A Story About Paying Off Debt and the Obstacles Along the Way

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21 Months Later, My Student Loan Is GONE

Photo by Julia Caesar on Unsplash

(Note: I wrote this yesterday evening but wanted to let it sit for a few hours before sharing it with the blogging world.)

Today was a big day.

Today I paid off the last $3500 on my student loan. The student loan I’ve been carting around since 2003

Yes, this loan has been in my life for almost 16 freaking years. If it were my child, it would be a teenager practicing for its driving test.

When I woke up this morning, I wasn’t planning to pay it off. I was going to wait until I was a week or two into my new job so that I could be certain of my next paycheck. But you know how sometimes you get a wild hair? That’s how it's been with this loan for the last month or so. I just need it out of my life. I need to delete it as a budget line item so that we can turn our attention to other things, like our remaining medical bills and Fortysomething’s loan.

To cover it, I took the money out of our emergency fund. The e-fund isn’t empty - there’s still a cushion there - but I’d be lying if I said that the lower balance doesn’t make me nervous. I’m a worrier and fully expect that something could go wrong at any moment.

Nevertheless, this debt needs to go. There’s never going to be a perfect time to get rid of it. Today simply seemed like the day, and although the decision was more emotional than practical, it is done.

Honestly, the moment I submitted the payment felt pretty anticlimactic:


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But as the afternoon went on, my excitement grew:


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And I’m pretty sure that by the time my balance officially registers as $0, this will be me:


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A short history of our debt repayment 


We have now been at this debt repayment thing for 21 months. In that time we have paid off:

  • our car loan (paid off in October 2017)
  • a credit card (paid off in July 2017)
  • a second credit card (paid off in February 2018)
  • a third credit card (paid off in July 2018)
  • and now the student loan!


(Originally, my student loan started off at >$20K, but after so many years and multiple loan companies, I can't remember what the exact number was.)

Total paid off so far: $39,000

Imperfect but persistent


It's worth noting that although we’ve made sacrifices throughout our debt repayment journey, there are also plenty of things we haven’t sacrificed. We’ve gone on some (affordable) vacations, eaten at overpriced restaurants, purchased Christmas and birthday presents, and paid for activities for our child. We live in a rental that takes up approximately 1/3 of our income (sigh). We exceed our grocery budget almost every month.

Could we be managing our money better? Could we be living on less? Undoubtedly yes, but even with our imperfect approach, we’re still making strides. I attribute our progress in large part to livable wages and our budget, but I think persistence plays a bigger role than any other factor.

For us, persistence is the real key. 

The crazy thing is that after all this time we’re still only halfway there. We have $38K to go - more than that, if you count our medical bills and no-longer-a-secret campground membership.

On the other hand, we are halfway there. We’ve eliminated half of our debt in less than two years. These debts are gone from our lives forever.

And that feels fucking phenomenal.

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23 comments:

  1. Congrats! The halfway mark is both rewarding and daunting. But mostly rewarding, so I hope you revel in it as much as possible!

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    1. Thank you so much! Indeed, it IS a bit daunting... but at least now it's just one debt left, and not five. LOL.

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  2. congratulations!! thats awesome!

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    1. Thank you so much, Jan! I appreciate that. I'm still doing the happy dance over here. :-)

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  3. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

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  4. Congratulations! Such an accomplishment to be proud of. We're chugging away at ours (we still have almost $150,000 to go).

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    1. Thank you so much, Beachgirl! I appreciate that.

      You've got this. I'm cheering you on!

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  5. that has got to feel fantastic! Congratulations. "Bye Bitch" for sure! Over half way there - keep it up. Y'all got this!

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    1. Thank you, Jane! I appreciate your encouragement and support.

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  6. Wow!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations! You're a great role model.

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    1. Hahahaha! I wouldn't go that far, but I certainly do appreciate your encouragement. Super excited to continue reading your blog (actually, might do some blog-binging tomorrow!)

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  7. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! You're awesome!!!!

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  8. Half way! Half way! Half way!

    AND you’re out of that awful job to boot!

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    1. I am so OVER THE MOON about both of these things. Thank you for your encouragement, support, and patience!

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  9. Great accomplishment so far! I never experienced student debts or any debts at all myself, but I have huge respect for people who can take it on and just kill it like this. Keep up the awesome work!

    DI

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    1. Thank you so much! I really appreciate that. I'm excited to check out your blog!

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  10. Wow that’s is great! Congrats! I can’t wait to get SallieMae out of my life as well!!!

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    1. UGH, student loans are so... persistent. LOL. Wishing you the best as you eliminate your loan! Thank you for your encouragement.

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  11. Woohooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations! I can only imagine what that must feel like. You are halfway there!!! Keep up the great work.

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  12. Yes! This is great. It feels so good to make those huge payments. And even though I know it feels like there's still a long way to go -- and there is -- this is a huge milestone and you should feel extremely accomplished. I look forward to the rest of the payoff journey for you!

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