3 Things I Didn’t Expect at the End of Paying Off $25k in Debt

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!


9 Comments 3 Things I Didn’t Expect at the End of Paying Off $25k in Debt

  1. Camilla

    Congratulations! But I completely understand how you feel. You’ve given up your social life working around the clock, your’re exhausted and now you have to continue? It just feels as if the finish line got moved and it is a bit discouraging. Go treat yourself to something. We need to celebrate our wins too. It’s so easy to just forget that and move to the next goal, especially when we look at an empty savings account. Instead of putting as much money into savings as you can, set a realistic dollar amount per month that goes to savings, put that on automatic, budget fun money and find a good balance.

    1. mcstarbuck@gmail.com

      Thanks! It’s been more of a celebration after sharing it with others. I also have a fun little way to celebrate that I hope to share share soon. Then I’ll be off to the beach (in January, I think, which will be great because hopefully I will have recovered from the shock by then, haha, and will have the money) for a month!

  2. Lindsey

    Congrats Megan!
    I found your blog when you posted it on the 30 Days of Hustle group. Thank you for sharing!
    I also have went through a very similar journey and I want to tell you that I understand completely what you are saying when you said that you felt a little bit of disappointment at the end when you made your final payment. I did not feel this when we paid off our debt (we paid off $22K in 2.5 yrs + sold our house on the same day) but I did feel it after I completed our Fully Funded Emergency Fund. It was as if what I had just done wasn’t good enough because then there was another obstacle to overcome.
    Something that has helped me is that I realized that I was looking at my goals (paying off the debt, saving our emergency fund) as finish lines. When in real life there are no finish lines! Once we hit a goal we just keep on going to the next one. And it’s a wonderful feeling.
    Thank you for sharing your story and I hope to sign up for your 4 week email so I can continue to be inspired by you. Good luck in your journey and congrats again.

    1. mcstarbuck@gmail.com

      Thank you so much. It’s good to know that feeling can come on later baby steps, too. I’ll keep that in mind so I can better prepare. I’m really excited about the course the more I’ve worked on it. I’m glad I was able to inspire you (& hope to continue to), but I believe you will also have tons to add to the course as someone who has gotten so far! Thanks for joining even though you’re so experienced already. I really look forward to working together. And congrats to you also!!!

  3. Charis

    This is absolutely INCREDIBLE!!! I have a bunch of loans to pay off….and have been figuring out how much interest I’d be paying if depending on how many years I had my loans. It’s all very depressing at this time, but your achievements are an inspiration! Congrats to you for saving so much in interest too!!! You might be thanking yourself now, but I think you’ll thank yourself even more 5-10 years down the road. CHEERS TO FINANCIAL FREEDOM!!!! 😀

    1. mcstarbuck@gmail.com

      Thanks for the kind words! In just 2.5 years, I accumulated a couple thousand dollars just in interest. It makes me sick to think of how much it would have been in the suggested 10 year payment plan! I hope things go well for you!


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