This Is The Thing

I’ve got a lot of student loan debt. A chunk was racked up in graduate school from paying out-of-state tuition to study in a top 10 program. The clinic and course schedule made it pretty hard to have a job that pulled in any significant income. I lived on student loans for 2 years, and now I’ve got the debt to prove it. Thankfully, I can also say I’ve got the knowledge and skills, too! Pitt did a fantastic job preparing me for the critical and theoretical thinking that my job requires of me every single day.

Because I work for a public school, I have enrolled in a the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. I am on an income contingent repayment program. Once I’ve made 120 payments, I can apply for the rest to be forgiven. Making one payment per month, I should be eligible for forgiveness when I am 35. I can only hope that the program doesn’t disappear before then, or at least that it would be only closed to new applicants. My fingers are crossed.

My sister, Beth, is my financial guru, and has steadfastly modeled financial responsibility. Only in the last year have I really learned to love saving my money. I describe it as, “paying yourself–later!” That’s what it feels like when you want to or have to spend money, and you already have it. I took comfort in knowing I had the $1,800 for Nico’s at surgery at OK State.

My parents, ever so graciously, loaned me money to purchase my used 2007 Honda Civic. Ideally I will have it paid off within the next year and a half. Just because it’s an interest-free loan doesn’t mean I don’t need to try to pay it off as quickly as I can! The sooner I pay it off, the sooner I can start putting those monthly car payments into my own savings! I want to pay myself!

I haven’t always been such a responsible spender. I have a penchant for designer shoes and handbags,  and it  can get expensive quickly. I have found that if I spend wisely the vast majority of the time–that I really do have enough money to buy myself something nice when I want it.

The hardest thing I have taught myself to do is use coupons. It feels so lame. My mom is an absolute master of coupon-ing and finding deals. She scours the newspaper every Sunday. I don’t get the newspaper, but I do get mailings. Every two weeks the local grocery store sends out a flier with two coupons–$5 off a purchase of $50 for the upcoming week, and another one for the week after that. So I save all of my shopping that I don’t do at Aldi, so that I can use those coupons. At the same grocery store, I also earn 5 cents off each gallon of gas for each $50 I spend (the card just keeps a running total, it doesn’t have to be in one purchase).

When I went shopping on Friday after school, my total bill was $60.46, I used other coupons for specific items as well as my $5.00 off coupon. My total came in at just over $45. I saved $15 bucks! Then I headed over to the gas station and I got 50 cents off per gallon of gas. I saved another $5.00.

God bless America.

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