Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What if I gave you $800 / month?

Hub and I are still working on trimming our budget. I worked a lot this summer, but the money has evaporated into a transmission for our car instead of the new bamboo floor I wanted- and I am very disappointed about that.

What I worked for

What I got

Both of us have become acutely aware of the cost of Hub's apartment in Suburb where he works. It seems as though that $800/ month could really better be used elsewhere.

I know, I know. Without it, he couldn't work or we would be paying much more in gas (and risk) to drive up there. He only stays there 3 nights per week, and it comes up to about $67/ night/ person. For comparison, our home hosts our family for $11/night/person not counting utilities.

 What we could have, plus some

Something like what we got

 Moreover, I could NOT handle raising these kids by myself and working full time, so I have cut back my hours.  My income will go down by 25%. With two kids in full-time daycare ($1100/ month), things are really tight. I have lamented about this financial aspect of the two body problem before:

Expecting more from two Ph.D.'s

Working for nothing

How much I make

Guilt about hiring help, but its necessity (this was with only one kid)

We have cut out all the household help. We just can't afford it, but we have gone on Chore Wars to make sure that the loads are even.

2012-2013 One year of 3/4 time work to go- Boy will turn 4 at the beginning of that year, Girl 2.
2013-2014 One year of sabbatical to go- Boy 5, Girl 3. Have no idea how the finances will look. We will probably lose a bit on renting our house, but save the apartment costs. I don;t know what our rents will be there, or how much compensation I can expect.
2014-2015 The Boy goes into school the year I return and the daycare costs will lighten.
I will be able to return to full time, I assume.


  1. My husband and I were in a similar situation. We wasted a lot of money with him always renting places that were big enough for all of us (me and two kids) to come visit. In reality, over the five years we did this, we rarely spent time at his apartment as a family. The apartment did come in handy when there was a major storm in my area that knocked out power for a week, but even in that case we could have just booked a hotel room near my husband's apartment.

    I know other commuting couples who have saved money with the following options -- maybe one will work for you.

    1. Hub rents just a room in a shared house, rather than his own apt. Shared house with quiet older faculty works much better than shared house with students, obviously. An alternative (which we have done) is to rent an apt with fewer features -- my husband's current apt has no laundry and only a dorm-size fridge and microwave, and he just does laundry when he comes home on the weekend. It is almost $200 less per month than his previous place.

    2. Try to negotiate a good rate with a local hotel, letting the know that he will be a regular. If his institution has a campus hotel or institutional agreements with a local hotel, this may help. One of the commuting couples on our faculty does this, and the daily rate that they got at our campus hotel is less than $67 --I think it may be around $50.

    3. Depending on where he is, he may be able to rent cheaper during part of the year, then move somewhere more expensive. This is a pain because it requires lots of moving. In many college towns, it's easy to get a cheap summer sublet, so he could do this and then move somewhere more expensive for the year. My husband's job is close to a vacation-y sort of town, so there are folks with summer homes there who rent cheaply during the school year but want the place back by summer.

    4. Ask around for faculty going on sabbatical who need someone responsible to rent to. He can probably strike a deal with faculty like this. Most faculty I know who have rented out their homes are very leery of renting to students, and would gladly take a lower rent to know that their tenat is older and responsible.

    1. Wonderful! Thanks for the ideas, I will float them by Hub.