In this episode, Emily interviews Aubrey Jones, a PhD candidate in social work who lives in Tennessee. Aubrey is married and has a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, which means childcare is their household’s largest expense. They discuss how Aubrey’s family found a great deal on their housing and how to minimize food waste with littles. Aubrey and her husband both have variable incomes, which play into their savings and debt repayment strategy; Aubrey’s main side hustle is a very popular and accessible one for graduate students. Aubrey and her husband have set their debt repayment and savings goals so that they can buy a home about a year after moving for Aubrey’s first post-PhD job.
Links Mentioned in the Episode
- VIPKid Website
- Qkids Website
- Personal Finance for PhDs: Personal Finance Coaching Sign-Up
- Personal Finance for PhDs: The Wealthy PhDs Group Program Sign-Up
- Personal Finance for PhDs: Podcast Hub
- Personal Finance for PhDs: Subscribe to Mailing List
00:00 Aubrey: You’ll find the money for things that you prioritize, and I think that’s so true. In the past, we didn’t necessarily prioritize our savings, and so it was hard to find money for that. And now suddenly, we’re prioritizing it and prioritizing extra payments, and it’s because we figured out where we can cut and what we don’t need to do.
00:26 Emily: Welcome to the Personal Finance for PhDs podcast, a higher education in personal finance. I’m your host, Dr. Emily Roberts. This is season four, episode 18, and today my guest for this budget breakdown episode is Aubrey Jones, a PhD candidate in social work who lives in Tennessee. Aubrey is married and has two small children, which means childcare is their household’s largest expense. We discuss how their family found a great deal on their housing and how to minimize food waste with littles. Aubrey and her husband both have variable incomes which play into their savings and debt repayment strategy, and Aubrey’s main side hustle is a very popular and accessible one for graduate students. Aubrey and her husband have set their debt repayment and savings goals so they can buy a home about a year after moving for Aubrey’s first post-PhD job. Don’t miss Aubrey’s spot-on financial advice at the end of the episode. Without further ado, here’s my interview with Aubrey Jones.
Will You Please Introduce Yourself Further?
01:25 Emily: I am delighted to welcome to the podcast today Aubrey Jones who is going to be doing a budget breakdown episode for us and she’s got some really interesting elements in here. So, I’m really looking forward to this conversation. Aubrey, will you please introduce yourself, your career, and your family?
01:43 Aubrey: Sure. So, My name’s Aubrey Jones, and I have a husband, Josh. And then we have two little kids. We’ve got a three-year-old and a one-year-old, Madison and Simon. And basically, I started the PhD program with a seven-month-old, and when I finished my PhD program, I will have a four-year-old and a two-year-old. And I am getting my PhD in hopes to become a research professor, hopefully in R1, in the near future.
02:17 Emily: And what is your field?
02:18 Aubrey: My field is social work.
02:22 Emily: It sounded like you’re about a year away from finishing, hopefully?
02:27 Aubrey: Yes, I am a year away from finishing. I was able to take an extra year because I was awarded an extra GRA position for the fourth year. So, I was able to do that, which was nice.
Aubrey’s Household Income
02:41 Emily: All right, well we are actually in a very similar spot. My two children are the same ages, roughly, as your two. So, I’m sure many of your expenses will sound very similar to me. So, please tell me about your household income, your income as a doctoral student, and other sources of income in your household.
02:58 Aubrey: Sure. So, as a doctoral student, I received a stipend throughout my entire program, and it’s fluctuated from year to year, but it’s on average about $15,000 a year. And then it’s covered my health insurance also. And then my husband works in a job in which sometimes he will get additional money. So he’s a recruiter and he works on a draw system, and once he’s caught up, then any additional money that he gets goes straight to him. So, our household income fluctuates as well. So, usually anywhere from about $55,000 on the low end to $75,000 on the high end is where we fluctuate. And then, I recently just started teaching with VIPKid. I had been hearing about it, I have friends who’ve done it, and I finally jumped in to do it just to supplement some costs in our household because the hours are so flexible. And then as a doctoral student, I’ve also just picked up other side work with professors who had funding and were able to pay me to do stuff like that during the summer or in addition to get the extra experience and also the extra income.
