The Strugglebus is Real, Folks. (and that’s ok!)

As much as I hate to admit it, the 17-year-old in me has adopted a new favorite hashtag: #strugglebus. I’m both incredibly disappointed in myself and kind of giddy about it. Its close cousin, #wambulance, was a long-time favorite of mine as well. So, I suppose that’s happening now!

Onto more real matters… When discussing our struggles, a very close and dear friend of mine had let me into his situation as well. He is crippled by student loan debt, works full-time as a store manager at a convenience store, and has two roommates (hopefully he’ll be moving in with only one in August – keeping my fingers crossed!). He, too, can’t seem to make any template work. We spend many hours discussing our budgets and best practices only to cave when we want greasy Chinese food or a friend has a birthday. It’s part of the struggle: breaking those habits and finding alternatives.

Recently, I brought up the idea of consolidating his loans so he only has a single payment to worry about and manage. He went to his credit union to talk to them about his options only to find out that without a very good co-signer there was no way they would help him. Much like me, he doesn’t have a co-signer which means he’s S.O.L.

Frustrating? You betchya! But, this is what folks like us face every day.

Sometimes, it really feels like we just can’t catch a god damn break. No one will take a chance on helping us because they see our past and the mistakes we’ve made. It’s often overlooked that in asking for this kind of help, we’re not looking to dig ourselves into a deeper hole. Trust me, it’s hard enough to breathe as it is this deep down! We’re asking for help because we know we’re fighting our last fight until we give up and crawl back to mommy and/or daddy with our tails between our legs.

And we refuse. So we keep fighting. When I apologized to my friend for his misfortune in debt consolidation, he just smiled and said he’d have to find another way instead of getting lost in the bottomless pit of, “Oh my god, I can’t do this.”

So, folks, the takeaway? Keep fighting the good fight. It’s better than the alternative by a long-shot. Be honest, be courageous, and know you’ll see the end. If you think you can’t do it, guess what? You already are. Still not convinced? I offer this reminder:

You’re a ghost driving a meat-coated skeleton made from stardust. What do you have to be scared of?

 

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Defining Freedom

As highlighed in the about page, everything took off after watching this TEDx talk by Adam Baker, founder of http://www.manvsdebt.com. It started with defining what freedom is to me. I started with the following list and few notes:

-Unrestrained

-No financial burden

-A job I love with flexibility to change it

-Service/volunteering

-Not evil

-A sidenote: consumerism is not evil by nature. It is a driving force that keeps our current system alive and while this may not the best system… I’ve yet to see anyone come up with something better and I certainly haven’t myself.

-Another sidenote: debt is evil. It is a cycle of working a job to pay for debt you have accumulated because you have a job.

What I arrived at was:

Freedom is a life unrestrained by consumer debt, enabling me to passionately, honestly, and lovingly serve the planet, world, and society.

Perfect! But now I had to start shaping the idea around my values and lifestyle. I started with breaking down my debt. Total, consumer and student loan, debt equals $12,100 at the time of the posting. Roughly 9,100 of that is consumer debt (before you roll your eyes at my mere $3,000 of student loan debt, do me some justice… If it is crippling you, it is crippling you regardless of if it is $3,000 or $300,000. Ok? Ok.). I have a very stable administrative job at a university with amazing benefits. However, my take home pay per month is $1847 and my estimated monthly expenses living in a large city (bare bones) sits at $1550. This leaves me at just under $200 extra a month for savings/repaying debt above minimum payments/fun.

How the hell am I supposed to clear $9,100 (not including interest) worth of debt on an extra $200/month? That would take YEARS (3.2 years, to be exact) and I want to go to grad school! Frustration. Disappointment. Almost hopelessness… But, I asked myself a simple question:

Can I sell, budget, or find roughly $10,000 in a year?”

The answer? A BIG, FAT (scary) YES.