Friday, July 6, 2012

So, About Being Debt Free

A few posts back I casually mentioned that I paid off my student loans and am 100% debt free. I did it in the midst of some other posts, and after a long-ish absence, so I thought I'd go back and write a bit about it, and reflect on how far I've come.

I was able to pay off the last chunk of my student loan because as a National Board Certified Teacher in LAUSD, I am able to earn money for additional hours of professional development (both as a leader and a learner) each year. This is money on top of my regular check and is part of the incentive to get the certification. (Alas, my new district does not participate, but hopefully they won't lay me off every year either). When I got that extra chunk of money, I decided to go ahead and just pay off my entire student loan amount and be done with it all at once.

Honestly, there wasn't the fanfare I felt when I paid off my credit cards or my car loan. I think  in part because I don't have any regrets about my student loans, and they never bothered me as much as my other debt. Also, I didn't entirely plan to pay them off that day, so it didn't have the build-up that the other debt payoffs had. To top it all off, I was/am going through HUGE transitions right now-laid off, new job, moving, etc.

Don't get me wrong; it feels pretty great to be debt free. But I guess I thought there would be more glee or jumping up and down than there actually was. I do occasionally think, "I am debt free." And it always brings a little smile to my face.

I did some number crunching, and from what I have figured, I have been on this journey to be financially responsible for 31 months (two and a half years). In that time, I have paid off approximately $28,000 of debt to become debt-free. I've also saved almost a three month E-fund, 25% of a house down payment, put money in a Roth IRA for seven months in a row, and increased my funding to my 403(b).

I got super serious about budgeting, tracking every cent I spend. I was really intense in the beginning, and have relaxed as I've gotten out of my high-interest consumer debt. I still took vacations during this time, and prioritized for the things that are important to me.

I remember taking Financial Peace University and hearing that it takes most people two to three years to pay off all their debt if they get gazelle-intense. That seemed like FOREVER. But, I have to say that being on the other side, it doesn't seem so long.

So, am I excited about being debt free? A little. But I think the better word to describe it is proud. I am proud that I did what it took to get here. That I worked hard for it, changed my patterns and habits, and became a financially responsible person. And that's even better than giddy, short-term excitement.


  1. On the opposite side of the highly coveted 'debt free' is that sweet spot where you learn that wonderful balance between saving and enjoying the everyday of life.

  2. I agree with Jolie. Enjoy it sweetie! I'm proud of you.

  3. congrats on getting that last debt paid!

  4. You really should be proud of yourself! Paying your debts all by yourself is a major accomplishment. It’s a relief to wake up each day knowing that you don't have to pay anything to anyone. Budget your money wisely, and don’t forget to save. Good luck!

    -Jaden Allred