Friday, June 30, 2017

How I paid off $10,000 of student loan debt in 6 months

Before I can rightfully tell you about how I paid off $10,000 of debt in 6 months, I need to back up a little bit.

Until the summer of 2016, my partner and I were living primarily off my income.  She worked part-time here and there, but was largely focused on her undergraduate degree program.  At that point, she was accepted into another program that would pay for her Master's Degree in Education while simultaneously employing her as a full-time, full-salaried, teacher.  We were already accustomed to living off my income only, so when we started school that fall (I also work as a teacher), we decided not to change that part of our financial picture.

Upon arrival of her first paycheck in September, we paid off the remaining balance of one of my two private student loans.  After paying off my credit cards the previous year, I had been hurling every extra dollar at the smaller of the two private student loans.  I had it down to about $1200, when she got that paycheck, and we used that check to eliminate it entirely.  We had decided to continue on using her paychecks to eliminate debt, and mine to live on.  Over the next few months, we saved her paychecks in order to buy a new roof on our rental property, which I am proud to say we paid for in cash!

That brings us to January.  In January, I had one remaining private student loan with approximately a $10,000 balance on it.  We decided that we wanted to pay off that remaining private student loan by the time school let out for the summer (for us that's the end of June), so June 30th became an absolute mission.

Now, I don't know about you, but for me, paying off ten grand in six months is already difficult enough.  Add to that they chaos that is this year.  By that I mean, this is the year that everyone we love most has some sort of monumental event happening:  weddings (2), graduations (2), monumental birthdays (2).  We knew that we were going to have to miss some of these occasions, but even so, the fact remained that we were going to be traveling three times during that time frame.

This is where my partner is such a huge asset.  I get so fixated on eliminating my debt that my tendency is to ignore some of these other things.  She does a great job of helping me to work those items in without detouring much from our path.  For example, we probably could have gotten the loan paid off by the end of April if we weren't traveling three times during that time frame. So, we settled on June 30th as a date.  Ultimately,  I just wanted it done by summer break, so that worked just fine.

We budgeted $2000 per month starting in January ($1000 per paycheck).  That needed to include my $10,000 student loan, two trips to Portland, Oregon and a trip to North Dakota.  That gave us $12,000 from paychecks to work with over the course of 6 months.  I decided to add another $1000 of my income from a side gig to this cause.  Since we decided this as early as January, it was really easy to break up the $13,000 into monthly allotments.  One month we would pay $1000 to the loan and the other $1000 to one of our family related visits, and the next month we would pay a full $2000 to the loan.  We decided to alternate so as to feel like we were steadily making progress on both fronts.

This strategy worked really well for us.  I think it helps that we view our money as being in "buckets."  Each bucket has a specified purpose, and gets a specific amount of money added to it.  Now that we have no more private student loans, we will devise a new plan of attack for the next priorities on our list.

For further reading, see also:
Paying Off Private vs. Federal Loans
Private Student Loans: How I got into debt in the first place!

If you or someone you love are working hard to pay off student loan debt, and feel that refinancing could help I recommend using LendEDU (affiliate link).  LendEDU is one of my sponsors, and has a tool that helps people to quickly and efficiently compare several student loan refinancing companies in order to evaluate which company can offer you the best deal.  Utilizing their tool doesn't necessarily mean you have to go through with the refinance, but it will help you to gather information to make an informed decision.

LendEDU is a company with which I have an affiliate marketing relationship.  I earn a commission when an individual clicks through my link and uses LendEDU to gather information about refinancing student loans.

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