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I finally paid off my student loans!
It took me 8 years to pay off $15,000 in student loan debt. That is a long time considering it wasn’t a large debt balance like others you see that have $100,000+ in student loans that were able to pay them off in 2 years.
Those people are awesome! However, being able to pay off $100,000 in debt in a short time frame like 2 years isn’t exactly realistic. They were amazingly able to do it, but not everyone can do the same.
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My Student Loan Debt Situation
Sure, I didn’t have $100,000+ in student loans, but I still had debt. And I still have debt.
My wife and I still have $18,000 left on our auto loan. Why take out a loan on a car while I still had student loan debt? We can’t give you a solid financial reason besides reliability and we love that car.
From solo debt to joint debt (lol).
For me personally, there were a lot of factors that pushed back my debt payoff date. These range from my horrible money management skills out of college to a small period of unemployment and putting my loan in forbearance during that time.
So with forbearance, I probably paid closer to $20,000 in debt on a $15,000 loan. Whatever you do, never put your loan in forbearance. I don’t care how many student loan representatives tell you too, just don’t.
Then when it came time to increase my payments and start paying more off each month, other things kept coming up. My wife lost her job for a short period of time, we had some health emergencies, paying off other debts, and other life events.
We also love to travel and would never sacrifice that time for the sole purpose of paying off debt earlier.
You might say I was irresponsible to keep putting it off like I had. Maybe I was, but I still eventually paid it off. Does it matter how quickly I paid it off? Absolutely not.
Related posts: 4 Side Hustles That Help Us Pay Off Debt
Credit Card Debt
If you have mountains of credit card debt, rush that payoff. Seriously.
My rule of thumb is to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first. And credit cards have some nasty interest rates.
We paid off my wife’s credit card debt before touching any other debt. This was so that we could prevent that debt from growing any further.
With any other debt balances you have that have a high-interest rate that you are unable to get down to a lower interest rate through refinancing, you may need to think how you can aggressively handle those to prevent your overall debt balance from growing any larger.
For the smaller more manageable debts, it is ok to take your time. Especially if your life is going to suffer from you rushing the payoff.
Your Debt Isn’t Who You Are
You shouldn’t take away the quality of your life just to work more and pay off debt quicker. You might think that debt is the reason you are unhappy and if you pay it off quicker, you can do x, y, z. Paying it off quicker may certainly help you in your financial situation, for sure. But it isn’t the sole reason you are unhappy.
Paying it off any quicker won’t make you any happier.
Since the start of this blog, it has centered around side hustling to pay off debt and this blog really helped me stay on track with that. I often felt embarrassed when reading other blogs where they paid off $58,000 in 6 months or $120,000 in 2 years. Then there was me..sitting there with my $15,000 balance I had only started to really work on 2 years ago.
But unless you have the salary to do it or the time for multiple side hustles, paying off such a large debt balance in a short amount of time is very hard to do. Then there are systematic barriers that also may hinder you from reaching your debt payoff sooner.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to rush your debt payoff. Your debt isn’t who you are.
Prioritize what matters to you, and work that debt payoff in there but in a realistic way. Everyone’s financial picture involves a lot more than just debt. You still have to be able to contribute towards your retirement, emergency fund and savings, investments, children expenses if you have kids, medical expenses and healthcare, and be able to do the things you want to do like travel.
How Debt Can Help You
Debt is often portrayed of as evil. It is the scapegoat as the one thing standing between you and your ideal life.
It’s not. Debt is only temporary. It isn’t going to be there your entire life!
While it’s there though, it can actually help you. By making payments on your debt over the long term (and on time), you build a solid credit payment history.
Your payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO credit score. Without establishing a history of making loan payments on time, your credit score could suffer.
Your credit score isn’t everything. But without decent credit, you may be denied for loans or get charged higher interest rates. Some employers even check your credit if your job involves a security clearance.
Related posts: 5 Ways to Make Your Credit Card Work for You
Debt Payoff Shouldn’t Be Your Only Financial Goal
Of course if you have a much larger debt balance than $15,000 then you may need to prioritize that payoff. Every person’s situation and financial goals are different.
As paying off debt is a great financial goal to have, it shouldn’t be the only one. You may make a mistake and while paying off your debt, you might starve your emergency fund or retirement fund.
Don’t drain the emergency fund just for the peace of mind that you are finally paying off your debt. There are no returns when you request debt payoff and send through that last payment. Make sure you will still be okay in the event something happens right after you made that payment.
Rather than paying off your debt balance sooner, think about investing that extra money saved.
My recommended apps for beginner investors:
- I have recently started using M1 Finance and love it. M1 Finance is 100% free with dynamic rebalancing of your portfolio and tax minimization strategies. But my favorite feature on this app has to be their research section.
- Blooom takes the confusion out of your retirement. For free, they look at your current 401k and see how they can improve it. After your analysis, blooom will place the trades within your account for a low flat fee.
- Acorns invests your spare change for you, making your beginner investments almost effortless. Use “Roundups” and “Found Money’ along with many more features on the app for maximum investing power. Register for Acorns with this link and get a $5 bonus to start investing with!
Ways to Save More and Make More Towards Your Debt
To help you out a little every month, here are some resources from this blog to give you some ideas.
Resources to help you save:
- Money Saving Challenge: Save $1,000 in 10 weeks – no rush and no hassle.
- Frugal Living Tips: This post includes insights from tons of financial experts on how they live big on a small budget.
- 86 Genius Ways to Save Money: Save money every day with 80+ actionable tips!
- Create a budget: How to create a budget when you are horrible with money.
Resources to help you hustle:
- 35 Best Side Hustles: Our ultimate list of side hustles.
- 28 Ways to Make Extra Money: More ways to make extra cash daily.
- Thrift Store Flipping: This guide goes into the art of flipping and the 6 easiest items you could flip for a profit today.
Don’t stress about your debt and avoid comparing your situation to other’s financial successes. Everyone’s situation is different. You got this!
Are you stressing about your debt? How has rushing your debt payoff either helped or hurt you? Or better yet, how has NOT rushing your debt payoff helped or hurt you? Let us know in the comments below!
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Daniella is the creator and author of iliketodabble.com. When her wife Alexandra and her aren’t globetrotting or playing with their 7+ animals, they are hustling and working towards a future of financial freedom.