Thank you Navient for sponsoring this post.
I remember our first date almost nine years ago, like it was yesterday. It was that day while riding the Ferris Wheel that my husband uttered three words that made me instantly fall in love with him: “budgets are sexy”.
So right about now you may be thinking geez…you don’t have high expectations, do you?
Believe it or not, I do.
What made this moment special in my eyes, is because I learned right then from my husband that he and I shared the same goals financially. We both wanted to ensure that we weren’t working at 80 years old, nor did we want to be forced to eat Ramen Noodles every night for the next thirty years.
After a few years we got married, and Chris and I were determined not to drag out our nearly $120,000 combined in student loan debt.
For the first few years we continued to do everything right. I was fully on board with embracing the sexiness that budgets had to offer. We made sure that had weekly “meetings” to discuss our finances, and tweak anything that may need changing; we didn’t eat out and we made sure that we always kept up without student loan payments, often paying more than the minimum amount.
We both also worked side jobs in addition to our regular full time jobs. My husband drove for Uber and often worked as a Husband for a Day, doing handy work. I had already been blogging, and continued to earn extra money from that, in addition to also running an art studio (along with working full time at a local hospital).
Then one day while I was seven and a half months pregnant I lost my job. It was literally the most devastating thing that could have happened to us. After years of planning and doing everything right, within a few months of losing half our income, it seemed as if nothing was going our way.
With a brand-new baby and three other young kids, it became difficult trying to choose between food on the table and having the lights/water on.
On top of that both of our student loan payments fell severely behind, even twice nearly defaulting (thankfully we never did).
One day after coming home to the water being cut off and no way to pay it, I finally broke. Knowing that the biggest portion of our monthly debt was student loans, we decided that it was time that we re-evaluate our plan. Although I was bringing in a little extra income monthly from blogging and the art studio, it was still not enough for us survive or even maintain as we once were.
Keeping in mind how sexy budgets were, and knowing that we had nothing else left to scrap or cut, my husband and I reached to some friends who provided us with several options. We learned of several student loan repayment programs and decided that it was time to reach out to our servicers, outside of them calling to remind us our payment was past due.
My husband and I qualified for and utilized an income-driven repayment program for many of our federal loans, which ended up giving us affordable monthly payments. Secondly, we also learned that my husband could pursue loan discharge for most of his loans since he was employed in the public service sector. This, was a major weight off our shoulders and he and I felt like we could finally breathe again.
There were some loans that were not eligible for any type of payment programs, however, we were able to secure a forbearance on those for a short period of time until we were able to rebound.
Fast forward a few years later, my husband and I have once again gained our financially stability, and in the last couple of years haven’t missed a beat when it comes to ensuring our student loans were paid. Now, we have managed to pay off nearly $72, 000 of our combined student loan debt.
If you and your spouse are looking for a way to manage your student loans within a budget, try setting up financial goals and discuss with one another the best course of action needed in order to attain them. If you’re behind on your student loans, I implore you to reach out to them. Your servicer may have programs available that can help. It can seem scary, especially if you are living paycheck to paycheck, or if you feel as if you are so far in a hole, that you can’t get out. However, getting a handle now is the only way you can achieve student loan success.
Thank you again to Navient for sponsoring this post. All content and opinions expressed here are all my own.