We have $200,000 in Student Loan Debt

We have $200,000 in Student Loan DebtHey everyone! The other day I received an e-mail from a reader who wants your help. I left out some identifying information because she wants to remain anonymous.

Just as a refresher to any new readers, I recently paid off around $40,000 worth of student loan debt.

It wasn’t all fun and games though, and I am glad that we put everything we had at the time towards them so that I didn’t have my student loans floating over my head.

I have 3 degrees (I was a double major in undergraduate school, and I also have my Finance MBA). Below are my posts on the subject.

How to Pay Off Student Loans Fast

My Student Loans are GONE

 

 

“Hello Michelle!

I have stumbled upon your blog today in the desperate search on how to start paying off my student loans more. I was wondering if you could give me any advice on where to begin.

Short description, I went to a private university to get a degree in a field I am passionate in (Computer Animation). I am now about $90,700 in debt. Now I actually work at the school that I went to school at. I now teach students. But I don’t make enough to even keep afloat lately. I only make about $32,000 a year and I live a very humble life.

And here is the kicker, my boyfriend ALSO went to school here and ALSO works here and he has even more debt than I do because I had 8 Scholarships going into school. If I would of went to a state university it would have almost been a free ride! Kicking myself.

So in reality together we are about 200,000$ in debt just because we went to school to do what we were passionate about.

In all honesty, I’m terrified. It has stifled our lives. We can’t even think about getting married or having kids.

We can pay my bills now but at the end of the month we have nothing to put into savings. I’ll get 300$ saved up (I direct deposit 10% of every pay check) and then a month goes by where things are tight or I have to pay most expensive loan and then I have to use that savings again. I’m absolutely frantic to find a way to pay this debt off.

All of your posts are so insightful and obviously you know what you are talking about but along with all my stress I absolutely do not know where to even start. I’m so nervous about emailing you but I am willing to try anything. I hope you are able to give me some insight. Sorry for such a spew of my situation. I’m sure you get TONS of emails. I really appreciate any time at all you have to email me back. I hope you have a wonderful day!

A few things I have already done and looked into are:

I am in the process of starting a blog to document this journey and sharing the fails and successes I come across. I am looking into sites where I can use my skills as an artist to make extra money (e.g. Etsy, Shapeways, Redbubble). I also put in an application to Zirtual because I have a pretty open schedule while at my job. I have signed up for auto payments on my smaller loan to get the 0.25% interest discount. Which is scary because there is no guarantee that the day it pulls I will have gotten paid in time and that I might not overdraw. But hopefully I’ll start making side money enough to not have to worry about that.”

 

If you have anything that you would like to say to help out this reader, please leave a comment below! I know she is very excited to see what everyone says and she will try to reply to comments as well.

 

68 Responses to We have $200,000 in Student Loan Debt

  • Thanks for sharing your story! I have a lot of student loan debt too- I know it can be really overwhelming. Depending on your situation, you may want to pick up a second job for a while. I had a friend who worked Friday and Saturday nights as a bartender throughout grad school and threw all his tip money at his student loans (and he made a LOT in tips!) The side hustles are an awesome idea too, but some things like blogging take a long time to start seeing income, so if you wanted more cash right away a second job might be something to think about. Also, is there anywhere that you can reduce expenses? Can you cut cable, gym memberships, or any other extras? That could potentially free up some extra cash so things don’t seem so tight. Good luck!
    Dee @ Color Me Frugal recently posted..Why I’m Keeping My Crappy CarMy Profile

    • BLane says:

      Thank you for your comment! Since I work 40-50 hours a week (on the clock) and more outside I’m definitely trying to look mainly in how to make money from the internet because my career keeps me in front of the computer all day anyways. I have applied Zirtual by Michelle’s recommendation on her post about virtual assistants. Hopefully that pans out!

      The main place in our budget to reduce expenses is to stop eating out for lunch, which we are working on! Thankfully, I have never had cable because of Netflix! :D

  • FI Pilgrim says:

    My advice would be to keep working at it! It looks like you’ve got a great start, you’re being very resourceful. Once you get going you’ll begin to see areas you can improve, and opportunities will appear that you weren’t expecting. Obviously it’s going to take some time to pay them off, but documenting your journey (holding yourself accountable) with a blog is a great idea!
    FI Pilgrim recently posted..Avoid Overspending When Throwing A Pity PartyMy Profile

    • BLane says:

      :) Thank you for your comment! I’ve started my blog at theweightofdebt.com! I definitely agree that it will help me be accountable. It keeps me excited and ready to work on it in hope that if I find something that works for me that I can help someone else. Just like Michelle’s advice is helping me!

