One thing you soon find out as a scientist (besides how easy it is to blow shit up) is that field gear can be super expensive.
Not only is it expensive, but it’s one of those things that’s expected for you to a) already own and b) bring it to work with you (and thus wear it down even more).
While some scientists have traveled the world over, I’ve been pretty fortunate to work in a few different places myself and in extreme conditions. How extreme? In Alaska, it was negative 60 degrees and our tires froze off my vehicle. That wasn’t awkward at all.
When I first started field work, I bought everything from REI and now I wish I hadn’t. Making it rain student loans at REI wasn’t one of the finest moments in my life but now I know how to find equipment more affordable.
So today, I’m going to be sharing my secrets to getting quality affordable field gear without breaking the bank.
First Tip… Add a line item in the budget for clothing!
Zach and I have been doing this for a few years now.
While fifty dollars a month may not seem like a lot, it’s one of those set and forget it budget things to where I randomly remember and it feels like Christmas. We’re also discussing adding an additional line item for equipment like backpacks in case we can snag them for a good rate. (If you need budget help, sign up for my free course at the end of this post!)
The cheapest way to find clothing is your nearest thrift store.
In Alaska where it was cold as *&%$ (please see earlier note about tires freezing off the car), I was able to buy the gear I needed at a price I could afford. Thrift stores can definitely be hit or miss, but at least why not see if you can get someone else to purchase it at full price and then you can buy it for five bucks?
Second Tip…Check out used gear markets!
In the age of the internet, finding used gear as never been easier.
You’re not limited anymore to what you can find on eBay or Amazon either. Craigslist, Offer Up and Facebook groups all have hot used field gear markets that you can find items like binoculars.
Some communities have used gear stores that could also have what you’re looking for. A lot of gear is only used once or very gently, as scientists all know how expensive stuff can be. You want to buy it for a reasonable price and chances are another person is looking to recoup some of their money.
Another great idea to snag affordable gear may be any local meet up or hiking groups for outdoor enthusiasts. They may have some field gear you can snag for decent rates or even know where to point you if you need something specific.
For more tips (I got em!), check out my video up above and let me know what you think. Have you been able to snag field gear for cheap? Any cool stories about being in negative sixty degrees too?
Also, here are some resources I mention in the video to help with gear!
Is Beachbody a Good Side Hustle for Scientists? - YouTube
Today we are going to be discussing a sensitive topic. No, it’s not how many cat pics you can reasonably share on social media without being a crazy cat lady scientist. It’s…Beachbody? More specifically, if it’s a good side hustle for scientists, like me and you.
The first time I had ever heard about Beachbody was through an old friend on Facebook (wow, doesn’t that sound like an MLM podcast episode). She was always doing “free” healthy challenges, like clean eating and getting your daily water intake. Umm, I’m a broke college student who is depressed cause I am a said broke college student and all I can eat are Cheetos.
At first, I really enjoyed the challenges she put together. It was nice to focus on something that was good for me and helped me get out of the negative space my brokeness was causing me. However, what goes up must come down.
She started asking for me to buy these hella expensive shakes. I was really hesitant, especially because I could barely afford my rent (hello, FREE FACEBOOK CHALLENGES).
After I explained that I couldn’t afford the products but thank you anyways, she mentioned I myself could start selling shakes and making extra cash, to not only cover my shakes but also enough to start making a real side income. After doing some research, I realized some things just weren’t adding up.
I found an FTC article that shared that 99% of people who join MLMs (multi-level marketing companies) actually LOSE money, not make it.
Loss rates are extraordinary – over 99% for all of the MLMs for which I have been able to obtain relevant data. This in itself would not be so bad, except that it is promoted as an “income opportunity” – or even as a “business opportunity” – a misrepresentation in itself.
This wasn’t too surprising since I would have to not only purchase the product for myself to advertise my new health journey, but it would also require me to purchase enough of said product to have some on hand to sell. I would also have to pay fees on top of fees, like attending conferences, training and my membership fee.
I’m only a feeble woman who’s not that great at math (HA), but I realized that the numbers here weren’t working. No matter what formula I tried using, it wasn’t adding up. I even looked here and here and here and here and here.
But I’m A Scientist
I realized after further research (aka going down the Google rabbit hole), that a lot of scientists actually sign up to be Beachbody coaches, despite it being an MLM. It makes total sense to me for a variety of reasons.
