big questions, numbers, student loans

Convergence

convergence.new

I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time thinking back on decisions I made five or ten or fifteen years ago and wondering where I’d be today if I’d done things differently. Especially decisions related to money and career. What if I hadn’t gone to grad school? What if I hadn’t taken out any student loans? What if I’d put $100—or more—into my Roth IRA every month consistently for the past ten years?

Obviously these questions are impossible to answer (except the Roth IRA one; there are definitely calculators for that). But I still find myself wondering about them a lot. I have this sort of image in my mind of diverging paths in a forest: I turned onto one path, and another, and another, and now I’m on a totally different side of the mountain than I would have been otherwise, and my life has totally deviated from what it would have been, and at this point it would take a wormhole (or a Portkey) to transport me over to the other side (cue Adele).

You know what’s interesting though? Let’s say I put on my boots and go for a walk outside in the snow for a few minutes, just to get some fresh air, and as I’m walking I notice my breath in front of my face and the way the bare maple branches look against the sky, and I hear dogs barking in the park on the next block over, and just for a couple of moments I totally forget that I owe about $57,000 in student loans, and instead I’m just really happy to be alive and outside.

So here’s my question. In those few moments, what’s the difference between the theoretical me on the other side of the mountain, the one who made all the super smart financial decisions, and the real me, the one who I actually am today, the one who is going to be spending years paying off this debt?

Well, nothing really.

Okay, so maybe the other me would live on a different street or even in a different city, and maybe she would notice pine trees instead of maple trees or hear children playing instead of dogs barking. But the experience of taking a walk under the sky and breathing fresh air would be, in its essence, exactly the same.

Moments like these—moments when my alternate life and my actual life suddenly and temporarily unite into a single entity—are what I would call points of convergence.

I experience points of convergence every day, even many times per day. Drinking coffee at my dining room table in the morning sun. Taking a hot shower. Cooking an egg. Walking to the bus stop. Even though my loans are a big deal, and even though I think about them frequently and they have caused me a great deal of anxiety, somehow there are still many, many moments when I’m having essentially the same experience that I would be having even if my financial situation were totally different. (Side note: the reason I would still be walking to the bus stop even if I had lots more money is because I heart public transportation.)

Because I enjoy making visuals in PowerPoint, here’s what my convergence pattern might look like over the course of a typical day:

convergence.ppt
This is honestly one of the weirdest graphics I’ve ever made. There’s no y-axis, or rather the y-axis represents the *difference* in any given moment between my actual experience and my imagined alternate-life experience.

 

So if my life with $57,000 worth of debt contains so many moments that are so similar to my theoretical, alternate, other-side-of-the-mountain life without $57,000 of debt, why do I worry about the debt so much? I know money is a real and powerful force in the world, but from a certain standpoint it can seem sort of imaginary—like a kind of collective fantasy we’re all agreeing to go along with—and sometimes I wonder if maybe the debt is a figment of my imagination and the moments of convergence are the Real Moments. (Kind of in the same way that we can’t prove that our dreams aren’t real: maybe they are, and it’s our waking hours that are actually the illusion.)

I suppose there are at least two reasons why I experience so much convergence these days.

  1. I’m very fortunate in that I currently have everything I need in order to be healthy and comfortable on a day-to-day basis. If I didn’t have enough money to pay my rent or buy groceries, or if I had kids and didn’t have enough money to take care of them properly, the stress and anxiety stemming from those situations would probably make the points of convergence fewer and farther between. I will also say that because I’m currently unemployed and living off savings, I’ve had a lot of time lately to do things like take leisurely walks in the snow (although I am starting a new job in three weeks, so that situation will soon change).
  1. Much of the problem with having $57,000 worth of debt has to do not with my current life but with my future. The debt may feel sort of imaginary right now, but it will eventually come to bear in a very real way on questions like when, or if, I will be able to retire.

But that all being said, it’s not the future yet. It’s now. And even though of course the debt is real and of course I’m going to pay it off, in the meantime I’m aiming for as many points of convergence as possible. In fact, right now as you read this, there’s a fairly good possibility that I’m outside taking a walk in the snow, out where the sky is just as blue and the air is just as crisp and cold as it would be if I had no debt at all.

