I graduated school with a lot of loans.
Like a mortgage worth of loans.
I started out on the 10 year repayment program, and my first job was taken specifically because of loan repayment programs offered by the state. We were gonna have those loans gone in 4 years! Then that job turned horrible. I left after 10 months, walking away from dirt cheap living and a loan repayment offer of $80k from the state. I extended my loans to the 30 year payment plan because we couldn’t afford the payments while moving otherwise.
Of course, as soon as we got settled, we’d increase the payments again! Snort, yeah right.
My next job was a vast improvement. But then we got pregnant and bought a house, and while we always made the payments on time, we never increased the amount. We did make some progress thanks to a small settlement and some generosity from the parents, and I paid off a chunk with money left over after paying hospital bills this last May, so our payoff date worked it’s way up to 2022.
Over the last 4 years I’ve come up with multiple plans to get the loans paid off early. (The hubby just sits by and goes along with whatever crazy plan I come up with- including sending him to North Dakota for 6 months when our son was just 6 months old. That was a disaster.) Needless to say, while we’ve made steady progress and never missed a payment, none of the plans have worked. But the one thing that kept me going was the fact that if I failed at every single plan, at least the loans would be paid off in 2022.
However, as much as I liked my last job, it wasn’t good on the family life. I worked long days, including many overnights. Hubby was also gone many nights. Our schedules were totally opposite, our marriage was struggling because we never saw each other (we had one day a week off together that was spent almost entirely running errands), and I never got time with my kids.
We once again decided it was time to make a change. I took the job in Utah. We decided that the hubby needed to find a job that would have him at home every night instead of driving long haul, so he found a job at a local ski resort making just enough money to cover insurance and daycare. Our household income had dropped by about 30% with the move. Suddenly I found myself struggling to pay even the minimum payments as they’d been set for 4.5 years. I made them (well, they were on autopay so they made themselves) but then I wondered whether I was going to have enough money to buy food, or pay the rent. And yet I wasn’t giving up, because at least they were going to get paid off in 2022!
Well, last night I finally had a CTJ with myself, thanks to the help of some friends.
I’m letting go of my goal to pay the loans off as quickly as possible. I moved to a place I swore I’d never live from the place I wanted to live forever, and left an exciting (although tumultuous) job to do so. I gave up the lifestyle I wanted for a lifestyle that was better for my family. Given that I’d already made those hard decisions, why was this one being so difficult?
So last night I applied for a consolidation loan that will decrease my payments while extending the repayment term. No more being done in 2022. But an easier time for us financially.
This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in a long time. I hate having those loans over my head and so every move I’ve made for 5 years has been to get them gone. I am finally deciding to put my family first.
This will have an impact on my list of 100 things, unfortunately. Item #17 was to pay off $15,000 in debt, which already would have been a stretch given that we are starting new jobs and having to reestablish our emergency fund. Now it’s definitely not going to happen, unless I have a huge income change in the next year.
So maybe my brain is continuing to ruminate on potential business ideas that could improve our income in the future. I haven’t figured out how to shut that down entirely yet. But I chose family over financial freedom. At least actions speak louder than thoughts, right?