We’re finally to the part you’ve all been waiting for: making payments. Now as fun as that may sound, when you start writing checks to pay your loans, it can be mildly terrifying. That is sort of what happened with Ryan and me last September. You see, Ryan and I got married and received a lot of love from friends in the form of gifts and money. We also each had small “fallback” savings accounts. We had reached our summer goal of saving an extra $1000 to put toward balancing our budgets while we spent Sept-Dec in college classes more than work.
All that to say, we ended up having wedding money + savings + extra earnings from the summer = $11,000. And we were sitting on it. I guess we thought it was a cushion, a big fat comfy cushion. But, here’s the thing, we didn’t need that cushion. We had debts to pay. So, after some persuasion from Ryan’s new Dave Ramsey/Larry Burkett follower, we decided to make our first debt payment, and to go big. I think part of why we held off was that our loans were federal and didn’t collect interest until we graduated. So, we felt like why bother paying when we didn’t have to? PLEASE don’t think that way. Being in debt is more than a numbers game, it’s a constant thought that your money doesn’t really all belong to you.
We decided to make an online payment of $9,000 and save the extra $2k as a much smaller cushion (which was good because we ended up moving to our second apartment later that month and needed the cash). Hitting the button to send away $9k was really hard. We both sort of sat there in shock. We only owed $14,500 after that – Yay. However, we just sucked $9,000 out of our bank account. Holy smokes. I can still remember Ryan’s wide eyes and shocked expression turn into a big smile as he realized we were making big people decisions and paying down our debt.
So, September of 2015 was our first debt payment, a bigger one than most people could make off the cuff. Here’s where I’ll tell you that you shouldn’t sit on huge savings if you have debt. Sure, have a safety net, but especially if your loan is building in interest, start paying! Only have $100 extra? That’s okay. Start with something. Anything is better than being charged interest month after month. Steady payments will benefit your credit score as well.
Once we hit that first payment button, our perspective changed. Somehow, becoming debt-free quickly seemed attainable. The more you pay, the easier it is to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I realize you may not have huge savings, that’s okay, but you have to start somewhere.
The next $10k we paid off wasn’t quite so easy. We didn’t even muster up another payment until January, but we had a goal. We had decided that we wanted to be debt free by January 1, 2017. We’re well on our way, friends.
Don’t give up. Start somewhere today and make that first payment as soon as possible. Get a tax return? Put it towards debt! A big gift? Pretend it never happened and put it towards debt instead of “stuff.” It’s all about how you view money. Right now, we view extra money as a chance to be out of debt quicker. Maybe you need to go back and seriously consider where you can make a little extra money to put toward debt.
I’m excited to share more next time about the “little-by-little” journey we’ve been on since the first big payment. I would love to hear about your personal story and any progress you’re making. Share your success in a comment below!