It’s 2009. I’m finishing up my final year of high school, debating on if I want to major in fashion or marine biology (because those are so similar). My wonderfully supportive parents have already told me that they won’t be able to help me with college, but with the mindset of “gotta spend money to make money” I apply to a slew of schools, not knowing the difference between public and private costs and overall looking for the best experience I can get.
It’s 2010, and after a semester of fashion school at a private college in Boston (and living on campus, on Comm Ave I might add) I decide that I’m going to switch my major to Marine Biology and move to Miami, Florida. I get accepted to a private university and pack up my 1990 Lebaron convertible to make the move.
It’s 2011, and after two semesters of marine biology I speak to my advisor, who informs me that I will have to complete my masters to even be considered for a marine biology job that pays over $40k. Knowing I had loans (but not really doing the math) I switch my major to sports management with a concentration in the dive industry (yes, this was a thing) and a minor in business. I put all of my focus on internships and getting good grades, knowing that I’m going to need a good job right out of college.
It’s May 2014. It took 5 years, 3 majors, and way too many credits earned to complete my Bachelors degree; but I did it. I worked at least 2 jobs my entire college career paying overages on living expenses that my loans didn’t cover, and completed 3 internships- 1 for marine bio and 2 for marketing. I have my first job lined up as a real adult: working at the Sun Sentinel newspaper in Deerfield Beach as a Client Services Representative, with a salary of a whopping $34k. My family saved up and for the first time since I lived there flew to Miami for my graduation. I’m a real adult and I’m on top of the world.
It’s June 2014, and I receive my statements from my two loan vendors. I knew they were coming, and I knew they weren’t going to be pretty, but I was not ready for what I received.
$128,000. I owe, ONE HUNDRED TWENTY EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS. My minimum payment option is $800 a month. That’s almost half my monthly paycheck. After some crying, pleading with the great forces above, and the five stages of grief, I finally reach acceptance and start looking for a solution to my problems.
Fast forward to now: it’s April 2018. I am now back in the Boston area, working as a Marketing Manager for a well known fitness and health app. I have climbed the ladder in my career and grown as a professional; I have found my niche. I have traveled to Costa Rica, London, Dublin, Paris, Iceland, and am planning a two week trip to Thailand. I spend my weekends in the winter snowboarding, and my summers camping, hiking, rock-climbing, attending concerts and trying new things like whitewater rafting.
And I now pay $1200 a month in student debt.
I am far from rich (or even financially stable- thank you, private schools) and still have a few years of this left, but if you’re anything like me you’re constantly trying new things to help you find your balance. Not only with student debt, but balance in focus: between life and work, spending and saving, experiences and milestones, finding your path.
This blog is about what I’ve tried and how it’s worked (or hasn’t) for me. I will be writing about things like creating your own repayment plans and weighing your options, how to travel the world on a budget, and ultimately focusing on your goals and setting new ones.
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“Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived. Follow the path that is no path; follow your bliss.” -Joseph Campbell