Have you ever noticed moments of convergence like this? When? Where? By the way, if the concept of diverging financial paths resonates with you, you should also check out Cait’s awesome post on choosing your own financial adventure!

And finally, if you’re new to this blog, you may not realize it, but this is the first time I’ve shared the actual amount that I owe in student loans. It’s a little scary to type out the number, but I think it’s an important part of my journey in facing and getting rid of the debt.

Disease Called Debt

59 Comments on “Convergence

  1. Oh wow, that pattern of thinking really resonates with me. I think it must be a common trait of people who get PhDs — we’re all kind of overthinkers in a specific way, which aids us when it comes to research/academics but is maybe kind of harmful in our personal lives. Namely, we tend to look at issues from 84 sides instead of just making a call and moving on. When I’m writing, I think about multiple possibilities for constructing an argument; my students have trouble coming up with ONE possibility. So that serves me well professionally. But personally, sometimes I get stuck in these feedback loops.

    I have personally found it helpful to think about the good things that have come out of my set of life decisions. Looking back I don’t think I had the best process, and if I were doing it all over again with the knowledge I have now I’d make a different set of decisions, I think. However, I made the ones I did, and some fabulous things have come from those. Another thing I have been doing a lot lately is trying not to focus on the things that are missing from my life and instead focus on enjoying the things that are actually there. Which is amazingly helpful in terms of getting out of that feedback loop. Instead of castigating myself over my failure to find a partner at 20 or my failure to open an IRA also at 20, I’ve been looking at what I do have in my life and it’s pretty damn good. Including the coffee next to me right now 🙂

    1. Yes, I agree, it’s kind of a double-edged sword! Definitely doesn’t help me make decisions going forward either, because I know in the future I’ll likely be rethinking whatever I chose for years.

      And yeah, I definitely think it’s useful to focus on the good things that these choices have led to. Like I think about all the friends I’ve met in the past five years, who I wouldn’t have ever met if I had decided that grad school wasn’t a prudent financial choice and decided to do something else. That alone is pretty compelling. And I also think about all the skills I’ve gained during grad school, and I *especially* think about how I might actually be in far worse financial shape in some other way if I hadn’t had these loans to scare me into paying attention to money. Like as Jennifer points out in a comment below, I could have an underwater mortgage. Or tons of credit card debt, or a hugely inflated lifestyle. So I’ll take what I’ve got. My situation has its drawbacks, but it also involves a lot of really good things, as you say. 🙂

  2. Oh also! Congrats on getting your loan number out there. It’s not the best; it’ll probably take you a few years; but it’s also not the worst, that’s for sure. I know people with 100000+ and even 200000+ in student loans (I KNOW). You will get this done, and you’ll get it done in a reasonable time frame that allows you to move on with an interesting and reasonably lucrative career.

    1. Thanks! I tend to think of my $57K in my head and say to myself, “well, so basically almost $100K,” but obviously that’s not true. It’s a lot lower than it could be, and for that I am grateful. And hey, I’ve already paid back about $500! 🙂

  3. Great post! I’ve never really thought about the things in my life that would still be the same if I didn’t have student loan debt. I always focus on the differences like how I could buy a house and go on vacation. But the everyday hustle would still be the same. I’d still go to work everyday. I’d still try to exercise daily. I’d still try to eat well. Thanks for making me realize that student loan debt hasn’t changed my life that much. But once I’m out of debt, I’ll definitely be buying that house and going on vacation!

    1. Thanks, Michelle! Yeah, it’s definitely true that a few big things in my life would be different now if I didn’t have student debt. The biggest one is probably that I’d have my own place rather than be living with housemates as I currently am. But I also think it’s useful to think about all the little moments that are still pretty much the same. And I too will be taking a celebratory vacation when everything is paid off! 🙂

  4. Sarah this is, as usual, so wonderful. What a lovely way of thinking about it – the points in life that would be the same, no matter how much debt or money you have, and focusing on enjoying those.

