So, I'm trying to think about what I'm doing in the next few years..
Here's one scenario I'm playing with:
I'm toying with the idea of a timeline roughly in the area of 5-7 years.. I figure 2 to finish the Math, another 4 or so for something else at the lower level (perhaps philosophy or Psychology), and then get started on the last step in Math. *where* I do that is still a question, but I find myself more and more comming back to the Germany posibility. Even failing that (and going elsewhere), I'll need a substantial ammount of funds saved up before taking that step. Though I'll not be able to work while a student in Germany, that loss of funds will be offset by a lack of tuition. End result is that I'll probably need the same ammount saved up wherever I go.
How to accomplish this -- there's the rub. I'm thinking of house prices right now. they are going to dip relatively soon, and how long they will stay down is a question I've not looked at much. I should be finishing off my debt 'round August, September if things don't go as expected. So I'll be able to start saving up before next year starts (just barely). But will that be early enough to have a sufficient ammount saved up to get a reasonable house in time to have it's value increase enough that when I do move I will be able to afford the degree? I don't know. Of course, I'll be doing other investments along the way, but I'm not counting on those returning much. Little things, like a few thousand in the market when it starts to recover from the next dip (I'll have to talk with my aunt on this one, she's learned quite a bit about successful investing (her stocks last year returned more than my gross income)), perhaps other avenues of investment, but nothing terribly impressive.
Will it be enough? that's the question idly sitting in the back of my mind. One I don't have an answer for.
Another option would be to use the CSU. They offer (last I checked it was still available) a loan program where they give you a loan for getting your PhD, and when you get your degree you have to work at a CSU campus for some number of years (I think it was 5 or so) and then they call it even and you never actually pay back the loan. I could just take 2 years and get the MA, apply for the CSU loan and go that route. It would mean being stuck in the US for another 5 or so years, though. I'm allready getting twitchy with the desire to bug out of this place as it is now, I just know that there is no way I could do it successfully (to my satisfaction).
Then again, there's the 'screwit' route where I simply give up and resign myself to waste away the rest of my years where I am now. It's not a very attractive plan, one I would wish to avoid at all costs, but being surrounded by empty souls who have done just that makes it dificult to ignore it as an option. Not a happy option. Not an option I'm sure I could live with. But yes, it is an option.
Along with all this, though, and in a way competing with this, is my desire to further my photography interests. I am idling toying with the idea of getting a better camera and a few more lenses and actually moving up to selling some prints. This would require a computer as well, as I wouldn't be able to (legally) sell anything I created with work equipment. So all told, this course of action is totalling up to something in the neighborhood of 4k or thereabouts. Very doable, but how much would this impact my saving/investing plans? Do I really think I would be able to recoup that expense over the course of my stay here (with interest to equal the same ammount invested instead of spent)? I don't think so. Would the altered quality of life be worth it? Possibly, but I'm not entirely sure. I do love working with the pictures, and am often frustrated by various technical aspects of my current equipment, but such is more of a minor annoyance and I am sure that whatever I get in the future will carry with it equivalent annoyances.
I just don't know.. For now, I just keep on with the plan: reduce my lifestyle, pay off debt. But I only have a few more months of that before I start saving, and I'll have to decide after a few months of saving if I want to do the camera thing or the investing thing (as once money is spent on camera, it can't be invested and once money is tied up in investments, it can't be spent on camera). So while I have time for right now to stew on it, I don't have forever.