A Decade Long Affair with Student Loans

A Decade Affair with Student Loans.According to Wikipedia (the source of all my knowledge), it will take the average Canadian student 10 years after graduation to pay of his/her student loans.

How’s that for a fun Tuesday morning fact?

When I first saw this statistic I scoffed and thought “I’m serious about paying off my debt, no way will it take me a decade to pay off my student loans!”

Then I really thought about it…

I graduated November 2007. My income was so low that I had no interest accruing on my loans and was never required to make any minimum payment. Basically it was really easy to pretend my student debt did not exist and that was exactly what I did.

Sure I made a few hundred dollars payment here and there thinking it would all be paid off “one day” but I foolishly wasted years not paying down my student loan while I was in my 20s.

I only became serious about paying off my debt when I started this blog in December 2012. Even then, I was concentrating all my efforts on the credit card debt and only making required minimum payments towards the student loan because thank my lucky stars, I still didn’t have interest accruing on it.

I’m hanging my head in shame thinking it took me 5 years to finally realize, “hey this debt isn’t going to be paid off one day unless I take action NOW.” Not next month, not next week, not tomorrow. NOW.

The thing is, I still have over $40,000 in student loan debt and with a spring 2015 wedding to plan for and other grown up things I’m sure will come my way, I know realistically my debt won’t be paid off in another 3 years or so. 4 at the latest. My dream debt pay-off date is December 8, 2016 (4 years exactly when I started the blog) but rationally I know I won’t be debt-free until August 2, 2017 (my 34th birthday). That’s 10 years. A decade long affair with student loans. If I live to 100, that will be 1/10 of my life. Another statistic. UGH.

This post isn’t meant to be depressing though. I want to encourage all my readers that even if it does take you 10 years or longer to pay off your debt, don’t get discourage and give up. I have already had many readers emailing me and telling me about their own debt situation and it’s funny how similar our stories are. I suspect there are even more people out there with similar stories. Just remember that you are not alone.

Debt sucks but it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. One of my main blog missions is to write about debt in a manner that is personal and realistic while trying to crack a smile or two in the process. I consider myself lucky to have so many people cheering me on to the debt-free finish line and I just hope this blog will continue to inspire others to cross their finish line sooner than later as well. :)

65 Comments on A Decade Long Affair with Student Loans

  1. Well Heeled BlogNo Gravatar
    October 29, 2013 at 11:33 am (6 months ago)

    Did your education funded by your student loans allow you to achieve certain professional goals? Or help you learn things or meet people or broaden your network? That’s what I try to keep in mind when I think about all the money I’ve spent on education. Best of luck with your debt payoff goals – and like you said, the most important thing is not giving up.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 29, 2013 at 2:22 pm (6 months ago)

      I guess I should have made it more obvious in my post but I DON’T regret getting my 2 degrees and borrowing money in order to do so. The only thing I do regret is not starting to pay off my student loans right after graduation.

      Reply
  2. Alicia @ Financial DiffractionNo Gravatar
    October 29, 2013 at 12:04 pm (6 months ago)

    One of my smartest friends in university (in both academics and finances) took full student loans, and then had a full ride scholarships. BUT, she locked the student loans away in CDs or bonds something, and earned money on them for up to four years. Then, when her degree was done, she paid them off in one-fail swoop, was left with a bit of interest in her account, and never paid a penny on it. Now there are a lot of variables in that which I know I can’t do (first, get a full ride through university :P), but it’s interesting that she was smart enough, and knew herself well enough that she knew she wouldn’t tap into that money. (Also, I don’t know if this is “legit” because I never had student loans, but if it isn’t… well I won’t tell you her name).