04:18 Emily: So, the $15K stipend that you mentioned, is that just during the academic year or is that 12 months?
04:26 Aubrey: It is 12 months. So, you’re required to do about 10 hours of graduate research assistantship work, and then they break it out throughout the year as your payments.
04:40 Emily: Okay. So the additional work you’ve taken on within your academic role or to the side of it–you said during the summer, but that’s not because you’re not being paid during the summer–it’s just because you have some different time allocations or something?
04:52 Aubrey: Yes, correct.
Side Hustle: What is VIPKid?
04:54 Emily: Gotcha. So, I want to hear a little bit more about VIPKid because, similarly to you, I have been hearing that name a lot and I don’t know how new it is, but it feels new to me. So, can you say–maybe for someone else who’s interested in this kind of side hustle–what you’re doing exactly and what kind of the advantages are that you see?
05:13 Aubrey: Sure. So, I really love it. I actually just started this month, and there’s a fluctuation in pay. It ranges from $14 an hour to, I believe, $22 an hour. And the way that they do it is you teach a 25-minute class to kids in China and you’re teaching them English. So, you don’t have to know any Chinese. You just have to take some TESOL certificates that the company actually offers you for free and go through some mock interviews so they can see that you’re using props in your classroom that you’re using, it’s shortened TPR [Total Physical Response], but basically they want to see lots of hand gestures and pointing at your mouth and telling the kids, you know, listen. So, the 25-minute class is what you teach, and they pay you by 25 minutes. So, most people start out at about $8 per 25-minute class.
06:25 Aubrey: And then, assuming you get another class, that’s where it turns into that hourly pay of $14 to $22. But essentially you teach a 25-minute class, you get half of that $14 to $22 an hour. And you open up the schedule and you choose when you’re available. So, they tell you what the peak times are and you’re running on Beijing time. So, for people who are in Eastern Standard Time, I almost think that they’ve got it the best because the peak times are between 7:00 AM and 9:00 AM and then in the evenings on Friday and Saturdays from about 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM. You can teach all through the night, and I know some people do. I do not. So, I teach in the mornings from about 6:00 to 7:00 AM. Mostly because my kids are still sleeping, and sometimes I get the full time booked. Sometimes I don’t.
07:26 Aubrey: So, like I said, this is my first month doing it and I’ve made–well it’s not even the whole month yet. So just in the month of July, I’ll make about at least a hundred dollars, assuming I get no others classes booked.
VIPKid: Teaching English to Kids in China
07:40 Emily: I was a little bit confused about this. So, you said that you’re teaching in English. Are you teaching English or what is the subject matter that you’re teaching?
07:50 Aubrey: Yeah. So, the goal of VIPKid, the reason that parents in China sign their kids up for it is to help their kids learn how to be more comfortable talking to native English speakers. So, you are teaching English, but the whole class is also in English. And so, by proxy, you’re having a conversation in English, you’re trying to teach them certain things in English, and so you might be teaching them different vocabulary words that day.
08:18 Aubrey: So, this week I was teaching a kid “stamp,” so I had an envelope and I had some stamps and we talked about the word stamp and you say “stamp” and you make them repeat it twice so that they’re learning the word and then they’re learning in context. I teach primarily older kids who are already fluent in English. So, it’s more of making them comfortable having that conversation as opposed to teaching them new things. Now, some people teach younger kids–like three, four years old. So, they really are teaching them English words and what that means. And so, they might say “happy, sad” and have them repeat it back. So, it just depends. But VIPKid already has the lessons prepared for you. So, you go through it with the student and the older kids read most of it. The goal is to have them talking about 75% of the time.
09:14 Emily: Gotcha. And I think I’m picking up that this is a one-on-one interaction?
VIPKid versus Qkids
09:18 Aubrey: It is a one-on-one interaction. Yes. And there’s another company called Qkids which is similar, and they do anywhere from one to four kids in the classroom. And they actually schedule for you. Whereas VIPKid, the parents choose you as a teacher. So, it’s a lot more competitive to make a savvy profile that parents want to choose you.
