Drowning In Student Loan Debt

November 17, 2015
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I have exactly $79,733 in student loan debt and I think about it every day.

I entered college in 2002, a young 18-year-old, with no idea what I was getting myself into.  Financing -ish was a way of life where I came from.  I was encouraged to finance my education because it was “good debt”.  The scholarships I received were just enough to cover tuition, and because I was so determined to get out of town, taking out loans to cover food, board, and books seemed like a good idea at the time.

I don’t regret my education one bit.  Because of it, I’ve gained so much.  I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t leave my small town with a bag full of wishes and hope.  I wouldn’t be married to my husband or have my wonderful kids.  Heck, I wouldn’t even be talking to you today – my debt is the reason I’m writing to you.

$79,733 seems like a lot of money for an education at an in-state public school; however, this sums up the amount spent for both undergraduate and graduate school.  I foolishly went back to school 2 years after graduating so I could avoid my student loan payments.  

Yep!  I’ll repeat that one more time – I went back to school to AVOID my loan payments. (It’s okay, shake your head). That decision is still costing me today.

I’m not going to sit and whine over decisions I made years ago, though.  I have to deal with this mess so I can begin saving for the education of my children.  I didn’t have any financial help from parents for school and this is one thing I want to be able to do for my kids so they won’t have to live with this type of burden.

It’s senseless to incur debt for 4 years of schooling and barely make a living on an entry-level salary once you graduate. I want my kids to have a head start when they walk across that stage to receive their associates, bachelor’s, and/or masters.  Whatever they choose – I’ll support them.

I’m doing this is for accountability and to inspire someone else to do the same.  I’m not the only millennial out here who’s been in denial about their student loans for the last 9 years.  If you’ve been out of school as long as I have and your student loan is growing instead of decreasing, all of my yapping is here for you too!  

My goal is to get rid of this debt within a 5-year timeframe.  By 2021, I want Navient to be a distant memory!  I don’t want to be in my 40s still paying on something I did in my 20s. 

How will I do this?

I have no choice but to hustle my butt off.  My husband and I have brought home enough over the six years of our marriage to live comfortably.  Having kids hasn’t been a burden.  We’ve been able to cover our mortgage, essential bills, save, and contribute to my 401k (for the employer match).  

Once we got a reign on our budget, we were able to cut back significantly (no more Coaches or Nine West shoes for me). Our daughter doesn’t know what it feels like to have a gazillion gifts under the tree for Christmas.  We don’t buy things without careful thought.  We’re the most frugal people in our family.

We do okay, but doing okay isn’t enough anymore.

We have goals of having passive income one day to live off, not paying accruing interest to someone else. To get where we want to go, the most expensive debt we have has to be dealt with.  There’s so much more to do in life and once we’re debt free we’ll be able to work on some of those goals without the strain we currently feel on our budget.

This is my platform to share struggles, achievements, and my reality of living with student loan debt.  Life and A Budget is about so much more than budgets and money.  It’s about living life as abundantly as possible without neglecting the fact that sometimes circumstances in life can inhibit us from achieving our deepest desires.

I’m doing this is for my future and my children’s future. Continuing to sit by and watch the interest increase my student loan balance is no longer an option. I’m going to whip my finances into shape and change the outcome of my circumstances.  Financial freedom is right around the corner. 

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, A Disease Called Debt and Simply Save;/a>*

Latoya Scott
CFEI/Social Entrepreneur
Latoya Scott is a Certified Financial Education Instructor and personal finance writer with a mission to help millennials learn how to stop living paycheck to paycheck so they can become financially carefree.

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  • Shirria November 17, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    I have over $100k in school loan debt and like you, I re-entered school for my masters as soon as my forbearance was up! The good thing is we live and learn. I do not think about my school loan debt as much because mine will be forgiven in about 7 more years as long as I continue to work in public service. Therefore, I’m in no rush to pay it off.

    • Latoya S November 17, 2015 at 9:21 pm

      That’s a great option, having those pesky things forgiven. Unfortunately, mine will be waiting in 7 years if I don’t start aggressively paying them down – which is what I plan to do.

