Saturday, January 22, 2005

I Can Almost Taste It

I am $2,168 away from being debt free. (Well, debt-free except for our mortgage.)

This is the last of my student loans. I want to pay it off. Really, really badly. It is absolutely gnawing at me.

Every day, several times a day, I find myself pondering this: Should I just go ahead and do it? Set up the payment transfer? When I think about seeing that loan balance at $0, I get happy. When I think about seeing my total savings balances (Freedom Account, E-fund, and checking) at $2000 or less — which is what would happen if I were to pay off the loan — I get nervous.

Fact is, the student loan is costing me a mere 2.22 percent annually in interest, or about $4 per month. Big freakin' deal. Paying this off will not save me big $$$ by any stretch. If I just continue making my normal payments, the loan will be satisfied in October of this year, and I will have paid something like $21 in interest charges. Plus, the $2,130 that's sitting in my Freedom Account (not committed to any specific recurring expense) is earning 2.35 percent. Astute readers will note that that savings rate is more than the student loan rate. (Well, after you take away taxes it's not. But the shortfall is miniscule.)

I can tell myself all that, tell myself that "keep making the payments" isn't a bad thing, but it doesn't much help. Why? Because I have changed. Because I have been working so hard — changed my mindset so drastically in the anti-debt direction — that now the idea of pretty much any debt bugs the living crap out of me. My debt now seems so small, compared to what it was a few years ago. I love erasing monthly payments from my budgets. I want this one gone.

By the same token, I have come to place immense value on my now-over-$4200 cushion of liquid savings. (My next goal, after zapping the debt, is to build a savings cushion of $5,000. Then I'll shoot for $10,600. That will give me about 4 months' worth of living expenses in savings.)

Right now, I find that I sleep really well at night with $4k in the bank. I might be able to sleep well at night with only $2k in the bank — it's been a while since I've had to do that — but what if I cannot? What if all of a sudden I cut my savings in half, and lo and behold the oven explodes? The heating system locks up? My truck's alternator comes apart?

This is how my brain works now, you know. It's good . . . and it's bad.

Oh, to heck with it. It's late. I'll think more about it tomorrow.

I need a beer.

— Posted by Michael @ 2:02 AM


Michael, would you like to have this piece published on the True Confessions area of Please contact if you're interested. Thanks.

Anonymous Anonymous
, at 6:38 PM, January 26, 2005  
** Comments Closed on this Post **

Thoughts on my personal finances, goals, experiences, motivations, and accomplishments (or lack thereof).

My financial life began turning around when I took responsibility for it.
— Dave Ramsey


Start (2005-12): ~$21,900
Currently: $0
[About Our Debt Paydown]


Savings Goal: $15,000
Currently: ~$15,115
[About Our Liquid Savings Goal]