Just when I'd gotten accustomed to my financial situation, my fellowship was ending and I was back on the job hunt, this time in DC. What everyone warned me about was true: expect higher living expenses and a much lower salary. That was exactly what I got. When I finally got a job offer, I was thrilled until they offered me $10K less than what I was currently making. I did my best to negotiate, hoping they'd meet me at least halfway but they didn't. I got a measly $3K more than they'd originally offered me, and panic set in.
How was I going to live this way? I had debts to pay off and a relatively expensive share of rent to pay each month. I felt grateful to have SCL as a partner because he's careful with money. Living on a student stipend, he wasn't going to have much wiggle room either, and together we came up with a reasonable budget for shared expenses that has worked fantastically for the most part. Given my lower salary and my mandatory debt payments, we were (sadly, to me) making fairly close to the same amount each month.
As you all know, that job didn't last long for a number of reasons--including the low salary, as well as just generally disliking my position. When I was interviewing for this current position, I knew what the salary would be--a little under $20K more than I made at my first job in DC. Another huge financial shift.
I think we all can agree that making more money is really nice and helpful, but for me it was also a little daunting. What do I do with this extra money? And I began to think about how SCL and I were splitting things equally. Is that "right" or fair? Should I be paying more now that I'm making more? Would SCL be comfortable with that?
This is still something we're working through, and it'll continue to be an issue while he's in school and I'm (presumably...hopefully!) making more than he is. I waver between wanting to be really generous and knowing that this job is only for a year and wanting to invest this extra money wisely.
Here's one way I hope to be a bit more generous. SCL and I have been invited to at least three weddings in 2010, two of which aren't that close and one that'll require us flying there. Knowing that he doesn't have a lot of extra cash, I'm going to start putting away a little extra each month into a travel fund, so that when it comes time for us to make arrangements, we'll have that to offset the extra costs of attending these weddings.
How do you handle financial inequality?