Tag Archive: journalism

Death and student loans

Ok. They really need to stop putting “death” right there on the options of ways to “cancel or discharge your student loans.”

I mean, the least they could do would be to include some type of warning, like “please do not attempt to do yourself” or you know, SOMETHING.

But no, it’s just listed there. Right under, “School owes you a refund” and above, “public service employee loan forgiveness.”

I’m just saying, $51,000 is a desperate amount of debt at 26 years old, and people might take the “death” advice the wrong way.

Not me. But other people.

Me – I’ve just decided to live on whatever is cheaper than ramen noodles, thank you very much.

Here’s the thing, I haven’t um, well, I haven’t really been paying off my loans, mostly due to the fact that I enjoy eating. Daily.

Don’t get me wrong, I tried to work with these people, but they’d be all “we need $600 a month” and then I’d be all “I can’t afford that. How’s $50 sound?” and they’d be all “No. We need $600.” So I would pretend like I was all on board and that I could magically get the money.

But I couldn’t.

I’m a journalist. We don’t even make money. We just get free pens and stacks of post-its for our work.

So I wouldn’t pay them anything, and then well, that was kind of like two years ago.

My one friend who knows all this, has been telling me that I need to deal with it. And I knew he was right. I knew the loans were just sitting there like bad Mexican food in my stomach waiting to be vomited up.

But I didn’t know what to do.

Then, I grew up, and talked to my loan company. Which is actually my “whatever the name of the company that takes over for the loan company when your loans are in default” company. And by “grew up and talked to my loan company” I mean, they called me at work and I can’t be having that, so FINE I WILL TRY TO WORK WITH YOU.

I was all on board when the woman was explaining that all I had to do was make nine monthly payments on time and Viola! The loan would come out of default and it would be like it never even happened on my credit report.

But then she told me the payment amount.

“We just need $1,000 today and then a monthly payment of $728.”

My jaw disconnected from my skull and dropped right onto the tile floor.

“Umm, I just explained to you that I have $170 in my checking account.”

“Well that’s what we need.”

“That’s not going to happen.”

“Well, why don’t you just call us back on Tuesday and let me know if your finances have changed.”

Seeing as how my scratch ticket was total crap, and that I didn’t manage to marry a wealthy anything on Saturday – they didn’t.

Actually, I take that back. They did change. I spent about $80 on gas and food. Leaving me a solid $90 in the account.

I called back to tell them the news.

“Oh. Yes, well I do realize that $728 was a little high.”

You think?

“How about if I ask if you can do our affordable and reasonable plan?”

I like those words.

“That would be just $364 a month.”

Wait, what do affordable and reasonable mean to you?

“Fine.”

And then she’s all, “OK. Now I just need the first payment and we can get things rolling.”

So I start post-dating my debit transaction over the phone with this woman and whatnot and she’s all “OK, so we’ll charge $728 to your account on Monday then.”

And I’m all “Can’t breathe. Need air. Help.”

“Ya. That’s not going to happen. My take-home pay is about $890 every two weeks, and I have a car payment and a car insurance payment, and a medical bills payment, on this check.”

Five more minutes of her supposedly negotiating with her supervisor go by, and finally I’m told that, LUCKY ME, I can split the first payment in half over a month’s time.

Yay.

I guess.

So that’s my plan right now.

My, “life sucks, and I’ll never have any money ever, and holy cow $51,000 was a lot of money for a couple stupid diplomas that I could have made myself on Photoshop,” plan.

Pretending that – seeing as I how I have no savings at all – I can somehow, after making each of the first two payments, live on $145 for the first two weeks (do-able. ish.) and then, umm, $16 for the next two weeks (less doable), let’s break down how this payment plan will affect my monthly finances once I’m JUST paying the $368 – shall we?

I make $1,820.50 in take-home pay a month.

Subtract: Rent, car payment, car insurance, $17 for Jazzercise (it’s actually $37, but my company pays $20), $100 a month for medical bills and $10 a month for a prescription I take and you’re left with:

$926.50.

Then take away $368 a month for this loan payment.

$558.50.

Then take away $50, fine, $40 a week for gas.

We’re down to: $398.50

Divide that by four, and I’m left with $99.62 a week for food, and um, everything else. Clothes, car repairs, random medical things, tithing, spending money on church activities, buying toilet paper.

Everything.

Maybe I should be embarrassed that I apparently can’t get my crap together enough to either a. somehow get enough money for pay for this or b. live on $99.62 a week. And, maybe I shouldn’t go around broadcasting this for all the Internet world to read.

But it’s there. It’s sitting on my brain all the time as I drive around, or look at Facebook, or pee.

It’s there like a big shining spotlight that reaches every section of my life.

So now it’s here too. Feel free to judge away if it makes you feel better.

As for me, I’m looking into my options, praying every three seconds and hoping the money fairy would just get here already.

Here’s to ramen noodles. And college.

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And then, on 9/12 everything was different

yesterday i got to do the kind of thing that reminds my why I keep sticking out this whole journalism thing.

A 9/11 survivor who started the day on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center that morning spoke at a local hospital for the 8th anniversary. Not only did I cover the speech, I also got to do a video interview with him before hand.

I had never met someone like that before and his story was very moving.

Go read my story here.

http://www.nwherald.com/articles/2009/09/11/r_8ptsejqmt9cznnaxenxqfg/index.xml

Go watch the video here.

http://ssm.nwherald.com/northwest-herald/video/20090911survivor/9-11-survivor/

As he says, “Always remember. Never forget.”

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hmm. should i write about this?

don’t think i didn’t see it coming. i mean for real, I saw it coming from like six months out. but holy man. when it actually happens. when you actually get a pay cut.

wow.

it hurts.

im not even sure how appropriate it is to be broadcasting this online, but seeing as some of my fellow reporters were nice enough to include the info on their facebook statuses, i figured – what the heck? everyone knows. the jig is up. newspapers are dying.

there. i said it. i am in a dying industry.

and i have spent the last umpteen years working my little behind off to be the very best i can be at this job. and for what? so they can cut my hours and eliminate their contribution to my 401k?

don’t worry. i’ll still be my dandy, chipper, hardworking self at work. i’ll still do my best in the time allotted to me. because im not the type to ever to stop giving it my all.

but in my soul of souls. in my heart of hearts. i know now. i get it.

i can’t stay in this field much longer.

i just can’t.

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