    Also, you are getting SO MANY sideline cheers over here for landing a job AND sharing your debt number! I’m so excited for you and happy for you and you are going to do great things at work and tackle your debt like a champ (while continuing to eat apples, obviously. Some things are just more important.)

    1. Thanks, Des, I’m glad you liked it. 🙂 And thank you for the sideline cheers! I feel like I’m moving forward in a lot of areas where I hadn’t been progressing in a long, long time, and that feels really good.

  5. This post really got me thinking. I had never thought of “points of convergence” before. It is so easy to dwell on the past and think about how much better life would be now if I had done [insert anything here] 5 years ago. But you are right – many of day to day experiences would be the exact same, regardless of past decisions. Also, on a completely different topic, I am all caught up on the StartUp podcast now (based on your recommendation). It was fantastic!

    1. Oh, I’m so glad you liked StartUp! I think it’s fantastic. I don’t even know which season I enjoyed more; they were both great, as is this mini-season that they seem to be doing right now. I love how it’s basically a reality show, but I’ve also learned SO much from it because it’s incredibly well done.
      Glad you liked the post too! 🙂

  6. Great post. I love this idea.

    I had a little laugh about how you love public transit. I bought my first vehicle 3 years ago (when I was 32). Prior to that, I’d been a dedicated bus rider. Unfortunately, my office location changed and then the bus route changed and I became increasing frustrated with our (mediocre) transit system. The final straw was what I will only refer to as ‘The Butt Crack Incident’.

    Needless to say, I decided to buy a vehicle. My commute to and from work every day is a point of convergence for me and I never think about the extra money a car costs me. My sanity is worth far more! 😃

    1. Oh my gosh, Paige, I can think of a couple of possibilities as to what the Butt Crack Incident involved, and I can see how any of them would have been the final straw! It’s true: public transportation has its good points and bad points. I have a LOT of crazy stories about things that have happened on buses and trains during my daily commute. In any case, it’s still working out well for me right now, but I totally respect that you decided to get a car to save your sanity! 🙂

  7. This is a beautiful post and an awesome attitude! But one thing worth mentioning is that your ‘Alternative Path’ isn’t necessarily the better path. And yes, yes – I know being big time in debt isn’t fun. But you never know … your ‘Alternative Path’ could be worse (imagine an underwater mortgage), or you could be stuck in a career you hate, or you could be a completely different person! You never know … 😊

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Jennifer. 🙂 And of course you’re totally right — who knows where I might be if I had taken a different path. There’s no way to tell, so it’s much better to just focus on the positives of the path I did choose. 🙂

  8. This is wonderful. I have these kinds of thoughts often. And since our financial choices have a lot to do with our kids and giving them experiences while they’re young, it’s interesting to see the side of me that is actively trying to get to early retirement to do that and the part of me that is with my kids right now. And when we’re sitting on the ground playing a cardgame, I don’t think about how they need to see Paris or London or Cambodia. But sometimes during the day, I do. Great thoughts.

    1. Ah, that’s a very interesting take on this topic — one that I wouldn’t have thought of since I don’t have kids. It makes a LOT of sense though. And now that you’ve made me think about it, I actually feel like relationships of all kinds (with kids, a partner, friends, whoever) are definitely really relevant here: I think that a lot of my moments of convergence happen when I’m spending time with someone I care about.

  9. I always feel like a fish out of water when the topic of student loan debt comes up (since I never had any). Buuuuut. I will say that these points of convergence seem to suggest you should be proud of the path you’ve charted. Debt will definitely be a hurdle, but if there are so many intersections with said alternate life, that’s a really positive sign! Plus, I refuse to believe that debt defines us in any way. I think your graduate work will unlock a lot of doors for you. It makes me kind of nervous when I hear sweeping statements about schooling not being worth debt. It depends on what you do with your schooling, and from what I can gather, it seems like you’ll be doing A LOT!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂 What I will do in the long term, and how directly it will relate to my grad school experience, remains to be seen. But even if I do something totally different than what I was “trained” for, I do feel like I learned a lot of things during the PhD process that will serve me well no matter what. It wasn’t time wasted by any means. The part that makes me kick myself is that I reeeeeeeeallllly could have taken out far fewer loans if I had made a concerted effort to track and rein in my spending. But that’s not really a useful thought going forward, so I’m trying not to dwell on it too much!

