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How to pursue a permaculture career w/student loan debt?  RSS feed

 
Kat Ousley
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Hello fellow permies!

I'm so glad to have found this site. I have been interested in permaculture/sustainable living/farming for a few years and have gone to workshops here and there and researched/read endlessly on the topics. However, I feel stuck. I am getting ready to finish up a year with Americorps in Alaska and am trying to decide what I want to do next with my life. I have a bachelor's degree in Anthropology and would really love a career that somehow combined my love of the earth and permaculture living with my passion for creating social change. My long term goal would be to start my own non-profit that would somehow incorporate the two in an urban/semi-urban setting to address environmental education, hunger, and poverty. That's long term though. My situation right now is that I can't think of many career/job options to pursue after Americorps that will allow me to fulfill those long term goals as well as take care of my student loan debt. Ideally, I would love to travel through WWOOF and similar opportunities or take an unpaid internship/apprenticeship on a farm somewhere. So I'm in a tough situation where the things I really want to do, and the things that could lead me down the path to where I want to be in 10-15 years, aren't exactly practical options since I have to make monthly payments on my debt. I am not at all a materialistic person, and would be blissfully happy living on a farm and only earning what I need to survive. Which makes it really disheartening to be burdened with debt from an education that I was pressured into pursuing before I was aware of alternatives. So I guess what I am asking for is any advice/alternatives/opportunities that anyone can think of, or stories of similar situations, that could help give me some direction and clarity in my process of trying to pursue this kind of life. Has anyone else successfully pursued a career in permaculture/sustainable farming while also having to worry about lots of debt? I know there isn't one simple answer to this situation, I'm just looking for some brainstorming help. Thanks! And Happy Earth Day!

Kat
 
Ann Torrence
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If it were me I would:

1) give myself permission to feel sorry for myself about the situation for about 10 minutes per month. Go ahead, then read on.
2) get a job working for the man
3) get a second job working for the man
4) practice living that frugal lifestyle (horrors-live at home)
5) spend my little spare time studying and volunteering for things that make life worth living
6) pay off the debt ASAP. 10-15 years just maximizes some bank's profit line, not my happiness.
7) live free and prosper forever afterwards.

There are plenty of blogs out there about "how I paid off crazy amounts of student loan debt in record time" if you need inspiration.
Nothing is as freeing as being out from under that burden. I can remember like yesterday the day I wrote that last check, back in the dinosaur age when we paid bills with a stamp. You can do this, and then you will know from this life experience that you can accomplish great things by making a plan and sticking to it with dogged determination. We'll be here cheering for you.
 
R Scott
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What Ann said.

There are lots of people in similar situations but different source of debt, myself included. The way out is boring and smells like hard work. Dave Ramsey's methods work if you need help, but they are mainly details to Ann's advice.
 
Mike Cantrell
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Ann Torrence wrote:
2) get a job working for the man
3) get a second job working for the man


Hi Kat!
I'll second what Ann said. She's right, and there are a few reasons why. The first is, student loan debt (assuming you mean federal loans, not private loans) are insidious because you can't bankrupt them.

That means you can
1.) Pay it all now
2.) Pay it all and more later
3.) Become an international fugitive and never return to the US

Option 1 is a drag, but options 2 and 3 are way worse, so buckle up. You gotta do this, so you might as well do it your way.



Here's another reason, a little more high-minded. At one point in my life I thought I wanted to go to seminary. A smart older priest told me one of the most valuable experiences that a priest can have is slogging away at a pointless job for ten years. That's such a basic part of almost everybody's life, that if you can't relate to it, you've really alienated yourself. You mentioned some noble philanthropic goals, so I'd submit to you that you'll get the same benefit from this that a seminarian would.
Think about the inspiring, effective people who are currently changing the world in the way that you'd like to change it. Are they preachy young people who have never been anywhere except classrooms, who then popped out with great ideas? And now everybody listens to them? Or have they paid their dues in some form of hardship (poverty, war, persecution, or just years of toil)?
Don't go get in harm's way in Syria or Sudan or someplace, but if you've got some years of suck ahead of you, then recognize that you can get some value out of the suck itself.



