This month marks the first time in four years that I haven’t had to make a student loan payment.
I’ve had my student loans hanging over my head since I first decided to go to college. I was 18 and there was no way I could go to my first choice college without taking out some loans. I did receive a scholarship and I also worked a campus job during all four years at college. I actually worked three jobs my senior year! I guess I’ve always had a thing for working multiple jobs. Yet my loans were always there, always a part of my burgeoning adult identity.
Knowing that I was taking out loans from day one always bothered me. I knew I wanted to major in a field like film or art (English majors holler!) and thus was looking at a low paying future forever. I would never make $100,000 annually! I also come from a low income background and saw how hard it was at times for my mother to make ends meet. Money always seemed like a burden more so than a tool.
After I graduated of course, the loans finally kicked in. I spent my first year post-college at home waiting tables. Again, not a high income field! I was good about paying more than my minimum payments while I lived at home. I wanted to make some headway while I was living rent free. I knew that the more I could shovel towards my loans the better off I would be. I just didn’t have any more nuance or understanding of my loans beyond that.
Gradually I got more savvy about how to pay back my debt and became a convert to living frugally. However frugally I lived or however smart I was about my debt payoff strategy though, the fact remained that I had debt. I was shackled to my lenders. Those monthly payments were 100% mandatory.
This month is the first time I don’t have that mandatory payment. I am in the clear. And it feels AMAZING.
I feel so much more at ease. I feel so much more comfortable in my life. I know that all my money is going to stay my money. I feel like I have a little golden light inside of me, shining over everything that I do and no one can take it away.
It’s a sense of freedom. I am a totally different person than I was even one month ago. I have more money yes, but I also have more time, more flexibility and am happier. It’s the first time I haven’t lost money to interest. It’s the first time that I can keep every single penny that I earn.
Not having to push myself seven days a week and not having to constantly figure out where I can scrap together some extra cash for a debt payment has given me back some of my time. Going out to get a drink with friends is a possibility now. If a random charge comes up, I’m not forced to choose between debt and the payment. If I want to take a weekend off work and go away, I can. I am now in charge of my life instead of my debt.
While I definitely still have a very long way to go to being financially independent, setting myself free from debt was a huge first step. I feel more complete as a person. I feel lighter. I feel happier. Most importantly, I feel excited for what comes next.
Kara Perez is the original founder of From Frugal To Free. She is a money expert, speaker and founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Her work has been featured on NPR, Business Insider, Forbes, and Elite Daily.
11 Replies to “How It Feels to Not Have A Debt Payment”
So glad you’re feeling good about where you are now without your student loans. Let me just say as an English major who now makes well into six figures, it is completely possible. And even without selling your soul. So don’t give up hope! But having learned to be frugal at so young an age will definitely serve you well for a long time to come!
You found the golden ticket! I think the English major, combined with the Great Recession, really knocked my early earning years for a loop. I hope to build up quickly over the next couple years and really start combining frugality with high earnings so I can get to financial freedom!
Congratulations! It is a great feeling to be out of debt.
Thank you! After working so long towards it sometimes I ask myself if it’s even real. But it is!
That’s awesome!!! Well done!
Thank you! It’s a wonderful new feeling. Thanks for stopping by! I went to NZ a few years ago: Auckland and Christchurch. It’s a beautiful country!
[…] Except that they absolutely should come to an end. Today. Debt is not normal. What’s more, debt doesn’t have to be forever. By getting out of debt you open yourself up to the whole world. Your limitations take off and leave you weightless. It’s a wonderful feeling! […]
[…] student loan debt was the best thing I have ever done for myself and my finances. It’s made everything better. Becoming debt free doesn’t mean suddenly becoming wealthy though, or even financially […]
Reblogged this on Dream Big, Dream Often and commented:
Dedication to paying off debt is crucial folks! I hope someone reads this today and decides to make a change!
I majored in English and I realized that my student loan debt is less than my car. I’m trying to buy a house, but decided to move home to save. I’m paying off that debt, credit card debt and saving like crazy. I know it’s going to be tough, but I’m committed to it.
Stick to it and I promise the feeling when you’re debt free is worth it. And then the ownership of ALL your money…man it’s great. Own your money, don’t let it own you. Thanks for reading!