How we paid off $148,000 in student loan debt in 2.3 years!

STUDENT DEBT IS PURE EVIL. I hated this monstrosity with every single living cell in my body. And now… WE ARE FREE!

The journey began in January 2017 when Fatherfier and I finally sat down and did the math. I graduated late 2016 completely unaware of the financial damage my newly acquired Master’s degree caused. We were devastated. The student loan debt alone was over $148,000! In addition to the mortgage and cars, we had a newborn and a second grader who attended a prestigious private school. Thankfully we have discovered Dave Ramsey whose message resonated deeply with us. We took his Financial Peace University course the following month. While our salaries were fantastic, neither one of us was making a six-figure income until beginning of 2019 when we both got raises and finally reached that income threshold.

So how did we do it?

YEAR 2017

Beginning balance: $148,146.00

  1. Unenrolled our son from the private school ($20,000 yearly for school plus fancy uniform expenses. Ouch!)
  2. Created a monthly budget*** and eliminated restaurants, gym, Costco membership and even $8/month Netflix (never watched it). This was not a sacrifice since we never had a cable, and cooked most of our meals at home.

***We no longer budget as we have figured out what are our approximate monthly expenses are. Everydollar free app is what we used at the beginning to get into a habit of watching how much we spend in each category. Now we use another free app – Personal Capital which is a fantastic net worth tracker that also includes a snapshot of your expenses.

Learning to budget is like a calorie counting. Once you start tracking calories you get an idea of approximate calorie value for each food category. Just like with calorie counting (I am looking at you 440 calorie Panera bread cookie), there will be unexpected and unpleasant surprises when you start budgeting. The majority of expenses for us went towards the student debt and our Honda (brand new, of course!) cars.

  • We still took a vacation. DAH! We bought a brand new piano for our son. DAH!

Debt paid in 2017

Medical debt and consumer debt: $25,394

Student loan balanced decreased to: $126,024

YEAR 2018

Beginning student loan balance: $126,024

No fun, no vacation this year! We have a third grader enrolled into public school, our grocery bill averages $350 per month for a family of four. No, we are not starving. The FIer boys can eat a cow in one setting. Solution? We shop at the local immigrant stores and Aldi.

In October 2018, I discover the FI community. The fire has ignited; I found my tribe. Fatherfier is on board within seconds.

Student loan balance: $79,466.47

YEAR 2019

I sense THIS year something amazing is going to happen, so we start a blog to document this moment. The ultimate goal for 2019 – complete student loan debt eradication!

I am losing patience and want drastic changes. We decide to sell our cozy little house and use the equity to pay off the rest of the debt. But that’s cheating! Nope. Unconventional? Maybe. By that point the disgust I felt for this debt was so strong, I was willing to sell my kidney or donate ovaries just to get to zero (I am kidding of course, so please don’t get any ideas).

We put our house on sale late February 2019. IT’S SOLD IN ONE DAY. We mourn as we say goodbye to the place which Fatherfier purchased as an immigrant after only three years in this country. We mourn the place where two of our little ones made their first steps, the wall with height markings, and the yard where we planted fruit trees. Goodbye our sweet home. Thank you for taking care of our family all these years and helping us one last time to abolish the monster from our lives.

We feel ambivalent sending $80K check. This is a huge chunk of money to send away forever, but it buys us a key to unlock the shackles. No longer slaves, we are free!!!

Below is the snapshot of the Navient account.

Congratulations, we are homeless now! Ha, not really. We are temporarily staying with Fatherfier’s sweet mother until we figure out the math and decide on long term housing arrangements.

After I kiss our boys good night, I check the Navient account balance 1000s time. Yup, still at zero. It feels freaking awesome.

What will you be willing to do to get rid of your student loan debt?

Much love,

MF

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