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Psychological Barriers I Faced During My Extreme Student Loan Repayment Period
By Jacob @DollarDiligence Follow his journey on the Twitter and stay up-to-dated on his latest personal finance advice.
I’d be lying if I said it was easy to pay off $25,000 in student loans in 15 months.
In fact, it was a lot harder than I expected. Like many other borrowers, I faced some serious psychological barriers of how to pay for student loans that could have stopped me in my tracks if I hadn’t handled them properly. I’m going to share them with you of how to pay for student loans so you don’t encounter any surprises when paying off your own loans.
Finding Ways to Stay Motivated
One of the biggest barriers I faced was staying motivated every day. I set the goal of paying my loans off in 15 months, and 15 months is a long time to keep moving forward. It’s a long time to shut yourself off from the world to save money, and it’s a long time to take freelance jobs to make extra cash.
To be honest, there were days when I woke up and told myself, “I’m done. I’m not going to make it.”
A part of me knew that quitting wasn’t really an option, though. I needed to get those loans paid off, so I had to find some motivation.
I decided to write down a list of all of the reasons why I wanted to accomplish my goal. More money was the obvious reason, but when I thought about it, there was so much more to it. Paying off my student loans would give me more freedom. I would be able to travel and see my friends. It also meant more financial stability for me. There were so many reasons to pay off the loans.
Then, I broke my big goal up into smaller ones. This allowed me to stop getting so lost in the big picture that I couldn’t see the steps I was taking to accomplish my goal.
Finally, I decided to start every morning by visualizing reaching my goal. I imagined making that last loan payment and thought about how good it would make me feel. Then, I pictured what my life would be like when that finally happened.
These steps helped me stay motivated from one day to the next.
Letting Go of Loneliness
When I decided to pay off my loans, I knew that I couldn’t do that and maintain an active social life. It just wasn’t possible. There would be no more nights out at the bars with my buddies and no more dinners out with friends. Even renting a movie and hanging out at a friend’s house was off limits. I dedicated all of my time to earning extra money, and I wasn’t going to spend any on a social life.
I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t realize how lonely I would become. I was used to seeing my friends all of the time, and suddenly, I was cut off from them.
That’s when I realized I needed to utilize the technology that I had to keep those connections. Skype became my best friend. I Skyped with my friends when they were doing things together, and they made me feel included. Was it the same as being there in person? No, but it did help.
They say pride is a deadly sin, and I totally understand why. It almost prevented me from paying off my student loan debt.
It was pride that made it difficult for me to ask my aunt and uncle to let me live with them during the process. I wasn’t looking for a free place to live. I would pay them something, but I was looking for a way to save money, and it was hard to ask.
When I first approached them, I felt like a failure, but of course, they didn’t see me like that. They were impressed that someone in his 20s was already looking for ways to tackle student loan debt.
That feeling resurfaced from time to time during the 15 months I spent paying off the debt. It’s hard to live in someone else’s home, so it was normal that I was feeling a little down on myself. I was able to refocus this feeling by reminding myself of my ultimate goal. This was going to help me pay off the debt, and it was only a temporary situation. Spending 15 months in discomfort is better than spending 10 years paying off crippling debt.
It’s All Temporary
The most important takeaway I have is that all of the psychological barriers are temporary as long as you stay the course. While I did experience some psychological discomfort while repaying my debt, it was all worth it in the long run, and it will be for you too.