  • cherie says:

    I think it’s great that you’re taking it so seriously :) I will say that while you’re doing a good job looking for side work in your field it may be worthwhile looking for more old school style money until you have some luck in that area. Walk dogs, house sit, wait tables, babysit or whatever else will give you even a little extra cash and will fit with your job requirements.
    Just wanted to say that I wouldn’t put off marriage just because of student loan debt – not pushing you to marry – but if you wanted to, well, go get married, no big party necessary, and do what you want. I would definitely put off having kids until you feel you are not drowning in debt – but remember if everyone waited till they could ‘afford’ kids to have them the human race would be extinct.
    Good luck.

    • BLane says:

      Thank you Cherie! I wonder how as an adult to pursue side jobs like that? I babysat as a kid. Maybe just by looking for the need through friends or neighbors?

      I appreciate your advice on not letting it stop our lives. It is tough because the idea of if anything was to ever happen to one of us student loan debt can not be forgiven for a spouse as it can for a parent/child. (At least that is what I understand from my research, I may be wrong) I try to remember that being in so much debt means we will be in debt for a pretty decent amount of time and we have to try to not let it stifle our lives while at the same time take it very seriously.

      Thankfully we are both young (I’m only 21) So children can definitely wait for some of our loans to get hacked away! :)

      • Renee s says:

        Hey :) Thanks for sharing your story! Finding jobs like those above can be really easy! I signed up for care.com and have found many sitting jobs through there. Also, is there a job posting site through your college? Mine has one just for various job postings and I found that someone needed a sitter through there as well. I make really good money doing that and with referrals, I have picked up pet sitting and house sitting gigs as well.

  • Matt Becker says:

    I think the #1 goal should probably be to make more money. It can be tough to make a big dent in this kind of thing with a low income, so either finding a higher paying job or figuring out how to make some real money on the side would go a long way. I would also advise that she use that extra money to start building up savings in addition to paying off debt. Balance is key.

    • BLane says:

      Thank you Matt! That is great advice. It really is hard.

      It is rough because we love our jobs. We love helping students and learning more about our craft at the same time. Unfortunately the state that I live in is super low in job availabilities for our careers. We would probably have to move to another state to get better paying jobs. Which is hard when we can’t save any money to put towards moving. We have even talked about taking out another loan just to move to make more money to pay loans… It is like a vicious cycle. Hopefully, I can find ways to make extra income enough to save to move.

  • I think starting a blog is a good first step. While it may not make money right away (or even the first six months), it will eventually start providing some sort of side income. Documenting your journey can keep you motivated. Realize you CAN do this and others have done it before you. Be sure to leave a link to your blog on Michelle’s site so we can all encourage you!

    • BLane says:

      Thank you for your comment! It means a lot to just hear it is possible. It is funny because I know it is but it seem SO far away. I have started my blog at theweightofdebt.com. I appreciate your support!

      I have only been working on my blog for a few days now. I am almost in shock at how time consuming it is. It has given me a real appreciation for Michelle’s and others blogs/sites. It takes a lot of time and dedication! But I am serious about it and thankfully the journey will give me something to write about!

  • I can relate with a combined student loan debt of about 100k more than yours. We are side hustling and keeping the lifestyle way down to pay off the debt. Using your artistic talents is a great way to make some extra money and control your own time. That way it doesn’t feel like you are at work when working on your side hustle.
    I think the only way to get rid of the debt is to increase the income and keep expenses college student ramen low.

    • BLane says:

      Thank you Kelly! Wow! I thought my combined debt was imaginable. How has your journey been so far?

      I’m excited for these comments because it is a way to see more peoples blogs, just like yours! It is super inspirational! I agree art isn’t work for me. That is the whole reason I decided to go into the career I did because I didn’t wanna feel like I was going to work. But with such expensive loan bills it sometimes feels like I am just going to make the paycheck instead of pursuing my dreams. =/ Thanks for helping me realize I’m not alone!