    By the way… you stole my idea of an avatar for my site :) I love the new cartoon though! I wanted to incorporate my insane love of cats into my blog, LOL. I guess I’ll stick with the cat pics on my “About Me” page.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 29, 2013 at 2:27 pm (6 months ago)

      “Legit” or not, your friend was brillant (literally) for not tapping into her student loans and all the while earning interest on the money! Feel free to use a cat with your avatar Alicia! I have 6 GMD avatars (in different clothes) that I plan on using in rotation. ;)

      Reply
  3. Eva @ Girl Counting PenniesNo Gravatar
    October 29, 2013 at 12:35 pm (6 months ago)

    First of all, I love you new avatar! It’s so cute! :P

    Regarding student loans, I was lucky enough to get my education funded by the government and got my degree “for free” (through very hard work and sleepless nights that is). :P I still qualified for a student loan but only took out £3k (thank God, it was not more!). It’s crazy how much education costs these days!! An average cost of education in the UK is £9k per year (does not include board) so you are looking at £27k worth of debt when you graduate. No wonder why so many young people choose not to go to Uni, who can afford these costs???!!! This is wrong, very wrong!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 29, 2013 at 2:31 pm (6 months ago)

      It’s crazy, insane, wrong, criminal how much education cost these days!

      Reply
  4. annaNo Gravatar
    October 29, 2013 at 12:45 pm (6 months ago)

    I love your new avatar – is that your winter collection avatar? :) I dunno, GMD, I do realize you have a wedding and life goals to plan for, but I still think you can achieve paying it off prior to your 34th birthday. You’ve been amazing with your repayments and side hustles, but I agree that overall, to just keep going and not give up!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 29, 2013 at 2:32 pm (6 months ago)

      LOL winter collection avatar -LOVE IT! :D

      You really think I can pay off my student loans before my 34th birthday? I sure hope you are right Anna!

      Reply
  5. SteveNo Gravatar
    October 29, 2013 at 12:48 pm (6 months ago)

    @Alicia: I know a friend who did that as well in the early 2000s, but it’s not a completely legit maneuver to pull which is why Canada Student Loans got wise to it and stopped giving out a full years worth of student loan tuition money to students.

    @GMD: I have full faith you will get those pesky student loans finished in under a decade!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 29, 2013 at 2:34 pm (6 months ago)

      Thanks Steve! Under a decade would be AMAZING for me!

      Reply
  6. JordannNo Gravatar
    October 29, 2013 at 12:49 pm (6 months ago)

    Hey, at least you’ll have them paid off in ten years right? If you’d kept ignoring them, who knows how long it would’ve taken to pay them off!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 29, 2013 at 2:35 pm (6 months ago)

      A decade is long. I can’t imagine longer unless it was mortgage debt.

      Reply
  7. jennNo Gravatar
    October 29, 2013 at 1:32 pm (6 months ago)

    That’s really brave of you to explain your situation – a lot of us students/new grads are in your position. I’m on track to have mine paid off 4 years and about 7 months since I graduated… June 2016 if all goes to plan! That was the first time that I actually calculated everything out!! 25 months down, 32 to go! It doesn’t seem that far away… but some days it really feels too far away.
    Hopefully I can increase the amount I pay off each month and it will speed things up.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 29, 2013 at 2:37 pm (6 months ago)

      Less than 5 years would be awesome! Best of luck Jenn!

      Reply
  8. Budget and the BeachNo Gravatar
    October 29, 2013 at 1:59 pm (6 months ago)

    I’m sure your story will inspire lots of readers Wendy! Keep at it!

    Reply
  9. Hayley @ A Disease Called DebtNo Gravatar
    October 29, 2013 at 2:10 pm (6 months ago)

    I can really see how easy it would be to ignore student debt, if you don’t have to pay it back until you earn over a certain amount. I just know that you won’t end up being a statistic GMD! You’ve taken control and this debt is on it’s way out!

