Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rock Bottom

"This song is dedicated to all the happy people
All the happy people who have real nice lives
And who have no idea what it's like to be broke as fuck."

-Eminem

I am utterly, ridiculously, frighteningly broke. I have been before; I can count at least half a dozen times during my college career that my checking account hovered somewhere between $0 and $1 between paydays. I was in school and financial aid was taking care of tuition, but I still had to pay living expenses, and working 15-20 hours a week (and sometimes fewer than that) was not conducive to paying bills and still having extra spending money. While this was certainly never a fun predicament, at least I was never in debt.

Then I graduated. Student loan repayments hovered in the near future, but I was able to get full-time hours at my job and hoped I could find a new one that would pay me even more. Then, when I had no place to live at the end of August, I moved in with my mom and stepdad. With no rent or extra bills to pay, I was able to live happily with an account balance that always stayed in the four-figure range. I was even able to afford a trip to visit my friend, who was then living in Greece, that fall and have plenty to spare.

I had all these crazy ideas. I could start a mini-market account, take another trip abroad, or even buy a new car. I was proud of myself; I had never been able to hang onto money like this. I had never felt so free.

Taken at a coffee shop in Greece, the kind of place where worrying about anything was nearly impossible

Around Christmas (it really is a cruel joke that lenders give you a six-month grace period, which usually makes the first payments fall during the Most Wonderful Time of the Year), I got my first bill. Actually, it was my first two bills - I had taken out both private and government loans. I paid them with no problem. Each month thereafter I continued to pay them on time, and even though I knew they were eating up half my income I still had money left over, and for this I was proud and felt accomplished and responsible.

I decided to move out and live in my own place again. I did the math - everything worked out okay, and though money would be tight for a while, I was still hopeful I would get another job. Allow me another badly-rendered visual aide to give you an idea of where I was by this point:



We paid my landlord the deposit, then the pro-rated rent (we moved in the middle of June), and the July rent in less than a month’s time. We also bought a new wireless router, groceries, and other items for the apartment. Before long, I had reached the due date for my next private loan payment and did not have even half the money to pay it.

I have been called a lot of different things in my life, but “delinquent” is perhaps one of the most shameful.

Have you ever watched Judge Judy at two in the afternoon? All the commercials are aimed at unemployed losers.

Are you tens of thousands of dollars in debt because you bought a bunch of shit you couldn’t afford? IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT AT ALL!!!!!!! Let us lower your monthly payments so that you think your problems are over while we fuck you in the ass with our interest rates that you’ll still be trying to pay off when you’re 82.

I used to look down on the people those commercials target. Then I found myself home at two in the afternoon watching Judge Judy - because I have no cable and there’s nothing else on - shitting a brick over whether or not I would ever be able to pay all this back. I feel like That Guy - or, in other words, a total piece of shit.

Delinquent is scary enough, but the other D word which shan’t be mentioned here looms around the corner if I can‘t get caught up in the next couple of months.

As with many situations, friends and family are happy to contribute advice, encouragement, and similar “look, I can relate” tales of money woes. Sometimes I’m happy to hear them because I don’t feel so alone, and other times I drive myself crazy comparing my situation to others’. Well, so-and-so does have more debt, as they pointed out, but they chose to go to a private school and I didn‘t. And they also make more money than I do. But they were smarter about putting money in savings than I was. But I never had any extra money to save…and so forth.

I’m trying to remember that my circumstances could be (and, really, they are for many) so much worse. I’m trying not to dwell on it or feel too sorry for myself; it’s just hard feeling this stuck. It’s hard to watch all of my wages melt away the second I acquire them, and to be left questioning whether or not my education was really much of an investment. It’s hard not to resent the fact that many of my friends and former classmates didn’t have to pay for their own education and now get to either gallivant around the world or buy cars and nice apartments with the money they get from their jobs.

In spite of the gloomy situation, I have hope that I will figure this out. My original plan was to get a new full-time job that paid better, but that’s just not in the cards for me (see this post for that story). Hopefully I can get a second part-time job instead, though I don’t relish the prospect of working two service jobs, since that is likely what I will end up doing. At least in that case I would have more bitching material!

I’m not asking for help, advice, or even for the reader to feel bad for me, as it is no one‘s doing but mine that I am in the situation in which I find myself. I just needed to vent and wallow in self-pity for a little bit. Thank you for reading.

2 comments:

  1. wow, this is definitely uplifting and all i can say is, keep your chin up! the most important thing is seriously to be positive, cause it seriously becomes fuckloads worse as depression sets in...

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  2. you should use Excel to create your graphs/charts. it was obvious that you used mspaint. if you dont have excel use the free open source alternative, open office (www.openoffice.org).

    i dont have any suggestions for those loans though, lol.

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