I can’t believe that I’m writing this exactly 1 year after my 2 Loans in 2 Years post. One year ago, I had paid off 2 of my 9 student loans, and now I’ve doubled that and have paid off 4 of my 9! Only 5 more to go!
In my original post, I had mentioned that one of the few good things to come from the pandemic was that interest and *mandatory* payments on student loans were halted for the year 2020. Maybe I manifested back then that it would be extended, because for the entire year of 2021, it has been! Currently, the forbearance is set to expire January 31, 2022; just under 2 years since it started on March 27, 2020. I’d love to think that it’ll be extended again, or that all student loan debt would remain interest-free forever as I believe it should be, but I’m not sure our luck is that great. However, feel free to manifest with me in the meantime.
Since I have been working through the entirety of the pandemic, my goal was to continue to pay $500 a month towards my loans; as long as it was feasible. So far, I’ve been able to maintain that goal (give or take), which I believe is why I’m making the progress I am. You might be asking, “Why on earth would you continue to pay something that you don’t need to?! In a time like this?”, which is a valid question. Since interest on student loans is tax deductible, many people don’t mind paying the minimum and letting it ride out. This could be because they’re going to get some of that money back, or it could be that they’re holding out hope for student loan forgiveness. While this is very important to note for certain professions, I’m not hopeful my student loans are going to be forgiven any time soon, and I don’t want to continue paying them off for the next 10+ years.
As you may know if you follow me, I got a new job last August, and so my budget needed to be updated. I was taking a pay cut, but I still wanted to try my best to reach that $500/month goal. Instead of paying $500 in one shot, I instead decided to divide it among the weeks. Luckily, my job pays weekly, so budgeting this way was pretty easy. I now pay $125 each week and assuming there are 4 weeks in the month, I would get to my $500 goal. Depending on where my rent falls, I might skip a week, but sometimes I’ll add that amount into my following payments. Sometimes not, though, and that’s okay too!
In my original post, I mentioned Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps Program after reading a blog from a college friend. I had stated that while his first step is having $1000 saved up and putting the remaining towards debt, I personally could never be comfortable doing that. I have since found Tori Dunlap, founder of Her First 100k. Her “first step” is to actually have a 3 month emergency fund (Ramsey’s Step #3). This felt much more aligned with my comfort level, and I was sort of doing that anyways. The only thing I wasn’t doing was putting that money in a High Yield Savings Account (HYSA).
While there are many different HYSA’s out there you could have, and Tori does have a couple recommendations, my personal favorite is a hidden gem. I don’t know anyone personally using this (except for me and my boyfriend), and I’m here to tell you to GET IT. Typically, HYSA’s provide higher interest rates because they are primarily all online. They don’t have branches, workers, or anything that consumes a majority of a budget. Therefore, they’re able to give more back to their customers for trusting them to hold their money. For example, my brick-and-mortar bank gives me a measly $0.09/month whereas I get $0.05/month for a significantly less balance. Now you might be thinking, “why would you switch when you’re not getting more interest per month”? Valid question.
This is a HYSA with a twist. If you’re someone who plays the lottery, but almost never wins, this could be your fix!! For every $25 in your account, you receive 1 ticket. Every day at 9pm EST, there is a drawing. If the number drawn is on one of your tickets, you’re one step closer to winning. Similar to the lottery, you need to have at least 3 numbers (or just their last number) to win anything. The most I have ever won in a week is $0.65, which might not seem like a lot, but I won that in one week whereas it would’ve taken me more than 7 months to get that with my regular bank. That’s also not including the $0.05+ I get as my monthly interest bonus as well. And don’t forget, for a much smaller balance and without having to do anything. Plus, who doesn’t love free lottery tickets?! While I don’t win every week, I do win pretty consistently ($0.10-$0.15) so it is totally worth it!
I can assure you this is not a scam, you have real access to your money, it’s FDIC insured, and has been featured in Bloomberg and Forbes. If this is something you’re interested in, and it should be, join Yotta with my code BRITTNEY36, and you’ll get 100 BONUS tickets!! That will greatly increase your chance of winning, and if you set up your account to automatically transfer $25 at least once a month, you’ll be gaining more tickets the more your account grows.
Knowing that I’m saving (and earning) while paying off my student loans definitely feels accomplishing. I’ve also felt much more determined to continue paying on my loans knowing that I’m paying specifically towards one loan at a time – the one with the lowest balance. Sometimes when you’re paying across the board, or by interest rate, it doesn’t seem like your balance is lowering and your payments are disappearing. This is what I was doing originally. Since converting to the lowest balance instead, I’ve been able to see my actual balance decrease and the light at the end of the tunnel creep closer. I’m not looking forward to the loans with the higher balances, but I know once I get to that point the end is (relatively) near!
I also created a Budget Journal with my tips and tricks as well as monthly budget, debt tracker, and bill calendar sheets for an entire year. As a reader of my blog, I’m offering this to you for free!! Subscribe to my blog with your email, and comment below DONE so I can email you a PDF version! If you’re already subscribed, just comment DONE below to get yours! If you’d prefer a physical copy, click here to purchase, and use code BLOG for a discount 😉
My estimated payoff date for my loans is currently 2032, but if I continue on this track of at least 1 loan a year, I’ll be done in just 5 more! As always, thanks for reading, and thanks for following me on my journey to becoming debt free!
Until next time ❤