Financial Peace

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Today marks a major milestone: I just paid off my student loans. In full. All of them. Done!!!

I’ve been tackling them fairly steadily since I finished grad school 7 years ago. I had about $25K to pay back. Funny how the amount creeps up bit by bit as the years pass (note: that’s the total for 13.5 years of schooling, plus $1000 I paid back just because some time during the process). I made some big extra payments when I was working in Mississippi, but in spite of my love of all things financial, didn’t really tackle them seriously until I moved back home in 2006. At that point I made it my goal to get rid of them as quickly as possible. I lived with my parents and used every extra penny to pay them down. I rarely bought things except for occasional clothing binges at Value Village (mainly on half-price days). I went on interest relief, meaning I didn’t make monthly payments owing to low income, thus “saving” $300 some per month to put back onto the principal. I drove the same car – paid off in full to my roommate before I left MS (thanks again for the car – I’m still enjoying it.) I rarely ate out. I was FRUGAL! And sure enough, I paid off thousands in that time.

Then I got married and expenses changed and we had to figure out what to do with our money together. More went into savings. I kept working but also was off work for a few months. Then we were planning for a baby, which isn’t inherently that expensive but does cost some and I was not working for a year – thankful for EI benefits. In any case, money was accumulating and other expenses were dealt with but these loans weren’t our main priority.

Then we just decided to do it. I had the spare cash (around $4500) in the bank. Our only outstanding costs were my husband’s GST payments for his business, the house/loan, and these. So we went for it. Clear out these final debts so we can focus our money and attention on the house and what to do with it. I paid one off yesterday online, and the other in person in a bank today with a cheque.

It feels GOOD. Finished paying off my loans before age 40. NO PERSONAL DEBT!!! I feel in a much stronger financial position and better able to concentrate on other things we need to do. I no longer need to deal with In short, I feel peaceful. Being free of financial burdens – being free of any additional financial costs – is great. I look forward to continuing in this direction as a family as we focus on our next priorities.

Clearing the decks in every way creates peace. As our decluttering continues I’m noticing a greater feeling of peace in the house and in myself. There are fewer things to take my time and energy. Cleaning up is faster and easier. I have more time and energy to focus on baby and I”m noticing the results in my parenting with greater focus, patience and interaction on my part. I”m loving this direction!

So, what’s left the house so far you ask? Today I cleared out a box from the dining room table that’s been there for a couple of months 😦 – papers & books associated with my Kyrgyzstan paper. I recycled 1″+ of articles and put 2 books in the give-away box. 3 books are keepers (maybe 2 … we’ll see!) and a 4″ stack of research notes and materials is sticking around until I get things published for reference. I also sorted our magazines, pulling out 4-5″ for husband to look through and discard, and 3 inches for myself. We’re down to one stack of mags, which is much more reasonable. I also sorted a random pile of papers with baby stuff and other things, getting rid of a few things and finding the right home for others. We’ve also eliminated:
-2 pencil sharpeners
-a big crock pot (going as a gift)
-ironing board
-more baby clothes

Incoming items include: 5 books (found from my brother; to be read and discarded); 8 bells (new toy for baby! need to string them); 2nd set of measuring spoons and icing spatula (not sure about these 🙂 – not my contribution. But husband has felt the need for both); a double breastpump (needed for work efficiency).

Now: must sleep. Am wiped. Baby took hours to fall asleep. Sigh. We’ll keep trying.

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