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I’m scared.  More scared, frankly than I’ve been in years.  Ouch.  It hurts just to write that.  But, it’s true, and it’s weighing me down.

The good news is that I was recently accepted into a PhD program at Kansas State University.  This has long been a dream of mine, to get my PhD, but until recently, I couldn’t find the program that was the “right fit.” ( My husband, less than 6 months ago found it for me.  Damn, I’m lucky to be married to him! :))

I will, hopefully by Spring 2018, achieve my PhD in the field of Personal Financial Planning.  I love money.  Not and actual love of “Dollars and Cents”…no…but helping people manipulate money to better their situations; helping others figure out how to payoff debt and grow long term savings and wealth.  I love asking questions about money and finding answers.  I have an INSATIABLE thirst for knowledge…especially knowledge about money and how it helps us, hurts us, works for us, is used by us, uses us, etc.

But, I am SO. DAMN. SCARED.

I’m not scared about the classes, a little anxious, but that’s just because I want to do so well.

I’m not scared about the work.  I’m not scared about the tests (at least not yet ;).  I’m not even scared about how I’m going to balance school while being a full-time wife, mother, and an “assignment based” Personal Financial Counselor for Reserve and Guard Soldiers.  Nope…that’s the easy stuff.

What scares me is paying for it.  I financed the majority of my BA and my MA.  I have no regrets.  My degrees have opened doors for me and I’ve been able to make excellent progress in paying off my student loans over the past ten years.  At this time, I’m planning to continue paying my current student loan payment while I’m in school.  I don’t mind getting student loans for this program because I know in the long run it’s all going to payoff…and payoff well. 

***For the record, I have looked and continue to look, for scholarship opportunities.  They are extremely difficult to find for a PhD student in my area of study.  I’m not giving up and even if it’s a stretch I’m going to apply, but I have to be realistic.***

I’m not going into academia because of the money.  Ha!  What a laugh!  Sure, I’ll make more with a  PhD than I will without, I’ll have some additional options of places to work, I’ll work to publish articles and hopefully a book or two to pad the coffers–but just knowing that the majority of my next few years is going to be financed is scary.

We finance cars for longer than I’ll be in school (5 years car loan, 4 years in school–including dissertation if my math is correct).  And, now that I’ve written that out…I start to wonder…bear with me here a second…

My program (tuition, fees, travel (it’s a hybrid program) and books) is going to run me somewhere between $45k-$65k.  People buy cars for that amount and pay them off in 5 years or less.  Of course, those people make more money than I will right out of school, BUT…yes, BUT…if I continue to pay on my Master’s degree loans while I’m working on my PhD, I understand that I will walk out of there with more student loan debt than I currently have, but I’ll still be within “car range”.  Okay, maybe “expensive car” range…but hang on, because I think this is doable. 

I will have to focus the majority of my paychecks for the first 3-5 years directly out of school on paying off those loans, but my husband will be gainfully employed and we can live off his income and supplement a little with mine.   I don’t plan on accruing any credit card debt while in school, the car we just got will be paid off and while we’ll probably have to replace our 2006 Hyundai before I graduate, that’s just a matter of transferring the payment from one car to another, so we won’t be incurring any more additional debt (from an accounting standpoint, we’ll just be holding on to it a little longer).

Holy cats! I’ve gone through this whole morning worried and frustrated and anxiety ridden, but now I think I’ve found the answer…if I treat my student loans as another car loan and focus on paying it off just like I would a vehicle, I could actually not have to worry about my student loan debt outliving me.  I CAN DO THIS!

I can’t make any huge lifestyle changes…no big house with the job after graduation, no new spectacular high-end vehicle with vanity plates, no new BLING (as it were), but I can do this.  In fact, while I’m already planning on being one hell of an awesome instructor, this will give me even more **OOMPH** as I teach because not only will I have been there/done that (which is a lot of what I share when I teach basic budgeting, money management, and credit classes now)…but because I’ll be even more effectively balancing repayment of debt and continuing to grow my emergency fund, investing, paying for the assorted odds and ends that come with children who are growing and active, and so much more!

I’m scared…but not of the debt any more…I’m scared of the possibility that the world won’t know what to do with me once I’ve got that hot little PhD!  LOOK OUT WORLD, HERE I COME!

 

 

**Ah, the wonders of sharing my soul with the blogosphere…I feel as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders!  Thank you, dear reader, for taking the time to share my journey!

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