That said, I'll quibble with Ann's plan just a hair here. She suggested job + second job, but I'd say, go for a career-path job instead. You've got an anthropology degree. I bet they told you, "Degrees like this don't train you for one specific job, they prepare you to adapt to any job." Right?
So test it.

It worked for me. I have a BA in philosophy. Graduated in 2005, got a meaningless job I don't like, paid off my wife's $20k debt, now we have a paid-for house with some land. It didn't seem like it was working at first, but it was.
(I found my job by submitting applications for anything that said "will train." I applied to about 100 jobs. Got three interviews. One offer. I didn't care about insurance claims then and I still don't care about them now, but it's a fine way to earn money. Note that I ruled out the five most promising fields, too- sales, management, military, medical, truck driving. If I had the guts/disposition for any of those, I'd have gotten off to a much faster start. If YOU'VE got the guts/disposition for any of those, especially sales, then do it. Those are HARD, each for different reasons, so the rewards are correspondingly rich.)


If your debt is much bigger than $20k, maybe you won't have it paid in three years, maybe it will take five or eight or ten or more. But you can do it. If you're thinking of getting married, don't wait till you've got your affairs in order. Go for it now. If nothing else, you can earn money faster together than separately. But that's what you've got to do. You borrowed a bunch of money. Now you or somebody else has to pay it back. I don't know much about the programs out there that offer to paid your undergrad debt in exchange for some kind of service commitment. I think I heard of one for teaching in inner-city schools. Maybe there's a military one too. My friend just became a doctor last year, and turned down a job offer in an undesirable hospital that would have paid/forgiven his med school debt. So I think those things exist, but I haven't done my homework.

And to come back to my point about two jobs vs. career job- if you've got a long slog ahead, my experience has been that it's easier to keep some sanity if you've got evenings and weekends. Two jobs is pretty grueling. If you can get in someplace where you work normal business hours, you'll still have some time of your own for permaculture. When you're finally free, you've got experience, or mature trees, or ten-year friendships, or any number of other valuable assets to use in your new professional permaculture endeavor. So that's how I'd do it. For the next X years, most of my waking hours go to earning money, and the remainder to permaculture and other pursuits. After that, when this debt is behind me, the proportions can switch.


Good luck! You can do this!

PS Where are you moving when you're done in AK?
PPS The job search engine I like is indeed.com- it's kind of a meta-search, and goes and pulls results from monster.com and usajobs.com, etc. That way you get it all in one place.


 
Chris Badgett
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I can relate to your situation as I am an Anthropology graduate with a focus in Sustainable Development. It's a tough field as far as having an obvious income success / eliminate-student-debt path.

Here's my experience if that helps ...

I spent 8 years working in Alaska after college, most of that managing a helicopter supported dog sled tour business on the Juneau Icefield. I loved dogs and wilderness so it was a good fit, and it was easy to save money because it's hard to buy things on a glacier That's also were I developed valuable skills about how to manage a complex business including the leadership part of managing lots of employees. These skills come in handy every day in my current entrepreneurial freelancing/ product-development life.

While in my off time from seasonal tourism I taught myself marketing and how to build websites, which I still do today at Badgett Web Design I kept with it because I find the work intellectually challenging and creative. Marketing can be fascinating for an intelligent person with good ethics & a social science mind and used for a lot of good in the world. You can use it to sell, to influence, and to just sell yourself when trying to get a job.

I also started creating online courses with my wife on "sustainable" topics like permaculture over at Organic Life Guru

In addition I like to diversify my income so I do some affiliate marketing where I earn small amounts of $ from commissions promoting products I believe in and use myself. For me that's for things like writing articles about WordPress learning management systems software that I use and love. This article is an example of that. I also build affiliate programs for myself and clients. For example I created this organic gardening affiliate program so others can earn income (50% of the sale price) promoting our permaculture courses while helping us reach a larger audience. Affiliate marketing and creating digital products for a global audience can help with income, but keep in mind there are no guarantees you will create a popular product or your affiliate marketing will generate significant income.

I'm not rich, but I'm happy, and I show up every day and work hard towards the dream. It's cliche but so true that it's important to enjoy the journey and not get too wrapped up in a grass-is-greener promise land that's currently outside your reach.

