Saturday, September 17, 2011

Netflix Corner: Maxed Out

For those of you living with minuscule entertainment budgets due to crushing student loan debt (or any other kind of debt for that matter), leaving you chained to Netflix streaming or youtube on  the weekends, check out Maxed Out, a 2006 documentary that eerily predicts the collapse of the housing market, and the economy as a whole, after far too many years of access to easy credit.  A major portion of the documentary focuses on credit card debt, but it also touches on the real estate bubble, predatory lending tactics employed on college campuses, and interviews with some pond scum, aka "collection agents."  

This is not the sort of movie to watch alone at night, since it is quite dark at times (stories of two students with outrageous credit card bills who eventually committed suicide are included), and because we all know what happened just a couple years after the movie was filmed. 

On the other hand, there are some lighter moments that highlight just how valuable an education is when it comes to succeeding in the marketplace.  Listen closely at about an hour and five minutes in as a real estate broker who doubled her money during the housing bubble describes a "track" home and informs us that the "medium" price of a house is $268,000. 

I wish someone would make a similar documentary based entirely on student loan debt in the U.S.  It is truly frightening that many people carry student loan balances equal to or greater than a typical mortgage.

Any other movie suggestions that will keep people like me motivated to pay off their student loans early and stay out of debt permanently? 

Friday, September 9, 2011

How Many Doors Did Your JD Open?

For anyone who's bitter about high student loan debt and/or the dearth of (paying) legal jobs out there, check out this piece from Nando of Third Tier Reality, which sheds some unflattering light on the higher education scam.  It includes some sobering statistics regarding the glut of student loan debt in the U.S., the lack of available jobs that require advanced degrees, as well as the frighteningly inflated tuition prices some law schools are charging their "customers" these days.  

Also, if you feel like getting involved in protesting or sharing your views on the higher education scam, check out the upcoming protest scheduled to take place October 8th in San Diego, California. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Things You Only Read About

Ask Again Later by Davis, Jill A. [Paperback] (Google Affiliate Ad) 
Ask Again Later is Jill Davis' "chick lit" novel about a woman who suddenly quits her job as an attorney and goes to work for her father's law firm as a receptionist.  There are reasons for her drastic actions, which I won't spoil for you here.  The central themes of the book involve the main character's fear of commitment (to her relationship and to a career), and how unfinished business with our parents can sometimes keep us stuck in limbo.  

The book is entertaining in a fluffy, Cosmo's "Fearless Female of the Year" sort of way.  But I did have a little trouble with the main character's inability to take a simple phone message (it's as if the book would like us to think they only teach that in secretary school or something) and with the writing structure, which tends to be a bit pared down, even for chick lit.  But if you're up for reading about an attorney's brush with life on the other side, check it out. 


This is a terrific article by Phyllis Coletta.  She is a former attorney who quit the law in order to become a cowgirl.  It is truly inspiring and funny.  I would read it occasionally when I was still practicing law.  It gave me great comfort to know that people with her kind of courage and humor had been where I was and had successfully gotten out.  Thanks, Phyllis.  

What are some of the roadblocks keeping you from leaving the law?  What would you be doing if you no longer practiced?   

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Trap of Student Loan Debt, Part II: Do You Want to Get Out?

Many unhappy attorneys feel they cannot quit practicing law because of the enormous burden of student loan debt.  If you have been considering leaving the law for another field or to start your own business, paying off your student loans affords more opportunity to take risks (perhaps in the form of a lower-paying but more satisfying position), as well as the feeling of hope that comes from building a future, rather than paying for past mistakes.  

A little over a year ago, I found myself in the position of having left my attorney job for a lower-paying one, but still carrying a large student loan balance of over $100K (between my husband's loans and mine).  Since then, I have gained more control over my finances, and my husband and I have decided to take radical steps in order to pay off both of our student loans once and for all.  Before you begin your own journey out of student loan debt, you first need to ask yourself whether you really want out because getting out involves a great deal of sacrifice.  Let's talk a little bit about some obstacles that might be standing your way.