Reaching the Halfway Point of a Debt Free Journey

Reaching the Halfway Point of a Debt Free Journey

Half of My Six Figure Student Loans are Paid Off!

At the beginning of the month I crossed the halfway mark of my journey paying off $130,000 of student loan debt. Milestones like this seem so monumental on the approach, but as soon as you reach them they have a way of shrinking to nothing in the shadow of the next one. Last year, when I passed the barrier from six figures to five figures owing, it was thrilling at first but rapidly became ‘so I still have $99,000 of debt.’ I feel similarly now after the initial excitement of the halfway mark has worn off.

Logically, I know that the second half of my journey will take less time than the first. I paid off $10,000 in 2016 but $30,000 in 2017 – three times the previous year!! I know it’s ‘all downhill from here.’ Still, that $65,000 balance feels overwhelming regardless of the motivational quotes I read. I’m not sure at what point my student loans will stop feeling overwhelming though. When I’m under $50,000 owing? When I’m under $30,000 owing? When I’m at $0 owing?

It’s not that a weight hasn’t been lifted – it has! $65,000 seems like a whole new world compared to $130,000. When I look at how far I’ve come, I’m thrilled, and I’m grateful to have the income to do this and to do it so quickly relative to the initial balance. I just don’t want to be the kind of person who makes a post at the end of this journey and says ‘look what I accomplished!’ without sharing the complicated, messy, in between feelings. I don’t want to be the kind of person who pastes on a smile and says ‘I’m fine.’ Most of the time, I am fine. But I also have moments where I feel powerful, hopeless, impatient, stoic, bored, or energized – occasionally all within the same hour.

I’m on track to pay off another $30,000 at least this year, which is an insane amount of money to many people (it is to me too!), but it still feels empty sometimes. I want to move on and focus on things that matter to me now, and my past is sitting on my shoulder reminding me to check the rear-view mirror. It would hold me back regardless of how much focus I placed on it, because it’s something that will always be on my mind until it’s gone.

So that’s where I’m at.

It feels like I’m still living paycheck to paycheck.

It feels like I should already be finished.

It feels like I’m starting over.

Photo by Artem Kovalev on Unsplash

14 thoughts on “Reaching the Halfway Point of a Debt Free Journey”

    • It is hard to describe, but ‘strange melancholy’ is apt! It’s an ‘okay, now I just have to do this all over again one more time and I’ll be done’ feeling. I’ve had this feeling a few times already, especially at the $99,000 mark, but it’s stronger at this point.

    • Thank you! I feel that vibe from a lot of posts too. Sunshine and rainbows are great and all.. but to have those things we need rain too!

  • I can’t believe the size of student loans in the US.
    CONGRATULATIONS on paying off a whopping 65K!!!
    I can tell by reading this that, intellectually at least, you know that it’s a hell of an achievement. Emotionally, you feel like you’ve finished a marathon and now you’re faced with running another.
    But speaking as someone who remembers that feeling vividly when I was paying off the first mortgage, now it gets easier. Interest gets less and less and once you get to the last third of the loan, the principal seems to melt away before your very eyes.
    You’re closer than you think to getting rid of it.
    Nice work!

    • I live in Canada. I just have three degrees so that’s why it’s so much! And thank you! That’s exactly how it feels.. ran a marathon and now I have almost another marathon to go. I’m finished three years and I think I have less than two to go. Hopefully it will start to go faster soon!

      • I am so sorry for assuming you were in the US. I know how Canadians hate being misidentified as American – so much so that when I meet someone with a US/Canadian accent I wait until I hear them say “about” and then I know which one they are. Canadians are always so pleased when I ask if they’re from Canada. It’s a bit like New Zealanders who travel and are constantly being asked if they’re from Australia, (or so I hear.)

  • We love your writing and find your blog to be inspiring, honest, and refreshing! We can both completely relate to what you’re feeling here. The process can be loooong and the milestones are a sort of reminder of how far you’ve come with the payoff, but at the same time, a reminder of just how much longer you have to go. Congratulations on paying off so much debt and reaching that halfway point! We’re rooting for you and hoping the second half of the journey comes with renewed patience for the process.

  • Good work! I was fortunate enough to not have any student debt after graduating but y wife did and can understand the burden of it and how great it is to pay it off!

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