09:44 Emily: I see. Well yeah, I can definitely see why this is an attractive, exploding side hustle. At any rate, as of July, 2019. So, thanks for telling us about your experience with that. Do you like doing this so far? Do you imagine continuing? And how many hours are you devoting to it per week?
10:04 Aubrey: Okay. Yeah, so I do, I really like it. It’s a lot of fun. It’s different than anything I’ve done in the past, and I will definitely keep doing it for the foreseeable future. Right now, the summer months are kind of slow so I’ve been able to just open up more slots knowing that I wasn’t going to see as many kids. But in the future, primarily in the fall, I will be finishing my dissertation so I won’t be devoting nearly as much time to it. But after I’m done dissertating, probably five to 10 hours a week.
10:41 Emily: I’m really glad that you brought this up because I can see how, for someone who wants a side hustle, this is a really, really accessible one. It sounds like you’re able to get started pretty fast too.
10:52 Aubrey: Yeah, it took me about two weeks to go through the whole process.
10:57 Emily: Yeah. Excellent. Okay, so let’s dive into the budget breakdown, right? So, we’re going to talk through your top five expenses. And I don’t remember if you mentioned, but where do you live?
11:09 Aubrey: We live in Tennessee.
Budget Breakdown: Top Expense = Daycare
11:11 Emily: Okay, great. So, top expense.
11:15 Aubrey: Our top expense is daycare.
11:18 Emily: Ah, new and different because usually this is rent, but I am not surprised that daycare is at the top of your list with two children. So, how much are you spending?
11:27 Aubrey: Yes. So, daycare is about $1,000 a month for both kids to be in daycare full-time. And so, our youngest kid was not in daycare the whole time. He actually just started going to daycare more recently. And that’s because, as a graduate student, I was really lucky to have such a flexible schedule where he could essentially just home with me. I wasn’t taking classes, I was working on my dissertation, and when I had to work on my dissertation or do extra work for my GRA position, I was able to do so in the evenings or on the weekends when my husband was home. But now that I’m in the final stretch of my dissertation, I need the distractions out of the house so that I can work all the time. So again, that’s new. When it was just our daughter, it was closer to like $600 a month, I want to say, for her. So, obviously not greater than our rent at that point.
12:27 Emily: Yeah. I’ve had a similar approach. I am the primary caregiver for our children and so we mix in childcare maybe as needed and it kind of fluctuates. It really changes a lot with how old your children are and kind of what type of kids they are. Whether or not they give you time that you can be doing other things or whether they require a lot of hands-on attention, and that changes with age. So yeah, I definitely feel you on what you were trying to do in the past and also your decision to put them both in daycare full-time now. Is there anything else, any other comments you want to make on that daycare expense?
13:05 Aubrey: So another way that we reduced the cost of daycare too was our daughter was in daycare full-time when we first started, and I was a full-time student. And then once my classes started slowing down and they were online, I was able to transition her to a “Mother’s Day Out” program, which is just a part-time daycare, essentially. And so that drastically reduced our cost. It was like $80 a week to have her in that three days a week and they fed her and everything. So that was great. And then in the summers we’re able to take them both out and just pay about half the cost to keep their spots if we need to or if we want to so they can go part-time and full-time in the summer for a reduced rate, essentially.
Does Your University Aid with Childcare Expenses?
13:58 Emily: And does your university help at all with childcare expenses?
14:03 Aubrey: They do not. I will say that my professors and department have been incredibly supportive of me having kids and just understanding that. There was one time I had to bring my daughter to class with me because there was like a nasty flu outbreak happening at her school and I wasn’t about to let her get it, let alone really let myself get it. So, one of my professors let me bring her, and I was so thankful. And she just hung out and loved it. So they’re like emotionally supportive of that. But financially, no.
14:44 Emily: Yeah. They help you to a degree, but not as much as maybe we would like. Okay. Number one expense: childcare. What’s that second expense?
