The Debt Days Are Over: Paid Off Student Loans

Screen Shot 2012-12-28 at 7.59.23 PMI’ve been waiting for this moment.

It’s been 17 months since I decided I would pay off my student loan debt before my 30th birthday. As 2012 wrapped itself up, I decided to move some savings around in order to enter the new year completely debt-free. The deadline was in four month’s time; mid-April. I’m excited and relieved to have finished early but it wasn’t accomplished easily.

The loan balances stood at around $15,000.00 when I first decided to tackle them violently. Since graduation in 2007, I had only paid a little over $4,000.00. In seventeen months, I was all over the charts with the monthly payments. Some data…

  • An average of $882.35
  • All leftover discretionary cash
  • A maximum of $1,100.00
  • A minimum of $150.00 (what they expected from me monthly), done on months when money was tighter than usual
  • Any “found” money; bonuses, tax returns, etc.
  • When I stopped drinking, what I used to spend on wine

What student loans tried to do to me, what they got in return…

Everyone says, “You must make more money than I do / I wish I could do that / my loans are higher / I have more expenses.”
Untrue. I don’t make a lot of money (sorry, David!) and it’s about priorities. As I silently repeat to myself during the grueling portion of thigh in Bar Method classes: Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right. If it’s important to you, you will find a way. If it’s not, you will find an excuse.

Where the freed up money will go instead of loan repayment:
Short -term emergency savings, a Roth IRA with Fidelity, a mutual fund with INGDirect, some investments at Betterment, and an ImpulseSave account. Oh, and definitely a nice dinner out with Drew to celebrate not owing anyone anything. He’s been living with a pauper girlfriend while I funneled money in the right direction and was a total champ about it.

Thank you SO MUCH for the support: Drew, Shadow, Dad, Mom, friends, co-workers, Krystal and J. Money for the endless inspiration, and the book Your Money or Your Life. Oh, and me. Self high-five.

29 comments

  1. I’m super happy for you, but if you can make payments of over $800 a month, then you actually make a very great deal more money than me, and many, many other people. Y’know? You can only judge yourself.

    1. It depends how you look at it Jill. 800$ a month isn’t an absurd amount of money to save and put away. It just takes someone to look within their budget and figure out where to save and what to prioritize. Clare already saves tons of money (perhaps 80$ a time) when going out as she’s not drinking alcohol anymore, and we all know that’s a HUGE expense most people don’t consider. She probably also was smart about how she ate, when she ate out, and poor Drew probably picked up the bill a lot :).

      1. Considering there are many people who barely make $800 a month TOTAL, before buying food or rent or ANYTHING, and also that I can’t remember the last time I went out to eat, I politely agree to disagree. :) So it does depend on how you look at it, but it’s an awareness of how people other than you survive. That said, I am very proud of Clare!

  2. That’s kind of a cheap shot, Jill. Clare has been blogging about her goal to pay off her student loans for a long time and people have been following this journey. It’s a huge accomplishment and it’s not cool to make her feel bad about meeting such a great goal. My financial goals are different, as are yours I’m sure. For instance, if I blogged about meeting my goal of saving 20K for travel (which I will meet in about 3 months time) would you really put me down when I was ready to celebrate it and share it with everyone?

    1. I love both of you very much and am deeply proud of both of you. Always have been, always will be. I am simply sensitive about the way money is discussed in general in our country, which was echoed in parts here (intentionally or not!)–that anyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps, that anyone can pay off their student debt, that anyone can save $20K, ever. It makes me so immensely happy that you can–but I (and many people) can’t, and the insinuation that we could if we just really tried actually hurts very deeply. Obviously Clare is one of the sweetest people on earth, and it wasn’t meant to make anyone feel bad, I just feel there should be an awareness. I am so incredibly excited for your travel, and for you.

  3. Bobbito Garcia once told me: “Rolando, love how you mastered email but Debt Zero is way better than Inbox Zero. I’d focus on that.” I’m not there yet, though I’m working on it every single day. I really appreciated getting that advice and reading this post. Thanks for sharing the stats. Helpful. -Grow

  4. CONGRATULATIONS! I read your former blog back when you committed to tackling your student loans (which I was doing, too) and just discovered this blog and update. I am SO excited for you!! I hope you did something fun to celebrate!

comment on this post

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s