Debt Free in China: $55,000 of Student Loans Paid Off

This is a blog post I’ve been waiting ages to write. We were debt free in early October of 2017, but I haven’t officially announced it to the world.

Here goes:

“Hey world, I’m debt free!”

I am so dancing with elbow air-pumps and giving myself a pat on the back.

But let’s get real for a second, I have to say it wasn’t that hard here. Not even to pay off $55,000 in student loans. Yeah, and I mean USD.

It totally was hard to get debt free when we were in the US. My husband couldn’t find a steady job, and I was at home with the babies. That season was so hard I’m not sure if I was going through culture shock (we lived among refugees), postpartum depression, or poverty shock. Bobby was working not one, not two, but three jobs so he could make ends meet. And I was searching online for decent jobs for him on top of that.

It’s not like hubby isn’t a hard worker. He is. He’s been the top teacher in his department almost every year of the nearly five years he’s been here. He has recently been promoted to supervisor. The parents love him and the students love him too. He’s a friggin’ hard worker, it’s just that the US economy wasn’t able to provide for someone without technical skills or the right degree from the right college.

And when we were in the US we did cut corners with money. But when you can’t make ends meet in the first place, a flat tire is life or death. (I have to admit I’ve learned even more about making my money go farther while living here. Chinese people have money-saving reputations for a reason.)

Though it was hard for us to get resettled here (we had to borrow money from friends to make it happen), moving to China was the best financial and professional decision we ever made.

We have a low cost of living compared to our salary, we have affordable childcare and schooling taken care of from 2 years of age (some start younger, but we felt 2 was early enough), and whether we eat out or eat in doesn’t matter, it’s all cheap… and mostly not bad for our health…

We made steady payments on the debt while I was still at home with the kids here in China, but when we both started earning an income, we quickly paid down debt and were able to invest in healthy bodies and hearts when needed.

Along with being able to pay off our debt, we’ve had professional opportunities we wouldn’t’ have had in the US. I’ve been a managing editor of a magazine. Do you know how hard it is to get that type of position in the US?

Bobby just became a supervisor of his team at school…. that’s an even harder position because there are a lot of very experienced and qualified teachers with administration Master’s degrees that would have been selected before Bobby was ever even considered.

If you’re thinking of moving overseas for a job opportunity or you’re wanting to create an opportunity, I say just do it! You won’t regret the experience that most people won’t be brave enough to try.

If you have questions or need advice about moving abroad, get in touch!

Join the group of other China-focused parents on Facebook by clicking here  or on WeChat by scanning the QR code

Vanessa Jencks founded China Family Blog to connect internationally-minded parents through semi-humorous stories and China-life-and-parenting fails. She is the former managing editor of beijingkids magazine; see her previous work here. She is also the founder of the 600+ member organization, Innovative Educators

WeChat: vanessajencks

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