  10. In something totally unrelated, I just want to take a second here and say that as a lady, I think it’s pretty badass you went and got a PhD. Not many people, let alone women, finish them and I find it very impressive. So this life path you’ve chosen is at the very least impressing people on the internet!

    Back to the point at hand- I also experience those soft moments where you feel nothing but happy. They’re amazing. It does makes things seem less real for a second. The moment swallows you up and for me, I find them very recharging. I don’t need to go experience that other life I could have had; rather, those moments fire me up to go back to the life I’ve already got.

    1. Why thank you. 🙂 I definitely thought many times about not finishing it, but it feels good to have stuck with it, regardless of what I do next.

      Yes, recharging, I like that word! Very appropriate. And it’s really astonishing to me how many of these moments I do experience on a daily basis — it really does make a huge difference in keeping the debt from taking over my experience in the world. I actually think it can apply to negative moments too. Like today I was at the dentist, and it was no fun, and honestly even if I were super rich (ha!) going to the dentist would still be no fun. Money can change a lot of things, but there are still going to be fun moments and not-so-fun moments, no matter what.

  11. This was a really interesting way of looking at things. I personally have been trying NOT to reflect on money decisions lately, and what-ifs, and just accept what is and move forward…. (sigh)

    1. Yeah, it’s easy to get into a downward spiral of beating oneself up about past decisions, isn’t it? I think your goal to just accept things as is and move forward from there is very wise. Ruminating on the past definitely won’t change anything, but focusing on the present and future can change things a lot.

  12. Excellent post! This tug and pull between what we are and we might be is pretty constant for most. I know I struggled with this way more than I used to before I started really examining my desires in depth. I still have the feelings you do–what if I didn’t have this debt?–but the answers are much simpler than they used to be, and far less material.

    1. Thanks, Mortimer! Yes, I think this sort of thought process, “What would have happened if I had…?”, is fairly universal — and it can apply to lots of situations, not just to debt and money.

  13. I wonder “What if?” a lot. What if I’d gone to another school? Would I not have gotten Guillain-Barre, which caused my chronic fatigue? What would I have gone on to do career-wise? Would I still have gotten the much-needed therapy that PTSD drove me to?

    Or would I still have gotten it and — without family members who took me to the ER — have died because my respiratory systems failed suddenly?

    And if I hadn’t gotten sick, I wouldn’t have met my husband because I almost certainly would’ve ended up on the East Coast instead of Seattle.

    I guess, in short, my what-if lives have almost none of the same points whatsoever. Which is I guess why I love the fact that you can find so many parallels and even convergences.

    1. Well, I will clarify that almost all of my points of convergence are about very low-level, tiny, everyday things, like having a cup of coffee or looking at the trees outside. (It’s difficult for me to imagine a possible alternate version of my life, no matter how different, in which I wouldn’t be drinking coffee or looking at trees — though that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen.) There are a lot of bigger things that would be very different, I think. But that being said, yeah, it is strange, and kind of reassuring in a small way, to think about how many tiny everyday points of convergence there seem to be.

  14. O wow, this is really beautiful. I love the way you describe the points of convergence, how you can sometimes realize that it is just money. And that it is more than just money at the same time. Much wisdom put into one post, thank you for sharing.

    And very brave to put your numbers out there!

    1. Thanks for your kind words. And yes, well put: it is just money, and it is also more than just money! A strange and rather paradoxical situation.

