I have been delinquent on posting recently. A huge thank you to those who’ve noticed my absence and asked how everything was going. As people have asked it’s been amazing to hear some of you share your stories and the encouragement you’ve received from me sharing mine. As a thank you, I wanted to share where we are at in our journey to paying off debt our student loan debt. But first, what have I been doing?
As I’ve reflected on what is important in life, and focused more time on those things, blogging has become less frequent. Instead, I’ve spent more time supporting my family, taking more things off my wife’s plate so she can have the free time needed to focus on automating various aspects of her business. This means making breakfast and preparing sack lunches for my children, handling the morning school run, and returning home from work early enough to make dinner. I also had a difficult recovery from surgery this past year. I’ve written about physical health several times, but I’ve chosen to spend more time on it. Not just on exercising, but learning more about nutrition and what foods are the best for my body. As an extension of that, I’ve been researching what things are best for our planet, and what I can do to contribute to living on this Earth in a sustainable way. I may share more about those subjects in the future, as I believe they go hand-in-hand with paying off debt, but that’s not why we’re here today.
When I first started this blog I had an ambitious goal that I didn’t tell you about. It was simply this: to pay off every penny of my student loan debt in less than 5 years. That’s right, from nearly $350k to $0 in less than 5 years. So, how are we doing? Well, we’ve managed to pay off a few of the more onerous loans, and we’re well on our way to paying off several others, but as Katie and I prepare to visit with our accountant tomorrow I thought I’d give a full accounting of how far we’ve come.
So, what’s left? I still have four loans with the following balances:
Total Remaining Balance: $272,090
Total Paid Off Since Starting the Blog: $70,478
I’m ecstatic about how things have gone over the past year. We’ve worked hard and made several sacrifices, but nothing we’ve done has really felt like a sacrifice because the end reward of getting out of student loan debt is so much greater than the reward of a really fancy meal, a nicer car, a nicer house, or any of the other of myriad of things I could be spending my money on besides student loans. I’m happy to report that we’re well within the “Mr. Money Mustache” range of household spending. The simple act of saying “no” to something that would be nice to have and putting an extra $10 here or there towards student loans is, for me, exciting. I don’t feel deprived, I feel empowered.
This empowerment has done something else incredible as well. It’s taught me what I really need in life to live and be happy. The less I spend the more content I am and the more I’m convinced that the happiness which comes from material things is too shallow to put much stock in. In fact, the only expenses that I really haven’t sacrificed are those related to experiences and physical health. I think vacations are critical both as a way of renewing myself and building relationships with my friends and family. Physical health, I’m realizing, is essential to happiness. An investment in physical health is an investment in life, and the one I’m convinced will bring far greater returns than any other investment I could be making.
All of this means that our target asset goal for retirement has shrunk as well. Years ago, when we were in our “black-hole year” I felt deflated and hopeless. However, as we’ve been forced to work hard, be creative and find solutions, we’ve been given far greater gifts than if everything had worked out as smoothly as we thought life was supposed to for two people who had followed all the rules and done what we’d been told to do by our teachers and the rest of responsible society.
In short, we’re on pace to make our goal, and reach many other goals we never would have made had this “burden” of debt never entered our lives. At this point, I’m convinced that this massive student loan debt we accumulated will prove to be the greatest blessing that ever happened to us.