I love challenges. Really, I am so competitive it can get a little scary (for myself and others alike). For this reason, I am challenging myself to take on my student loan debt and to declare my independence from my loans by July 4th, 2015.
I’m not sure if I was ever completely up front about how much student loan debt I have, and since my blog was accidentally deleted, I suppose I will never know. Today, however, I will give you all of the details about the debt that is dragging me down.
As of right now (noon on Saturday, July 5th, 2014), I have $50,942.47 in student loan debt. Holy moly.
My debt is broken down in the following way:
- $27,682.07 at 4.15%
- $11,453.99 at 10.38%
- $6,135.94 at 8.5%
- $3,992.75 at 5.75%
- $1,677.72 at 6.55%
I think I’m having an anxiety attack just looking at this. With many websites estimating that the average student has around $20-30k in student loan debt, it is easy to feel alone and hopeless. Thankfully, there are stories that prove I am not the only person feeling smothered by mounds of debt; from the story of how one couple paid off $80,000 in three years, or the inspiring author of No More Harvard Debt who paid off $90,000 in only 7 months, there is ample support for people like me who are struggling with more than double the “average” debt.
Why give yourself only a year? you may be wondering.
Frankly, because I have things to do. I want to begin a PhD program next fall, and even though tuition is waived and there is a small stipend involved, I cannot see myself deferring payment on my loans for another 6 years.
One year is also short enough to make me feel pressured to work harder than I might if I had 2-3 years to pay off my loans. I am a procrastinator, and work much better under tight deadlines!
Finally, N and I are hoping to start a family soon. (Please, no lectures on how starting a family while in a PhD program is a bad idea.) I cannot see us trying to balance children and over $50k in student loan debt. It just wouldn’t be fair to our future family.
So how are you going to do this? you might also be wondering.
Well, I don’t have a detailed plan yet, but I have some ideas!
Starting in September, I will begin getting paid for teaching college classes. Because I teach morning classes, I will still be able to work my restaurant shifts. This means $350-$450 a week from the restaurant that can go to my student loan debt (plus any extra from my teaching paycheck).
I am also sending out applications to every college in the area, hoping to secure another Adjunct Instructor position or two. While these jobs are only for the semester, with a possible renewal for subsequent semesters, it would still be beneficial to focus on working in my chosen career field. These jobs also pay around $4,000 per class, per semester. Securing one or two more classes would make a substantial difference in my ability to pay off these loans.
I will also be focusing on my tutoring business, which I just started. I don’t believe I can advertise my tutoring skills at the college where I work, as I am not even allowed to work in the writing center part time, but I may be able to advertise myself at libraries in the area.
Additionally, I teach dance classes at a local YMCA. Right now, I only make $66.50 every two weeks; I am hoping to add more classes to my schedule, however, to bring that amount up.
I have always loved to dance, and am considering renting studio space from my dad who owns a martial arts school. While I can teach ballet, tap and jazz, I have also toyed with the idea of becoming a certified Zumba instructor. This would allow me to offer different classes at the studio, but also to work as a substitute or part-time instructor at the many gyms in my area. The YMCA is also increasing the number of Zumba classes they offer.
As you can see, I have a lot of ideas for how I can go about making the money I need to tackle this debt. I would love to hear your ideas as well! Please share them in the comments.