You all know the drill by now: every two weeks or so I’m back with another one of these posts telling you how I paid down my student loan debt by a thousand bucks. So… as of a few days ago my student loan debt dropped from $85 thousand to $84 thousand. I knocked another thousand bucks off of my New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority debt to bring the total amount owed to that organization down to about $29 thousand.
Getting there. Slow and steady.Like I’ve been saying since I started this repayment plan in late December 2009/early January 2010 – this plan is strict and not the easiest to abide by. However, I’m sticking with it because I have to rid myself of this debt in order to function the way I want to function as a contributing member of the economy. Sending off about $3,000 each month to student loan companies is not fun and it’s not easy, but it has to be done so I can redirect that money to other uses (i.e. buying a home, a new car, investing more, etc.) sooner rather than later.
I try to lessen the impact of sending away so much money each month by being hyper-involved with my finances to the point where I check and recheck them at least twice each day. In fact, I budget out my expenses – including these bimonthly student loan payments – at least three months in advance (yes, my expenses are currently budgeted through the end of August 2010). I take a conservative stance on my budgeting because I know that unexpected expenses will likely pop up from time to time and I have to be able to handle them. I have my finances all organized in a multi-sheet Excel Workbook that I designed which tracks money in and money out all the way down to the penny.
It’s pretty cool, actually.
Another way that I try to lessen the blow of sending away this money is by trying to find ways to either generate more income or reduce expenses. Pretty basic stuff, right? Over the last few years, the three biggest monthly expenses that I’ve had are these student loan payments, monthly rent payments, and charitable donations. I’ve given you a bunch of updates on the student loan payments and I have to pay my rent every month (more on how housing affects the ability to repay student loans in my next student loan update), but I thought I’d spend a paragraph or two talking about how my student loan repayment schedule impacts my charitable donations.
Since I started this repayment plan, I’ve knocked back my charitable donations considerably. In fact, I selected four charitable organizations that I am going to focus on sending my donations to each year: my Church – St. Jerome’s Church in West Long Branch, the Sigma Pi Educational Foundation, Monmouth University’s Athletics Department (specifically, the basketball team), and the Monmouth County SPCA. I have different reasons for choosing each of these organizations. I donate to my Church because I believe in tithing to the extent that you can (I can’t really donate as much as I’d like because of my student loan debt). I donate to the Sigma Pi Educational Foundation because I believe in its mission and, as a board member, I am obligated to donate a certain amount every year. I donate to Monmouth University’s Athletics Department because I am impressed that the school managed to get that Multipurpose Activity Center built and I enjoy going to the home basketball games. And finally, I donate to the Monmouth County SPCA because that’s where I adopted one of my family’s pugs – Odie.
The difference between my donations on the repayment plan versus before I went on the repayment plan is that I used to send money to these (and other) charitable organizations whenever I had an extra $50 or $100 in my monthly budget. For this year, I’ve laid out certain dollar amount goals that I’d like to reach in terms of donating to each of these organizations. I’m going to knock them down one at a time (I’ve already made my budgeted donation for this year to one of these groups).
It’s all about budgeting and, in my case, it’s all about creating an extreme budget and sticking to it.
In May 2006, I graduated from Rutgers University with a Masters Degree and $120,720 in student loan debt. I currently owe $84 thousand, which breaks down to $29 thousand owed to the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority and $55 thousand owed to the United States Department of Education. Follow my student loan repayment story on JerseySmarts.com.