I Paid Off My Student Loans!

…well, most of them anyway.  Last week I cashed out a good chunk of savings to pay off one of my final two student loans, a financial move that cut my monthly payment by two-thirds (!!).  That basically equates to a ton more financial flexibility each month (i.e., more cash for whatever I want).

The biggest reason for the payoff, though, was to ease the transition into working fewer Day Job Hours.  Think about this: It took me 20 hours of Day Job work each month to earn the cash to cover the student loan payment I just got rid of, which is now 20 more hours per month I can spend working on my own projects.  That’s five hours a week, or one full hour every weekday for writing, blogging, Art Swapping, reading, or whatever!  This is big stuff, and a good example of the following oversimplified yet very scientific equation:

 

Money = Time

 

To put it into words: the more money you need, the more time you need to spend earning it. How you balance your financial obligations depends on your creative goals, what kind of bills you have, your financial goals (for example, if you’re saving to buy a house or backpack through Asia), and how much time you want/need every week to work on your creative, non-Day Job work.

This also means that the fewer financial obligations you have (the kind that get you in trouble if you don’t pay them) the more flexible you can be with how many hours you work, assuming your Day Job allows this (which mine currently does).

(If the number of hours you have to work is set, though, then you’ll either have to make good use of the Money and Time resources you have, or start looking for a new Day Job.)

Nebraska is full of cornfields like this one.

Nebraska is full of cornfields like this one.

Getting back on topic, though: my student loan payoff came in addition to three major changes I set into motion last month, which I’ll show in a numbered list to highlight their importance:

  1. I left my old Day Job in Nebraska working in a greenhouse
  2. I transitioned to getting most of my income from my my Secret Work-From-Home Day Job, supplemented by my editing work
  3. I moved back to the Northeast

These three were pretty closely tied, since my Secret Work-From-Home Day Job is providing the bill-paying money I needed to leave my greenhouse job (which my old boss and coworkers were totally cool about).  Since my Secret Work-From-Home Day Job also involves working from anywhere with pretty flexible hours, this made the decision to leave Nebraska and return to the Northeast a lot easier, since I knew I’d have a steady income stream waiting for me when I got there and wouldn’t be distracted hunting for a new Day Job.

(Also, in case it wasn’t clear, I’m not supposed to discuss details of my Secret Work-From-Home Day Job online for privacy reasons. I’m also not going to tell you what my Secret Work-From-Home Day Job is because that’s how the people at the corporate office easily find you using Google and then send you a firmly worded e-mail to take down your posts.)

New Hampshire looks more like this.

New Hampshire looks more like this.

For my new setup I’m sharing a house with two of my super-cool friends to keep costs down and share stuff like internet and hand soap, which gives me more wiggle room for managing Day Job hours.  Since my housemates both work during the day, this also leaves me with plenty of space to work on both Day Job stuff and my own projects, which right now consist of three big things that I’ll also highlight in a numbered list:

  1. Find a publisher for my (finished!) novel about English teachers in Japan
  2. Finish my in-progress novel about a creative writing program in the Midwest (rough draft done, editing a second draft)
  3. Set up and regularly update this blog

The plan is to focus on these three goals for the next six months (until March 2017-ish) or until I get through the first two (whichever comes first) and then reassess a new list.  I can promise that updating this blog will still be on there, though ;)

It’s also nice that I was able to plan a month of down time between the move and the time my Secret Work-From-Home Day Job started, which not only gave me time for mundane things like unpacking and filling out change of address forms, it also helped me get a lot of writing done and lay out 90% of this brand-spankin’ new site.  Day Job work started up again last week, though, so it’s been back to the grind, and back to balancing and prioritizing.

So yeah, that’s what I’m working on, how I set myself up to work on it, and how I plan to pay the bills while doing it, which I really hope people reading will find helpful (or even inspiring?!).  I’ll keep you posted on things ;)

Top photo credit: Jericho/CC.

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