Monday, June 6, 2011

money matters

I found myself seated at my laptop the other night asking my husband what his take-home pay was per week.  It had been almost a year since I drafted a budget.  Last time I did it, I don't remember it being so discouraging.  We weren't paying a whole lot for daycare, and it was before our house got reassessed (at 250% of it's original value).  Uugghckk..

After some brief number crunching, I realized that we have about $300 worth of leeway each month if we pay all the bills and never spend money on anything other than gas (40/week) and food (30/per person/week).  I keep telling myself: it could be worse, it could be worse.  Really, it's enough money to save for a class, I guess, if nothing goes wrong, if the cars don't break, if no one needs clothes or shoes or to go to the dentist.

I keep looking at jobs in other states.  I keep dreaming of some way to get more cash.  The Mayo Clinic pays their hospital aides no less than $14.80/hour because of union regulations.  Is cost of living higher in Rochester, though?  I have no idea.  It's probably not enough of a justifiable pay increase to move, especially considering that we own a house and no one wants to move.  I keep looking, anyway, though.  I'm just not really sure what else to do.  I feel a little trapped.

I've started to wonder if maybe I should apply to some kind of accelerated RN program (some of which take only a year), just to make enough money to go to school.  There's some overlap with the premedical prerequisites, and I can't help but wonder if the financial aid situation is more encouraging.  And, when I would be done, I would be able to make twice as much money per hour which would mean that I could work half as much, leaving more time for classes.  I don't know.  I don't know if it makes any sense.  I guess it would totally depend on financial aid offers.

Probably most nursing programs would hate me if I admitted that I decided apply to nursing school so that I could shield my family from financial collapse and eventually go to medical school.  At this point, I'm just really not sure what to do.  If I save and manage to put aside money for a class, as soon as I stop working, we'll be screwed.  The only thing that seems even remotely feasible would be working part time (which I'm not even sure is an option) and taking a class.

My husband and my parents keep telling me that I'm young, that I have lots of time.  It just seems like they don't understand how deflating it feels to not have an even remotely promising plan. 

I don't get how I am making this so complicated. 

It seems like it shouldn't be so complicated.  Really, though, things have changed a lot, especially how difficult it is to procure educational loans these days for more undergrad classes when you already have a bachelor's degree.    

So, I just keep looking for better jobs, and going to work, day after day, which I guess is okay.  I just don't get how so many people live this way.  How are so many people are okay with their mediocre dead-end jobs?  Are some of them honestly content, or is this just an illusion?


  1. I think people just don't evaluate their lives so they don't realize. Or their mediocre jobs are fulfilling for them because they don't have aspirations. I noticed this in every other person I worked with in my research job after college, except obviously the physician who ran the lab.

    The accelerated RN programs isn't a bad idea, but unless you got a full scholarship it's more loans. Just remember everything will work out.

  2. Why not look into the RN program? You could always not go if it wasn't what you wanted.

    I don't know that everyone is content with their dead end jobs. Some of them go through life barely keeping it together. Others never had other aspirations, or have already achieved more than they expected so it doesn't bother them as much.

  3. I got a B.A. in the early 70's. I started trying to go back to school, but life happened, I moved, got a better job, stopped any aspirations, and had some fun. Moved to a rural area that only had shit jobs, was totally unfulfilled and tried to go back to school or find stimulating hobbies. Finally went back to school in my fifties, mostly paid by me as I already had a degree from 30 years before. Got the other undergrad degree, but realized I was too old to do call, etc. and finally accepted what I have become. Intellectual stimulation is where I find it. My wife is retiring to social security and so we will struggle financially again. Oh, well. I have taken my unfulfilled aspirations and turned them inward, learning languages, more music, reading obscure historical novels, etc. I am trying to be at peace with myself and forgiving myself for not doing the greater things I was capable of. It took a long time.

  4. Yeah! The accelerated RN program is a really good idea, I think. For the following reasons:

    1) it will give you a great job when you are done
    2) you will have an AMAZING background for medicine
    3) it is well paying and very flexible (for now with things like child care, and for later to finish up any pre-reqs you might need)
    4) if you decide you want to take some time before diving into medical school you'll still be gaining experience in the area, in the meantime.

    Honestly, I went into nursing with the SOLE intention of it's benefit for studying medicine down the road. I had planned to go to MD school after about a year of nursing but actually LOVED working as a nurse, adored the flexibility, the learning, the travel I got to do, the cash I was making. When it was time for me to go back, I did. And I don't regret my time as a nurse one bit.

  5. Accelerated RN program is great. My wife just applied here at my school. Reasoning? So we would have more money! :)

  6. Listen to ABB -- she knows what she's talking about. I recently advised a friend to pursue nursing (she'd fallen off the pre-med track many years ago), precisely because it's a flexible career that will open a lot of doors for you. Plus you might also end up loving it.

  7. Despite what they're all saying, in retrospect, I regret doing nursing. But I didn't go into nursing because I loved it, or because of money - I went into it for a green card. I feel that it has set me back because you do have to keep up with education for nursing after school. Your hours are flexible - true, pay is good - true, but you're stressed as well, you have educational hours to keep up with (at least in my state) and the job sucks - same as an aide, just more responsibility and crap to deal with. If you choose nursing as a back up plan - don't, it's depressing as hell (no puns intended, truly). I regret doing it, although it pays the bills. DON'T listen to people who have never been in nursing who are in medicine who tell you that it's an amazing background. It's not - it's just physical clinical setting, but WHAT you do and WHO you interact with are different. You're in no way shape or form better prepared - ask a few bloggers out there who were nurses who are in med school now. I agree with them.

    That said, if you "might" like nursing like someone above me said instead of medicine, or if your financial situation is that bad and you NEED money very bad and willing to compromise your med school dream for it, then go for it. Accelerated programs are tough to go through, but doable - I went through one - and the nursing money is great. I have a friend who was a med student, went through 1.5 years of med school (after a masters degree in neuroscience) and hated med school, went through accelerated nursing school program in Chicago and LOVED nursing. Still loves it, works as a staff nurse with great pay (in another state as she moved away from here). I would love to write you a long detailed letter if you want about many things you would be getting yourself into, if you're interested in reading, and I could give you pros and cons of all of it as I've been through most of what you're might be going through, having similar goals in mind... let me know:

    I don't want you to feel like I'm talking you out of it and into something... I am a little biased, sorry, can't get around it, but for what it's worth, I could give you my opinion - after all, that's what a blog is for right? :)

  8. In answer to your question about people being okay with their mediocre dead-end jobs, I think fear of change and the seemingly insurmountable challenges to moving up in the job world keep a lot of people where they are. Your blog post being a perfect example of those challenges!

    I know very little about the American medical school system, but is it possible for you to get into medical school without another degree? My medical school was very flexible in their admission requirements, and as a result we've had a hospital chaplain, multiple lawyers, a television reporter, and many other people from non-traditional paths in med school. Is there a good career counseling service at the medical school you're interested in that could help you with deciding on the best path to medicine and figuring out how to finance it? With medicine being such a long career path to begin with, I would advise against adding any more training than is necessary (although I recognize that a detour through nursing may be required for financial reasons).

    Best of luck with whatever path you need to take to get to where you want to be.

  9. Thanks for all the comments, guys. Sorry to be so quiet. I keep finding myself at a real loss for words.