The New York Times put up an article yesterday entitled, "How Debt Can Destroy a Budding Relationship." An excerpt:
Nobody likes unpleasant surprises, but when Allison Brooke Eastman’s fiancé found out four months ago just how high her debt was, he had a particularly strong reaction: he broke off the engagement within three days. Ms. Eastman said she had told him early on in their relationship that she had over $100,000 of debt. But, she said, even she didn’t know what the true balance was; like a car buyer who focuses on only the monthly payment, she wrote 12 checks a year for about $1,100 each, the minimum possible. She didn’t focus on the bottom line, she said, because it was so profoundly depressing.
But as the couple got closer to their wedding day, she took out all the paperwork and it became clear that her total debt was actually about $170,000. “He accused me of lying,” said Ms. Eastman, 31, a San Francisco X-ray technician and part-time photographer who had run up much of the balance studying for a bachelor’s degree in photography. “But if I was lying, I was lying to myself, not to him. I didn’t really want to know the full amount.”First of all, pray excuse me while I go get a paper bag and breathe in it to relieve the anxiety of imagining being an X-ray technician with $170,000 in student loan debt.
Okay, I'm back.
Seriously? $170,000. In student loan debt. For a degree in photography? What is in the water, clueless sauce? It was depressing to run those numbers? I'd say. Honestly, I feel bad for her because while it was unbelievably stupid to sign up casually for that kind of debt, the bank(s) that loaned her that amount and the school that encouraged her to apply for the loans should be held should be held complicit. They conned her. No one should extend that much in loans to a person so young with no assets. Unless you're going to Hogwarts and majoring in Magical Muggle Money Spellcraft, you will be saddled with those loans forever. FOR-EV-ER. Even the aspiring ER doc the NYT goes on to interview in the same piece will be enslaved.
Ms. Tidwell feels no guilt about the $250,000 in debt she will probably run up, including some from a master’s degree program she completed in London, where she and Mr. Kogler met. “I didn’t acquire it because I go out and shop a lot,” she said. “It’s because I’m doing something that I’ll love for the rest of my life.”While I appreciate the special knowledge my doctors have used in treating me over the years costs a lot of money to obtain, racking up 250K at the point at which the nation is skipping over the doorframe into socialized medicine seems - well, a trifle unconsidered. I have a doctor in the family; my father-in-law. He is getting out of the medical profession after a long and well remunerated career before the government via Obamacare can begin shafting him two ways: by lowering what he can collect for services rendered and taxing him up the wazoo for any money he does manage to make. Already what doctors get paid for Medicare and Medicaid patients often doesn't cover their costs.
The pesky problem about not getting remunerated for the actual costs of services is that that means that you're working for free or even paying other people for you to do your job. People tend not to sign on for that. For the time being I'd hesitate before taking on loans to learn a medical trade.
Let's all say it together: Debt equal slavery. You can't predict the future. My mother got a degree in nursing, then slipped a disc her first year on the floor when a patient she was helping to the bathroom went dead weight on her. She never worked on the floor again. You may not be able to pay them, but those loans will still be there and they will affect which jobs you can take, where you work, when you can have children and how you can take care of them, or even - as in the first example - if you will be able to marry. It's much less risky to pay as you go, even if it takes you a long, long time to finish school.