March 22, 2018 at 4:24 pm #198881JennParticipant
Hello everyone. Here is my story.
I have student debt that I have not paid back nor do I know exactly how to go about it paying it off. It is like a dark cloud looming over my head at all times. I know I need help but I don’t know how to ask for it.
Even as I write this I don’t know how to express the helplessness that I feel. So I guess I’ll start from the beginning.
I had a good childhood. Although my parents were always fighting about money which eventually lead to their divorce and subsequent downfall, they raised me well by most standards. When I turned 18 and entered college my mom left us. We found out shortly after that the house we grew up in was in foreclosure. We were victims of the 2007 economic crisis. My older sister (then freshly graduated) tried her best to take care of the situation. My dad had fallen into a deep depression and gambled away what was left of our savings. I was in school with a part time job and couldn’t help out financially. Eventually it was too much for my sister and we decided we would move out on our own and leave our dad.
I moved out with my friends close to campus. I received terrible grades and school was never much of a priority to me. Thinking back I wonder what my purpose was in life during that time and I think it is when I started a cycle of self denial. I was able to go to school on grants and loans. I worked a lot to cover the costs of living on my own but luckily I made enough money as a waitress to put my through.
I started dating my current boyfriend in 2011, the summer before my senior year of college. He was and is now the biggest support I have in my life. After I graduated in 2012 I realized that I had nothing but a Sociology degree with few job options that paid more than waitressing. I had debt to pay but I ignored it as if it would go away if I didn’t acknowledge it’s existence. With my boyfriends help, I decided to go to cosmetology school to pursue hairdressing. I graduated, found a good job, and now I work in a career that I feel passionate about.
I just turned 29 and have been with my boyfriend for almost 7 years. My friends always ask when we will get married and I tell them I have no interest in having a wedding. But the truth is I don’t want to get married for fear of being found out. I don’t know how to tell him the truth about the debt I have conveniently decided to ignore, nor do I want more of his help to climb out of it. I want to be an adult and be able to solve this problem. I honestly don’t know why this is so hard for me. It’s become so easy for me to ignore it but I feel as though time is ticking out until I won’t be able to lie to myself anymore.March 22, 2018 at 5:34 pm #198897MarkParticipant
Congratulations on working so hard in getting your degree, waitressing, and making the switch and putting yourself through cosmetology school. It must have been so rough considering how much your family went through with such losses.
I know honesty is so hard for people for reasons of shame and other things. You might want to check out Bene’ Brown’s writings or TED talk around vulnerability and shame.
Part of being an adult is to have an adult conversation with your intimate, romantic partner about such hard things don’t you think? You may want to start out the conversation is to tell him it is hard for you to have this talk.
MarkMarch 22, 2018 at 6:04 pm #198899PeterParticipant
Reading your post it sounds like your no longer in denial and as they say that is the first step. There are allot of resources that you could check out that will help you deal with your finances. That there are so many resources out their suggests your not alone, definitely not alone.
You have demonstrated the ability to work hard, get a degree, and then change direction to find a career your passionate about. Few people are that brave. Getting a handle of your finances is anther challenge that once you face it you will be successful.
I wonder what the future might hold for you. I believe everything we learn comes together eventually. Life lessons, Sociology degree, cosmetology, well spoken, and once you learn how to better manage your finances …
“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.” ― C. JoyBell C.
March 23, 2018 at 9:06 am #198973anitaParticipant
- This reply was modified 3 years, 6 months ago by Peter.
Having unpaid student loans is such a common and huge problem in the U.S., at the least, probably a multi billion problem that there are probably different programs aimed at helping people pay those loans over a long, long time. There are I am guessing, tens of thousands, maybe more, people like you who ignore their loans. Again, got to be programs aimed at minimizing the damage done by ignoring these loans. So as you come out of hiding, in this regard, you will find out- I am thinking- that there are people in financial institutions who are waiting for you and may be competing for your business. Set up a few appointments and talk to the people about your getting married thoughts and concerns.
As far as your boyfriend, if you do want to be married with him, talk to him after some initial consultations with a couple of consultations (first paragraph), and take it from there. He may be impressed by your courage. And by your concern for him.
anitaMarch 24, 2018 at 8:00 am #199211KelParticipant
I think everyone’s given you good advice so far. I hang around a lot on some personal finance forums (reddit.com/r/personalfinance) and unpaid student loans are not an uncommon problem. There are plenty of posts where people in your boyfriend’s position come to the forum to say “My significant other revealed to me their debt, what do I do?” And the key thing (that a bunch of strangers care about anyway) is whether the significant other is now willing to take charge of the situation.
I think the first thing you need to do is forgive yourself, for anything that makes you feel bad inside about this debt. Maybe you are beating yourself up because of the degree you got, or because you’ve ignored it for some time (just basing this on what you mentioned), so forgive yourself for these things. Your degree sounds really interesting, and I bet you got a lot out of it, even without working in that field. Your parents don’t sound like they managed money well, so it’s no wonder you tried to just not think of it.
Once you have forgiven yourself, then you can make a plan. You’ll need to look at where you spend your money now, and see if there’s anything you can reduce and put towards your loans instead. Even finding an additional $50/month is a good start. Secondly, you’ll need to find out what you owe on the student loans, and if they are in collections you’ll want to talk to a credit counselor to help you figure out how to deal with that (there are steps to make sure that the collections agents are telling you the right amounts). Once you have some ideas for how to change your budget, and you know who to pay and how much, then you need to actually execute and start making the payments.
I think if you went to your boyfriend somewhere in that process and said “I’ve got loans, I want to take care of them, here’s my plan” that will be a very different conversation than just “I’ve got loans.” I also think that while you should attempt to come up with a plan of your own, it is fine to ask him for help improving the plan, and you’ll need his help to change your budget, for example, if you like to eat out together and you decide to stop eating out to save money, then you’ll need to tell him why it’s important to you to change that behavior, since that will affect him too. As Anita said, I agree that your boyfriend may take this in a positive way.