Thursday, December 19, 2013

Exciting news! I'm debt free!

A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders as I joyfully crossed off a life list item yesterday:  I paid off all my student loans!  I'm debt free!


Want to see?

My original life list goal was to be loan-free by 2015, but 2013 will just have to do.  ;)

How I paid off my student loans in 2 years:

  • I'm super frugal; not a big spender to begin with.
  • I did not defer my loans when I lived in Spain; I was able to pay more than the minimum monthly balance despite my low income because I hunted for (and found) an apartment half the cost of regular Madrid rent.
  • I left Spain after a year to make more money in Madison.
  • I didn't have car payments; I walked/biked/bused places.
  • I worked a seasonal part-time job in addition to my full-time job for three months during tax season.
  • And a majority of all that income always went straight to my loans.

The life of my loans:

May 15, 2011: I graduated from UW-Madison with four student loans, totaling over $23K.  (While in Madison as an undergraduate I worked at a part-time job throughout all semesters.  And winter breaks, spring breaks, summer breaks.  I was also able to study abroad for a year, during which I made very little from private English classes, but had enough saved up from my part-time job to cover my rent, tuition, food, etc. that year.)

September 23, 2011: Moved to Madrid, Spain where I'd work as a North American Language and Culture Assistant, making 1,000 euros a month for nine months.

November 15, 2011: I got a nice email from Great Lakes saying my grace period was up.  Time to start making monthly loan payments, which I did.

March 15, 2012: I received an email saying my 9-month grace period was up, time to start paying on this loan.  What?! I have another one?! Hah, didn't even know this loan existed.  It was from that stupid ECSI website.

September 24, 2012: Moved back to Madison, WI.  Got a 9-5 job at the university.

January - April, 2013: Got a second job during tax season, working Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sundays. Worked 7 days a week for three full months.

February 13, 2013: I paid off my first student loan.

April 10, 2013: I paid off my second student loan.

August 8, 2013: Last day at my university job.

August 27, 2013: I paid off my third student loan.

September 1, 2013: I moved to Korea to teach English.

December 18, 2013: Finally got money from Korea to the USA, so I could finish off my fourth and final student loan!

Throughout those past two years I've been tracking loan payments methodically, keeping a detailed excel spreadsheet.  I think it would be really fun to make some graphs so I can visually see how they changed over time.  But I've got to get to bed now -- maybe this weekend I can fool around and make some pretty graphs.
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