For some reason, most of my generation is fine with being in debt. We own it - its just a way of life. Starting out at 23, fresh out of college owing $30K? That's not bad at all! To our parents and grandparents generations, however, we are lunatics for accepting such a financial fate. When I graduated, I started paying $215.16 a month and knew that it was just going to be part of my life to pay that each month for the next 20 years. When all was said and done, I would have paid back the $30K I owed and another $20K in interest. That's right, $20,000 in interest alone. I was okay with that. WTF was wrong with me? How is that possibly okay?!
Jeff also has $30K in loans, so together we are a veritable financial nightmare. Could it be worse? Totally. We were fortunate to go to relatively inexpensive public school, get grants and loans, and assistantships in graduate school. All that aside, $60K is still ridiculous.
Well, we're done paying minimum and are ready to tackle this debt (as well as the rest we owe on our car) little by little. Our goal is to be debt free in the next five years. That means we'd have to pay $12,000 a year towards loans (plus interest, but I don't want to do that crazy math) to meet our goal. If we're both employed and watch our budget, why isn't that possible? Especially if we're not paying for housing? We would save tens of thousands of dollars in interest this way. I can't even imagine what we'd do with all that money.
We made up a list of things that we're already doing to cut costs. Some of them are:
- Cloth diaper, breast feed, and make our own baby food. Huge savings right there.
- Use grocery store points to save on gas.
- Clip coupons, subscribe to coupon blogs, and look for sales.
- Shop consignment and accept hand me downs.
- Sell (or donate) things we don't need anymore.
- Cancel subscriptions we don't use. Netflix DVDs, I'm talkin' about you.
- Get cell phones that don't need data plans.
- Buy produce from the farmer's market and local farms.
- Use cloth towels instead of paper towels.
- Make gifts instead of buying them.
- I cut Jeff's hair instead of him going out to get it cut. Over the last 5 years, that's a ton of savings.
- Sharing one car.
- Set up automatic bill payments to get a lower interest rate.
- Borrow books from the library instead of always buying new.
And a list of things we need to get better at in order to further save money:
- Stop eating out so much. I love to eat out, but need to reign it in for a while.
- Don't use credit cards. We each have two and use them responsibly, but don't really *need* to.
- Drive less. Everything around here is accessible by a bike, which we both have, or the bus.
- Order less from online. Its too easy to just buy something we want. Damn you one-click check out!
- Be better about not wasting food. I'm terrible at checking expiration dates. Oops!
- Keep up with my check book. If I knew how much money I had, I wouldn't spend as much!