Last month I accomplished what I once thought was impossible: paying off nearly $100k in student loans, which included interest, my Public Relations degree, minor in Fine Arts, an Independent Honors Study, housing and food during undergrad, a study abroad experience in Venice, Italy, and a huge burden that has been weighing me down for nearly ten years. Not only was it a struggle to make my monthly payments earlier in my career, but having student loan debt held me back from saving for other things I wanted to do in my life. I can think of multiple low points in my life where I felt hopeless, stuck, and unable to move on into true adulthood.
I had read many books and blogs about the best strategy for paying off loans, but it wasn't really until 2016/2017 when I became really motivated to pay it off, which coincided with a rise of financial services and content focused on women. For myself, specifically The Financial Diet and Aja Dang's "My Financial Journey" video series inspired me, especially because I could relate to other women's stories about the emotional toll of carrying debt.
I likely could have paid off my student loans earlier, but I don't regret the experiences I prioritized, such as going to music festivals in my twenties, traveling with my friends, and most importantly, paying for my wedding.
What made me able to pay off my loans this year was my new job, and the conviction that I just wanted to be done with a part of my life that was messy, stressful, and at times hopeless. I remember I did it on the morning of November 8th. The feeling afterward was...anti-climatic at first. I didn't get highly emotional but then I started getting excited thinking about how all the money I make moving forward will be going towards future me, not looking back on something I did in the past. And also buying some new shoes and a dress I've been wanting since last summer.
Overall...boom. I did it.