Author Topic: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?  (Read 10054 times)

Dulcinea

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So, I've made a lot of mistakes and I'm ready to learn from them. My huge barrier to saving money and paying off debt is my lack of decent income.

I have a lot of student loan debt, but I don't make a lot of money. I currently Nanny full time. I do love working with children, and was interested in pursuing a career in occupational therapy to become a pediatric occupational therapist. To do this however, I'd have to take about four or five more prerequisite classes in order to get into graduate school. This will be out of pocket for me. Then, I would have to attend graduate school, which will likely be a three-year doctorate program, as the two year masters programs are phasing out for occupational therapy. This would need to be done with student loans, or scholarships if I can get them. Occupational therapy is a growing field and I think the median income is currently listed at around 80k. If I had thought of this while in college, this would have been a great career option for me, but because I am now 28 and out of college and with a lot of student loans, should I do this? Or find another way to increase my income without taking on more debt?

I currently make $130 a week. I'm working on my taxes for last year, and I think I made about 10,000 k ( I'm waiting on one more W2 form to know for sure) working odd jobs with kids and in call centers and retail. I knew it was a tough year, but looking at the numbers I realize why! I don't want to live another year like that.

ysette9

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2017, 09:39:16 PM »
What is your degree in? You are shockingly underpaid, even for a nanny. Taking on more student debt is a terrible idea. You need to go to the career center of your last school and figure out how to make more money with the education you already have.

bridget

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2017, 09:42:55 PM »
Wait, you make $3.25 an hour?? Good lord, if you aren't a convicted felon* you should be able to almost triple your wages almost immediately by taking literally any other job.

*and even then, there are federal programs to help you out!

Dulcinea

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2017, 10:01:56 PM »
No, I'm not a convicted felon, that's just the rate in my area. I live in Arkansas. Perhaps I should say babysitter instead of nanny. Babysitter sounds more low pay! My sister only pays hers a hundred a week. I was also thinking that I could watch multiple children at home. In Arkansas, you can watch up to five children without a childcare license (which is what my sister's sitter does). So, that would be 650 a week instead of 130. However, I don't have my own place so that's kind of a no-go. I thought about just going to a local daycare and getting a job for $10 an hour; however, the mom is really depending on me to watch her baby, as she is in school (which is ironic, I know). Also, I don't want to be working at a daycare forever.

My degree is in communication which is very general. Currently my resume is so full of low paying child care positions it's kind of hard to break into anything else.

But I will contact the career and advising department of my alma mater to pick their brains. Thanks.

bridget

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2017, 10:33:06 PM »
Sorry, that was a joke, I didn't mean you were a convicted felon; I meant that that is an extremely low salary that you really should be able to raise very soon. $100-130/a week, even if all a parent can afford, is not a livable wage for a full-time adult. If people need childcare at that level, they should find stay-at-home parents who wouldn't mind watching an extra kid. If you went back to school for more training, you would be leaving your employer in the lurch, right? Why not split it in the middle and get a job that is at least minimum wage, even if it's temporary, so you can get your bearings and not be in such a pinch? If you make a decision in desperation, you'll probably make the wrong one. There are a million options between "make $130 a week" and "get another degree." You need to get yourself on your feet enough that you can explore them.

Tuskalusa

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2017, 11:29:26 PM »
With a BA in communication, you should be able to get some kind of entry level marketing job, or some other kind of entry level professional business gig. This could really improve your current situation and longer term professional outlook.

Professions that help children are fulfilling, and good providers are invaluable to working parents. However, many childcare jobs pay terribly low. Also, you trained in a different field.  And I'm thinking you probably pursued communication because it was kind of interesting. Maybe try hunting down a business/professional gig and see where it takes you. If after a few years, you still want to pursue a different path, school will still be there. (And with your debt out of the way after a few years of better-paying gigs, you will have more options.)

I was at this crossroads after college too. I wound up going into marketing, and it was fun. The pay also enabled me to FIRE. Guess what?  Now I'm working with kids. So, that option will still be on the table for you too...even if it's not now.

Good luck!

potm

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2017, 11:43:02 PM »
If the mother needs you to watch her kid, can you see if she will let you watch other kids as well at her place?

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2017, 12:09:54 AM »
If the mother needs you to watch her kid, can you see if she will let you watch other kids as well at her place?

This is how nannies work here -- they get paid at least the price for two kids full time, usually more like 2.5 kids rate.

If the parent of a single kid can't afford that they find another family and do a Nanny share, with nanny's permission, and she takes care of 2 kids.   But we are not allowed to pay nannies below minimum wage.   

Babysitters can be paid lower than minimum, but it has to casual work only, for very limited number of hours per year.

Bee21

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2017, 01:49:57 AM »

Whaaaat?

You can't afford working for 130 a week. You need to get a living wage which pays your bills. This babysitting gig is more suitable for a teenager, not for somebody at your age. This is utterly ridiculous and you are wasting your life. Your ' employer' is taking advantage of you i think. Even mcdonalds would pay you more than that. You don't owe this family anything. You are responsible for yourself, so i think you should ramp up your jobsearch and get a job.any job. Even at a minimum wage you would be better off.

If there are no decent jobs in your area, move. If you want to work as a nanny, maybe get a live in nanny job, with a better pay. There are plenty of wealthy families willing to pay for quality childcare.

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2017, 05:41:33 AM »
Well, you haven't even addressed the student loans that you mentioned in the title, but I have two suggestions.
1. Go ahead and apply to the grad programs. There are a lot of grants and scholarships out there. If you don't get enough to make it cheap or free, don't go.
2. Get out of Arkansas. Seriously, your wage is unacceptable.

