My husband and I never carried much debt, or at least we thought so. We’ve always paid our credit cards on time and only made use of 0% financing offers when we actually had the money, and made self-imposed monthly payments. But slowly, student loan debt crept up on us. We saw investing in my husband’s education as the vehicle for improving our lives and potentially reaching our dreams. But, we didn’t fully count the cost. My husband now has two bachelor’s degrees, the second of which finally opened the door to the computer industry, which he had been trying to break into for years. Then he began to pursue a master’s degree. After three semester’s of very pricey tuition, he decided to take some indefinite time off and nearly 5 year’s worth of student loans came rushing back to haunt us. We had always planned that his proposed increased income after finishing his master’s degree would help to pay off the student loans. But right now there is no increased income. He hasn’t even had a cost of living increase at his current job. Not that I’m complaining. I recognize how lucky he is to even have a job when so many others don’t right now. But now all of our future plans on put on hold while we look at the impossible task of what to do about this debt.
Just making minimum payments, assuming we could afford them, which we can’t, these student loans will eat up ridiculous amounts of interest over the course of 10 or 20 years in repayment. His education will end up costing us nearly twice as much. But where do we get the money? If I go back to work, that means paying for daycare for our daughter and any other future children. Assuming I could even find a job, after the investment required in daycare, disposable diapers and other working expenses, I don’t know if it would really be worth it. There are other potential sources of income, but those are all still far into the future, and far from guaranteed. I find myself looking for solutions that will provide some immediate satisfaction.
It feels like no amount of frugal living and cost cutting will help us get ahead of our bills. Our car needed a new fuel pump to the tune of $400 dollars. Our emergency fund seems to get keeping hit time after time with no way to fill it back up again. So what is the solution? Do we invest in our own projects like our novels and my husband’s programming projects while keeping up with the minimum of our responsibilities? Or do we bite the bullet and get extra jobs that have some guaranteed return, albeit small ones? For right now, it seems that the first option is what we are moving towards. But the weight of our debt, though taken out with the best of intentions, is inhibiting our pursuit of our dreams for the future. Don’t underestimate the power of debts. They have the potential to hold you back for a long time.