The sweet smell of progress. As of today, with 12 days to spare in my grace period, all my interest on student loans is paid off. Yes, I know interest will continue accruing over time, but don't ruin my moment. It's a real accomplishment I can check off the list, which provides that dopamine rush I've been needing. It's been feeling pretty stagnant up to this point since my balance is pretty high in general, but I feel good about my progress now that I've actually hit a goal.
My aggressive strategy has had a few unexpected benefits as well. First, my credit score has gone up significantly. If you have student loans under your name, they'll be on your credit history. I can't be completely certain this is the only cause, but I'm not sure what else would cause about a 30 point jump in a span of three months. I barely use the one credit card I have, and I haven't had it very long at that. It's nice to see that a good financial decision actually lead to increased credit in this situation, because credit can be gained through horrible habits as well.
The second added benefit is a decreased monthly payment. My estimated payment has gone down about $20-$30 a month in the time since I've graduated. This will not only allow me more flexibility as I move towards regular payments becoming due, but it will let me put more into separate payments that specifically go towards principal each month.
To be honest, the timing is great to actually check something off the list. It's been a slow three months in terms of feeling like I'm making a lot of financial progress. The mental boost this gives me going into loan repayment is great for staying positive. It also shows the effectiveness of setting goals for myself. As I continue to make financial headway, I'm learning more and more how I specifically function. What works for me and what doesn't. My next task on the loan front is setting another goal to reach for.
As we approach the end of 2015, things are going to get really interesting for me. Two huge decisions loom - a car purchase and moving out. Both of which have a loose timeline and requirements. The car purchase will happen before the end of the year, currently I have a little over $7,000 saved for it, so it's time to start exploring my options more specifically. I'll write much more in-depth about this as I make the decision.
Checkpoints quantify progress. They work great for me, try it out for yourself.