I’ve found a lot of inspiration from other’s debt-free journeys, so this is mine.
When I started my job in September 2014, I owed $10,678.28 on my student loan. That was my only debt, but it weighed heavily on me.
I graduated 10 years ago next month with $19,125 in debt (plus interest). Between graduate school and unemployment, I had 5 years of deferment, of which I took complete advantage. That means it took me 5 years to pay down my debt which is longer than I would have liked, but half of that payoff has been in the last 8 months.
When I accepted my current job last fall, I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to pay more than the minimum payments on my loan. On paper, that was all I could afford. But with single-minded focus, I was able to find the money needed to pay almost $1,000 a month.
I really didn’t expect to have it paid off that quickly. I made my debt thermometer with the stretch goal of having my loan paid off in December. Turns out, that wasn’t much of a stretch.
Including interest, I paid $10,865.27 in 7 1/2 months. So how did I do it?
$1092 – Regular monthly payments (if that’s all I had paid, I would still owe almost $10k!)
$3000 – Savings which I emptied out to finish paying off my loan
$1732.38 – Income earned from working overtime
$1350.37 – Extra paychecks. I get paid every 2 weeks, but I budget for 2 paychecks/month. The bulk of those 2 extra paychecks went to my student loans.
$1085 – Tax refund. I don’t recommend saving in the no-interest bank of Uncle Sam, but not working for several months isn’t factored into the tax withholding tables so I had extra withholding coming to me.
$938.16 – Extra income from working a non-standard shift (since I prefer these hours, it’s definitely a win-win)
$465.96 – Work bonus
$391.61 – Cash gifts I received
$353.64 – Redirected money from over-budgeting
$254.51 – Redirected money from my “Buy Little” month
$136.19 – Money from credit card rewards (don’t worry, I pay off charges as soon as it hit the card)
$58 – Income from odd jobs
$7.45 – Interest on my savings account
When I compiled this list two things stood out to me:
Every little bit counts, and
I could have reasonably been justified to spend any of this on other things. While I haven’t completely deprived myself, I have largely chosen to deny instant gratification in order to accomplish this larger goal.
It was worth it to be free from debt. I can now choose to do other things with my money and let interest work for me, not against me.
So I celebrated by creating a new set of thermometers. Maybe I should aim for completing these 7 months before my stretch goal date as well?