Mission Accomplished – $45,159.35 of Starting Debt Eliminated

studentloadpaidoffI’m still ecstatic. On Friday September 30, 2016 after getting paid, I put the nail in the coffin of my student loan debt. This journey has been a long one. By long it’s almost 50% of my life. I took my first class in September 2001. It started before 9/11 happened. That’s how much it seems like history to me.

What Did I Learn?

  1. I’m not perfect and there have been times where my income didn’t really support the type of lifestyle I was living. I had reservations about buying a townhouse at that point in time with my ex. However the $16k in appreciation did payoff handsomely.
  2. Automation – I picked this lesson up years ago from Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich. When you have to consciously think about allocating money to different areas, it’s a lot easier to sustain good habits long term. To this day I automate my retirement contributions and money for my car payments / rent.
  3. Cars – Some people are into them, others could care less. I enjoy power and refinement. Without a car payment I could have paid this off much sooner, but I’d rather have the car. My newest was $31k, a step up from the base model. I love driving it everyday.
  4. Credit РMy grandmother was right when she reinforced to my mother that maintaining good credit was everything. Even though she never went to college, she knew the importance of affordable credit options in the event of an emergency. Not to mention rates on basically everything. Homes, cars, insurance, personal loans, everything. I believe in responsible use of credit, not taking it to the extreme of cutting up all my credit cards. Only once did my credit card balance exceed $3k during this journey and that was because I had no job for 6 months.
  5. Work – Sometimes I like it sometimes I don’t. It’s crystal clear in my mind the struggles I went through in 2009 and 2011. No job or a minimum paying one for a full year. Depleting through $10k of savings and being miserable… I will keep educating myself in the coming months, years, decades to be able to earn an income for myself.
  6. Income based repayment – Don’t do it. My initial student loan payment was $289.79. When I switched to IBR it dropped to 113.46. The interest kept accruing though and got added to my principal balance. That bumped the minimum payment up to 452.76 or 56% more.
  7. Interest – I hate paying interest. Over the life of this loan I paid over $14k. What does that mean? I paid $61k for a $47k loan, or 30% more what my loan was originally for.
  8. College is way more expensive today that it was when I was a student. Community college was $99/credit when I went, now it’s $199/credit. Grad school was just over $500/credit in 2007, today it’s $900/credit. If I were a student considering grad school today I would probably not go or if I did, find it a way to make it far less expensive.
  9. Be present. Be Aware. – It’s far too easy to get intimidated by debt and not take any action.
  10. Health matters – Without good health, everything else falls apart. Remember where your priorities should be.
  11. Community – Find people who get it. Avoid the ones who put you down or encourage you to live beyond your means.

So what’s next?

  1. Pay off the credit card debt.
  2. Build up emergency fund.
  3. Increase retirement holdings to 20%
  4. Follow more principles associated with Mr. Money Mustache.
  5. Get in better shape.
  6. Go on more trips.
  7. Have more fun!

Thanks for reading what I’ve posted over the past 4 1/2 years. I still plan to post monthly updates, either here or another blog. Verdict is still out. To those of you still paying off student loans, good luck.

In closing… Don’t be afraid of change, it’s really possible just be smart about it!
-Elliot

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