Also have an open mind and experiment along the way when it comes to income. I wrote about this philosophy in great detail in this article about Black Swan Entrepreneurship.

A lot of people are in a similar situation, so you are not alone. Stay positive!

Also this quote is a good one if you're trying to figure out how to get more $ and general growth in your life ...

If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.
~Zig Ziglar


I also like this video as a reminder of how the world is changing and how you have your own unique value to express in your working life/ career decisions:





 
Ben Miller
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Location: Southwest Ontario
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FYI - job opportunity in Texas. I know nothing about this job advertisement other than they are meat goats and thought someone might be interested.



I am looking for a male ranch hand for my Texas goat ranch.

I say "male" because so far all of the females I've found aren't strong
enough for this type of work, plus I want someone with (at least) light
plumbing and electrical experience and even a bit of welding repair
talent if at all possible.

Of course feeding and haying goats and ability to work with them.

I don't want "city slickers" or people who are afraid of animals or needles.

Geez, what a group of wuzzies we have for Americans nowadays. I find it
amazing that 60 yr old men are afraid of needles, but that is what I am
finding.

Contact me privately if interested.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto
Onion Creek Ranch
Lohn, Tx
325-344-5775
 
Kat Ousley
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Thank you so much for all of your replies! I really appreciate all of the input.

I am basically trying to make myself be okay with working a job that I am not super passionate about for a few years so that I can pay off my debt and save for future ventures/adventures. It's just really hard to come to terms with since up until my Americorps job I have only worked jobs solely for the money and felt really unsatisfied and disillusioned with life, even while volunteering and pursuing passion projects on the side. I do definitely see the value in "toiling" away for a few years so that I'm not naive about the struggles of life and will feel like I truly earned my dream once I get there though. I guess I'm still trying to hold onto hope that I will stumble across an opportunity that will allow me to afford my debt and that will inspire my passions. I have found a few scattered opportunities involving urban gardening and environmental education that could be promising. I just want to be a farmer, and it's hard to be patient when that's the only thing I can imagine myself being happy doing right now. Thank you so much for the help and encouragement though. I guess I'll sit down and draw out a plan assuming I don't find an inspiring job and figure out a way to pursue my permaculture desires in my spare time. Please do continue with the shared stories and any other advice you may have though!
 
Kat Ousley
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Also, as for where I plan to move after AK: I'm not sure yet. I'm really flexible and want to move around a lot. I'm only 24 so I really don't want to settle down in one spot yet. Places I would like to live include the PNW, Colorado, SoCal, Hawaii, the Carolinas, New Zealand, many other places abroad.
 
Matu Collins
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The above advice makes sense to me. It's not a lifetime of working for the man, just some years.

An alternate idea: wwoof is a half-time job in exchange for room and board. Different farms have different specifics but that's the overall deal. If I were you I'd look for wwoof farms located near cities or towns that accept long term wwoofers. Then you can look for part time work near the farm. Housing is so expensive and good food too. The savings plus earnings from the part time job might meet your needs.

If you end up getting the one or two jobs working for the man you can always take your vacations at wwoof farms. My little farm is in a seaside village near hiking and good surfing, we have hosted many vacations. Especially for people who love to be outside but work indoors in some sad cubicle, a week of wwoofing is a worthy respite.
 
Ann Torrence
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I see we did not give you much to get excited about. I got my degree in Poli Sci, and while I don't regret it for a minute, because it taught me to how to learn almost anything and how to write three sentences in a row, it wasn't the most marketable credential when I was starting out.

I know quite a few people who are very happy working for UPS. I love my driver, who is based in a pretty small town. Everyone I see working at Costco seems deliriously happy. Both pay better than your average starting job.

