Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Goodbye, student loans : A new series


When I shared this last post, I had an "aha" moment of sorts.  I noted that Tim and I are in our "newlywed, student loan paying phase of our life", that this is our story "a story I'm proud of and thankful you read."

After reflecting on it, I thought "what story am I sharing?"  "What story do I want to share?"  In terms of "our story", I document holidays and birthdays and days out at the park, but I haven't documented an ounce of our real story, story line A, the narrative that has shaped where we live, what we buy, that has totally and completely dictated our lifestyle and has been the biggest factor in making life choices.

And that is paying off a mountain of student debt as a young family of four.

In this last post, I also mentioned I write about what I know.  I have (and I do).  I've chosen to be candid with my online presence in sharing and talking about personal growth and challenges. Everything from postpartum depression to the topic of therapy has been thrown in the mix.  But I've decided to take an even further leap -- a leap that will give you a glimpse into the reality of student debt, the toll it can take, and the budgeting it demands.  This might indeed be a reality for you.  To you I'd say, you're not alone.

For some readers, you may find this too personal.  And to you I'd say, maybe.  But the very fact that this is the reality for so many people under (and over) 30, I've realized that Tim and I aren't all that special. More than half of college grads have student loans.  Collectively, we have a trillion dollars of student debt and in 2015 the average amount owed was $35,000.  The burden is delaying home buying and family starting and forcing all energy and resources into paying off education.  And everyone is wandering around trying to find the answers.  This problem is unique to generations following our parents', so they're not really sure what to say.  Politicians are giving high hope and claiming promises.  I look around and I'm frustrated.  Everyone's running around yelling go to college but no one seems to have the answers about how to live once you've graduated. We're there, we're living the post-grad reality.  And this lifestyle that Tim and I are leading is quickly becoming the new normal.  So maybe by sharing, someone else might be inspired to make paying off debt a priority or someone can inspire me to push myself even harder.  By sharing, I hope to keep myself accountable and to be able to look back (while cruising around on my jet ski, of course) and say holy shit we paid off more than $106,000* worth of debt.

So here we go.  (Coming next week: Where We've Been)

When I sat down and took on the finances, six months after getting married, I sat down and added up our debts and formed a plan.  Close to 87,300 was student debt, 14,500 our car, and 2,500 of small debts.  In following posts I will specifically refer to the student loan numbers.  I wanted to include the number reflective of our all our debts in my introductory post.

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