Dulcinea

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2017, 06:10:49 AM »
Well, you haven't even addressed the student loans that you mentioned in the title, but I have two suggestions.
1. Go ahead and apply to the grad programs. There are a lot of grants and scholarships out there. If you don't get enough to make it cheap or free, don't go.
2. Get out of Arkansas. Seriously, your wage is unacceptable.

Yeah, the student loans can paralyze me if I think about them too much. I'm on income based repayment so I pay nothing right now but believe me, I know they're still there.

 I've tried to convince family members for years to move with me, but no one wants to and it's hard to do alone (I've tried and failed and ended back home with Mom 😫). I think we'd ALL do better in a different location, even in some of the bigger cities in the South.

That's another reason I was thinking grad school. With a more specialized and in demand degree I could go a lot of places and find a job. But I hear what everyone is saying.

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2017, 06:15:21 AM »
Look for a live-in nanny job in a HCOL area.  Here are two jobs advertised now that will pay you $400 a week, rent and food provided -

https://www.care.com/job/9383669-live-in-mothers-helper-for-a-home-schooling-family (this one pays your air fare too)
https://www.care.com/job/9360802-live-in-nanny

You could be clearing $1500 a month, doing jobs you are already experienced in.  That's $18k a year.  It took me all of two minutes to find them: there will be much better options than those out there for you.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2017, 06:25:40 AM »
I thought about just going to a local daycare and getting a job for $10 an hour; however, the mom is really depending on me to watch her baby, as she is in school (which is ironic, I know).

Because you're doing it for way below what she should be paying!

Seriously, it's a job. You don't owe her anything. If she can find someone to replace you at that price, then good for her, but I don't think I'd be comfortable leaving my kid with someone at that price.

former player

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2017, 06:33:31 AM »
I thought about just going to a local daycare and getting a job for $10 an hour; however, the mom is really depending on me to watch her baby, as she is in school (which is ironic, I know).

Because you're doing it for way below what she should be paying!

Seriously, it's a job. You don't owe her anything. If she can find someone to replace you at that price, then good for her, but I don't think I'd be comfortable leaving my kid with someone at that price.
BIB: hang on a minute: if you could get conscientious care so cheaply wouldn't you jump at it?  OP is seriously underselling herself on the money, but that's no reason to criticise the quality of her care.

OP: if you want to get out of where you are at the moment, get yourself a live-in nanny job that pays a lot more: as a college graduate with nannying experience you should be able to get more than $10 an hour plus all your living costs in a HCOL area.  If you are going to stay where you are, you need to get seriously entrepreneurial, either as a nanny or in something else - use the skills you learnt doing your BA in Communications and start hustling.  Get yourself out of your old debt before piling on more.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2017, 06:38:36 AM »
I thought about just going to a local daycare and getting a job for $10 an hour; however, the mom is really depending on me to watch her baby, as she is in school (which is ironic, I know).

Because you're doing it for way below what she should be paying!

Seriously, it's a job. You don't owe her anything. If she can find someone to replace you at that price, then good for her, but I don't think I'd be comfortable leaving my kid with someone at that price.
BIB: hang on a minute: if you could get conscientious care so cheaply wouldn't you jump at it?  OP is seriously underselling herself on the money, but that's no reason to criticise the quality of her care.

OP: if you want to get out of where you are at the moment, get yourself a live-in nanny job that pays a lot more: as a college graduate with nannying experience you should be able to get more than $10 an hour plus all your living costs in a HCOL area.  If you are going to stay where you are, you need to get seriously entrepreneurial, either as a nanny or in something else - use the skills you learnt doing your BA in Communications and start hustling.  Get yourself out of your old debt before piling on more.

It wasn't a dig at OP. Lack of money can do weird things to people, and I wouldn't want the person taking care of my kid to be in this kind of situation, regardless of how conscientious I know them to be.

Dulcinea

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2017, 07:36:54 AM »
I thought about just going to a local daycare and getting a job for $10 an hour; however, the mom is really depending on me to watch her baby, as she is in school (which is ironic, I know).

Because you're doing it for way below what she should be paying!

Seriously, it's a job. You don't owe her anything. If she can find someone to replace you at that price, then good for her, but I don't think I'd be comfortable leaving my kid with someone at that price.
BIB: hang on a minute: if you could get conscientious care so cheaply wouldn't you jump at it?  OP is seriously underselling herself on the money, but that's no reason to criticise the quality of her care.

OP: if you want to get out of where you are at the moment, get yourself a live-in nanny job that pays a lot more: as a college graduate with nannying experience you should be able to get more than $10 an hour plus all your living costs in a HCOL area.  If you are going to stay where you are, you need to get seriously entrepreneurial, either as a nanny or in something else - use the skills you learnt doing your BA in Communications and start hustling.  Get yourself out of your old debt before piling on more.

It wasn't a dig at OP. Lack of money can do weird things to people, and I wouldn't want the person taking care of my kid to be in this kind of situation, regardless of how conscientious I know them to be.

I guess you have to live here to understand, but this is what people pay for in home child care and it's what they pay for tuition at child care centers, as well. The child is with me simply because Mom and Dad don't want the child around other kids for whatever reason. When I told someone who's been doing this for years what this family was paying me, they were impressed (because they're used to getting less). Crazy, I know. So people either watch multiple kids, or move on to something else. I'm their 2nd child care provider and the kid is only 5 months. The last one found another job.