Part-time jobs that can feed the soul:
-work in a nursery, esp one that does their own propagation
-work for a landscape contractor-you'll learn what you do not want to do and how to work heavy equipment
-work for an arboretum or public garden (or zoo) grounds crew
-work for a university ground crew-again, heavy equipment
-pitch a class to your local university continuing ed program. Won't pay much, but the teaching experience is invaluable. Recreational learners are not like your most recent classmates, but more like people you'll teach in non-profits, they want to be entertained while they learn
-your local farmers market-not for a farmer, but the market itself. You'll have a birds-eye view to see who the winners are and what they do better
-write for your local weekly on farm and food issues. They won't pay much either, but you'll develop connections with a ton of interesting people
-a high-end specialty food market. The two in Salt Lake both do amazing food training for their staff. You'll see what the public buys and why

I'm convinced there's a business to be made for farm-sitting. People who can reliably come take care of the place (water, feed, etc.) so hobby farmers can travel.

Exciting times ahead!


 
Jori Lord
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Hello,

May I suggest that you check the Bangkok Post classified ads for NGO
JOBS. These job pay a reasonable salary and may be more related to your studies and interests described. You would still have time and money for your own permaculture dream here as you can rent a bit of beautiful land for next to nothing and pay off the damn loans. Good luck.
 
Adam Lehn
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Great topic. Great advice. Thank you all for posting. I'm currently struggling with student loan debt as well, with a degree in philosophy. I've been out of school since 2009 and have held a few jobs since. My first reaction to reading these posts was to reflect on which of those jobs I was best at, which I enjoyed most, and which will give me skills that might help me down the road as a permaculture practitioner. I am trying to stay positive through debt by treating it as a learning experience. Throughout high school and college, I never learned the value of a dollar. If I had, I wouldn't have paid so much for a degree in philosophy, and I would have visited the classics section of a used book store instead, saving a few tens of thousands of dollars. This debt has greatly instilled in me a desire to never be in debt again, which will hopefully lead to skills and principles with which to live the rest of my life, and pass on to my children. So it's not all bad. The struggle will be worth it in the long run. It's good to know that we're not alone in the struggle.
 
Tyler Hoff
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It's sad to see how putting your head down and working like a good slave is the feedback given here. Most of us with debt from student loans have at the LEAST 10 to 15 years until we can have these contracts paid off. With the way things seem to be heading, who knows what this world will even look like 10 - 15 years from now. A lot of us we're pressured into going to college and obtain degrees so we can "make it" in the real world. Blinded by our own ignorance and buried by our own signature. We are the generation that can make changes. We are young, passionate, soulful, smart, inspired and very ambitious about making serious change in the world and sustaining our massive population. Is this something we should just kick under the rug? Why do we have to accept this? Why are most universities for profit? Why is all knowledge not free ? Why is it, the rewarding and important goals we want to pursue have to be set to the back burner? Should the world be a business? I'm looking for the same opportunity Kat, maybe we should just become convicts . If you find anything be sure to share. Best- Tyler
 
Dillon Nichols
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Hi Tyler,

A lot of people were indeed pressured into going to college/uni... but nobody threatened me, so one could argue that the post-secondary system is less offensive than quite a few other things, from mandatory K-12 school, to taxes, to citizenship, to the TSA... Given that I've never had much trouble ignoring societal/parental/peer pressure to do/not do other things, I feel like it was more a lack of understanding of the other options that guided my course, rather than the direct pressure to attend college.

Amazing, that we can live to be 18 and spend so many hours 'learning', and have such a poor understanding of... well, most things, in my case.

The world is indeed changing fast, but if you happen to live in the US, or Canada, or another first world nation... as far as most of the global populace is concerned, you've already won the lottery! Betting on a governmental collapse that would free you from student debt, or giving up your ability to reside in the US, seem like bad bets.

In my opinion, there are some excellent suggestions above. They're really rather more nuanced than 'put your head down and work like a good slave'. They are not only about how to minimize time paying off debt, but also how to maximize the other skills, connections, and experiences that you gain while doing so. If you want to change the world, make your job part of what lets you do so.

For example, I put together a list of local food forests the other day. A couple of them came into being because a local lawyer liked the idea of boulevard gardens. You can bet that his career helped him get the bylaws passed that enabled these food forests.

Perusing the bio of a local natural builder, it mentions he was previously a general contractor, and when he needed approval for a cob building, the first his local building inspectors had considered, his connections and track record as a GC made this an easy approval for them to grant. Now, everyone else has this valuable precedent to point to.


