Saturday, March 19, 2011

Paid Off My Private Student Loans

I purged the variable-rate-debt snake from my household and paid off my private student loans on St. Paddy's Day. Yep, made one lump sum payment of $31,584.24 to pay it off. Now I have approximately $51.5k in federally subsidized student loans remaining. I'm less concerned about paying my federally subsidized student loan off because: (a) it has a fixed interest rate of 5.125% and (b) the monthly payment is only $360.08/month.

You may be wondering how I got the money to make a huge lump-sum payment. Back in December 2009, I came across a significant windfall of ~$33k. (Due to a confidentiality clause, I can't divulge the source or the reason for the windfall.) I spent some of the windfall on various things, but managed to hold onto $28.5k for over a year. I didn't know what I wanted to do with the money. Should I keep it as a potential down payment for my first home? Should I just stash it as my secondary emergency fund? Or should I pay off my student loans?

I finally worked up the courage to use the money to pay off my private student loans. Although the interest rates are really low right now (3.583% APR), I'm not sure how much longer it will stay low since it is a variable rate loan. Secondly, I've been accruing anemic interest on my savings accounts ranging between 0.5% - 1.59% APY. Thirdly, if you add my EF balance and my "earmarked" savings, I have approximately $24,000 remaining in the bank. I felt I had enough of a financial cushion to pull the trigger.

I was planning to snowball my entire student loans but I've changed my mind. As I've indicated above, the minimum monthly payment and the fixed interest rates on my remaining federal student loans are both relatively low. Although the balance is still relatively high, I feel less urgent to pay it off.

Instead, I'm going to focus on saving money for a down payment on my first home. Although I'm pretty confident that interest rates aren't going to skyrocket any time soon (in the next five years or so), I want to be able to have money to buy something before it does.