An unfinished art degree is the majority of my debt, because I didn't have financial support from my parents for college, though they encouraged me to get a degree to better my life. While I'd like to finish my undergraduate degree, I am determined to pay those expenses out-of-pocket or not finish at all. If I can't afford to pay for college without taking on loans, I won't do it, despite the advantages of a degree. In addition, medical bills piled up while I was disabled and unemployed, and when I began working steadily, I needed a car to travel to and from work, so that incurred additional credit card debt. My total debt: $37,736, which is more than my annual salary. I've mapped out a 10-year-plan to pay it off, but it largely hinges on my finding a new job or being able to subsidize my cost of living by selling my art.
I work full-time in an administrative role, which doesn't pay enough to pay down my debts, so they've carried over for years as I've tried to get better-paying jobs. Recently, I've tried to land a part-time job, but nothing's materialized yet. I've had trouble finding jobs because of the lack of a degree.
It's frustrating, because I have to choose between paying down my debts to further my long-term goal of being debt-free, or buying art supplies. Art keeps me mentally healthy, but it's a costly passion when you've not sold anything yet and are pouring yourself into it. After paying bills, I have less than a fifth of my earnings to last me until I get paid again. To make it more feasible, I use waste products like packing paper in my art, repurposed or recycled supplies I can get for free. When I do buy new supplies, I buy on sale. I'm constantly brainstorming to find ways to utilize more cost-effective materials in my practice. I change my media because it is dependent on my budget. For example, I began using ink because I couldn't afford acrylic paint and ink lasts longer. I also developed some mixed-media techniques to this end, like using recycled paper in my paintings, and using paper marketing materials to apply paint rather than paintbrushes, which are too expensive. Because of my debts, I've definitely been pushed to be more creative with my approach to my artwork.