Eric + Blog = Therapy

For several months I have been debating whether or not to start the blog again. Should it have a general theme, focus on my personal stories/experiences, or be complete randomness about whatever crops up in the old noggin? I also was concerned about professionalism knowing my coworkers are reading this right now, but this is who I am and this is my experience.

I have been on a financial journey over the past year. It has been a transformation full of frustration, momentum, and insight…

loans

(from someecards.com)

Student loan debt. My. Living. Hell. SallieMae/Navient, Firstmark Services, Great Lakes, and ECSI are not companies I have worked for but rather, names that have haunted my dreams since 2008 when I graduated college. If your parents paid for any of your school, call them right now and thank them. My parents love me, but my dad’s business went under when I was a kid and the family went bankrupt because Walmart moved to town. Oh and I did a master’s degree shortly after the job market went south. I am making progress, and I am part of the $1.2 trillion of national student loan debt. Selfishly, this blog is therapy for me during my journey. Selflessly, I hope some of you can learn from my experience and be inspired to take some action now rather than 20+ years later.

Disclaimer: Before I go into specifics on the awful epiphany I had just over a year ago about my “progress” on repaying my school loan debt, I will say that I currently have a great corporate job working with very intelligent people who I admire, and I am happy with what I am doing. Not a lot of people can say that, so getting the advanced degree was well worth it.

Sometime in 2011 I began getting those lovely letters about repayment and that my grace period had ended. Once all of them came in, I had about 6 or 7 payments per month from various lenders. It felt like every few days I had a reminder of how stupid I had been with budgeting when I was an 18 year old boy. I made poor financial decisions and I’m paying for them now. I managed for a while and finally felt in control, paying my minimum payments every month while still enjoying my 20’s with full-time employment IN the field I studied. Victory! Minimum payments for 20+ years can’t be that bad, right?

Fast forward to just over a year ago when I finally took some time to check in on my “progress”. Just about $128,000 left to pay!!! Interest was slowly killing me at 3 to 7%. I remember sitting in front of my computer, completely helpless. I felt sick. My head throbbed and I wanted to vomit. I laid around a lot that day feeling angry, sipping a beer. Then I felt sorry for myself. Then I felt angry. Then I felt hopeless. I then went to the google and explored my options for reducing my interest rate, consolidation, and forgiveness options. There are pros and cons to consolidation, interest rates weren’t negotiable, and the only forgiveness option I was eligible for was death

Here we are just over a year later and I am happy to share my progress. I have just over $92,000 left to pay off. It is still a ridiculous amount but man have I made progress. How the hell did I do that? I didn’t get some enormous raise. I didn’t sell some large asset I had. I did a lot of little things from cutting cable when I lived alone to going without paying for a haircut over the last year.

This blog is about taking responsibility for past actions, setting goals, making plans, taking action, and being frustrated and elated along the way. Care to join me?

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6 thoughts on “Eric + Blog = Therapy

  1. Eric, this is a great blog! Looking forward to reading more – particularly as we prepare for our kids to go to college. Any pitfalls we could avoid? Thoughts on how to save?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll definitely share more in future posts, but I think at a very basic level it is important to assess your current situation and ask your self, “which of these things can I cut out without feeling much pain?” Start there and then have other people in your life review that list and weigh in.

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  2. I was very fortunate to obtain student loans during a very low loan rate period and to have my loans consolidated into only two. My rate is 1.5% so I can’t complain. I find it appalling that students today are paying 7%+. If today’s children have any hope of creating a better world, we need to give them the opportunity to obtain an education at a reasonable cost.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I empathize completely man. I just feel helpless then I get bitter about the big banks and the rigged system. But I, like you, am incredibly grateful for my job, just not sure how my other college grads are going to make it who aren’t as fortunate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s okay to have moments of anger and being bitter towards the situation. While the system is rigid I think part of the equation is educating potential students early on before college. I didn’t have the social influences in my life to guide me appropriately. I applied for some scholarships but didn’t get many that were substantial.

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