Student Loan Update: I’m Now Debt Free!

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Empty cocktail glasses on table.

Bridget’s loan balance? It’s as empty as the cocktail glasses she (deservedly) celebrated with.

It still feels weird to say I’m debt free, even though I’ve been that way for a week. After 22 months buried in student loan debt, and my years before stuck with consumer debt, I’m certain I have never been debt-free as an adult until now.

How did this happen?


In a moment of extreme debt fatigue, I wondered why I was still dragging my feet with my debt repayment. Feeling desperate to finally shed the burden, I cashed out an investment and raided my emergency fund to wipe out what was left of my student loan debt.

In a matter of minutes, my student loan balance was $0. Sadly, my savings accounts nearly boasted the same number, but I still felt good. I had no more student loans! I had no more debt at all!

There’s No Such Thing As Debt-Payer’s Remorse

My first impulse was to buy something to celebrate, but I was broke. I opted for a round of drinks with some friends. An $8 cocktail never tasted so good—if only because I bought it with $8 that was wholly and completely mine, not $8 that I should have been putting toward debt.

Spending money while in debt always feels like you’re doing something wrong, because deep down, you know the money belongs to whatever creditor you owe. Spending money while out of debt is completely guilt-free, and that means you get to enjoy your purchases without any buyer’s remorse.

It Took A Lot Of Work

Reflecting on the past 2 years, I feel grateful for the opportunities that let me pay back my student loans in record time. Yes, I was disciplined, but I also had a full-time job with a salary that allowed me to afford aggressive debt repayments on top of my regular bills. Not that I was always so lucky.

Early on in my student loan repayment journey, I was a part-time retail employee that struggled to stretch her paycheck to cover the minimum payment on my debt, let alone pay anything extra. Paying back my student loans wasn’t always easy, and it was certainly never fun, but it was worthwhile.

What Now?

What being debt free really means is that I’m free to pursue new things, even if they require taking a pay cut—and that’s exactly what I’m doing!

Finally free of the financial burden of my bachelor’s degree and with 2 years of professional work experience under my belt, I’ve decided to go back to school full time for my MBA. The price tag is even more terrifying than what I spent on my undergraduate degree, but my money management skills are considerably better, so I’m optimistic!

Have you whittled your debt down to $0? What did you do to celebrate?

(Photo: ShawnHenning)

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  1. Michelle July 31, 2013 / 11:45 am

    WOHOOO! My student loans are gone and it is a great feeling.

  2. Ryan Lane July 31, 2013 / 2:56 pm

    Congrats, Bridget! After I finished paying my loans, I remember checking my servicer’s website multiple times (many weeks after) just to be sure the balance was still at $0. In fact, maybe I should look again …

  3. Kevin Watts @ Graduatingfromdebt August 1, 2013 / 10:38 pm

    Congratulations Bridget! I also paid off my student loans a few months ago and weirdly I felt no different than before.

  4. Bonnie March 5, 2014 / 3:02 pm

    Congrats Bridget :) i’m getting my student loans down, but i’m starting graduate school. The amount is alot, and i’m hoping for words of wisdom. I’m applying for scholarships, but my family makes too much for grants. any advice?

    • Ryan Lane March 10, 2014 / 3:58 pm

      Thanks for writing, Bonnie!

      Bridget’s journey sounds like it likely has a lot in common with yours, as she took on grad school after getting out of debt. She’s written a lot about that of late, so perhaps some of her posts (or the others!) in our grad school series can help you take that next step:

      Best of luck!

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