Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Helpless Helpless Helpless Hopeless

That's how it feels sometimes in America to me these days. After twelve years of college, the title of doctor, a job teaching, and doing all I can, I feel hopeless about my economic situation. I've cut back as much as I can. Moving somewhere else for a higher paying job won't work, because housing, even with the mega-slump we're in, is much more expensive everywhere else I could get work. My wife chooses to stay home, because we believe that's better for the children. But, the economy today essentially forces both spouses to work. Staying home with the kids is a luxury. I work hard; I teach extra classes; I scrounge; I make money on the side; we've cut back our spending to nothing, and yet, the millstone of personal debt (via student loans) keeps dragging us under.

Our esteemed Republican Congress decided to "fix" student loan interest at a mind-boggling 6.8%, but with interest rates creeping down, I'm sure I could've saved myself tens of thousands of dollars in interest had I been able to consolidate all of them when the rates used to reset every July 1st. Now, I'm paying a king's ransom every year, for thirty years. And I didn't live high on the hog in grad school. We pinched pennies, we sold stuff on ebay to make ends meet. The loans were to guarantee our housing. Everything else was paid for from our blood, sweat, and tears.

So, we're left with the choice of praying and hoping for the best or having Mickelle go back to work, which brings a whole host of other expenses. Neither of them seems fairly practical.

Our society has changed from not allowing women to work or make as much as a man to forcing married women to work just to make ends meet. It doesn't feel very liberating. However, for single women, especially professionals, I'm sure it's great.

Debt is poison.

Pay a full tithe.

12 comments:

Thewmes said...

Although I haven't had to face the student loan debt yet, I am constantly thinking about it knowing I will have to face it in a years time. It is a major concern for me; it has also effected my thoughts of how I can proceed coming out of school. I always planned on going into the Army fulltime but now question if I will make enough to cover loans, so now I am debating joining the National Guard to be able to make more money in the private sector.

I can't say I fully understand your frustration because I am not there yet. I fear I will be in your shoes soon enough however. I pray for your family to have what they need to make life easier.

Thewmes said...

My mission President would say, "the mission is two years of hell, then you coast to your coffin". The longer I have been home the more I realize that guy was full of shit.

Jolyn said...

Amen! I totally felt like the First Presidency was speaking to me in the recent letter they sent out to all the Wards about debt and making better financial decisions. I also remember being counseled by the Brethern that there are three things you can get in to debt for: a house, a car and an education. Only one (a car) I have. But then there's this mound of debt because I foolishly spent and spent when I was younger and boy am I paying for it now. I have two daughters and I work seven days a week. I have two jobs and so does my husband. Some day we'll get ahead but you have to start with a full tithe or you'll sink yourself. Hang in there, Mac. There are people in worse situations and some in the same. I totally know how you feel.

Kirt Christensen said...

Hey Mac, sorry to hear about your quandry... Being self-employed has a lot of the same issues. Things are up one year, and then some huge expense comes up. Or then you get sued by Microsoft for $2MM, you know, stuff like that. Keep the faith, explore other avenues of income (more internet stuff) and keep you head up!

Colleen said...

That is rough. The trouble w/ your wife going to work is that having two kids in daycare would be soo expensive. Could she get a job working in the evenings/weekends? That would stink b/c it would cut into your family time, but it would be better than drowning under debt! What about a home daycare or a nannying job where she could take the kids?
As a working mother (who wouldn't have it any other way) I do have to say that, with the right daycare, working can be fine. I understand not wanting to leave your kids/feeling called to stay home, but maybe her working will work out well for your family??
Colleen

Amanda said...

amen!

LedSophocles said...

I have one word for you, Mac, plastics.

Mac said...

Matt,

It's scary. Avoid debt as much as possible. When the govt stops paying the interest, it's scary. Use your vote to elect people who will let the rate float with market forces again.

Jolyn,

We paid off the foolish debt in our late twenties. We were debt free when I started PhD school. This is all honest debt, but man if it ain't crippling. I knew what I was doing, but I didn't think it through well enough.

Kirt,

Thanks for the encouragement. What did you get sued over?

