Archive for the ‘milestones’ Category


I’ve been laying low for a bit, post-defense (was on Friday, passed, hooray!).  Hopefully my mind will un-smoosh soon, because having jello for brains is pretty worthless.

To bed!


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Turned my dissertation in to my committee a week ago today.  Since then I have:

1.  Hung out with my parents

2. Spent a weekend drinking excessively with frisbee friends in a secluded cabin in North GA

3. Became an Aunt!  Woo baby time.  This involved logging many hours in a hospital, and dealing with some forlorn cats at my bro’s house.  Oh, and nibbling on adorable baby fingers.

4.  Taught my advisor’s classes

So, despite being pretty damn busy…  I’m curious to know why I feel like I’ve totally withdrawn from life for the past week.  Maybe I’ve just been on mental vacation, or maybe it’s because I’ve been so absent from my house (and my roommates).  Certainly it’s because Husband is gone, and that has an odd way of making it seem like it’s been one interminably long day since I dropped him off at the airport.  I think that the next month (or two) will be an interesting mix.  I don’t feel inclined to socialize in my town anymore – most of my network is a minimum of an hour away.  And for some reason, SusieTime (i.e. me, alone in my room, generally watching something stupid on ABC family…) is increasingly important.  Maybe I’m gearing myself up for the fact that, come January, it’s going to be mostly SusieTime for at least a while.  But that seems silly – seems like I ought to be maximizing the fun?

Looking at my little list up there, though, I guess it seems like I am.  I guess I’m just not as mentally present for all that as I could be.  Because mentally, I’m all over the place – Atlanta, Washington, Savannah (hi!)…  I haven’t been fully engaged in most of what I’ve done recently, because I’m always thinking of someone else who is somewhere else.

At any rate, the overarching feeling I’m left with after turning in the dissertation isn’t necessarily relief…  it’s actually loss.  That’s not quite right though.  I guess I just feel kind of unmoored, not sure what to do with myself.

You know, since actually starting to work on my defense presentation hasn’t yet seemed necessary.  Great plan, Susie!  Let’s see what happens.

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Life Insurance 101

So.  Life insurance.  I’m feelin’ like a big kid lately.

Shortly after the wedding, a friend on my frisbee team who works for Northwestern Mutual contacted us, asking if we would be interested in getting some life insurance.  At first, I felt like that was something we could put off, but since we are buying a house (i.e. taking on a substantial amount of debt), life insurance makes a lot of sense.  While Husband and I have budgeted so that we can afford our life style one only one salary though we are both working, I imagine we’d be pretty sad if the other got hit by a bus and died, possibly not working for awhile – and even though we’ve got emergency funds available, and a decent amount of investments, eliminating some of the financial pressure for a worst case scenario like that seems prudent.  So we agreed to meet with our friend (subsequently called NWFriend) – and that meeting occurred yesterday.

We were asked a ton of details about our financial attitudes and current financial situation, our life plans and goals, our health.  I kind of like having those conversations because they tend to stroke my ego a bit – I feel like Husband and I have done a good job of creating a great financial foundation for ourselves.  So NWFriend gave us a bunch of info about different options, and based on our current life style and future goals, outlined what would be good for us to get.  We ended up getting a $500,000 term policy on me, and a $650,000 term policy on Husband, both expiring at age 80 (this is a standard age limit).  The premiums are $20/month for me and $30/month for him, so pretty low in terms of our income.  The premiums increase every year over the duration of the policy, but very slowly at first.  However, if we still have the policies when we are 75, it will cost something like $10k a year each.  That sounded crazy at first, but it’s not.  First of all, it’s standard amongst all term policies, and second of all – it makes sense.  When you are 75, you are probably going to kick it soon.  Plus, having relatively higher expenses for life insurance are offset by (presumably) having lower expenses for things like housing.