Budget Breakdown: 2nd Expense = Rent
14:55 Aubrey: Rent. So, we pay just a little over $907 a month, so I rounded it up to $908. And we actually pay below market value for where we live. We have a two-bedroom condo, we’ve got a garage, we’ve got a backyard, two bath. And I think our neighbors rent for about $1200 a month. When we first moved here, we actually only paid $875 a month and we were living across the street. And then our landlords decided to sell. And so we already knew the neighborhood. We really loved the neighborhood. This might sound silly, but we knew our mailman and to us, that was just so great. Like, we really know this place. And we had some friends who lived across the street and they happened to be moving out and going somewhere else. And we told them, “Hey, our landlords are selling, can we rent from you because we know you’re not ready to sell yet?” And they said, “Yeah, sure you can just cover our mortgage and our HOA fees.” And so that’s how it bumped up to $908, but still below market value for this area. So we’ve been really fortunate in that.
16:17 Emily: That is an amazing deal. I have to say, not the best financial decision for them, but really great for you.
16:27 Aubrey: Yeah.
16:28 Emily: Yeah. And of course, you know, I actually talked about this with another episode I did in season three. I interviewed a landlord who was renting to people he knew from his program. You know, they were his roommates at first. Then when he moved out it was people he had known from that graduate program, and he just talked about what like peace of mind it gave him to know his tenants and trust them. And so, yeah. Maybe they’re giving you a good deal on this rent, but they probably also have a lot less stress.
16:58 Aubrey: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And some of it too, like we do have to take care of some things on our own just because they weren’t really prepared to be landlords. So, like we have to pay to have someone come out and fix our dishwasher, which isn’t a big deal to us, but there are just a couple of trade-offs to it. But again, it’s better than having to go out and move all of our stuff and pay. I mean, that would be a large amount of money to increase that we just weren’t prepared for or ready for.
17:34 Emily: Yeah. Well, yeah, it sounds like a really good situation that you’re in. And I guess the tip that may be applicable to other people is get to know some homeowners who are ahead of you. Yeah. I actually also rented a private residence from a former graduate student who was then in a postdoc somewhere else when I was in graduate school, I did not know her personally so I don’t think we got any rental discount, but yeah, you know it happens. People buy, and then they move on.
18:03 Emily: Emily here for a brief interlude. As a listener of this podcast, every week you hear strategies that another PhD has used to improve their financial picture. But listening and learning does not automatically translate into action in your own financial life. If you are ready to change how you think about and handle your money but need some help getting started, I can be of service. There are two main ways you can work with me to create and implement a financial plan tailored for you. First, I offer one-on-one financial coaching, either as a single session or a series as you make changes over the longterm. You can find out more at pfforphds.com/coaching. Second, I offer a group program called The Wealthy PhD that is part-coaching, part-course, and part-community. You can find out more and join the waitlist for the next time I open the program at pfforphds.com/wealthyPhD. I believe it’s possible to succeed with your finances at every stage of PhD training and throughout your career. Let’s figure out together how to make that happen for you. Now, back to the interview.
Budget Breakdown: 3rd Expense = Food
19:18 Emily: Okay. So, really good deal on rent. Excellent job on that. What’s that third expense?
19:23 Aubrey: This would be food. So, we are not super great at keeping our food costs down. That ranges anywhere from $800 to $1,000 dollars a month right now. And $1,000 is pretty rare. But, I was going through prepping for this and I felt like, “Well, let’s be honest, we’ve hit $1,000 before.” So, it doesn’t normally happen. We keep it closer to $800, and we’re pretty strict on that. So, we are feeding two kids. Our one-year-old, I swear, is just a garbage disposal. He just consumes everything and anything right now. And I was nursing him for about eight months, and then his appetite exploded. So, we switched him over to formula. So, we’re weaning off formula. So, that should start decreasing.
20:22 Aubrey: And then it also has a lot of our household stuff too, like diapers and pull-ups. We potty trained our oldest before our second was born because there was no way we were paying for two kids in diapers, and that was the best thing we ever did. She took to it really easily. I’m a little nervous the second time around that it may not go quite as well. And then we keep tons and tons of fresh produce in the house. But other ways that I do try to reduce the cost, things that we’ve been thinking about a lot more lately, especially once we started keeping track of our expenses, is food waste. And so that always seemed to really obvious to me. I would hear people talk about that and I would think, well, I don’t waste food. What are you talking about?
