So there haven't been any big surprises. He doesn't have much in savings, extended unemployment stinks like that, but he's frugal, and thanks to his generous parents he'll finish school without any loans. He had a brief fling with building credit card debt in his early twenties, paid it off as quickly as possible once he came to his senses, and now he's just as debt averse as I am, perhaps more so. If anything, he's more conservative with his money than I am. He's come to gradually accept that it's probably ok for me to use a credit card and pay it off every month, but he prefers cash for everything. He's also very leery of the stock market and investment risk; I suspect that when we get married and combine finances, we'll need to structure our retirement savings so that accounts with his name on them contain the most stable parts of our joint portfolio.
We're pretty much in line on our big goals as well. One to two children, a house that we pay off as quickly as possible, building savings, having pets, helping family if needed, we're checking the same metaphorical boxes on our priority lists. I was somewhat amused to learn that The Boy wants a literal house with white picket fence, although he did helpfully offer to build the fence himself once we get the house.
So why am I feelings so stressed? If life goes according to plan, I'll probably be in school for the next six years, then a year or two of post-doc work, then if I'm both extremely lucky and extremely talented, maybe, just maybe, I might be able to find a tenure track position. Ideally, we'd like to be in a position to buy a house once we're settled more or less permanently. That gives us several years to save.
However, how the heck do kids fit into this plan? A professor once advised me that the last year of grad school is generally a pretty good time to have a child if you are at the point where you are focused on writing up your research and not so active in running experiments, but I don't know whether I can make that work. The Boy is considering being a stay at home dad for a couple of years at some point, but that doesn't sound too feasible when I'll be making $20,000 a year after my fellowship eligibility runs out. A bit of googling revealed that daycare for an infant costs around $250 a week where I'll be living for graduate school, and The Boy, upon hearing this concluded that daycare is expensive and suggested we "get a very nice nanny" instead before he did the math and realized that $250/40 is less than the federal minimum wage.
It's moments like these that I'm more than a little envious of men. On one of my grad school visits I met a male professor who has been at his university for twenty years, and his daughters are two and four. Women can't compartmentalize their lives like that, building decades long records of professional success before scaling back to start families, at least not in a field where you're thirty before you're even out of training and not with being a biological parent at least. (That's important to the Boy, far less so for me.) The "leaky pipeline" of women in science is making more and more sense. (And please don't get me started on the male grad student at another university who was part of a panel discussion and when asked about the family friendliness of the institution, helpfully opined that he has a four month old and it hasn't affected his ability to work twelve hour days six days a week in the slightest.)
At the same university I met a female professor in her mid thirties who is somehow balancing tenure track, a preschooler, a newborn, and a husband who is also tenure track so clearly it can be done. How, I'm not quite sure, but I have to keep telling myself it can be done.