Tag Archives: debt

The Struggles of the Educated::How Do We Get Ahead?


485939_504914949568698_1234484701_nLately, I’ve been pondering my decision to seek a higher education and obtain my bachelor’s degree. I’ve heard so many people say that it has replaced the high school diploma for job applications and it puts you in high demand. However, right after college I began seeking careers that would best utilize my degree. Bare in mind, while in college I participated in many different groups in organizations to obtain the experience in the editing field. I was told that this would count as experience on my resume and it would make me even more desirable among employers.

I can’t even count how many rejection letters I got back that explained to me how I needed more experience before they would consider me. I remember one rejection letter came back to me 15 minutes after submitting my application. That was a huge blow to the ego. And now, it’s been so many years since I had that writing experience that I may have to start at square one to find a career like that. And I don’t even know if I want a ‘career’… I think I just want a life and a paycheck.

Ok, well maybe I screwed myself over by not getting an internship, or by moving around, or by settling for the first job that came at me. In my defense, my student loan bills came at me at full force. Not to mention car payments, daily expenses, insurance, and eventually rent. Because of this, and because of rejection after rejection from employers, I was forced to move back home with my parents and work at McDonalds. I’m not going to sit around and let my bills go unpaid. That’s irresponsible…

And I was in constant search of independence. Why would a successful person be living with their parents?

I continued down this path, trying to find the right job. I was also on the hunt for the perfect car and in hot pursuit of the most luxurious home. I also began to be a ‘thing hoarder’… This is a horrible trait in which I had to buy anything and everything, and hang on to it. I went into stores and came out with all sorts of decorative items that I thought would look good in my new place once I moved out! Stuff is what showed people how successful you are, right?

Anyways, here I am three years after graduation. I’ve got a decent paying job, a college degree that I’m only using in my spare time, and roughly $20,000 worth of debt. I’m VERY thankful for the job that I have and wouldn’t give it up. I’m simply starting to question the decisions I made in my past leading up to my life at this point.

Did I really only go to college because I was told that was the way to be successful?

Honestly, I don’t believe a Bachelor degree or a college education is the true and only definition of success. I have a handful of friends and acquaintances that either forwent college or dropped out. According to what I was told in high school (back in 2006) they should have been the ones struggling to make ends meet. However, if you think about it, they don’t start out their adult working lives with an insurmountable amount of debt. That makes kick-starting adulthood a whole lot easier. Most of them have been established in their jobs long enough to be promoted, have started families, and bought homes. Kudos to them! And yet, here I am still trying to make sense of my life.

That silly little housing crisis in 2008 probably didn’t help matters either, but that was completely out of my control.

Right now, we’re living in an area where the cost of living is ridiculously high, but it’s about the only place where we can get higher-paying jobs. We are still hunting for cheaper living, but it’s not easy. And moving into any Section 8 apartments is a death wish here.

There are almost no luxuries in our home, and yet it feels like we’re still struggling to conquer debt.

  • We have Internet, but we do not have cable (FYI, Comcast is charging us $70/month for JUST THE INTERNET and I am still fighting with them to lower the cost)
  • We do not go out to eat more than twice a month
  • We do not go out to clubs/bars/etc
  • We do not get professional haircuts more than a few times a year
  • I do not get my nails professionally done
  • We rarely shop for anything other than groceries
  • We do not have expensive hobbies like skiing
  • We do not have a gym membership
  • We do no-contract phones to avoid ridiculus monthly costs
  • We coupon our brains out for groceries
  • We have shut off circuit breakers in our apartment to cut electricity costs
  • We have been a 1-car household for 5 1/2 months to try and make ends meet
  • We are selling stuff on Craigslist to earn extra money
  • We are picking up second jobs to keep up on the bills
  • We stopped using credit cards
  • We moved our bed into the living room and turned off/unplugged all electricity to the bedroom
  • We rarely turn the heat on in the winter, and if we do it’s for no more than a few hours

And all we want out of life?

  • To be debt free
  • Get married
  • Build our home
  • Start a homestead
  • Raise a family

I don’t anticipate much of a reaction to this post. I mostly expect people to come back at me with statements about my wrong decisions:

  • You should have gone to graduate school!! And go further into debt and spend the rest of my life playing catch-up?
  • You picked the wrong career path!! Maybe you’re right.
  • You should have taken your job hunt more serious!! All the phone calls and all the emails in the world couldn’t have made a difference. If an employer doesn’t want you, they don’t want you.
  • There are people without degrees suffering more than you!! I will not disagree with you.
  • Everybody goes through this!! Then why do we feel like such a minority?