So, I'm planning on moving on when the mom's semester is over in May. But, I'm currently actively looking for something else, as well, and won't pass up a good opportunity. Thanks for your input.

spookytaffy

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2017, 07:48:32 AM »
Have you looked at training to be a COTA (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant)?  Pay is less than a full OT, but the COTAs I know do the actual therapy while most of the OTs do evaluations and reports with a small amount of therapy.  I would think training for a COTA would be cheaper than a full OT.

Laura33

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2017, 08:06:25 AM »
I thought about just going to a local daycare and getting a job for $10 an hour; however, the mom is really depending on me to watch her baby, as she is in school (which is ironic, I know).

Because you're doing it for way below what she should be paying!

Seriously, it's a job. You don't owe her anything. If she can find someone to replace you at that price, then good for her, but I don't think I'd be comfortable leaving my kid with someone at that price.
BIB: hang on a minute: if you could get conscientious care so cheaply wouldn't you jump at it?  OP is seriously underselling herself on the money, but that's no reason to criticise the quality of her care.

OP: if you want to get out of where you are at the moment, get yourself a live-in nanny job that pays a lot more: as a college graduate with nannying experience you should be able to get more than $10 an hour plus all your living costs in a HCOL area.  If you are going to stay where you are, you need to get seriously entrepreneurial, either as a nanny or in something else - use the skills you learnt doing your BA in Communications and start hustling.  Get yourself out of your old debt before piling on more.

It wasn't a dig at OP. Lack of money can do weird things to people, and I wouldn't want the person taking care of my kid to be in this kind of situation, regardless of how conscientious I know them to be.

I guess you have to live here to understand, but this is what people pay for in home child care and it's what they pay for tuition at child care centers, as well. The child is with me simply because Mom and Dad don't want the child around other kids for whatever reason. When I told someone who's been doing this for years what this family was paying me, they were impressed (because they're used to getting less). Crazy, I know. So people either watch multiple kids, or move on to something else. I'm their 2nd child care provider and the kid is only 5 months. The last one found another job.

So, I'm planning on moving on when the mom's semester is over in May. But, I'm currently actively looking for something else, as well, and won't pass up a good opportunity. Thanks for your input.

Good for you for deciding to move on.  But it might help if you reframe this in your head.  The mom is not "depending" on you for critical unavailable childcare; you've just said that she'd pay the same rate to send her child to a daycare center.  The mom prefers to use you instead of other available childcare options because it suits her personal preference to keep her baby away from other kids.  And you are choosing to subsidize her preference (and prioritize her future over your own) to the tune of @$6.50/hr (the difference between what you'd make at a daycare and what you are making as a private babysitter). 

I am not a huge fan of the live-in nanny option, because I think the larger salaries tend to come with being "on duty" all the time, which will make it hard to find time to do what you need to move beyond being a nanny at some point.  OTOH, if you take a job in a regular daycare for $10/hr, that will triple your income and still give you evenings/weekends off -- can you do night school or online courses for those prerequisites?   Or go to work in a call center, if there is one available -- my BIL has built a career in that area; there tends to be a lot of turnover, which creates opportunities for people who are reliable and do their jobs. 

Tl;dr:  First, get yourself financially stable -- you can't live on $130/wk.  But try to do so with a job with predictable hours so you have nights/weekends to focus on the long-term education/career you really want.

Dulcinea

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2017, 08:14:06 AM »
I thought about just going to a local daycare and getting a job for $10 an hour; however, the mom is really depending on me to watch her baby, as she is in school (which is ironic, I know).

Because you're doing it for way below what she should be paying!

Seriously, it's a job. You don't owe her anything. If she can find someone to replace you at that price, then good for her, but I don't think I'd be comfortable leaving my kid with someone at that price.
BIB: hang on a minute: if you could get conscientious care so cheaply wouldn't you jump at it?  OP is seriously underselling herself on the money, but that's no reason to criticise the quality of her care.

OP: if you want to get out of where you are at the moment, get yourself a live-in nanny job that pays a lot more: as a college graduate with nannying experience you should be able to get more than $10 an hour plus all your living costs in a HCOL area.  If you are going to stay where you are, you need to get seriously entrepreneurial, either as a nanny or in something else - use the skills you learnt doing your BA in Communications and start hustling.  Get yourself out of your old debt before piling on more.

Thank you for your advice. I'm leaning towards becoming entrepreneurial, because I really don't want to Nanny for too long.

Dulcinea

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2017, 08:16:03 AM »
Have you looked at training to be a COTA (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant)?  Pay is less than a full OT, but the COTAs I know do the actual therapy while most of the OTs do evaluations and reports with a small amount of therapy.  I would think training for a COTA would be cheaper than a full OT.


Yes, I have! There's a program about an hour from me. It's a 2 year associate's degree, but I could possibly finish a semester early because I already have some of the gen eds through my BA. The starting pay here is around $25/hr on the low end.  I wish employers would do more on the job training, but you need schooling for so much. There are also some online bridge programs where you can become an OT while working as an COTA. But again, all of this schooling would require more loans .

Something else I've just learned about yesterday is an ABA line therapist. These are behavioral aides which go in-home to  provide therapy for children with autism. My apprehension is that I've never worked with kids with autism, but I see that there is on the job training, you get a certificate as a behavior technician once completed, and starting pay is $15/hr.

So, I could do this and become a COTA or OT later after I've recovered some financially?

NoStacheOhio

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2017, 08:20:11 AM »
Yes, I have! There's a program about an hour from me. It's a 2 year associate's degree, but I could possibly finish a semester early because I already have some of the gen eds through my BA. The starting pay here is around $25/hr on the low end.  I wish employers would do more on the job training, but you need schooling for so much. There are also some online bridge programs where you can become an OT while working as an COTA. But again, all of this schooling would require more loans .

