Saturday, July 31, 2010

Where did July go?

Is it just me, or did there used to be a month between June and August? I remember it was called July and it was a fairly long month - one of those with 31 days. What ever happened to July? Did we skip it this year? It seems like it was just a month ago that I was freaking out at work over a huge project due on the first week of June. Now my calendar is telling me that Sunday is August 1st. Am I being punk'd? Did I buy a faulty calendar? Seriously, what happened to July?

I know this happens every summer. We say things like, "Summer went by fast this year" or "I don't remember it being this hot last year" or "Can you please remove your stroller from the top of my foot?" Oh no, wait - that last one is what I said this morning on the Metro train. It's tourist season again in DC!!

I wish I could tell you that the reason I haven't updated my blog much lately is because I'm living a super-exciting life in the fast lane. Well, I guess I could tell you that, but it would be a lie. It's quite the opposite, actually. I recently sat down and went over my budget and realized I've been living above my means. I am grateful to have a reliable source of income during these troubled times, but I recently took a good hard look at the bottom line and had to admit: it's time to come to terms with my student loan debt. It was much easier to defer the loans and ignore the interest statements. But it is a heavy weight on my shoulders and as long as I keep going out and spending money on other things, I'm always going to be carrying around the stress and pressure of debt.

I find myself in the same situation as many college graduates. The burden of student loan debt is incompatible with starting level wages. Add to that the fact that the last thing I want to do when I'm still young is to work hard and deny myself a social life so that I can make a dent in my loans. I think the grace period for student loans should be ten years before you even begin to pay them off. Of course this would kill you with the interest on them, but most college graduates still live like college students for several years after they get out of school. We eat the same ramen noodles, keep the same hand-me-down furniture, and most people I know that are a few years out of school still ask their parents for money. [note: As a general rule I do not ask my parents for money. That said: If my parents are reading this and wondering, I wouldn't turn it down if you offered.]

I am trying hard not to feel resentment toward my student loans and I would love to hear from anyone who has been through this and has stories to share about their experiences. I borrowed the money with full knowledge that I had to pay them back. I watched all the mandatory videos and read all the terms before I signed. I take responsibility and I am grateful for many things in life. I'm grateful for my current job security and I'm grateful that I was able to finish college and earn a degree. I realize that not everyone can say that. Now, I just need to figure out how to put it all in perspective and make a dent in my loans, pay the rest of my bills, and still maintain a social life. I was invited to a DC United game recently and I would have loved to go, but I had to decline the invitation. My standard answer is going to become, "I can't make it this time, but perhaps when I'm fifty..."