Banking On Death

Before I get to my original post, I want to share this event that I think anyone with student loans should tune in to!  Kind of last minute, I know!

TONIGHT, join Senator Elizabeth Warren in an online briefing on the student loan fight. Here are the details:
What: Special Student Loan Briefing with Sen. Elizabeth Warren
When: Monday, June 3, 9 p.m. ET (8 CT/ 7 MT/ 6 PT)
Where: http://www.moveon.org/hub/bankonstudents/#.Ua0ZJUDqnK1
Click here to submit a question for Sen. Warren

Sometimes, student loans are downright depressing.

I was recently talking with a friend about retirement. My natural response is always, “Haha, what retirement?”  Because with as much debt as I have and practically no income and no real career prospects, saving for retirement seems unlikely until I am able to pay off these student loans.  The retirement conversation continued on and then I came to the shocking realization that I honestly hope I die before I reach retirement age.

*long dramatic pause, soak up that last statement*

It’s the honest truth and it kind of hurts.  Ultimately, I need to rely on death or winning the lottery because future job prospects are grim and, since only one of those options is guaranteed…

Seriously though, I have never had a full-time job. I graduated in 2009 into a field drowning with freelancers.  I don’t know what logic ever possessed me as a young adult that had me believing I could find a full-time career in art and animation.  I graduated in 2009 and aside from (mistakenly) working for free to gain experience, and occasional freelance gigs that paid minimally, I haven’t worked in my field.  My student loans killed my passion for art and drawing.  When I started this blog in December, I was having severe anxiety just thinking about drawing something.

Since 2009 I’ve only worked part-time, minimum wage at a library for less than a year.  Since moving to Virginia in 2011, I haven’t worked at all.  I was on the hunt for a job when we first moved out here but it became frustrating after several months of doing nothing but looking for work.  I’m not comfortable working in certain environments due to my disabilities (which I have a hard time calling them that).  I’m hard of hearing but I’m not deaf.  I have a slight speech impediment due to TMJ and my voice sounds like a kid.  It doesn’t help that I’m 4’9″ and can’t meet the requirements to lift up to x amount of pounds.  I’m going to attempt to qualify for SSI. The website tells me I probably wouldn’t qualify because it asks a lot of questions about my husband’s income.  I’ll probably attempt to appeal if I’m not approved at first.

I also find it hard to admit that I have reliable transportation when you have to share a car.  Then there’s the issue where I can’t work anywhere that’s too far from base or home and has to be within certain time frame just in case hubby needs to go somewhere for work.

STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS

My husband recently sent me a link about student loan cancellation/forgiveness programs.  Since I’m well-versed on the subject of student loans (too late for my own good), I knew I didn’t qualify for any of the options.  I expressed my regret in not going to school for library science.  I had no idea how much I enjoyed working in the library environment until I was more than half way through with my ridiculously expensive education at The Art Institutes.

This is one reason why I think it’s important for high school graduates not to jump the gun on choosing a major or even attending college right out of high school.  Work, gain experience, and you’ll find something you love (that just might pay better).  Check out my post on avoiding my student loan mistakes for more tips.

The PSLF program is available to those who work full-time in qualified public service jobs.  After 10 years of repayment (can be under IBR plan), your federal loans will be 100% forgiven and not considered taxable income.  Only William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans (Direct Loans) are eligible for PSLF forgiveness but you can consolidate other federal loans (Perkins, FFEL) into a Direct Consolidation Loan to qualify.

So maybe there is hope that I can somehow manage to work full-time in public service for 10 years?  It might be easier if I had a degree in Library Science (non-profit qualifies for PSLF) instead of Media Arts & Animation.

I’m beginning volunteering for Make-A-Wish this summer, maybe I can somehow work my way up to full-time.  Ugh, but then there’s the moving around for the Navy thing.  It might be difficult to sustain full-time employment for 10 years but I have some time to make it work… 23 more years until my federal loans are forgiven under IBR but will likely be considered taxable income.

I’m also going to look into AmeriCorps.  They forgive a certain amount based on the current Pell Grant rate. I think it’s $5000 this year.  While it doesn’t amount to much with my massive student loans, something is better than nothing.  And any work is better than sitting at my computer all day. However, I guess the educational reward is considered taxable income.  Ugh, that is so messed up!

My husband mentioned in our conversation possibly going to a community college for library science.  Can’t afford it.  I mentioned to him months ago that GI Bill benefits can be whole or partially transferred to dependents.  I think his response was something like, “Why would I do that?”  I was kind of hoping he might remember that in our recent conversation and suggest it himself….nope.

Then I had this crazy idea that I could go back to school and maybe get MORE loans, with lower interest rates and pay off the old ones.  Then I remembered that I only have about $5000 left to reach the maximum amount borrowed for undergrad federal loans.  I could get more private loans.  My credit is good but I have no job.  That never stopped lenders from approving me in the past so maybe I could get more private loans and get refund money to pay the private loans I have with a co-signer off.  Yeah, absolutely nutty ideas here….not happening!

SO WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO?

I could let the depression consume me…

Nahhh!

I’m a fighter.  June 2nd was National Cancer Survivor’s Day.  I’m a freaking survivor.  I beat cancer.  This debt pales in comparison!

I am not a loan.  This debt does not define me but it certainly makes me want to kick the payoff into ultra high gear!

