On Monday, I was feeling down and out, frustrated with my seemingly lack of progress. After making another $600 payment on my student loans, I decided to crunch the numbers.
I’ve paid off roughly $13,000 out of my original $68,000 balance in 18 months. That’s 19% of my total debt! I say roughly because I’ve actually paid off more than that, but so much has been swallowed mercilessly to the 7.9% interest.
I must say I feel pretty good about that! I am amazed at the progress given my very low income the past two years. In 2011, I made approximately $16,000. After doing my taxes, this year is only slightly better at $20,000. Granted, the first salary was being a student in NYC and the latter is living in the much cheaper, Portland, Oregon.
Although mathematically it seems almost impossible that I paid off that much with that salary, I have to say it was due to frugality and saving. And student loans. Every semester in college when I received my student loan refund, which is used to pay for living expenses, I challenged myself to not touch it and only live off what I made at my three jobs. I was pretty successful and graduated with over 10k in savings. I wanted to just pay it back right away, but I knew I would need it with my move and job instability. Now I’ve dipped a lot into my savings, realizing that my money goes further paying off debt than sitting in savings.
Although I wish to throw every cent of my savings at my debt, I have to be realistic. I still don’t have a permanent job, health insurance or a credit card. Some financial prudence is needed until I find some stability. It’s easy for me to get discouraged both at my debt payoff and my job prospects. I miss the stability, culture and salary of 38k at my old job. In short, I miss my old life and have significantly downgraded in lifestyle. In my own Greek tragicomedy, it’s the most painful and bitter peripeteia. I left that job and went to graduate school thinking I was on to bigger, better things. In my hubris, I was confident I could easily make more than 38k after receiving a master’s. But sometimes, life is a kick in the head.
I am still trying to stay positive, focused and goal oriented. It’s been a long, long time coming, but change is gonna come. Next big goal: get under 50k and find that permanent job!