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21 Months Later, My Student Loan Is GONE

(Originally posted on The $76K Project on 1/18/2019)

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.

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!

Total paid off so far: $39,000

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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