Just a few weeks ago, I forced myself to really look at the amount – $76,000- I owe to my student loan provider. My stomach dropped to my toes and I wanted to run and stick my head in the sand. My student loan debt is something that has caused me stress since I finished college in 2009. While I was in college, I figured that my loan payments would be manageable. I also thought I would have the career I went to school for, right out of college. Little did I know, it would take more than three years before I would be hired for a position in the career field that I went to six years of college for. Sometimes I think back to simpler financial times, like when I was 15-years-old and disappointed I could not afford the $70 pair of jeans my friend was wearing. In all reality, I could have bought those jeans after saving my babysitting money, but I was just not willing to spend that kind of money on one pair of pants. Affording the latest fashionable clothing item used to be my financial challenge, not paying off loans close to the amount of a starter home. I am sometimes jealous of the 15-year-old me who did not have this weight on her shoulders. Part of me could defer these loans for as long as they would let me, but I cannot do it anymore; I want to take care of this burden. I want more for my life, because I want more for my children.
I work part-time in a professional field, part-time by choice, because my husband and I have decided that it makes more sense financially rather than putting three kids in daycare four days per week. My plan has always been to go back to working full-time once all of my kids are in elementary school. Sometimes my head spins thinking I will be paying on this debt forever. There are many things I want for my boys and one of them is that I do not want them to be stuck in the cycle of debt. If all three of my boys should choose to go to college after high school, I don’t want them to have to take out a loan for the entire cost of their education. I have known since I was in college that when my own children were in school, I would help them financially as best I could. However, it may be more of a challenge to help my children with their tuition when I am still paying $900 monthly payments on my own tuition.
I am looking for side jobs in addition to my part-time career position that work around my husband’s schedule. With the right additional work, maybe I could make $1000 payments each month, have this loan paid off by the time I’m in my mid-40s, and be able to assist my children with their own tuition.
If my boys choose to go to college, I hope they will not have more than $20,000 in student loan debt each. I want them to find decent paying jobs in their mid-20s so they will be able to go on vacations with friends, buy season tickets to Bengals games, and most importantly, put money in savings and towards their retirement, not simply be held back by loans. When they apply for a mortgage, their credit history will state how long they’ve had a cell phone and if they’ve paid their credit card bills on time, not that their debt to income ratio is dramatically off because of student loans. I want my children to have educations AND options. I don’t want them to start out their young adult lives with so much debt. I want to give them the gift of education and save them the burden of stress.
I do understand the argument that having student loan debt teaches personal responsibility and accountability, however, I think these life lessons can be achieved in a less dramatic financial way. I understand not everyone is able to assist their children with college tuition, however, this is something that has always been important to me.
Keeping all this in mind, what are some successful ways you have found to make money in addition to your day job?