bgdddymtty wrote:Have either of you guys ever worked anything approximating BigLaw hours? Or any professional job, for that matter? People who work 70 hours a week (plus commute!) don't tend to have a lot of time for grocery shopping/cooking, laundry, and the like. How many BigLawyers do you see riding the subway, particularly in summer? And then there are things like health insurance and retirement contributions. The point is that money spends very quickly.
And banjo, your anecdote about housing costs reinforces my point. In order to be able to make headway on his debt, a professional making upwards of $160K per year at a grueling, thankless job can go until age 30 or later without having a place of his own with a bedroom. This is not exactly living it up.
Remember that the whole $70K/year in living expenses idea was bk's suggestion of how to get down to only $150K in debt by the end of year three in BigLaw. (BTW, given interest, the remaining debt would be more like $180K.) That's the average lifespan of a BigLaw associate. So, assuming a lateral out to a corporate job at $100K/year, as bk did, one might expect to have after-tax income of $70K. Paying off the remainder of the debt over the next ten years (y'know, until age 38, assuming K-JD) would run just over $2,000/month, leaving him with less than $50,000 per year on which to live.
Thinking about it now, to me it seems that the important thing is the difference between year 3 and year 4 in biglaw is pretty huge in terms of your debt timeline. I don't think 6 years is necessary, but I think staying that 4th year is the difference between escaping debt in 10 years and escaping it in 15 years. But I also don't think it's absurd to expect someone who exits biglaw to lower their standard of living (granted it isn't easy once it's something you've become used to).
Don't most firms cover health insurance? I understand the issue regarding retirement/homeownership, but those are investments that you are foregoing because you are paying off debt to avoid accumulating as much interest.
I'll agree with you that it ain't amazing, but I disagree that it is actually that bad (though of course I've never worked those kinds of hours, closest was more like 50 across 2 jobs).