Something else I've just learned about yesterday is an ABA line therapist. These are behavioral aides which go in-home to  provide therapy for children with autism. My apprehension is that I've never worked with kids with autism, but I see that there is on the job training, you get a certificate as a behavior technician once completed, and starting pay is $15/hr.

So, I could do this and become a COTA or OT later after I've recovered some financially?

Are you near any larger hospitals/health systems? The hospital where I work pays tuition (up to a limit) for further education in your field. So they would cover most or all of the cost of going from COTA to OT, STNA to RN, RN to CNP, etc. Even if you just move to a larger city within a 4-6 hour radius of where you are now, you'll probably end up in better shape without being insanely far from family.

Dulcinea

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2017, 08:30:58 AM »
I thought about just going to a local daycare and getting a job for $10 an hour; however, the mom is really depending on me to watch her baby, as she is in school (which is ironic, I know).

Because you're doing it for way below what she should be paying!

Seriously, it's a job. You don't owe her anything. If she can find someone to replace you at that price, then good for her, but I don't think I'd be comfortable leaving my kid with someone at that price.
BIB: hang on a minute: if you could get conscientious care so cheaply wouldn't you jump at it?  OP is seriously underselling herself on the money, but that's no reason to criticise the quality of her care.

OP: if you want to get out of where you are at the moment, get yourself a live-in nanny job that pays a lot more: as a college graduate with nannying experience you should be able to get more than $10 an hour plus all your living costs in a HCOL area.  If you are going to stay where you are, you need to get seriously entrepreneurial, either as a nanny or in something else - use the skills you learnt doing your BA in Communications and start hustling.  Get yourself out of your old debt before piling on more.

It wasn't a dig at OP. Lack of money can do weird things to people, and I wouldn't want the person taking care of my kid to be in this kind of situation, regardless of how conscientious I know them to be.

I guess you have to live here to understand, but this is what people pay for in home child care and it's what they pay for tuition at child care centers, as well. The child is with me simply because Mom and Dad don't want the child around other kids for whatever reason. When I told someone who's been doing this for years what this family was paying me, they were impressed (because they're used to getting less). Crazy, I know. So people either watch multiple kids, or move on to something else. I'm their 2nd child care provider and the kid is only 5 months. The last one found another job.

So, I'm planning on moving on when the mom's semester is over in May. But, I'm currently actively looking for something else, as well, and won't pass up a good opportunity. Thanks for your input.

Good for you for deciding to move on.  But it might help if you reframe this in your head.  The mom is not "depending" on you for critical unavailable childcare; you've just said that she'd pay the same rate to send her child to a daycare center.  The mom prefers to use you instead of other available childcare options because it suits her personal preference to keep her baby away from other kids.  And you are choosing to subsidize her preference (and prioritize her future over your own) to the tune of @$6.50/hr (the difference between what you'd make at a daycare and what you are making as a private babysitter). 

I am not a huge fan of the live-in nanny option, because I think the larger salaries tend to come with being "on duty" all the time, which will make it hard to find time to do what you need to move beyond being a nanny at some point.  OTOH, if you take a job in a regular daycare for $10/hr, that will triple your income and still give you evenings/weekends off -- can you do night school or online courses for those prerequisites?   Or go to work in a call center, if there is one available -- my BIL has built a career in that area; there tends to be a lot of turnover, which creates opportunities for people who are reliable and do their jobs. 

Tl;dr:  First, get yourself financially stable -- you can't live on $130/wk.  But try to do so with a job with predictable hours so you have nights/weekends to focus on the long-term education/career you really want.

Yes, you are right. I realize I need to do a lot of mental reframing to get out of this mess I've gotten myself into. There are some nice daycare centers a few hours north of me in a HCOL area (at least by Arkansas standards).  I will apply to these places, as well as the ABA line therapist positions in the same area. Do you think I should wait until May, or go as soon as I have an offer? I can't help but think of the Mom.
There I go again!  And yes, I do plan on doing prerequisites online for further schooling.

I'm a red panda

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2017, 08:37:46 AM »
How is it LEGAL to pay a full time employee $3.25/hour?
I'm guessing your employer is also not withholding taxes correctly for you.

You are getting screwed.  Fixing that is the #1 thing here. 


I guess you have to live here to understand, but this is what people pay for in home child care and it's what they pay for tuition at child care centers, as well. The child is with me simply because Mom and Dad don't want the child around other kids for whatever reason.

But you are not providing either of these services. You are providing PRIVATE childcare.  If you were an in-home daycare or a center, the rate would be reasonable because there are multiple children.  You should be making at least minimum wage. There are laws about these things. You are a full-time employee, not a babysitter.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2017, 09:19:33 AM by iowajes »

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #23 on: February 06, 2017, 08:43:37 AM »
How is it LEGAL to pay a full time employee $3.25/hour?
I'm guessing your employer is also not withholding taxes correctly for you.

You are getting screwed.  Fixing that is the #1 thing here.

No doubt not paying FICA or withholding either. 

This person has options.  Time for you to move on.

notactiveanymore

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #24 on: February 06, 2017, 08:45:49 AM »
You are stuck right now. So you have to change something if you want to get un-stuck. The job is the easiest thing to change.

I think applying to make $10/hr in daycare is a decent starting option. I'd also look for office jobs as a receptionist or administrative assistant. You can also look at entry-level insurance jobs or entry-level medical administration jobs. I have a friend with a communications degree that worked for $10/hr at a medical temp agency (at the agency, not as a temp), then she got a job at the university hospital for about $13-15/hr doing insurance stuff at the hospital. She worked hard and leaned in and now two years later she makes over $45k getting insurance approvals for orthopedic surgeries as well as tracking patient outcomes.

