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Paying Off Student Loans Fast

paying off student loans

Paying Off Student Loans Fast

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So I am proud to say that I am almost finished with paying off student loans that I incurred. This month, three years ago, I began paying off my loans as fast as I could. The beginning balance was $51,353.99 and as of today, the balance is now $3,176.47. It took some sacrificing here and there but I was anxious to get rid of this debt. I made up my mind to do this when I got my first statement. I was to be billed $574.98 monthly for the next ten years. This was a large chunk of money as far as I was concerned and I didn’t want to keep paying that for the next 10 years.

I was lucky in that I landed a teaching job just after graduation. This second income was nice but I wasn’t expecting it to change or elevate our lives. I was a teacher and everyone knows that teachers do not make enough. I knew going into this profession that I was going to buy supplies for classroom, supplies for lessons, as well as supplies for students. Childcare for the twins was another ‘new’ expense. The daily forty minute drive to and from work also found me at the gas station more frequently. It was time for me to rethink and reconfigure the family budget.

Decisions were made. We, my husband and I, decided financially to keep to our usual budget, pay all the extra bills as a result of my job, and use whatever was left to start paying off student loans. This basically came down to about $1,000 a month. (I did tell you that teachers don’t make money, right?) I had seven loans so I took the one with the highest amount and highest interest rate and faithfully paid that extra $1,000 a month.

At the end of the school year, I decided that working at a public school was not what I wanted to do. I wanted to teach but felt that I was not doing much of that in that setting. (More about that in a future post). Again, without the extra income, I had to go back and redo the family budget. After much consideration, we decided that we would try to pay $200 every Monday and if that $200 was not there, then I would pay something, anything, even if it was $20. So every Monday, I made sure to look at our budget and try to ‘find’ that $200. This meant, more home cooked meals, more time spent on couponing and finding good deals on everything, and more ‘staycations.’ Believe it or not, the $200 was there every Monday.

It took 14 months to pay off that first loan bringing the monthly payment down to $421.80. We now had an extra $150 a month so again, why mess with a good thing? I started paying $250 a week, then $300, and so on. One by one, I was knocking these loans off. And now, I am down to our last loan which I hope to have paid off by February.

So What Can You Do to Start Paying Off Student Loans Quickly?

Start by keeping track of your money! I can’t stress this enough. I know that some of you may be horrible at budgeting but this is your money we are talking about here. Try to get into the habit of watching every penny. If you have to buy a budget book, or some sort of software program to help you keep track of your bills, then I suggest you do it. Mint is a great website and app to help you with budgeting. I am old school and do this by hand on paper. I keep a binder with all my account balances, bills, budget, investments, and work through them every Monday. By trying this, you will be able to see the minimal amount of commitment you can make every week towards your loans. Also, this allows you to see what the forthcoming week will be like money-wise. Trust me, there will be days that a Saturday night out to eat isn’t in the cards but perhaps going out for some frozen yogurt after a home cooked meal is doable.

Well, I hope my story will inspire you to not only pay off those loans quicker but help make you more mindful of your finances. Stay tuned soon as I am hoping to offer some printables you can use to get you started on making your own budget binder.

Happy $aving$!

Update: As of January 25th, 2016, all school loans are finally paid off! YAY!

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