I’m coming clean today. We have one loan amount that I’ve never included with the balances in the column over to the right. The student loan amount listed is for Mr. Losing It’s degree; what’s missing is the balance for my student loan. Why? Because it is huge, more than the total of all our other debts combined. And, it’s nothing we can even think about paying off in the near future.
I have a master’s degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). It’s a degree that can be finished in two years, but took me four because our girls were babies/toddlers while I was working on my degree (There should have been a stern warning about attempting this. I about went nuts), and I broke my kneecap and was unable to work on my thesis (couldn’t sit up at the computer) for several months.
I borrowed a lot of money while I was earning my degree. Besides the usual expenses of tuition and books, I had to pay for childcare (expensive) and we were living on Mr. Losing It’s small-at-the-time salary and helping to pay for our son’s college expenses. I knew what I was doing when I kept borrowing, but assumed that I would be making enough after I graduated to pay it off in a decent amount of time. That worked for a while, but then life got in the way, to the point where I stopped working for six full years.
The loan payment, even though I’m still currently on the extended payment plan and have a very low interest rate, is a pretty large chunk of money out of our budget every month. It would be easy to resent making the payment every month, and yet I never have. Every month when I set up the online payment I think about my degree, and still feel it was worth every penny borrowed and spent:
- Unlike a fancy car, or some other thing, my education is something I can’t lose or that no one can ever take from me. I still use what I learned and experienced, even when I am not teaching ESL.
- It would be harder to get a teaching position without this degree. The MA TESOL is the gold standard for ESL instructors, and a primary reason I have been able to get teaching jobs. It is the first thing an employer looks for when you apply for a teaching job, even before experience, and what gets you through the door for an interview.
- Teaching ESL is something I can do as I age. I know many excellent and inspiring instructors who are well into their 70s.
- I’m paid pretty well for what I do. I am currently making more than three times what my husband does per hour, and I’m at the lowest pay grade for my college. Of course, I’m only paid for the time I’m actually in the classroom.
- I love what I do and the students I work with, I’m good at what I do and have an excellent profession reputation, and would not have any of this without my degree.
I expect to be paying on this loan for many more years, although when we finish getting everything else paid off and are (hopefully) settled in Hawaii we plan to pay extra every month. It will always be a factor in what we can afford after we retire.
So, I’m still not going to publish the balance off to the side; it’s enough for me that I see that balance every month when I make my payment. But now you know the rest of the story.