in my long term best interest.

So…I hate the idea of being a boomerang child. I was entirely unaware of this word or that it might be applied to me, as a result of my present living arrangement, until Dude Avery began heckling me about it (he really is the worst). The barest amount of research found that the most common definition is: boomerang child (n) – an adult child returning home to live with their parents for economic reasons after a period of independent living. I think the reason this gets under my skin so much is because it implies a level of financial irresponsibility or parental overindulgence that has often been used to talk about millennials. To me. (I recognize that it may often result from an instance of genuine need or convenience of care for others).

As an incredibly independent person, I think I bristle at the implication that I am currently staying with my parents because I have not been financially responsible or do not have the means to live independently. This is simply not the case. I was a senior in college in 2008 when the recession hit. I watched many folks of my generation not get jobs after college or move back home with their folks (this is probably definitely what I should have done). But I got a job, lived frugally, and continued living on my own after college. AND took no meaningful steps to pay back my student loans for almost a decade. But that’s old news.

Further, while I still have significant student loan debt, I am fairly frugal, and on the advice of the Pennyfolk, have an emergency fund of $5000.00 set aside to address instances like this. The point being, even if I have not made the best financial choices in the past, for at least some time now, I have been a financially responsible person and my financial situation isn’t precarious enough to necessitate that I live at home. (I recognize there are some that might disagree).

Stepping off my soapbox, I also recognize that while this definition may not have been initially applicable to my reason for staying with my parents, it certainly would become applicable if I decide to remain living with my parents once the pandemic lifts…which is something I am considering. While my April budget will go into greater detail, while staying with my parents, I am able to put an extra $1,700.00 towards my student loans each month. This means that even without an extra job or consulting work, I could easily have both PSL3 and PSL4 paid off this year while cashflowing the application process to medical school.

What to do? My parents have been incredibly amazing and I have far more independence and alone time than I could ever have imagined. Overall, I am very comfortable and the anxiety I had about moving in with them has entirely dissipated. At the moment, staying through December, which would allow me to payoff both loans and likely know where I stand in the medical school admissions process, is very tempting. If I stayed and were accepted to medical school, then it is likely I would continue staying with them and move out the following June/July to go to school. If I were not accepted, then I could find a place on my own early in the new year. Before I make a final decision, I will have to have another talk with my parents…

I will also admit that some of this is coming up right now because of a conversation I had with Dude Avery last night. He can be exceptionally frustrating and has been playing both sides of this decision from the beginning. He suggested back in 2020, mid-pandemic, that instead of renewing my lease, that I move back home with my parents to pay off my student loans. At the time, the idea was appalling to me and I wouldn’t even consider it. Six months later, my apartment floods and I do just that. He then suggest that I not look for a new apartment and instead stay with my parents for as long as I need, and focus on paying off my debt. (Note: Dude Avery has made all the right financial choices in life, and is very frugal). However, last evening, Dude Avery wants to know when I am planning to move out of my parents home and back into the city. This felt like whiplash and I didn’t really know how to respond. While more context for our relationship would seem useful here, I don’t really feel like this is that post. What I will say is that Dude Avery lives in the city.

Ugh. I will make a decision about this, one way or the other, soon.

March 2021 – Life Update

Alright. I realize that I owe you all some explanation as to where I have been, what I have been doing, or, at the very least, why I have fallen all the way off my New Year’s resolution to post weekly. The truth is fairly simple: I have been busy, tired, or wanting for a subject about which to write. More specifically…

1) Applying to medical school – Also in my New Year’s Day post, I announced that I was going to continue to move forward with my long deferred plan of applying to medical school. This is still happening. However, I am SO VERY BORED in my classes and almost failing. Of course by “almost failing” I mean getting a “B” in both physics and organic chemistry* but in the world of medical school applications the hyperbole is warranted. I am trying to engage my coursework with some level of intellectual curiosity, but on most days it just feels like hoops and busy work.

*Note: I might be less stressed if I has listened to C’s sage suggestion to just take one course. But of course I didn’t. Instead, I enrolled in two courses, each with their own separate in-person labs, with different instructors, which feels like four courses.

2) Dating – While dating during a pandemic is already pretty rough, it’s even rougher when you are back at home with your parents. While my parents are pretty darn awesome and have given me tons of space, I haven’t quite made peace with being a boomerang child (I prefer the U.N.’s “displaced person” due to natural disaster…I know); and, telling someone you just met that you are in your mid-thirties and staying with your parents is pretty much a red flag no matter how you spin it. I do have a guy that has been lurking in my life for some time now (years) but I am mostly trying to pretend I am no longer attracted to him. We will call him Dude Avery for future reference.

