$271,706.74 in Student Loans: Oops

2015, when I graduated law school, was a simpler time.   Ariana Grande had not yet licked a donut (let alone Pete Davidson), and big law starting salaries were still the (totally insane) $160,000.  I was fortunate to have lined up one of those big law jobs, and I knew that all I had to do was make it through the bar exam, move into a nice new apartment in one of America’s more expensive cities, and start measuring my life in six minute increments.  I was ready. to. go.

But here’s the thing about studying for the bar exam:  it sucks.  You, my dear reader, know this, because you are either a lawyer (and know it firsthand), a law student (and have heard horror stories), or a genius (and noped the fuck out of studying for the bar by not even going to law school).

So law grads do things to make it a little better–move to the beach, voluntarily watch daytime television, take a shot every time the Barbri lecturer makes a pun, etc.  I kept it simple and discovered the joys of the little coffee shop a few blocks from my parents house.  My parents live in a suburb, and the coffee shop featured a wide variety of suburb staples:  a very gossipy group of octogenarians, a teenage Bible study group, a mom’s group, like fourteen 19-year-old men trying to teach themselves coding but actually just surfing Reddit, and way too many people who believe bike shorts and sweat are appropriate attire for a coffee shop.  And me, nursing a large latte in the corner and trying to not fall that far behind my Barbri counter.

It was there one day where I, desperately seeking an escape from the vagaries of impleader and interpleader, decided to finally total up my student loan debt.

Woof.

I owed $271,706.74.

With a newly rising wave of panic, I closed out my Barbri tab (not something that required much convincing), and started doing calculations of how much and how long it would cost me to pay this off.

Yikes.

Every month, I had to pay $1,447 in interest before I could even make a dent in the debt.  I hastily threw together the first of many charts summarizing my debt load: Continue reading “$271,706.74 in Student Loans: Oops”

Welcome to Big Law. Sorry About the Big Loans.

So you graduated with six figures in debt and landed a job with a six figure salary.  Congratulations (on the latter)!  But now you have to deal with the former without becoming accustomed to the latter.  Welcome to a blog dedicated to showing you how.

Who am I?  I’m an anonymous mid-level attorney at a top-notch biglaw firm in one of the three most expensive regions in the country (NY/SF/LA).  I graduated from a T14 law school with almost $300k in debt (sticker + undergrad).  Over the 3-4 years since I started working, I’ve paid off about half of that debt and have moved my net worth from about -$270k to about -$60k.  The large majority of that progress has happened in the past 18 months.  I expect to be at a zero net worth when I receive my bonus this year.  And good news:  I like being a lawyer, and I likemy firm.  This is not a “God, big law is the worst” blog.

Who are you?  You are a junior attorney, or a law school student, or just a high wage earner with a lot of debt.  You have heard the stories of golden handcuffs and abusive bosses, and you are aware of hedonistic adaption.  You want to use your income wisely, but you want to maximize your life experiences now and your options down the road.  You also don’t want life to suck.

This blog is simultaneously a story about how I am managing my progress and a guide to how you can do the same.  We are going to cover budgeting, student loan refinancing and repayment, lifestyle decisions, how to vacation without using the word “weekending,” professionalism, how not to be that first year associate, and, for those of you still in law school, how to reduce your debt before you start working.  If you want to make it to being a senior associate, I will give you some guidance of what you should avoid doing as a junior.  If you want to retire early, I will give you a gameplan to keep expenses low and happiness high.

The years you spend in big law can either set you up for a phenomenal financial future, or they can be sources of serious anxiety and pain.  This blog will show you how to make sure you’re on the first path, not the second.  Stick around.