My name is Rob and I have a secret. I'll give you a hint: it rhymes with “schmudent roans.” Yes, like many, many Americans, I have student loans. And not only do I have student loans, I have a massive amount of student loans.
Want to know how much? I'll let you guess. I went to a private Catholic law school in Chicago. In addition to my tuition, I paid for my books, apartment and food with my loans, as well.
The answer is $180,000. That's one hundred and eighty thousand dollars. It's a staggering amount. My minimum monthly payments on my student loans are almost double my monthly mortgage payment, my monthly homeowners insurance payment and my monthly property taxes combined.
What's crazy is how shockingly easy it was for me to accumulate such a massive amount of debt. I'm not going to focus on the craziness of higher education lending practices in America; plenty of other people have done that. Instead, I just wanted to introduce you to the idea of my debt. There will be many more posts going forward about repaying my debt, how it affects my relationship with Maria and how we plan to address it in the course of our relationship.
When I decided to go to law school, I had no money or resources. I had just graduated with my undergraduate degree (which my parents paid for; a luxury that many people do not have) and decided that, rather than working for a few years to save a bit and then continuing to work through law school to help pay for it, I would just get some loans and go to school. It's what everyone was doing. Loans were freely available. I just filled out some forms and I was off to the races. And everyone else was doing it, too. How bad could it be?
Well, I guess in my case, it wasn't as bad as it could have been (or is for many people). I am one of the lucky ones, though. I have a good, steady job. In the long run, it would have taken me 25 to 30 years to pay off my loans and I would have a lot less in savings for retirement, so I would have had to work for a long, long time. But a lot of people are not that blessed. Some people aren't able to make the minimum payments and have interest accruing like crazy while they are still unable to find steady work.
By the time I met Maria, my loans had become a part of me. I had plenty of sleepless nights back in law school over my loans, but I graduated law school in 2008. Maria and I first met in 2013. I'd had over 5 years to get used to them. Maria did not. She knew I had some debt, but did not really find out how much I owed until we had been dating for a while. At first she was shocked. As we grew closer and realized that we were in love, it bothered her more. I knew it was a lot of debt, but it took me quite a while just to realize how much it bothered her.
I did not realize what bothered Maria so much until we both took a financial class together. The class is called Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We will dive into all things Dave Ramsey soon, but first you'll hear Maria's perspective of dealing with debt. After that, we share our plan to dig us out of this mountain of debt – together.
In the meantime, if you are working on your own debt-free journey, you can download our free On Our Way to Debt Free chart to help you track your progress. Maria made it highly customizable so you can tailor it to your own situation. Just click on the image below to download it!
Update: We Did It!
Since I published this post, Maria and I have successfully completed our debt plan and are completely, 100% debt free! It's been a crazy journey, but we did it together. To celebrate our freedom from student loans, Maria and I headed down to Nashville to a Debt Free Scream on The Dave Ramsey Show. You can read all about our Scream and how we got to meet the man himself Dave Ramsey in this blog post.
Our Debt Free Journey
You can read all about our plan to pay off my student loans and how we worked through the journey together by clicking on the links below.