Strategies to Avoid Food Waste with Littles
21:09 Aubrey: And now I’m so much more cognizant of it. And my three-year-old will take two bites of something and say, “I’m done.” And in the past I used to think, “Okay, whatever.” And I would just toss it. And now, “What are you doing?” So, I just put it in the fridge and when she gets hungry later I put it back out on the table and say, “You can finish this if you’re that hungry.” And most of the time she doesn’t want to finish it because she’s not actually hungry. She’s just fishing around to see what I’ll give her. And then we’re really big on right now food exposure and trying to make sure that they’re constantly being exposed to vegetables. So, I’ve been buying a lot of frozen vegetables, which is really helping, so I’m not wasting the fresh vegetables. But I’m still able to make sure that they’re at least, even if they’re not eating it, they’re seeing it on their plate. So, that’s how we’ve decreased it. We don’t eat out. We cook almost all of our meals at home. My husband gets to eat out a little more for work. But yeah, I don’t see it going down much more, to be honest.
22:23 Emily: Yeah. I have to say, there’s again a lot of similarities in spending patterns between the two of us in this area because our one-year-old is also like eating everything in sight right now. She’s going through some kind of crazy growth spurt, which is actually great because that means that food that other people don’t want to finish, we can give to her, and she’ll finish it. So, that’s working out well. I also do the same thing. If my three-year-old doesn’t finish something, I may pack it back into the fridge because, like you, when it was just me and my husband, I was like, “Yeah, we don’t really waste that much food. Like we’re pretty on top of food consumption. But then you have a child who throws food on the floor, and like there’s a lot more waste that happens. So, we try to reduce it where we’re able to.
23:05 Aubrey: Yes, exactly.
23:05 Emily: And yeah, same thing about formula, which I hope is not a forever expense for us, but it’s pretty expensive in the meantime. So, yeah. Thank you for that insight. Oh, and the diaper situation. Yes. We also potty trained before our second was born so that we would not have two in diapers at the same time. Although we cloth diaper. So, for us it was more about not having to buy more cloth diapers to add to the stash. Right? Which is kind of the most expensive part of that whole process. So, yeah. All right. Thank you for your insight into that category. So what is your fourth largest expense?
Budget Breakdown: 4th Expense = Car Debt
23:39 Aubrey: So, that would be my husband’s car payment, which is $300 a month. And then we usually throw extra money at that. And that is one of the fewer pieces of debt that we have. And we plan to have that paid off by the end of the year, actually. Because he does do recruiting and he sometimes gets those bonus paychecks, we have just been able to throw that at debt. So, like last month we were able to throw an extra $1,000 at his car that wasn’t in the budget. So, that is always really nice. But we actually just had to get him a car because he had a 2000 Subaru and it finally just died while he was driving one day with our three-year-old. And so, it was time for him to get a car.
24:33 Emily: So, you’ve really taken that drive-it-into-the-ground advice to heart. You know, mostly when I talk to people about cars or I think about cars, it’s like we think about that long period, the almost two-decade period when you’re driving that single car. I don’t know when he bought it exactly, but the many years. And people are a little nervous about the endpoint. So, can you talk to me about when it broke down with your three-year-old in the car and how you handled that? It seems that it was okay, right?
24:59 Aubrey: It was a traumatizing week for her because my car, which is actually only three years old, broke down two days before, and she was in the car and we had to call my classmate to come pick us up. And then she was driving with dad and they were actually stopping to get her a treat because she had been such a good big sister. So, they stopped at Starbucks and they were in the drive-through and it just died in the drive-through line. And he had to push it. And so, twice in one week, this poor kid was in a car that broke down. So, that was a little traumatic. And she still talks about it. And this was three months ago, maybe. So, he had to get out and just push it by himself. And she did this cute little reenactment of him doing it. And I had to come pick them up, so I had to get the baby woken up from his nap and then go get them. And his car sat at Starbucks for three days until we could get a tow truck out there. And our insurance luckily covers the tow truck expenses. And so, he tried to put it on Facebook Marketplace to see if anyone was good at fixing cars or needed parts, and he didn’t get any bites. And so finally he just went to I think like an impound lot or something. But yeah, we had one car for like a month, so I was driving him to work and that’s across town. And so we had to really navigate our schedules. And then I tried to convince him to just have one car because we were making it work, but he wasn’t going for it. So, that’s how we ended up with a car payment.
