By this point I’m sure you understand this already, but these updates are mostly my way to publicize that even the worst student loan debt can be repaid – and quickly. And I think my story proves that student loan debt can even be repaid when the borrower/former student is working at a nonprofit organization, donates approximately 10% of his income to charity each year, and has to find a way to afford to exist in an economy where prices inflate, but wages largely stagnate.That’s been the general gist of these updates.
However, perhaps a more primary reason for me posting these regular updates is to keep myself on track with the very repayment plan that I’m talking about. Most studies show that when a person commits to completing a big, audacious goal (starting a company, losing weight, repaying a high amount of debt), they are usually much more successful if they publicize those goals and their on-going attempts, accomplishments, failures, and trials along the way.
That’s part of what I’m trying to do with these updates – keep myself honest and totally focused on the ultimate goal of living a debt-free life. In fact, once this aggressive repayment plan is completed (since purchasing the new car, the deadline has extended six months from Christmas 2012 to Summer 2013) I fully plan to continue to utilize JerseySmarts.com to hold myself accountable for other goals that I’m trying to achieve. For example, in the past I’ve noted on this blog that I managed to get myself type 2 diabetes from eating too much and not working out enough. I’ve achieved some remarkable success in reducing the impact of that disease in my daily life and I think I could certainly write more about that on the blog.
Related to the diabetes… many years before I used this blog to publicize how I’m destroying my student loan debt, I wrote about how I was losing a tremendous amount of weight. Well, like most dieters and gym rats my life pushed me in a direction where I couldn’t workout as much (thanks full-time job and awful, awful commute!). And – as you might imagine – I gained back a bunch of weight. No, I didn’t gain back all of the weight (thank God), but I did gain back a lot of it (I went from 385 down to 260 then back up to 365 and now I’m down at 325).
With my weight loss and healthy activities I think there’s clearly both a good story to tell and an opportunity to hold myself accountable for greater levels of success. What type of greater success might that be? Well, I see my total weight loss and healthy journey as more than an attempt to fit into a certain size pair of jeans or a certain t-shirt. I see the journey as a way to a more active lifestyle and as a way to be able to do more “fun” things that I really can’t do right now. One of the folks that I work with is always telling me how she and her husband go hiking and how New Jersey has a lot of great hiking trails. Hiking is something that I could certainly do right now, but I wouldn’t enjoy it because I’m just not in good enough shape. The same goes for bike riding. I would like to ride a bike around town or even to ride a bike up and down the boardwalk on early mornings. However, if I did that activity now I definitely wouldn’t enjoy it because I’d be huffing and puffing when I should be enjoying the activity.
And have you seen these tough mudders and other crazy types of obstacle course races? That looks like a whole lot of fun… just not a whole lot of fun yet for me. Plus, I feel like I can get some people to do those events with me (I’m referring to my roommates who read this blog as well as my cousin and brother who both read this blog).
And there’s more to it, too. I don’t often write about the fact that I stopped eating fast food back in 2002 and stopped drinking soda around the same time (though I never really drank a lot of soda). In fact, there was a point in high school (late 1990’s) where I stopped drinking soda for over a year! Over the last 5 – 6 years I’ve done a lot of reading and some minor research on healthy foods, primal/paleo eating, and organic food versus non-organic food. I’d like to share a lot of that information and my thoughts on it on JerseySmarts.com, too.
Don’t think that the future of these accountability updates will deviate too far from the financial world. Once Summer 2013 has come and gone and I’m student loan free for the first time since 1999, I’ll have quite a bit to write about as I build up a significant reserve fund, housing fund, and continue to work to pay off this new car loan – and ultimately a mortgage for a house. In other words, these periodic updates aren’t going away after Summer 2013, but they might change a bit.
At this point, I guess it’s worth mentioning that my student loan debt has dropped again. This time it fell from $32 thousand outstanding down to $29 thousand outstanding. This represents the achievement of two major goals in one, fell swoop. First, I’ve now repaid over $91 thousand in student loan principal (and about $30 thousand in student loan interest). Second, I broke through the $30 thousand barrier! Believe it or not, the last time I only owed this much in student loans was after the first semester of my Junior year of college (that would be way back at the end of December 2001!).
In other words (working backwards), so far I’ve successfully repaid the academic and housing/living student loan debt that I incurred in (1) graduate school, (2) in the year before I entered graduate school when I was sort of in between schools, (3) during my senior year of college, and (4) during the second half of my junior year of college.
Pretty amazing, huh?
In May 2006, I graduated from Rutgers University with a Masters Degree and $120,720 in student loan debt. Since I started repaying my student loans in July 2006, I’ve repaid a total of $91 thousand in principal to various lenders including the federal Perkins loan program, the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, and CitiBank. I currently owe $29 thousand in principal to the United States Department of Education’s Direct Loans program. To date, I’ve repaid well over $30 thousand in interest to these lenders. Follow my student loan repayment story on JerseySmarts.com.