I'm back to where I started

Avatar for poorboy2011
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-02-2011
I'm back to where I started
Fri, 01-11-2013 - 9:14pm

Well, almost back to where I started. In October 2011, I was $60,517 in debt. I knocked the debt down to $53.254 by July, 2012. Now I'm back up to $59.181. This is my fault. I am not feeling very good right now.

Avatar for poorboy2011
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-02-2011
Sun, 01-13-2013 - 11:51am

A few factors to consider --

1. If I succeed in getting a new job, I'll probably be taking a pay cut, up to $10,000. 

2. I'll need to move halfway across the country. That will include a scouting trip to find a place, and the cost of hiring a moving company. I guess I'll find out how much my employer will pay for relocation.

3. My car won't be able to make it across the country. I'll need a new car.

4. I may need surgery.

In the next few months, I'll probably be spending $1,200-$1,800 on dental work.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Sun, 01-13-2013 - 3:11pm


You are 38 years old, start taking care of yourself! Eat healthy and exercise. Not just for your physical health but also your mental health. You owe it to yourself. You need to give yourself some TLC bc it sounds like you are facing a toxic work environment and some stressful issues. A lot of ppl have success with mediation too. Your health is so much more important than money.

Can you get a second job? A paper route? Can you turn a hobby into a money maker? How about mystery shopping...anything to feel like you are getting ahead...or save up money for this upcoming move.

The reality is that if you did not make any changes from Oct/11-Jul/12, you would have a LOT more debt that you have now. So you did accomplish something and you are making some progress.

How about you start posting on the weekend expenses/accountability threads? I'll keep you in line ;-)

A note about retirement taxes - I'm not sure how it works in USA but didn't you save the taxes upfront when the money went in there? So you are not really losing...you just deferred the tax bill? If your new job pays less, then wouldn't your marginal tax rate be LESS that next year with the move & lower paying job? (moves for work are tax deductible here)

I am currently moving my money out of my personal retirement savings to pay for school (the school deductions will offset the taxes on the retirement money, I've done the calculations). I have a seperate work pension that requires more than 5% of my gross earnings. Right now, I have so many deductions that my marginal tax rate is low. It is likely that with my pension & DH's income, I would have a higher marginal tax rate & pay higher taxes if I wait and pull the money out at 65. Remember, tax rates will probably go up :)

Please take this as the tough love it is indeed. You live in a very prosperous nation with an education (I'm jealous there) and you can thrive if you find your path. Right now you are just surviving and that is no way to live.



Avatar for turtleemom
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-25-2007
Sun, 01-13-2013 - 3:52pm

A huge part of paying off debt is learning not to acrue more debt.  Debt just doesn't just happen.  It comes from a bunch of choices.  While paying it off you should be learning how to make those better choices, if it be holding off on impulses, seeing the big picture, being realistic with curent money coming in and out NOT potential money, the difference between wants and needs.  If you haven't learned these things, the result will likely be the accumlation of more debt. 

You paid some off and then racked it backup.  What is to say that you won't take out of retirement and be debt free for a few months and then be back in the hole again with sunstantally less retirement funds?   Moving across country will require a few thousand dollars- movers, scouting trip out, security deposit, add in surgery, a new car and a pay cut and the debt starts again.  I think you are being unrealistic.  I would save up $4000-$6000 so you have the money to move after the surgery and dental work is paid off.   Then you can afford to move, and your debt is no worse off than it is now.  One you get settled you can continue on paying down the current debt and working towards your envisioned life with retirement intact.      

Avatar for poorboy2011
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-02-2011
Sun, 01-13-2013 - 6:09pm

stormydancer wrote:
<p>PB,</p><p>You are 38 years old, start taking care of yourself! Eat healthy and exercise.

For your information, I am in very good shape. I eat and exercise accordingly. I don't just eat healthy; I eat for performance, which means I do not even indulge in the sort of little pleasures that healthy eaters can avail themselves. But I have a lot of medical problems, some of which are genetic. For an analogy, I'm like a high performance car that breaks down a lot between races.