26:51 Emily: Yeah, thanks for that story because we are also currently driving a car into the ground. And I do think about when that final end-point is going to be and what exactly is going to happen. But usually it’s okay. It’s a little difficult in the short-term, but it’s kind of worth it, right? To keep a car for a long time.
27:09 Aubrey: Absolutely.
27:10 Emily: So, what is the fifth expense on your list?
Budget Breakdown: 5th Expense = Husband’s Student Loan
27:12 Aubrey: That fifth one is my husband’s student loan. And that is $219 a month. And that should hopefully be paid off by the end of the year also.
27:22 Emily: Yeah. Let’s talk about that next and sort of under the category of financial goals. So, you’ve mentioned two types of debt so far. And so, what is your strategy with repaying debt?
27:35 Aubrey: Yes. So, the car and his student loan and my student loans are the only debt that we have. And so, right now, his student loan is bigger than his car payment. So, the car is our first thing that we’re trying to prioritize. So, any of the VIPKid money that I get is going to the car. Basically, we’re doing that snowball [method].
28:00 Emily: Yeah, I think it’s that snowball method. I was just going to say, you live in Tennessee, so this is Dave Country. [Do you follow Dave Ramsey?]
28:07 Aubrey: It is Dave Country. I don’t, but I do follow a lot of debt-free, financial independence people who have done Dave Ramsey. So, that’s where I’ve picked up some of our ideas and stuff. So, we’re really just attacking that car payment, putting anything extra that he gets to it. We’ve got a lot of financial goals, and this is why we’re not exactly Dave Ramsey because we’re also trying to save for a house at the same time. And so, our goal is to be debt-free from car payments and his student loans by the time we’re ready to purchase a house. And then my student loans are just kind of this whole other thing that right now we’re just unfortunately avoiding because I’m still in school. And we’ve limited using any student loans while I’ve been in my program except for one year when the baby was born and we just wanted to have that extra cushion just in case we knew that he would probably go to daycare. And we just weren’t sure, because my husband’s income fluctuates so much, if we’d be able to afford it every month or not.
29:18 Aubrey: So, the months that he gets a bonus check, we pay daycare out-of-pocket. And we pay most of daycare out-of-pocket and then supplement with those student loans. And then everything else goes to debt that’s not covering daycare. And then like I said, the VIPKid or any babysitting that I do or like I adjunct sometimes also, so that money goes straight to the car. So yeah, that’s our goal. Again, we think we’ll have that tackled by the end of this year just with where his business is at.
Importance of Prioritizing Your Financial Goals
29:52 Emily: I really love the strategy that you’re using. And I’ll make it explicit again. So, you’ve decided what your priorities are–car, husband student loan, your student loan–and you’re making whatever minimum payments are necessary on those and throwing all your money that you come up within a given month to that top-priority debt. That includes side hustle money. And this is very “Dave” like to have this clear prioritization and to throw everything you can at your top priority. And the reason that it works really well–and then I’m really glad you’re using this–is because it does keep you motivated to earn extra money in whatever ways you can fit into your schedule. As opposed to just like, “Oh, I think I should be side hustling in general. My budget could use some more padding.”
30:43 Emily: It’s much better to tie it to a specific goal. In your case, it’s debt repayment. And so, it really keeps your motivation high for pushing yourself because it is hard to be a parent and be in a PhD program and have the work associated with that. So, you’re doing a lot obviously, but it’s clear that you know exactly why, right? And you know, it’s a limited-term thing. As Dave says, “Live like no one else. So later you can live like no one else.” Which means, live like no one else right now. You’re hustling. You’re throwing everything you can at the debt. And then later, living like no one else is when you are wealthy and comfortable and the picture is rosy. So, it’s like a short-term period of sacrifice to really turbocharge and get ahead. I wanted to ask about your house downpayment goal. So, am I right in assuming that you guys will be moving wherever you get a job?
