Today is the day. The FINAL payment has been made on our student loans! Steve and I scheduled the very last payment last night and cooked a big dinner to celebrate. There was some hooping, hollering, dancing, and high fives that took place. It hasn’t really hit us yet, but I’m so excited to see what the future holds now that we have hit such a huge milestone together.
As you guys probably already know, I paid off $30,000 in 2014. I’ve been debt free for almost 4 years before I got married in June of 2017 and took on more than $15,000 in student loans. Steve was on a payoff plan before we got married to eliminate his debt, and paid off nearly $24,000 in just over 2 years. I couldn’t have been more proud.
These last 7 months we have been in the final stretch and it has been CRAZY! Together, we have been able to supercharge the monthly payments and attack them with every last dollar we could spare.
This was not a glamorous time! We had to say “No” to doing a lot of things. We had to be very selective with which activities, dinners out, and things that were purchased. Every dollar was accounted for in the budget, so there was very little room for spur of the moment buys.
How did we pay off over $15,000 in 7 months?
#1 List your Debts– List your debts from smallest to largest regardless of interest rates. We had two student loans left after getting married (this started at 6 once upon a time!!!) Pay the minimum payments on all of them, and attack the smallest debt with everything you’ve got.
#2: Budget- Every month we sat down and hashed out all the bills, along with other items we knew were coming up that needed to be paid. From there, a very strict zero-based budget was created and agreed upon. Since my income is variable, we based our budget on Steve’s income and the amount of which I knew I would be earning. Anything extra was directly sent to the student loans.
#3: Lowered Expenses– Our living expenses were already pretty low, but we still found ways to cut them down even further. Here are some examples of the action we took to lower our living expenses:
- Negotiated a lower rent rate when our lease came due
- Combined our car insurance, which ended up saving us 50%
- Started Shopping at different grocery stores with lower prices. Most weeks I hit up 2-3 different stores to get the best prices on the things we want.
- Cut out buying meat completely
- Limited going out to restaurants to once a month
- Cook all of our meals at home
- Cook large batch freezer items. I’ve made close to 200 bean and cheese burritos for lunches in this timeframe
- Steve packs a lunch or takes leftovers to work EVERY DAY
- Did not exchange gifts for birthdays or Christmas
- Opted to go on hikes most weekends… Ahem FREE
- We even contemplated going down to one car but decided against it after calculating the savings & convenience
#4: Increased Income– We found more items that we could sell out of our belongings. In the last few months, we’ve sold an old coffee table, a designer purse, perfumes, and electronics. It’s amazing the things you can sell on eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace. Even if you’re only getting $20 or $40, it’s SO worth funneling that cash straight to your debts. Steve took on overtime at work whenever he could, and I hustled to get more freelance jobs. It’s fair to say that this debt was paid off with blood, sweat, and tears.
#5 Committed– Month after month we stayed focused and committed to the end goal. There were definitely times we fell off the wagon and spent too much. The point was to always get back on track. It’s easy to throw in the towel after busting your budget, but it’s key is to quickly change your direction and your mindset.
#6 Set Goals & Tracked Progress- Monthly goals were made and set up as auto-drafts out of the checking account. I also made a little chart that we colored in with every $500 that got paid down. It was inspiring to see the progress and made applying those large payments a bit more enjoyable.
I know many people think that student loan debt is “good debt,” and don’t see a point to paying them off. I disagree! In my opinion, getting rid of our student loans will free up our monthly income and will eliminate some risk. If one of us is unable to bring in money for any period of time, we won’t have to worry about missing debt payments and ruining our credit.
Now, we are looking forward to saving and investing more money towards our futures. We are taking some time off from work starting next week to celebrate and I’m hoping to spend some time dreaming up what we want our lives to look like in the next 2, 5, or 10 years. The sky’s the limit right?!
I hope this inspires you in some way to get rid of your debt if you have any. You CAN make it happen no matter what your situation. Where are you in your debt payoff journey? Comment below =)
“You can’t be in debt and win. It doesn’t work.” – Dave Ramsey
Thanks for Reading,