I started this blog in January, 2015, as a way to keep myself accountable in my goal to pay off my student loans on an irregular income. Six months into the journey, I took a full-time job with a regular pay schedule. I paid off 100% of the $47,554 loan balance six months later, in February, 2016.
It’s been quite a ride.
Before I created Dream Beyond Debt, I carried my student loan debt for almost fifteen years. I earned a graduate degree in 2004. Before I even defended my thesis, I consolidated my undergraduate and graduate student loans and started paying the minimum payment. I put the loans in deferment for approximately two years (but not consecutively.) After eight years of minimum payments and a year of paying the minimum plus one hundred dollars every month, I managed to pay off exactly $1,079.00.
That was it. That was all the progress I made in a decade. It was a sobering moment. But, it wasn’t until I heard myself say to my mother, “I will probably die with student loan debt,” that I thought something needed to change.
I had (and still have) too much I want to do in the world. I wanted to travel. I wanted to save for retirement. But, I couldn’t stand the thought of spending money on any dream while in a deep financial hole.
So, I kept dreaming, and I prepared for those dreams while paying off $47,554.00 in student loan debt.
A few things helped me pay off the debt as quickly as I did: 1.) I didn’t have credit card debt because I declared bankruptcy two years before I focused on my student loans, 2.) I was single with no dependents other than my two dogs, 3.) I lived with a roommate in a very low cost of living arrangement, 4.) my care was paid off, and 5.) I simply took on more of the same work I’d been doing for years. I took on as much as I could. Sometimes, it felt like too much. But, I knew it was for a finite amount of time. I only had to work at that pace until the debt was wiped out.
I hope that my progress inspires others who have bothersome debt. I know I’ve turned to several personal finance blogs for ideas and motivation – and most importantly, community. The support of the personal finance bloggers I met while paying off my debt was key to my success. I encourage you to reach out.
Questions or comments? Contact me at dreambeyonddebt (at) gmail (dot) com.
Now that the debt is gone, I don’t write as much about it. My focus has turned to the pursuit of my dreams, which now includes financial independence. To achieve FIRE, I fully intend to stay out of debt while I accumulate my nest egg. It is so exciting to be on this journey, and I’m so grateful for this space on the internet and the people it has connected me to.