31:37 Aubrey: Yes, we will be moving wherever I get a job. So, our goal is to hopefully purchase a house about a year after. Just so we can get a feel for that area first before just showing up and buying a house and then realizing we chose the worst area to be. So, we do have money in our budget dedicated to savings. Which was something that we hadn’t always done. We used to kind of just, “Oh, okay, we have $10 left over this month, let’s put that in savings.” Where now we dedicate at least $200 goes to savings every month. So, that is obviously for emergencies or for this house if we can. And then, once his car and student loan get paid off, then the rest of his paychecks and stuff will start going to that down payment. And again, we hope that we’ll have probably $10,000 to $15,000 by the time we’re ready to move, is kind of our goal.
32:38 Emily: Yeah, that sounds really good. I think you’re really, again, on the right track by planning on renting for a year, wherever you move to. Because I totally agree. It’s really difficult to make such an important decision like where you’re going to live, especially in your case. You guys already have kids, so you know your kids are going to be in school, and like there’s just a lot of considerations there–to take that time to really get to know the area. And of course, continue to save up more money, for the down payment or whatever, before jumping into that purchase. So, final question here. What is your best financial advice for one of your peers? Maybe another parent in a graduate program?
Best Financial Advice for One of Your Peers?
33:17 Aubrey: Yeah, so I think my best advice would be to just remember why you’re doing it. Because we have tried many times to live like this and it’s always just become, “Ah, whatever we don’t want to.” And now we’re very motivated, I think, because of our children. Like we want to give them a house and like a nice life. So that’s my “why” of why we’re doing it. Why am I waking up at 5:00 AM to teach kids in Beijing English? It’s so that we can have this hopefully financial independence and teach our kids what to do with money. And then my husband has a good saying that he’s told his friends who are just starting out having kids and they’re freaking out about not being able to afford things. And he tells them, “You’ll find the money for things that you prioritize.” And I think that’s so true. In the past, we didn’t necessarily prioritize our savings and so it was hard to find money for that. And now suddenly we’re prioritizing it, and we’re prioritizing extra payments. And it’s because we figured out where we can cut and what we don’t need to do.
34:35 Emily: I think you are so exactly right with those comments, and they’re so insightful. I totally agree that you have to establish the “why” for why you care about personal finance at all, why you should care about your own finances. And then, once you know the “why,” that tells you your priorities, right? Top, second, et cetera. So like, it does make it so much easier when you know clearly what your motivation is, I think. Yeah. You and your husband–I think you guys are doing great. Really. Like, yeah, it sounds really good. I mean, I’m so glad you’re on a clear plan and there’s like a timeline on it, and yeah. It seems like it’ll all coalesce within the next one to two years with, you know. Hopefully, you’ll have the job you want and be in an okay place to live. Not much choice on that necessarily, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it, and the debt will be done, and you’ll be taking out a mortgage, and that’ll be a whole other ball game, and yeah. Sounds delightful, actually.
35:29 Aubrey: Yeah. And I will say, we’re very fortunate with his job that allows him to get bonuses and stuff that lets us pay things off, which is why it’s kind of variable and all over the place. But it wouldn’t be possible without his job, so we’re super thankful for that.
35:48 Emily: Yeah, of course. Well, best of luck to you and your family. And thank you so much for joining me today.
35:54 Aubrey: Yeah, thank you for having me.
35:56 Emily: Listeners, thank you for joining me for this episode. Pfforphds.com/podcast is the hub for the Personal Finance for PhDs podcast. There, you can find links to all the episode show notes and a form to volunteer to be interviewed. I’d love for you to check it out and get more involved. If you’ve been enjoying the podcast, here are four ways you can help it grow. One, subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it on Apple podcast, Stitcher, or whatever platform you use. Two, share an episode you found particularly valuable on social media or with your PhD peers. Three, recommend me as a speaker to your university or association. My seminars cover the personal finance topics PhDs are most interested in like investing, debt repayment, and taxes. Four, subscribe to my mailing list at pfforphds.com/subscribe. Through that list, you’ll keep up with all the new content and special opportunities for Personal Finance for PhDs. See you in the next episode! And remember, you don’t have to have a PhD to succeed with personal finance, but it helps. The music is Stages of Awakening by Podington Bear from the free music archive and is shared under CC by NC. Podcast editing and show notes creation by Meryem Ok.