How do you want to change the world? What sort of skillset/connections would help? There is almost certainly a way to get paid to develop those things.

I wish I had read a similar thread 8, or even 4, years ago.
 
Sherri Lynn
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Unless I missed it, one other idea is to take a job that by working there a few years they will forgive your student loans.
 
John Wolfram
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Tyler Hoff wrote: It's sad to see how putting your head down and working like a good slave is the feedback given here. Most of us with debt from student loans have at the LEAST 10 to 15 years until we can have these contracts paid off. With the way things seem to be heading, who knows what this world will even look like 10 - 15 years from now.

I wouldn't say people are suggesting that others put their heads down and work corporate jobs for 10-15 years, people seem to be suggesting to put your head down and work like hell at a corporate job for 2-3 years to dig themselves out of this mess. Dave Ramsey calls it working with gazelle-like intensity. Paul Wheaton says work like an ant for a year or two so you can be a grasshopper the rest of your life.

You can put up with a hell of a lot for a few years (just ask anyone who was drafted into the army), and if you accept that, a wide range of options become available. For example, most people could pay off their student loan debt in two or three years if they lived in a trailer and drove a truck in North Dakota.
 
Ann Torrence
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Tyler Hoff wrote: It's sad to see how putting your head down and working like a good slave is the feedback given here. Most of us with debt from student loans have at the LEAST 10 to 15 years until we can have these contracts paid off. With the way things seem to be heading, who knows what this world will even look like 10 - 15 years from now. A lot of us we're pressured into going to college and obtain degrees so we can "make it" in the real world. Blinded by our own ignorance and buried by our own signature. We are the generation that can make changes. We are young, passionate, soulful, smart, inspired and very ambitious about making serious change in the world and sustaining our massive population. Is this something we should just kick under the rug? Why do we have to accept this? Why are most universities for profit? Why is all knowledge not free ? Why is it, the rewarding and important goals we want to pursue have to be set to the back burner? Should the world be a business? I'm looking for the same opportunity Kat, maybe we should just become convicts .

Your ten minutes are up.

We all enter productive adulthood with baggage: societal, financial or more insidious hidden internalized anchors. Every generation is full of young, passionate, soulful, inspired and very ambitious individuals. You can lament your generation's particular set of anchors or thank your lucky stars you and your generation aren't cannon fodder.

The permaculture principle of observation first has a deeper philosophical purpose than just gathering facts. It calls for a process of acceptance of what is, a necessary precursor to evaluating how to move forward. It doesn't matter how you feel about it, it is what it is. I wish my land hadn't been beat up for 40 years. Observation shows me where, how and what to do about it. A few years of cover cropping annuals may be advisable for what I dream of my land becoming. Or the horridly expensive deer fence that I have to invest in. That's not what I want to do, but if that's what's called for, I do it and not pretend that the soil will improve itself or the deer will find something else to eat while I plant trees that have little chance of thriving in the current impoverished, stressed conditions.

It seems to me that success in most anything requires the unique ability to hold two thoughts in the mind: an exact accounting of the present's assets and deficits and an inspired self-driven vision of the future I am working toward. Paying off the student debt IS epic shit. Lose the chains.
 
Isaac Bickford
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I got my BS with no debt, thanks to academic scholarships (about 75%) and parents who saved for my education (25%). My wife however finished school with about $30k in debt. We have been married for just over 6 years, and working on paying off that debt the entire time. We plan to finish it off in one more year.

When I first finished university, about 16 months after we were married, I got a decent job doing what I liked to do. We were making good progress at paying off debt for about 6 months and then I got laid off. We spent the next 3 years in international development volunteering, most of that time with the Peace Corps. We were able to make steady progress on the loans in that time. Peace Corps service allows you to put certain federal student loans on deferment, meaning they do not accrue interest during your service. Peace Corps gives you a readjustment allowance upon finishing your service: about $7K currently. While in service, you are paid a stipend to cover living expenses. Most volunteers we talked to thought it wasn't enough. My wife and I lived on 60% of ours, putting the other 40% into student loans and tithing. Regardless of your income level, it is possible to live frugally and spend MUCH less than your peers do. You won't be traveling around, eating in restaurants, or buying toys every day. But freedom costs. Peace Corps CAN be a great way to serve others, gain experience that will help you towards your long term goals, and become more financially stable.