GOALS

I’m going to volunteer my time wherever I can and hope that one day it leads to full-time employment that qualifies for PSLF.  Volunteer orientation for Norfolk Animal Care Center is this week.  Volunteer orientation for Make-A-Wish is June 29th.

I’m going to do whatever it takes to make money from home.   I NEED to schedule my time better but I could seriously make more from home.  I could do more surveys, Fiverr jobs, generate income from my blog, freelance again, sell things I sew, get paid to sew on military patches/insignia, become a virtual assistant (not sure how to start this one-I can type 70+ wpm, anyone want to hire me?!).  This is all I can think of for now, there has to be more ways I can make money at home!

I’m going to resume my search in finding a job on base or within walking distance of this apartment.  Even if it’s bagging groceries, money is money and is required to pay down my debts!

Know anyone who is hiring?  😀  What do you do for extra income and side hustles?  

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21 thoughts on “Banking On Death

  1. I hate hearing that death seems like a better option that retirement, but I totally get (and hope) it was for dramatic purposes! I totally understand being a freelancer in a field where you are a dime a dozen. As a video freelancer in LA I can’t help feeling that way too. 😦 And I know the job search frustration as well. I do look for side jobs from time to time on craigslist, and I’d also see if there is a taskrabbit in your area. (taskrabbit.com). I also make a little money off my blog, and I’m reaching out to people to do more staff writing. Any little bit helps!

    • It’s not that death is a better option, it’s a last resort. Yeah, no taskrabbit in this area. I’ve had bad experiences trying to start house cleaning for side income off of craigslist. Lots of creepers. I need to start figuring out how to make money from blogging, need to get a domain too.

  2. I’m sorry that your debt is so depressing! The student loan issue has gotten completely out of control! I’m glad that you can have your loan forgiven one day under IBR…is that right?

    • Only federal loans under IBR. But the forgiven amount will likely be considered taxable income and then my debt is transferred to the IRS. :/ As for my private loans, I’ve got to pay those off in full.

  3. Just a comment on your interest in library science from a librarian…it sounds like from your experience you might be able to find another library job in your area, and experience can sometimes get you further than education. If you are truly interested in working as a librarian (and I warn you, librarianship is another field in which job seekers are bitter that schools oversell the value of the degree for a very competitive market, definitely do your homework and talk to other LIS students), you really need a masters degree in the field. Any sort of library bachelors program or certification does little good in securing employment – the American Library Association sets the standards here and they are pretty strict. But the good news is there are now several online masters programs that are not prohibitively expensive. I graduated from the University of Alabama – all online – with no student loan debt. Let me know if you want more info.

  4. So sorry to hear about the burden your student loans are. Like Holly said, they really are out of control and hope that something is done sooner, rather than later about them. The irony for me is that one of the most expensive for profit schools in the country is about five miles from where we live. There was an article in the paper a few weeks ago how they’re churning out students, albeit from a good program, but absolutely saddled with student loan debt and little to no job prospects. Something must change.

  5. I can totally relate. Our student loans , get this, are from the 80’s. but we had so many forbearances, and who knows what, we have no idea about the 25 yr statue of limitation. To top that off, our loans consolidated by William d ford , were sold to the EVIL nelnet, who says there are no more forbearances. On a positive note, well maybe not, I was given a total and permanent Disability discharge on my portion. I have an incurable cancer, although right now I’m in a very good partial remission. But it has been a NIGHTMARE, and really the government should do something when income does not merit the payment. We still have to pay, but ,what we don’t eat. They don’t give a F#^+k.
    It’s a horrible situation and I feel for you.

  6. I know you said that your debt has made drawing more stressful, since having to focus on it as a freelance job. Have you considered adding little comics to your blog or making a web comic? It could help be an outlet for some of the stress and potentially make a little extra money down the road.

    On another note, if you’re looking for an accountability buddy for your blogging/side hustle goals, I’m totally up for that. It sounds like we both have some similar goals so it could work to our benefit to have and “accountabilibuddy” on our side.

    • I still experience quite a bit of anxiety when drawing and out of habit I can’t help but ridicule myself for not being so great at it after oh, 3 or so years of not drawing. I’m working on overcoming it. The webcomic is a good idea once I’m more comfortable with it again.
      I could definitely use an accountability buddy!

  7. Have you looked into CAD work for an architecture and/or engineering firm? I work in the engineering department for a state National Guard. Think it might be a a good mix of the things you are looking for. Your local community college should offer basic intro CAD classes. I also mention this because I know some other nearby air force bases have similar enginneering/buildings departments that manage their buildings on base. Some jobs at DoD bases give preferential hiriing points to spouses of service members.

  8. Hang in there, Kasey! You’re strong and you’ve accomplished so much already! You’ve dropped a digit on your debt; you successfully managed to stick with your budget, you found a new place and bought a new car that works out much better for you. And that’s only the last few months!
    Just think what you’ll accomplish in a year! You really are unstoppable. 😉 You’re my hero.

  9. I am sorry you are having a hard time. I completely understand. I think you have a positive attitude about it though which is greatly helpful. I can relate to that in a lot of ways. If you ever want to talk, send me an email.

    • Thanks 🙂 Sometimes it’s hard to remain positive with such a long term gloom following you around but ultimately living life is more important than paying off debt, can’t let it drag me down!

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