Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Moves & Debt

I am planning to do my student teaching in the city. The paperwork is filled out, I've been accepted to the SUNY Urban Teacher Education Center (SUTEC) program, and all I have left to do is find an apartment. It's the apartment that's killing me. Because I don't live in the city, and because I have shit to do and can't travel into the city every day, I can't successfully do the Craig's List thing and get myself a cheap-ish apartment. Basically, all the CL apartment's are gone before I even make the trip in. So now I'm going through a broker, which means I'm seeing places between $1000-$1200, which means, after fees, security, etc. my school debt is going to go up by at least $7000, moving my total debt into the $80,000 range.

Is this worth it?

If money were not a factor, I would absolutely want to teach in the city. The middle school that I'm likely to do the first half of my student teaching in is one of the best in NYC, and the teaching style there was described to me as "a mix of progressive and traditional methods" that I think will suit me well. So, should I let money get in the way of what I think will be a positive experience? And the other part of the money equation that I have to consider is that, should I stay teaching in NYC, I'll be earning a lower salary than if I'd stayed on Long Island, and I'll have equal or greater living expenses.

Where does the greater happiness come from? The more enjoyable work environment, or the lower-cost/higher-pay living environment?

5 comments:

Jarrett said...

having been in your position i have to tell you there is no easy answer.

we should discuss this over beer.

Mustapha Mond said...

I miss you, too. Kiss!

Steve Miller said...

It depends on what your expected earnings are after you graduate.

Servicing $80K in debt is going to cost you about $500 a month for 30 years. If you only make, say, $50K a year at first, that monthly payment is going to hurt. At $50K gross you can expect to clear around $3K a month after taxes and other deductions. Figure $1500 a month in housing and utilities, $500 a month to service debt, which leaves you $1000/month to cover food, transportation, entertainment, medical co-pays, etc. etc.. Maybe that sounds like enough, but it's really only enough to live paycheck to paycheck. Take a girl to a nice restaurant, and there goes your budget. Get a $300 bill for a medical test that your insurance doesn't cover, and there goes your budget. Want to buy a place? Forget about it, until your income rises and debt falls substantially, which will take several years.

How much tighter can you squeeze your budget? Working and barely scraping by on what you always thought was a good salary is not fun. But having a job you enjoy and feel good about is very important.

On the other hand, the extra money spent this year may only mean 30 bucks or so more a month on your student loan payments. So live without cable for a few years, or find some other sacrifice you'd be willing to make.

Olman Feelyus said...

I second steve miller's approach. You can't answer this question philosophically without doing the appropriate financial calculations first. Look at the situation realistically, with the numbers in hand and a long-term view.

Another factor is your age. The older you get, the less important social/cultural things become and the more important things like a nice residence, loved ones and potentail procreation become. These changes impact your financial planning.

Jarrett said...

tell us about student teaching, especially considering where you are...