Why I Regret Paying Off My Student Loans
We paid off over 200k of student loans in a year and a half!
But there is one thing I regret about it.
We had made a lofty goal- to pay off my student loans in 18 months. As I sat down with my husband for our budget date on month 17, I didn’t expect to end the date realizing the student loans could be done-zo that night.
I looked at my husband with awe. “Should we do it then?” I asked. Of course, we should.
I got up and did an embarrassingly long victory dance in the kitchen. Let me tell you it felt good.
So I pulled up the Sofi Mohela website, typed in the payoff amount, and pressed “Enter.”
Here’s the annoying thing- it takes SoFi two to three days to process the payment. In that time, interest accrues. When I logged in a couple of days later, I was ticked to see a balance of $0.60 on my account. How stupid.
SoFi assured me I could just not pay that. They would waive up to $5 of remaining balance. But that’s just not my style. Dr. D always pays her debts. Anyway, I made another 60 cent payment to have it done with.
Ah… so much better.
But that’s not what I regret.
What I regret is that I miss counting macaroni’s.
Remember those macaroni’s I represented my debt with? My kids and I had a great time every month counting them.
Paying off debt was a clear cut, quantifiable, visible goal that we were working towards. It felt really good to be focused on that one goal and then make progress towards it.
That’s what I miss- the striving. I miss the clear goal, achievable in the short term.
Counting the last of our macaronis.
Now that the loans are done, our goals for the rest of the year are to build the emergency fund back up to 6 months of expenses and max out our 401k’s, backdoor Roths, HSA, Dependent Care FSA, and 529’s for the kids. But that’s a lot less fun than counting macaroni’s. To do a backdoor Roth, I still need to rollover my IRA to my current 401k, so there is paperwork to be done and accounts to set up.
Mo money mo problems.
At least, once those accounts are set up, the withdrawals will be automatic from here on out and it will be painless (except the backdoor Roths).
As I write this, I realize I can probably satisfy my need to strive toward a goal by tracking our progress towards retirement better and using an excel sheet to track the progress in all the accounts.
Financial 180 put together some Milestones of FI, to meet this very need for striving for the next goal. He defines the Milestones: FU Money (10% of FI), Half FI (50% of FI), Lean FI (enough to cover basic expenses), Flex FI (20 times annual expenses), and Financial independence (25 times annual expenses), and FAT FI (30 times your annual expenses). Turns out, we have already have FU money. Now on to Half FI!
Good problems to have.
I just did a podcast interview with Dr. James Dahle where he asked me- why pay off student loans with an interest rate of 2-3 % and not invest your money elsewhere? I still firmly hold that paying off student loans is a good idea and keeping them around weighs you down and sucks away your soul. So, I apologize for the click-bait title, but there are very few downsides to paying off student loans. I’ll elaborate more next week.
For now, I’m so excited to go to FinCon 2019 and Plutus Awards with the rest of your favorite financial bloggers. Will report back on all the activities!
Standard Disclaimer: Not meant as individualized financial advice. Some photos from Unsplash.com.