Today was one of those days where the universe reminded me that I am a broke grad student. I went to the grocery store today to get stuff to make ramen. Yes, I fit the stereotype and eat ramen in grad school. So, I don’t just get ramen, I get peppers, garlic, bok choy, and of course, ramen noodles. I had a gift card, so everything was pretty much free for me, but I saw that just a few items was almost the whole gift card. The cashier was even complaining about the prices of everything.
It sort of made me realize just how broke grad students really are. I didn’t have this problem before, but the inflation has really taken a toll on everyone. See, thankfully, as a PhD candidate in engineering, I make more than most grad students. But recently, the prices of everything have really caused me to have to cut a ton of things out of my life just to be able to get food for me and my cat Sirius. Now, this isn’t a post about how poor we all are and how life sucks being in grad school. No, I want to make a post about how being poor in grad school can be a blessing. So, come with me on a very optimistic journey!
First, Let’s Rant
This rant is for all you grad students working 60+ hours a week and only getting paid for 20. So, grad students work a ton. They also get paid barely enough to eat ramen noodles. Some grad students get paid so little that they are forced to take out loams while their advisers male enough money to go on multiple trips throughout the year, fix their cars when things go bad, and also pay for hospital bills. I know many grad students that have had to leave academia because they were malnourished from not being able to eat.
For those that are going to say “well you’re supposed to be poor, you’re all students”, many of us are students but work a full time job doing research. So, if you decided to work a full time job and go to college at the same time, should your boss give you a pay cut? Grad students are employees.
I do know many grad students that have to have jobs on the side in order to eat as well. I happen to be one of those grad students. The inflation has hit us fairly hard too. See, grad students that get paid a stipend only get raises when the graduate union bargains for one. Colleges do not like giving grad students higher pay and, at least for me, we haven’t seen a raise in stipend since 2017. So, basically, we all make significantly less than we did 5 years ago.
Ok, I got that out of my system, now let us talk about how being poor in grad school can actually be a bit of a gift. I will give a few examples to make things a bit more optimistic.
Being a poor grad student is a blessing
Being a broke grad student can be somewhat of a blessing, though you may not be able to see it. Let me explain a little. See, being poor teaches you a ton of very valuable life lesson and skills.
Let’s first start off with the lessons that we are taught.
Being poor makes you understand what most of the nation is going through. You understand the hardships that come with being lower class. You can share these feelings with others and know just how hard it can be for many people living the same way as you. See, you may not realize these things when you are making money and possibly middle to upper class.
Another valuable lesson that you learn is to appreciate the things that you do have. See, in a materialistic society, we always want more, more more. When was the last time that you bought something and used it more than once lol? We often buy things because we can. We always want something and Amazon or online shopping or anything has made it to where we can satisfy that want. So, we tend to by stuff to satisfy this want.
When you are poor, you start to appreciate the very simple things in your life like going on walks, hanging with friends without having to spend money, and other things like maybe taking a hike or a bike ride, if you have a bike. Simple stuff like this is what really brings us join in our lives. Those materialist items will bring some happiness, but it never lasts.
You learn how to be poor
When you have money, you don’t know anything but that. What would happen if you lost all of your money one day? You’d be in a very bad situation. You might not know what to do with yourself and you’d be extremely stressed out, that’s for sure. When you are in grad school, you learn how to live and survive on very little. You are able to feed yourself and house yourself on extremely little for a very long time. You learn how to shop for deals, live at places that you can afford, and manage money. These are skills that are not really taught in school. These are also highly valuable skills that will benefit you in the future. Once you graduate, you may continue to live this way. You might have a ton of money but live in a very quaint apartment or house.
Learning how to live on very little money has helped me so much when it comes to food shopping and apartment hunting. I have learned all of these soft skills that I wouldn’t have while working full time. So, when all of my money seems to disappear one day, I will be ready!
More Great things about being a broke grad student
Here is a list of more great things that come from being a broke grad student. If you have any more to add, please share in the comments.
- You won’t eat out as much. This is good for your health, unless you start buying McDonalds everyday lol.
- You Won’t spend all of your money on Amazon.
- You’ll start using coupons and figure out the best deals on items.
- You won’t develop bad habits such as partying every night like you did in undergrad.
- You’ll get very creative presents for people. You might even just make stuff instead of buying things.
- You may come up with a way to make side money that is passive (cough cough blogging).
- You don’t have to worry if you lose it all since you don’t really have much to lose.
- The friends in your life are “real friends” as they don’t just hang out with you when you partying.
- You will know what rock bottom is like and know that it’s only up from here.
- People will buy you tings because they know you are poor. This one is one of my favorites lol.
- You buy fewer items which means that you are less likely to end up on the show “Hoarders”
- You know you can handle tough times and become a stronger person because of that.
You know, thinking about writing this post made me a bit worried because I didn’t think I could come up with enough reasons to be happy as a broke grad student. Now I realize that I am very happy as a broke grad student and very appreciative of the time I have had as one. I know many people struggle with finances while in grad school. I totally understand and I have a post about how to handle that (link here). The best thing that you can possibly do to be a little less miserable is count your blessings. Write out all of the good things about being broke in grad school, like I did above, and really see that it is not as bad as you make it out to be. Changing our perception of something can really make a difference.
How was that? Are you feeling better about being poor lol? Let me know if you agree with my post or not. Be happy guys and gals, it’s the weekend. Go do something fun and enjoy the beautiful weather. I am hoping to go scootering tomorrow or possibly kayaking, but we will see. I hope you all have a wonderful night/ day, depending on when you read this. I will see you in the next one. Peace.