A monologue on owing $100,000 of student loan debt

John Cook
John Cook
Oct 21, 2019 · 3 min read

So I write this post conflicted, on one hand, my student loan debt has finally reached the sub $100,000 mark — voila!

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I used my most recent bonus (in its entirety) as a $15,000 principal-only payment on a loan I took out in 2017 for grad school. But…I still have $100,000 of student loan debt left!! I guess all I can do is take it in stride knowing that less than 10 months ago my outstanding balance was $170,000, right?

I set a lofty goal to have the $170,000 paid off by the end of the calendar year 2019 but with only 2 months left in the year, I've accepted the harsh reality that I am fell well short of this goal. Aspirationally, I’ll have somewhere around $80,000 left as I enter 2020.

As I take a moment to review my payment history, outlined in the table below there are 2 key milestones I missed.

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First, I made way less than I thought would in 2019..like by almost $100,000 on a pre-tax basis. I went into 2019 expecting to clear $300,000 but through a series of false starts and deals that fell through, I will barely clear $200,000. This is the least amount of money I've made since 2015. Candidly i’ve been going through a perpetual quarter-life crisis. When I take an honest evaluation of my actions, I don't think i’m giving 100% of my effort at work. My peers who are crushing it (and believe me some of them are) are easily clearing $350,000 with a couple in the half-milli mark.

I just feel like when it comes to work, I always have to “convince” myself that I’m enjoying what I do. Or when I do feel the enjoyment, it’s always short-lived and I “snap back into reality”. I’m struggling to find the balance of purpose vs money vs career aspirations which i think has been impacting my overall performance as it relates to closing deals and generally speaking…making sh*t happen. I’ve been feeling like this for way too long….

Second, my goal in 2019 was to live off of 60% of my post-tax income, to enable, at a minimum, 40% to go towards student loan repayment. Although most months I've been able to exceed that goal, I have hit the sub 40% range due to unexpected expenses (I keep a very low savings, only $1,000).

The net result of the 2 actions is a repayment plan where I'm falling around $6,500 short each month ($6,5000 x 12 = $78,000 which is the approximate balance i’ll have left at the end of the year).

None the less, I've been living on a written budget where every dollar is tracked and allocated before the month begins. My work is on an uptick with a couple of large deals in the hopper, and generally speaking, I'm living a healthier and happier life. Looking forward into 2020, I see a light at the end of the tunnel, no later than May 2020.

To health, wealth, and being debt-free!

San Francisco, CA

This story is published in Educated & Broke — a publication dedicated to helping you fight student loan and consumer debt by providing real-life, practical advice.

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