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saving money before entering a phd program?

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I'm currently trying to save some cash before entering my stat phD program in the fall.  Hopefully I'll have $5000 saved up by August, but I was wondering if most people have a hard time getting by with the grad student stipend.  What have your experiences been with this?  Has having some extra money made your life much better as a grad student?  Or only marginally?

I know I'll be extremely busy in graduate school anyway but it would still be nice to know if a grad student generally lives a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle.  Are there ways to intern over the summers somewhere (a hedge fund, etc) before working on the doctoral dissertation?  How common is this?


Also has anybody ever gotten a CS masters while getting a stat phD concurrently?  I'm interested in doing this because my research focus in stats will likely be in stochastic algorithms to bio (a rough i dea).


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I am trying to save up 20~30K before I start the program. I have several friends in PhD programs and they live paycheck to paycheck, which I don't want to do. I have a decently high paying job so if I am frugal I can save that much before I start the program

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Whether or not your stipend is enough to live on really depends on the program, stipend, and city. I know that some U Hawaii students are going into debt to just survive while some students at Tucson, AZ are buying homes, on about the same stipend. So you should definitely ask this to current students (not the profs who might not really know what it's like) when you are visiting or emailing. 

In any case, saving up money before grad school is a great plan. Sometimes your stipend is paid out in 12 equal chunks but the startup costs can be pretty high!! Some schools have a no-fees, no-interest loan to help with this. For my wife and I, we will probably be losing money this year, until my wife gets her work authorization approved and finds a job (we're from Canada) but fortunately, we did save up some money during my MSc degree when we were living in a low-cost-of-living town!

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