Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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And Then There Was One

A long, long time ago1, an intrepid young graduate (i.e., me) was buried under a mountain of student debt. More than $71,000 of student debt, in fact. Said debt was originally in the form of no fewer than 15 separate loan accounts, which were then consolidated into 3. And for the last 5 years I have been pouring insane amounts of money into paying off those mofos.

My strategy has been to set a fairly high monthly amount that I pay, focusing on the highest interest loans first. Every time I got a raise, I upped my monthly payment by the after-tax amount of that raise; the idea here is that since I’m not used to having that money, I won’t even notice it missing. Similarly, any extra money I managed to make (e.g., from freelance work and teaching) was made as lump sum payments onto my loans2.

My first taste of victory came in June 2011.

student loan 1 of 3 - done!The first of my 3 loans was done! Huzzah!

And then, just days ago, this happened:

zero balance

Student loan #2 down. And then there was one. Just one student loan left to go.

At this very moment, that student loan sits at about $5,400. At my current rate of $1,800 per month, that would take me three more months.

However. I happened to come into some money recently. By which I mean my mom generously gave me some. And as soon as the cheque clears3, my student loans will. be. done. Just a few days past the 5 year mark from when I started paying them off, I will have paid off more than $71,000 plus interest. In case you haven’t noticed, that is ABSOLUTELY INSANE.

Guess I’m going to have to figure out what to do with the money previously allotted to “student loan payments” in my monthly budget.

  1. i.e., 5 years ago []
  2. With a few bucks of that extra money being used for things like laser eye surgery and braces. Because you have to have some balance in your life, right? []
  3. Because apparently it takes a week for Vancity to talk to the Royal Bank. I believe they communicate by the Pony Express. Or maybe messenger pigeon. []


Since Five Years Is A Long Time To Not Be A Student

Hey, remember that time I said that a government agency wants to give me bucketloads of money so that I can get an MBA and that I needed to write the GMAT and then apply to the program and then hopefully I’d actually get in so I can have the aforementioned bucketloads of money? Yeah, that all happened. Schools starts for me in January.

Now, before you all going telling me (again) that I’m a Crazyface McGee, it’s merely an intensive 28-month, part-time program that I’ll do while still working full-time and that costs $41K+. You may now all call me crazy. But only half crazy, really, because of the aforementioned bucketloads of money.

Stack O'Money!
Not the actual pile of money I’ll be getting. Mine will be Canadian.

After the crushing level of student debt I incurred to get my first three degrees, I swore I’d never borrow another penny for education again, but when I found out about the scholarship to do an MBA, it was really too good of an opportunity to pass up. Especially given that I actually won the scholarship!

I just found out about my offer of admission last week, celebrated on Friday with a fine wine and a three-year-old cheese, both of which I picked up in Oregon in the summer and have been saving for just such a momentous occasion, and paid my tuition fee deposit yesterday. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what this time commitment will mean for my life and a lot of planning of how I’ll get myself organized to juggle my life, work, and school, but the reality of the situation is really starting to sink in now. Expect some think-y blog postings about such topics over the next little while – please bear with me! Or, you know, tell me I’m crazy.

Image Credit: Posted by docwonder on Flickr.



Two of the items on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days are:

56. save $500 in coins

57. deposit that $500 worth of coins into my 40th birthday savings account

I hit a bit of a snag in this plan in that when I moved last year, I moved into a place with no laundry facilities, so I had to start going to the dreaded laundromat, meaning that I needed my loonies and quarters for laundry. When you take loonies and quarters out of the mix, it really becomes difficult to save up much in the way of coins! But I decided to roll up all the dimes, nickels and pennies that I had in my coin jar, just to see what I had:

Rolled coins

That’s $65 worth of coinage, which, while not $500, isn’t too terrible.

The next step was to deposit this money into my 40th birthday savings account. But, as we all know, I decided to divert my 40th birthday savings account money into my dreaded students loans in my valiant attempt to be able to throw a “my student loan debt is all paid off” party by the end of next summer. So that $65 went to student loan paying-off-ness.

$65 closer to freedom.


Student Loans – Update and a Plan

vipezz 153As you may have seen my complain about from time to time here on NTBTWK, I wracked up a crazy amount of student debt while going through school. $71,504 to be exact. Now, when you consider that I was in post-secondary education for 11 years, it’s not actually that much – a mere $6,500 per year on average1 or $5,500 per letter I get to put after my name. And, as you’ve also seen me talk about here from time to time, I’m paying off my student loans as aggressively as I can, while still trying to have some sort of balance in my life2. I’m making sacrifices – not doing nearly as much travel as I would like, and renting a place in Surrey, where it’s much cheaper than Vancouver – as I’m putting the money I’m not spending on those things towards my student loans instead. The sooner I get them paid off, the sooner I don’t have to make giant student loan payments every month. Short-term pain for long-term gain, right?

Well, I did some number crunching on the weekend and I think I have a plan in place that means that I can have my student loans paid off by the end of next summer! When I first started paying off my loans, the loans were set up such that it would take me 9.5 years to pay off. That was April 2007, which means I was scheduled to have them paid off by October 2016! A combination of falling interest rates and me putting extra money that I have made towards the loans sure looks like it’s paying off!

At the moment, I have $24,000 left to pay. I currently pay $1,400 per month, meaning that I’ll pay $16,800 in a year. This, of course, leaves $7,200, plus all the interest on my balance3, unaccounted for, if I wanted to have my student loans paid off in a year. Fortunately, I have a some contract work that I’m doing and I figure that I can put all of the after-tax amount I make onto my students loans. But even that isn’t quite enough, so I’ve decided to do something drastic.

Ages ago, I started saving for a trip for my 40th birthday. Every two weeks, ~$25 is automatically transferred into a separate account that I’ve been using to save up for this trip. The idea, of course, is that you don’t really even notice $25 missing and then all this money piles up. Well, I can verify that such a system works, as I really have mostly forgotten that that money was sitting there. Until, that is, I realized how close I was to being within a year of my student loan freedom date, and then, all of the sudden, I noticed this $2,700 sitting in my birthday trip account that looked like something that I could really put to better use. I mean, I’m still a good 5.5 years away from my 40th birthday – that’s plenty of time to save! So I made the executive decision that I will take that $2,700 and I will give it to the student loan peeps and I will be that much closer to having this student loan monkey off my back. And then we will party.

Image Credit: Posted by vipez on Flickr.

  1. And that’s pretty much tuition fees and books most years. Jobs and scholarships were added into the mix so I could do things like eat food and not be homeless. []
  2. Some money to student loans, some money for laser eye surgery. Some money to student loans, some money for braces. []
  3. Interest on my student loans is currently 5.5%, except for a small chunk that is 4.5% []