  • Ugh, I feel for you! My only advice is to take the highest paying job you can find for the time being. Then pay as much as possible.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..Body Language in the WorkplaceMy Profile

    • BLane says:

      Holly! Thanks for your feed back. That is definitely the goal. If I can’t find a higher paying job to at least start to make more money on the side. I’m learning that to start off, I just have to find a way of paying more than the bare minimum at the very least. To start of until I can start making more money I am going to pay $10 more at the minimum on both of my loan payments. It might not seem like much but I hope it is just the start. I am learning to budget, so hopefully I will be able to squeeze some dollars from other places to put towards my loans!

  • Dear Reader,

    I know where you are coming from. My husband and I graduated law school with $250,000 in student loans. After 7 years paying them, and an aggressive payoff of one loan this year, we are down to owing “just” $193,000. I commend you for trying to tackle this debt — the sooner you come up with a plan and execute it, the better off you will be.

    There are a lot of things you can do to address the debt, starting with making sure you’re living frugally — no cable, no gym membership (you should have access to your school’s gym?), modest gifts for the holidays, modest housing and transportation, and frugal vacations.

    Because you work at a college, you may qualify for public service forgiveness of your federal loans, if your school is a 501(c)(3) (a charitable organization). If that’s the case, I would consolidate your federal loans and get onto Income-Based Repayment. That will take probably 4-6 months to get going, and your monthly payments will be tailored to your income. Then I would use the savings from the lower payments to aggressively pay off any private loans.

    If you haven’t already read Dave Ramsey’s book, Total Money Makeover, I highly recommend that you borrow it from the library. Another resource that has really helped in my debt payoff and frugal living is to frequent frugal living blogs and the forum at Mr. Money Mustache. You need support and insight along the journey, so let people know that you’re out to annihilate your student loans!

    Good luck and keep us updated!
    Rebecca

    • BLane says:

      Rebecca! Thank you so much for such an informative comment! Wow! I am so surprised how many people are in my exact situation! I felt so alone! It is comforting and saddening to know so many of us are in so much debt. :(

      We frugal but I am starting to budget to find where we can be even more frugal. So far the biggest place I see is eating out needs to be cut back.

      Do you know how I find out if my school/work is a 501(c)(3) (a charitable organization)? It is a for profit university so I have a bad feeling that they are not. =( Thankfully my loans are ONLY federal loans. I am so grateful not not have to deal with sallie mae. However, all of my boyfriends loans are through sallie mae.

      But unfortunately, with my two loans, one is in my name and the other is a parent PLUS loan so I can’t consolidate. Which is proving to be a pain because I am the one making payments on that loan and I am looking into and learning I probably wont be able to claim all the money I have put towards those loans on my taxes. Does anyone have any advice specifically on that? I’m trying to look into that. It seems weird that I can’t claim the money I spent even though the loan is in my moms name. I’ve thought about taking out a personal loan and paying off the parent PLUS jut to have them both in my name. Thoughts? I think the extra interest would be fruitless. I will definitely be looking into this stuff more! Thanks again!

      • If your college is for-profit, then you won’t be able to qualify for public service loan forgiveness :( But you CAN get on the Income-Based Repayment plan. That will lower your monthly payments but of course increase the total amount you pay (if you stretch your payments for the life of the loan). If you tackle your PLUS loan first, then lowering your Direct loan payment will allow you to throw more money at the PLUS loan. Just be sure not to spend you savings on something else ;)

        As for deducting the interest you pay on your loans — it’s capped at $2k (or maybe it was raised to $2,500? I don’t remember). Regardless, I’m going to guess that you spent WAY more than that in interest on your federal loan alone. I usually only need one or two loan statements to meet the $2k deduction. Then I don’t look at the rest of the loans because it’ll just make me ill! The last time I looked, we paid $14k in one year on interest alone. Blech!

        As for cutting back on your spending, try not dining out — or cut it in half. See if you can handle it; you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised! It makes dining out all the more fun and special when you do. (Trust me, we chopped out dining out budget this year too). Good luck!

        • BLane says:

          Thanks for responding Rebecca! Yeah I looked into both. They do not give loan forgiveness but they are more than happy to let me take another degree and slap me with a contract of continued employment and a non compete! I also contacted a tax guy about the deductions. It is $2,500 now and you are absolutely right. I have paid plenty more than that this year. So much that it would be pointless to go through the trouble of also trying to claim the PLUS loan since my personal loan covers that completely.

