Two Thirds (Or Only $163,748.40)

28 Aug

I forgot to post again, didn’t I?  My bad.

Seriously though, I’ve had a lot on my plate.  The new job (if you missed that on Thursday- I HAVE A FULL TIME JOB NOW IT STARTS SEPTEMBER 10TH I’M REALLY EXCITED ABOUT IT YOU SHOULD GO READ THURSDAY’S POST HERE I’LL LEAVE YOU A LINK JUST CLICK ANYWHERE ON THIS EXTREMELY ANNOYING ALL CAPS RUN ON SENTENCE YOU’RE WELCOME KTHXBAI OH WAIT I DIDN’T FINISH THE ORIGINAL SENTENCE) has finally been settled and now things should calm down.  My schedule will still be busy, but it will be a much more predictable busy.

The biggest change will be for my student loans.  While it’s not a marked pay increase, this full-time job means a steady paycheck, which means far less uncertainty about making my monthly payments.  I’ve got four months left to pay off these loans.  I started with a balance of $11,533 on January 2nd, and I have a balance of $4,849.11 as of August 28th.

According to a loan calculator I found online, my current monthly payment goal of $1,334 is still good.  This surprised me, since I only managed to scrape together about $120 for August’s payment (due to paycheck timing issues. This is why a steady guaranteed paycheck is such a huge deal for me).

What surprised me more were the following paragraphs of advice the loan calculator offered me, based on my current loan balance and four remaining payments.

“It is estimated that you will need an annual salary of at least $163,748.40 to be able to afford to repay this loan. This estimate assumes that 10% of your gross monthly income will be devoted to repaying your student loans… If you use 15% of your gross monthly income to repay the loan, you will need an annual salary of only $109,165.60, but you may experience… a partial economic hardship. Partial economic hardship is defined as having annual education loan payments in excess of 15 percent of discretionary income, where discretionary income is the amount by which Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) exceeds 150 percent of the poverty line.”

An annual salary of only $163,748.40.

Only $163,748.40.

Only $163,748.40?

ONLY $163,748.40?!?

SINCE WHEN DOES A SIX-FIGURE SALARY GET TO HAVE THE WORD “ONLY” IN FRONT OF IT?

If I was making six figures a year, you can bet I would have cut the word “only” out of my vocabulary.

You can also bet I wouldn’t be writing this blog. My student loan debt would have been exterminated faster than a first-name-only character on Doctor Who. (Seriously- if they don’t give a last name, they won’t last to the end of the scene).

So, according to this helpful calculator, by devoting half my total income each month to my student loans, there is a chance I could “experience a partial economic hardship.”

I’m so glad a website took the time to tell me that.  I had no idea, after only eight months of this, that I could be missing out on things like books, movies, video games, food, and clothing because I was spending more than 10% of my discretionary income on loan payments.

By the above definition, I earn roughly $7,000 a year in discretionary income (or $7,000 over 150% of the poverty line for my one-person household).  My student loans started at $11,533.  That means I was already looking at living under the poverty line this year.

To borrow yet another internet meme: Partial economic hardship I am in you.

But you know what?  I wouldn’t have changed anything about the past eight months.  I learned a lot about how far I can stretch a dollar, what’s truly important in life, and even who I am.  The months when I’ve made my ideal payment have been awesome, and the months when I’ve fallen short have been the most insightful.  Along the way, I’ve made new friends, heard from people that I’m inspiring them to pay off their own loans, and I hope made at least a few people better understand what it’s like to be simultaneously full of potential and totally stuck at the beginning.

Two thirds of the year are gone.  Four months and $5,000 stand between me and my goal.  It’s time for the final push.

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