Welcome to Barlow Street, a site about the intersection of money and life. Barlow Street was born my efforts to get my financial house in order, pay off my student loans, really engage with life and experience financial freedom.
I, “Barlow”, am a thirty-something attorney living in Chicago. I created this space to talk openly about money and about my journey to financial freedom.
I started this blog in 2019 because, like many others, I felt an absence of voices like mine in the personal finance space. I didn’t come from money and – really – until 2013, I didn’t have any. Instead, I was raised in public housing by a series of (hopefully) well-meaning families who relied heavily on public assistance.
When I aged out of foster care at eighteen – eager to escape the cycle of poverty – I went to college, a private one. Despite receiving a generous scholarship, I graduated in 2008 with $20,288 in student loans. After college, I worked as a congressional aide, lived minimally with three roommates and tried, with limited success, to pay down my student loans.
At the urging of my boss, I went to law school in 2010 and, as a result, added $87,986.26 to my debt load. Accounting for accrued interest (and payments on my loans during law school), I had more than $100,000 in student loans when I graduated from law school in 2013.
Fortunately, I landed a job at a large law-firm and started making real money. Unfortunately, I picked up a bad habit of “treating myself” for my long hours at work – with needless target trips, expensive restaurants, etc. – instead of paying down my student loans. In the midst of that spending, I battled against the feeling of financial insecurity and in 2016, I found myself creating spreadsheet after spreadsheet and constantly worrying about crashing back into poverty.
After devouring personal finance books, blogs, and podcasts and taking an honest look at my finances, I had a wake-up call. It was what I was doing with the money that was causing anxiety, not how much money I was making. I committed to paying off my student loans, spending money more intentionally and increasing my savings rate.
I experienced money shame in silence for years – so I want to end the secrecy around debt and talk freely about the “bad” money decisions we make. I hope you will join me.
I welcome questions, comments anecdotes and/or terrible lawyer jokes, so feel free to reach out.