3) University B – I am a bit overwhelmed by work at University B at the moment; less overwhelmed by what needs to be done and more overwhelmed by my lack of real control over it. Unfortunately, when I was bored last semester, before I decided to chase my medical school dream, I allowed myself to become over involved at work. If I weren’t taking classes, it would be more than manageable, but at the moment, I am feeling tired and undervalued. My supervisor recognizes this and has given my team a couple of “comp/mental health” days that we have been able to use instead of vacation but the students still need a lot of attention at the moment and they have begun to significantly creep into my personal time. The advice I have received from mentors is to pull back, which makes sense, but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. For the moment, my plan is to let one or two things (committee assignments) to find their natural semester end, and to abstain from serving in the summer and next year.

4) Living at home – It has been pretty awesome. Unfortunately, my parents aren’t letting me pay for anything at the moment (I still forcibly buy groceries and other stuff for them), but as I have shared in the past, they are aware that I still have some student loan debt and want to support me in this way to help pay it off faster. Originally, the plan was to sign a new lease for June 1, 2021. However, now I am not so sure… (Note: My parents are very happy to have me at home and have encouraged me to stay for as long as I like.) Ultimately, I think this will be determined by the success or failure of my application to medical school. If I fail to gain acceptance to medical school, then I will certainly move out and move on with my life. However, if I am admitted somewhere, it will necessitate a move and it might make more sense to move then as opposed to moving for less than a year only to move again.

5) Consulting Work – So after I decided to apply to medical school and I moved in with my parents, I mostly set my New Year’s plans of aggressively chasing consulting work to the side. Applying to medical school meant I didn’t have the time and living with my parents meant I could achieve my immediate financial goals without it. But because life never cares, a good friend and mentor decided to open his own consulting firm and has been steadily tossing work my way. While I have helped him in the past, ad hoc, he has decided that he wants this to be his primary source of income and wants to step away from University B at some point in the near future. We had a meeting with a client this morning and later this afternoon he text me, “…There is actually a much longer year long engagement we are starting to talk about. I am pretty sure I will have (sic) an intellectually engaging opportunity for you that will help to chip [a]way at those student loans.” Yea. More on that later…

So that’s it. That is where my life stands at the moment. I have been making good progress on the financial front thanks to my new living arrangement, the ongoing pandemic, and fairly low spending. You will see this reflected in my April 2021 – Student Loan Balance(s) post.

Dating while in debt, Part I.

I did not expect to have to write this post so soon. I’m just shy of a month in my new role, with my new employer, in my new city, and I didn’t really expect dating to be part of the equation just yet. Well, not exactly.

This past Sunday night, I was chatting on the phone with a friend who isn’t really a friend (you know those guys, the ones who aren’t quite comfortable with the friendzone but for whatever reason, or maybe for many reasons, you haven’t dated). We were talking about dating in my city and at some point I mentioned that I had declined a date. Despite what I felt were legitimate reasons for not going on a date with an almost adolescent (seriously, he was 25 and looked 18) my friend accused me of “avoiding” or being “hesitant” to date, despite my expressed interest in finding a partner that could lead to something long term. I don’t know if it was the nature of our relationship, how he said it, or the accuracy of it all, but it got under my skin a bit. That night, I took a decent photo of myself (I am not particularly photogenic) and signed up for an online dating site.

On Monday, encouraged by the response to my mostly blank profile, I added a couple more photos, completed the “about me,” and the “essay.” Later that evening, I got a message from someone to whom I will refer to as “Lawyerman.” Lawyerman had a really interesting profile so I responded. After exchanging several e-mails and text messages, we decided to speak on the phone. In addition to having a nice phone voice, Lawyerman is smart, funny, articulate, direct, open, and we stayed on the phone for far too long. Before the end of our conversation, he asked me out on a date for Friday evening. Despite my shock at the speed with which everything had happened, I happily agreed.

So here I am, dating again. And while there are immediate challenges to dating while paying off debt (affordable dates) there are also some long term challenges. Like, if the person you’re dating is in a better financial position than you are (perhaps as a result of being older, in a more lucrative profession, or just making smarter financial decisions), when, and under what circumstances do you disclose your more meager financial position? When you’re planning your first trip together? Cohabiting? Engagement?

I think there is a chance my friend-not-a-friend was correct but perhaps just not for the reasons he suspected. I think I attach a great deal of shame to my debt (past financial mistakes) and I think the idea of having to share that information with anyone feels like…exposure. For now, I am just going to focus on having fun on my date with Lawyerman (I suggested we go bowling) and leave the tough stuff for another day.