In February, we paid the past payment for Shane’s student loans, and in March we paid the last payment for my student loans. We have both paid off our student loans before turning 30 and it feels like quite an achievement.
Shane: Started with $22,250 in loans, paid $28,953.74 with interest
Sarah: Started with $24,000 in loans, paid $31,440.07 with interest
We both graduated in 2011, so we have paid $60,393.81 of student loan debt off in 7 years. In that same time, we paid for our wedding ($15,000 ish), paid off $5,000 of credit card debt (mine), and bought a house ($20,000 for down payment/closing costs).
Full disclosure: No one asked me these questions, this is just me talking to myself. Either way, hopefully it’s maybe a little helpful when you’re looking at your own student loan balance or still in college hoping student loan debts will be forgiven by the government someday before you have to pay them.
We knuckled down on our spending, created a budget together and also Shane made good career moves so he makes good money. There is only so much you can do with a small income and we were really lucky that we got on the same page with money around the same time Shane started earning a lot of it. I believe that it is mathematically possible to pay off student loans even with a smaller income, but it is infinitely more difficult and I don’t want to shame anyone who hasn’t done this. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without Shane.
How Does it Feel Now?
Well, we’re not Debt Free. We have a mortgage and a car loan on my car which we are not going to actively try to pay down. Our mortgage would be nice to pay down, but we have other goals that are more important to us to throw that money at first. My car loan is such a low interest rate that it barely makes mathematical sense to pay it off early, and it doesn’t bother us like our student loan debt did. At least with a mortgage and a car loan, I am paying for things I am still using. I thought it would feel different to not have student loans “hanging over my head”, but it just feels like another bill is paid.
How did you only have $24,000 in student loans despite going to a private university?
Well, sadly, I should have had $0 in student loans because I had a full-ride scholarship to this university. I didn’t have to pay any tuition so all my debt was books, housing, and being stupid with the debit card they gave me. The college loaded all the student loan money I was given each semester into a convenient debit card accepted anywhere MasterCard was accepted! I spent my student loan money on I don’t even know what and was in denial and blissfully unaware of the balance I was accruing.
Well, then why did Shane start with less student loans than you? Did he have a full-ride too?
No, he was just infinitely better at finances and scrimping than I was. He applied for every scholarship possible and worked more than 40 hours a week while going to school full time and hasn’t worked less than 40 since. He is dedicated to providing us with a good life and his awesome-ness is just on a whole other level.
What are you going to do now with all that extra money?
We won’t have “extra” money ever, every dollar we work for has a purpose in our budget. We have a number of savings goals that we’re going to continue to work hard to meet. We’re saving for a baby ($5,000 co-pay to have the baby, money to fund a maternity leave, money to buy baby stuff and maternity needs), we’re saving for a new car for Shane since his is getting close to the 200,000 mile mark, and we’re saving for general future needs that will come up with the house.