Becoming Janus

Happy New Year’s Eve! It’s the time of year to sit down, reflect on what’s gone by, to look forward to the future, and to attempt to mold that future through a resolution or two. It sounds daunting because we’re talking about, yanno, a year, and it sounds daunting because we usually have BIG IDEAS and BIG PLANS for that year, and often, it’s easy to fall off the saddle before January has even wrapped up.

I have some friends who don’t do resolutions. Not just the ones who don’t do resolutions at all, but those who simply have a different approach. My friend Nu Yang names her years: she gives herself a theme and focuses each year to make sure everything she does is supporting that theme. I love that idea. It’s not one I can embrace for myself, because I need more direction, but I love it. However one approaches a new year, if it works, hats off to you!

As for me, it’s time to reflect: what happened, where I am now, and what I hope to maybe accomplish in 2015. If you’re interested, just click the cut. If you’re not, Happy New Year! May your 2015 be better than 2014.

I sure as hell hope mine is.

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3 Down, 3 To Go….

Today is a day to celebrate: yesterday, I paid off one of my remaining four student loans. *throws confetti*

Back when I graduated with my M.A., I had accumulated seven student loans. Two of them were my undergrad, and because I consolidated after getting my B.A., those two loans are treated as one BIG loan, even though it’s broken down on my bill. The other five loans stand for each term at grad school (a term amounting to half a year). It took me five terms to get my degree, one more than it should’ve, but that’s a story for another day.

In 2009, my husband and I refinanced the home. We paid off the cars and still got a lower interest-rate, and one of the options we considered was folding my student loans into the refinancing package. I said no: I get tax credits on student loan interest, and while I can claim interest paid to the mortgage company, it doesn’t work the same way on our taxes. So we didn’t, and I worked out a very detailed plan to pay off my student loans faster than paying the minimum would allow: I’d pay the minimum on all the loans except for the one with the highest interest rate, and throw extra money at it until it was gone, and then do the same thing for the next loan with a high interest rate, and so on and so forth.

I paid off my first loan in 2011, about three months ahead of schedule. I paid my second loan in 2012, and I’m still ahead of schedule. Yesterday, my payment was received for my third loan, and yes, I’m still about three months ahead of schedule. And so I will continue. I keep sending the same amount of money every month to the loan company, but all the extra over the minimum is targeted at one loan.

The next one I’m targeting is my undergrad loan, which won’t be paid off until next year. Then the last two will be paid off in 2015. And then I’ll be done.

When I’m done, we’re talking about moving. Getting me a new car. Maybe even going to the U.K. to celebrate. But when that day comes, it’s going to be a huge relief. My student loans aren’t as large as some, but they exist: I didn’t have parents paying for my college education. That being said, I know I’m very fortunate to have enough income to throw extra money at those loans. It’s a nice cushion to have, especially if we ever run into a situation where I have to use that extra money for something else: if that happens, I can always pay the minimum. Some people, I know, aren’t that lucky.

But today is a celebration day. Three loans down. Three to go. BRING IT.