My Debt

I started school at the University of Alberta in 2005. I cobbled together my first and second year’s tuition by selling my car, working part-time, and racking up a $16,000 student line of credit which I paid off by graduation (some of it I repaid with disbursed student loans).

I didn’t take out my first student loan until 2009. I took out my last in 2010. The pre-interest total came to $20,575. That sum consists of my Federal student loan of $10,580 collecting interest at a floating rate of approximately 5.5% (paid in full as of October 1, 2012) and my Provincial student loan of $9,995 at a variable interest rate of 3%. My student loans entered the grace period in September 2011, and I managed to pay $2500 before my loans officially entered repayment on March 1, 2012. I paid off the balance over the next 1.5 years, successfully becoming debt-free in 22 months.

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By paying off my student loans 22 months instead of the 10-year repayment plan they were set at, I saved myself $3,853 in interest — that’s nearly 20% of the original loan balance!

How I feel about my student loans: I’m lucky. I recognize that others might not be so lucky , others are more so. We all start off somewhere, and it’s not really worth it to get hung-up on who has a perceived easier ride. I get jealous when my friends only owe $5,000 or even nothing in student loans, but whenever I see those stories about students that owe ludicrous sums like $200,000 in student loans and are fighting to pay them off at something stupid like $11/hr, I am grateful I only had $20K to grapple with.

How I beat them: regular payments, cash windfalls, and yes, a little bit of sacrifice. I’m grateful my disposition to save let me grow some investments and then make big debt payments — including the one that finally killed my student loan debt. There really is no easy way out of debt: just pay it off. It’s not fun, but the rewards of being debt-free are worth it.

Success!Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 11.52.37 AM




  1. Quick question: In your chart, do you add the accruing interest to the balance on your student loan, or are you just tracking the percentage paid from the original balance? I only ask because personally I’m not going to look at how much was added in interest until I’ve paid off the original balance, and I wonder how other people think about it.

    • I add the accruing interest.. I feel like it’s all just one big total so it’s easier to count it as I go. When I make payments, they’re being added to the principle and the interest is being shown separately when it’s shown on the statements.

  2. Great progress!
    I’m on the same boat with you.. paying back my loan (i have more though !! EEK)

    Goodluck with everything 🙂
    I’ll add you to my blogroll, i started reading your blog and it’s awesome!

  3. KimKellyMD

    Nice graph. Plus you’re not in nearly as much debt as I imagined. Good for you for having restraint during University.

    • well I got to work part-time 😉

      It’s not too bad, and it’s going down pretty fast now. I’ll be debt-free next year, so I just keep holding on to that!

  4. Another milestone is that 9.35% is almost 10%. Persoanlly, I would go around bragging that I paid off 10% of my student loan in 3 months 😛

  5. Hey Bridget, thanks for the info you tweeted me last night (@physicalcombat about PF blogging. Dave Ramsey has a program called the debt snowball where you pay off the debt with the highest interest rate and the minimum on the other debt and once the highest is paid move on to the next. More of a psycholgocial thing of having a feeling of accomplishment and to continue on until debt free. It sounds like that is kind of what you are doing. You should check out his “baby steps”.

    -Richie Rich

  6. Suzan

    Wow, you’ve developed a very good repayment plan! I graduated with over $24 K myself a few years ago and still battle with paying them back each month. All the helpful options out there I’ve used-deferment, forbearance, income based repayment, seem to have only added MORE to the amount owed. It is refreshing to read that you have planned positively. It is hard for me to stop being so dismal about it, I know that this is a problem I’m not alone in. I just hope this debt bubble doesn’t pop and screw up the economy even more.

  7. Congrats! I’m right behind you, my student loan debt is around $17,300 right now and I can’t WAIT to owe under 15k, it seems like such a manageable number considering I started out at 26k less than a year ago. You should be very proud of yourself, maybe a little reward is in order?

  8. Wow, way to go so far! I like you goal (debt free by 28th birthday). I suppose if I wanted to be debt free by 28, I only have a few months! So I don’t think I’ll make it. I’m really impressed with you progress so far!

  9. C The Writer

    You’re doing a really good job paying those loans off.

  10. Just imagine how sweet it’ll be when you’re done.

    It was REALLY nice when I cleared off $60K. I crowed to myself almost every day for a year.