Even if you decide the practical side of medicine or healthcare is where you really want to go, you need to be able to save up some money and get more stable before that happens. I'd also try and explore more options in addition to occupational therapy. Three more years of graduate school would probably add a lot to your debt. In addition to nursing or radiology tech, you might also want to look into speech language pathology. With your bachelor's in communications, you might already have all the pre-reqs you need and you'd be taking your current education and extending it into the healthcare field which you feel drawn towards. Your experience with children could also be seen as a real asset as many (most?) speech pathology positions involve working with children.

I don't know where you are in AR, but here are a couple options for MS in speech path in AR and southern MO:


Finally, if I were in your position, I would probably be thinking about where I could work that would qualify for public student loan forgiveness. If you became a speech pathologist for a school district and stayed there for 10 years, all federal student loan debt would be forgiven with no tax liability. Private student loans would still be there and this is of course subject to change if the laws change.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #25 on: February 06, 2017, 08:55:36 AM »
If Arkansas is so cheap, and you seem to live with your mom, how did you manage to rack up $100k in student loans in four years?

It sounds like a local college in Arkansas would be like $2000 a semester in tuition.  Plus another $500 in books?

edit:  I only ask because you were thinking of going for more schooling and curious why the high costs so far.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2017, 08:57:31 AM by Roland of Gilead »

skeptic

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #26 on: February 06, 2017, 09:17:46 AM »
Dulcinea,

This sounds like a very frustrating situation to be in.

I agree with others that you are being grossly underpaid.

It seems that one of the main challenges is that you are located in an area that has abyssmally low wages for your skillset, but that you find it difficult to leave. (And, as you say, you tried that and it didn't work... and it seems you aren't excited about trying it again.)

The logical thing, as some have mentioned, is to move somewhere that your skillset will be more highly valued. In my area, a nanny watching two kids (often from separate families, in a nanny share) makes $40,000/year or more, and in many cases has paid sick leave and 2-3 weeks' paid vacation.

There are some skills and mindsets that can ease the transition away from your family and hometown. I would recommend you explore learning them. Do you have friends or acquaintances who have moved away who you could contact? Would it be helpful to not go _too_ far away... perhaps St. Louis, Dallas/Ft. Worth, etc.? I bet there are message boards/internet communities dealing with this.

And, if you like, you might elaborate right here on what is preventing you from moving, and what caused you to return in the past (ran out of money?).

I know one barrier to moving is not having much/any cash on hand, but this is surmountable, in particular if you can get a job offer before moving, although that's not required.

Logistically, I know what plenty have done is crash with a friend/acquaintance for a week or month while they find work.

Ok -- I've been avoiding your actual question of whether to go back to school. It's completely reasonable... but I think you're more likely to be successful and happy with it if you first find a way to sustain yourself, and approach it from a position of strength. Right now, in your current terrible situation, it is possible that ANYTHING that looks like an escape hatch will appear extra enticing. But you have lots and lots of options in reality, and some of them don't have additional major debt attached to them. I think your time and energy will be best spent trying to significantly increase your income and stop being taken advantage of. If you can do that in your current location, great, but if not, I think you should focus on how financially and psychologically prepare to relocate ASAP.

Dulcinea

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #27 on: February 06, 2017, 09:36:22 AM »
If Arkansas is so cheap, and you seem to live with your mom, how did you manage to rack up $100k in student loans in four years?

It sounds like a local college in Arkansas would be like $2000 a semester in tuition.  Plus another $500 in books?

edit:  I only ask because you were thinking of going for more schooling and curious why the high costs so far.

I went to college at a private school in California. I wanted to live in a different part of the country. Like I said in my OP, I've made a lot of mistakes that I'm learning from and want to correct.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2017, 09:43:37 AM by Dulcinea »

Dulcinea

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #28 on: February 06, 2017, 09:39:02 AM »
You are stuck right now. So you have to change something if you want to get un-stuck. The job is the easiest thing to change.

I think applying to make $10/hr in daycare is a decent starting option. I'd also look for office jobs as a receptionist or administrative assistant. You can also look at entry-level insurance jobs or entry-level medical administration jobs. I have a friend with a communications degree that worked for $10/hr at a medical temp agency (at the agency, not as a temp), then she got a job at the university hospital for about $13-15/hr doing insurance stuff at the hospital. She worked hard and leaned in and now two years later she makes over $45k getting insurance approvals for orthopedic surgeries as well as tracking patient outcomes.

Even if you decide the practical side of medicine or healthcare is where you really want to go, you need to be able to save up some money and get more stable before that happens. I'd also try and explore more options in addition to occupational therapy. Three more years of graduate school would probably add a lot to your debt. In addition to nursing or radiology tech, you might also want to look into speech language pathology. With your bachelor's in communications, you might already have all the pre-reqs you need and you'd be taking your current education and extending it into the healthcare field which you feel drawn towards. Your experience with children could also be seen as a real asset as many (most?) speech pathology positions involve working with children.

I don't know where you are in AR, but here are a couple options for MS in speech path in AR and southern MO:


Finally, if I were in your position, I would probably be thinking about where I could work that would qualify for public student loan forgiveness. If you became a speech pathologist for a school district and stayed there for 10 years, all federal student loan debt would be forgiven with no tax liability. Private student loans would still be there and this is of course subject to change if the laws change.

Thank you for your advice. I will look in to all of this.

