Years ago when I felt like I wasn’t making a dent in my student loans, I would google how to pay off debt faster. I found lots of articles describing how people paid off a ridiculous amount of debt in 3-5 years. Their stories and accomplishments sounded near impossible! I couldn’t relate to working 3 odd jobs and not having a life for 3-4 years. Once in a while, I enjoyed Starbucks on paydays and I spent a lot of money on travel (well the only money I spend is on travel). I had one full-time job and I lived with my parents. Don’t get me wrong, their accomplishments were amazing, but I felt like my circumstance was different.
I created this student loan series because I understand that repaying student loans is a long journey and it’s a lot to process all at once. Every three months I share my student loan repayment progress and I highlight a few accomplishments and the challenges I faced.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is creating the debt-free life you want.
I think you’ll enjoy following my repayment journey and I hope you’ll feel motivated to start yours.
Quick Recap from Last Quarter
After grad school, I accumulated $63,000 of student loan debt and three years later, I’ve paid off about 70%. I wanted to finish paying off my loans by December 31st, 2016 which means I would finish six years ahead of schedule.
If you missed Quarterly Update I, three months ago I had two goals:
- Reduce my balance to $23,000 (pay off $2,000 in 3 months).
- Apply any income tax refund to my loans.
So how did I do?
Quarter II Accomplishments
The good news is that I accomplished all of my goals.
As of today (April 12, 2016), my balance is $19,423.
I surpassed my goal by $3,577.
I applied my tax refund directly to my balance without thinking twice. Okay, I’m lying. I did think about booking my next flight out of New York, but I resisted the urge.
My daily interest is now $3.57 (that’s a saving of $0.37 per day).
Quarter II Challenges
I’m finally starting to feel like my student loans are becoming manageable. It’s such a great feeling to be down to the high teens, but at the same time, as I near the end of my repayment journey, some days I don’t feel motivated.
There are days that I feel like things aren’t moving fast enough and although my end date isn’t too far away, it feels like I’m never going to finish.
When I’m feeling down, I share my progress with my loved ones. They are always so proud of me and they remind me of my purpose. They remind me of how important financial freedom is and that my sacrifices will pay off.
My mom is my champion. She keeps me accountable and it’s really nice that she asks me for updates from time to time.
Quarter II Lessons Learned
Find that person or group of people who can champion your crusade. They will be critical when you’re having those not so hot days. Also finding a balance is so important. Pursuing hobbies and the things you love will help keep you sane and focused.
I’ve also been struggling with the urge to splurge. I had a really hard time managing my spending these past few months. It’s so hard to say no to a good travel deal. I purchased two roundtrip tickets to Europe and I’ve been pinching pennies ever since. I’m finally getting back on track, but perhaps I’m overdoing it.
Maybe it’ll be too hard to pay off so much debt in one year?
Paying off $25,000 plus interest has been extremely stressful.
I’ve been questioning if my accelerated timeline is worth the hassle.
If I decided to extend my repayment plan by 6 months – ending in June 2017 instead of December 2016, I would have to pay an extra $643 in interest. As much as I dislike paying interest, I think I’m okay with it if it means a boost in my morale.
So my new end date is June 2017.
I’ll ease up on the monthly payments so that I can treat myself to something nice once in a while.
What do I want to accomplish in the next 3 months?
- Reduce student loan balance to $16,000 ($3,500 in 3 months).
- Have only 2 accounts left to repay.
Here’s a list of all of my Student Loan Quarterly Updates:
- Student Loan Quarterly Update I: January 2016
- Student Loan Quarterly Update II: April 2016
- Student Loan Quarterly Update III: July 2016
Danielle is a travel finance strategist, author, speaker and podcaster. She paid off $63,000 of student loan debt in 4 years, bought a house at 27 and has traveled to 26 countries. She refuses to let her financial responsibilities hold her back from living life on her own terms.