I met my wife Jenna in college as we both started the Teacher Education Program at the University of Minnesota Duluth. After graduating we both found a job at the same school and worked our way up to being full time teachers. Educating young people is a passion we both share in life, and we truly love that we get to help shape young minds for a living. However, teaching middle school isn’t our only job. Even before we got married, we both sought out a second job to supplement our teaching income. We get asked by our students all the time, and even their families, “why do you have a second job?” Well, here is why.
There are always options
I mentioned that we both share a passion for teaching. Another thing we both share in life unfortunately is student loan debt. When we got married, our combined student loan debt totaled about $90,000. Yikes! If you have student loans, or any other form of debt, you might have a good idea of what we were facing. It truly limits your opportunities and what you can do with your life. My wife and I have big goals and dreams, but with so much debt, it didn’t seem possible to achieve any of them in this lifetime. We saw a couple options for ourselves. Behind door number one, we could pay the minimum balances on our student loans, and save away as much money as possible to buy a house, go on vacations, and eventually afford starting a family. The key word for reaching all of those goals was “eventually.” The very idea of this was depressing. We would have to delay our dreams and goals for such a long time while we paid off our debt. Basically, this option sucked! Another option could have been using credit cards to go on vacations and buy other necessities, like so many young couples do today. Although piling up more debt wouldn’t help us buy a house, we would be living the high life on vacations and buying all kinds of cute baby clothes. Door number two was not in the cards for us either. We had to find another way, which led us to door number three.
Door Number Three
Our journey in faith has brought us a long way in trusting God to meet our needs and provide in exceptional ways. At about this time, Jenna felt God telling her she would be debt free in five years. Say what?! So basically we had to pay off $90,000 of debt in five years….on two teacher salaries….okay, good one. That is when we discovered what was behind door number three; we both needed to get a second job. Now when I say we ‘needed’ to get a second job, it wasn’t entirely true. We could afford to pay all of our bills, including our debt, and have a few dollars left over. But we didn’t want to struggle through life, with debt dictating our options. We wanted to crush our debt as soon as possible! You see, I believe life isn’t just about just getting by. I truly believe that we are meant to reach and achieve the deepest dreams in our hearts! I didn’t want our greatest accomplishments to be paying off our loans. I want to travel, to start a family, and to give generously! How could I do that while drowning under a mountain of debt? The truth is, I couldn’t. For us, it was an easy choice. We each got a second job.
Ups and Downs
We bounced around a couple different jobs before settling on ones that have truly made a difference in our budget and mission to crush our debt into oblivion. For the last year and a half, Jenna has been a server, and I have been a bartender at a fancy Italian restaurant in our city. It was unintentional that we ended up at the same restaurant, but we love working together, and truthfully it is helpful to see each other working so hard because it keeps our minds focused on why we are doing it in the first place. The fact is, working a second job in addition to teaching is not always a joyous experience. Sometimes it downright sucks. The job itself is pretty great, and we are so thankful to have it. Not to mention, our coworkers are pretty awesome. The part that sucks is working a 4-5 hour shift immediately after spending 9-10 hours working my butt off as a teacher. It takes a ton of effort to put in such long days. It is draining, especially when I think about all the grading and lesson planning that I also need to do that weekend.
On the flipside, the extra money does incredible things for our budget and paying off our debt in leaps and bounds. We have two great advantages that work in our favor. First, we are pretty young and don’t have kids. This frees us up to work more hours. Second, a great benefit of being a teacher is getting the summer off. We use this to our advantage to work a lot during the busy tourist season. Every extra dollar we make goes toward our student loans, accelerating our debt repayment drastically. Instead of paying off our loans in 25-30 years (yes, that really is how long it would take with minimum payments), we will actually be debt free four years from when we started this plan, one year ahead of schedule. The closer we get only intensifies our focus to work hard, pick up extra shifts, and get out from underneath the rock of debt once and for all. Sweet financial freedom is on the horizon in April of 2017.
Wrapping it Up
Working a second job can really stink, but not nearly as much as having massive debt. I will gladly, well mostly gladly, work a second job to become debt free over piling up debt. We are so thankful for the second jobs we have had, and the flexibility our managers have had to work around our teaching careers. Without these extra jobs, we would be drowning in debt for decades. I would love to hear your debt free stories and adventures!
Let Me Know in the Comments
What are you willing to do to get out of debt? What have you tried to earn more money to crush your debt?
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