Today is a big day…I just clicked ‘submit’ on the Navient site one last time…my school loans are paid off and we are debt free!!!
It was late 2011 when I had a nervous breakdown in the living room of my apartment in Minneapolis. I was looking at my finances, which included a long list of student loan accounts, a car payment, and a couple credit cards. I started crying. I was overwhelmed by how much interest was piling up. Some of the loans from undergrad didn’t allow me to defer while I was in grad school. Of the minimum payment I made each month ($257.49), $233.28 of it was interest. Money in the toilet. I was doing that monthly since 2008 when I finished undergrad and had made no progress paying down the loans I already had taken out.
I had just started a doctoral program, and the only relief I felt was knowing the loans would continue to be in deferment while I was in school. The reality is that I didn’t own up to the truth…I fucked up. I continued to let the loans and interest pile up for an advanced degree I really didn’t need to further my career. I blamed everyone else but myself. I was in denial. Aside from my school loans, I was stressed being in grad school full-time, working full-time, and trying to work in a research lab at the same time. I was in the panic zone. Major fail.
Age 16 for me was the most stressful time of my life but 25 takes a close second. I was afraid to talk about my money troubles to anyone. I saw many of my friends getting married, buying homes and doing adult things, but once I opened my eyes I realized how many people around me were in the same boat. Some friends moving back in with their parents to save money, some ignoring their debts in hopes they’d make more money and be responsible later on, and others were assuming that school loan repayment is just another line item in their budget for the next 30 years. I wanted to be different.
I daydreamed about being debt-free going into my 30’s, but that seemed so farfetched based on my salary at the time and everything going on in my life. I’m 30 now and just paid the remaining balance on my school loans. The only difference between a dream and a goal is a plan. The plan has worked. We did it. I want to say thank you to all of you for reading and holding me accountable by checking in. My biggest thank you goes to Deanna for supporting me and helping me attain this goal, so that we can live the life we want to live. I’ve learned a lot over the past 5 years about money, setting goals, communicating, and my own motivation.
I’ll continue to write about money because this journey isn’t over, but this is a time to celebrate an epic milestone.