Abi has been posting lately about our grocery shopping excursions and our weekly menus. Her diligence with couponing and looking for deals has saved us an incredible amount of money in the 2 1/2 years we've been married. Without that work, I don't think we'd be doing as well as we are in getting out of the debts I'd accumulated in the years before we knew each other.
July is almost over and the last paycheck has been accounted for, so it's not likely that we'll be making any more payments this month. However, I found the binder that has all of the spreadsheets I'd saved since I started tracking our debts in December 2009. Several spreadsheets are, unfortunately, missing, and it wasn't until 2011 that I thought of keeping track of what our debt total was on the anniversary of the beginning of this journey. However, I do have the first spreadsheet, and it blows me away to look at it.
I graduated college in May 2008, which means I had until November 2008 before the grace period on my student loans was due. So by the time I started tracking the numbers, I'd already been regularly paying on my student loans for about a year. Here's how it all broke down:
I had six distinct loans through American Education Services. These are classified as student loans, but a good portion of the money had been borrowed to pay off a credit card I'd maxed out twice. I'd also borrowed $10,000-$12,500 through this group to cover living expenses while I was going through my internship. These six loans together totaled $74,441.55 and had a total monthly payment of $498.94. I've been able to pay each of these loans individually, which has been a huge help.
I'd been able to obtain some Stafford loans through school, serviced by Great Lakes. It was split into two payable loans, one at $2,907.55 with a monthly payment of $50.00 and the other at $21,331.20 with a monthly payment of $258.09. The total there was $24,238.75 with a monthly payment of $308.09.
Then I had two credit cards I was paying off (Wells Fargo: $2,157.61 @ $62.00/month; Bank of America: $6,429.36 @ $150.00/month), totaling $8,586.97 with a total monthly payment of $212.
I also traded in my car in May 2009 and took out a loan to cover the rest, which was $9,199.56 in December with a payment of $215 (this was before I'd heard anything about Dave Ramsey).
And I had a personal loan valued at $8,960.96 with a payment of $297.53. I honestly have no idea why I had this, which is rather distressing.
So, all in all, on December 22nd, 2009, I had a debt total of $125,427.79 with a total minimum monthly payment of $1,531.56. Yikes! Praise the Lord I was in a great job with a good salary. I was also sharing a cheap (for Rochester, MN) apartment and splitting the costs of rent and utilities.
By February 15th, 2010, I'd already made some fairly impressive strides. I'd completely knocked out the Wells Fargo credit card and paid off almost $2,500.00 of the lower Stafford loan. I finished off that Stafford loan by April 9th, 2010, and by then had already paid off $8,492.43 (that's just 3 1/2 months!).
Fast forward to today. We owe my sister-in-law, Susanna, $11,250.00. She had loaned us $10,000 at 5% for 5 years when Abi and I got married to pay off the car and make a big payment on some of the other debt. Rather than deal with monthly payments to her, she let us make the total $12,500.00 with a payment of $500.00/year for 5 years. That has freed us up to make bigger payments on the rest of what we owe. In addition to that loan, my Stafford loan is down to $6,852.67, made possible through a program at work where I was awarded $5,000. And I only have two loans left through American Education Services, totaling $18,946.52. Not making allowance for what we owe Susanna, our monthly payments are now $441.58.
This boils down to having paid off $88,378.60 in just over 3 1/2 years. We've managed to pay off $11,610.06 this year alone, and are on track to make our total payoff this year almost $20,000.00 (Abi says we should really pinch our pennies and get that up to $25,000.00).
Even if I don't receive an award from work this year (though I'm most definitely hoping I will get something through work), we should have all of the student loans paid off by the end of 2014 at the latest. Depending on Abi's income and the potential award through work, we could even possibly have Susanna paid off by then. It's exciting to think about!