120 Days

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120 Days

So, it’s been about four months since I have packed up my classroom library and left Florida to head to Virginia.

So What Has Happened So Far?

When I first arrived in the ole’ state for lovers, I was beyond excited. Finally! no more weekend schleps to the airport to see Denis for forty eight hours then return home. I came up with about $9,000 in my bank account so I wasn’t too worried about finding a job the second I put my boxes down; and when I arrived, I was still on the fence whether or not to continue my career as a teacher- so the break was welcomed and the adventure was exciting!

After about three weeks of “normal living” I became bored. I didn’t realize how much so until I started leaving fresh vegetables on the ground to help out the wild rabbits and squirrels in the neighborhood. It was time to do something.

The Waiting Game

It was time to start looking for a job. With a heavy heart, I had decided that I was going to take a break from teaching to try something else. Corporate training seemed like an obvious next step. I’m still “teaching” just now I can trade my sneakers and story time into high heels and lunch meetings- this dream didn’t actually happen. What actually happened was that I started serving tables at a sports bar up the street- here is when I realized the hospitality life is not for me. So the hunt continued.

The Talk

While spending countless hours writing down hamburger orders- half the time I would forget all the questions and then just guess and hope for the best when I put them into the computer; I knew that I was not making the best use of my time. I would leave work feeling upset, tired and like I hadn’t helped anyone. After all, I am a teacher at heart- I like to help people.

So I quit. I did not want to get so caught up in making $45 a shift to not ever have the chance to ever actually make some money again.
Then Denis and I had “the conversation”. You know the… “so, how much more money do you owe on your student loan?” conversation. This is a purely one-sided topic since Denis has zero debt. No credit card debt, no student loans… nothing.

My answer: a lot- about $33,000. But I had spent so much time, money and effort paying for other things, student loans always were at the back of my mind. (Terrible but true)

The Solution

For reference sake, 99.9% of evenings at home are fantastic. We eat dinner, drink wine, watch tv or try to pretend were athletic by going for runs or playing squash (Not a typical game in America, but its fun)

This night, was not that kind of night.

Denis came home from work like any other day but in his hand he held the mail.

It felt like a zillion bills for me, a Trader Joes magazine and a BedBath&Beyond coupon for himself- typical.

I opened them with the throw-up feeling in my stomach and Denis saw my student loan bill.

Fast forward, by the end of the evening, every bill I had was put into a spreadsheet- you name it, I had it.

Car payment, student loan, house payment, medical bills- I am probably the only person you’ll meet in their 20s that has had the mumps. Yes, I was vaccinated-3 times. Yes, it is as miserable as it sounds.

I wanted to throw up.
We categorized what needed to go, what needed to get paid off.
The house was the first thing on the list that needed to go. This was the most obvious- it’s sitting empty in a little town in Florida. I loved that townhouse but it was time to sell.

Once the house was sold, we could focus on selling the car. The great thing about Arlington, Virginia is that you don’t really need to have a car with all the public transportation.

I hate driving so I was 100% for this idea.

After the house, then the car, the next hurdle was the obvious student loans. But in the meantime, I was eligible for a $5,000 forgiveness for working in a Title 1 school for five years- so I got that ball of paperwork rolling.
Side note: any teacher that works in a high poverty, low income school for any amount of time should have ALL of their loans paid, no questions asked, but that’s just my opinion.

While on the track of trying to get my life in order, I then had to tell my college girlfriends that I just couldn’t afford to come to this year’s girls weekend in Minnesota. Truth be told, I felt like I couldn’t afford a soda, let alone a weekend away partying and putting money on my credit card. This was not welcomed with happy ears, especially because the trip was my idea and we had planned it for a year; but my friends got it and Snapchatted me the whole weekend, which will have to do for now.

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Finally, after what felt like an endless night of number crunching and tears, it was finally time to go to bed.

Speaking of which, this is the fancy new Tuft N Needle bed that Denis bought on-line. It's super comfy & I highly recommend it.

So, Where Am I Now?

Good question, you would think that in 120 days I’ve made some head way… and I have.

• I listed my house for sale, found a buyer, flew down to the Sunshine State, dipped my toes in the sand then went and signed the paperwork to sell it to another 30 something who I know will love it as much as I did. Now, I’m out of that $733 a month mortgage payment and $250 HOA payment.

• My car is up for sale. Sadly, I learned a hard life lesson the hard way a few years ago and learned what co-signing and negative equity is. So, there won’t be any money made but a mistake I will never make again. Anyway, I have cleared enough from the house to completely sell and get rid of the car (and car insurance and parking payment)

• Paid off my American Express credit card

• I am still waiting to hear back from my loan provider, but I am sure the $5,000 will be taken off.
Once the car is gone, then it will be my time to really focus on student loans and sock as much money as I can toward them. I plan on getting another little side gig to put ALL money I make toward it to pay it off faster.

What I Have Learned

Looking back at my typical American public school education- I am mad.

I worked hard in school, got decent grades and I spent countless hours learning how to find X in Algebra, I can sign the whole Pledge of Allegiance in American Sign Language and know how to properly take out a frog eyeball- I went to college and was a part of an honor society; none of which has ever helped me in real life. and before I could legally rent a car, I was so buried in debt and just felt like that’s what life has to offer.

That is after all, the American Dream, right?

In none of my schooling, has anyone ever taught me what credit card to use for points, how to pay my taxes or how to invest in the stock market. If you aren’t a finance professional by trade, it’s time that you need to do some of your own homework to learn how to make some money, actually keep it and make it grow.

I know it’s a struggle, but it is clearly something that we all have to learn.

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