Yollk's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Post Reply
Yollk
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:20 pm

Yollk's journal

Post by Yollk » Fri Jul 12, 2019 6:17 pm

27 y/o male
PhD student in STEM
Midwest, USA

I'm not great with introductions.

CS
Posts: 399
Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2012 10:24 pm

Re: Yollk's journal

Post by CS » Fri Jul 12, 2019 6:25 pm

Make it a bullet list and you'll be fine. Welcome.

Yollk
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:20 pm

Re: Yollk's journal

Post by Yollk » Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:13 pm

By the numbers

Overview
Salary net: $22.5K - my minimum stipend which can fluctuate higher depending on my funding source
Salary post-tax: 20K
Debt: 0
Checkings: 1K
VG mutual funds: 68K (a blend of VFIAX, VINEX, VIMAX, VSMAX)
VG bonds: 17K (VBTLX)
Networth: $86K

Income, savings, expenses
Salary net: $1875/month - no side income and no plans for it

Rent: $927.5/month
Groceries: ~$250/month
Restaurants/Alcohol: ~100/month
Health insurance: $67.25/month
Therapy: $60/month - co-payment for cognitive behavioral therapy
Utilities: avg 90/2 = $45/month (split w/ roommate)
Internet: 74/2 = $37/month (split w/ roommate)
Gym: $39/month
Other subscriptions (Spotify, HBO, Costco, iCloud, NYT): $34/month

Total expenses: ~$1560/month

Savings: $468.75/month
Current savings rate: 25%
(Past 3 yrs savings rate: ~15%)

Those with a keen eye will find my numbers unsustainable:
1875[income] - 1560[expenses] - 469[savings] = (-154)

My expenses reflect monthly averages of the past year, while the increased savings rate is recent. To be continued... short-term tactics and long-term strategies for decreasing my expenses and increasing my income to maximize savings.

Yollk
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:20 pm

Re: Yollk's journal

Post by Yollk » Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:25 pm

CS wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 6:25 pm
Make it a bullet list and you'll be fine. Welcome.
  • Hi CS
  • I hope to never describe myself with a list
  • 8-)
  • Thanks for the warm welcome.

Yollk
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:20 pm

Re: Yollk's journal

Post by Yollk » Sat Jul 13, 2019 11:28 am

Maximizing income
Short term tactics:
My stipend is fixed as long as I am a student. The best thing I can do to increase my income is graduate and get a "real job". That being said, what I can do now is explore ways to graduate as soon as possible. How do I graduate with a PhD? By appeasing my committee. A committee is a group of professors along with my advisor who essentially decide when I will graduate. If I demonstrate research productivity by publishing and attending conferences they will allow me to defend my dissertation and graduate. At my recent annual committee meeting I proposed a two-year timeline to finish and publish my remaining research. So, the most important thing I can do is stick to this timeline. In addition to carrying out my research I need to start exploring career options and secure an internship which would save time job searching.

There are few sneaky ways I can pull additional cash in graduate school. The first is applying for fellowships or awards which could increase my salary from $1-15K/year. There is a trade-off here. It takes time to find, write, and apply for fellowships. Furthermore they are extremely competitive with award rates as low as 2%! The money alone may not be worth the time, but considering fellowships and awards are research "currency" and help graduate and build a CV these will be worth applying. The second way to make extra income is traveling for conferences. Small travel awards are often given with conference acceptances and per diems can cash upwards to $600/week. Attending conferences also has the benefit of being research currency for graduation and networking for job searching. And of course scientific conferences are a lot of fun and an expense-free way to travel to exotic places! I just got back from a week in Europe and am keeping an unspent $500 per diem.

Other less predictable but highly lucrative side incomes related to my research include patents and start-ups. I don't seriously consider this an option as I am risk-averse when it comes to investments that require my time.

And finally, what about side income unrelated to work? This is a hard no. My time is most efficiently used for career advancement and my free time is best spent with my girlfriend, family, and pursuing hobbies. I absolutely refuse to monetize my hobbies. Incentive is the killer of joy. I object to money, power, and status. I value liberty and learning.

Long term strategy:
The minimum starting salary after graduation could be $45K/year, with a ten year growth projection of up to 80K/year. This is the reality for those continuing to do bench science by post-doc'ing and eventually becoming full-time staff scientist in academia.

The maximum starting salary after graduation could be $120-150K/year, with a ten year growth projection of up to 300-500K/year. This would require me to 0) work my ass off publishing and network starting right now; 0.5) start moving away from science and 1) starting analytics, sales, or consultations; 2) sacrifice job security by joining a start-up; 3) switch jobs frequently every 1-2 years 4) re-locate to the East/West coast; 5) work long hours.

I am leaning towards a middle ground, where I could still do science but balance my work/life and remain in the Midwest. I'm interested in scientist positions in federal departments or local biotech companies. Starting salary could be $70-100K with reasonable security, good benefits, and a medium ceiling for salary growth. In the past I've considered the tenure-track professorship but am leaning away from it. I have a lot more to say about this topic that will come out in time..
Last edited by Yollk on Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

bigato
Posts: 2221
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: Yollk's journal

Post by bigato » Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:39 pm

I object to money, power and status.


I don't think you really do, your post talks mostly about those. And that's not a bad thing. They are just means to an end. They give you the freedom to spend your money learning or whatever you want.

