Towards the beginning of the year, I started to really think about the next couple of years. Where I wanted to be? What I needed to do? What goals I wanted to accomplish? Everything that I want to do seemed to be hindered by one not so small thing...my college loans. Most people graduating today have over $35k worth of loans to pay off. My generation is the first to have to deal with such grossly high tuition and interest rates. Add the terrible job market and we're basically being set up for failure. Fortunately, I was one of the lucky ones to make it through college with lots of grants and scholarships. I'm not comfortable yet to share my number on the internet but I will say, it's low compared to today's standards. However, it's still there.
I never wanted my life to be led by debt. I mean, who does? I'm sure everyone does what they can to get out of this situation but with where I wanted my life to be, I knew that I needed to do more. I've followed all the advice I've been given: get an income based repayment plan, budget, don't spend on what you don't need, la dee da. My number still wasn't going down. Even with a full-time job and salary, my number wouldn't budge.
|source: Chris Smith|
I was trying to think of what else I could cut out that would make a difference. Since food wasn't a logical option, I started to add up my bills. I love Chicago. I love living in the city and I love the freedom of having my own place. But let's get real. I was paying anywhere from $1100 to $1500 a month in rent, utilities and other bills. I rarely went out, my social life had been withered down to nothing, I never saw my family and to put it simply, I was miserable. So I did the only thing I felt was left, I asked my family if I could move back home.
People ask me constantly: how are the suburbs? Do you miss the city? What's it like living at home again? Are your cousins driving you crazy? How do you handle your commute? Some people look at me with pity like, "You're moving in with your parents? That must be terrible." Some people are inspired by my reasoning and like my attitude. But here's what everyone doesn't understand:
|I see these guys every day|
1) I'm not living with my parents. I'm living with my aunt and two cousins in their extra bedroom. They have their lives, I have mine. Sometimes we want to kill each other, sometimes we laugh so hard it hurts.
2) I'm not living off of my family. I pay rent. I buy groceries. I pay my Noni for insurance. I pay my cell phone bill. I make my own way. No one is cutting me any breaks.
3) I don't particularly enjoy getting up earlier to take the train into work but I also now have almost 2 hours of reading time each day. I call that a deal.
4) Living by yourself is great but when you are used to having people around you, it gets really lonely.
5) My social life now consists of friends, family and pets. Three things I barely had anymore a few months ago because I didn't have time, money or energy to contribute.
I did not move home because I'm lazy.
I did not move home because I can't handle the real world and real life responsibilities.
I did not move home because I'm not ready for it.
I moved home because it was the right decision for me.
I moved home because I know where I want to be in five years and debt cannot be part of the plan.
I moved home because I know that I cannot afford to live in the city AND pay my loans off at an exponential rate. I'm a realist, not a dreamer.
|source: Sweet Cheeks Tumblr|
I want my loans to be completely gone by July 2016. That gives me two years. When that time comes, I'll be ready to share with the world what my plans are. But for now, I just want people to stop coming to conclusions without considering my reasoning. This wasn't meant to be a rant but a way to show people that doubt decisions like this that sometimes it really is the right thing to do. Taking a step back doesn't always mean you're holding yourself back. You have to take a step back in order to make a leap. That's all I'm doing, preparing to leap.
I know that I'm not the only recent graduate out there in the midst of making tough decisions. I'm hoping that this posts bring comfort to some of you so that one day, if you're faced with a similar decision to mine, you'll make the right choice for you. We live in a society that worries too much about what other people think? Well, instead of thinking about them, ask your five year old self if you'd be proud of the person you grew up to be. If you say yes, great for you. If you say no, make a change. That little girl or that little boy is the only opinion that matters. That little kid is the only one who really knows if you're happy with the life you've made for yourself. Don't ignore it. You only get one life. Embrace it.
On another note, I'd like you guys to meet one of my lovely sponsors! Her name is Lisa and she blogs over at Adventures of a Dream Catcher.