          I want to throw money at the huge PLUS loan but I learned about snowballing debt and am thinking of trying to kill my smaller 18K personal Fed loan first and then taking the payments I would be paying there and putting the same amount towards the huge PLUS loan in addition to that payment. What are your thoughts on that path instead?

          As of last week eating out is cut out of our schedule almost all together. We went focused grocery shopping for not only dinners but super easy lunches. It has been a huge success. Just the quick numer crunching alone is amazing. It cost about 45$ extra than our usual grocery shopping trip would to get lunches but that is less than it was costing for just ONE of us to eat out for a week. I’m already hooked on not eating out for lunch any more or barely at all. Especially since I am looking into mystery shopping and hopefully our future eating out dates will be paid for! :D

          Thanks again for such great feedback advice. I really appreciate your time!

  • Ree Klein says:

    All the advice given by commenters so far is solid. I agree with Matt, though, that one of the fastest ways to gain traction is to change jobs for a better income. I

    ‘m pretty certain that you will say…but I love where I work…too bad. You went to a private school and racked up student loan debt because that’s where you “wanted” to go without thinking of the long-term effects those student loans would have on your life.

    Now, you need to suck it up and go get the highest-paying job you can find. Then, and only then, should you invest your time in side hustles that may or may not bring in enough income to cover the cost of running that side hustle.

    I speak from experience here…I launched my blog 10 months ago and I’ve made less than $20 in affiliate income. I don’t post ads (at least not yet) because I feel it runs counter to my blog’s theme (dumping debt and growing wealth…sound familiar?). So I caution you about starting a blog expecting fast results…it is HARD work to build an audience and deliver quality content. It’s a job.

    If you are compelled to go the side-hustle route, you might try posting for work on Elance or Odesk. I haven’t seen those sites mentioned yet but you might get some side work there. Might.

    Your best bet is to FIRST get a better-paying job, and THEN work on adding side hustles. I will say, though, that if you focus your blog’s keyword on student debt, you may get a healthy mount of organic web traffic. I have one topic on my site that gets loads of organic traffic because it addresses student loan debt. It’s clear to me that you are not alone and that many people are seeking solid advice on how to handle the problem.

    I’m sorry if I seem a little harsh, but I really want to encourage you to get a higher-paying job and then work on the extra income part. The good news is that you are intent on getting out from under the problem so that is half the battle!

    Good luck ~
    Ree

    • BLane says:

      Ree I really appreciate the harsh. It helps keep me realizing that it is reality and not just a pipe dream. It truly is effecting my life and I need to take that seriously. It is funny that I responded to a comment above first and said that exact thing… “It is rough because we love our jobs.”

      I hate to leave also because I feel like I need to stay and once I start getting myself fixed start to educate the students, in extra classes, now coming through this same school to make sure they don’t go off thinking every thing is hunky dory when in reality it is very grim. You are very right. I didn’t think about how the long term loans would effect my life. In all honesty, I didn’t know any better. There was no financial advising really. They would just say hey you need to sign this to cover your next period of classes. I would sign it and then go on with my life. I didn’t look into it because it was easier to ignore it.

      Thank you for the other sites. I will definitely look into them. Like I said in an earlier comment it is hard to find a new job because there are almost absolutely none in the state I am in and the ones there are I wouldn’t make much more. We would have to move to another state which is difficult with no extra money. We’ve talked about taking out another loan to move to a better place to make money to pay off loans. It is like a catch 22.

      Thank you for your advice on gearing my key words on things that get searched a lot. Hopefully that will help. And thank you again for your honesty. It does not hurt my feelings one bit to be told how it is.

      • Ree Klein says:

        Wow, I’m very impressed with your attitude B. I have a younger friend who lives in Houston, TX. He was telling me about a book titled Defining Decade, which is a book targeted to your generation. In it, my friend said that the author remarks that making a move to another state/city for career advancement brings many benefits. Those who move make faster progress in their lives. I may have it a little off not having read the book; however, I did make such a move in my late 20s and it did help shape my future for the better. Pick up the book from the library and give it a read. You might find something in there to help.

