There was a plan put in place when I decided to do my Masters degree. I’d decided towards the end of my final year that a Masters was the route I wanted to go down and I the advice that I took from a lecturer was to apply immediately, get a place for the September, but then defer entry until the following September and take a year out in the ‘real’ world to avoid education fatigue.
The other advantage to working for a year would be that I could save up the money to pay for my tuition. Trying to get money for postgraduate degrees is difficult to say the least, the money’s widely available for undergraduates, but those wishing to continue on have got to do it themselves, unless they happen to studying for something vocational, in which case money is all around.
So I returned to Hull and got my job in the cafe and began working hard to save money.
I forgot about the saving money part. Instead I went out and partied hard and didn’t save anything.
And I have literally been paying for it since.
I could sit and beat myself up about my foolish ways but I’m not going to. I was young, I made a bit of a mistake and trust me it’s not the kind of mistake that you repeat twice, so it belongs to that great list of ‘life experiences’.
However, with September fast approaching I realised I had to do something about funding my next year.
My salvation came in the form of a career development loan – a sort of half way house between a student loan and a normal bank loan. They’re lent by banks and you start making repayments on a set date, nothing to do with how much you’re earning or how long you’ve been in work, on this date, you will begin repaying your loan. The interest rates are usually a bit lower than normal bank loans and stayed fixed, so you’re not faced with a rapidly mounting bill that you can’t afford to pay.
I can’t remember the exact amount I took out now, pretty much as much as I could, to cover my tuition fees, my halls of residence and my general being-a-student-ways.
Life was good.
Until before I knew it, November 2006 was approaching and the first payment of my CDL was due. At the time I had just graduated, a little later than I should have done because a bit of a family crisis saw me having to take an extension to finish my dissertation, which meant that I also delayed getting a job.
I tried calling up to ask if I could delay the repayments? No can do. I needed £180 from somewhere and had only one option...
Move back to Hull.
And here I have been ever since.
Working. And paying £180 a month towards my CDL. And that’s just been my life for the past three and a half years.
This week, in an attempt to get some parts of my life under control I decided to ring up Barclays (who supplied my CDL) and give them my new address. Goodness knows what address they had for me, I’ve moved about that much over the past 3 years and it was one of those things that I kept saying I would do but never got around to doing it (mostly down to a fear of the call centre – anyone else get that? You don’t want to ring because you just don’t have the energy to talk to someone who you can’t really understand?).
So I rang, gave my change of address, asked for a statement to be sent out to me and then asked, just while I was on the phone,
“When am I due to be finished paying this loan by the way?”
The man replied, “According to our records, the final payment will be on 31st October 2011.”
October 2011? As in this 2011? The year we’re currently in?
I don’t really know when I was thinking it would be paid off, I’ve been so used to paying it out that I wasn’t able to conceive of a time when I would be done with it.
It was a good feeling. No. It was an ecstatic feeling. It’s not so much that I’ll have an extra £180 a month (I won’t really, it will go towards paying off my credit card debt) it’s just that this will officially mark the beginning of the end. The beginning of starting to get my life a little less burdened down with debt. (I don’t count my student loan, I’ve long accepted that I’ll be paying that bugger off until the day I die. Plus it goes straight out of my pay cheque so I treat like I do tax and national insurance, it’s just money I never had!)
In other words it’s a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Just a glimmer, but a good sign nonetheless.
Hurray! This is my 200th post. Good work little blog.