      I’m hoping that putting the numbers out there will help keep me on track to pay it off as quickly as possible! There’s nothing like a little accountability. 🙂

  15. What a unique way to look at it! I’ve never thought before about those points of convergence, but I’ll bet I have many. My student loans were taken out so many years ago that the amount would look positively miniscule, but at the time they felt huge. Still there were many other financial decisions that might have taken me to the other side of the mountain (or perhaps lounging in the Caribbean with a drink in my hand). But I have enough, and I am grateful for that. A positive outlook will take you far. Good luck with your new job and tackling your student debt.

    1. Thanks, Gary! Yeah, it’s hard to really know what the other side of mountain would look like, and whether or not there would be a Caribbean-style lounge situation over there. 🙂 I think it can be easy (at least for me) to idealize what “might” have been if I’d made different decisions — but in truth there’s really no way to know. Maybe I would be financially better off, maybe I would be worse off, or maybe I would be somewhere in between. As you say, being grateful for what we do have and trying to have a positive outlook is probably the best way to go. Thanks for the good wishes!

  16. This concept applies the same way to investment balances or savings in the bank. I’ve built up a pretty good retirement portfolio, but it’s all just imaginary – numbers on a computer screen. When the market tanks or soars, my everyday life doesn’t change. I’m not even sure whether anything now OR in the future would change all that much if the entire balance disappeared – or doubled – in an instant.

    Part of this has to do with how virtual our money system is now though. It is too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that spending doesn’t matter either, or that savings doesn’t matter. We hardly even touch real money anymore, and we usually never even meet our lenders, much less interact with them. Everything is digital, or a plastic or paper symbol at best, and we are generally far removed from the consequences of our financial actions (at least until the bill collectors start garnishing your wages or the electricity gets shut off).

    1. That’s SUCH a good point about how removed we are from money. A lot of the other things we see on computer screens — games, television, etc. — aren’t “real”, so it takes kind of an additional mental leap to remember that money is very real and does in fact have an impact on our everyday lives. Then again, I think that even if we dealt in cash, or gold bars, it would still be possible to find some moments of respite from our financial situations by doing something simple like drinking a cup of coffee or taking a walk outside. 🙂

  17. You’re starting a new job in 3 weeks?! Congrats! Is this a permanent position or a stop-gap? I’d love to know more about it, if you’re game to share (or via email instead of here if that feels better.) I love this post, though I keep being dismayed at these little hints of fatalism that seem to creep into your posts about feeling like you’ll never be able to retire. Given that you’ve made it into your 30s living on a student budget, and you love public transportation, it seems like you’re going to be on the fast-track to paying off your student loans, and then will stay on the fast-track in terms of savings after the debt is gone. A million things can happen that will accelerate your progress toward retiring — pay raises, maybe combining finances with a partner if that’s of interest, moving somewhere cheaper, etc. And to put things in context — we will have been saving in earnest for only seven years when we retire. Sure, there are two of us, but even double that, say it takes an overly long 10 years for you to pay off your debt, and that’s still only 24 years, still before you’re 60. I know I went way off topic, but it hurts my heart a little when I see you write that you may not ever be able to retire. 🙁

    As for this post, I totally agree that money is this weird, imaginary thing that we all agree to pretend together is real. Like the emperor’s new clothes. Because if the apocalypse happened, the rich wouldn’t be any more likely to survive than the rest of us. (They’d probably be worse off, in fact, because they are so much more likely to be reliant on others instead of self-sufficient.) But I love your point that those moments of joy are the same either way. And I’m glad you are recognizing that and enjoying them, and not just letting the debt stress you out. You’ll tackle it. You’ll be out from under it faster than you think. I have a good feeling about it. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂 I honestly haven’t done the math on retirement, so my feeling that I might not ever be able to retire is really just based on thinking, well, I’m in my 30s and I have a very negative net worth and my earning potential is not particularly high, so… That being said, it’s true that I’m used to living very cheaply, and maybe I’ll end up making more than I expect.

      Yeah, one of the best things about starting to be more aware of my finances is that I’m finally able to compartmentalize my loans to some degree, to be more logical about the ways that they do and don’t impact my life. A year or two ago, when I was too scared to even check the balance on my loans, they were this big scary nebulous thing always hanging over my head, but now that I know exactly how much I owe and am starting to take steps towards paying it back, the whole situation feels somewhat less scary. Funny how the unknown is often scarier than the known.

