This is a post I originally wrote in June of 2015. I just felt like I should add to it + republish as it is still relevant today!
My husband Wade is back in school, but we are trying extremely hard not to take any student loans out.
As I sat and typed the words below I felt so proud (and still do). Living debt free is something I take very seriously. Being a semi-control freak, the thought of owing someone thousands of dollars gives me major anxiety. I also feel like living within your means is so important. It's something that our society doesn't talk much about. It's all about what life you are portraying and let's be real, the living off one salary, husband in school, driving the same car since you were 16 life isn't all that grand.
I feel like I need to document this time in my life before it slips through my fingers and it's only a fleeting memory. A few weeks ago I paid all of my student debt. I know to some people that's no big deal, but to me, it's a huge deal. A weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I'm not going to sugar coat it - it was tough. Here is what my experience with student debt looked like.
I graduated from Texas A&M University in December of 2011. In June of 2012 I was required to start paying back my debt. I consolidated all my loans and had a total of $36,000. This quickly grew within the first few months because of consolidated interest (whatever that is). I was rapidly up to the 40k mark. I was living at home with my rents at the time with a random handful of jobs. No really, I was a sub at the school I grew up in, I designed wedding stationery for brides, worked at a wedding venue coordinating events, you name it I probably did it. It's safe to say I was not, by any means, making good money. They originally told me my monthly pay was going to be around $450. I almost fell over. There was no way I could be living on my own paying that, so I guess it was a good thing I had decided to stay with my parents for a while. Then I decided I should do a graduated payment plan and got the payments down to $235 dollars a month - much more reasonable for a freelancer with hardly any steady income.
A bit later that year I took my first salaried job and moved to Dallas. I knew that I would eventually have to start making more than the minimum payment or I would never get those suckers down. Whenever I would look at my monthly bill I would get so depressed because I was literally only paying on the interest. The numbers were not shrinking. I decided then and there I was going to have to get serious about it.
"Last month, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that student loan balances rose to $1.16 trillion and that 11.3 percent of that is in delinquency – that is, not being paid back. The New York Fed is worried that this debt is preventing students from becoming self-sufficient adults who can live on their own." - usnews.com
After a job change I was making a decent paycheck each month and starting saving a good amount of money to put towards my loans. I had consolidated 11 loans total in the beginning and my plan was to knock them out individually (even though they were consolidated). I would save up enough money until i could pay off a loan in it's entirety. I had loans ranging from anywhere from 6k to 2k (they were always in flex due to interest). I slowly but surely started knocking them out - targeted the ones with the higher interest rates first. I would say on average I was putting aside at least $1,500 a month to my loans. It seems like a lot, but it was worth it. I ended up paying my loans off May 18, 2015. After doing the math I figured I paid a little over $40,000 in the span of just over two years. That is crazy to think about.
I know this isn't possible for everyone - like I said, I was blessed with a decent paying job, no car payment, and relatively low living expenses.
It is such a good feeling. I sit here writing 100% debt free. woo-hoo.