I know. Hear me out.
Exactly one week ago, I signed a lease for a house share in the city. I imagine this is shocking to you all as I have stated more than once (1, 2, 3…) my intention to continue living with my parents through the end of the year, when I expected to know more about my status in the medical school application process. However, after time spent on the road with my best friend (more on that later), I realized I very much missed independent living. For this reason, I dipped my toe back into the rental market and found a house share I thought would be a good fit for me and hoped the Pennyfolk would approve. So, onto the questions…
When are you leaving home again? – My lease begins on June 1st (although I am hoping to move in Memorial Day weekend) and goes through May 31st of next year. If I get accepted to medical school in my current city, then I would consider staying put if my landlord is agreeable (she lives abroad). If I get accepted to medical school elsewhere, then my lease would be end and I would move for school. If I don’t get accepted to medical school, I can extend my lease and consider the next life steps.
How much is your rent? – $550.00!
What does that include? – EVERYTHING! The rent includes all utilities and parking in the subdivision.
What is the deal? – One of the perks of working at a university is that at larger universities in larger cities, there are often off-campus housing boards on which only people with a direct association to the university (student, staff, faculty, etc.) may post. My new landlord bought the house while a postdoc at the university but took a job abroad after school. While she could rent it for significantly more or sell it, for now her goal is just to keep it rented consistently so she doesn’t have to spend time looking for tenants and to cover her mortgage.
Where are you living? Is it safe? – It’s actually in a much nicer area of the city than where I was previously living. I will be sharing a tri-level townhouse (Northeastern folks would recognize it as a “rowhouse”) with two university graduate students. The person I am replacing in the home was a medical student at the university where I work. The photo above is essentially what the house looks like and how it is set up. On the first level of the home, which is what I am renting, there is only my bedroom and bathroom. The next level has the living area including the kitchen, living room, and laundry. The top floor has two bedrooms, each with their own bathroom.
While my future housemates seem like lovely people, I love the fact that I will be living on the bottom level alone.
Is this really better than staying with your parents? – Yes and no. My parents were lovely and I was staying at their home for free. While my rent is super cheaper it’s still more than free. However, I will begin class again in late May and the drive from my parents house to campus is an hour and a half each way. And, as my employer expects me to be back on campus in mid-July, I was also dreading the hour commute from my parents home to work in traffic.
Beyond that, I had slowly come to miss my independence in a lot of ways that it is difficult to articulate.
What does this mean for your goals and budget? – Not as much as I thought it would. Certainly not as much in the short term as this month’s long roadtrip I am on with my best friend. I will do a deep dive into the numbers later this month with an updated June budget. But that is for another post…
Thoughts…Shocking? Disappointed? A huge mistake? Not surprised at all?
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.
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.
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.
It’s 6:00AM…which is a perfectly normal time for someone to be awake. It is a terrible time to be awake if you are a night person…or if you were awakened at 3:00AM by the sound of thunder and lightening, followed swiftly by panic at the sound of water trickling into your apartment. Ugh.
By 4:00AM there was at least an inch of dirty, reddish water standing above the carpet, in the main living area, of my studio apartment. Unfortunately, the floor in my apartment has a slight slant (I don’t know the grade) which meant water made it’s way about six feet in, and trickled into my kitchen where there was about a half an inch of standing water on the vinyl floor. Ugh.
But wait, it gets at bit worse. I generally wear rubber house slippers around my apartment. It’s good for my feet, and I have always been suspicious as to the maintenance of carpets in apartments. However, as I was climbing onto my bed to write this post, I “accidentally” stepped on the rug in front of my bed to discover that even though the carpet looked dry, it was squishy and wet. I assume it is the padding underneath. Ugh.
So here I am, sitting on my bed, worried about how quickly my apartment complex will fix this and whether or not they are going to try and make me liable for anything. Also, they don’t do a great job of “fixing” anything so should I rent my own carpet fan/dehumidifier? Wet/dry vac? Pay for a carpet cleaner? Move? And how to pay for any of this? Should I try to pull it out of my meager miscellaneous budget for February? My emergency fund? Why didn’t I get renters insurance? None of my personal property was damaged, would this have been a good investment? Is this what being an adult is?
Yea, okay, so my thoughts spiraled there a bit. Ugh. Well, I am grateful to have the ability to post here. I can’t call my parents because their concern, thoughts about what I should do, and constant need to be updated would create anxiety for me as I try to think through things rationally. To be fair, my father is a pretty stoic and unflappable but my mother is…not. They have been married for more than forty years, and they tell each other everything, so if one knows, the other knows almost immediately. As a non-twenty something adult, I have learned that it is often better to tell them somewhat serious, but non-life threatening, things after the situation has passed.
As I finish writing this, I hear the sound of distant police and ambulance sirens. I am grateful all I have to worry about is a bit of water.
Update – Pictures since my early morning explanation wasn’t great…