I am also very good looking (also genetic), but that's neither here nor there, I suppose. 

Professors at my rank don't get second jobs. That's partly a matter of status, but it's mostly time. I have considered supplementing my income, but there is no way. I already have more work I can handle at one job. My profession requires a lot of education, and pays little. There isn't much else I can do with my degree, so don't be jealous. (You can be jealous of my looks, if you want to. Oh, I also look 10 years younger than my age.)

@Turtlemom: I don't get a choice as to when and where to move to. I have to live by the academic calendar, and I have to move where there is a job. And since there are so few jobs in academia, you move when you have an offer, not when you can afford it financially.  

But, yeah, I have to figure out how not to spend. It's hard. I am hoping that a new location will make a difference.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Sun, 01-13-2013 - 6:47pm

Ah, I had always pictured you as good looking so that comes as no surpise to me.

But I was highlighting the fact that your MENTAL health needs to be protected bc it is clear that your environment is toxic. And facing all these issues, you are going to need to be in excellent shape :)

I'm in fantastic shape as well. But more importantly, I have a Mr Stormydancer. I firmly believe that having a fantastic marriage is one of the healthiest parts of my life. Yes, we have that fairytale of romantic poetry. I didn't want to go there though as it sounds like you live in a limited pool of potentials. Not much you can do about that except move - and you are gonig to do that.

I know what you mean about eduction - have you seen this?


Sad situation but I still wish I had finished my degree almost 2 decades ago. Because this wasn't the situation then and I'm tired of having supervisors and bosses who are younger and have that piece of paper. Yet I have even more skills and abilities to accomplish the work then they do.


iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Sun, 01-13-2013 - 7:01pm

PB, I have a sibling in research (whose finance is less than rosy), so in a way I can relate to what you are going through.  I often hear "working till the day I die" and other similar sentiments.  Even though I am only a few years older (and not any wiser), I hope you don't find what I write patronizing - consider it as something coming from an older sister. 

Definitely spend the money on dental work, even if it makes you go further into debt.  From a purely financial standpoint (completely ignore the health aspect), preventive care is always less expensive than treatment, and early treatment is always less expensive than letting the problem drag on. 

On paper, taking a pay cut, moving across the country, getting a new(er) car, etc. may not appear to be practical.  I do, however, support your move 100% if it will put you in a more positive environment.  Some of your health issues could possibly be caused by you being in a toxic work place and lack of social life.  I may even venture to say your debt and reckless sexual liaison are somewhat related to being unhappy.  (Been there, done that.  My debt was not that bad, but I went through some very unsuitable men and occasional bouts of eating issues).

I also understand that good academic jobs are hard to come by.  If you wait till your debt situation improves, you may not be offered a similar position in a nice city. 

What I am trying to say may go against the consensus here.  Yes, it makes sense to pay off debt instead of incurring more debt and taking a pay cut.  But your current environment is so toxic that I am afraid your emotional and physical health will continue to suffer.  And despite the relatively higher pay, you still won't be able to tackle your debt, because your debt has more to do with emotions (I still remember your intro when you first came on board) than actual numbers.

Perhaps you should give yourself a break and focus your energy on getting this job.  Spend what you must, such as dental work and surgery, and try to be frugal as much as possible in other ways but don't beat yourself up on your debt. 

Strict budgeting, moonlighting for more money, selling valuable stuff on ebay, etc. are all good for treating the SYMPTOMS.  The underlying causes run deeper than that.  I don't know exactly what they are, but I have a strong suspicion that your work environment has something to do with it.

Lastly, while I don't want to encourage irresponsible behavior, I want to give you one more reason not to touch your retirement:  it is protected from bankruptcy.

Please take good care of yourself.  I am sending good thoughts your way.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Sun, 01-13-2013 - 7:02pm
Error in posting.  Still having problem with this site!  Yell
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-15-2011
Mon, 01-14-2013 - 10:09am


I am sorry you find yourself in a funk.  But instead of dwelling on how much debt you have, why not look at it in terms of net worth, instead?  How does that compare to July, 2011? 