  • Emily @ JohnJaneDoe November 18, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Good luck, Latoya. It’s good that you recognize the struggle and have a plan to address the debt. I’m glad that when I took out student loans the prices weren’t nearly as high as they are now, and I fear what my daughter might have to pay later.

    • Latoya S November 18, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      That makes the two of us…that’s why it’s imperative to do what I can now so I can focus on creating a better outcome for them!

  • Chonce November 18, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    Love this! I’m sure with some determination and hustling, you’ll start seeing a ton of progress when it comes to paying off your student loans.

    • Latoya S November 18, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      Thanks Chonce, I sure need the encouragement. It’s going to be a difficult, but rewarding ride.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money November 19, 2015 at 1:51 am

    My wife and I have a similar story and we are technically not making a ton of headway as we are taking out loans for my wife’s masters. Our student loan debt motivated me to start hustling 3 and a half years ago and honestly it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s had a huge impact on our finances and has opened up some awesome opportunities for me that I otherwise would not have been exposed to. Best of luck with your hustle and looking forward to seeing updates on here!

    • Latoya S November 19, 2015 at 10:10 pm

      Thank you! I’m excited about all of the great possibilities!:)

  • Janet Fazio November 19, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    You will get there. Putting it down in black and white and sharing it with the world is a huge way to be accountable.

    • Latoya S November 19, 2015 at 10:11 pm

      Thank you!

  • Mel @ brokeGIRLrich November 22, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Whoooo! Good luck with your goal. One of my roommates in college went back for a graduate degree just because she didn’t really have a plan and didn’t want to start paying off her student loans. I thought she was a psycho. On the flip side, my parents paid for everything I couldn’t cover with scholarships for undergrad and my first graduate degree. I was unaware at the time, but they had socked away X amount of dollars for it and when I came in so far under, they bought me a car with the rest of the money as a graduate gift AND then rolled over what was still left into my brother’s college account. I can’t even begin to tell you how far ahead both of those things put me in life (even though I was a dork later and went back for another degree and took on $30,000 of debt).

    • Latoya S November 22, 2015 at 11:33 pm

      That is so awesome, Mel! That’s what I want to be able to do for my kids, which is why it’s so important to me to defeat my own debt.

  • Liz November 22, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Great post. I know the feeling of drowning in student loan debt, I have a ton of it myself. I think it is great that you have plan, thats always the first step.

    • Latoya S November 22, 2015 at 11:33 pm

      Thanks, Liz:)

  • RAnn November 22, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    Good luck! Remember that you can support your kids’ college dreams not only by giving them money but also by allowing them to live at home while they go to school and work part-time.

    • Latoya S November 22, 2015 at 11:34 pm

      This is true, and will very well be an option for the both of them. I’m pretty sure I’ll drive them both out of the house though, lol

  • LaMesha December 9, 2015 at 7:27 am

    I am right there with you. I was even avoiding Navient emails and phone calls because the thought of hearing or talking about my debt causes me awful anxiety and it scares me. However, just recently, I did talk with them and am setting up a payment plan to start tackling it all. I don’t want my kids to have to go through this either. My oldest is 9 so I really need to get moving on saving for his future. Great post. I look forward to watching you reaching your goal and celebrating with you once I reach mine as well.

  • DoubleDebtSingleWoman June 30, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    ” I don’t want to be in my 40s still paying on something I did in my 20s. ”
    This is my life right now! It’s horrible. Let my story serve as a cautionary tale. I wish you both the best of luck to slay your own debt beast as quickly as possible. You still have time. Great blog. Keep on hustlin’!
    DoubleDebtSingleWoman recently posted…[-$100,885] A Ping from the Past – Hope Springs EternalMy Profile

    • Latoya Scott June 30, 2016 at 8:26 pm

      Thank you, glad you’re enjoying it around these parts!

  • larissa August 17, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    Good luck, I definitely cannot wait to see where you go with this. I too am starting to worry about the type of debts I will have when I complete college, and worst by a little, the dept my future husband will add through marriage- it is enough not to want to get married! Thanks so much for sharing your amazing journey, good luck in this wonderful endeavor you have decided to embark on.

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