See Ya Later, Student Loans! ^ How We Did It

We’re student loan debt free! It feels awesome! The only debt we have now is our mortgage, and that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. (Unless someone wants to give us a very generous donation? Anyone? Bueller?)

I’m going to give you a bit of background so you’ll have a better idea of our situation. I graduated from the University of Illinois in 2011 with a bit over $32,000 in debt. (I know this is way less than a lot of people, but still a lot and above the average according to Google) I started paying on my loans in 2012. Brett went back to school and got his associate’s at Parkland, which we paid for out of pocket. (No loans for Brett!) We were also paying off Brett’s car. In the midst of that, I quit my old job, got a new job, Brett finished school and got a job, we had Lil’ Bit, and bought a house. So it isn’t like we are bajillionaires and just paid for them at once using my extra pocket change. (Sorry, the smallest denomination are hundreds in my billfold…(ho ho ho))

Here’s what we did:

  • We snowballed our debt Dave Ramsey style. The gist of snowballing your debt is paying the minimum payment for all your loans and then adding extra onto the smallest one. You pay that one off then put the extra + the minimum of the smallest loan onto the next smallest loan. Repeat until you’re debt free. If I had two loans that were about the same amount, I paid the one that had the higher interest rate off first.
snowballing debt ^ brettandrachelplus

May 2012 to May 2014 is paying the minimum payment. June to August is paying extra. SNOWBALLED!

  • We paid off our credit card bill every month. No accruing interest on that bad boy. (We still pay off our credit card debt every month.) If you have credit card debt, I’d focus on getting that paid off first since the interest rates on those are crazzzy.
  • We didn’t go on fancy vacations, buy new cars, or live fancily. Our vacations consisted of going to Lake of the Ozarks and staying in the condo free or going to St Louis, Metropolis, Nashville, etc., for family things. I’ve really really really wanted to go to Harry Potter world, but alas. We weren’t going to go into debt for a vacation, use our savings for it, or save up for it. One day. . .One day. . .When my car was totaled, I bought my uncle’s old car and drove that. We were down to just the Santa Fe for a few months and we survived.
  • We used Mint.com to track our finances. Good night! Mint is awesome! It is kind of like Quicken, but it is all online and easier to use. It is also free! You can set up goals there (which is what we did with my loans!), there’s income/debt/spending analytics, budgeting, investment tracking. It really has been an essential tool for keeping our finances manageable.

It wasn’t easy, and sometimes it seemed like that’s all we were doing (which it kind of was) was paying on loans. But man, it was worth it! It is so awesome to know that we don’t have student loans hanging over our heads and how much money we saved on interest.

Your thoughts? Do you have a method for paying off debt that works for you?

Rachel Makes ^ Poofy Ottoman Cube

A while back I got a request from some friends to make them one of those ottoman poufs. They weren’t finding anything they liked in the stores for a reasonable price and I decided to give it a go. My sewing skills are okay; they’d be a lot better if I sewed more often. Isn’t that the case with everything? “I’d be so good at [insert craft, trade, task, etc here] if I just did it more often.” Sigh…mediocrity with most, expertise with none.

finished pouf ^ brettandrachelplus

Photo courtesy of Ben Bylsma.

Basically it is a giant cube with a zipper on one of the seams. If you’re up to getting an idea of how I made it, read on, brave soul.

The first thing I did was to measure, cut and iron my pieces. I needed the pouf to be 2’x2′ in size, and I gave myself a 1/2 inch seam allowance on each, so I cut out 26 inch squares. Make yourself a good ol’ isosceles right triangle by folding your fabric over with sides a and b being equal length. (My engineering degree at work over here. Or maybe just high school geometry. Either way, a real world math application!) Cut along those sides and you’ve got yourself a square. Use that as the template for the others.

I had done zippers before, but it had been a while. All in all, it isn’t hard, just requires some planning. The tutorial I used I ended up not being a big fan of, but since I’m lazy, I didn’t want to rip out the seams and try again on the zipper. It turned out just fine, though, but I needed to have given myself a bigger seam allowance on the zipper. I didn’t catch the folded over fabric and had to sew it down separately in places.

After the zipper was in, I sewed the other two squares onto the ones with the zipper to make a cylinder.

Then I pinned and sewed the bottom square on and then the top. Make sure that you’ve unzipped at least part of the zipper so you can turn it right side out easily.

I’m pleased with how it turned out. It has been filled with beanbag stuffing and looks pretty nice. Since it will hold 8 cubic feet of material, you could even use it for storing stuff that could double as a filler. I fit a comforter and several pillows in it and still had a lot of room in it.