[This blog was almost titled “Hitting Pause.” That has nothing to do with anything, it just is rare I have two fun titles for a single blog entry. Go me.]
After some real soul searching and combining math with emotion, I made a decision to rethink how I’m paying off my debt.
Here’s what happened: I took a long, hard look at the two loan categories in my life: Stafford loans and a personal loan from my parents.
Even though the Stafford loans are earning interest and the personal loan is not, the student loans are, to some degree, a badge of honor. I made it through college, and now I’m paying the price. I can do this.
On the flip side, the personal loan is one of shame and guilt. It represents a sum total of all the times I couldn’t pay rent or my phone bill. It’s a car that, no matter how cheap a price, I could not afford in that moment. It’s groceries and an electric bill and, yes, even some student loan payments from right after graduation.
**To be very clear, my parents are exceedingly supportive, and they have never once given me any type of guilt trip about owing them money. Nor have they pressured me to get out of debt—they are supportive of this project and have said, in so many words, that they don’t want me to worry about paying them back until I get my student loans gone.
And yet, every time I talk to them, I feel guilty. Every time I pay on my student loans, I know how much closer that payment would get me to pay them back and have a clean slate with them.
I can’t justify paying them back before my Stafford loans with numbers. It’s not logical. They aren’t charging me interest, and if it takes me five years to pay them, there won’t be a word spoken of it. And yet, it’s eating me alive.
So here it is: I’m going to hit pause on my student loans, which are currently paid more than a year ahead, and instead focus my attention on paying back this personal loan. With some hard work and focus, I can finish that by the middle of February, only a few months from now. I will continue to keep up on interest payments on my Stafford loans so as not to be completely discouraged when I turn my attention back to them.
I can’t justify this decision. Logically, the only benefit is that, god forbid something happens to me, I will have a higher net worth because my student loans will be forgiven. Other than that, it’s a purely emotional decision.
And for one of the few times in my life, I’m okay with making and carrying out a purely emotional decision.
My tentative plan is to stash away money in my savings account and pay them in one or two lump sums instead of mailing them checks every few weeks. Not only will that be easier for them to get one check rather than a flood of them, it will also (I hope) encourage me to stash money away whether it’s a lump or a few dollars left over from my gas budget. Every bit counts!
Wish me luck!