        As far as the keywords go, here are some resources you should check out. I love Pat Flynn over at SmartPassiveIncome.com. He has some great posts on how to select keywords. You can buy a tool to make it easier (e.g., Market Samurai or Long Tail Pro) but you can do it for free with resources Pat demonstrates on his site. I believe this is critical to getting traffic, which translates into profit if you have great content and an audience. You should also read the book Platform, How to Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt. It’s a fast read and packed with super valuable information about starting a blog.

        You’re on the right track now…so dig in, make the hard decisions and stay committed to the goal. You can do it!
        Ree

        • BLane says:

          Thank you so much Ree! I added those books to my list of books to read! My list of things to read, research, and learn about has grown so long today! I am so ecstatic! Thank you so much for the resources! I am so ready to soak up as much as I can starting out on this journey! … While also trying to not get overwhelmed with the shear magnitude of info out there.

          Thanks again!

  • Wow, this sounds so much like my story…the computer animation and the amount of debt parts. Curious to know where she went to school/is working.

    Don’t let student loans stifle a marriage. Even if you live in a community property state, these debts will remain separate (as all debt acquired before marriage would). There’s no law saying you have to have a fancy and expensive wedding. My husband and I got married at a courthouse for the price of the marriage license (no rings required). You can always renew your vows and throw a bigger celebration once you’re out of debt.

    First, I recommend Income Based Repayment for federal student loans. If you do end up marrying, file taxes separately to avoid each of your incomes reflecting your spouse’s monthly payment (under IBR). I do this so I can focus on paying off my private student loans, which don’t have as many repayment options available as federal loans.

    The obvious advice here is to increase your income and reduce your spending. As a person with an animation degree, I understand how hard it is to find work within your field, but I would seek out other, more lucrative employment possibilities (even outside your field). Obviously keep teaching until you find something.

    Keeping track of where you’re spending money will help you create a budget and you’ll know where you can cut back. Live like a broke college student. Don’t eat out, check out free books and movies from the library, sell unnecessary items. Do you share a car?

    If your boyfriend is making the same as you, one benefit to getting married would be to live off one person’s income and use the others’ to make a greater impact on paying off the student loans.

    While I don’t make money from blogging, it’s a great way to stay motivated in the long and tedious debt payoff journey. Hope you stick with it! Good luck!

    • BLane says:

      Kasey! So nice to hear from a fellow CG Artist. I’m glad someone else can understand the hardships in our industry. Thank you for the info on community property state thoughts. I will have to research it more. I was under the assumption that when you marry someone you marry your spouses student loans too!

      However, It isn’t really marrying each others debt that is the issue. If we get married, we wouldn’t be ever getting a divorce (my options of reasons to get divorce are pretty small). It is more the fact that we couldn’t even afford the marriage license right now. My dream wedding will be super small and composed mainly of hand-made things! One Day! :D

      Thanks for the ideas. We do share a car. We carpool to work every day because we also work together. We only have the one care and he has a motorcycle both of which we completely own. Very grateful for that. As of now it is almost like we are married. We have been together for almost 3 years and share bills and expenses. He makes pretty much the exact same as me. So together we make a decent income for what one of us should be making in my opinion.

      Thanks again!

    • Paige says:

      I second the income-based repayment. I got my payment down from $1k/mo to $650/mo, which is much more do-able on my current salary, but yours might be an even lower payment!

  • I’m so sorry about this. There is a fine arts school within a few miles of our house that is graduating students with the highest, on average, student loan balances in the country -definitely scary. As others have said, I’d try and focus on making more money as priority #1 and look for ways to maximize that so you’re not spending a ton of time to do it. I would also look into the possibility of forgiveness due to you working at a college to see if that would allow some of them to be wiped out. Most importantly, keep a positive attitude, don’t give up and surround yourself with those who’ll encourage you along the way.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..2014: How Will Your Resolutions Help You Live Differently?My Profile

    • BLane says:

      Hi John! I have done a little research in forgiveness. Since my school is a for profit they don’t have any relief programs from what I have seen/learned. I’ve asked HR If anyone has heard anything other wise I’d love to hear about it!

      I appreciate the advice and kind words!

