This is supposed to be THE post. The one where I tell you that I have officially received notice that my time as a struggling medical spouse is over. But somehow, I don't seem like celebrating. Truth be told, I hardly know what to do.
I posted a couple of months ago about my husbands interview, and how it is perfect, and everything is just right. And it still is. When I think about it, is seems like a fairy tale. This whole experience seems like one amazing, too-good-to-be-true, fairy tale.
Today, instead of speculating about the future we have received the offer, had the attorney review it, had our financial advisor go over it, signed it, and now they are sending us big fat paychecks twice a month. Our monthly stipend is larger than our hospital paycheck. It really puts your husband's value as a professional in perspective. (They really should be paid more in training.)
Financial incentives are structured in any number of ways and differ wildly depending on your specialty and the location. Ours is set up as a monthly stipend to be paid from the date our contract was signed until the day we start. It is a lovely amount. We don't pay taxes on it today, they will take the taxes out as it forgiven over three years. So in a sense their financial incentive is a forgivable loan not a signing bonus.
Sounds like something to get excited about, right! And we are.
I can't tell you what a relief it is to be sitting here at the beginning of the month knowing all our bills have been paid, and there is money left. I don't check our accounts every morning. I don't get anxious when the bills come in the mail. I don't worry about buying too much at the grocery store. And the fact that Sallie Mae started taking a bigger chunk (without asking) doesn't bother me. Our accounts are growing - reversing a trend that I was afraid was going to land us in trouble soon. It's a miracle.
Worrying about money has been my "thing" and trying to keep our family from debt has been my "mission". When was the last time you had a stream of income that exceeded your bills and left you with something sizable to do whatever you wished with? The closest thing was our tax refund one year, but it got turned into a new roof and was gone, never to be seen again. Not the same thing.
Overnight we have gone from making ends meet and saving a little, to a monthly income that has doubled. Doubled! I could happily live like this forever. It's not bad.
Now, when I say our income doubled, let me remind you that we are still in fellowship training - it's not the real deal yet. What am I going to do in 6 months when he/we finally get paid commiserate with his training and education investment. Sixteen years, 80 hour work weeks, and $315,000 in debt to be correct.
There are the people who say they are going to live like residents until they pay off their student loans. And I belonged to that camp in the beginning, but I am not going to lie to you. We have no intention of living like we did during residency. That was pure insanity, and completely unrealistic unless you were a resident who was receiving help from parents, or moonlighting. Then maybe it would be possible to continue that life style on your own.
I consider myself to have an above average degree of self-control. I don't know many people who possess enough discipline to live exactly like they did in residency when there is another way. I think what they really mean to say is that they aren't going to go on a spending spree and buy a big house, a fancy car, and diamonds. Very different things. We aren't going to go that route either.
At this point we have decided to live like fellows who have received a monthly stipend for now and into the future. There is no reason we can't be happy with this amount for the next several years. Payoff loans and save for a house and live comfortably ever after. I am ready to start worrying less and enjoying more. And I feel at this point we can confidently say we have earned the respite.
I feel a little strange admitting that we have a job, and some extra money. Why? I am still trying to process that.
I think its because this is a completely new experience. And frankly, one I wasn't expecting to come with so many emotions. You know how long training is and we aren't spring chickens! Our past experiences have been our only experiences. We have lived in the mentality of scarcity and getting by for a long time. Those are hard to let go of.
But I suppose if that is my new trial, I am willing to endure it as best I can.
P.S. I wish you were all done! But this path has no short-cuts. I can't wait to read about your experiences when they happen to you:-)