My Debt Story: Part Deux

And now for the continuation of my ongoing debt saga. Let’s hope that this one doesn’t become a trilogy!

So when we last left off, I was still in college. While I was in school, I worked part-time at various jobs to try and keep my debt at a minimum. I was still following my parent’s mantra of get good grades so you’ll get a good job and I managed to finish school with a BA in History, a minor in Geography and roughly around $12,000.00 in student loan debt. I also managed to graduate with honors. Not too bad most of you would say but my strategy had come at a cost.

I lived off campus at home to save money and therefore did not socialize much. Who knew that networking would be so important? Also, no one had ever mentioned to me the importance of internships while attending school. Internships were where you worked for free, or at least they were in my day and what was working for free going to get me, I thought? I had originally planned to go to law school straight from college which is why I had chosen a liberal arts degree but 2 years of working part-time for an attorney had soured my yearning for an esquire after my name. So, I came out of school not having any idea of what I wanted to do with my life.

I went to job fairs and applied for everything I had an interest in and anything that I thought that I was qualified for. One hundred applications later and nothing. I sometimes made it to a second round interview but I received no job offers. No one was interested in me because I did not have any experience in the fields that I was applying to. I couldn’t even get an internship anymore since I was already out of school and most internships with big companies require that you receive college credit for the internship. I was just stuck.

Meanwhile my bills were racking up and I went back to my old buddy, Mr. Credit Card. This time however, I was just using my credit card to get by. I was definitely not living the high life. I had deferred my student loans due to unemployment and I was seriously becoming disheartened. I was too ashamed to ask my parents for help because they were having financial issues of their own. So my credit card bills just mounted while I paid the minimums.

Eventually, I sucked up my pride and got a job working for a real estate company called Foxtons as a salesperson/realtor. While I was good at my job, it wasn’t where I wanted to be and the full-time salary was low and only temporary. Yes, temporary. Foxtons paid their salespeople for only 3 months before switching over to a completely commission based pay system. They called it a meritocracy. I called it, this crap sucks. As I had mentioned previously, when you work as a realtor, it’s feast or famine. You only get paid when you close a deal and you get absolutely nothing for deals that die. But more on that in another post. After working with the company for awhile, I, along with 300 other employees, was suddenly laid off without warning. Mind you, this was 2007 and the housing bubble had just burst; Foxtons declared bankruptcy and I was a realtor no mo’.

I had managed to pay off part of my credit card debt while I was working and managed the minimums on my student loans but that was it. I once again started applying for jobs but the economy had tanked. I then made one of the worst decisions of my life and went back to school. While I love school and learning, I went back out of desperation. I thought that maybe I could right my wrongs from the past and this time do some internships while I was at school.

To save money, I stupidly decided to pursue a second Bachelor’s degree rather than a Master’s degree. I thought that I should be ‘smart’ and do a practical major like Economics since all my friends that were raking in the dough had studied Economics or Business and then also do a major (it ended up being Journalism/Communications) that would allow me to possibly pursue my dream of being a PR agent or working behind the scenes in the entertainment industry. Little did I know that the US was going to end up going into a double dip recession and that there wouldn’t be any jobs for Business majors.

I never finished my second B.A. I’m still about a semester short. I had to leave school because I maxed out my student loans (another thing that I didn’t know was possible) and couldn’t afford to finish. I remember reading a news article after I had left school that said that going back to school during this recession was the worst thing a person could do. Wish I had read that before going back to school! The article was right though. Going back to school hadn’t improved my job prospects at all and had actually just pushed me further into debt. About $18,000.00 further into debt than I was before! And that’s not even counting my credit card debt at the time, which was close to another $15,000.00. How could a seemingly smart girl, be so stupid? What was I doing wrong? What was wrong with me?! Maybe the smart thing to do isn’t always the right thing?

The tides were about to change for the better for me though… at least temporarily! Sorry folks but it’s late and I guess this will be a three-parter after all! Check in next time for (hopefully) the end to my debt trilogy. 🙂

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