Saturday, May 12, 2012

American's billion dollar baby scam

Keeping with the theme of Saturday afternoon infographics that I've found on the internets, here's another one close to HillcrestBlogger's heart.  I'm pleased to say that our family has not succumbed to many of the ill-advised aspects of this type of expensive Babynomics, but its always there, lurking behind every purchase :)

Babies Infographic

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thursday's running update

Was dead tired yesterday so didn't get a post up but I did take off from work this morning to, among other errands and responsibilities, complete my 5K training run.  Inching closer and closer...covered 2.52 miles in 36 minutes, which was a 5 minute warm-up walk, 26 minute run, and 5 minute cool down.  I was still pretty sore from Tuesday morning's run and stupidly did not eat anything before hitting the path this morning, so I guess that's the reason it felt like a crappy run.  At least the weather was pretty great.  I think I'll wait until Sunday to do my next one, giving myself an extra day of recovery, since I do not have a soccer game that day. 

Anyway, a better post tomorrow as well as some music clips. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Running update

Eighteen days out from the Riverfest Rock n' Stroll 5K and I think I'm on schedule with my training to make a solid go of completing it in its entirety.  Today I took an extra hour at lunch and completed Week Seven, Day One of my couch-to-5K training, which consisted of a 5-minute warm-up walk, a 20-minute run, a 3-minute walk, another 5-minute run, and then a 5-minute cool-down walk.  This covered 2.6 miles in 38 minutes.  And while I was certainly tired and some of my muscles started to tighten up toward the end (mainly my lower back and quads today), my pulse and breathing were still pretty strong.  I think I could have muscled out another 10 minutes of running, which would have put me in the run-close-to-5K range.  But, since this is a regimented training schedule, I didn't want to get ahead of myself and risk injury or a pulled muscle.

My next run will be a 26-minutes-straight run, with 5-minute warm-up/cool-down walks on either end.  I ran in the neighborhood today, but I think I'll go down to the Arkansas River running path to knock that out  Thursday morning.

Oh, and if you are interested in what was on my playlist, here are the songs that I queued up today, in order:

Sweet Young Thing Ain't Sweet No More by Mudhoney
You Know You're Right by Nirvana
The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden
Ocean Size by Jane's Addiction
Locomotive by Guns N' Roses
Too Young to Fall In Love by Motley Crue
Color Me Impressed by The Replacements
Turn on the News by Husker Du (cool-down started during this song)
I Wanna Be Sedated by The Ramones

Yep, all metal, hardcore, punk, and early 90's alternative rock.  What, you expected Chris Isaak's Wicked Game or something? ;)

Monday, May 7, 2012

A follow-up post to the one earlier in the evening

A follow-up post to the one earlier in the evening about the cost of law school.  I actually took pen to paper and accessed my personal account ledger to figure out, to the cent, how much I'll have paid toward my law school students loans from the first payment to the last*.

Drum roll...

My $42,000 juris doctor student loan is going to end up costing me $84,249.69.  Yep, almost double.  Ouch.  The five years I didn't pay a dime toward them while they were on forbearance from May 1998 until February 2004 sure came back to haunt me, as those loans' interest rates really did their trick.  Oh well, live and learn.  It would be easy to get angry about the costs of higher education and the cost of my loan in particular, but I did sign on the dotted line and I have no one to blame but myself for going five years without making a payment.  At least my initial loans were reasonable enough to enable me to pay them off in less than ten years (of the first payment).  That, and I was able to enter the legal profession during a period of economic growth and be fully entrenched in the legal community, with experience and connections, by the time the economy went into the toilet in 2008, so I never had to sweat being unemployed.  People nowadays will have neither and come out of law school with a much more onerous student-loan repayment future.  A bleak future, to say the least, if those loans are piggybacking them from now until the End Times.

Oh, one more thing to consider when I talk about the "cost" of my law degree.  Its what the scam-bloggers (AKA those folks who blog about the law school "scam") refer to as "opportunity cost."  Essentially, the missed salary I should compute from 1995 to 1998, when I was in school, not earning a living.  I really have no idea what my 1995 BA in English would have been worth on the open market back then and what type of job I was even qualified for, but I think it reasonable to estimate that an average 1995 college graduate in Arkansas could command $20,000 per year starting out.  Hell, that may be too low.  But its a nice round number.  So, at the risk of throwing my "true cost" accuracy out the window by using arbitrary numbers, let's say that I missed out on salary from June 1995 until October 1998 (when I got my first attorney job).  That's 40 months.  At $20,000 per year, that's a gross of $66,666.00.  Take 20% of the top for taxes and that leaves a post-tax net of $53,332.00.  So, yeah, I could have expected to have $53,000 in my pocket from June 1995 through October 1998.  And, mind you, I graduated college with ZERO debt.  No credit cards, nothing.

So, while it is true that my law degree likely over the long haul of my career will result in a higher earning potential, the sunk costs are staggering.  $53K in lost initial earnings and $84K in loan payments.  $137,000 total outlay for the privilege of calling myself a lawyer.  Staggering.

* Although I have not paid them off entirely, I was able to accurately determine how much my final bill will be.  You'll just have to trust me on the figures.  They should be fully paid off by this time next year :)

The law school scam... least that's what some people on the internet call it.  And, I think they are right.  Basically, the cost of going to law school has gotten so expensive and the job market has so cratered that it literally is an unwise investment of time, energy, and -- most importantly to most people -- MONEY, to take that career route.

Which is sad, really.  My law degree, earned in 1998, has served me well, even though the degree itself likely cost me somewhere around $70,000 to earn (not to mention the three years of salary I did not earn while pursuing my degree).  Still, even with that big fat debtload, I will have paid if off within nine years (my first student loan payment was February of 2004, five and 1/2 years after graduation) and without it totally crippling my lifestyle and budget.  Not so with today's graduates.  Just take a look here to see what it costs nowadays and just imagine what the resulting student loan payments would do to your budget, dear reader.  That is, if you can even find legal work in this crappy market!

I've come to the conclusion that its just not worth the money to go to law school unless 1) you or whoever is footing the bill is independently wealthy or you get a substantial scholarship.  That's it.  That's the only reason. 

Look at the costs of UALR's law school.  You're looking at about $38,000 in tuition alone to go three years toward a JD.  You know what that equals in repayment-of-loan terms?  Well, if you knock them out in ten years, this calculator suggests that it'll run you at least $54,000, with a starting monthly payment of $455/month.  Again, this is TUITION ALONE.  That means living at home with the parents and eating their food and not needing to take out any additional loan for rent, utilities, groceries, beer money, etc.  If you need to take out another $8,000 in living expenses ($500/month rent over 12 months is $6,000 by itself, remember), you're looking at the cost of a JD at UALR rising to $94,000 to be paid out over ten years at $783/month.  That's almost $10,000/year in student loan repayments, right out of the gate and every year for ten years.

You still think its worth it?  Let's say a recent UALR grad does well for herself and gets a deputy prosecuting attorney gig here in Pulaski County, and say that she starts out at $40,000/year, which I'd guesstimate is about right for a brand-new lawyer.  Well, take 25% of the top for taxes and then the requisite $10,000 in student loan payments a year and all of a sudden she's got to spread $20,000 over the next 12 months, which is $1,666.00 a month, which is ALL she has left per month -- rent/mortgage, utilities, food, clothing, car payment, gasoline, shoes, beer money, credit card payments, whatever.  Its not exactly poverty level, but for a person with a juris doctor degree, its dangerously close, especially if you are supporting a spouse or a family.

If you are taking loans out to go to law school nowadays, you are a fool.  That is sad, but it is the truth.