Paying Off Debt

Document created by chastityc on May 24, 2016Last modified by amara.mastronardi@socialedgeconsulting.com on Dec 5, 2016
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Being a young, naive, optimistic college student, I assumed that the advice my parents gave me about avoiding student loans was just something parents have to say to their children. Obviously, you should not take out money if you don't have to, right? But if you go to a full-time program that costs dozens of thousands of dollars per year, that isn't possible, right? "No worries," I thought, "I'll be able to pay the loans back easier and faster when I have a degree that makes me a lot of money, than if I were to try to find a way to work and pay for college now." That was my first mistake. If I could go back and tell my former self anything, it would be to not blow off ANY scholarship options, no matter how small they seem in the grand scheme of things. However, since I cannot go back in time, my parents have given the more mature, realistic me useful advice about paying down my debts.

 

My husband and I had been in disagreement about how to pay off our loans and credit cards. I wanted to pay off the things with the highest interest rate, and he wanted to pay off things we could pay off the fastest first (in other words, the lowest total amount owed). I turned to my parents, who teach a class on financial responsibility, who told me that my husband was right. Pay off bills in order based on lowest total owed to highest; that way, you can apply the monthly payment from the first bill you paid off, to the total monthly payment of the second bill, and so on, until the monthly payments keep snowballing larger and larger. Paying off a small debt gives you a sense of accomplishment, and also the ability to make a larger payment gave me another sense of accomplishment.

 

The easy thing to do at this point is to forget your goal and start to look at the monthly bills you have paid off as extra money in your pocket but DO NOT FALL INTO THAT TRAP until you have finished paying all of your bills! You might see all the extra money from the paid off bills, and instead of looking at it as a way to pay off more bills, you see it as enough money for a new car payment, or a new gaming system, or a new television, etc. The discipline becomes necessary when you are no longer living paycheck to paycheck, have some money to spare, but still have to stay disciplined to get those remaining bills paid. Stay strong!

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