2013 has been an excellent year for me when it comes to paying off my student loans. I have completely paid off two of my highest interest loans, and have put a little over $20,000 towards the principal since I’ve started this blog. This blog has been a huge reason for that, and it really opened my eyes to my student loan debt. If I hadn’t started this, I probably wouldn’t have even paid half of that amount towards my principal this past year and I’d be looking at total payback period of 5-6 years, which is still ahead of the 10 year loan period but not quite the pace I’d like to achieve now! Blogging has been a great tool as well as a great stress reliever, not to mention being able to write out my plan of attack when it comes to all of these loans.If we go back to when I first started this blog, I had used the website unbury.me to estimate my payoff date for all my loans based on a certain payment per month. The payments I used were 1500, 2000, and 2500 a month – with $2500 a month being my stretch goal. At the pace of $2500 a month, I would be completely debt free by April 2016 with a total of $9100 going towards interest. Not bad at all when you consider the amount of debt I have, but that was still looking like a stretch goal at the time. A more realistic goal was to put $2000 a month towards my loans which would lead me to a payoff date of March 2017, or basically 4 years from the start date of April 2013.
I tried to target that $2000 as my realistic goal, but then I also made two very aggressive payments in both May and September tapping into my emergency fund to make a huge dent in my student loans on top of the normal monthly payment that I was making. So now I went back to unbury.me to calculate my loans at their current standing, see just how much progress I have made, and see where my payoff date stands.
If I use a payment of $2200 a month:
If I use a payment of $2300 a month:
As you can see, with the $2200 payment my estimated payoff date is now June 2016 and with the $2300 payment that moves up to May 2016. When I first started, I had to put an average payment of $2500 to have a payoff by April 2016 and now I realistically have a chance to finish only a month later than that! I currently budget a $2200 payment towards my loans each month, but I think after my raise takes effect in 2014 I will be able to up that to the $2300 payment you see here. It’s pretty awesome that just 6 months ago I thought I would be paying these off until 2017, but you can see the effect those aggressive payments had on the payoff schedule.
My goals for 2014 are to continue my pace towards that $2300 a month, as I don’t foresee any emergency fund withdrawals from that. I already discussed my emergency fund status in another post and I’m pretty content with where that is after I make my 2014 Roth IRA contribution later this month. If I receive any bonuses or any unexpected money during the year, I will also be putting that towards my loans to boost my progress or pick up any slack along the way.
I’m hoping that I can put at least $20,000 towards the principal this year which ends up around $1660 a month, which seems like a pretty reasonable goal to meet for the year – each payment I make should have a few more dollars going towards principal and a few less going towards interest. My stretch goal will be $25,000 towards the principal this year and if I reach that I’ll be thrilled. Stay tuned for more updates as well as my regularly monthly updates that track my progress!