Yollk
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:20 pm

Re: Yollk's journal

Post by Yollk » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:43 am

bigato wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:39 pm
I don't think you really do, your post talks mostly about those. And that's not a bad thing. They are just means to an end. They give you the freedom to spend your money learning or whatever you want.
HA, you're right of course. I'm not an anarcho-capitalist, just someone who is prone to making sweeping all-or-nothing assertions.

What do you think about this amendment: "I object to money, power, and status in and of itself."

bigato
Posts: 2221
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: Yollk's journal

Post by bigato » Mon Jul 15, 2019 5:13 pm

I don’t know, I’m not exactly sure about what you want to express. It seems to me that repeating this mantra is a way to program yourself to self sabotage. Maybe you should just drop it?
Or what about expressing it in terms of relative value? Like: values X, Z and Y are more important to me than money, power and status.

Yollk
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:20 pm

Re: Yollk's journal

Post by Yollk » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:53 pm

bigato wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 5:13 pm
I don’t know, I’m not exactly sure about what you want to express. It seems to me that repeating this mantra is a way to program yourself to self sabotage. Maybe you should just drop it?
Or what about expressing it in terms of relative value? Like: values X, Z and Y are more important to me than money, power and status.
Thanks for being patient and helping me to explore my thoughts. This is the first time I've blogged and I'm not use to others reading what I write. And I think what comes out are crude edits of my inner experience with little explanation.

I think it helps to take my objection in context. This is a personal decision for me. I'm not objecting to it conceptually or objecting that others do it. Nor am I rejecting it outright, as clearly I still 'play the game' with my work. I think I'm trying to say that I really do not want to mix my hobbies with extrinsic motivators. Yes I could qualify this statement and make it weaker, but I feel pretty strong about this. I guess I'm being hard on my past self. That ambitious self that made goals for everything and felt that something always needed to be produced

Yollk
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:20 pm

Re: Yollk's journal

Post by Yollk » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:35 am

Minimizing expenses
Short term tactics:
List of current expenses and how to reduce or eliminate them:

Rent: $927.5/month
-This expense is 50% of my current income :oops: For years I lived in a studio apartment for ~$730/month. I got bored and moved to an expensive apartment with an old friend. At the end of the month my lease ends and I'll be moving in with my girlfriend to a new apartment. We considered cheap 1brms but most were in bad shape and in student slums. We decided on a 2brm apartment in a quiet lake-side neighborhood. The property is self-managed and allows us to bike commute to work. Rent is 1340/month so I will be paying 36% of my income.

Groceries: ~$250/month
-Since Spring I have been bulk shopping at Costco. I eat well and plenty. I need about 4000 calories a day to keep my weightlifting, triathlon training, and yoga going.
Carbs: oatmeal, rice, lentils, rolled noodles, bagels
Protein/Fats: chicken, lean beef, tuna, eggs, greek yogurt, mixed nuts, cheese, peanut butter, olive oil, hummus
Fruits: apples, clementines, bananas, frozen strawberries, frozen blueberries
Veggies: Mixed salads, mixed frozen stiry fry veggies, onions, and for home-made smoothies: bulk kale/spinach, beets, carrots

I've considered eliminating or reducing meat. The only other way I see reducing this expense is limiting non-food purchases. About $50 of this monthly purchase goes to clothes, kitchenware, or anything else I find while getting groceries.

Restaurants/Alcohol: ~100/month
-This bill use to be very high but has lowered since dating my girlfriend. I no longer get take-out or binge drink at bars. Most of this current bill goes to weekend trips or lunch/beer with a friend. Do not expect to change for now.

Health insurance: $67.25/month
-My parents actually pay 50% of this bill (135/month). When I turned 26 my parents offered to help pay for a plan that allows me to receive care at my childhood hospital, one of the best in the nation. For routine concerns I use my University. If something life-threatening happened I could get care at my childhood hospital. If I changed to the standard access insurance I could reduce this payment to 30/month but would be limited to the University's hospital system. Is this extra spending worth the margin of treatment? I don't know, but I'm considering changing to the cheaper plan.

Therapy: $60/month - co-payment for cognitive behavioral therapy
-I see my therapist four times a month. Possibly reduce sessions to twice a month soon.

Utilities: avg 90/2 = $45/month (split w/ roommate)
-New apartment averages $70/month (electric/gas company makes data public), reducing this expense to 35/month.

Internet: 74/2 = $37/month (split w/ roommate)
-I'm working hard to convince my girlfriend that we do not need internet. Rent DVDs from the library for entertainment. Go to the coffee shop down the street for work-related internet uses. Read a book. Save $900 a year!

Gym: $39/month
-I bought this membership because it includes unlimited yoga at a very competitive price compared to other local yoga studios. But it still pains me as my University's gym is free. I really enjoy yoga and like other amenities of the gym (the sauna especially) so will continue my membership. Someday I want to build my own home gym and sauna.

Other subscriptions (Spotify, HBO, Costco, iCloud, NYT): $34/month
-I pay for my family's Spotify subscription for Christmas gifts. HBO can go. Costco stays. iCloud stays. NYT can go. This drops to 22/month.

Total expenses: ~$1560/month
-Expected new total expenses: ~$1200/month.

I plan to save the extra $360/month. First to build an emergency fund to cover three months of living expenses ($3600). Then probably a high yields saving account for a house down payment.

Long term strategy:
No grand strategy here, just a few thoughts floating around:
-Continue living without a car.
-I'm fortunate my girlfriend shares similar financial interests, i.e. keeping expenses low and savings high.
-Do not fear new hobbies, but be mindful of potential expenses.
-Avoid lifestyle creep.

Post Reply