It’s the final countdown. (Ba-Da-Dun-Dun, Ba-Da-Dun-Dun-Dun) We’re rounding 3rd and charging for home. We’re in the home stretch! It’s the bottom of the 9th. It’s 4th and Goal! We are 10 stinkin days from paying off all of our student loans. $90,000 in less than four years, holy crap this is really happening!
If you couldn’t tell, I’m a little excited, and really into sports analogies! 🙂 On May 31st, we will have no more student loan debt (minus what is being forgiven). Starting in June, our budget will have a big surplus that we need to figure out what to do with. It’s a problem we are excited to have. But the truth is, the month isn’t over and we still have work to do.
What It Has Taken to Get This Far
If you’ve been reading our story, you know it’s taken a ton of hard work to get to this point. If not, here’s a little background. In the last four years, we haven’t gone out to eat, we meal prep like crazy, our budget is intense, we tracked every dollar, and our travel was minimal. Just last year in 2016, we paid off $29,500.
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It definitely hasn’t been all roses, unicorns, and rainbows. Even this year we had some setbacks, and we thought we would need to push back our debt free goal until June or July. In February, our meeting with our Accountant didn’t go as planned. We adjusted our W-4 tax withholding last year so we could get the most out of our paychecks and get our tax return to be close to zero. Turns out we goofed up and ended up owing $931. Whoops!
That left us sitting on April 1 with $5,725 left to go with a lot of doubt of meeting our May 31 goal. April was a good month for us though. We earned a few stipends earlier in the year that showed up in our paychecks at the end of April. It was an awesome surprise and made up for a slower month at the restaurant. At the start of May, our debt payoff amount was $2,597. We knew it would be a stretch, but we had a new hope. It was time to go all out!
10 Days To Go
Like I said, even though the month is almost over, we still have some work to do. Fortunately we have another pay day coming up this week from both the school and restaurant we work at. I will also get paid from the YMCA one more time (yep, I work there too). If I take all that into consideration, we still need to earn about $300 in the next 10 days. That seems like a lot, but don’t worry, we have a plan!
As of right now, I have one more shift at the restaurant, and Jenna has two. In the restaurant business, it can be really hit and miss on how much cash you will walk away with. If we get a bad section or there is a slow night, we might fall short. Hopefully we make enough, but if not, we have our eyes on extra shifts to make up the difference. At this point, I will work every night of the week to just get it paid off! I really hope it doesn’t come to that though.
We also need to be extra intentional about how we spend our money the next 10 days. I posted last week that we have a guest staying with us this month, so that has raised our expenses. We need extra food, and the electric and water bills will be higher. All of it adds up and puts us a bit farther from freedom, so we need to be extra diligent in other budget categories.
The Little Things Make a Big Difference
It’s amazing how big of a difference the little things make along the way. In January we started selling some of our old stuff we never use. Since then, we sold an electric guitar, a snowboard and bag, collectible beanie babies, and two pullover jackets. It was only a couple hundred bucks, but it makes this last 10 days a lot more manageable. If you’ve got a bunch of old stuff laying around, it’s a great way to get your emergency fund started or reach your goals.
In March I started working part time for the YMCA, bringing my job total to three. My school has a partnership with the YMCA to run free after school programming for students. I started running a Harry Potter club two nights a week. Yep, I’m a super Harry Potter nerd and get to pass on my nerdiness to students. It’s a great program, and it’s been a great opportunity to bring in a few extra dollars. Without the YMCA, we wouldn’t be paying off our loans this month. It’s as simple as that.
Lastly, we have picked up extra serving shifts like crazy the last couple months. When we get close to meeting a goal, we do everything we can to reach it! We typically only work one shift a week at the restaurant to maintain a healthy work/life balance and to be at our peak performance as middle school teachers. Trust me, you need to be on your A game! But sometimes we sucked it up buttercup and put in the extra hours. Even if we only made $30-40 a shift, it all helped us keep our target within reach. All of these little decisions made it possible to truly get rid of our student loans once and for all!
Wrapping It Up
We are almost there, but still have work to do. 10 days and Mr. and Mrs. Jamie Griffin will be officially free of our student loans! It’s almost time to celebrate!
Let Me Know in the Comments
What keeps you motivated to reach your goals? Are you close to reaching any goals now? What are they?