Yesterday I went online and paid off the remainder of my student loans. And then I went to the bank and gave them the rest of what I owed them. And now it’s over, I’m in the black, I owe nothing.
How I got to being in debt in the first place is a common and uninteresting story. I went to university and travelled, but mostly I lived beyond my means for an extended period of time without any regard to how it would affect my future. Eventually I snapped out of it and made some good life choices: I got a massive raise, I took out a low interest bank loan to pay off my credit cards, I moved to a more affordable apartment, I took on a second job and I started living a more frugal lifestyle. And then I made some other choices that, in terms of on paper debt repayment, weren’t wise, but were absolutely the right choice in every other aspect of my life: taking some time off work and borrowing money to travel East Africa when I couldn’t really afford to travel anywhere, let alone Africa and taking an initial 5-figure pay cut to work at my dream job in international development. While these choices may have been financial set backs that added months/years to my debt repayment, they were the right choices for my career and my heart.
When all was said and done, when all these choices were made–I’m talking May 2012–I think I owed somewhere between $11K-$16K. I don’t even know. Is that bad? That’s bad. I set up the minimum payments to the various lenders and continued living life. In March 2013 I came across the world of personal finance blogs (in particular Blonde on a Budget, Girl Meets Debt, and My Alternative Life) and through their inspiration and advice I was able to double my debt repayments just by being mindful of my spending. Just by having my budget in the back of my mind and not ignoring and the fact I had debt. I didn’t even feel my life change. In September I wrote out a budget for the first time ever and realized that if it was something I followed I could quadruple my repayments every month. Quadruple, just by planning a little more and writing stuff down. So I did. And now it’s all gone.