Got my first pay stub from work today. First pay cheque after working 5 months for free *sob*. For me, seeing those numbers was followed by a moment of starry-eyed thoughts of clothes, running shoes and pizza. What followed quickly after that was sad reality.
I graduated in July 2012 and started my internship in November 2012. It was a 6-month internship at first with the opportunity to stay with the company should it work out. It worked out and I now I’m a full-time employee.
I spent two years earning a diploma and another 12 months earning my degree. All those years and credentials were financed by British Columbia and national student loans. With a 6-month break from loan repayment after you graduate, you’ve got time to breathe, right? Cute.
I was in a jovial mood today. Something about actually getting paid to do full time work put me in a great spirits, so I thought to myself, hey, let’s find out how much I owe in student loans so I can get excited about paying it off! (I can almost hear you laughing).
Now, about halfway through my internship (February, around the time Mr Loans came a-callin) I was acutely aware I was not in a place to be able to pay any loans. I had been working an old job that I had the first year I moved out, so during those 5 months I worked Monday to Friday 8:30-4:30 at my internship and Saturdays and Sundays I would work. I would also pick up extra shifts when I could. Still not enough to make student loan payments so I applied for a deferral. I was approved for a 6-month hiatus on payments (yippee). With interest.
Andrea (I think) was actually very nice and very helpful when I called the national student loan centre. I asked her what my total student loan balance was.
She told me.
I think I paused for too long because she asked me if I was wanting to pay it in full.
I laughed. Or maybe choked. I was choking on the fantasy of paying my student loans in full. “Absolutely!” I would say, lifting my mattress to uncover stacks of cash.
No, Andrea. No, I was not asking to pay it in full. I just wanted to know what kind of freaking hole I was in. I think she understood because she started to break it down for me.
My interest on my 6 month deferral?
$5.23. PER. DAY. Yeah. That’s a bag of chips a day. That’s a large soy-chai latte at my favourite coffee shop down the road.
That’s 22 cents every hour.
That equals: $36.61 per week.
In a 30 day month that is $156.90! I was PAYING MONEY TO NOT PAY MONEY!
I realized then and there that there was no way I was going the full 6 months without paying anything. Because you know what I would be paying in reality? I would be paying nine hundred and forty-one dollars and forty cents. In INTEREST. Are. You. Kidding. Me?!
I’m not paying nearly a thousand dollars for the piece of mind that nothing will come out of my meagre bank account for six months. I’d rather cough it up now and get that ball rolling toward debt repayment than hang onto the false threads of financial freedom. Shit got real.
I thanked Andrea for all her help. I mean, she was great, really. Kudos to her. I can’t imagine doing what she does. Telling people on a daily basis that they have a fun road ahead of them. Crushing dreams.
Student loans, man.
There are a number of ways to get to post-secondary education. I wouldn’t say I was frivolous with my money because I wasn’t. I mean, my 12 months of uni my loans covered only my tuition. Not even textbooks and rent. It was not fun. I worked throughout and I’m glad I did. It just makes me realize though that I don’t want to spend the next ten years paying my student loans and the absurd amount in interest. I’d rather suck it up and drop significant amounts every time I have to pay it.
So here’s a toast. To student loan repayment! Can you spot me for a beer? I’ll get the next one. Promise.