How long did it take to pay off your student loans?

how long did it take to pay off your student loansSpeaking with a friend via email about business today, she mentioned trying to do more to earn enough to pay off her student loans. She is well into her 30s since she is a few years older than me. I knew she had student loans but she joked about paying them off well into her 50s.

Yikes.

It worries me when I talk to friends and family who are on 20 and 30 year loan repayment plans… for their student loans. It makes sense when you are buying a house but paying for your student loans over multiple decades sounds terrible. It worries me for them.

How long it took me to pay off my student loans!

I paid off my student loans in 2013. This means it took me 5 years from the time I graduated college to pay off my student loans which were just over $22,000. Five years!

Admittedly, I didn’t start paying off my student loans right away. I took a roundabout route and delayed and deferred for about two years when I first graduated college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I simply took random jobs and made so little money that I was allowed to skip paying for a while.

When I finally got around to having a “real job” and making decent money, I finally decided to attack my student loans and get rid of them. That process took a couple years and wasn’t super fun, but I’m happy to be rid of those monthly loan payments now. It’s nice to not have a huge debt over my head! I always highly recommend people pay off debt quickly if possible because debt freedom feels so nice.

How long did it take you to pay off your student loans?

I’m curious how long it took other people to pay off their student loans. Was it a long process for you? Did you pay the minimum payments? Or did you throw large chunks of money at your loans like I did?

If you haven’t paid off your student loans yet, how long will it take you? Do you have an estimated pay off date? What’s your payment plan? Is it longer than normal or shorter?

Also, what is the longest you’ve heard for someone paying off student loans? I’m curious how far these things stick around with people – it’s kinda scary!

Be Safe this Tax Season: Top Red Flags that Can Trigger an IRS Audit

Please enjoy this guest post.

Who’s ready for tax time? Are you one of those people who files right away once you get all your W-2s in? Or, do you wait until the last minute knowing that you’ll owe? Either way, when it comes to having taxes on your to-do list, no one wants to trigger an IRS audit.

The IRS uses both automated and human processes in its audit selection of tax returns. If your tax return is fairly normal and relatively routine, there’s no need to fear the dreaded audit. However, there are a few red flags that, if triggered, that may result in the need for a tax resolution specialist to help you face the IRS and figure out your financial situation.

There are two huge reasons that can mean an audit might be in your future. The first one you might be flagged for is if you failed to report all your income. If you work multiple jobs or are a contractor and have several clients, keeping track of all your sources and amounts of income for the whole year can be difficult.

Organization from the beginning is helpful and necessary when April comes around so that you can ensure you are supplying accurate information. Do your due diligence from the beginning to save yourself the hassle of backtracking later. Also, do not throw anything away that is labeled as important tax information. At the time you receive it, the piece of mail or amount may seem insignificant, but you will need it to correctly file your taxes down the road.

A second red flag may be raised if there is an unsubstantiated amount of business expenses that you list as tax deductions. If you own a small business or even operate a work-from-home model of business, you are allowed to deduct some expenses for business. If you’re unsure what you can deduct, speak to a tax professional or research information from the IRS website.

When it comes to business expenses, you must clearly separate what you use for your business life and what you use in your personal life. Sometimes you will something for both, i.e. your vehicle. You will want to save and organize all your receipts as they relate to business expenses. If the amount tends to exceed the norm for your type of occupation, this can be subject to an audit. So, if you are really meeting clients for a business dinner and want to deduct the expense that’s far different than joining a friend for dinner and letting them know how your work is going.

For me, I like to set aside a specific time to handle tax documents so that I’m not interrupted and my mind is focused on the task at hand. I’ve filed taxes on my own and also have used a tax specialist. Whatever you choose to do, the more information you have that’s organized with easy-to-read data, the easier it will for whoever has the task of filing your taxes.

Just be cautious of those red flags, so you can avoid an audit. Don’t try to fool the IRS. That never works. And then when your taxes have been filed and approved, reward yourself for a job well done.

February 2015 Spending Recap

The month of February is done! It was an interesting month with a lot of winter weather and extra spending that I didn’t expect.

Why I Track My Spending

In an effort to hit my 2015 goals this year, I’m reviewing my spending more often. I’m using Personal Capital* to track my spending, savings, and wealth building all in one place. It’s helping me review and check in with my spending so I stick to my goals for the year.

Tracking your spending is the best way to control how much you spend. By keeping your spending low and your income high, you will increase the gap can use this extra income to grow your net worth. I am tracking my spending and keeping it within my means to do just that!

February 2015 Spending

feb 2015 spending

February 2015 Spending Broken Down:

  • Rent: $500
  • Auto: $360
  • Biz Misc: $268
  • Utilities: $216
  • Telephone: $144
  • Healthcare: $78
  • Clothing: $77
  • Restaurants: $53
  • Hobbies: $31
  • Pet Care: $24
  • Gas/Fuel: $21
  • Groceries: $20
  • Entertainment: $15
  • Service Charges: $16
  • General: $6

February 2015 Spending Thoughts: 

Telephone: That’s a huge phone bill, right? Well I was charged for data overage on my regular plan and got so upset that I decided to cancel and move on to a cheaper service. So I got to pay for both this month. And I’ll be paying for a cancellation fee next month. However, after this horrible initial expense I’ll be spending half of what I was being charged.

