As the New Year begins, it’s a great opportunity for people to evaluate their lives, pick areas they think they can improve in, decide to change, and go after making it happen. I’ve already touched upon the big one, losing weight in a previous post, and now I want to address the other elephant in the room: finances.
No matter what stage in life you are in, finances are always a big area of concern for most people. Whether you are looking to improve your income, invest for retirement, or pay off a mountain of debt, you need a detailed plan on how to make it happen.
For me, a 23 year old recent college grad, my big area of focus is… yep, you guessed it, Student Loan Debt!! 70% of American’s who graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree leave University with student loan debt, so I’m definitely not the only one out there looking to create a game plan. Unfortunately, and stupidly, too many people with this debt hold on to it for the duration of their loan term, making the monthly minimum payment, and accumulating way too much interest.
I’m deciding to put my foot down and be different. I want this debt gone ASAP! Who wants to pay more than they have to, on anything?!? Why would you on your loans then??
I know it’s easier said than done. You can say you’re going to put x amount of money towards your loans every month, but life happens. You want to live, and not be stuck at home because you can’t afford to go out, I get it. But, I suggest you do some soul searching on this one, like I have. Do you want to have tons of fun and be weighed down by this monster burden for longer, or get it over and done with and put some plans on the back burner while you slay this thing.
I’m choosing to do the latter, but that’s just the kind of person I am.
Steps I’m taking in 2017 to get out of debt, faster:
- How much do you owe? Log into EVERY account you have and write down your totals. I know from experience that debt can be an “out of sight, out of mind” thing. But when you decide that you want to actively pay it off, you need to know exactly how much you owe. So, write down the amount, interest rate, minimum payments, who you owe it to, and what kind of debt it is.
- Mindset: I personally believe this is the most important part of this process. You can say you want to pay off all your debt all you want, but until you really deep down want to and believe you can do it, you’re not going to. What really put me in the mindset of paying off debt, was listening to podcasts, reading books and articles about the topic.
- Game Plan: So there are tons of resources out there that tell you how to go about paying off debt. Read up and pick which one works best for you. Some examples are the snowball effect, the avalanche effect, and paying based on interest rate. There’s no right or wrong answer! Next, write it down. Like goal setting, writing down your goals for debt will make you that much more successful. Plan out how much money you’re planning on putting towards your debts every month. Create a budget! Figure out how long it will take you to pay off each loan, all the loans, and write down your goal end date!! It’ll make it that much more real when you put a deadline to it.
Now I don’t just talk the talk, but I want to show you that I walk the walk. So I’m going to strip down my debts for the world to see, and share my plans for paying them off!
1. Student Loans: Nelnet= $16,042.46, min. Payment $0, interest rate 4.6%
Firstmark= $56,605.10, min payment $554.57, interest rate 8.25%
Car Loan: Bank of America= $20,790.89, min payment $380.62, interest rate 3.49%
GRAND TOTAL= $93,438.45
- Mindset: When I first started my job right after I graduated, I began listening to The Dave Ramsey Show podcast on my commute. If you can get past his religious blabber, it’s an amazing resource and I highly recommend it! You listen to these people call in, and half the time you’re like “wow, they’re dumb, they screwed up, I’m not going to do that, I’m going to pay off my debt as quick as I can” or, you listen to the one’s that call in to do their “debt free scream”, and you’re like, “wow, that’s incredible, I want to be able to do that”. It really just got my head in the right place to think through how exactly I’m going to pay of this monster and that it IS possible. No, I definitely do not follow is plan to a T at all, but I like what he has to say and think it all makes sense.
- Plans and Goals: Up until a few months ago, I was planning on starting hammering down my Firstmark student loan because of it’s interest rate. But then, I started contributing to my federal student loans during my grace period. I had 7 student loans through the government, all adding up to $28,516.16. So I started just paying off a few of them in their entirety, and found how good and motivating it felt to get rid of them, which is the “effect” you get from using the debt snowball concept. So I decided to just keep it rolling, and so far, I’ve paid off $12,473.70 since July!
The Debt Snowball methodology is to pay off the smallest debts first, working up to the larger ones over time. It’s suppose to not make you burn out, and see your hard work pay off sooner out of the gate. And once I’m done paying off my Nelnet loans, I’m going to jump over to the big guy Firstmark loan.
So what are my big pay off plans?
For 2017, I’m setting a goal of paying off all of my Nelnet student loans by AUGUST! So that’s $16,042.46, $2,291.78 per month, in 7 months. I’ve told a few people about this so far, including my boyfriend, and they just wish me luck on it. But I know I can do it! I’m going to pay the minimum on my Firstmark and Car Loans ($920.00 combined), so my loans are going to take up a good portion of my full time job paycheck. This is why we side hustle people!
So once this guy is gone in July, I’ll have an extra $2,291.78 to contribute towards my Firstmark student loan. My overall goal is to have all of my student loans paid off by the time I get married. Do I have a set in stone date for that yet? Nope. But I just know that I don’t want to start out my marriage, where all debts are combined, with this disgusting amount of owed money weighing me down.
For now, let’s just say that I will have ALL of my student loans paid off by January 1, 2020. That’ll be less than four years after I graduated and I’d be wicked happy and impressed by that accomplishment.
So there you have it, my crazy amount of debt and my wishful thinking plan. I know a lot of you probably think I’m insane, but I’m going to make it happen!