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Karen KellyHow I Got Into Law School at 47
With Only An A.A. Degree, Practically No Money, And Without Taking The Dreaded LSAT

by Karen Kelly

In the fall of 1999, at 43 years old, I had a colossal mid-life crisis.

My life was rolling along quite nicely. I had a decent little home business selling used books on the Internet. I was happily single and living in my own condo in Davis, California, a lovely university town. Although working for myself involved working many more hours than it ever did working for someone else, my time was still my own. I could take an afternoon off on a moment’s notice, and make it up in my pajamas after dinner, with a glass of wine on the desk.

And then I received one of those letters from Social Security, showing how much money I will be living on when I retire. Having no money in the bank, and not making enough to save a dime, I did the most logical thing a person in my shoes could do to prepare for my retirement. I took a vacation to Mexico and charged it on my credit card.

While lamenting over multiple margaritas in a beautiful Mexican courtyard with other “snowbirds” from the U.S. and Canada, it became perfectly clear that I should sell everything and move to Mexico. Which I did three months later.

My brilliant idea was to create a Website and newsletter on retiring in Mexico, which would support me. After all, I’d read a book once that said you can live in
Mexico on practically nothing! I had enough money to live on for one year.

Although I wrote many fascinating articles, I had failed to do the market research which would have shown me that there virtually was no market. Woops. I also expected to have my Internet service--which was imperative to starting my business--hooked up sooner than three months. It took two months to get the phone hooked up. And, as it turns out, it’s not that cheap to live in Mexico if you want to live like an American. Before giving up, I maxed out several credit cards trying to make it work.

I came back to the U.S. with my tail between my legs and filed bankruptcy. Then I learned that nobody would rent an apartment to me because of the bankruptcy. And nobody wanted to hire a 44-year-old woman who had been self-employed for several years, sold everything, moved to Mexico and went bankrupt.

With the paltry savings I had left, I rented a room in a stranger’s house, and started selling books again, which I lined the walls of my little room with. And I cried. A lot.

Letting go of the idea of retiring was easy. I met many retirees in Mexico and they were bored out of their skins. But, I did need to save for the old folks home and dreamed of owning my own house again. I was going to need a career that paid serious bucks and which would allow me to be self-employed following graduation. The market for 50-year-old graduates isn’t particularly hot.

So, between bouts of sobbing into my pillow and soothing myself with California wine (about the only thing affordable in California besides the weather), I started searching the Internet.

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