    I love that your blog is realistic yet positive about debt payoff. It’s easy to get down about debt especially when thinking about the long journey ahead. But it’s important to live as well and as you say, you’ve got big ‘grown up’ things coming up in the near future – I know that you’ll still make the most of those whilst making a great impact on your student loan. :)

    By the way, I love your new avatar! You look like you have amazing hair and I love your cat! xo

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 29, 2013 at 3:03 pm (6 months ago)

      Awww with support from blogging friends like you, I hopefully won’t be another statistic Hayley! “Grown up” things are planned for my future but I will never neglect my student loan payments again. I do pride myself on having nice hair but I don’t think it’s as nice as my avatar haha. The cat in the picture is actually a tribute to one of my cats Timmy who passed away this summer. :(

      Reply
  10. E.M.No Gravatar
    October 29, 2013 at 3:30 pm (6 months ago)

    I agree with Anna – you’ve been so amazing with paying off your debt so far, and I am sure blog income will also increase over time. You never know what may happen in the next few years! I also love your new avatar, so cute with the cat! I need to get on making one of those (read: having my boyfriend do it).

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 29, 2013 at 3:42 pm (6 months ago)

      I’m really hoping blog income will increase sooner than later because that will really help shorten my debt repayment journey. I can’t wait to see your avatar. Avatars are just so much FUN!

      Reply
  11. Kasey @ Debt PerceptionNo Gravatar
    October 29, 2013 at 3:33 pm (6 months ago)

    Nice avatar! I’ve got a quarter of a century affair with my student loans! In it for the long haul!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 29, 2013 at 3:43 pm (6 months ago)

      That is a long haul. I admire your determined attitude about paying it off Kasey!

      Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 29, 2013 at 6:38 pm (6 months ago)

      Don’t worry Stefanie. This Girl doesn’t even know the meaning of giving up. ;)

      Reply
  12. Dear DebtNo Gravatar
    October 29, 2013 at 7:32 pm (6 months ago)

    I’m in it for a decade with undergrad too :( luckily, I will be DTMFA (Dan Savage reference) grad loans sooner :) It’s insane what education costs and will continue to cost. Things aren’t going to get cheaper!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 29, 2013 at 9:23 pm (6 months ago)

      It blows my mind how the cost of “higher” education keeps getting “higher and higher!”

      Reply
  13. MichelleNo Gravatar
    October 29, 2013 at 8:06 pm (6 months ago)

    Totally know your pain. We are finally getting serious about our debt. Between the two of us, we have around 60k for three and a quarter degrees.

    I dont regret going to school, but I do regret my degree and building up so much debt from it. Everything looks totally different to you when you’re 18!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 29, 2013 at 9:25 pm (6 months ago)

      I don’t regret going to school either. I just regret not taking my student debt more seriously, sooner. Everything is seen through rose colored glasses when you’re 18 for sure!

      Reply
  14. KatyNo Gravatar
    October 29, 2013 at 8:10 pm (6 months ago)

    I must say! I’m loving the new avatar! I keep thinking I may have to do one of myself. Where do you get it??

    About the loan debt. Ah, good ‘ol student loans. I have been paying on them since 2006. Thank goodness, my parents are helping me to finish paying them off, otherwise I would still have them for many years to come. That dreaded debt…

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 29, 2013 at 9:26 pm (6 months ago)

      That’s awesome that you’re parents are helping you pay your student loans because it really is the dreaded debt.

      Reply
  15. SyedNo Gravatar
    October 29, 2013 at 9:01 pm (6 months ago)

    Great post and very timely for my situation. Almost all of my professional colleagues and I graduated with 6 digit student loan debt, which can be very depressing to look at indeed. But I look at getting rid of debt as slaying a beast, you have to use every resource at your disposal and keep at it to bring it down.

    Being on a 10 (or in my case 25!) year plan can be discouraging, but making consistent extra payments really does pay off. The calculator at unbury.me really shows how much it helps. Good luck to both of us!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 29, 2013 at 9:28 pm (6 months ago)

      Consistent extra payments are the 3 magic words in student loan repayment! :P

      Reply
  16. charles@gettingarichlifeNo Gravatar
    October 30, 2013 at 1:29 am (6 months ago)

    Student loans is the new modern day indentured servants. The problem is it keeps you trapped in pursuing the things you really want to. At least you didn’t have interest accrue early on.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 30, 2013 at 8:46 am (6 months ago)

      At time I really do feel like a slave to my student loans. I’ve definately been chained to it for too long…but I am “lucky” to not have any interest accrue on it.

