Friday, April 2, 2010

Sink or Swim

I mentioned, in the previous post, that I'm having some problems with school.  Primarily, the issue seems to be that I started mid-year, but want to do the assistantship, which is a two year commitment.  The way things are going right now, I'll be ready to graduate before the assistantship ends, so the question became what should be done about it.  Seeing out the advice/guidance of my professors, and considering alternates such as not doing the assistantship at all, I've been trying to get it worked out.  All I wanted was to know when I would be graduating, either August 2011 or May 2012?  After looking into it, my professors decided it would be best for me to stay for the full two year assistantship and perhaps do a history minor to compensate for the additional hours.  So, thankfully, that's worked out.

In the process of getting it worked out, though, several of my professors told me not to take classes over the summer.  The fact of the matter is, I don't need the hours.  Even without going this summer, or next, I'll be in excess of hours, so going to summer school seems like an unnecessary expense.  Unfortunately, if I don't go to school over the summer, neither does Matt (who's still working on finishing his BA) because we pay his tuition by way of my financial aid.   We also pay our bills with financial aid, so when they told me not to go to school, I dismissed their suggestion out of hand because we need the money.  That is, until I got to thinking about it.

The fact is, by the time my financial aid paid for my tuition, and Matt's, there wouldn't be anything left to pay our bills with.  It's only $6,000 over the summer, and our tuition would be at least $4,500 of that.  Add to that text books and there's hardly enough left to matter.  So, in light of that, I talked it over with Matt tonight and it looks like we're going to take the summer off of school.  I don't need the hours and we can't afford his tuition.  Of course, without financial aid to pay our bills, we'll have to find alternate means.  Jobs here are still extremely scarce, but I've done some figuring and if I write just three articles a day for Demand, five days a week, at $15 an article, I can make $900 a month.  If I write more, or more often, I can make more and because I used my last financial aid disbursement to pay our bills up, we won't have much to pay, just food, gas, and the occasional expense like DirecTV and the monthly fee for my web hosting.

Our expenses are relatively minor, but even so, I'm scared.  It's sink or swim time.  Come a month and a half from now, when school's out for this semester, making money is going to be on our shoulders.  I'm about to see what I'm made of and if I have the chops to make it as a freelance writer, at least a little bit.  Right now, I do okay, but I hardly make anything.  I also hardly spend any time working on it because I have a ton of class work to focus on that requires my immediate attention -- and two 20 page papers to write, on top of it all!

I'm worried because our environment isn't conducive to productivity.  What I mean by that is, the TV's always on and when it's not, Matt's constantly asking me if I'm done, and can he turn it on.  I don't have a regular schedule, which makes working on a schedule hard.  One day I'm up at 9am, the next not until noon.  It's something I'm going to have to work on because if working at home, and really making something of it, is going to happen, I'm going to need to change my habits.  Something has to give, because I can't write here, like this and thanks to other expenses, some we didn't expect, I don't have the money to do the floor in the front room right now, which means my dream of having an office space again has dissolved into a puff of smoke.  Our new checks say, "Money talks... mine says goodbye!" on them, which is cute, but frighteningly accurate!

Maybe I'm being dramatic, I don't know.  What I do know is, I'm afraid and that's not something that's going to change any time soon.  I'm going to be afraid until I know that, by the impetus of my efforts, we'll have a roof over our head this summer.  Wish me luck, I'm going to need all I can get!


  1. Ahhh, the summer job rush. I always look forward to summer break and by the end of June I can't wait for Fall semester to get here.

    Every semester we carefully plan where each dollar will go to do the most good. But, as you said, something always comes up. I know we both need to be working this summer to make ends meet but I have no clue where it'll be. The job I had last summer made me start smoking again and it took until Thanksgiving before I quit.

    It's nice to have a break, but the whole reason I went back to school was to escape the crappy "I hate getting up in the morning because my job makes me want to stick pencils in my eyes" thing!

  2. Honey...if Matt must watch tv at the time you are doing your work which is bringing in the paycheck...maybe you could go to the library or something to write? I dunno, just a suggestion...or...maybe he could write articles also...he is a good writer too and it would be twice the money...then the tv wouldn't be an issue because he would be otherwise occupied =) I love you guys!! Mom

  3. Thanks for the suggestions, Mom. Had I been able to do the floor right now, my desk would have found it's way into the room and it wouldn't have been an issue. Unfortunately, if he were writing, the TV would STILL be on, he likes the noise. Most of the time, he's not even watching it! He just wants it on. He's happy to turn it off, but it's not long before he's asking me "are you done, are you done, are you done?" so he can turn it back on. Sort of discouraging, actually.

    Anyway, I do think he should look into Demand, he might be able to get on there and that would be awesome! He's a very insightful guy, I think he could do well with it.

    Love you!

  4. Me too, Amanda. I went to college so I wouldn't have to work a job I hate. Fortunately, I love writing and I love freelance writing. It's not easy, and it means always scrounging around for work, but it's something that I'm good at, so it's what I'm pursuing. Hopefully, the summer will be okay and Matt and I can make it.

    Like I told my Mom, below, I think Matt's going to sign up for Demand and see what he can get with them. If he can get on there, then we can both write and make enough to pay our bills, which will be awesome.

    Ironically, my anti-spam word right now was "Matt." LOL

  5. How ironic that you will be on Summer "vacation" from school, but will have to be writing more than ever! Perhaps being broke will be conducive to creativity? LOL. I am like Matt though--I have to have a TV on or something in order to focus on my work. I know it's weird, but I go nuts when the house is quiet.

  6. I hope so, Shannon! I think we'll be okay, but it's still really frightening. I guess we have to see what we're made of sooner or later, right?

    As for the TV, I need quiet to focus. I work best early in the morning, once I've had a little bit to wake up, and without any distractions or noise. So, having the TV on is a serious hindrance for me. I can blog, tweet, surf and comment with racket, but when I really need to focus on something, I need quiet.

  7. I think your feelings are important and as long as you're not in a break-neck panic then you are not overreacting. It's only natural to be a little scared or wary of life's curve balls. I think though that it's something you will face well.
    You make lemonade with the lemons life gives you right?
    You & Matt have ridden the waves before and you know there are highs and lows. You guys will sail through this just like everything else because you are more than ready. You can accomplish anything Kris!
    .-= Mayren´s last blog ..Contest to find 100 MPG car (biodiesel?) =-.

  8. Thanks, Mayren. I always appreciate knowing that I'm not alone in being afraid. We have always sailed through before, that much is true, but I'm afraid we're running out of tickets. This last few years has been one struggle after another and it doesn't seem to be getting any easier. Knowing that friends have faith in our ability to swim, rather than sink like a rock, really helps.