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #29 on: February 06, 2017, 09:54:58 AM »
I agree that your employer is not paying you fairly, even if that is the "going rate".  I would not feel obliged to stick around until May.  What if one of the parents gets a job offer out of state and up and moves in March?  Do you think they are going to feel obliged to give you two months pay because you were "counting on" them?

As someone with a kid who has been cared for both by a nanny and by staff at a daycare center, I think you would do better looking for a legit daycare center to work at.  At our daycare center the staff get a guaranteed of 2 breaks and lunchtime away from the kids, as a nanny you are at the mercy of the kid's nap schedule.

Dulcinea

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #30 on: February 06, 2017, 10:03:08 AM »
Dulcinea,

This sounds like a very frustrating situation to be in.

I agree with others that you are being grossly underpaid.

It seems that one of the main challenges is that you are located in an area that has abyssmally low wages for your skillset, but that you find it difficult to leave. (And, as you say, you tried that and it didn't work... and it seems you aren't excited about trying it again.)

The logical thing, as some have mentioned, is to move somewhere that your skillset will be more highly valued. In my area, a nanny watching two kids (often from separate families, in a nanny share) makes $40,000/year or more, and in many cases has paid sick leave and 2-3 weeks' paid vacation.

There are some skills and mindsets that can ease the transition away from your family and hometown. I would recommend you explore learning them. Do you have friends or acquaintances who have moved away who you could contact? Would it be helpful to not go _too_ far away... perhaps St. Louis, Dallas/Ft. Worth, etc.? I bet there are message boards/internet communities dealing with this.

And, if you like, you might elaborate right here on what is preventing you from moving, and what caused you to return in the past (ran out of money?).

I know one barrier to moving is not having much/any cash on hand, but this is surmountable, in particular if you can get a job offer before moving, although that's not required.

Logistically, I know what plenty have done is crash with a friend/acquaintance for a week or month while they find work.

Ok -- I've been avoiding your actual question of whether to go back to school. It's completely reasonable... but I think you're more likely to be successful and happy with it if you first find a way to sustain yourself, and approach it from a position of strength. Right now, in your current terrible situation, it is possible that ANYTHING that looks like an escape hatch will appear extra enticing. But you have lots and lots of options in reality, and some of them don't have additional major debt attached to them. I think your time and energy will be best spent trying to significantly increase your income and stop being taken advantage of. If you can do that in your current location, great, but if not, I think you should focus on how financially and psychologically prepare to relocate ASAP.

On what's preventing me from moving right now: a car and money. I'll probably be able to get a cheap cash car once I get my tax refund. And I probably could find a cheap room to rent for a couple of months in a new city then, as well. But I don't want to move without a clear plan in terms of employment. Reasons I've failed I'm the past is I always seem to run out of cash. And job satisfaction has been hard to find. I hate the call centers (it doesn't fit my personality) and some daycares have such poor management, I just can't do it. But I know that may depend on location, as well. I need to do more research on my relocation options.  Oh, and don't fret Mustachians! I do enjoy bike riding, I just need a car to physically take me and my belongings to a new city. I will want to live close to where I work, anyway. But I guess, I could also take the Greyhound...

Another Reader

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #31 on: February 06, 2017, 10:11:35 AM »
Now you are making excuses.  Rent a car to move.  Or, couch surf and leave your stuff at home until you have a job.  Do whatever is necessary to keep you from failing.

PJ

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #32 on: February 06, 2017, 10:13:14 AM »
Have you looked at training to be a COTA (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant)?  Pay is less than a full OT, but the COTAs I know do the actual therapy while most of the OTs do evaluations and reports with a small amount of therapy.  I would think training for a COTA would be cheaper than a full OT.


Yes, I have! There's a program about an hour from me. It's a 2 year associate's degree, but I could possibly finish a semester early because I already have some of the gen eds through my BA. The starting pay here is around $25/hr on the low end.  I wish employers would do more on the job training, but you need schooling for so much. There are also some online bridge programs where you can become an OT while working as an COTA. But again, all of this schooling would require more loans .

Something else I've just learned about yesterday is an ABA line therapist. These are behavioral aides which go in-home to  provide therapy for children with autism. My apprehension is that I've never worked with kids with autism, but I see that there is on the job training, you get a certificate as a behavior technician once completed, and starting pay is $15/hr.

So, I could do this and become a COTA or OT later after I've recovered some financially?

Hi Dulcinea, welcome to the forums.

I used to work in the disability field, and our agency was one of the original agencies in this area doing ABA/IBI.  I didn't work in that "department" but got to see quite a bit of what it was like. 

It's not an easy job, for sure, depending on the child and the family you're assigned to.  But often the aides became like part of the family, and it can be very rewarding.  Sometimes ABA/IBI is done in a centre rather than in the home, and when so, because of the intensity of the work, and the communal care for the children, I saw great team dynamics.  People tend to be very committed, and having passion in your work is not to be underrated! 

Another thing about this option is how much you will learn, that would stand you in good stead if you do pursue becoming an OT later.  Though you may instead find yourself drawn to becoming a Speech Path, Physiotherapist or a Behavioural Therapist.  You may get to see some of those professionals assessing and working with the children, or at least, you should get to read their reports.  But you'll learn all about developmental milestones, how to assess and break down a behaviour/skill into small chunks, how to motivate behavioural change, you'll learn about different skills inventories and about how to write reports, and so much more.  I was a "service co-ordinator" - basically a case manager for the kids on my caseload, and got to work with SLP's, OT's, PT's, Developmental Paediatricians, Psychologists.  I learned so much, just from reading their reports and hearing them advise and coach the parents! 

