Something big happened earlier in October and I wanted to share it here, especially for those who've stuck around since the summer of 2017 when we started this journey:
Here's a graph of our debt payoff in the context of big life events such as medical emergencies, job changes (including my Big Quit back in April 2019), and a global pandemic. The x-axis represents month/year (with June and December shown). The y-axis represents total debt in thousands of dollars:
Five years, people! FIVE! That's a long time.
And trust me, it FELT like a long time.
As you can see, we made rapid progress in the first year before hitting a 2.5-year slump during which we had multiple job changes (green = me, orange = my partner). During the height of the pandemic, we were able to save about $30K in our low-interest savings account, thanks in part to the stimulus money. Once we were sort of convinced that the worst was behind us, we used a big chunk of that to pay off part of our last remaining student loan this past spring.
We still had about $8500 left to go as of the end of this summer, and after weeks of hemming and hawing about it, I finally asked a family member if they would gift us enough money to wipe it all out. (Note that the loan did not qualify in any way for federal debt relief, which we've known for a long time.) I was stubbornly determined that we would pay off our debt without extra help. But once my child was diagnosed with diabetes, I realized that it is absolutely okay to seek support. Doing so would allow us to focus on ensuring that his and our healthcare needs were met, which is way more important than trying to maintain some sort of self-enforced pride in going it alone.
We were fully prepared for them to say no and for us to move on without a grudge, but they said yes right away and so we made it happen.
I have more to say about paying off $76K, and definitely more to say about federal student loan debt relief and WHY IT IS AN AWESOME THING, but for now, I'll wrap it up with this:
We used to be $75,000 in debt, but we've paid it off. The $22,000+ in credit card debt? Gone. The $53,000+ in student loan debt? Eliminated. Kicking our debt out the door took a lot of discipline, patience, and a long-term mindset. The process wasn't always easy, nor did it always go as planned. We've made some mistakes. We've had some setbacks. Ultimately, though, we stuck with it. Now we live in place we love, and we're not saddled with hundreds of dollars in debt payments every month. We persisted. We're free.