remember you have to work your way up to the game designer position (realistically at least 5+ years (depending how good of a designer you prove yourself to be and what titles you work on) at a wage no better than some store manager before you get to the 35k a yr
I would like to just counter this point. If you get lucky you can land a good designer job right out the bat. But it might not be what you want to design. Example: i do educational games right now. Look for other markets in the same kind of set up to gain experience. Just working in the field is good enough. There are many routs to getting to game designer position.
One thing to keep in mind though is that if your passionate enough money does not matter. As long as I am making enough money to pay my bills and play my games and get something cool here and there I am happy.