In the next week or so, I will hopefully make the last payment toward my student loans. It’s hard to believe; I’ve had them for what seems like forever.
I made up my mind 9 months ago to actually pay attention to that area of my life in order to address it and put it behind me once and for all. At the time, I had an 8-month goal for paying it off, but life happened (I mean, REALLY happened) and I had a disappointing setback. My 8-month goal was ambitious, but doable. In paying more attention to things, I realized I really could pay more than the monthly minimum if I simply made up my mind to. And so I began to pay about 5 times the monthly minimum almost feverishly, suddenly having this strong urge to get this repulsive, creepy, crawly creature off me.
The interesting thing about my student loans is that I didn’t take them because I needed financial aid as a grad student. Thankfully, I got tuition remission from the program I was enrolled in, so there was no justification for racking up debt. I took the loans in my second or third year of marriage. My ‘dirty little secret’ is that I applied for them in order to plough them into different ventures my husband at the time was involved in. I took three of them, one after the other. Sometimes because he asked, and other times because, well, I just did.
I took a whopping total of USD 24,000 in student loans. Whopping for pretty much any student, and whopping for me, even now, many years after graduation.
The reality of all this is hard to overlook when you’re actually making an effort to pay down the bill – the weight of what this means is hard ignore. But after I transferred the last payment, realizing I had only one more left to go, I paused for a minute and really thought about it. Then I emailed my sister with the words ‘almost done …’ as the subject heading.
Some excerpts from the email conversation:
Me: … So explain to me, B: What possessed me to borrow $24,000 as a student – money I didn’t need
to borrow, just in order to give it to a man? …
Her: That was your path to walk and you have learned the lessons from that journey. … Congrats on
getting this loan paid off; so proud of you!
To say that my actions were not wise is an understatement (as a matter of fact, I briefly thought about using the title ‘Dumb and Dumber’ for this post). But there’s got to be much more to it than that because I think very few people on earth can actually be categorized as truly ‘dumb.’ And so, this week, I’ve been wondering what was in it for me. What was the payoff for doing this? What sort of emotional capital did I believe that this action would afford, and why did I feel the need to invest in it?
I have not completely answered these questions and I’m not sure if it still matters a whole lot because I feel like I’m in a very different place now from where I was back then.
Being transparent about it all has been a big help, I must say. I never would’ve come this far in making a huge dent in the debt had I not announced to the blogosphere that I was going to do it. Had I not felt like a million eyes were watching and waiting to see if I really meant business.
My sister is right. I’ve learned my lessons. I’ve paid the price – a very high price. I’ve paid every penny (almost). And I can hardly wait to post the words ‘PAID IN FULL!’ in a week or so.