Inside: I hate my student loans with the passion of 1,000 fires. But I can still recognize the advantages that they gave me—and there’s way more to it than just the education I financed.
If there’s one person who hates student loan debt more than me, it might be Robert Farrington from The College Investor. That’s why I’m participating in the Student Loan Movement that he’s organized for the month of March. Check out the deets here, including free resources and prizes!
It’s no secret that I hate debt.
In fact, Zach’s considering going to a coding bootcamp after we move to Seattle/Tacoma in a few months. We’ve already started hustling our butts to ensure we don’t need to take out any loans just in case he does go. If we end up not needing the cash, then we’re gonna make it rain on our debt like a category 5 hurricane.
There’s one type of debt I hate above all the others—my student loan debt.
But, believe it or not, I’m actually kind of grateful for it too.
Why My Student Loan Debt Sucks
I took out my student loans in the worst possible way.
When I took out my student loans, I was about as gullible and naive as Michael Scott from The Office. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.
My mom sent me a form to apply for a private student loan. It had “$25,000” written on the line. Why? Why not. $25,000 seemed like a college-y number. We never put any forethought into how much I’d actually need, let alone how much the tuition cost.
As a result, I bought a lot of stupid shit. A lot. Feast your eyes on these idiotic purchases.
It’s understandable why I ran out of money after only a couple years. So, what did I do? We went through the whole process again with another $25,000. If one loan is good, then two loans are twice as good! Right?! Right?
I guess I missed that math class…
Suffice to say, things didn’t end up as planned. I couldn’t even afford to get a job in my career field once I graduated because my student loan payments were too high. Maybe if I’d just gotten the job I was hoping for and if everything had gone according to plan, I wouldn’t be so bitter.
Why I’m Still Grateful For My Student Loans
My Student Loans Forced Me To Confront Reality
When I was a little girl, I used to think that adults all had their financial shit together. After all, at least most adults manage to put their underwear on underneath their pants.
Spoiler alert: most people don’t have their financial shit together. Don’t believe me? Chew on these factoids:
- Two-thirds of adults don’t budget
- 61% of adults can’t afford a $1,000 emergency
- Half of Americans have no retirement savings at all
Most people are counting on social security for retirement, but in January 2018, the average social security payment was a measly $1,290. I’d be screwed if I had to live on that much! That’s barely enough to pay for my rent and groceries—forget about nice things like heat, laundry, and beer.
All this points to a shitty reality that most real “grownups” ignore. I didn’t have that luxury. It was sink or swim for me; I had to wake up because my student loans demanded it.
Related: If you’re looking to learn how to start budgeting even if you think you suck at it, try checking out the Budgeting for Budget Haters e-course. I totes recommend it for anyone looking to better manage their money!
My Student Loans Forced Me To Manage My Money Better
Did I forget to mention that I took out private loans? Have you ever tried working with a private student loan servicer? Their unofficial mascot is probably just a squirrel named Dingus who laughs and throws pine cones at you.
Since my student loan company wouldn’t work with me when I couldn’t afford my payments, I was forced to do other things. I learned how to save money, stop eating out so much, how to earn more money, and how to budget, among other things.
My student loans forced me to grow TF up in a way that most adults haven’t had to do.
My Student Loans Gave Me Some Awesome Experiences
Although I did buy a lot of stupid crap with my student loans, I also really did use them to get a degree. And a helluva degree it was! I loved going to school for my wildlife biology degree.
Because of my major, I got to work in some awesome places. I got to comb qiviut—a rare fiber that’s softer than a cherub’s buttcrack and more expensive than cashmere—from muskoxen. I dug up a hibernating ground squirrel once because he slept in too late for his appointment. I was paid to canoe around an Alaskan swamp and catch wild birds near the Canadian border (we may or may not have actually snuck into Canada a few times. Hard to tell.).
To cap it all off, I got to fly in a helicopter around the hinterlands of Alaska, snatching up baby caribou and raising them in a small research herd.
[photo of me with caribou goes here. Use this text for the alt text and caption: “My students loans allowed me to catch this cutie! We named her Hope and she always followed me around later.”]
My Student Loans Are Driving Me To Get Ahead
I hate my student loans. They make me angry. And because I despise them, I’m working as hard as I can to get rid of them.
I started up my own business. So far this year I’ve earned as much money as in my entire first year after graduation—and it’s only March. I just opened a SEP IRA and I’m getting ready to fund it with at least 10% of my earnings. I’ve topped off my emergency fund, broke past net worth zero, and even had time to spend three weeks in Peru.
In fact, we’ve come from the brink of bankruptcy to doing better than we ever have in our adult lives—and only in the span of a few years.
None of this would have been possible without the swift kick in the ass that my student loans gave me. If I’d had my college paid for and was working as a wildlife biologist like I’d planned on, I’d probably still be spending recklessly like most Americans. It’d come back to bite me later when I reached retirement, as it will most “adults.”
But, because my student loans forced me to grow TF up, I’ll be prepared. I won’t be taken advantage of. I’ll get to see the world. I’ll become financially independent so I can do whatever the hell I want instead of being a slave to student loans.
And that, my friends, is why I’m grateful for my student loans even though they can go eat a dick!
Do you think you’d ever be grateful for your student loans? Why or why not? Leave a comment below!