Closing in on Paying off Student Loans, How Should I Celebrate?

The main focus of this blog in the recent months has been financial independence, this is the long term game plan.  Every day we move closer and closer to this goal.  One thing you may not know is I have student loan debt, I graduated with close to $60,000 in student loans.  I only paid the minimum payments up until 2013, that’s when I started making goals and debt repayment milestones.  For 7 years I deferred payment, asked for forbearance, and made minimum payments.  As you can guess the debt didn’t go away it barely even moved.

I have always been someone with big dreams, but thought I needed big debt to make it happen, I wanted that to change.  I wanted big goals and zero debt, so I had to prioritize my life and my finances.  I had already sold the Benzo de Lorenzo in 2011 which was my first big purchase out of college, saving myself hundreds of dollars each month in doing so, but quite honestly this was just to get me back to above water, I was drowning.  I created a budget to see how I could move on to getting rid of credit cards and my rather large credit card balances, here is an example from the my June 2011 statement.  I started knocking out debt one by one, in some cases I used the Snowball Method made famous by Dave Ramsey, but in other cases I chose to pay off the debt I hated the most, goodbye Citibank.  After they were gone I started to focus on my student loans in 2013.

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I made cuts in my budget and proceeded to set up a planned attack.  I was focused, I wasn’t thinking should I pay off student loans or invest in my 401K.  I was thinking let’s destroy this student loan!  I had my fun studying abroad in London, having a few craft brews in the Northwoods, I’m not 22 any more deciding if I want to go to class, those times are over.  It’s time to pay the piper or more clearly defined: to accept the unpleasant results of somethinghave done.  I cut my expenses using Republic Wireless and cutting cable, I focused on making extra money with overtime at work and just as important I used all of it to reduce my student loan payments.  I put in extra time on my eBay side hustle, which I still owe an updated look at my eBay business, coming soon I promise.  I had a lot of student loan debt when I started my goal and I’m getting closer to getting rid of my student loans forever. 

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I don’t share many numbers* like salary, net worth, or even debt amount, in this case I’ll open up a little more because paying off my debt has begun to form a sense of pride and the closer I get the happier I get inside and outside.  When I first started I was at $46,500 remaining in student loans.  I wanted to make more than a $250 payment and that’s what I did, instead of $250 it became $1250, that’s how student loans get their a** kicked.  I had about $10,000 left of my London Study Abroad loan and I completed paying this off in May 2014, a small victory party was had, it was like in sports when a team makes the playoffs they are happy, but they know they have a tough road ahead and this is just the beginning towards the championship.

I took a couple months off to decide how I wanted to attack the next debt, I was still making large kick a** payments to reduce the debt, just not with a detailed plan.  I was reading this blog and that blog and listening to this guy and that guy.  In my mind I was asking myself a thousand questions:  Should I invest in another real estate property, throw it all in my 401K, create a dividend portfolio, what about my H.S.A., pay it all off, no pay only if it’s less than the treasury yield?  I read and read and listened and listened, I decided I didn’t care what everyone thought or what this blogger or that blogger said,  what mattered most was I WANTED MY STUDENT LOANS PAID OFF!

I made a goal, a climbing Mt. Everest type goal, that I would pay off all of my student loans in 10 months and with $25,866.26 to go this would be a difficult climb that required my best efforts otherwise I would fail.  What makes this very difficult is I’m all on my own.  I would not be using any of Mrs. Even Steven’s salary or any of our Rental Income, instead i’m working on my own to get to the top.  I have been using my 9-5 job, overtime, eBay, future bonus, future raise, future tax return, and even possibly the sale of stock from MSLP and my Emergency Fund if I have to.

I’m almost there.  For those who have student loans take a minute and imagine yourself without them…….It’s like jumping in the pool on a hot summer day or cracking a beer after a hard days work. Even imagining not having student loans feels like dipping your feet in the water, it just feels nice.  I have been making extra payments, some of it is my regular minimum payment, some is extra eBay income, some is from cutting the gym, wireless, cable, eating out, etc and it has all been worth it.  I’m 31% of the way there as of 10/31/2014 and I am a little behind my 40% expected projection so far in my back filled goal(bonus, tax, raise, etc in 2015).

 Months  Loan Balance Principal Paid % Paid Off
 July  $      24,864.56  $          1,001.70 4%
 August  $      21,095.17  $          3,769.39 18%
 September  $      19,679.27  $          1,415.90 24%
 October  $      17,884.95  $          1,794.32 31%

 

You know what I have figured out paying off my student loans so far:

  • Interest rate doesn’t matter
  • Big Kick A** payments matter
  • Goals are important, but a plan of attack to reach the goal is more important
  • The best way to pay off debt is to make it personal

So I am less than 6 months away from paying off $46,500 in student loans, 6 months away from paying off the last $25,000, do you think I will make it?  What do you think I should do to celebrate?  What would you do to celebrate paying off your student loans or any debt you have?

*Mrs. Even Steven Money is a private person, she will probably yell at me a little for even including this, but since this is my student loan debt I will most likely get a pass:)

31 Responses to “Closing in on Paying off Student Loans, How Should I Celebrate?

  • Congrats on your progress so far Even Steven, I’m backing you to get there with that determined attitude of yours!