I would also recommend looking into federal/state government employment. I work for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Much of the work I do is frustrating, but I am confident that overall, my efforts on the job contribute towards a more permaculture-ish world. The great thing about government jobs compared to private sector is that you are not expected to work more than 40 hours a week. This means you have mornings, evenings, and weekends off to work your property and study. You get paid holidays. And sick leave. And vacation time. I am on a flexible schedule, meaning when it's busy at the office and quiet on the farm, I can work up to 2 hours a day extra and bank those hours. When it's busy at home and quiet at the office, I can cash out those hours for paid time off. All of that adds up to allow you to earn a solid wage while still working your land. If you live frugally, you can make quick progress on paying off loans.

A final thought - housing is the greatest expense for most folks in over-developed countries (food is the greatest expense for people in other parts of the world, but people from that background probably don't have thousands of $ of student loans/consumer debt.) Go as radically frugal with your housing arrangements as you can stand, and free up more money to pay off those debts. The time goes quickly, and you will soon be free to pursue your dream job and permaculture work/property.
 
Jordan Teater
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I'm in a similar situation with student loans. I am very new to permaculture, aside from obsesively watching hundreds of hours of videos online this last year. I'd like to find a good entry level work environment to learn the basics and meet the like minded that could help me on my way. I live in Bellevue, WA. WWOOF, nurseries, greenhouses, landscaping... it's dizying how many options there are. Any suggestion on the best way to get started locally?
 
Andreas Schäfer
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Hi all,

this topic has my interest, because I struggle with student debt myself, and most of my generation is. When I started studying I was not really educated in the world of finance.. Now I see that student debt is just another way to make economical growth based on debt. The old paradigm, with a degree you will find a well paid job, so don´t worry about the debt, isnt working anymore, since there are not enough of those jobs, and too many graduates looking for the same jobs, so that makes the degree less valuabe.

I think my situation is a little different than most of you, since I have a Dutch student debt. The monthly amount I have to pay back is depending on my income, if I earn about minimum wage, I pay nothing or almost nothing, when I have a decent income, I pay a lot. And because of record low interest-rates, the rate on my student debt is 0.4% right now, I wouldnt be surprised to see negative interest on student debt in the near future. The interest cant go up without a global debt reset. That can happen over night, or with help of high (or hyper-)inflation. Right now there are already debates about debt forgiveness, especially for student debt. I think that will happen, in the whole Western debt-loaded world. So maybe you shouldnt pay back everything as soon as possible, but wait and see how things evolve. In the mean time you try to save, so in case there wont be any debt forgiveness, you can pay it back with your savings. If you ask me, the best way to save is outside the financial system, with gold.

So I am thinking about starting my own permaculture-project or join an existing one, and keep my income low. I don't feel morally obligated to pay back the loan, because the whole debt-based growht-system is immoral itself. Banks create money out of thin air, and let you work for it to pay it back with interest. Fuck that! Excuse my french, but I am a bit angry about the way this system works..
 
Dougan Nash
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I feel what you're saying Andreas. Nothing causes me more anger than to look at my debt (been paying for 7 years, about 7 more to go) and realize how helpless I feel. My wife is worse off than I am, but I count her debt as my debt. We also have a baby on the way, so both of us working 2 jobs just ain't gonna be viable. And through all this struggle the banks won't care, my school won't care, and our degrees gather dust. We were fed a lie and what's even more frustrating is there is nothing tangible to take from us. You can take a car or a house, but my education stays with me. I wish I could just give it back to get rid of the burden, but I can't. It's 100% horse shit. And your situation doesn't seem so bad. Half of what I make goes towards my loans. Half.

But times like this are when I need to calm myself. It's been the hardest lesson my wife and I (and 75% of my generation) have had to learn. I learned how to balance a budget, plan ahead, live frugally, etc. My goal is to never have debt again, or heavily study my next endeavor. The only thing I will consider is a house, but If I can't put down 50%, I refuse to do it. I would much rather save for 15 years, than owe for 30 years with interest. I told my wife one day I will get us out of debt and I am a man of my word.
 