  • How have you cut your other expenses? What is your grocery budget? Do you still spend money eating out? Have you cut cable? If you have to have tv have you thought about netflix, hulu plus or amazon prime which are all less per month than cable.
    Beans and rice aren’t the most exciting things to eat but they are inexpensive. You can be very creative with a variety of beans (bean dip, black bean burgers, burritos, bean soup, etc). Eggs are also a fairly cheap protein source.
    This may sound like a ya duh suggestion but are you consolidating all of your errands (you can save gas and therefore money by doing this).
    Jennifer @ Budgeting in Baby recently posted..When Generosity Goes too FarMy Profile

    • BLane says:

      Not eating out is our biggest first attack on our debt. It has already changed our budget. We have been using Emeals for the past couple months and that has helped a ton with budgeting grocery shopping. Not only time but money also! Thank you for your feedback and advice!

  • Renee s says:

    Another idea is to sell or flip free things that you find. Especially if you live in a college area–people throw things out that are totally sell able on craigslist or on facebook garage sale groups. I have made a lot of money that way as well.

  • Chadnudj says:

    Any chance your school would offer some loan repayment assistance/forgiveness? You’re working for the school now, it might be a perk they offer that you could take advantage of….

    • BLane says:

      I asked! They don’t. :( I was a little disappointed. The only thing they offer is to let you audit any classes you want or get a new degree for free with the signing of a contract.

      Good thought though. I wish they did.

  • Jason B says:

    The 1st thing I would do is to get another form of income. It’s easier to pay off debt with multiple streams of income.
    Jason B recently posted..What Can You Leave in 2013?My Profile

    • BLane says:

      Jason! Thanks for the comment! That is the main thing I am going to be focusing on. I already have a laundry list of options and paths I want to at least try or look into!

  • Tanya says:

    Yes like everyone else said, pick up side work or look for a higher paying job. Try not to stress out too much that won’t do any good.

    • BLane says:

      Tanya! That is such great advice. I honestly am freaking out. Especially with the onslaught of amazing ideas and sites everyone is giving me. I am making one of the first things on my to do list to be to prioritize and not only budget my money but budget my time.

  • Tanner says:

    That .25% reduction is not worth the overdraft fee. If you can’t maintain a full payment on the account by all times, better take it off. Trust me on this one; I had that on one of my loans and ended up taking it off.

    See about any possible reductions you can get from your school. I’d say get more serious about either a higher paying full time job you can learn to like but may not love, or a serious part-time job. Look on some online places like elancer or odesk to see if you can freelance your abilities. I think your first priority should be to bring the budget to a livable level, and then tighten it up to the most you can, without sacrificing your ability to live and have fun. I don’t believe in paying off debt by postponing happiness or enjoyment.
    Tanner recently posted..And life goes on…My Profile

    • BLane says:

      Great advice Tanner! I completely agree. I don’t want our lives to be stifled by debt. But it is so high that I have to find ways to combat it better than just the minimum payments. Thanks for the comment!

  • Jessica says:

    Thankfully I went to a state school and only paid about 2000.00 for my degree BUT my sister did not and at 21 she is deep in debt as well. To make matters worse she can’t even get a job in what she studied in the first place! So my first piece of advice is to tell anyone who asks you to be VERY careful when taking out ANY type of loan AND when choosing your major. Hey you may love animating but what are the job prospects/average salaries etc.
    I would advise you to look for a job in another field and do what you studied as a side hustle. I have a coworker with an Art degree, she works in Marketing in a Financial Advisement firm and teaches children Art as a side gig, you see where I’m going here?.
    I myself wanted to be a RN but I couldn’t stop working full time and needed a degree that would be quick and get me a decent job- Business degree it was. Now I have worked 2 years in the corporate world and saved enough money to cut hours at work to go back and become an RN.
    As others have advised go read Dave Ramsey’s book, save on everything you can, definately look into getting the loans reduced/deferred/forgiven (doesn’t hurt to ask right?). GOOD LUCK!

  • Micro says:

    My first thought is to get a buffer built up in the account that the loan is auto withdrawing from. The last thing you want to have happen is have a payment bounce and you loose more money than you’ve saved with the quarter percent discount. My other question would be if they carpool together to work? Given that they live and work together, there is no reason to burn money away by making seperate trips. If they have a 2nd car, get rid of it. Since they both work at the same office, it shouldn’t be hard to share a vehicle.
    Micro recently posted..Neuticles – Why do these things even existMy Profile

    • BLane says:

      We do carpool to work. We even work so much together that we work in the same class and have the same schedule. We don’t have a second car but he does have a motorcycle in case we need to go separately anywhere. Gratefully we own both vehicles completely!