    To celebrate you should definitely splash out on a nice fancy new car, or a luxurious 4 week trip to the Maldives flying first class – and maybe new diamond encrusted watches for Mr and Mrs Even Steven! 😉

    But seriously, I think the best way to celebrate would be a quiet few hours over a couple of beers, while you reflect on your great achievement and think about how great life will be when you hit financial independence. I paid mine off a couple of years ago, and since the payments were coming straight from my salary, I just enjoyed the little pay increase as my reward!
    Jason @ Islands of Investing recently posted…One of the saddest investing tragedies I’ve seenMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Thanks Jason! I love the suggestions, probably lease a G-Wagon, 1st class everywhere, and watches of course especially since I haven’t owned one since 8th grade, LOL good stuff. Your right though, I actually never even considered that I would have an extra $200 available after this, not including the big payments I have been making.

  • Looks like you’ve made some really great progress so far, keep it up. If you’re going to make your goal of paying of the last $25,000 I think its doable but going to be really tough. You’re going to need a few more boosted payments like the one you made in August.

    To celebrate I haven’t really thought much on what to do there. For myself I know I’ll be thrilled but not sure if I have a specific celebration in mind! Maybe treat yourself to something you’ve been planning to buy?
    Debt Hater recently posted…Make Money With SwagbucksMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Yeah it will be tough, I’m trying not to rely on the back heavy part of the plan with the raise, bonus, taxes, etc because who knows they just might skip me this year. Yeah I need something for a celebration, just not sure what yet.

  • Congrats on getting so close! You’re almost there! Our celebrations are usually free or cheap (I’m sure you’re not surprised 🙂 ). We like to go on a walk or hike, make a nice dinner at home, or go to a free museum/art gallery.
    Mrs. Frugalwoods recently posted…Weekly Woot & Grumble: Certified Turkey FreakMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Thanks FW! Yeah while I think that is the best route to go with something frugal, I think I want something a little more celebratory, still thinking, I need a pot of gold on the other side of my repayment rainbow!

  • This is great progress! I am in a very similar situation as we are not using Mrs. ROB’s monies for me paying off my debt. I have a little bit more to go, but this post just gives me more motivation and ideas! Woo hoo! Keep it up!

    And I think you should celebrate with an excellent bottle of wine. I have one that is sitting in our wine collection that I am going to wait on a bit to pay off this one debt. It keeps calling my name to drink it, but not until I am done. I say a nice bottle of wine (doesn’t have to be $100) would be nice to celebrate.
    Jason recently posted…My Biggest and Dumbest Financial MistakesMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Thanks ROB, getting over that last hurdle will be fun I’m sure. I like the idea of having a celebration drink, I’m not much of a wine guy, but a nice craft beer could do the trick.

  • Even if you don’t hit your payoff goal on the projected date, you’ll be there soon and what an accomplishment! I know that true, by the books people will tell you to invest if the interest there is better than paying off debt, but no one ever goes back and wished they hadn’t paid something off. Congrats!
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted…Buying a FourPlexMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Thanks Kim, yeah I’m still looking for the story that says oh man paid off my 80K in student loans, wish I would still be in debt and invested in the market instead, Who Says That?

  • Awesome news, Steven!! I love your “take no prisoners” attitude here regarding the student loan debt. Celebrate? Something you and the Mrs. have wanted to do or buy but haven’t b/c you’ve been so focused on debt repayment.
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted…The Benefits of Long-Term Food Storage and PreparednessMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      I think that’s what we are leaning towards something that we both want to do together that we haven’t done or missed out on in the recent past, thanks FF.

  • I definitely think you’ll be able to pay off the rest of your loans in 6 months the way you’re going! When I paid off my student loans I literally did a happy dance at my desk and opened a slightly nicer bottle of champagne that night. Good Luck!
    Mom @ Three is Plenty recently posted…Our House has a FoundationMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Happy Dance you say! I might need to pay off my last payment at my house so I don’t get escorted out of the place.

  • Awesome!! Good for you!! I can’t wait for the day that I have all of my loans paid off.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Nice little Chicago winter and some paid off loans and I’ll be set, keep working at paying off those loans, eventually they go to Zero, eventually.

  • Jason, this is huge because it show how important it is to have a budget, so you can get rid of unnecessary spending habits and allocate money else where for things like paying off debt. You are definitely in the home stretch and you will be crossing the finish line very shortly.
    Donny Gamble recently posted…3 Things You Should Know Before Investing in Physical GoldMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Thanks for stopping by Donny, the home stretch sounds nice as long as it doesn’t feel like mile 20 of a marathon.

  • Congrats! How about a trip to Vegas?? Just don’t charge it on a credit card…. 😛

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      We have definitely considered Vegas, it’s still in the talks for the victory trip, might do a charity event in Chicago that involves a casino night.

  • Congrats! You’re so close! I haven’t even celebrated yet so I don’t have any recommendations on what you should do 😛
    Steve recently posted…How I Paid Off $54,000 in Student Loans in 2 Years and X MonthsMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      We will have to compare notes, I see you beat me to the student loan debt free scream.

  • Congrats on getting to the end of your student loan payments! I remember when I realized it was almost paid off, I started mentally spending the extra money. Fortunately, Mrs. SSC reigned that in and it went to investing instead. I celebrated grad school with a really nice bottle of beer. Nothing too spendy but more than the usual.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      I think the celebration will involve beer, maybe more than one, but it will involve a charity function so a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

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