Ok, so I have a background in the arts and non-profit sectors. I’ve never been the best at math (because I never had to be), but have gotten by.
For a while now, I’ve stated that I graduated with 68k in debt and have been chipping away at my loans ever since. The problem is this statement is only partially true.
The thing is, when I graduated with my M.A. I had a total of 68k, at that time. What I neglected to mention is that I actually graduated with 23k in debt in 2006. I graduated with 58k in debt from graduate school in 2011.
That’s a total of 81k.
The 5 years between getting my B.A. and M.A., I was working and paying the minimum on my student loans. At 2.5% interest, I wasn’t that concerned. It wasn’t until I was applying for graduate schools that I woke up and realized I didn’t want to be a slave to student loans forever. I realized I was going to be taking out even more loans and not only that, but the whole student loan game had changed. My new loans would be at 7.9% interest. I realized my student loans would have a huge impact on my life.
As someone who has never had a credit card, a mortgage, or any other debt, the student loans seemed all consuming. Most of the time, they still are. However, I must have been suffering from a case of financial amnesia. I know I did the math at some point regarding the total of my student loan debt. I wonder if I was so freaked out by the number that I erased it from my memory? Or is it that, I’ve continued to put my undergrad loans on the back burner, while I focus on obliterating my evil 7.9% interest, graduate loans.
It wasn’t until reading Your Money or Your Life, that I realized it wasn’t just 68k that was left when I graduated….but that I have been paying my undergrad loans consistently after I graduated. Those years have added up.
I woke up to the sobering reality that the total of my loans is at least 81k. I say at least, because of the evil interest. When I was about to go into one of my signature depressive funks, I furiously logged into both of my student loan accounts and added the current balance on both. $51,948.65 left to go.
Wait, does that mean I’ve paid off roughly 30k in the past 6 years (I started paying my loans in June 2007 after my six month grace period). HOLY COW. What is more amazing and ironic is that half of that has been paid in the past year and a half. It’s ironic because before when I had a full time job, benefits, etc I could have paid more. But instead I chose to live by myself when I found my first career job, and enjoy life in LA. I don’t regret those times at all, but I could’ve paid off my loans before I went to graduate school. But I didn’t. Now, my work life is unstable. In two weeks, I am potentially unemployed. This has been my struggle for the past two years since graduating. Hustling, making it work and trying to find that next career job. Somehow I’ve paid off more than I have when my life was better. Granted, I have used a lot of my savings, but I am making it work. It just proves to me that a huge hurdle in paying back your debt is your mindset. You have to really care. You have to really want it. I can hardly believe the numbers myself. Even though the number is still very high, knowing in my heart and mind that I’ve paid off this much is motivating. It means I’ve paid off 37% of my combined student loans.
It makes me happy, because it’s so easy to get depressed when you see this massive number ahead of you. It sucks to calculate your daily interest and realize it’s in the double digits. It’s hard to feel like you are never actually getting ahead. But the thing is, THE MATH DOESN’T LIE! I AM GETTING AHEAD, slowly but surely.
Once I find my next career job, I am going to get rid of these things as soon as humanly possible. Knowing what I can accomplish now, given my circumstances motivates me. On that note, I have an opportunity on the table that I’m waiting to hear back on. They’ve checked references and I am playing the waiting game. PLEASE send good vibes my way.
Have you ever had a case of financial amnesia? Have you ever been in a situation where you weren’t looking at the big picture? What was the result?