Our debt has been creeping up over here, as well.  I don't like it, either.  DH and I have a pla, but we have to take the steps to make sure we implement it.  We will NEVER be wealthy.  Its ok, it is not something we need in order to be happy.  We WILL get to a point where we are comfortable.

Must you cash in your retirement?  I mean, is your situation that dire??  Maybe looking at things in terms of total net worth will life your spirits.

For example, we bought our house a year ago...we have quite a bit of equity in our house, already!!  Our timing was PERFECT.  But we are still underearning.  We can't stay this way forever, and prosper.  But there are up ears, and down years.  We had a down year.  I can't imaging how  much differently our life would be right now if I was not battling a lingering depression.

Take care, PB.  Whether you ultimately choose to cash in your retirement or not, you are going to be ok.  You are due for a good year.  Chin up  : )


Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Mon, 01-14-2013 - 2:48pm

A little late to the party, but wanted to chime in.  

Just consider my post another nod to getting yourself into a healthier environment without touching your retirement.  

I can only guess what your salary is, but guessing that your debt-to-income ratio isn't any crazier, and probably even less, than many of us on this board.  

I stopped looking at my total debt.  The medical bills just fluxuate too much for me to do that way.  This last year I just accepted that the best I could do was to try to work more hours to scrape by until I get my tax refund.  Then I will set a new goal for the next year.  

Although I ininitally wondered if you could put off the dental surgery, D is correct that it is important.  My SO has significant  dental issues and if not treated, bacteria can effect your health as a whole.  

For what it is worth, I came here with $8,000 in CC debt and a car payment.  For the last year,  I have had $14,000 in CC debt, still have a car payment, and have added another $2,800 in debt for my transmission.  I am not giving up!

Hang in there, we all love you!!!!!   Laughing

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Mon, 01-14-2013 - 4:31pm

Hi PB.  I'm sorry to hear this.  I've probably mentioned that my sister is a state university professor, and two of my other siblings have retired from other state universities (one was in administration and one in scientific research), so I do understand quite a bit about university life. 

I'm sympathetic to the low compensation of the university professor too.  My sister declared bankruptcy once, and now is on a debt management plan (I persuaded her not to declare bankruptcy again or try to settle her debt).  Of course she has several children, a worthless ex-husband, and a highly educated current husband who doesn't pay his own way in life, let alone contribute anything to hers. . . but I digress.

One thing I don't know is how relocation works for universities.  In the private sector, if someone is being relocated, the new employer pays for all or some of it, including house-hunting trips.  If you don't own a house, it's likely that all your expenses can be accommodated by the new employer. I'd be surprised if it weren't at least somewhat similar for higher ed.

But I must agree with the others who have said don't touch your retirement.  Because I did, and it takes YEARS to catch up.  I had to empty my retirement account when I was about the same age as you are, due to unforeseen things in my market, not cutting back on my family's expenses in time, and a couple of other things which were or were not under my control.  By the time I was 42, I had about the same amount of debt as you, NO retirement, and no way of fixing the mess besides changing my career.  It is not a pretty thing to be 42yo, with zero in retirement, no pension system for your job, and switching careers to do the job of someone 15 years younger (who doesn't have three school-age children).  My gamble paid off, thanks to hard work, the support of others, and more than my fair share of good luck.  But most people don't get that kind of opportunity.

I would also be leery of expecting to work until you die, even for a professor.  With the current debate over the purpose and price of university education, if you're not in a field where the degrees clearly lead to employment, such as health, engineering, nursing, and so on, the likelihood of your having a job til you die is not that great.  While I think cutting the liberal arts is a terrible shame for the future of America, I can still read the writing on the wall.

And - I don't wish to insult anyone here - older people are increasingly left behind in our too-hectic, technologically advanced world.  Perhaps the situation will improve as people like me get older and continue to embrace technical innovation.  I hope so.  In the meantime, I feel that the old are increasingly less respected due to the effects of the ageing process on mental agility, speech, and speed.

You may well have thought of all of these things, but I felt compelled to comment anyway.