  • Michelle says:

    You need to change your job. And, I’m wondering if you’re in an area where you can rock those computer skills? I have this idea that you should be on the West Coast (L.A.) working for Pixar or some other cool place that releases animated films/shorts. Are you still working on animation projects to keep your resume fresh? Blogging will take a LONG time to grow an audience and income. You may need to gain some “wins” faster than that-while you have the mental focus and energy to deal with the debt. If you delay, you may find yourself procrastinating and many years later still in the same place. I speak from experience. CHANGE YOUR JOB!!! Good luck and you can kick those loans to the curb!

    • BLane says:

      Thanks for your comment Michelle! Blogging is definitely not what I am looking for to make much income starting out. I am only doing it to keep track of this new journey and to stay accountable, while hopefully one day it being an extra stream of revenue. To begin I’m looking into things I can use my skill sets in (stockphotos, webdesign, 3dmodel/jewlery, etsy store selling traditional art, etc) Unfortunately because of our financial situation we can’t afford to move. We would have to take off a loan to try and get a job in another state to better pay off our loans. Still isn’t an option we have thrown out though!

  • jim says:

    Oh wow do I feel your pain. Been there, done that. Google Dave Ramsey’s baby steps. Read it, then go to the library and check out his book, The Total Money Makeover. Follow it – just do! And when he says WRITTEN budget, he really does mean WRITE it down. Sure wish I would have known about this approach when we were where you’re at. We did it – paid off hubby’s undergrad and my grad school – while having a little one AND had tons of fun (and lots of hard work) along the way. Set your goals, in bite-size measures. You can do this. Trust me – we did it and we didn’t have a thing working in our favor – but we did it and so can you. Best of luck!!!!

    • BLane says:

      Thank you for your advice! I have heard multiple times to do the Dave Ramsey Plan! From coworkers to strangers now. So it must work to some extent. His books are at the top of my list to try to read over the holiday break I get starting Monday! Congratulations on paying of your hubby’s undergrad and your grad loans! That is so wonderful! Thanks again!

  • catherine says:

    Like others have said, find ways to make more money (especially if you don’t have kids and a lot of free time). If you have good computer skills you can get into great freelance stuff. You probably have skills that other people need that you don;t even realize are skills! coding etc, have you checked our Fivver? You could probably pick up some gigs there. Start marketing your skills!

    Also cut out everything you don’t need! Do you need a vehicle? Would transit work, at least until your debt is paid off/down? Give serious look into food-eating out and learn to meal plan if you haven’t already!!

    Good luck!!
    catherine recently posted..What You Can Do To Stay Off The Taxman’s RadarMy Profile

    • BLane says:

      Thank you for your comment Catherine! For the past two months we actually have been using Emeals which has helped a TON on dinners. However we need to get a lot better at eating out for lunch while at work. That is the biggest place we can improve on. Thanks for the recommendation to Fivver! I will add it to the list of sites and stuff to research!

  • I don’t think I have anything to add that others haven’t said. You are being proactive and looking outside the box, things most people with high debt never do. The blog will help you tremendously, even if it doesn’t make money for a while, just writing and sharing will help with your motivation. I’m sure you would do things differently if you could, but it does no good to beat yourself up over it. I think you have the right attitude about sharing your story with others so maybe they won’t take the same path. Best of luck!

    • BLane says:

      Thank you Kim! I completely agree and it is really nice to just see someone say that. It really doesn’t help the anxiety I put on myself when my brain starts to reel with all the things I need to do and how much I feel like I’m drowning. It is my life and why should I make myself suffer for something that is done and out of my control. I just have to learn to control what I can of it! :)

  • Kristin says:

    Big props for seeking advice/help! From a quick scan, looks like you have a lot of great suggestions. One tiny one that I didn’t happen to see (or likely missed) is to ask for a few things! Some ideas that come to mind:

    Ask for a reduction in interest rates. Have seen some other bloggers recommend this with some success. Haven’t tried it myself but I don’t think it would hurt to ask. Ask your credit card companies or even the organization with your student loans. I’ve seen it on a few blogs so maybe a google search can direct you to more practical advice how to go about this. Not a huge strategy of course but will save a bit of money.