      Reply
  17. Taynia | The Fiscal FlamingoNo Gravatar
    October 30, 2013 at 3:20 am (6 months ago)

    The act of writing your debt story is certainly an inspiration to others. I wish blogging had been around when I was up to my eyeballs in student loan debt. Those were some rough years. Some networking with like minded people would have been wonderful. No doubt you’re gonna do it. Probably early. Wink.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 30, 2013 at 8:59 am (6 months ago)

      “Probably early” would make me the happiess Girl in the PF blogoverse! Wink.

      Reply
  18. Holly@ClubThriftyNo Gravatar
    October 30, 2013 at 5:19 am (6 months ago)

    I’m sorry that you have to pay them off for a decade but I am glad that you got degrees that are working for you.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 30, 2013 at 9:00 am (6 months ago)

      I’m actually not even using the 2 degrees I earned but that’s another sob story for another day. ;)

      Reply
  19. Demaish @ Borrowed CentsNo Gravatar
    October 30, 2013 at 5:45 am (6 months ago)

    Keep pushing and you will get there. You never know how your finances will turn around and you will be able to make bigger payments. After all you finished paying your personal loans.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 30, 2013 at 9:02 am (6 months ago)

      That’s true. I don’t know how my finances will turn around so I’ll be hoping for the best. Thanks Demaish.

      Reply
  20. AmandaNo Gravatar
    October 30, 2013 at 6:18 am (6 months ago)

    I *WISH*/hope it’ll only take me 10 years to pay off my student loan! It’s already been 4 years, and I’ve paid off less than 5% of it… And although I don’t have plans for a wedding at this point (like you – congrats again!) I imagine one will happen within that “10 years” outside of school window.
    But, I’m trying to focus on the fact that I’m in a much better position (financially speaking) now than I was even 6 weeks ago, and that there is hope. We will do this!!!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 30, 2013 at 9:03 am (6 months ago)

      There’s always hope Amanda. We WILL do this! :)

      Reply
  21. Michelle's Finance JournalNo Gravatar
    October 30, 2013 at 6:34 am (6 months ago)

    Your hair must be getting really long looking at your avatar. Love it~
    I know what you mean. Sometimes I feel like I’m the oldest person in here. There are a bunch of 20 somethings that are debt free or on the way while I just realized my mess this year and I’m already over 30. But this is a personal issue and I am trying to not let anything discourage me from continue on this sometimes fun sometimes annoying long process.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 30, 2013 at 9:07 am (6 months ago)

      I don’t know why the cartoonist sketched my hair so long because it really isn’t that long lol. My actual hair length is like my original avatar but I want it to grow this long for my wedding in April 2015 :)
      Debt repayment really is an annoying long process but it’s gotta be done. Like paying taxes. :P

      Reply
  22. Done by FortyNo Gravatar
    October 30, 2013 at 7:48 am (6 months ago)

    I like how you’re giving context to the ten year period. Five years of typical, so-so payoff progress, followed by an “ah-ha!” moment and five years of intense progress. Stats never tell that nuanced story.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 30, 2013 at 9:09 am (6 months ago)

      Thanks DB40. I agree, stats never tell the “full” story behind the numbers.

      Reply
  23. MorgaineNo Gravatar
    October 30, 2013 at 9:03 am (6 months ago)

    It took me 7 years after graduating to pay off my student loans. I would have paid them off sooner but I had a major slip up in my mid-20s where I stopped paying them and started accumlulating consumer debt. My trick was I never paid just the minimum (except during that slip up period where I paid zero) because I saw how long it was going to take me to pay off my loans and I didn’t want to be in debt that long. I have no idea why I stopped having that attitude, it would have served me well. I see you paying off your debt sooner even with the wedding. Your determination to kill debt is amazing :)

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 30, 2013 at 9:10 am (6 months ago)

      Thanks Morgaine! :D With blogging friends like you cheering me on I just might slay that debt before the 10 year mark!

