Small Victories: Paying for Tuition with Real Money

So I´ve been living in Houston for 11 days now.  Let me tell you, I am not used to things yet.  I don´t feel like I´m in a routine yet, I´m not sure about my job yet, and I don´t feel like I really live here yet.  I think part of me wants to hold on to this feeling–this feeling of everything being new and my separation from my husband being only temporary.  Part of me doesn´t want to feel like life here is “normal.”

Let me explain:

I´m staying with my brother-in-law (Michael´s brother) C, his wife M, and my two beautiful nephews, M (age 2) and E (6 mos).  They have an enormous house in the suburbs of Houston and I very much have a wing of the upstairs to myself.  I couldn´t be more grateful to them for letting me stay here, yet, I still feel like I´m walking on eggshells all the time.  I very much don´t want to disturb or interfere with their family time so I keep to myself as much as possible.  Having said that, our schedules keep me from seeing them much, anyway.  In the mornings as I´m heading out, they´re getting the kids dressed for school.  I might see them for a second.  After work I head straight to the gym and get home around 730-8p.  They´re usually in the process of putting the kids to bed around this time, during which I pop my dinner (Lean Cuisine) in the microwave and eat.  By the time I´m done eating, the kids are in bed, and they´re going to sleep, too.  And so I head up to shower and tuck in.  Every day has been the same.  I guess that does qualify as a routine.  It´s just so different from what I was used to before, cooking every evening and spending time with Michael.  I´m not sad, I just feel… out of place.

I´ll say it´s also been jarring for me to be coming from the retail environment, in which I basically talked all day long, either to coworkers or customers, to my new job, in which I sit in a cubicle all day, and do my work and go home.  Now don´t get me wrong, I´m not complaining.  A 7-4 M-F job is completely ideal and a million times better than the erratic retail schedule, which entailed being on my feet all day and getting yelled at by customers, and stressing about meeting my quota.  In comparision, for a million reasons, this job is GREAT.  I´m just, all alone all day, is all.  I do “chat” online with my boss all day, but it´s not the same as having human interaction.  Y´all.  I´m not a very social person, but having no one to talk to, ever, is weird.

And that leaves Michael.  We talk every evening, definitely, but he´s often very busy with school work.  He´s taking 18 hours this semester, 12 of which are upper level maths.  He loves it, but very much feels like he has work to do all. the. time.

About the new job:

I love it.  Love love love.  I´ve basically been given a ton of data and been told to analyze it and be creative and come up with meaningful reporting.  Well, I´m a numbers and Excel kind of person, so this is great, I´m just not getting much feedback on if what I´m doing is actually useful.  My boss is super nice and sincerely thanks me every day for being there and for my work.  Being in a positive work environment like this is wonderful.  It´s like night and day from my previous setting.  But I want to do a great job, and I´m not sure if I am.  I don´t feel like I run the risk of being let go, but I could run the risk of having these six months be a waste.  I want to do a great job, impress everyone, and learn a lot.  I want them to really want to offer me a permanent position after these six months.  More than anything.

But I know it´s only been 8 days in the office and I´m only starting to get my feet wet.

Financially speaking, things are going really well.  As I suspected, because I don´t know anyone or where anything is, I´m sticking to my home-work-gym-home routine.  I don´t spend on anything other than Lean Cuisines, hummus and vegetables.  And here comes my announcement of my most recent Small Victory!



It´s Michael´s 5th semester back in school.  For each of the preceeding semesters, we´ve accepted government student loans–but they don´t cover all of his tuition.  For the rest of his sum, I´ve taken out other loans.  This is the first semester where I´ve actually had the remaining amount available to pay in real money.  Woohoo!  This is huge for us!  The government loans aren´t so bad.  Sure, they´re there, but the interest rate isn´t as high as the rest of our debts, and they don´t start accruing interest until he graduates.  Hopefully I can start paying on them before he graduates.  But the additional loans I´ve taken out for the previous semesters have been painful, to say the least.

I´m really proud of myself for having this $3100 saved up so quickly.  As you guys know, I only really started caring about my finances in August, and I started this blog in November.

I did originally have this great debt-payoff plan, but now I realize that if I throw all my extra money at paying off debt, when it comes time to pay things that I have to pay (like tuition every semester), if I don´t have the money saved up, I´ll end up taking out more loans.  Better for us, for now, to save up for things like tuition–even if that means only paying the minimums on the other debt–to avoid taking on more debt in the future.

So yeah.  Paying that bill felt really good.

I´ve also recently transferred our budget from Excel stored locally on my computer to Google Sheets so that Michael and I can both access it from our phones.  I love it, but he still doesn´t look at it.  As much as I try to keep him informed about our finances, it seems he still prefers to ask me “are we poor?” than to look at the budget.  That question is slowly becoming less heartbreaking.  I feel good about being able to say “no, we´re not poor.  We can pay all our bills and save, too.”  I know what he actually means is, “Can I buy lots of video games?” and so then I remind him that he´s busy with school and won´t have time to enjoy video games til the summer anyway.

All that to say–we´re doing okay.  Adjusting.  I have a lingering cold and have learned Mucinex works wonders and DayQuil and NyQuil just aren´t making the cut anymore.  How are you??

16 thoughts on “Small Victories: Paying for Tuition with Real Money

    • That’s a good idea. Some of the people at my gym seem to want to be friendly, but I haven’t really paid them much mind, because I’ve been sick, and “adjusting.” But you’re right that that might be a good place to start. Thanks for reading 🙂


  1. Congrats on paying for tuition in cash! That must have felt great!
    New beginnings are always tricky and challenging. It seems like you’re doing a great job! I remember when I first started the job I’m in now…how lonely I felt for what seemed like months! It just takes time 🙂


  2. Aw, Chela, you really make me feel what you’re feeling. You’re such an excellent writer! It IS hard being in someone elses house, no matter how much they try to make you feel at home. And a new job can feel so lonely when you don’t have a lot of social interaction. I just pray that it all works out for you and brings you joy and happiness. 🙂


  3. Just give it some time….everything will eventually fall into place. I have moved so much since being in the military and from experience what your dealing with is what I call transition anxiety. I wish you the best of luck and I’m glad you are enjoying your new job.


    • Thanks Petrish. I wouldn’t have classified it as any kind of “anxiety” but I guess you’re right! I’ve just been over thinking things. Everything will be fine!


  4. Congrats on your savings!!! And I didn’t realize you were in Houston! My dad and sister live there and I go there for work from time to time. I know it’s stressful living with other people, but what a great way to save money!!


    • Hey, cool! Maybe we can catch coffee next time you’re in town 🙂 I’m slowly gaining confidence being a long-term house guest, but yes, great savings! I couldn’t have taken this job if I had had to pay two rents.


  5. You sound lonely, and I hate that for you. 😦 I’ve been there before and it’s no fun, but at least you are around a few people you know! I wish I could offer you some helpful advice, but I hope things work out the way you want them to.


    • Thanks Robin. I think I feel extra lonely because I’ve been sick, but I’m starting to feel better (finally got prescription meds) and things are starting to look up 🙂 Thanks for your kind words.


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