We wanted to get policies that would allow us to pay off the major debts we have (~240K house loan, 10k student loan debt) so that the reduced income wouldn’t send the survivor into having to spend down our savings.  Also, in anticipation of other life changes that will likely occur in the next 5-10 years (one or more kids), we wanted to get enough that the survivor could invest the remainder of the money and receive monthly income off that investment.  250k invested roughly equates to about $1000 a month in income.  As neither of us anticipate being a stay-at-home parent, we can currently assume that 500k and 650k policies are adequate.  Often in situations where a woman is a stay-at-home mom and the man works, you would end up with $500k and $2 mil. policies, respectively (once kids are a certainty/actually exist).  We got a more expensive policy on Husband because boys die sooner, and because if I die tragically, Husband is more likely to bury himself in work, whereas in the opposite scenario, it’s entirely possible that I would stare at a wall for a year.  This is true for us, and true generally for most couples.

We got a higher policy amount for me than many couples choose at our age, because of my high earning potential and because of my health risk factors for MS.  As NWFriend said repeatedly, the cheapest life insurance you can get is what you should have bought yesterday – because I’m currently healthy and should easily pass the physical, I can get a cheap policy that won’t change if I do end up having MS; if we waited to buy more until I developed MS I would either be uninsurable or insurable at great cost.  Also, it’s very easy to change the policy (though easier to reduce than increase).

Another aspect we talked about briefly and will look into more later is permanent life insurance.  While term runs out at a specified age (80), perm runs out when you die.  Perm sounded like a forced savings plan, where you purchase a policy amount at a fixed premium that never changes, and have that amount invested in the companie’s (i.e. NWM’s) mutual fund, which has received at lease a 6.5% dividend (I think it was dividends) for the past 150 years (that was the line NWFriend fed us at least!).  Then you can receive the dividends as cash or reinvest them (like for any mutual fund).  For the term policy we purchased, we can choose to convert any portion of it to permanent before we turn 60.  I’m sort of fuzzy on the details of permanent insurance – I want to look into it more, but it sounds like a intersection of life insurance and forced mutual fund investment.

Life insurance is often offered by employers, and while we will likely take advantage of the highest policy amount we can get without needing a physical, we don’t want to rely on this alone.  If we did, and one or both of us lost our jobs, and then tragedy struck – well, that sucks.

Ok, so back to our purchased term life insurance -we went ahead and set up an automatic bank draft, and are already insured less than 24 hours later.  We had our physicals this morning (I won – my pulse and blood pressure were totally lower than Husbands!  Suck it!), which included medical history, height and weight, urine sample and blood draw.  We didn’t warn our roommates before hand, so they came down to breakfast to find us giving blood to some random lady in the kitchen.  Good times.

Finally, while I don’t think it would be a big deal if we had waited a few years to purchase life insurance policies (perhaps until we were actively trying to reproduce), I feel good about having gone ahead and taken care of it.  Partially because I have morbid anxiety problems and think about that hit-by-a-bus scenario on a daily basis, and partially because it makes me feel all grown up and responsible and holier-than-thou.  You know, if I’m being honest 🙂

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Husband and I are having financial discussions on approximately a daily basis lately, since we are in the midst of buying a house.  And possibly also a car, as the computer in my 2003(!) nissan shorted out a few weeks ago, necessitating a costly repair that has been hampered by a “national backorder” on the part…  long story shorter, I have been without a car for nearly a month, and will be without one for at least another month.  For anyone out there doing the math, as Husband is moving in two weeks, that leaves me utterly carless very soon.  So, because the costly repair is nearly as much as the car itself is worth, and the time without a car at this particular juncture is pretty debilitating, we are looking at possibly buying a new (to me) car as well.

Anywaaaay, whenever we have these discussions, they are always very rational until we’ve established we can afford something.  Then, I like to throw in a little curve ball.  The “what if you get hit by a bus and die” contingency plan.  Husband deals with my morbid anxiety pretty well, and talks me through what would happen in the event of his untimely demise.  Then, we decide if whatever we are thinking of doing passes the Hit by a Bus Test, and then we proceed.