      Reply
  24. Newlyweds on a BudgetNo Gravatar
    October 30, 2013 at 11:17 am (6 months ago)

    I just paid off all my student loans in May of this year. I graduated college in 2006, so it took me about six years to pay them off. Not bad, but I do think about all those years I wasted when I could have been more aggressive.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 30, 2013 at 11:20 am (6 months ago)

      Six years is still better than a decade! ;)

      Reply
  25. Romona@monasezNo Gravatar
    October 30, 2013 at 11:41 am (6 months ago)

    Honestly, I’m kind have been ignoring my 20k amount of student loans. I just graduated but I’ve been working full time for a while and I’ve been on deferrment for about a year now. I’m hoping to start paying back something soon. I just don’t want to deal with the head ache right now.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 30, 2013 at 1:39 pm (6 months ago)

      It is a headache but it’s gotta be faced head-on someday Romona. Trust me, once you actually start the repayment process, the headache lessens ;)

      Reply
  26. YumiNo Gravatar
    October 30, 2013 at 2:48 pm (6 months ago)

    So I’m a long time lurker… your avatar change encouraged me to comment today! Love the kitty incorporated.

    So I was lucky enough to get a full scholarship to undergrad and a fellowship for the PhD I’m currently finishing, so I don’t have any student loans. I do empathize though. Good luck as you finish paying yours off.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 30, 2013 at 3:15 pm (6 months ago)

      Maybe I should change my avatar more often so my longtime lurkers can leave comments more often because I love comments from my readers :)

      Wow congrats on finishing a PhD without any student loans! That is some accomplishment Yumi!

      Reply
  27. GrownUpThriftGirlNo Gravatar
    October 30, 2013 at 5:55 pm (6 months ago)

    Trying out my new name ;) and have to say LOVE the avatar switch up.. Awwww Timmy. Poor boy. Bet you never would have thought you would have a cat avatar before he came into your life!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 30, 2013 at 6:53 pm (6 months ago)

      I feel like having Timmy in my avatar with me helps keep his memory alive. I love and miss my cat so much. :(

      Reply
  28. TreNo Gravatar
    October 30, 2013 at 6:59 pm (6 months ago)

    I had the same realization this spring! 5 years since I finished my masters and I’ve hardly made a dent in the $80k of debt.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 30, 2013 at 7:04 pm (6 months ago)

      It’s kind of a scary realization eh? Big wake-up call for me…

      Reply
  29. KK @ Student Debt SurvivorNo Gravatar
    October 30, 2013 at 8:29 pm (6 months ago)

    You’re going to kill those loans long before your 34th birthday. You’re smart and dedicated and you work hard. Just keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll be done before you know it. When I paid off my student loans I thought it would take me 3-4 years. It took 2 because I was super excited and motivated. Once I started and saw the balances going down I couldn’t stop.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      October 30, 2013 at 8:41 pm (6 months ago)

      Awwww thanks KK. This comment really makes my night! I just hope I can be as successful as you in my student loan repayment and come out of this a “student debt survivor” ;)

      Reply
  30. BrianNo Gravatar
    November 1, 2013 at 3:06 pm (6 months ago)

    Funny how that worked out. The fact remains though that once you put your mind to it, you’ll be much faster than the average of 10 years. I think most people pay evenly for 10 years whereas you are showing that it can be done much faster.

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 1, 2013 at 3:14 pm (6 months ago)

      If only I had realized I should be paying much faster than the average 10 years a lot sooner! :P

      Reply
  31. Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The LoansNo Gravatar
    November 4, 2013 at 12:28 pm (6 months ago)

    I originally started my blog to chronicle my student loan debt journey, confidently thinking I would get rid of my loans in 5 years. *sigh* Not going to happen, but I’m not going to let that discourage me. Whether it’s gone in 10 years or 30 years – at least it’ll be gone! Of course, sooner is always better than later!

    P.S. love the new avatar!

    Reply
    • Girl Meets DebtNo Gravatar
      November 4, 2013 at 1:31 pm (6 months ago)

      Sooner is always better than later but no one needs to beat themselves up if it’s the latter. We all just do the best we can! :)

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *






Comment *