Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Loan Payments and the Struggle of Positive Thinking

Ms. DebtFree here with an exciting life/financial update!

If you haven't already figured it out, I bear some pretty hefty student loan debt.  Mr. DebtFree came up with an awesome plan for me to crush my debt starting with building my emergency fund.  Well, I recently fully funded my E-fund and decided to go after the first loan on my list.

This loan was $2,650ish with a 6.8% interest rate.  My first payment in October was $400 and I was all pumped up thinking I'd made some big hit on my loans.  Hahaha, not so much!  My overall balance increased by $200.  Yeah, you read that right.  *insert my dramatic eye-rolling here*

Okay, total honesty I may have cried a little when that happened.  I wanted to wallow in my misery, but thankfully Mr. DebtFree went all, "suck it up, buttercup" on me and I made another payment at the beginning of this month.  This time I paid off the entire balance of the loan!

While this small loan may not sound like much in the grand scheme of things, considering my $95,000ish grand total, paying it off this early cut down my overall repayment time by 62 days!!!  That's two whole months of work where my money can go towards things like investments or trips to visit family back home.  This calculation is based on a formula where I make $1,700 monthly loan payments so any overtime is a bonus.

I can't even describe my feelings when I saw this!

I guess this step is so important to me because lately I've had the financial blues.  I'm sure many of you can relate to feeling bummed out when you start the good old comparison game.  It's really hard for me to not sink into feelings of guilt when Mr. DebtFree gets excited about investment and early retirement.  My personal finances are in the negative because of student loan debt and it's extremely difficult to look beyond my current situation.  I've had many heart-to-hearts with Mr. DebtFree about this and he is a great listener and encourager.  He always points me in the right direction when I feel like I'm not taking enough strides to meet my financial goals.

Comparing yourself to other people in any way is dangerous.  It almost always leads to negative feelings and discouraging self-talk.  Mr. DebtFree and I try to keep each other accountable for redirecting negative conversations into positive talks about good things happening in our lives.  For me this means instead of focusing on how much debt I have left and how I feel like I'm a financial failure, I need to make a positive list of the goals I've reached in the last six months:

  1. Applied for and accepted a position for my dream job during my senior quarter!  (It was my first and only RN application, which is something to be hugely thankful for) 
  2. Graduated nursing school on time with honors
  3. Passed my boards with the minimum number of questions 3 weeks post-graduation
  4. Receiving consistently positive feedback from my preceptors during residency
  5. Made a positive contribution to my Unit Council at work during my first two months as a new employee
  6. Met my emergency fund goal
  7. Made my first loan payment and fully paid off my first loan
Okay, looking at my list objectively I can say I'm being ridiculously hard on myself.  I'm new to financial stuff and I've got a lot to learn.  And that is okay!  As long as I keep taking steps in the right direction (the frugal and wise direction), I'm going to be just fine.  And so will you.  Whenever you feel the urge to compare your situation to someone else --stop!  Take a step back and write down all the positive things happening in your life, even the small ones that seem silly.  Make this a habit every time you start having the financial blues and train your brain to reshape negative thoughts automatically.  

Personal finances can be a massive learning curve for many people like myself, but the whole point is to keep moving towards your end goal even if you have a few speed bumps along the way.

The best beach and the best dog
My best friends and my favorite place!

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