No one teaches a scientist how to run a business. I mean, hello, we are supposed to research, chase animals and blow shit up. Running a business or looking at profit margins, advertising, and paying quarterly estimated taxes is just not our forte.
But since a lot of us aren’t paid what we would like, or can even really live off of sometimes, MLMS seem like a pipe dream. All of the makings of a business, put in a box, with instructions on how to build it.
Or… do they really? I’m talking more of my findings as well as my personal experience in the video up above.
I’m curious though, have you ever considered an MLM? Are you the 1% that actually makes money? If so, can we call you Yoda? I’m only semi-serious but would really like to pick your brain about it. You know, for research.
Another end of the month means it’s time for a…. quick debt update!
I share my debt repayments with you guys monthly so you can see my progress. I also share so you can see what a debt payoff journey looks like in real time. Debt payoff sucks and as sexy as people make it sound sometimes, debt repayment is not a sprint. Sometimes it’s a &65$%* marathon!
If you aren’t a regular lurker in the pf community, it may seem weird for a total stranger to be sharing her finances with the world. I never claimed to be normal but I put real numbers out there because numbers are motivating. Numbers are real.
I have some good news to share. If you saw my video a few months ago, you would know that we’ve been paying the minimum on my student loans. We also hit a financial snafu I shared a recently and I wasn’t too proud about it. We should have been paying more but… we just hadn’t. Zach also got a new job which required moving (with pets!) so extra debt payments were funneled into those expenses.
Since then, we’ve gotten our shit together! Mainly because we don’t want to be in debt till we’re a 105 but that’s neither here nor there. I’m proud to say our emergency fund is almost COMPLETELY FUNDED to our goal amount of $10,000! This is several months of living expenses in case one of us loses our jobs. Our apartment is pretty expensive due to living in a techie area (or is it trekkie?) so while rent is cheap for the area, we still need some extra cash stored away just in case.
I’m excited though because this is how we’re going to break our paycheck to paycheck cycle! I can now start doing some riskier things with my business I wouldn’t have necessarily have done before, like make more videos here. And emergency funds are nice just because they’re nice.
Total Amount Paid In April
I’m happy to share but first, pull up a chair then hit play on the video up above. I’ll be sharing my total debt numbers, current payment strategy and talk about what we have planned for tackling some more next month. And if you’re feeling extra curious, feel free to ask me some questions in the comments below!
At Science Finance, we talk about how to manage your money as a scientist. But… what if you can’t be one? A serious topic and one I know about first hand.
Not Finding A Position Is Common
We don’t really become scientists to be rich or famous. You usually pick a degree, such as wildlife biologist (who, me?) because science gets you excited. While some people would rather catch up on celebrity gossip via TMZ, you’re watching Planet Earth trying to figure out how the photographer didn’t get eaten by the bear. Doing what you love is what you long to do but being a scientist doesn’t always make that easy.
Due to weird government policies and budget cuts, jobs are a lot harder to come by. I worked for a government agency as a biological science technician for a few months but once I reached my hourly cap, I was done. I miss being in the field and talk more about it in the video above. Since I have first-hand experience going to school to be a scientist and well, not being a scientist, I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned along the way.
Don’t Equate Your Personal Worth With Your Job Title
YOU ARE NOT YOUR JOB!
You don’t have control over any of these things:
How much funding job agencies get
What jobs are listed
What skills are required for that job
What residency requirements there are for that job
Where those jobs are
Who else applies
Who the hiring manager personally likes
Whether the hiring manager already has someone in mind for the job
How much leniency the hiring manager has in making a decision
Don’t put your sense of self-worth and value in the hands of a system you can’t control. This is a recipe for failure. Even worse than when I try to make souffles.
After I graduated, I found myself as a lab animal caretaker. Yup, I was cleaning up lab rat poo even though I had a masters degree! Despite having done the job before while in undergrad, it took on a whole new meaning. I became depressed because I associated my identity with my work after I had finished my course of study.
It took me a long time to learn this, but my value is worth more than my day job and so is yours.
Focus On Something… Other Than Science!
It sounds counterintuitive but finding a different community to associate myself with outside of science really helped when my identity was tied up in being a scientist. When I decided to focus on my money, I started reading personal finance blogs and got involved in the community that goes along with it. By focusing on what I could control (my spending), I felt better about the things I couldn’t (like finding a job in my field of study).
