John Donald and Teresa Bujacich, both health care professionals, don't consider themselves poor, and they wouldn't meet anyone's objective measure of being poor.
Yet they share many of the same challenges as other working poor in the Seattle area. They watchdog their budget, juggle bill payments and live month-to-month. There is no money to save for retirement. No emergency fund. They've made a lifestyle choice not to buy cell phones and cable TV, but even if they wanted to, they could barely afford them. Mini-mansions have popped up like mushrooms in the area surrounding their practice, but they are raising their baby in a modest one-bedroom condominium in Bothell, a 30-minute drive from their work.
The reason? Student-loan debt.
Between the two, Donald, an acupuncturist, and Bujacich, who is both a naturopath and acupuncturist, have 16 years of higher education and nearly $350,000 in student loans, a massive liability that costs them $1,700 a month in loan payments.