Monday, September 28, 2009

Being Set Up to Fail

I just checked my bank account. I’m freaking out. I’m writing to cope. And seek commiseration.

I am going to 26 next week. I have a master’s degree. I have had the same job for two years. And after my rent, I will have $145 in my bank account. And $96,000 of debt: including approximately $84,000 in school loans. (And if one more person calls that "good debt" - they're walking away with a black eye.)

I have nothing lavish. I don’t spend money freely. I shop at Marshall’s, Gabes, TJ Maxx, Ross and outlets. I am a size 4 now and my clothes are all 6 or 8. I look like a schmuck. I have a dock for my refurbished iPod that no longer works properly with it. I know, a silly example – but I think it demonstrates my frugality. I buy things I know I will use, but I find a cheaper way to do it; and despite wanting something that will so obviously work better, I stick with what I have. Because I know I can't afford anything else. (And yes, I know, some people can't even afford these things, but I work hard and I'm talking about me and not them, damnit.)

I live life on the cheap. But it never seems cheap enough. And it’s all sans reward. More like punishment.

I feel like a hamster on a wheel; set up to fail. I’m not going anywhere. I’m running and running (with no break, no vacation) and I just get more broke. More broken.

This furlough
killed me. And I’m straining to recover. I know I thought that October would be my God sent, but alas, it is not the case. It is a pinhole light at the end of an ever-growing tunnel.

***

A Polish coworker and I had a discussion a few months ago; he cannot understand why Americans are so in debt and so eager to be in debt. Well, obviously, when I was a little girl I decided that when I was 26 I wanted to be 100k in the hole with a good education, $145 in the bank and nothing else. I had to explain that while European countries pay for students' universities, The States does no such thing. He looked perplexed and asked why people don’t just wait to go until they can afford it. “My undergrad was $16,000 a year – so by the time I could have saved that, I would have been into my 40s.”

“Oh.”

Oh. Yes. Oh. And if that wasn’t enough (even though my parents helped with undergrad), I decided I needed a masters degree because, let’s be honest, a bachelor’s mean less and less these days. And I needed to make the big bucks to send my kids to school. Talk about a plan fail. Perhaps I should have weighed my 60+k Grad school debt?

***

The other day I saw an ad for a documentary about “America’s addiction to debt” and I think that statement is such fucking bullshit. I hate debt. I want to burn my credit card. But when you have school loans and you’re still making shit (relative to cost of living; my rent is $900) and working and you have a $500 insurance deductible, and then your (ex)boyfriend you’re living with loses his job, and you need to put stuff on the card to make sure you can make it and rack of more bills after JUST finishing paying off an $8,000 card accrued from school things, it’s hard to understand how we can’t get into debt.

Debt is cast upon us by our government and big business. Cash for Clunkers? More like: Oh, you own your car outright; how about you trade that in for $15,000 worth of debt you can pay off with interest for the next 4 years? And education; if that’s not the biggest of big business.

But here’s what: You can’t make anything as to not accrue debt UNLESS YOU GO TO SCHOOL FIRST AND ACCRUE DEBT. Hi. What the fuck? And the government’s “federal loans"? I’m still paying twice as much in interest right now as I am to the actual principle. And after what little choice (see below) I had in consolidation, it’s still $600 a month - and that’s after the interest decrease since the economy tanked. (So when inflation comes back as a badass – I’m totally fucked. Oh, and I can’t defer it because after a Federal ruling the only way to consolidate was through the government and the only way to defer is if you have proof of unemployment - so Federal debt wins again.)

Except you know who doesn’t have to go into debt in order to go to school in order to not accrue debt? The rich. And who’s rich? The government and big business. See how that works? Poor middle class – help, we’re sinking!! When my kids grow up and other kids ask about their heritage, I’m just going to have them say: Middle Class. My family used to be Middle Class - and damn proud of it.

***

Now pardon me while I take my good education and two years worth of hard work resulting in $145 in the bank and a $4,500 credit card bill and crouch in the corner and cry. I hate money. I really, really – I just hate it. I don’t need nice things; just to live. Just to make it. Is that so hard, Obama, et al.? Stop helping current college students and help the recent fucking grads.

WE STRUGGLE. (Or is it just me?)

4 comments:

Amy S said...

I feel your pain completely. Ya know I went to college. I have two bachelor degrees and a realtor's license...I work anywhere from 12 to 17 hours a day at both jobs and don't get anywhere. One place where I work completely squashes any good idea. They listen to people with less education and less experience because they kiss ass. I was even told once that the lady at the drivethrough at McDonald's could do my job. That's not true because I know people "above" me don't have any clue how to do my job. And I get 19k a year. I'm not ashamed of it because I work hard, but I have about the same amount of debt that you do - and it's quite burdensome. I have 3 dollars until October 15th. I may run out of gas and the people at the radio station usually just float me 5 and 10 dollars here and there because I have done it for them when they've needed it. We keep each other above water like a fricken old world tribe. It's really hard right now. I often wonder why I went to school. I whole-heartedly understand your frustration. I don't want sympathy in my life, but I do want fairness. And right now, our generation is made to go broke for the mistakes of the one before us.

Nicole said...

Yup. I get it. Took out a payday loan w/ my bank for $200 to pay for groceries & gas til next payday. My BF and I look at our combined income and we always think WTF!?!? why dont we have money!! We dont live lavishly and yet we BARELY make it check to check! We are both looking into 2nd jobs! =( Hang in there. I guess it could be worse.

Ellipses said...

Dude, We're rowing the same boat... 89k JUST FOR UNDERGRAD AT W&J...

But I know a lot about 14th century british literature... seriously

Cellar Door said...

Amy, I am envious of your job. If I could pick any job in the world, I think it would be to be on the radio. Keep on truckin'; one day you'll have your own show and then you get to get up at 3am every morning. :)

I love commissary. Thank you guys. Stay tuned for more on the Revolution.

89k for undergrad! Dang!! But yea, that 14th Century Lit comes in handy when, you know, you're on Jeopardy and get that category.