  18. Sarah – a new job in 3 weeks?! Congratulations!!! I think that in the future you could potentially feel more points of convergence and may need to generate a new graph. 🙂 I hope you know that even if it was challenging to put the real number of your student loans out there, you have an incredibly supportive community out there rooting for you every step of the way. Regardless of interest, payments, savings, past choices, future choices – you have so right that you are healthy, able, and can experience many things in the present whether it’s a walk in the crisp snow, or soaking in Vitamin D of the summer. There are various things that make me feel convergence – some of the few that really strike me are when I stare outside a window to take in the landscape/happenings outside, when I am pouring a cup of coffee and the steam is hitting my face, and when I embrace others in hugs, handshakes, high fives, you name it! At those points I always feel connected to people, nature and simple things that bring me joy.

    1. Thanks, Alyssa! Being part of such a supportive community really makes a huge difference in how I feel about this whole situation. And that actually segues really well into your point about how feeling connected to people can generate points of convergence. I think you’re so right about that: all my examples of convergence in the post were just solitary activities, but there are tons of other great examples that involve spending time with other people. I think it can be much easier to get wrapped up in worry and regret when you’re alone, but spending time with others — and getting support from others — makes a big difference.

  19. A new job! A student loan hill (but not a mountain!) And a good attitude! You’ll have this cleaned up in no time.
    Here’s a little fact about student loans: They don’t have to be oppressive or life changing. You can keep living the life of a PhD student (or in my case, a law student) until the loans are paid off. I barely noticed I was paying off my loans (or that I’m saving today!) because my life is the same.
    One thing to keep in mind is that its so easy to think that other choices would have made our lives better. You could have entered the workforce earlier, but what would you be doing? There are an infinite number of alternate lives. But I’d like to believe that we are in this version for a reason. Just think, without that 57k in loans, you probably wouldn’t have started a blog and never would have been a part of this community 🙂 It all works out in the end!

    1. Thanks, Kate. 🙂 Yeah, my plan is definitely to keep my current lifestyle the same and put any difference in salary towards paying off the debt. I think this will be fairly easy to do. And that’s a great point that there are lots of alternate lives, not just one, and it’s impossible to know what I really would be doing if I’d made different decisions. And I’m definitely happy to have started blogging and stumbled into this awesome community! 🙂

  20. I have not noticed points of convergence, but I love this and am going to make a point of trying to notice them! I definitely get a little too preoccupied by what might be going on in my life now if I’d picked different paths when my roads diverge and I don’t think it’s the healthiest thing I do.

    1. Thanks, Mel! I can definitely relate to getting preoccupied with wondering how my life would be different if I’d made different decisions in the past, and I agree that it’s probably not the healthiest train of thought. It only just occurred to me recently that there really are all these moments during my day that probably would be pretty much the same no matter what I’d chosen.

  21. Interesting thought about points of convergence, moments where your current life is identical to what life would be with different choices in the past. I try not to think about the past too much. Life is what it is, I try to stay focused on the present and what I can do right now to dial up a better future.

  22. Hi Sarah

    This so resonated with me as I enjoy research and had student loans for both my undergraduate and post-graduate courses. I try to think about the things I learnt during my time as a student, and the process of writing my thesis, although stressful at the time, made me a better ‘thinker’ and forced me to look at my writing subjectively. Just a thought – Is there anything from your PhD which you could re-purpose to get a published academic paper? That would demonstrate your expertise and give credibility when job hunting.

    I’ve got a few financial regrets too – buying 2 brand new cars (the second as my ‘reward’ for finishing my post grad studies ironically!) and the first one I took out a loan to finance the purchase.

    I guess you can only learn from it and then decide to move on, as you are doing.

    Good luck

    1. Thanks for your comment. 🙂 Like you, I can definitely say that my PhD helped me to be a better writer, and I’m grateful for that. As for trying to get dissertation chapters published, I’m actually repurposing one right now, and may try to do a second one as well.

