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How to Pay Off 145K in Pharmacy Student Loans

In ways I admire people who have no trouble carrying debt, because I despise being in debt. Unfortunately it took me about 6 or 7 years of undergrad and pharmacy school to figure that out, and in that time frame I accumulated nearly 145,000 dollars in debt.  Pharmacy student loans have felt like a black cloud in my life, but I try to look at the good in every situation.   What can paying off student loans teach you?

  1. Define a dream versus a goal.  If your plan is waiting for a distant relative to die and leave you a million in the bank, you will be disappointed and have wasted a lot of time and energy thinking about it.  Trust me, thoughts like this have crossed my mind.  Dreams mean nothing without action behind them.  Start with the end in mind.  Setting a long term goal and short term targets along the way helped me get excited and focused on a way forward.  Write out a plan and take control.
  2. Discipline. No, we are not going out to eat tonight was something I had to tell myself and negotiate with my family.
  3. Revenue, Taxes and Expenses.  Our family Pre-Tax income ranged from the upper 90’s/year to the 140K range throughout this 7 year period.  Expenses went up with children, and don’t forget about taxes!
  4. Sacrifice.  To those who say you can’t live without a smart phone, you are wrong.  Call me what you will, but I have never owned a smart phone in my life.  There were certainly times of discomfort and near embarrassment because of this fact, but it saved our family in the neighborhood of $100-200/mo.  We also lived in a modest home and drove vehicles 8-10+ years old.  I picked up extra hours as well as started a side business.
  5. What really matters.  As I have gained more life experience, I have accumulated a greater appreciation for what really matters.  If you have ever had a sick child, friend, or other family member, you understand how much you would give up for health.  While my financial health felt pretty ill for a while, my family has overall been blessed with incredible physical health.
  6. Control.  Your car breaks down, the washer quits, or wallet gets stolen are all things that are out of your control.  Do your best to take action and fix the situation.  Expect the unexpected and recognize the only thing in life you can control is your actions.
  7. Financial Freedom.  Freedom is a great word.  Money is not everything, but what money can do is provide you more freedom to live a happier, more fulfilling life.
  8. Interest sucks.  My parents talk about interest rates in the “teens” and I can’t even imagine that. On 100,000 dollars, at a 5% rate, you will pay about $417/month.  Take that same 100K at a 10% interest rate and you will pay $833/mo in interest alone. I realized how lucky I was to have a 4% interest rate.

I’m not going to lie, I am pretty excited to get a smart phone 🙂 What’s your student loan story?

Written By Eric Christianson

July 31, 2016

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