|Our dog, on a post payoff walk|
Mid 2009: Gee, this law thing really sucks. I should find another job. Shouldn’t take too long since I have a JD, which is truly a versatile degree (it must be true – they told me that at law school orientation)! (Good grief, I was so naïve. I wish I could go back in time and punch myself in the head.)
January 2010: As a backup plan, I applied to a healthcare program at my local community college a few months prior and was accepted. I had to complete some prerequisites, though, so I began taking a chemistry course at night.
March 2010: Shit, no one wants me because of my JD. I’m too ‘overqualified’ apparently. Or maybe they think I’m nuts for leaving such a ‘lucrative’ and ‘prestigious’ field? If they only knew how not lucrative it is. I don’t make much more than someone with a BBA, but I have twice the student loan debt. And there isn’t anything prestigious about answering discovery in a slip and fall case, or arguing a sentence for a DUI when the statutory guidelines dictate the outcome. Maybe it’s time to take up drinking to get through it. A lot of attorneys do that, don’t they?
April/May 2010: Thank God the recruiter at the temp agency took pity on me and got me a job. It only pays $15 per hour, but maybe I can get a second job at night or something.
July 2010: Ok, now that my chemistry course is over, I got a second job at night, at a call center. It’s not that bad, is it? It’s only $10.50 an hour, but at least I don’t have to talk to anyone and I can read in between calls. And maybe my supervisor just forgot to wear deodorant today. I’m sure he normally smells a lot better. At least I’m catching up on all the books I had piling up on my nightstand.
August 2010: This officially sucks. Not only did my first temping gig end abruptly since the company decided to relocate, but now I’ve been placed at a call center during the day – which means I work at a call center literally day and night. Ugh.
Late August 2010: I guess it’s pretty obvious how miserable I am. My husband took it upon himself to look for jobs in another market so we could make a fresh start. I swear, if we get out of this state, I am never telling anyone about my JD ever again. I’d rather tell people I was serving prison time for those three years I wasted in law school. I’d probably have better luck in the job market.
September 2010: Progress! We have three weeks to move for my husband’s new job, over 2,000 miles away. We can do this. I’m going to start emailing my resume to temp agencies there – this time without advertising my JD on my resume. Selling my husband’s car before the move was a good idea. One less expense to worry about once we get to our new city. And this way, we can drive across the country together.
Late September/early October 2010: Ah, I can breathe again. Here, I am not an attorney. I am someone who used to work in the legal field, but who now has three non-legal positions on her resume, however low level they were. I need to find something soon, since we have a lot of things to pay for right now. A mortgage back home, rent on our new place, four student loan payments (two federal, two private – yikes!), a car payment, and living expenses. Our monthly debt payments alone are $1,200. Shit.
Early November, 2010: Ok, so a seasonal retail position is not exactly what I am looking for long-term, but for now, it will cover our debt payments. It’s only $12 per hour, but at least it gives me until January to find a real job. (That job was actually kind of fun. I got a good discount, and my fellow employees were all in the same boat – overqualified and struggling in a stagnant job market)
Late November 2010: Holy shit, networking paid off! My aunt’s friend [a therapist] was looking for an assistant, and it actually pays better than my lawyer gig did. It’s only part-time, but it’s still a good income until I can figure out what I want to do with my life.
January 2011: Wow, the temp agency out here found me a part-time position in the afternoon, so now I am working full-time between my two jobs, and earning more than I did as an attorney. Now if only our house back home would sell, that would take some of the financial pressure off.
February 2011: Our house finally sold! And we made a small profit off of it, which is lucky in this market. What in the world are we supposed to do with this money? Try to pay down a student loan? Save it? Spend it?
March 2011: I sent my husband a link to an article about a couple who paid off a bunch of debt in a short amount of time. We talk about our finances that night and decide to really take a good look at how much debt we have.
Husband: “We owe $146,000?!”