I really like an option like this for you, because it doesn't involve more student loans.  Being an OT or something similar is a good job, and you'd make decent money, but it's not going to make you rich overnight.  You already have $100,000 in student loans - don't add to that.  In fact, even if you do eventually decide to go back to school, please try to get out of the mindset that more school even has to have more student loans.  You can save up before entering a program, you can go part-time (for some programs) and work alongside, you can live on a shoestring for a year or two.  But at this point, it definitely makes sense to try out the field before you go back to school, because you don't want to add to your loans and end up (again) with a degree in a field you're not going to work in.

I'm a red panda

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #33 on: February 06, 2017, 10:14:49 AM »
At this point, I don't think you can consider "job satisfaction". You need a paycheck.
Get out of the hole and then look for job satisfaction.

bridget

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #34 on: February 06, 2017, 10:20:13 AM »
Your current job is making it impossible to stockpile any cash at all. That's why so many of us are telling you to get a different job - literally ANY different job, as even minimum wage at McDonalds or as a grocery store clerk would be a huge jump in income - so that you can get yourself into a position where you can take advantage of the options you have. Going from literal poverty to covering moving costs is really really difficult; it's one of the reasons why people get stuck in poverty cycles that only a relatively small amount of money could get them out of. But you do not have to be stuck. You need a transition job that puts cash in your pocket. It does not have to be your career or your dream job, it just needs to be enough money to get you by until you can put a game plan together.

I'm a red panda

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #35 on: February 06, 2017, 10:57:13 AM »
I think both McDonalds and Starbucks have decent college programs too - so that could be a way to get some tuition funds.
(And in most cases, neither actually pay minimum wage...)

historienne

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #36 on: February 06, 2017, 11:12:33 AM »
Agree with all of the people saying that you are being horribly exploited by your current employer.  The comparable pay rate for a nanny is not the price of daycare.  You say that they leave their kid with you because they don't want them around other kids.  That's a valid choice, but it's also a luxury that they should expect to pay for.  In my area, a nanny is 2-3x the cost of daycare.  I write this as a parent (who sends my kids to daycare).

Also, just to underline this: they are breaking the law by not paying you minimum wage.  They are breaking it twice over if they are not reporting your income and paying appropriate taxes on it. 

You should leave this "job" the second that you have a better alternative lined up.  In your shoes, I'd also be calling my state's department of labor to investigate getting back pay for the time you have worked for less than minimum wage.

Finally, with those student loans, I would absolutely look into getting a job at a non-profit.  There are non-profit daycares and therapy centers that might fit your skills.  The loan forgiveness benefits might be almost as valuable as the actual paycheck to you.

Dulcinea

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #37 on: February 06, 2017, 11:12:58 AM »
Have you looked at training to be a COTA (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant)?  Pay is less than a full OT, but the COTAs I know do the actual therapy while most of the OTs do evaluations and reports with a small amount of therapy.  I would think training for a COTA would be cheaper than a full OT.


Yes, I have! There's a program about an hour from me. It's a 2 year associate's degree, but I could possibly finish a semester early because I already have some of the gen eds through my BA. The starting pay here is around $25/hr on the low end.  I wish employers would do more on the job training, but you need schooling for so much. There are also some online bridge programs where you can become an OT while working as an COTA. But again, all of this schooling would require more loans .

Something else I've just learned about yesterday is an ABA line therapist. These are behavioral aides which go in-home to  provide therapy for children with autism. My apprehension is that I've never worked with kids with autism, but I see that there is on the job training, you get a certificate as a behavior technician once completed, and starting pay is $15/hr.

So, I could do this and become a COTA or OT later after I've recovered some financially?

Hi Dulcinea, welcome to the forums.

I used to work in the disability field, and our agency was one of the original agencies in this area doing ABA/IBI.  I didn't work in that "department" but got to see quite a bit of what it was like. 

It's not an easy job, for sure, depending on the child and the family you're assigned to.  But often the aides became like part of the family, and it can be very rewarding.  Sometimes ABA/IBI is done in a centre rather than in the home, and when so, because of the intensity of the work, and the communal care for the children, I saw great team dynamics.  People tend to be very committed, and having passion in your work is not to be underrated! 

Another thing about this option is how much you will learn, that would stand you in good stead if you do pursue becoming an OT later.  Though you may instead find yourself drawn to becoming a Speech Path, Physiotherapist or a Behavioural Therapist.  You may get to see some of those professionals assessing and working with the children, or at least, you should get to read their reports.  But you'll learn all about developmental milestones, how to assess and break down a behaviour/skill into small chunks, how to motivate behavioural change, you'll learn about different skills inventories and about how to write reports, and so much more.  I was a "service co-ordinator" - basically a case manager for the kids on my caseload, and got to work with SLP's, OT's, PT's, Developmental Paediatricians, Psychologists.  I learned so much, just from reading their reports and hearing them advise and coach the parents! 

I really like an option like this for you, because it doesn't involve more student loans.  Being an OT or something similar is a good job, and you'd make decent money, but it's not going to make you rich overnight.  You already have $100,000 in student loans - don't add to that.  In fact, even if you do eventually decide to go back to school, please try to get out of the mindset that more school even has to have more student loans.  You can save up before entering a program, you can go part-time (for some programs) and work alongside, you can live on a shoestring for a year or two.  But at this point, it definitely makes sense to try out the field before you go back to school, because you don't want to add to your loans and end up (again) with a degree in a field you're not going to work in.

