Friday, June 01, 2007

Who rules? ME!

Why am I so triumphant? I am now, officially, out of credit card debt! Oh, I still have a touch of parental debt and a load of student loan debt, but credit card debt? No, sir!

You see, as a teacher you get paid more with a master's degree. A long while back I applied for the salary differential, and this paycheck the retroactive pay came in. Hooray! Together with my regular pay and the money already in my checking, I had enough to pay off my credit card, pay my rent and have enough left to make it to my next paycheck...with which I will only have to pay for my cell phone and my student loan.

I know I need to set aside enough money for 1-renting a car to take my stuff to Virginia, 2- a hotel room when we get there (Mom volunteered to help), 3- the storage facility for my stuff, 4- first month's rent, last month's rent and deposit on a new apartment, 5-plane tickets to Iowa, and perhaps 6- plane tickets to scout out Virginia sometime this month (in which case that's technically #1 and the other purchases move one number higher). Six is iffy because I could take a shuttle bus to Virginia ($60 round trip), but this is kind of a stressfull time, so I'd have to weigh the money savings of the bus vs. the saved time and hassle reduction of a plane.

Wait, what was my point? Oh, yeah. I have to watch my pennies or I'll quickly have credit card debt again. (Ah, but it would be new, exciting credit card debt!) I want to pay my parents back, but I feel like if I do that now, I'll just end up having to take another loan. Grad school won't be cheap, and I haven't figured out the college loan situation yet. My education for the next three years will basically be free if ODU follows through on its promises, but that still leaves things like food, rent, and transportation. I want to get a part-time job, too, but how much will that offset the cost of living? On the other hand, why should my parents suffer just because I've made an expensive life choice?

Why should I, at 27, depend on them financially? My parents don't begrudge me the money. They're even helping me get a car (possibly at auction) because they're pretty much required in Virginia. But on the other hand, Dad needs a hearing aid from his years of driving noisy tractors, and they can't afford it because the aids cost $1,500 (his insurance doesn't think his hearing is bad enough yet for him to get the hearing aid...or they wanted to get him a conspicuous, ugly one? I don't remember which). If I paid them back, they could get the hearing aid. Well, I'm going to keep trying.

This makes it so tempting to stay teaching. I'm paying down my debts. Next year, after my first day of teaching I'd have tenure. (Tricky, huh? You get it after the first day of your fourth year.) I could pay back my parents, pay off my student loans, have a few month's pay in my savings account, just in case, they way they say you're supposed to. I could in stocks or something? I could continue to put money into my retirement account. In short, I could be a financially responsible grown-up. I might even have enough left over for travel, or cute clothes!

Too bad my current teaching job is sucking out my soul and making me dislike myself. It's possible at another middle or high school I'd feel differently, but maybe not. Besides, all my friends are struggling to find jobs elsewhere, and for one reason or another it hasn't been working out. They're so depressed about it. I don't blame them. I just couldn't be trapped at that school for one more year.

Oh, whoops. I lost my triumphant train of thought. I called one of my credit card companies and asked them to reduce my APR. They did, by one percent. I'd been hoping for more, but that's a start. I'm waiting to hear back from my other credit card company. Hooray! Suze Orman would be so proud! Here's hoping I can continue to live life to the fullest while still living within my means.

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