My birthday & student loans: Bring on the numbers
Does 26 still count as mid-twenties or am I coming up on late-twenties now? Either way, I think my birthday (today, whoo hoo!) is the perfect time to talk about some numbers — specifically, my student loans. While my ever-increasing age is inevitable, student loan numbers upset me and that is why I devised a plan:
Pay off my student loans.
Genius, right? Easier said than done, but I am proud to report that I have been able to bring my principal down $16 grand since graduating in 2008. That’s a lot of payments! I still owe about $20 grand, but if I continue at the same rate (about $8G/year) I can be debt free by 2013. I am going to try to do even better and finish a year early. I’ll let you know how that goes…
Why am I sharing this information with you? Partly because I am pretty amazed with my progress (I’ve never been good with money, just ask my dad), but mostly because I know many of my friends and colleagues have school debt of their own. Whether you have more or less, I hope I am able to inspire you to work towards your own financial freedom. I know it’s super difficult with this economy and that many of you are currently looking for jobs, but I thought I’d share some tips that have worked for me.
- Create a budget. You don’t have to stick to it 100% of the time, but knowing how you spend your money (and where & when) is immensely helpful if you’re trying to save up or make a monthly loan payment. Try tracking your spending for two months and I guarantee that you will be surprised by how much money you spend online shopping (Etsy is my personal weakness), buying fancy coffee drinks and eating out at restaurants. Just being aware of how much you’re bringing in and how much you’re shelling out will get you in the right frame of mind to think more carefully about spending and saving.
- Find someone who motivates you. We were very into Dave Ramsey a while back, and still subscribe to a number of his concepts (had to stop listening due to his religious rhetoric, however). But the person who really motivates me is my boyfriend. He follows his own budget to a T, and encourages me to make responsible decisions with my money. Sometimes that extra step of talking to someone gives you enough time for the impulse purchase feeling to pass.
- Set a goal. Then reach it, and set another one. Share your goals with other people so that they can keep you on task and celebrate with you when you save $1,000 for your emergency fund or make an extra payment. Start small and you will gain momentum with each success.
In other numbers news, this is my 100th blog post! Thanks for reading (and commenting – over 320 comments to date), friends.
So, what financial advice do you have? What works for you? What are your biggest money woes?