In many ways, paying off $25,000 of student loans in 3 years was easy.
(Of course, I say that now that I’ve marked it off my Bucket List today.)
But here are some of the difficulties I faced that I wish I had known, along with this picture which shows that my “I’m too full at Thanksgiving” face is the same as my “I didn’t expect negative feelings once I paid off my loans” face.
1. It isn’t all excitement. I thought I would be so relieved and happy and ready to celebrate, which I have been. But I’ve also been exhausted from working overtime which also made me feel secluded from friends and family. I’ve been sick to my stomach at the thought that I worked so hard and have nothing to show for it (as in no savings, no house, no land). Instead I’ve just imagined 3 more years working this hard to reach other goals.
I don’t regret it; I’m glad to be rid of the weight of loans. I learned a lot in college, had amazing experiences, and met incredible people I’ve kept in touch with. I don’t know what experiences I would have had or who I would have met if I hadn’t gone to college, but if you haven’t gone to college, please realize that even if you were only making $5,000/yr after room and board, you could have about $30,000 in savings by the time you’re my age.
I have zero.
And the repayment process has been anti-climactic: for months I dreamed about hitting that “pay all” button, but I got it down so low that it was just like making another payment. I just wish I’d known this semi-depression was even possible after such an exciting accomplishment.
2. You’ll want to make big purchases towards the end. Don’t.
It seemed the last 3 or 4 months were the slowest for me. I’d spent years paying off this debt, but the sum had always been so huge that it seemed like I was paying it off at a good pace–not as if I should be able to pay it off in one week. I was doing great! Toward the end, though, I was all, “If I made more money, I could pay it faster,” and “Wow, I’m almost done paying them off. What will I do next?” This question got me into a lot of trouble because what I wanted to do next was going to cost money. I was frustrated that my loans had kept me from so much. I got impatient and signed up for classes and even this blog, which put me a couple of weeks behind my goal. I wanted to spend even more (I mean, what blogger doesn’t have her own laptop?), but thankfully my mom reminded me of Dave Ramsey’s story about Gazelle Intensity. That’s exactly how I felt.
3. You can pay too much too quickly on your debt. That doesn’t seem right.
Until you consider that I put so much toward my student loans one week that I didn’t have any money left for gas to go to work. I shared this with someone who said she had done the same thing. It wasn’t a big deal because she paid the credit card off, but it’s something to consider if you don’t have credit cards or some other back up plan.
You can also overpay through your time. I worked 26 days in a row, which I do not recommend. I feel like I need 2 months off now to rebuild all my relationships. I also worked so much that I missed out on some deals that would have saved me hundreds of dollars. Insurance would have nearly covered the cost of a year’s supply of contacts and a pair of glasses. I would have paid about $40, but instead I paid over $400 for glasses and half a year’s supply of contacts because I was too busy to go to the appointment before my insurance ran out.
I hope you are more prepared than I was if this is in your future, or that you find comfort in it if you thought you were the only one.
So many people have shown interest in my financial journey that I am pleased to offer Dealing with Debt, a FREE 4-week course in which I will share (1)what I gave up, (2) what I’m glad I did, (3) what I would do differently, and (4) what resources I used.
I had considered just doing a blogpost, but it’s really too much information for that. Plus, I don’t want people to just stumble upon one post and feel like it’s the whole picture. Also, I don’t have a section for it on my blog (yet).
Even if you’ve already paid off your debt, I would love for you to participate so that I could share your input with the rest of the “class.”
If you’re interested in Dealing with Debt, simply sign up for my newsletter at the top right of this page. (Don’t worry, you can unsubscribe at any time.) You’ll then receive an email from me with the link to all 4 topics.
I can’t wait to share more with you.
For now, Live Tiny & Dream Big!