Jack Edmondson
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Tyler Hoff wrote: It's sad to see how putting your head down and working like a good slave is the feedback given here. Most of us with debt from student loans have at the LEAST 10 to 15 years until we can have these contracts paid off. With the way things seem to be heading, who knows what this world will even look like 10 - 15 years from now. A lot of us we're pressured into going to college and obtain degrees so we can "make it" in the real world. Blinded by our own ignorance and buried by our own signature. We are the generation that can make changes. We are young, passionate, soulful, smart, inspired and very ambitious about making serious change in the world and sustaining our massive population. Is this something we should just kick under the rug? Why do we have to accept this? Why are most universities for profit? Why is all knowledge not free ? Why is it, the rewarding and important goals we want to pursue have to be set to the back burner? Should the world be a business? I'm looking for the same opportunity Kat, maybe we should just become convicts . If you find anything be sure to share. Best- Tyler


Oh where to start...

Tyler. You poor oppressed wage slave. No one is recommending you be a slave. What they are recommending is that you need to MAKE MONEY in order to pay off the debt you freely (who was holding the gun to your head?) agreed to when you signed the contract. Working for 'the man' is not required. You are free to do as you wish. Play the lottery. Found a start up tech company. Mine for gold. However, a paycheck is the simplest, easiest, most accessible option for most people. It is not slavery. It is called earning a living. Welcome to real world. I do emphasize with your generation. What you were told was a complete lie and a scam. "Get an advanced degree and the world will be yours!" No one wanted to talk about the 'free money' it cost to get that degree. But as an adult (over the age of 18 ) , common sense should have warned that no one was going to pay someone to be a 'philosopher'.

Your generation is the current iteration of youth. When you write: "We are the generation that can make changes. We are young, passionate, soulful, smart, inspired and very ambitious about making serious change in the world and sustaining our massive population", it sounds very much like what my parents generation said in the 60's. Free love, change the world, social justice, ecology. Yeah. They are/were the baby boomers. How well did that turn out? We got Enron, Endless Global War, the political theater of every flavor, Derivatives and other financial fantasy (even the idea to enslave your generation with non dischargeable loans!), etc...

Get over yourself and get busy living. It is not slavery. It is life. Make the most of it. And I hope you retain your youthful enthusiasms and drive to change the world for the better. If you do, then you make break the cycle of history.
 
Dougan Nash
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Location: Eastern Shore, Maryland
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(who was holding the gun to your head?) agreed to when you signed the contract.


But as an adult (over the age of 18 ) , common sense should have warned that no one was going to pay someone to be a 'philosopher'.


I agree with everything else you said, but my biggest gripe when I hear others talking about student loans is quoted above. On the first point - no one forced us into signing that piece of paper, agreed. But we were fed a massive lie by our parents and teachers - the people we trusted for guidance . A good chunk of us were also the first in the family to go off to college and that is a huge boost to the pride until reality kicks in. Most at our age didn't understand the implications of these loans and most of our parents (from lower income/education) didn't either. My mother would have done anything to help me find money for school and loans were the easiest route. If someone had sat me down and told me I would be paying for 15 years what it took me 2 years to rack up at interest rates that are nearly criminal and generally higher than a car loan and at the end I would have paid almost double what I took out, you better believe I would have dropped the idea right there. I know it was my job to read the contract, but I was a really stupid kid with no real world experience who wanted to go to an out of state school. I also understand my parents should have explained it to me and read it as well, but they aren't good with money either. I think that if you aren't of age to be trusted with alcohol, you can't sign up for tens of thousands of dollars either.

For the second point, stop it. Stop using the straw-man argument that everyone with debt was a philosopher or women's study major. I know a lot of people with useful degrees, but often times if you don't have a masters - you are a dime-a-dozen. Even if you do have a masters the job market is so competitive that unless you can afford to take a couple years for an unpaid internship, you need to know the right people to get paid at the minimum starting. Yes, there are totally useless majors and I think they should be done away with. They don't prepare you for a career and they just take your money. However, don't discredit useful degrees when the entire game is rigged. And don't even get me started on private loans.