    Ask for a raise. Perhaps talk with the administration and see if they would do this, especially considering all the work you put in. If not, see if you can reduce your hours so you are able to pick up some part time things. It’ll cost a company time, effort, and money to interview/hire and train someone new, so this might be motivation for them on their part to help you out a bit. If not, as others have suggested, it may be time to find a job that will compensate you more fairly for your work.

    Good luck!!

    • BLane says:

      Thanks for your advice Kristen! Very interesting thoughts… I will definitely ask about reductions!!!

      My biggest issue with asking for a raise is my complete lack in self confidence when it comes to my knowledge and skill set. I have what I read is called the “impostors syndrome”. My boyfriend is always getting on to me about this. It is weird how my brain works. I fully understand the skills I have. Which in reality there are a lot more than I give myself credit for. And when I see a need I can totally put in all that is needed and can claim the work I have done. But when it comes to stating the work i have done to any type of authority freaks me out! I don’t know if that makes any sense but I am just terrible about talking about myself to boost myself up, especially to authority figures in my work place. I get all red in the face and have mini anxiety attacks. I’m also terrible at really understanding what my time and work are worth. I always sell myself sort. :(

      Luckily my annual review is coming up in January and I’ll get a 3% raise no matter what because it is company policy! :)

      • Kristin says:

        I know what you mean! I used to undervalue my work, as well. I still struggle with it but have learned to be a bit more confident. Maybe it would help to find a mentor in your field to help increase your confidence in your work – someone who can give you positive feedback until you’re able to better recognize the good work you do. Building that relationship could also be helpful in receiving feedback and constructive criticism from someone you trust. The annual review would be a perfect time for you to see if you can get a slightly bigger raise – since the increase is already happening. Maybe you can provide a portfolio of your work or highlight it in another way – help them see your value ! :) Don’t mean to overstep my boundaries, but I was just brain storming! Best of luck!!

        • BLane says:

          Hi Kristen! You definitely didn’t overstep any boundaries! I really appreciated your ideas and its worth trying. I love the idea of trying to find a mentor.

          And I agree about the annual. Maybe trying to be prepared on how I will ask instead of just winging it will help. Interestingly enough we had a big department meeting today and our higher up said the homework over break is to do a new updated resume so they can look at where everyone is to better assess where we all stand to gauge for any raises or promotions. So that was interesting! :)

  • Dear Debt says:

    Wow, just reading these comments have been helpful! I am right there with you. I’ve accumulated 81k total of student loan debt and have almost half of that left to go. My partner just graduated with 52k in debt. I don’t even count his debt with mine for sanity’s sake and we have separate finances. I am at a similar payscale as you as well. Your focus should be on making more money — go on TaskRabbit, Craigslist and start finding clients for your animation. I also think moving (eventually) might not be a bad idea. Just know that you are not a loan, you are not alone.
    Dear Debt recently posted..Dear Debt letter from Bee Debt FreeMy Profile

    • BLane says:

      Thank you for your comment! After Michelle shared this post I am truly realizing that I am not alone. It gives me mixed feelings. Between being glad it isn’t just me to absolutely wrecked by the thought of the shear magnitude of numbers of people also dealing with stifling debt. Congratulations on being almost half done with paying off your loans! :D That is SO exciting! Thanks for the site ideas! Adding them to my list of sites to research!

  • dojo says:

    Really sorry to hear about what you’re both going through. It’s not easy at all :(

    I would look for a better job (am not working in your specialty, but 100K in student loans should warrant the chance to get some decent jobs. I’d also look into some serious freelancing. Your in the IT niche, there’s A LOT of money to be made in here, so, with a little effort, you might get to some nice income. If you’re good with it, you might actually make more money working from home than getting a job.

    Keeping fingers crossed and best of luck :)

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  • +1 for raising your income.

    Universities never pay well. They pay in “esteem” that your associated with the university. Esteem doesn’t pay the bills.

    Computer animation is high paying work. You need to quit your employer and find a much much better paying job. If you don’t want to move, contact Pixar, Disney, ILM, EA, and the usual suspects about working for them remotely. Better pay, no moving costs.

    But you absolutely have to leave the university. They’ve already reamed you once with the debt, don’t let them do it to you again by underpaying you.
    Jack @ Enwealthen recently posted..3 Steps to End the Health Insurance NightmareMy Profile

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  • Nicole says:

    Thanks for sharing this post. I hope everything works out. Reading the story and comments have helped me out as well. Good luck in your future!

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