After months of refusing to look too closely at our student loan debt, I finally scrutinized the numbers again this week. We are still in forbearance with Earnest, so we don’t technically owe a payment until July 22. But I was worried about all that beefy interest accruing. Since we finally had some money available again, I made a payment to slow down the insane interest train.
I put $2,500 towards the loan—which I feel like is a lot—and then I updated my nerdy charts I made back in February.
Talk about a BUMMER. That $2,500 only went towards interest!
No matter how I graph it, our debt progress these past few months is so sad. I hate seeing a plateau on a chart and 0% change, because it shows that our freakishly big debt principal isn’t changing. The pandemic has really taken our momentum for paying off our student loan debt and thrown it out the window. That’s frustrating.
The Interest is the Killer
So this week’s payment went towards interest—no principal at all—and there’s still interest left over from these past months to pay. Aaand it’s growing by the day. I decided to add two columns to the chart. I added Principal Paid and Interest Paid so I could break down each monthly payment and see better how it’s applied.
While doing this I noticed a few things:
- My chart was wrong! I had to correct it. While going through our papers with Great Lakes, our last lender, I realized that in the fall of 2018 and January 2019 we were not in fact paying $1,821.39… I forgot that our payments were $824.19! Guys, we were NEVER going to pay this off! What were we thinking??
- Even when we had our payments increased in February 2019, though, we were still only paying interest and never principal. Our principal was perpetually stuck at $334,810.39 for I don’t know how long. (Like literally, I do not know.) Which I can’t even handle. Thankfully we got a large tax return March of 2019, because we were finally able to lower our principal.
- Returning to paying off only interest has reminded me that I NEVER want to be in this position again. I want to carve away at principal every single month, even if it’s just a little bit. I am so sick and tired of this debt weighing us down.
There is Progress
Since last spring, we’ve been able to pay off $47,075.88 of our principal. Even with the pandemic and so many mistakes, that’s still progress. Sitting at $287,734.51 is nothing to brag about, but at least I can see we have made a difference.
I wish I could travel back in time and tell myself to face our student loan debt so much sooner. If you have debt hanging over your head, I hope you’ll stop wishing it away and start taking action. You’ll feel so much better. You may have a marathon to run like our family, but don’t give up! Cut away a little at a time, and one day you’ll be set free.