Whatever. I think it’s pretty sad that there is a society where people work hard to make all the right decisions and still be kicked in the face.

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under The Tales of a Weary Writer, Uncategorized

5 Things That Are Most Important To Me


With all the talk of lotteries and debt lately, there have been many fantasies going through my head. I’m sure you have them, too.

“If I had a million dollars, I would pay off all my student loans and go on a cruise.”
“I would donate most of it to my favorite charity.”
“All I want is a new car”

Another seemingly unconnected topic that floats in and out of my brain is the idea of downsizing my life.

Smaller apartment.

Less stuff.

Less expenses.

Honestly, if I won the lottery, I don’t see myself living the glamorous life by any means. Between James and me, we would use the money to pay off all of our debts, finally build and move into a place of our own, and just live comfortably. After all is said in done, depending on our fictional lottery winnings, we would probably have to pick up jobs afterwards to sustain our lifestyle.

The beauty part of working after your debts are paid off: You can work how you want to work! And working less hours means you would have more time to focus on what’s more important.

I have created a list of 5 things in my life I would devote more time to if a job or money wouldn’t get in my way. In order for you to get a better idea, let me paint you a picture of this glorious event if it were to happen.

James and Lyssa purchased the winning lottery ticket. After taxes, they will be receiving $1,000,000.00! After a few celebratory drinks, they sit down and begin to devise a plan for the money. They divvied it up between their new home, two new gas-efficient vehicles, their debt, emergency fund, retirement, a huge donation to our families, a massive donation to Lyssa’s sister’s daycare, miscellaneous donations to our favorite charities, and college fund for any future children they may have. Oh yes, and a nice basset hound named Quincy and a Persian kitty named Duke.

With less debt on their minds, and their future comfortably funded, they are able to work less hours and still be able to cover their basic living expenses. This, in turn, frees up time they would have otherwise spent working their butts off to get to such a point of comfortable living.

Here is what I would like to focus on in my extra time. Never mind the vacations, the fancy boats, loud motorcycles, or glamorous pieces of jewelry. These are the things that would matter most to me:

1.)    Volunteering

The best times I ever had in my life typically revolved around a volunteer activity. Last year, James was working as a church youth director and had recruited many of his congregation members to come ring bells for the Salvation Army at the mall. It ate up an entire Saturday, but it was a blast! We got to meet all sorts of people. I personally enjoyed seeing the ways these kids enthusiastically cheered on the people who dropped coins and bills into the red kettle.

If given a choice, I would love to spend time volunteering at a local animal shelter. I’d also enjoy working with children or teens doing crafts or other creative activities.

2.)    Writing!!!

That includes working on my novel, collaborating a book of my award-winning poems (yes, it’s so awesome to have those in my writing portfolio!), and working on this blog more faithfully. This may also include searching out writing groups or creating one!

3.)    Family

My money situation has always been tight. So tight that I can’t always afford the extra gas money to visit my family. And now that we’re down to one vehicle, this endeavor is especially difficult. It would be great to see my nieces and nephews more often, especially on their birthdays and assorted holidays. It would also be great to afford the flight down to visit James’ family more often.

4.)    Exercise/Meditation

My senior year of college, I was a moving machine! I was in yoga, belly dancing, and swing dance. I loved it! These were the best forms of exercise, and I lost 10 lbs total in two semesters! Working my ass off to keep up with my debt has left little time for these recreational activities.

The one thing I really loved about yoga was the meditation. I still attempt to practice meditation even if I’m not participating in formal yoga. This just means I’m watching TV, or lying in bed, and I focus on my breathing and clearing my mind. It’s amazing how just breathing differently can affect your health, physically and emotionally.

 

5.)     ME!

In so many ways, I need to take care of myself. Vanity-wise, I have been wearing the same outfits I got a Goodwill quite a few years ago, I haven’t gotten a formal haircut in months, I’d love to wax my eyebrows, and I would like to look into getting more prescription glasses to match my changing looks.

Health-wise, I haven’t seen a formal doctor in over three years. I haven’t had decent insurance to cover the visit, and I haven’t been able to take the time off work to schedule an appointment (the before and after work appointments fill up fast). I would like to see a doctor about my ocular migraines and see a dentist about my wisdom teeth. I should also get my eyes checked out.

I am also the bearer of far too many quirks. Yes, they make up who I am, but sometimes it makes me painfully awkward and I’d like to tackle that piece by piece. I have an irrational fear of vomiting and I get anxiety from time to time. If I had the time and the money, I would seriously throw myself into some intensive therapy to get me somewhat closer to sane.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Tales of a Weary Writer