Food: Once again I spent hardly any money on food this month. I was delighted to be present at several events and special days where meals were taken care of for me (yay). And of course eating with my darling boyfriend supplied many meals as did the stockpile in my freezer from earlier days of abundance. Add in my new tendency to skip breakfast and food isn’t that expensive this month. I bought some strawberries, breakfast sandwiches, and rice at the grocery store. Big spender!

Business Spending: Another month of high business spending. This month covered legal paperwork for a DBA and tax id number. I wanted to make everything super official, since I want to take payments in a business name and not just my name. Next step will be opening a business bank account. I’ll be doing that when I get all the paperwork back and everything is official. After that? Hopefully the spending won’t continue to be high but since it will be separate it won’t count in my personal spending anymore.

Overall Spending: I spent $1,820 this month. That’s over my goal of $1,750 a month but it does include a lot of business spending. I’ll take it as a win since it’s pretty close to my goal. Is there room for improvement? Sure! I’m making those changes slowly, like changing my phone plan to a less expensive option and not driving as much (heeey low gas spending). I think in a few months I’ll be hitting my spending goal with ease!

Track Your Spending With Personal Capital

personal capital review features

personal capital*I’ve included affiliate links to Personal Capital within this post if you are interested in trying it out. It’s completely free to use and it’s quite possibly the best personal finance software out there today. I’ve used a few different free options and settled on this one because I like how easy it is to use and how it keeps everything in one place for me.

Check it out if you’ve been looking for a great software to track all your spending and savings and net worth in one place: Personal Capital.

Betting On Myself And Why It’s TERRIFYING

At this point in my career I’m making what feels like a really risky decision – I’m betting on myself.

What led to this?

Remember long, long ago in 2013 when I decided I wanted to be self-employed after I lost my job? Well I didn’t hold on to that dream for very long as I got a full time job that basically fell into my lap. However, that job didn’t have staying power and I was laid off when the small business could no longer afford to pay me.

I applied for a ton of job. I got a lowball job offer and then another. And I turned them both down for various reasons from lack of money to an uncomfortable situation. I kept applying for jobs after this until one day I just…didn’t. I didn’t see a clear future at any of the places that were offering me jobs and I was tired of wasting time when I want an amazing future for myself and family.

looking ahead to the future

I stopped applying for jobs in January. I decided to go back to my original plan and my true desire to be self-employed. To work on projects that I choose. To pick the clients I work with. To bet on myself and my ability to make a living without someone handing it to me.

What’s the plan?

I’m building a business.

Or at least, I want to build a business. Right now it’s in the very early stages where I’m testing out ideas and theories and trying to nail down everything.

My business is going to be both a mix of web based and product/service based. Basically I’ve nailed down the niche and my target market I want to work in. I have received a lot of encouragement initially from people I’ve met in the industry, but I haven’t gotten as far as developing the actual products and services yet. I’d love to blog more about this in the future as I go through the ups and downs of building something from scratch.

Since I’ve always wanted to own my own thing, this is a step towards fulfilling a long time dream. I’m excited about the people I’ll be serving and the work I’ll be doing. It’s something that makes me happy and I find fulfilling and can ultimately see myself doing for more than a few years.

How are you making money now?

Right now I’m making money through a variety of sources! Basically I’ve used a bunch of side hustles to compile a somewhat full time income.

Here’s what I’m doing right now:

  • Blogging: Blogging pays a couple of my bills each month so thank you for reading! You can continue to support me by taking advantage of affiliate offers that cost you nothing extra like signing up for Personal Capital and Credit Sesame. Check out my recommended resources page for more of these – I only recommend things I like and use myself.
  • Freelance Social Media & Website Work: You can hire me for these services and a couple local businesses have done so. I love working with small businesses so this is a really fun opportunity for me to help other small businesses grow as I work on my business too.
  • Odd jobs: I take odd jobs as they come along like babysitting, dog walking, photo assistant, etc. These are sporadic and unplanned but give me a couple hundred dollars a month.

Ultimately I plan for these things to take a backseat and become more of a side hustle again with my main business in front. However, that’s taking time so these things are my bread and butter right now. With low monthly expenses it’s pretty easy for me to have a bunch of side hustles like this cover all my bills!

Why betting on yourself is scary!

I’ll admit, this whole thing is scary. This is NOT the easiest route I could take. I could much more easily accept a job offer and work for someone else and let them worry about the details and business success. Instead, I’ve taken on those fears. Half the time I’m worried I won’t make it and I’ll fail and I’ll never be able to save money to buy a house and I’ll end up broke and homeless. (Extreme, I know.) I’m also worried after an extended period away I’ll be unemployable if I need to go that route later.

betting on myself is scary

Despite all these risks and fears… I also know that I have to do this! It feels like a now or never situation. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It’s also a good time for the industry I’ve chosen as there is a good amount of money to be made. It’s also less risky in some ways. It’s less risky than a job if I base it on the past few years where I’ve been laid off and lost jobs. Thinking realistically, I’ll also not be the only person to never work a job again, so if I needed to get a job I could do so.

Counteracting my realistic and unrealistic fears is a daily occurrence while I’m doing this. Betting on myself is scary for me. That lack of complete confidence might be my downfall so it’s something I work on daily. I’m lucky to have an awesome support system who believes in me and my ideas and what I’m trying to do. That helps a ton when I start feeling scared.

I have to remind myself that if this all fails and falls apart, so what? I still will have enough money, I have family and friends that would help me out, and I can always get another job! Until that? I’m going to keep working toward something that I think will be more fulfilling to me than building someone else’s dream. Full steam ahead!