A big reason why I decided to start The Beautiful Useful Project was to make money by selling my stuff in order to pay off my student loan. While I don’t regret going to graduate school, I do regret the way I’ve handled my student loan so far.
My Student Loan Debt Mistakes
- Consolidating too early. My interest rate is 5.35 percent. While this might sound like a pretty good deal today, the loan rates were way lower at one point. I consolidated quickly after graduating in 2001 (yes, that’s more than 10 years ago…), and I thought I was being smart by locking in the lower rate. Little did I know the rate would go down, but I’d be stuck with my higher rate.
- Paying the minimum. I consolidated my loans, and then signed up for a Graduated Repayment plan. My payments were lower, and I was happy, so I just set up automatic payments and tried to pretend like my loan wasn’t there.
- Hoping for loan forgiveness. This was so dumb. I worked as a teacher, but not in a low-income or high-needs school. I thought that eventually all teachers would have the opportunity to apply for loan forgiveness. I really thought that my loans would probably go away.
- Not putting extra money towards my loans. I could have been putting birthday money, surprise windfalls, and other money toward my loan this whole time. But I didn’t. Okay, maybe I did it once, but I’m not totally sure about that…
Because of my completely idiotic student-loan-repayment behavior, I’ve been paying a lot of interest on my loan since 2001, but I’ve not made much progress in actually paying it off. I still owe about $37,000 on a loan that was originally about $45,000.
As my teacher friends would say, I’ve made some poor choices.
I need to clean up my act.
Here are some things I’m doing to change my behavior:
- Each month, I will pay at least double of what my regular student loan payment would have been if I hadn’t gone on the Graduated Repayment plan.
- I will continue to have my graduated payment auto-debited from my bank account each month, because doing so makes my interest rate a little bit lower.
- I will pay the remainder of the “regular” payment in weekly increments. My loan doesn’t have any penalties for paying early or making extra payments. I think this might also lower the total amount of interest paid.
- Any windfalls or extra money will go towards the student loan. So as soon as I sell something, or make money doing something, I will deposit it in my account and immediately make another payment toward the loan.
- I will acknowledge my student loan. A big part of my issue has been denial. The student loan isn’t going away unless I make it go away by paying it off.
- I will try ever-so-hard to maintain my determination. I’ll be on the lookout for stories of paying off debt, and even searching for new student loan payoff strategies.
Is anyone else out there paying off their student loan too? How’s it going?
Check out these Student Loan Paydown Ideas.
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