I have to say that once you really get your debt snowball rolling, there are very few things in life as satisfying as hitting the Nelnet button to pay off a balance on a loan. As of this week, we can officially say we are down to just TWO loans totaling just over $14,000 for my undergrad.
Just to recap: in 2014 I graduated college with approximately $32,000 in student loans. As a nursing student I had often said my goal was to pay off my loans within a year or two of graduating.
For the full story on how we got started with this crazy idea of being debt free ASAP, check out my original Dave Ramsey Adventure post.
Alas, life happened, and turns out you can’t plan for everything. As I approach four years of working as a nurse, I can happily say that although I am eating my words regarding paying off my loans quickly, we have definitely not slacked in the financial progress department. Because of smart budgeting, hard work, and staying frugal we have managed to:
- Pay cash for a wedding and 10 day honeymoon
- Pay cash for Keaton’s last semester of grad school
- Go on a second all-inclusive trip to celebrate our first year of marriage
- Purchase 3 cars in cash
- Take multiple trips around the country (Nashville, San Francisco, and Chicago, just to name a couple)
- Not accrue any more debt (student loan, credit card, or otherwise) in all of 2017
- Stay sane in general when money was tight
Now that we have two (mostly) reliable cars and two incomes coming in, we have really been able to focus on buckling down on our debt snowball. You’ll notice the sidebar for our debt progress has now jumped up to include Keaton’s loans that came due the beginning of this month. Despite this being a little discouraging, I have faith that little sidebar should be dang close to zero by the end of next year if not sooner.
Anyone who has attacked a debt snowball knows that financial plans rarely go off without a hitch. But the fact is, if you have a plan, it’s much easier to redirect and reevaluate your finances if there is a bump in the road (i.e. your car craps out on a back country road twenty minutes before you are supposed to report for work).
It’s not always easy. We shop almost exclusively at Aldi, drove our cars well over 200,000 miles each, and pretty much only shop off the clearance racks. By being mindful of our spending, living frugally, and really thinking about how we want to spend our money, we are able to approach bills and debt with excitement for what’s to come.
We have not been perfect, and I would be lying if I said we didn’t overspend a little our first assignment with both of us working full time. It was a nice mental break to treat ourselves to a few things after saying no over and over again the three years while Keaton finished school.
As we sat down last week and talked about goals and dreams for this year, it was a welcome relief to be able to pay off yet another one of my loans in full after having held off on attacking debt during the two weeks we took off for Christmas. Seeing another loan drop off gave us a new energy and commitment to living frugally and sticking to our budget so we can keep knocking those debts off one by one.
It is pretty crazy to look back to two years ago when I started this blog and how much our journey has taken twists and turns. Despite this, we kept moving forward and we are truly beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
So to the rest of you working alongside us: Keep going! Re-evaluate, plan, and keep attacking those financial goals! I would love to hear how you’re doing, where you are struggling, or any stories you want to share about this crazy debt snowball journey.
With love and renewed financial commitment,