Friends, I’ve got to be honest. I love school, perhaps a little too much. There’s just something about putting my nose in a book, writing an essay, or taking exams. Ya’ll, if I could be a professional student, I would do just that!
Unfortunately, school costs bucks. Lots and lots of bucks. I graduated from nursing school in 2013, with around $92,000 in school loan debt. Yes, cry big tears with me, please. That number was so daunting when I first started working as a school nurse.
I know what you are thinking: “You’re a nurse, Sarah. Nurses make great money.” However, friends, I’m going to let you in on a secret. Non-hospital nurses do not make as much money as hospital nurses. Despite this reality, I set out determined to defeat the debt beast.
God confirmed through a few awesome people in my life that this debt beast had to go. I’m not entirely sure what freedom from debt will bring for me, but if God says go for it, ya just do.
I’ve come up with a list to share with you, in case you are wondering where to begin.
- Start with your smallest loan and pay it off. I had about 20 different lines of credit when I started paying back loans, and knew I’d eventually want to snowball my money, but I needed to see something tangible in the beginning. My smallest loan was $600, so my first paycheck went to paying off this loan. It felt so good!
- Set a reasonable budget to pay off your debt. Make sure you allow yourself room in your budget for your bills and other expenses, such as gas. It’s no good to pay off loan debt but have no extra money around when needed (and consequently rack up credit card debt). See step 3.
- Keep a “rainy day” fund in your banking account. I keep about $1,000 as my “rainy day” fund in my banking account. That said, I myself have allotted double my monthly payments for loans each month. Thanks Mum & Pops for allowing me to trade chores and dog sitting for free room & board.
- Snowball your debt beast. This means that after I paid off my smallest loan, I starting attacking my highest interest loans. One of my private loans had an interest rate of 7.5%. That’s just nuts. I slayed that loan first, and allowed that monthly payment roll into the next highest interest loan payment. Soon enough, that extra $25 a month turns into $150 extra a month toward your payments.
- Make sure to have fun along the way. Debt beast slaying is a journey friends. For me, this means a good handful of years to pay off my loan debt. I cannot reasonably function without some fun every once in a while. This means I use my yearly tax refund to help with travel expenses. If you enjoy a daily latte, by all means, get yourself a cup. I personally got bitten by the travel bug long, long ago, and need to explore somewhere outside of Oregon every year. I scrimp and save, and use my tax refund to help me get there. By allowing yourself some fun along the way, your attitude toward paying off the debt beast will be positive, instead of miserable. I promise.
Here’s to you, friends, paying off your debt beasts. May your journey be delightfully swift, and may you never lose sight of the end goal—FREEDOM FROM DEBT!