‘It also feels like wasted money’

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Who then lives who cares, Saskia thought when she borrowed as much as possible as a student. But now that she wants to buy a house with her boyfriend, she regrets her large student debt.

Saskia (34), relationship with Sam (36) and mother of Bob (7) and Janne (5):

“Sam and I rent a nice house in Utrecht, but for the astronomical amount of 1300 euros. We feel that money goes over the bar every month. And then we have also had a few rent increases in recent years. We want to buy, but the current high prices and the increased interest rates are holding us back. And honest; My student debt also plays a major role.

I’m afraid that if we let people find out what is and isn’t possible, we will discover that the consequences of my choices are greater than we think. So we kind of bury our heads in the sand. “Oh, we’re fine here,” we say to each other. I find it difficult to talk about it, even now. It gives me a very restless feeling.

Future plans

In high school I had no idea what I wanted to be. Since my best friend was going to law school, I decided to do the same. Of course someone had to put a stop to that. I was an insecure teenager with no plans for the future; then you don’t just do a random study to stay close to your best friend, that’s asking for trouble.

“Just doing a random study to stay close to your best friend is asking for trouble”

I didn’t get proper guidance from a dean at pre-university education. Both my parents did not study; they had long been thrilled that their daughter was going to university. I hated it. I didn’t tell anyone that, I kept up appearances and kept it that way for two years.

The only way I managed to pull it all off was to party. I obtained the minimum number of credits required and could mainly be found in the pub. Together with my girlfriend I rented a small studio. To pay for everything, I worked two evenings a week and borrowed as much as possible. The term yolo did not exist at the time, but I did have that attitude. You only live once; it would all work out, the guilt I built up was from later worry.

New study

After two years, the cake was finished. I couldn’t take it anymore, I couldn’t bring myself to digest that boring fare and stopped my studies. I opted for a higher vocational training in communication and now I continued to borrow as much as possible. I liked this study a bit more, but I didn’t see myself building a career in it.

I felt more and more for a job with a care aspect. Being there for others, maybe for children. But I really didn’t want to start a new study. So I gritted my teeth, completed my education and started working in the business world, where I earned a decent starting salary of 2400 euros net. Everything went out that first period of fun things; I even bought a jacket for 600 euros.


I hadn’t even worked for two months before I met Sam, it was love at first sight. And again six months later I was pregnant with Bob. Sam and I rented a very small apartment with a sky-high rent at the time and after Janne was born, we moved into our current rental home.

“I found it very difficult to find my footing as a mother”

I wanted to continue working for four days, but Janne turned out to be a crying baby. If you do nothing day and night but walk around with a crying baby and also have to work, you go crazy. I did that. I got burned out. I found it very difficult to find my feet in my new role as a mother. It didn’t feel right in any way that I would be sitting in an office when my child needed me. I discussed that with Sam and he understood me. He also saw that business life is not for me.

When I scrambled out of my burnout and started to delve more and more into parenting, including by taking a few short courses, Sam suggested that I become a children’s coach. “That’s where your talent lies,” he said. I got really excited about it.

student loan bank account

Own practice

And that’s why I started a new course three years ago. An education that we pay for from Sam’s salary; he earns 3500 euros net. I now also work as a communications officer for two days, which earns me 900 euros net per month.

On the other days I carefully start my own practice. I work on an outpatient basis, I visit families at home – that saves me the rent of space for now. I don’t have many customers yet. I’m not quite finished with my education, of course.

Also read – Up to your neck in debt: ‘We haven’t made any progress for years’ >

Dark cloud

In recent years, my student debt has hung over my head like a dark cloud. Three years ago I first really dared to see how high it was exactly: 30,800 euros. I now pay back just under 80 euros per month, which is of course peanuts for the amount that is outstanding.

It sometimes feels crooked when we book a holiday for a few thousand euros. And the fact that we bought a new sofa for 2500 euros a year ago also gave me a bad feeling. It’s a beautiful sofa and I enjoy it every day, but the sofa we had was still quite okay – we could have paid off that amount.

“We would rather enjoy ourselves than make ends meet to pay off that debt”

Sam and I are both not very good at making wise choices. We’d rather enjoy eating out with the kids or planning a day out now than trying to make ends meet to pay off that debt. I recently read an interview somewhere with a woman who managed to pay off her student debt, coincidentally also of 30,000 euros, in two years. I’m jealous of that, yes.

Wasted money

The worst part is that I have a debt for two studies that I should not have followed at all. It feels like wasted money.

I’m glad Sam didn’t also have a debt from his study period. He already lived in the city of his university, so he didn’t have to stay in a room and his parents paid his tuition fees and all other expenses. That was not possible with me; my parents are not well off. But apart from that, I just really didn’t make any wise decisions. I could have done with a lower loan. Then I wouldn’t have been able to hang out in the pub every weekend…

Separate savings account

I have firmly resolved to do things differently for my own children. I will do everything I can to prevent them from taking out a loan. We have already opened a separate savings account for them, which now contains more than 4,000 euros, which is still far from enough.

“I think it would be great to see that amount go towards zero euros”

The fact that I’m not the only one burdened with a student debt gives me some support. The last generation of students in particular has had a hard time, I know stories of recent graduates who have a debt of up to 70,000 euros. How do you ever get rid of that? No, we will never let it come to that for Bob and Janne. And as soon as my practice is going well, I will pay off faster. I think it would be great to see that amount go towards zero euros.”

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