Me: “Well, now wait a minute, it might be only $145,700. Let me run the numbers again…”
April 2011: New job! I quit my afternoon temp job and took a permanent part-time assistant position, so now I work full-time between my two jobs, and the average of my two wages is $35 per hour. Much more than I was making as a lawyer. And I checked out a Dave Ramsey book from the library. Is it bad to take financial advice from a guy who put his picture on the front of his book? I guess we'll soon find out.
May 2011: After the first month on the envelope system, we have saved $2,000 to put toward our car loan. Not as much as we had hoped, but we had some car emergencies come up. This was bound to happen, according to other people who’ve been on this plan. The first month always involves some kind of emergency spending.
|Our envelope system, in all its glory|
October 2011: Ok, we have made some good progress. We now own our car outright. And one of my small private loans is going to be paid off soon. But it seems like we always seem to miss our monthly debt snowball goal. Maybe I should get a night job. I wonder if you really can make $1200 a month delivering pizzas, like Dave Ramsey is always talking about? I don’t want to work at another restaurant job, but I don’t have the mental energy to get a job that requires thinking at all.
November 2011: This new pizza delivery gig is fine, I guess. The tips are ok, but I doubt this is going to add up to much at the end of the month. Oh, and I believe I am officially a loser. That's what my marinara-stained polo says about me anyway.
|And some tips were nothing to write home about. I know it's ok percentage-wise, but $2 in and of itself just isn't a lot of money.|
December 2011: I was wrong about the tips – I made almost $1500 last month in pizza money alone!
January 2012: Private student loan number one – gone.
April 2012: My husband’s company went public. He’s got some stock coming to him, but the shares haven’t all vested. Let’s cross our fingers and hope they’re worth something someday.
|It's great getting payoff notices, but not so great knowing that I've enabled my alma mater to give out more loans. Grrr....|
May 2012: Private student loan number two – gone. But I’m burned out from delivering pizzas. Time to take a break and recoup.
October 2012: We buckled down and have been sending every extra penny to my husband’s federal student loan. He had $35,000 total, and for the past six months, we’ve been averaging about $5,000 per month in debt snowball payments. I want to shoot myself when I think about how much money is going toward our debt. The amount we’ve paid off in debt could have bought us a small house for cash back home. What in the world was I thinking when I took out student loans? I was spending money like a cocaine addict, but didn’t get any of the highs. FML.
Early November 2012: Well, we are allowed to sell some company stock, but since all the other employees are doing that, the price is low. Best not sell right now. Let’s wait for the next trading window.
November 2012: Husband’s federal loan is now gone. We are down to no money again, except our baby emergency fund of $2500. I know Dave Ramsey advocates $1000 for a starter emergency fund, but dude hasn’t changed that figure since the early 90’s. A thousand bucks just doesn’t go as far as it used to, so we made up our own rule for that. We only have $70,000 left to go – my federal student loan. Oh my lord, we still owe $70,000! How can that be?? This is never going to end, is it?
|Checking my husband's balance online. Yes, we created the security phrase, "Fuck off" for his account. I know it's paid off, but the sentiment remains: fuck off, Mohela.|
February 2013: Finally, the stock is at a decent price. Husband cashed out his vested shares and we have just enough to pay off my federal student loan. Why do I feel so guilty? Maybe because we could have done something productive with that money, rather than sending it all to the bank to pay for a degree that I don’t even use?
March 2013: We sent the payoff to the bank, and since it was my husband’s birthday, I went out to get a cake to celebrate. On the way back from the grocery store, I sat at a red light and sobbed uncontrollably. Guilt? Relief? Grief about the time I wasted on a legal career? Maybe all of the above.
|We'd named my federal student loan "Big Bertha," so one half of the cake reads, "R.I.P. Bertha" and the other half reads, "Happy Birthday" to my husband. Bertha will not be missed.|
Today: My student loan payoff posted yesterday, and the check cleared today. We now have $100 in our checking account. But for some reason, I feel like a million bucks.
|My new student loan balance - $0. I'm not sure why all the people on the website are smiling about non-bankruptable debt.|
I don't think it'll be long before we see a whole new group of scam bloggers crop up - this time, it will be disgruntled nurses instead of JD's
It might be a welcome change.