08 Jan From Debt Free to Consumer Debt Free….
I can’t stand debt. In fact you could say I loathe it. And while I am pretty sure I could always refrain from what I call “consumer debt” (credit card, car, personal loans), student loan debt is another story. There are always ways to get it paid for (military service, rural job placement, scholarships, etc), but sometimes they are not worth what you get in return, and often they are after the fact (they repay the loans you already took out). For example, the military will trade a year of service per year of of school paid for. Depending on what your income will be on the open market it may not work in your favor.
I am returning to school and paid cash for my first semester. But it is a long road ahead and it is going to be extremely difficult and highly improbable that I make it through without student loans. As far as debt goes student loans are certainly more acceptable than the previous types I mentioned, the problems most people run into is justifying huge loans to pay for an education that may not be worth it. Going $100,000 in debt for a career that makes $30,000 a year is not a smart investment. If you really want that degree find a cheaper way to pay for it. On the other hand $100,000 in debt for a 6 figure plus career can make more sense. There is still an inherent risk as with all debt, what if you do not finish? What if you fail out? What if you simply don’t like your job? Be prepared to face these challenges and have a backup plan. With my new plan failure is not an option, if I continue ahead and end up taking out student loans that will be the point of no return for me. Debt is unnacceptable and it will be paid back as soon as possible if and when it is incurred. It should never be looked at as a permanent part of your life to begin with. People who act as if a car payment is just a part of life bewilder me. Why? Because your friends drive new cars? You don’t have to do what everyone else does. Believe me, debt free with a used vehicle and money in the bank is much better. Plus it doesn’t have to be “that” used. Sorry I went on a side tangent there about new cars, don’t get me started. If you wanted to sell me a new car at a used car price and it would not depreciate like a new car I would be all for it.
Anyway, back to the issue, I have decided to stop waiting around for the job offer that won’t come and make myself invaluable to the market place by gaining knowledge and skills that few have. This is the only way to ensure employment and livelyhood, it will be a long and difficult road but well worth it. I started my first semester back with an A in Trigonometry, and considering I had never taken it before and have not had an algebra class in 10 years I am pretty proud of this A. In 2 weeks I begin the semester from hell, Biology and Bio lab, and Chemistry and Chem lab. Doesn’t sound too bad until you realize that I have a mix of day and evening classes and I have to fit in 40 hours of work in those 5 days as well. Luckily my current employer is ok with me flexing my schedule however I need to in order to get my 40 in.
Despite the fact that I have pretty much given up all hope on remaining debt free, I still have a plan of attack to avoid extreme debt. I have come up with a few options for free or cheap housing (family) which would save roughly 12-15k a year. For now I am still working full time and have not decided when or if to take either of these options, but they are on the table.
I took a long time to get there but here is my main point of this article, and will also serve as my message to Claire, I am sure I have written one like this but it never can be written enough:
Find out what you love to do and make a plan to do it. I can’t stress enough you will not be happy if you hate or even do not love what you do. It’s what you do for 1/3 of your working life (8 hours/day)! Make it something you enjoy! Do not let people discourage you from your goals or tell you it’s too hard and it will not happen, use that as fuel to accomplish them. Do not waste your intelligence, if you have the ability to do something great, do it. The earlier you figure it out the better but do not give up simply because you think you are too old, 90 year olds still earn college degrees. Stop blaming everyone else for your problems or lack of success. Even in the worst of economys there are people who rise up and become great. Start taking responsibility for your actions and make something of yourself.
Just to be clear, I am not saying everyone needs to go become a genetic scientist or you are some kind of loser who wasted their life. I am saying don’t go work at the mill for 40 years just because that’s what everyone else in your town does. If it makes you happy that’s fine, but if you find yourself dreading going into work everyday, find your calling and make it happen. If what makes you happy is to stay at home and raise your kids that is great too, that is what my wife chose to do. She is very smart and had thoughts of becoming a P.A., and I am sure she could have done so. However, I do not consider raising children waisting her intelligence, it is the most important job of all. The better we do at raising our children, the better everyones futures will be.