A dilemma regarding debt. (Not mine).

Hey, guys.

I’ve got a moral dilemma regarding hubby’s college debt. (Mine’s gone, thank Og).

At the present, he is quite decently employed, and is looking to get rid of the said debt completely in 5 years, if not sooner. I’m basically a stay-at home, doing general errand-running, plant/animal husbandry, cooking, cleaning, and art. The last one is what I’ve always wanted to do full-time (but isn’t something that’s raking in much dough), and the first few can be considered a part-time job that ‘pays the keep’. Both the hubby and I are happy with the arrangement.

There are no kids in the picture, nor is there expected to be any, anytime soon.

Part of me wonders if I should be working outside the home to help pay off the afore-mentioned debt. In the area we’re in (very rural Appalachia), I’d be unlikely to find a job in my field (art education), so it’d probably have to be something sadly close to minimum wage.

I guess, the question is, is standard of living/our free time worth sacrificing over extra money towards the debt? Relevant experiences and thoughts are much appreciated.

I’m not seeing where this is a moral dilemma so much as a simple lifestyle choice. It doesn’t sound like you’re at any risk of defaulting on the debt, you’re both happy with your current arrangement, and you haven’t mentioned needing more money for any other reason than to wipe out the student loan debt faster.

So, in your shoes, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving up the extra money you’d get from working a minimum wage job in exchange for the added time (and happiness) you’d get from not working said job. You’re not lazy, you’re not a bad person, you’re just chosing to value the intangible over the material. As long as you can keep a roof over your head and your husband doesn’t resent the fact that he’s working and you’re not, be grateful that you’re in the position you are and enjoy it.

In your situation I think I would look into part time or temp jobs and only take one that has minimal impact on my lifestyle. Keep in mind that a job will add some expenses like gas and maybe new clothes. I’d be looking for something that would maybe allow you to carpool with hubby a couple days a week, is very close by, or something like that.

Is there any way you can sell your art online, like on etsy.com? That would bring in a little extra money, and you’d still be practicing your art!

Or maybe offer in-home art classes to locals? What kind of art do you practice?

Debt paid off in five years is not so bad. If you’re both happy with your arrangement, I’d say stick with it. Maybe, as others have said, look for a little bit of extra art-related work or something like that.

**Giraffe **, your “You’re not lazy, you’re not a bad person, you’re just chosing to value the intangible over the material.” line shall be drawn in intriguingly curvy letters and hung above a dresser. Solid encouraging advice there, and I thank you for it.

smaje1 , I do have etsy. As far as artsiness goes, it’s mostly painting these days, with some metalwork and ceramics on the side. In the past, it’s been supplemented with embroidery, as well.

Otherwise, temp job or extra artsiness sounds like a plan. Might up the volunteer hours at the local museum, so the resume doesn’t look suspiciously empty, if there is ever a real need to find the job. Thanks, guys.

What are your life goals and values? Even just beyond the debt? If your goals (goal in the plural) is to life a simple life, have the freedom to pursue your art, your husband isn’t looking to retire early, etc. then there isn’t anything wrong with the path you are taking.

I have a friend who spent a year at nearly 50 living out of a van in an artist’s colony pursuing her art. She make her living doing odd jobs. Sometimes she has a real roof over her head, sometimes its her, the dog, the van - and an internet connection at a Starbucks. It would drive ME crazy - but it makes HER happy.

You say in both the OP and the title that you have a dilemma regarding debt **(not yours). ** I find that to be odd. It’s not like his loan was for some frivolity; it was to finance a degree that now allows him to support the both of you. So I’d consider that to be joint debt, especially if you’re equally enjoying the earnings that have come as a result of that debt.

Personally, I’m a huge proponent of balance in a marriage – and that can mean any number of arrangements. But this is clearly niggling at you, so I think you should listen to your gut.

So, yes, I think getting a part-time job for the sole purpose of paying down his college loan sounds like a terrific idea. Part-time work will still afford you plenty of time to pursue your art, but it may also make you feel like the marriage is more balanced.

Even if you don’t get a job, then you might consider volunteering at one of the local schools or community centers in areas that could really use your talents. It’ll be good for the soul.

I think a valid point is how the OP considers marriage. In the old days “what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours” was pretty much the default. But now, especially young people, look at things differently.

After this recession having no payments is too valuable. If he loses his job and you can’t find one you could wreck your credit for future things.

Debt is a huge stressor for any marriage. And who knows you may just enjoy one of those minimum wage jobs. It may not be much, but getting out of the house may just be a nice thing.

In any case I would encourage the OP to get out and look for a job. In these hard times, it would be good to know if you are going to be able to find one if you need it. And especially with Christmas coming up, perhaps a temp Christmas job would be a perfect time to test out whether it’s a good idea or not to work

I think you should both get any kind of job and use what extra money you have to pay off the debt. If your married you are partners in everything. What’s his is yours and what’s yours is his. Of course this is only my opinion of a marriage, and others may differ.

In the long run it gets paid off and you will eventually get your free time back.

I don’t know how they calculate interest on student loans these days, but if you’re paying only 4 or 5%, I’d stretch those payments out as long as possible. Rather than try to prepay, I would put the extra cash into a safe, liquid investment.

The immediate objection to this plan is the fact that your investment will probably return much less than the interest you’re paying on the loan. That is a good point. However this is an economically and possibly politically uncertain time. That means that having a good job today doesn’t mean having one tomorrow. If your personal economic situation were to take a turn for the worse, having a cash cushion will be worth a lot more than whatever it costs you in interest.

Dangerosa , your friend must have a lot of interesting stories to tell. “Simple life” sounds about right, though. And hubby’s of an opinion that retirement would cause him to lose his mind, since he’d have no idea what to do with himself. :wink:

PunditLisa , you’re right, it is a joint debt. The more I think about it, though, the more I realize that it’s a fair arrangement. He gets to wake up to a ready breakfast, leave for work with a packed lunch, come home to a healthy dinner, gets dragged out to the gym multiple times a week (it’s good for 'im, darnit!), and has no house-chores whatsoever. We get the weekends free to hike/bike/go out and see interesting places and/or friends.
I do volunteering at the local regional art cen… art museum already, and am involved in a local artsy group. … Two of 'em, actually. It -is- good for the soul. Also gets one out of the house and in the face of conservative older ladies that aren’t used to change.

Markxxx , the debt isn’t a real stress factor. We’re able to live a comfortable lifestyle while making more-than-minimum payments+ putting some away for rainy day. Hubby’s job is in no danger for a number of reasons.

elecwoman Wait, I have free time… ? XD

dzero , from what I understand, we’re getting most of the interest on the loans back in the tax returns anyway…

I fully agree with this. Your situation sounds like it works for you now, but what if your husband should have a serious illness, get injured in a car accident, or drop dead of a heart defect no one knew he had? Any adult who is financially dependent on another should keep themselves within the realm of the employable even if it is just in a small way, like a part time or seasonal job, in case the worst should happen.

As long as he feels the same you, then it’s a good arrangement for both parties. However, I would caution anyone who stays at home to keep their job skills and social network up to date, just in case circumstances change.