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The Big Beast

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We celebrated our 3-year debt free anniversary recently. We spent those years building our emergency fund, replacing a vehicle, and buying two trailers (bought one, sold it, replaced it). We traveled. We had fun. When you have two working adults and no debt, it’s amazing how quickly you can do those things.

We committed last December to tackle our mortgage. At the time, our mortgage was $320,000. It’s a Beast but it seemed doable looking at what we were able to accomplish in such a short time the previous years.

Life changed. The construction work we thought my husband would have didn’t materialize and the part time night job went to pay other things.

There isn’t a lot to throw at the Beast and it’s hard to stay motivated.

I was supposed to get a promotion and a raise in June. We’d been holding on to hope we’d be able to start throwing larger chunks then but thanks to the coronavirus, it’s not happening (for now anyway).

We’ve paid the Beast down to $311,800 but it’s nowhere near where we hoped to be at this point and we’ve slammed on the brakes on extra payments since my job is unstable. Adding to the pile, my parents had an emergency plumbing problem they couldn’t possibly afford to fix. My dad had his income reduced by 50%. We covered the cost of the parts and materials and my husband did the work. When they asked how much the parts cost, we told them $100 (my parents would NEVER accept $0 as an answer). They have no idea it wasn’t anywhere near $100. Considering how much they watch my kids, we consider it cashing in on a lot of IOU’s we’ve written them over the years.

The Beast won’t be getting smaller for months.

There is some good news coming from this. I’m gaining perspective. I’ve paid off my debt (TWICE) and I felt a little judgmental of those who couldn’t do it. I mean really, what’s the big deal?!?! Spend less than you make! But as we start to tackle this huge Beast and it feels like I’m gaining zero traction, I’m understanding why people give up. I’m understanding the lack of motivation. The frustration. With a huge debt to income ratio, it’s a hard mountain to climb.

I refuse to quit…but I’m tired right now. Sometimes, you’re going to get tired.

Just.

Don’t.

Quit.

Breaking Down My Student Loans

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I spent some time digging into my student loans this past week as I create a plan of action. I appreciate everyone’s feedback on my post regarding beginning to pay towards debt again. And I understand the advice to just put the payments in a separate account since technically no payments are due. But I have decided that with steady work, a very comfortable EF and my drive to get out of debt, I am going to make payments.

Unlike other bloggers before me, I’ve never really looked at my loans. Or broken them down. But this past week, I did some digging. And boy, what I found shamed me.

First off, all my student loans are my grad school. I was able to graduate with my Bachelors with no debt thanks to my parents, grandparents, lots of scholarships (thanks mom, for making me write 8,000,000 essays) and my own working and saving from the time I was 15 and able to get my first job.

When I got ready to go to grad school, I was debt free other than a very reasonable car payment and working full time. I SHOULD have just paid for school. I could have afforded it. But no, I was introduced to the world of FAFSA and make some stupid decisions! I was completely ignorant of the student loan world at the time.

But here I am…

I completed my Masters in 2004, it took 2-3 years. And cost me $30K in student loan debt and the since accrued interest. If I had to do it again, I would still get my masters but I would have paid for it out of pocket and maybe gone a bit more slowly as a result.

I got married 9 months before I graduated and got pregnant with Princess 1 month after I graduated. We moved to Virginia from Texas the day after I graduated. (Thanks to my parents and all my siblings who came to my graduation and then helped us load the moving truck.)

I digress.

Status of My Loans

Loan 1 Loan 2
Original Balance $21,750 $17,000
Subsidy Status Unsubsidized Subsidized
Interest Rate 2.875% 2.875%
Outstanding Balance (4/30/2020) $19,758 $14,129

Now I have to be honest here, which I realize is going to make me seem even more ignorant and stupid. But I have NO CLUE how my schooling for those years cost $38,000. I don’t know if I ever looked at the bills. Or what. I completed several semesters at local community colleges before applying to the grad school program. Then, I attended the grad school program full time for 2 years. I was working full time making $40ishK per year.

I can’t remember how I paid for the community colleges, I’m guessing they are part of the loans. I do remember being excited when I would get the “extra” back in the form of a check after my tuition was paid when I was in the graduate program. And I do remember blowing some of that money, especially after I go married. But an extra $30K in two-ish years? Yikes.

And that wasn’t even my greatest source of shame as I looked at these loans.

I graduated in the fall of 2003 with my Masters degree…17 years later…and I’ve only paid off $5,000 of the original $38,000. Shame overwhelms me as I look back at that. I have blown so much money, made some many terrible decisions.

And I can’t say why.

It has been so easy to just push this debt to the side. To pay minimums or take advantage of forbearance.

But no more…

To be continued (since this turned out why longer than I anticipated.)

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