When I was 18, I went to college for the first time. I studied Social Service Worker, in hopes of working with people who had addictions, relationship rescues and job coaching. I had recently left my childhood home, and was on my own for the first time. I hadn’t really planned on it, as it was a sticky situation surrounding my move out. Like every other student, I applied for student loans, and thought, once I became an adult, I would be making lots of money to pay this back.
Oh, How Life Mocks Me!
I started working in a call centre to tide me over until I found that “real job”. I called out to those who had mail ordered pantyhose for three months, and then the campaign ended, leaving us out of work. A newer centre was starting up down the street, and I hadn’t found that amazing opportunity yet, so I applied and was hired on there.
What I Didn’t Know Could Fill A Swimming Pool…
Lessons in money were never my strong point when I was in my twenties. I lived like others did, I ate out, spent money quickly, and barely paid my debts. Rent was always paid on time, and I always had work, but never made much of a living. I thought I’d paid off everything that I owed.
After I had left the call centre world (which is a story unto itself), I had been married, separated, a home owner, a landlord, and went from having my life moving into the right direction to having it stop completely, and start a slow slide to the bottom.
Career Change, Life Change, Pocket Change…
It was time for a change, and so I attended college again, this time focusing on law studies. I received my diploma in Law Clerk two years later. I need to interject for a moment: my (ex)husband and I had discussed my return to school, and had thought that working as a law clerk would be something I would enjoy, and would supplement our income nicely. The position was never intended to be one that brought in a lot of money, as my (ex)husband was in IT, and was doing well.
Fast forward to the second month of school, and I was unemployed, and newly separated. I was in school fulltime, and the program required a lot of time and effort. It was rumoured to be the toughest at our school. I did what any student would do – I turned back to student loans to make it through the years.
A Super Short History Of Student Loans
In Ontario, student loans are divided into two sections: provincially funded and federally funded. The loans were structured very differently the second time I attended school, as the first time I had a bank I could walk into and discuss what the loan repayment structure looked like.
The second time around, I had no one to speak to, and received the odd piece of mail. I moved a few times, being a student without a home for a bit. Throwing myself into my new career, I started at the bottom of the ladder, making a measely $12 an hour. Not enough for a single person to live on, and to make payments of student loans when they wanted $400-$500 monthly. No sir, their payment plan nearly rivelled any rent I paid. So I did what I had to do to keep food on my table.
I Stopped Making Payments
Yes, today I hang my head in shame and think about all the things I could have done differently, and how I chose to not. I chose to stick my head in the sand and pretend that it would go away. My income rose, dollar by dollar, over the years, never really keeping up with inflation, and I changed employers like I changed addresses. I was looking for the right fit.
Eventually, the Canada Revenue Agency sent me some scary looking letters, and I arranged a payment plan with them. I had been paying for a couple of years by that time, when I received a telephone call from a collection agency. This collection agency said they had received my student loan from the government, and they were collecting on their behalf. Thinking it was fraud, I demanded a statement. The representative said they couldn’t provide me with one, and I hung up.
Fraud or Not?
This company continued to call me, and I continued to dodge them, as they were your stereotypical collection centre: give me money or you will be sued! Who wants to speak to those people? Not me. Finally, about six months after that, I answered the phone and told them again, I want a statement. The girl on the phone again said it was something they couldn’t provide, so I told her that I would not be willing to pay them money if they couldn’t prove what it was for.
September 2017, I Started Blogging
Fast forward to the beginning of my blogging days here, about six months ago. I had started researching investments, and getting serious about paying off debt. My partner and I had cut back on services that we didn’t need, and we worked together to reduce our expenses. I decided to start blogging about my journey, as I had studied ways to save money, ways to make the dollar stretch, how to cut out expenses, but I had never looked at investing, or how much debt really costs. I wanted to share all of this with others in the same boat, as I was sure there were others.
If any of you recall, I had applied for a new bank account with a local credit union. I found out that I had been declined because of a collections on my credit bureau. Sure enough, it was this collections company representing the unknown portion of student loans.
Yes. It’s True. It’s All Mine.
What a depressing moment that was, to see that I was another ten thousand in debt than what I originally had thought. I cried. I don’t admit that too freely, but I cried. I got mad at my partner because I can’t fix it tomorrow. I felt guilty at spending money on anything, and felt guilty to the point of eating food because it cost money, and not eating food as waste costs money as well. I started telling myself I didn’t need the extras, and then I would swing to the other side. My husband is an enabler. He supports me if I don’t spend, and supports me if I do. He just floats along with the thought that we will always have debt, we will always have to work, and there’s nothing that we can do to change it.
I’m mad. Fired up! Angry!
I’m really angry at myself, and at the choices I made. Did I think I could just outrun this debt? Why did I accept so much? Why did I spend it all or try harder? What was I thinking, all those years ago?
I wasn’t thinking. Instead, I was thinking about new clothes, a trip to Las Vegas, paying my share of groceries and rent, adopting pets, etc. It’s embarassing to admit this to everyone, but I am hoping someone reads this and thinks twice:
1. You can’t run away from debt.
2. Student Loans need to paid back.
3. Think twice about your lifestyle.
1. YOU CAN'T RUN AWAY FROM DEBT. 2. STUDENT LOANS NEED TO PAID BACK. 3. THINK TWICE ABOUT YOUR LIFESTYLE. Click To Tweet
In July of 2016, I quit smoking. I was a pack-a-day smoker, and more on weekends. Did you know cigarettes cost over $10 a pack for the brand I was smoking? Literally, I was wasting over $300.00 a month, for twelve years. I could have paid my student loans off FOUR TIMES. When I realized that smoking was costing me that much money, together with the fact that I don’t want to die a horrible death I may have been able to prevent, I quit. (Still smoke free, actually.)
Owning My Mistake.
This is my $10k mistake. Perhaps it’s more like a $50k mistake, all things considering, but the debt is around $10k. It’s time to annihilate this debt and to make my credit work for me, and not against me. It’s time to pay for my education.
Time to Hustle
So watch me hustle, spend less, do more, find freelancing work, find any work, write hard, blog harder, etc., because I really want this paid off in four months. Yes, four months. My current salary will not support even half of that, so it’s time for some hustling.
Are you hiring? Do you have any freelancing work for me?
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