I’ve been looking at my budget a lot lately. The girlfriend is going back to school (yea girlfriend!), but that means that we’re going from a 2-income family to a 1 1/2 income family (the 1/2 income is from her financial aid). I can’t believe how little disposable income we’re going to have! And yet I’m a honest-to-god white-collar professional. It’s a little bewildering…when I got my salary offer after graduation, I danced around and shouted “I’m rich, I’m rich!!” And yet despite my visions of wealth, I am not rolling around on a bed of dollar bills every night. Don’t get me wrong, I’m doing alright. I can pay my loans, the mortgage, the car payment. I can buy the fancy “natural” dog food . I can even go out to dinner on the weekends. It’s actually all ok, until we think about having children. That’s where the budget hangs its head in shame. Seriously, what the hell? Growing up, my family of 4 did fine on a single income, and it was half of what I’m making now. Why do I feel like having a child will bankrupt us? I think it’s really the specter of daycare that is so financially frightening. $1000 a month for childcare is enough to make me wish for a stay-at-home spouse. Too bad me and the girlfriend both have career plans that can’t take a break for about 5 years or so. And by that time my fertile eggs will have crumbled into dust.
The question on every new grad’s lips is “what’s your salary?” I’ll tell you, because I think that nurses and NPs should talk about our pay. How else will we know if we’re getting screwed? I started as a brand-new NP with a salary of $72,000. After a series of small (ok, tiny) raises, I’m now making $75,000. It’s not a bad salary for community health. Some of my classmates who are working in major metropolitan areas started at $80-90,000 for ambulatory care. Other clasmates of mine make $100,000 as hospitalist NPs. As someone who once pulled in a whopping $18,000 a year (living hand-to-mouth in a major West Coast city, no less), I have no complaints about my current salary. I just wish kids weren’t so damn expensive!