You guys, 2015 is going to be an awesome year. I know that for sure, because on December 30th, I made my very last student loan payment EVER. And then jumped around the living room for like 10 minutes. It was 10:23 at night, and Matt was like, we need to call Dave Ramsey right! now!
Hey Dave: WE'RE DEBT FREE!
But since I'm probably not actually going to make that call, I just decided to answer the questions he normally asks on his radio show when people call in or stop by. Pretend this is a radio show.
How Much Did You Owe?
$49,009.06 worth of student loans, which I took out after freshman year of college. I paid cash for my first year of out-of-state tuition, and then I ran out of money.
How Long Did it Take?
It took a little over five years to pay it off, but the amount we've been able to contribute over that five years has fluctuated wildly. In March 2013, Matt and I went through Financial Peace University, and then we got really serious about paying it down as fast as possible. At that point, we only owed about $16,000, and it took 21 months to get rid of that last bit.
Making What Kind of Money?
I'm not going to tell you what our income is/was, because it's none-o-yo-biznazz. But … Matt was in grad school for the entirety of our marriage up until last May (though no debt, thankfully!) and I struggled to run my own business for most of the past three years. So … yeah. Not much.
How Did We Do It?
We made a budget every month and used an expense tracker on our phones to keep up to date with what we had available to spend in every category. I was a big control freak about our budget. Every dollar of our income was allocated into categories, and anything that didn't have to go to one of those categories went to the loans. We also sold our house when we moved, and we put the equity from that toward the loans. (It wasn't a ton, we'd only been living there for four years and had a pretty low mortgage payment.) And in the beginning, before I knew anything about budgeting, I was throwing every spare cent in my bank account at the freakin' things. They ate up everything I had for years and years. I will not be a slave to those loans anymore!
If this is the year you're ready to get your financial house in order, check out Dave Ramsey's website to see where there's a Financial Peace University class in your area. It was the best thing we ever did for our finances.
And as always, if you want a copy of the "blank" interactive spreadsheet I used to track my loan interest and payments, send me an e-mail!