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That Fun Thing Called Student Loan Debt

  February 28

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I’m the first to say that I’m not a financial genius (far from it), nor do I have any formal education in finance. But, I seem to have a knack for budgeting and saving money, as evidenced by the name of this little blog here.
I’ve said it a few times on this blog, but I think the first scary step when you’re really looking to tackle your debt is to sit down and do the math
It’s imperative. It’s so important. It’s not fun, but it just has to be done.
I once read a great article that made a powerful statement: No one cares more about your money than you. You may have a great accountant, but at the end of the day it’s your money, and you decide what to do with it. It’s up to you to keep track of it. It’s up to you to invest it. It’s up to you to check up on it, get your credit score, and make sure that no one has stolen your identity. No one should do do that for you – you can really only trust yourself to do it right every time.
As far as how often you should do this, I check my actual bank account every day. And, once a month I crunch the numbers and see how we did that month. It helps me to adjust for the next month’s budget. I also implemented these changes for this year.
Last night, I did the terrifying thing of adding up our combination of student loans before hubs’ medical school. I knew how much I had, but hubs is way way way too busy to remember to pay bills, so I finally took over his part as well. 
So, here’s a fun number for you: Hubs and I together are hovering at about $101,000 in student loan debt before he even took out a penny for his current $250,000 medical education. That’s the price of two masters degrees (one for each of us) and my bachelor’s degree, since I made the decision to attend a top 30 school instead of stay in state.
But, you know what? This number isn’t daunting to me. Both of us have good heads on our shoulders, and no one can take our education away from us. I’m not trying to give ourselves a ton of credit here or say we’re super great because of our schooling, but the truth of the matter is that we’re both hardworking individuals, and we’re willing to do whatever it takes to get to financial freedom.
To us, financial freedom means pure and simple: not struggling. We want to pay all bills with no problem. We want no credit card balances, and we’re slowly but surely getting really close to that point. We want to have children who are well cared for and who will also get to attend college and beyond if they choose. We don’t want to ask our parents for help financially, although we know that both sets are beyond generous if we absolutely needed to.
We want what everyone else wants: the freedom to do as we please.
But, the first step for us was slapping ourselves with the reality of these numbers and coming up with a plan. As anyone who has been reading this blog knows, that plan is to live as simple of a life as possible for as long as we can.
If you also are struggling or have a mountain of debt, the first step is to do the math. When you get your number, put it up around your house on sticky notes. Remind yourself of what you need to do. Develop habits. Cut out the excess. Aim for freedom. We’re not perfect, but we’re on the right path – and I’m excited for what the future holds for us.

4 responses to “That Fun Thing Called Student Loan Debt

  1. I love your positive attitude and budgeting strategies! I have $100,000 on my own from my undergraduate degree and my graduate degree. The last three years I’ve really buckled down and have been focused on paying it and it is now down to about $74,000 which is a big deal for me! I’m still going to continue to work hard at paying it off and am like you said always aware of the numbers!

  2. Wow, those numbers are scary. Makes the debt we had look small. We payed some of it off ourselves and our parents helped with some, and finally became debt free earlier this year. But before that, when our parents didn’t even know how much debt we had and only one of us had a part time job, and then both of us had part time jobs, and then only one of us had a part time job, and then we had one low paying job and a baby, we got into credit card debt. Took a long time to pay it off.

    And now were in debt again but hopefully not for long. It was for a good reason. I had a feeling if I didn’t get back to see my dad this summer I wouldn’t have another chance. Our whole family of 5 went. It was the first time he had seen my youngest. He passed away earlier this month. So it was worth it, and my mom’s gonna help us with some of it, so we should be out of it within the year hopefully. Sometimes theres good reason to get in debt (oh yeah…I guess we’re not debt free even not counting the credit cards…we have a morgage now.)

  3. Wow! It still blows my mind that there is over $1 trillion of student loans in the United States. That number just feels so massive…I hope that your journey of paying off these loans is/was easy!

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