Precautionary Measures

Malkia McLeod needs to organize her finances to help carry her through an uncertain job market

Malkia McLeod is feeling financial pressure. In the fall, the 37-year-old could be out of a job. A public affairs specialist, McLeod has been working just over a year and a half for the U.S. Census Bureau under a term appointment that is up for renewal in September. There are very few vacancies for extended terms or permanent employment in the Public Information Office, says McLeod, “but I have made a career out of PR, and that is where I would like to stay.”

If McLeod’s position isn’t renewed, finding full-time employment will be a challenge. Given the state of the job market, on average it takes six months to a year to find work. When she does locate a new position, she may find it difficult to replace her annual salary of about $77,000.

The Baltimore resident admits that the biggest impediment to saving is her shopping habit. “I am buying everything from clothes to household items. I recently spent $130 at a Rite Aid. Who does that?”

Her bad habit isn’t new. McLeod left college weighed down by $11,000 in debt spread across seven credit cards. But over the years, she faithfully paid down the balances using her discretionary income. “Once the spending gets out of control, I start cutting the credit cards up.” She recently cut up her last credit card which has a balance of $4,800. In spite of her splurging, she has always maintained a good credit profile; her credit score is 775.

McLeod is also hauling a heavy load of $70,000 in student loans from her three degrees: an associate degree in early childhood education from Baltimore City Community College, a bachelor’s in journalism from Norfolk State University, and a master’s in mass communications from Towson University. In 2009, McLeod received a forbearance reduction to $100 on her monthly loan payment. Her forbearance status lasts until September, at which point her payments revert to $473 per month unless she can get an extension.

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  • gomee

    to all the women of color in technology. There’s plenty of us, but our media usually gives so much attention to the athletes, singers and actresses who deserve recognition, but it’s nice to see a balance. Thank you
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