The internet is a great place and you can find or do just about anything these days. Maybe you want to take up a new hobby or get back into an old one. Maybe you want to meet new people or just find more things to do with the ones you already know. Do a Google search and get moving.
I have a few more suggestions to get through the tough time in the video up above. But enough about me. I want to know, have you had to cope with not being a scientist? What did you do to get yourself through it?
Long days and late nights in grad school can lead to excess coffee consumption, too many composition notebooks and living off of snacks in the vending machines. But what’s a scientist to do when you realize that you’re out of quarters?
Tackle your finances of course. Today, we’re gonna be discussing how to manage your finances so you have more cash for important things like tacos. Oh okay, and rent. As a side note, today’s video is made in collaboration with Alicia Does Adulting. She’s speaking about getting into said grad school and has some great tips to share so be sure to check her out.
Okay back to talking about finances.
First, find a way to earn an income in grad school.
For ex: If you want to be a wildlife biologist (Oh hello, dream job!), try to find a job as a wildlife tech or be a TA for a class where you’re going to school. You’ll gain real-world experience to use towards your career while earning an income at the same time. If you don’t think you can commit to a part-time endeavor, I have a list of side hustles just for scientists.
Second, start a budget.
So, you might not have huge bills yet or “adult” expenses such as insurance and retirement contributions to budget for yet, but don’t let that stop you from starting one. Right now is actually a great time to start one so you can get the hang of it.
You’re going to fail your budget at first. SURPRISE! It’s not a failure though. As Thomas Edison says, I didn’t fail, I just found a way that didn’t work.
You can try automation tools or make an excel spreadsheet. Budgets are like dating. Different strokes for different folks. I made a budget for a veterinarian here to give you a taste.
Next, start saving for life.
You won’t be in college forever. Now’s a great time to start saving for those expenses you may need post-graduation. Examples could be a car, a new wardrobe or field equipment. You also know you aren’t going to be living in a dorm any longer so you are gonna need a hefty deposit to get an apartment.
As scientists, you might find a great opportunity across the country and saving for life is going to let you take advantage of it. If you need help figuring out how to save, check out my four-day savings challenge.
You’re gonna have to watch the video to figure out the last one. I can’t give away all my secrets.
Let me know what you think in the comments, and let me know if you have any money management tips to share!
Raise your hand if you’re a scientist (or working in the science field). Now, keep your hand raised if you think you’re making enough money.
See my point?
Most scientists aren’t making enough money. The best way to change that is by…well…making more money, right?!
But if you’re a scientist, you know that you’re not able to just go out and do any side hustle. In this video, I’ll show you my top picks for side hustles that will work well for scientists. These are things that can be done with minimal people interaction (#introvert), flexibly, remotely, and on your terms.
Do you have a side hustle? What is it, and how do you like it? Leave a comment below!
As a financial blogger, sometimes I like to think that I’ve got my shit together.
The truth is, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I fuck up royally, and guess what folks, it’s this month.
See, I’ve been sort of hiding something from everyone, and this is the month I get it off my chest. It’s kind of embarrassing (OK, really embarrassing, especially for me):
For the past several months, I haven’t been making extra debt payments according to the plan I’m on.
In fact, I’ve only been paying the minimums on my debt. What’s worse is that Zach had no idea, either.
So we instituted a big change going forward: even though Zach’s not a budget nut like I am, we’ll sit down every couple of weeks to do a budget check-in. This will provide me with some accountability as I run through our budget each month. Hopefully it’ll work and we’ll still get out of debt before we’re 105!
If you’d like to see how I set up the Undebt.it program I use in the video, check out my free four-day email course series:
What do you do when you and your spouse or significant other aren’t on the same page financially? How do you reckon with the moment of shame? Leave a comment below!
Almost everyone has heard of Dave Ramsey, even your sweet old nana. He’s done a lot of great things for the personal finance world and helped a shit ton of people get out of debt. If you’re not quite up to speed with DR, he’s got a series of “baby steps” you follow (in strict order) to get out of debt and become a millionaire.
via GIPHYBut here’s the thing about Dave Ramsey. He’s a one-size-fits-all kind of guy.
And my finances are a bit…curvy. They just don’t jive well with a one-size-fits-all plan.
So that’s why me and Zach decided to fly off and do our own thing. In this week’s video, I’ll break it down and lay out the specifics of what we choose to break with on the DR plan, and why.
Do you follow the Dave Ramsey plan? Why or why not? Leave a comment below!