Lessons Learned About Frugality While in Graduate School

by Kelly · 1 comment

in Living Frugally


I just finished my first year of graduate school, and despite the best of my frugal intentions, financially, it didn’t all go as planned. I learned a lot, both about the subject I was studying (marketing) and about frugality. Here are five of the lessons I learned about frugality while in graduate school.

Lesson one: Frugality requires preparation. Preparation requires planning. Both require time. Time is not something I have a lot of, especially when it’s exam week or there’s a big project due! So a lot of times I would not have time to make my lunch or prepare my thermos of coffee, and so I would need to buy something at school.

Lesson two: I eat more when I’m stressed and tired. And being in graduate school meant that I was often one, the other or both! So even when I had packed a lunch, I would often want to go buy a coffee, or something sweet. And although I was sometimes able to resist the urge for a candy bar, often times my defenses were lowered so I just gave in.

Lesson three: Sometimes lack of time means that you choose the easier, but more expensive option. Even though my husband is a good cook, on days when he has to pick up the kids in the evening I try to make dinner ahead of time, so that he can just reheat it and serve. Or I often tried to buy things at the grocery store that were at least partially prepared (prechopped frozen veggies or frozen chili to mix with mac n cheese). And while these options were great from the time point of view, they weren’t so good on the wallet.

Lesson four: a recession is a bad time to be a student looking for a job. I was one of 18 students in my class, and only three of us (myself included) have found a job so far. Times aren’t easy, masters degree or not.

Lesson five: Networking and comradery help work wonders, no matter what the situation. One of the reasons that I love writing this blog is the frugal support and community we have here. And graduate school is really no different. I worked most of the time with a group of four other women and by the end of the year we learned each others strenghts and weaknesses, and how to work really well and support each other so that the work got done. It was the best kind of teamwork, and that’s not always easy to find.

PS: one of the most useful things I learned while in graduate school (despite the statistical analysis) was how to do market research! While I’m in the midst of my blog overhaul, I’d love it if you could help me with a bit of feedback on Almost Frugal.

First, by completing my quick, ten question survey.

And second, by telling me three things about Almost Frugal:

  1. What you like most about Almost Frugal
  2. What you like least about Almost Frugal
  3. What you would most like to see on Almost Frugal.

Thanks! Your feedback will really help me to improve Almost Frugal’s content.

{ 1 comment }

1 Miko's Girl May 26, 2009

I think that many of the reasons why you did not meet your financial goals is why many Americans are not. When I worked, my husband and I were always in a rush with little or no time. So, we often took the easiest way out – we spent over $15K in dining out not because the food was great but because we were crunched for time.

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