Paying Off My Debt Sooner with the Pay Off Debt App

If you’re a fan of The Debt Myth like I am, then you know that Jackie Beck advocates for the debt snowball method of debt repayment. Her article does it much more justice than I can, so check that out, but basically, by starting to pay down one debt first (either the lowest balance or the highest interest rate) you work your way into a repayment plan that ultimately snowballs as you pay off one debt and move to the next. I recently got the Pay Off Debt app made by Jackie and designed to help you with this method. Here’s what I found:

When I entered in my debts - all nearly $70,000 of them - and the minimum payment amounts that I’m paying on them right now (all in the under $200 range) I was incredibly distressed to see the results. On my student loan debt, paying the minimum, it would take me an indefinite amount of time to pay it off. Indefinite. I sat there shaking my head as I saw that I would likely pay over $125,000 in interest paying at the rate I’m currently paying.

Now, here’s the thing - there’s a reason I’ve just been paying the minimum on my student loans, and that reason is the ever-elusive Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. This program is so great in theory. Make 120 payments on your loan while working in public service (a nonprofit or governmental agency) and, after those ten years, the debt will disappear. Great, right? The thing is, all that is predicated on me a) wanting to work in a non-profit making pennies for 10 years, and b) nothing changing in the political climate to make this loan forgiveness program go away. I’m not super confident in either right now. Plus the thought of continuing to pay my loans back for the next ten years - even if it means paying less overall money - still makes me feel a little sick to my stomach. I see my debts and I want them gone yesterday! The only way I can think to make this happen is to start aggressively paying them down. That’s where the Pay Off Debt app comes in.

The next thing I did - and this was the reason I spent that precious $4.99 on the app - was to build my snowball. In other words - what is the maximum dollar amount that I could spend in a month on top of the minimum payments for both loans. I entered $1400 (which may not seem like a lot to the debt repayment gurus out there, but was definitely a lot to think about with my current income and budget) and guess what? The number of years and months of debt repayment I have left shrunk right before my eyes. Suddenly I’m not looking at lifelong repayment and dying in debt. I’m not looking at even ten years. I’m looking at 3 years and 4 months until I’m completely debt free. What?!? I almost didn’t believe it myself until I went in and looked at the month-by-month chart included in the app. What I saw was that, because of the snowball method, my debt was finally broken down into very manageable chunks - chunks that I could get on board with.

Now that said, this wouldn’t be a personal finance blog if I was complacent settling with a three and a half year repayment plan. Nope. When I say aggressive, I mean it, which means every thing from spending freezes and frugal living to finding that holy grail of personal finance - the side hustle. I’m willing to do it all to make payments of even MORE than $1400 a month. If I could pay $2000 a month on my loans, they’d be paid off in 2 years and 7 months - more like it. But wouldn’t it be great if I could get it done in two years? I know, that seems ambitious and it would mean paying $2600 a month on my loans - money which, right now, I just don’t have. But is that going to stop me from setting the goal? From saying by December 31, 2018 I want to have paid off all of my debt? Sure isn’t.

The Pay Off Debt app has made this seem possible for me in a way that it hadn’t before and I’m excited about the prospect of getting started. So, as January 1 nears and I gear up for the holidays, my plan is to launch into the new year with a renewed debt-payoff fervor. Join me, won’t you?

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