Guilty Money

I am typing this tonight in a hotel room. A hotel room that is a grand total of about 10 miles from my house, where Mr. Monkey and my kids are probably sleeping soundly. I’ve spent the last three nights here, working on my capstone project* which I am scheduled to defend next month. I came to the hotel with about 24 pages written and I am leaving with just over 50. If I can put in one more hour tonight I should be able to have a very, very rough draft for me and Mr. Monkey to edit (pro-tip: if you are thinking about grad school, marry someone who already has a PhD and who is an amazing writer ).

I have gotten an awful lot of work done in the last couple of days, work that I would never be able to get done at home. I also got a great deal on a hotel. It seems that finding a hotel in Minnesota the week of the first major snowstorm is a super easy feat. Thanks polar vortex!

But I struggle with spending the money. All told the hotel plus food and beverages is going to be several hundred dollars and, woe, I have a bad case of the money guilts.

drinks (not kidding about the drinks)

Perhaps it is moving to a bigger and slightly more expensive city or because we now have a mortgage or because our savings is skinnier than it used to be but I find myself feeling guilty about spending money in a way that I haven’t felt since back in the dark days of being deep into credit card debt.

But, as my wise husband points out, if I don’t get this done I’ll be in school longer which also costs money, so if this is my way…well, this is my way.

Next time though (and there will be a next time, though not until the spring when I am hopefully working on my dissertation) I’ll skip getting that fried egg sandwich from room service. It was good but was it $18 good? Probably no.

Grad school and money is a funny thing. Unlike some programs, I’m not doing any teaching with it so I don’t get financial assistance beyond federal financial aid and one teeny tiny scholarship. By the time this thing is said and done, I’ll have spent in the ballpark of $20,000-25,000. There are no guarantees that I’ll make that money back through career advancement, though that is obviously the hope. It feels a bit like a big gamble at times and it makes me feel very glad that I love my field. I don’t think I could entertain the notion of quitting, even if I didn’t. That thought makes me feel a bit trapped sometimes, so I try not to think about it. I think instead about the fact that I’m good at my work and I like my work and I don’t have to worry about paying back my student loans for another year or so.

So. I’d better get back to work then. Time, at least hotel time, is money.

* A quick primer on how my grad program works: To earn my PhD, I have to do essential three things. Step one is finish my course work (which will be done at the end of the semester), step two is research and defend a capstone project (think of it as a mini-dissertation but with the added twist of having to have a client to present deliverables to at the end) and third present a proposal for a dissertation, have it accepted, do the research and writing and then defend it. This whole shebang should take several years, a bunch of money, much swearing, a lot of coffee and a growing acceptence of the fact that most people really don’t give a shit about your research.

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