Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Now my roommate is talking about buying a house! (Or, yes, I am still a judgmental jerk.)

I'm still puzzled by the way my roommate thinks about money. At some level, she seems to want to be responsible, but the decisions she makes are baffling to me.

A bit of background: My roommate is, overall, none too fond of her job teaching elementary school music. It doesn't help that she's planning to become an academic focusing on music theory, but her school views her as a glorified babysitter. However, she needs an income until she either pays of a sizable chuck of her considerable college debt or actually completes her masters thesis, orals, and defense. Her big plans to get the thesis written this year and complete her oral exams during spring break have fallen by the wayside. (Being a first year teacher will do that.) She's hoping to write her thesis this summer, but she's also seeking a summer job to alleviate the cash crunch her credit card debt, student loans, and spending habits have wrought so there will be some competition for her time.

After her second year with TFA, she's planning to move to Memphis and teach there while working on another masters, this one in music education. She says will make her more marketable once she has a Ph.D. Plus, honestly, her deepening relationship with a guy who is a grad student in Memphis gives her a lot of incentive to stick around.

Today she informed me that she's hoping the housing market will stay down somewhat because they're considering buying a house once she moves to Memphis. She believes it might be a better deal financially because she's heard that it's better to buy if you're planning to stay someplace at least two years (!) and their graduate school plans would keep them in the area for three. I tried, gently, to ask what would happen if prices continue to decline during those years. She said that she hasn't heard anyone suggesting that we're entering a situation anything like the Great Depression and she's fairly confident that won't be a problem.

At that point I gave up. It would be rude to ask how she plans to save for a down payment when her current debts seem to be keeping her in a paycheck to paycheck life. Maybe her boyfriend is a secret millionaire who just happens to prefer renting a room in someone else's house right now.Maybe this is the motivation she needs to get her plans going and her budget in order. Or maybe she's just living in the dream world of the past few years where you didn't actually need money or any reliable means of obtaining money in order to buy a house and the tightening mortgage markets will save her from herself.


Over the Cubicle Wall said...

Oof. The Memphis housing market is so volatile. Plus, a couple of grad students with a mortgage is a disaster waiting to happen. Rent can be a good thing.

Frugal Scholar said...

Well, two grad students with a mortgage who rent out some rooms in their house could work. I know people who did that,

More serious--I don't know how or if a second masters makes a PhD more employable. Your roommate needs to talk to her adviser and/or people who run doctoral programs. My students always talk about how getting teacher certification will help them get into doctoral programs--not ture, unless you want a doctorate in English Education. It may be the same in music.

Bonnie said...

I have several friends who have master's degrees in music theory, classical guitar, et al (coincidentally all from the University of Memphis) and they are all teaching in public elmentary and high schools now. It is really hard to make a living as a music theorist! And I agree with Over the Cubicle Wall about the Memphis housing market.