|Pre-digital photo! Memories|
If you watched my YouTube video "Intro into my debt free journey" then you know that I currently have a little over $60,000 in school loans. Yes, you read the right! I know what you are thinking, "She must have a Masters or at least a Bachelors in a high paying field like Business!", but no my friends that is just from a Bachelors in Psychology...and few other fields of education. Let me start from the beginning.
I attended the University of Illinois in Campaign-Urbana with the intention of getting a degree in pre-veterinarian (I soon found out that that was not a real degree. I would have to get a degree in something like Biology to be a viable candidate in the Veterinarian School, but I digress). Unfortunately, I was not a focused freshman. During my first Chemistry class, I decided that this was going to be too hard and I did not want my dream that much so I decided to get a degree in Psychology instead. My brother was in college as well getting the same degree (I look up to my brother a lot) and I figured that I could use my degree in so many areas, so why not?
Since I was not a focused student I took 5 years to get a 4-year degree. 4 out of those 5 years, I took out the maximum amount of loans that I was approved for. I worked a full-time job my last 3 years of college, but I did not live on a budget, I did not like to say "no" to myself and others, and I saved nothing.
After I graduated college, I settled for a job that I thought was going to give me quick riches instead of going to Graduate School. I placed my loans on forbearance (I didn't have to pay back my loans, but they were still accumulating interest) and proceeded to work. Several years and several jobs later, I got married and was working as a Substance Abuse Counselor, which I HATED so I quit. My husband was making enough money and we were able to "pay our bills" so I decided that I would go back to school to get a 2nd degree in Biology. I figured that I would be able to them go to veterinarian school or even get a degree as a dietitian. Mostly though I was bored and lost and since I am a nerd at heart that meant that I should go back to school. Both were fields that I was still interested in and both would require a Biology degree. At this time I still believed that the only way to go to school was with school loans so I took out the max that I was given again.
One year later I got pregnant and was too tired to even think straight. With someone new to focus my attention on, I decided that I was done with school. Being a stay at home wife and mom was going to be my new focus. Fast forward again several years and I am now divorced and unemployed and I find out about this awesome program where I could get a Masters in Humane Education. I was so excited because this program would allow me to combine my passion for animal rights and environmentalism and I would finally be able to get a Masters! Once again going into my old habits I took out the maximum amount of school loans that they gave me and used it to not only pay for school but to continue to live outside my means.
During my 2nd semester of my first year is when I began my bankruptcy process and it is also when I began to lift the veil of "debt is okay" from over my eyes. I realized that if I continued to finance this degree that I would finish with over $80,000 in debt!! Although I loved this program and what I was learning, the ROI was unknown. I didn't even know what I was going to do with this degree and everything that I would be interested in doing, I could do without the degree. After my first year, I made the decision to quit school and only return if I was able to pay for it with cash. That was at the end of Spring 2015 and it was also when I began to listen religiously to Dave Ramsey. His "debt is dumb cash is king" motto and lifestyle was rubbing off on me and I decided to get real focused and intentional with paying off all of my debt.
It has been a year since I left my Masters program and as a right now I have not felt the need to go back. School has always been something that I was good at. I enjoy learning, the structure, and the reward of an "A" for good work. What school shouldn't be is a high brow pacifier. Something that you do because you are too scared and too unfocused to live your life. What it also shouldn't be, is a reason to go into debt.
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