Colleen,

We both feel that kids need a parent in the home when they're young. Maybe when they're all in school, but until then, she chooses to stay home, and I support her, in spite of the obvious hardships.

Norman,

Mrs. Robinson, I think you're trying to seduce me.

Matt the Treehugger said...

I feel your pain.

Ryan S. said...

Mac,

I feel your pain. After 4 1/2 years of being home with our children, my spouse went back to work, part-time, in the early AM (to minimize the time the kids are at 'daycare'). We are able to do trades for day care (we watch their kids, they watch ours, so no $$ out of pocket). Her job provides health benefits, and pays a decent wage, especially for part-time work and the St. George area. My whole point to this is, this second income has made ALL the difference for us financially. I work full time, and also teach as an adjunct professor at the local college. But we were always falling more and more behind, couldn't make a dent on our debt (all related to law school), etc., etc. My wife working these past 10 months has finally given us breathing room, and it is nice. However, our #3 child is due to arrive in May and our oldest starts school in the fall. With those two things, my wife won't be working outside the home after the baby comes. So, we're going to be basically right where we were 10 months ago, only with some desperately needed home improvements, and less credit card debt.

I feel your pain. At the risk of not sounding like a feminist, I agree with your statement that married women with children basically don't have the luxury of choosing to not work, or if they do, it is at great financial cost.

We are looking at some (legitimate) work-from-home jobs for my wife, in the hopes to slow the bleeding until she can get back to work, probably once the youngest child is 2 years old.

"Obtain as much education as possible." This is good personal development, see the bigger universe view, advice. I'm not convinced it is good financial advice (unless you have someone paying your way, as well as your other living expenses).

/End rant.

I feel your pain.

Thewmes said...

Mac,

Have you heard anything about the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 (CCRAA)? Tulane Law School published some info on this act which is suppost to limit the amount low income people must pay back on federaly aproved loans. I am no expert but it is suppost to go into effect in 2009. You may want to look into it and see if it applies to you, not saying it does, not saying it doesn't. I really have no clue.

chattypatra said...

Mac:

Siento mucho que te encuentres en esa situación. Definitivamente es muy frustrante luchar tanto y ser obediente a los mandamientos, para luego sentirse atrapado y sin salida aparente. Mientras más hablo con mis amistades que están casados y tienen hijos, me entero de que casi todos están pasando más o menos por lo mismo.

Yo fui culpable cuando joven de no planificar bien para el futuro. Jamás se me pasó por la mente que iba a terminar sola y ser la responsable de poner comida en la mesa y proveer un techo. De verdad creía que un príncipe azul me iba a salvar.[*rolling my eyes here*]

Al mudarme aquí, pensé que había encontrado la manera de tener seguridad económica. Sin embargo, no fue asi. Ahora llevo casi un año sin encontrar empleo. Estoy deprimida, enfermándome de los nervios (entre la falta de dinero y la demanda famosa...), y a cargo de cuidar a un anciano que hoy me dijo que lo que hago es "vivir de limosna". O sea, está avergonzado de mí. ¡Imagínate como me hace eso sentir, yo que no solamente he trabajado siempre, sino que me pagué los gastos de universidad yo misma! Me tomó ocho años de ir a la oficina de día y a la universidad hasta las 10pm. *sigh*

Siento que he perdido mi dignidad. Después de escuchar a mi padre decir eso, tengo ganas de morirme, ya que me siento humillada.

Dale gracias a Dios de que al menos tienes a tu esposa y tus hijos que te quieren de verdad. Sé que toda esta situación es muy difícil para ustedes, pero también sé que Nuestro Padre Celestial no te va a abandonar. Aunque a veces parezca que los ha olvidado, mientras sigan viviendo dignamente Él velará por ustedes.

¿Has considerado enseñar en una base militar? El Departamento de Defensa paga sueldo buenísimos a sus maestros y profesores de universidad, además de darles los beneficios de comprar alimentos, ropa, gasolina, etc., en la base.
Todo eso, y una pensión con "cost of living increase allowance" año tras año al retirarte. Averigüalo.