Neither of us has ever had any debt (beyond <10k in student loans between us), so looking at buying a house and financing a car is a pretty crazy jump to me.  I’ve been against financing cars (or most things, really – I’m a save first, buy later kinda girl) my whole life (ah I am so old and wise), but right now it looks like the planets might be aligning.  Between my unforseen car problems (Nissans don’t often kick the bucket at <80k miles! – my bro has well over 200k on his!) and the economy (woo for financing incentives!), I might just get myself a relatively newer and shinier car than I had ever anticipated.

I don’t even know where to begin looking…  oh, and I probably shouldn’t, because my dissertation is due in 20 days, and I am NOT. DONE.


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quickly, because my dissertation is eating my face:

Sectionals got moved from Nashville to Atlanta to Chattanooga over the course of 36 hours, and then we played nearly all the games before getting totally rained out, so all my frisbee friends got to come the wedding.  Except the one who had to stay behind to help clean up after the terrible flooding at his parents’ home.  Atlanta was out of control last weekend!

Husband got a job on Friday (about an hour before the rehearsal dinner – great timing!), the job I was hoping he would get (computational support for research at the same company I am going to).

Then we bought a house*.

Then we successfully got married, and it was freakin awesome, and I made my husband take out the trash last night (suck it sucker!)

It was a big weekend.  I am totally blissed out.  And now I have work to do…

*still in the process I suppose, inspection is on Wednesday, but offer is accepted and papers are being signed and sent back and forth across the country.  Fingers remain in the crossed position, as we learn about mortgages and escrow and closing dates and home inspections and so forth.

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Ok, so as I might have mentioned, I am sort of intensely busy.  I am getting married in just over a month, writing my dissertation which needs to be handed in approximately two weeks after the wedding, which also happens to be when my first niece or nephew is due to exit from my sister-in-law.  Additionally, I play on a competitive ultimate team which has three weekend-long tournaments and several weekend-long practices between now and the beginning of October, all between 1.5 and 5 hours from where I live.  I am moving across the country in January, and am trying to maximize Fun Time with my friends and family who I may never see again ever (insert melodramatic music here).  So far, I have managed not to freak out, but I am starting to feel the tentacles of all-consuming panic pulling my feet towards an ocean of crazy.

This morning, my dear, dear fiance, under duress, admitted he had finally gotten in touch with our officiant, Officiant.  He is a friend from Fiance’s childhood, whom I do not know – I have met him once, and heard many stories, but we are not close ourselves.  For the last five months, I have been under the impression that I needn’t worry about the ceremony – Officiant has a plan, he has ideas, sure, Fiance will call him and get some details, sure, sure.  So I threw that issue on the back burner and focused on getting all the other little duckies in neat little rows, and occasionally nagged Fiance about calling.  This morning, I learn that Officiant has no plan.  In the last wedding he performed for friends, the neurotic bride (O, to be that sort of neurotic bride!) handed him his lines, which he embellished and made his own in small ways, but he originated none of the ceremony ideas.

I have not a damn clue what I want in our wedding ceremony.  Fiance will be of no help, unless I want an oral delineation of a computer program that will cause a robot to ramble about the hall, greeting the guests.  We know that there will not be any religion in the ceremony, but that’s really it.  I suppose it would be nice for someone to say something about how Fiance and I have a deep, special love, that is like … something strong and enduring.  Like rocks, or time.  I am not a poet, I am a scientist.  I have the vague notion that it would be lovely for someone to read something, but I don’t know what they ought to read, and how does one pull a meaningful passage out the ether if one has the memory of a goldfish?  I have read so many lovely things, but…. what were they?  Oh dear…

I wish that someone had the answers for this one.  I wish I could better vocalize what we all know, that we’ve got something special.  I wish it didn’t all sound so trite when you write it down.

this man

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