Sorry if I came off as hostile, but I have been hearing these really awful counter-points for sometime from people who don't know how awful and predatory these loans are.
 
Jack Edmondson
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the second point, stop it. Stop using the straw-man argument that everyone with debt was a philosopher or women's study major.



Actually the philosopher reference was specific reference back to someone in this thread whom had attained that degree. No straw man. Whether it was Tyler or not, I could not remember and was not going to waste the time to re-read the posts, as the point is moot.
 
Jack Edmondson
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Location: Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
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To hopefully contribute towards bringing this discussion back to a positive one, and address the OP's concerns; let me offer these ideas to Kat.

First the non-profit is a worthy goal, but needs to wait until you are in a position to gift the world this altruistic idea. However, if what you have to teach has real worth, people will pay for that knowledge (albeit in a slightly different paradigm.) Hold workshops. Start an Institute. A worker is worth her wages... There are risks involved, but knowledge has value. Explore ways to market that value.

Urban agriculture is a great need. Fill that niche. Be creative to find some land in an urban or semi urban setting. Grow and sell food. The best example you can set is to make a profitable venture from it. Convince someone you can beautify their property and allow them to be a magnanimous benefactor to the world by helping eliminate 'food deserts' in their community. Take that produce to market. How quickly could you pay your loans if you could make an extra $500 a week standing in a stall teaching people about the wonderful benefits of your fresh produce? Capitalism, for all its denigrators, is actually a pretty efficient system. It works. Everyone can benefit.

If that model does not work, there are areas of the country that have really inexpensive land close to urban centers that can be purchased or leased. PM if you want specific ideas. There are models out there that are proven to work. People in this community are doing it. They are making a living through agriculture. Nothing is a given. There are risks and sacrifices but it is a proven model. Be creative in how you get a similar system to work for you. Sounds impossible from where you may stand, I know. But let me give you a scenario. I live in Harris County Texas. One of the more populous land masses in the country. We get a lot of rain. Most of it all at once. This creates flood plains. These flood plains are heavily regulated by local government agencies. When people get tired of fighting taxes and regulations on land that they own, they will sometimes let it go for taxes, since it can not be used for many purposes. These agencies then own the land, which can only be used for agricultural purposes (no building, etc...) They will negotiate leases, both short and long term, with people who will use the land within the regulations set by the governing body. There is 77 acres of what was once prime farm land within a mile of my house. Since they redrew the flood maps after Tropical Storm Alicia in the 80's, that land is now considered 'flood prone', which means it may have moving water across it for 2-3 days every 5-10 years.

Now the county has no use for this property, but it is part of their duties to manage it as part of the flood control district. They don't mow it or maintain it; and certainly don't farm it. They are not worried about profit or liability, since they are tax funded. A smart person may approach the county and negotiate a lease (ag property goes for about $25/acre/year.) with the County. Then start a low impact non commercial garden. This garden could grow enough food to feed the homeless downtown. It might be taken to a farmer's market and sold to fund a non-profit, or it may just be used to retire student loans. If Joel Salatin can net $60k on 20 acres of leased land, why could a graduate with a mission not pay down debt on a similar arrangement?

If the county does not want to lease you land, find an individual whom has marginal property, but not the time to develop it. Make a long term lease and develop the soil, grow a crop, and sell the produce. Don't invest a lot of money on infrastructure or improvements. Your part is to care for the land and leave the soil better from your efforts. Long term capital improvements are the land owners responsibility and gain. Again, everybody can win, but you have to be creative and do the homework to find the right deal. There is no free lunch. (and I am not suggesting that is what you want or implied.) You make money. You hone your craft that you wish to bring to the world. People get fed. Sounds like an area for exploration.

This thread is a good place to get some discussion going on how to think and move outside the box. I hope this contributes to your list of ideas.
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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You work and you work hard. You pay off that debt ASAP. You save up. Then you live the dream.

Check out Dave Ramsey. Thanks to him we have no debt. I can do whatever I want.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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