I’ve read somewhere that to bring up a child to the ripe old age of 18, and to give them a decent education takes at least one million dollars. Are babies expensive? Well, if you think of only that million, they are. If you look at the countries and peoples whose population grows the fastest, they aren’t. So as not to be scared, just take a look at your own expenses. How much do you spend annually? Then multiply by 18. Huh. Everybody is quite expensive. That’s why people work, and many people think and calculate before getting married and having children. NOBODY in human history remained single just because they had not enough money. On the contrary, when two adults decide to spend their life together and to have a family, they both may get a powerful stimulus for earning more, for finding the ways and means to maintain a decent standard of living. Ask your own parents about their beginnings.

An educated person always has more variations and opportunities than an uneducated one.

How do we calculate the family budget, and our own budget while single? My father gave me one valuable lesson which I freely share with friends and with anybody who asks. Here goes: first, determine the absolute “musts” and set aside the necessary sum each time you get your pay/allowance/scholarship. For instance, rent and transportation pass are definitely a “must”. Then take any one item you want, multiply the price by 30 (roughly the number of days in a month) and see if you can afford it on a daily basis. OK, you need breakfast. Go out and pay $10, or buy something and spend $2 on your coffee/tea, juice and bagel or toast at home? Multiply by 30 and see where it leaves you. The same goes for lunch and dinner. How many times a month can you really go out three times a day? If you are rich, you can do it as many times as you wish. If you stick to a student’s or a beginner researcher’s budget, not so often. Look at your monthly income with your partner/spouse and decide when you are going to have an outing. Don’t fret! After all, if you go out for every meal, it often means that you put a lot of junk into your body. You may gain excess weight without even noticing it. If you spend some time running around to buy foods and then prepare a meal in your kitchen, you will give yourself a nice workout without any gym membership. The same goes for any item on your agenda. You can splurge on a new outfit, new shoes, new bag or accessories when you either get some extra money in addition to your regular income, or when suddenly something is left over from last month. Learn to combine what you have in a different way so that you have a new-looking outfit; save that particular treat for the end of the month when the new payment is due in a couple days. You will enjoy your special coffee, those red velvet muffins or salmon salad even more when you have to wait for it. Your budget says that you can only buy a banana split once a month for now? Ah, what a treat! It will taste like heaven. Remember the golden rule: one’s appetite three days after one gets one’s scholarship/allowance/pay and three days before payment day is the same. Try not (NOT) to spend all the money during those first three days.

Naturally when we are young we don’t want to spend much time by the stove; we do want to get out, to see all the new plays, exhibitions, music concerts, to socialize. If our budget only allows such indulgencies, say, once a month, enjoy them. You want to have more opportunities? Work harder, apply for grants, take part in project, and use your brains! You will be getting better pay and thus you will get more chances to afford more extras.

Mind over body, folks.




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