Thank you for this information! I hadn't heard of the ABA field, but was excited when I stumbled upon it.

ysette9

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #38 on: February 06, 2017, 11:14:29 AM »
I agree with others that literally any job would be better than the one you have provided it pays minimum wage. I really like the idea of a live-in nanny position for the next year or two though. That would take care of your concerns about having enough money to have a place to live. I expect the family would want you to drive their car as well should you need to take the kids anywhere, so that might solve your transportation issue (that and getting a bike on Craigslist). Start posting ads on Care.com and Craigslist and anywhere else online that works for that sort of thing. Look at help wanted ads online in bigger cities that will have better going rates. You absolutely have all the tools in your hands now to make significantly more money than you are without the added burden of school loans.

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #39 on: February 06, 2017, 11:18:14 AM »
Now you are making excuses.  Rent a car to move.  Or, couch surf and leave your stuff at home until you have a job.  Do whatever is necessary to keep you from failing.

No, I'm not trying to make excuses. I did say I could take a Greyhound. I've taken it before and will do it again if need be. It's cheaper than renting a car!

Dulcinea

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #40 on: February 06, 2017, 11:37:09 AM »
Just to make it clear, I have been applying for minimum wage jobs to supplement my income. I haven't been able to find one yet, which is why I may need to move sooner rather than later to get the ball rolling.

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #41 on: February 06, 2017, 12:06:40 PM »
I totally agree with you there. Moving is scary, especially with no funds to take care of finding a place to live. That is why I recommended finding the live-in nanny position just for now to keep the risk of moving down. That will allow you to stockpile some cash to put you in a strong position for whatever you decide is the best longer-term move.

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #42 on: February 06, 2017, 12:59:27 PM »
Yes, you are right. I realize I need to do a lot of mental reframing to get out of this mess I've gotten myself into. There are some nice daycare centers a few hours north of me in a HCOL area (at least by Arkansas standards).  I will apply to these places, as well as the ABA line therapist positions in the same area. Do you think I should wait until May, or go as soon as I have an offer? I can't help but think of the Mom.
There I go again!  And yes, I do plan on doing prerequisites online for further schooling.

Hahaha -- nice. :-)

I guess the question is whether your immediate need for $ outweighs your guilt over leaving the mom mid-semester.  AFAIK, you are drowning -- you are not making anywhere near what you need to survive on -- but I don't know your whole situation.  Do you have family support?  And on the flip side of the equation, does the mom have another local center she could use? 

My knee-jerk is that you are drowning, and you need to get your own life preserver before you can help anyone else.  But YMMV based on all those other factors.

myrax

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #43 on: February 07, 2017, 02:24:43 PM »
If transportation is an issue, you might consider being an Au Pair in a European city. As you have years of experience and a Bachelor's degree, you should be able to find a job relatively easily. Though travel costs are not necessarily included, you can find jobs that reimburse travel costs, and it will definitely be an expected part of negotiations.

You could also consider teaching English in a foreign country. With a Bachelor's in Communications and years of experience working with children, you should be able to find a decent paying job in an Asian country. When I was fresh out of school I made $35-45K/year teaching English and lived rent free. Just like being an Au Pair, travel costs are an expected part of the negotiations and usually reimbursed after a certain period of working.

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #44 on: February 07, 2017, 02:46:53 PM »
OP, why don't you quit your job this instant and dedicate the extra time to getting a better job? The return is probably better.

Or you could literally take an online remote minimum wage job and make better wages instantly.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2017, 02:53:30 PM by Cwadda »

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #45 on: February 07, 2017, 03:36:08 PM »
Just to make it clear, I have been applying for minimum wage jobs to supplement my income. I haven't been able to find one yet, which is why I may need to move sooner rather than later to get the ball rolling.

What kind of availability are you giving them? Is this trying to work around the babysitting, or are you available at all times, anytime? 

You keep saying you are thinking about the Mom you are helping; but by refusing to pay you a legal wage, and not correctly paying you benefits/withholding your taxes- she is doing the OPPOSITE of helping you. She is royally screwing you over.

Cwadda

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #46 on: February 07, 2017, 03:38:23 PM »
Quote
You keep saying you are thinking about the Mom you are helping; but by refusing to pay you a legal wage, and not correctly paying you benefits/withholding your taxes- she is doing the OPPOSITE of helping you. She is royally screwing you over.

The more I read over this thread I start wondering if we've all been had.

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #47 on: February 07, 2017, 04:06:02 PM »
With a degree in communications, I second that you should be pursuing marketing jobs.  Marketing has exploded as of late, and if you're somewhat tech savvy (use tech, not build) you can have an extremely lucrative career in marketing.

Another route: Approach some local small businesses and offer to do a couple months marketing work for them for free. Use the references to launch a freelance marketing business.

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #48 on: February 07, 2017, 06:56:05 PM »
Have you thought about joining the military?  Several of my cousins did to escape their small towns.  Once they had three to four years in the military they had achieved the needed independence and found many employers wanted them.  Just a possibility.  At 28, you need to be earning money and leaning skills either through work or online, not taking on more education related debt.

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Re: 100k in student loans, living in poverty. Should I double down to get out?
« Reply #49 on: February 07, 2017, 07:17:25 PM »
Have you thought about joining the military?  Several of my cousins did to escape their small towns.  Once they had three to four years in the military they had achieved the needed independence and found many employers wanted them.  Just a possibility.  At 28, you need to be earning money and leaning skills either through work or online, not taking on more education related debt.

Yep, that's an option even at that age. I had a female co-worker who joined the Navy at about that age. She said that the other recruits in bootcamp jokingly called her mom (since obviously most were 18-19) but she didn't have any issues. She stayed in the Navy for 10 years, got a degree in that time that the military paid for, and then got a higher paying job that didn't force her to move around involuntarily when she got out.