      Ah, cars…I feel fortunate right now that I can so easily get by without a car, but I know it’s difficult if you’re not living right in a city, or if you have a long commute. I have definitely sunk plenty of money into cars in the past, as I grew up in a rural area where driving was the norm. But yes, as you say, it’s probably best to try to learn from these experiences and move on! I’m trying to take that approach more. 🙂

  23. This is an interesting perspective! I guess I would say that, for me, the moments of convergence are fewer because I live with my parents as a result of my debt. A huge portion of my time is spent in their house (and it wouldn’t be if I didn’t have debt). Still, I like that perspective and it makes me feel better about my current situation.

    1. Ah, that totally makes sense. And I will also say that if I didn’t have this debt, there is no way I would be living with housemates (as I currently am and will be for the foreseeable future). This is maybe not quite the same as living with your parents, but I can definitely relate to feeling like my living situation would be different. For me a lot of the points of convergence are very, very small…but they still feel meaningful. 🙂

  24. This is great Sarah! A lot of why I started blogging is because I want to reach those who don’t pay attention to their finances. I was like that for a long time and I have so many regrets (not maxing out Roth IRAs, putting more into our 401ks, saving more in general, etc.). I look back on think of all that wasted time. Fortunately I’m still young and was able to turn our financial situation around. Now things are looking a little brighter 🙂

    1. Thanks, Vic! Yes, I feel the same way. I wish I could have started paying attention to this stuff a little sooner, but better late than never. There’s still time. 🙂

  25. We built a house that is on a big hill and two miles from my husband’s office. He said he would walk to work so that we could still be a one-car family. We got by for about a year and then he bought a second car and we have had two cars ever since. I don’t know why we didn’t try the walk several times in different conditions!

    You have $57,000 in debt, but you’re going to be making more money choices going forward. Really use the emotions from your student loans to inspire you to think through decisions in the future. You’re in a better position than you realize!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Alice! 🙂 I definitely think that having the loans has caused me to be much more thoughtful about money than I would have been otherwise — and that’s something that will stick with me for life.
      I’m actually really impressed that your husband walked to work for a year, especially if your house is on a big hill. I grew up in a house that was at the top of a very steep hill, and walking home from the bus stop was really hard at the end of a long day sometimes! 🙂

  26. Imagine the path you took is necessary to build the current you. It is a stepping stone to all the wonderful things for the future you, for example this blog, the inspirations you provide for others, and many more good things… On the other hand, if you took the alternative path, there is no guarantee that the alternative future will be better than your real future. The path you are on now is the best one!

  27. This is a cool article here.. I like the way you’re thinking about it all..
    What are your thoughts though that the situations and experiences you’ve had change the person you are today and that without them you may not have even started this blog?

    It’s an interesting and purely theoretical thought I know however in my situation I wouldn’t necessarily want it any other way :).. Then again feels like I’ve gone on a tangent here haha!

    1. Thanks, Jef. 🙂 Oh gosh, it’s so hard to sort out who I would be if I hadn’t made the financial choices I made in the past. I definitely wouldn’t have started this blog — that’s for sure! So that’s definitely a good thing. I also think I’m more aware of my finances than I ever would have been otherwise, which is another very good thing. And I like to think it’s given me some compassion for other people who are in debt. So I guess in the grand scheme of things it feels like there have been some positive consequences. And in any case we can’t go back — only forward!

  28. I love this style of thinking. I have a coworker who told me he is $55,000 in debt from student loans and he’s 24 years old. Sometimes I wonder how he is not constantly freaking out every day about it, but then one day it hit me that this would be ridiculous behavior. Yes, he’s in debt and obligated to pay back his loans but it would be ludicrous to think that his loans should impact how he lives during every minute of the day. This applies to anyone who is in a serious amount of debt. We can’t change the amount of debt we have but we can change our mindset about it. Great article!

    1. Thanks, Zach, glad you enjoyed it! It’s definitely a balance trying to pay back your loans while not letting them completely take over your life and emotions.

Leave a Reply