paying off student debt

The Year of RV versus Student Debt

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In 2014, Heath and I set the first goal of our marriage: visit all 50 states together.

Travel goals are my favorite goals to achieve, because they are the most fun and memorable. You get to sip on pina coladas on the beach or drink hot apple cider in the mountains.

But for 2015, our goal is much less sexy and much more boring: pay off all of our debt. It seems cruel and all too common for college graduates to be left with a semi-useless degree and a pile of loans to pay off.

People don’t talk about debt often, but it’s a reality for most people I know. Between college, credit cards, and car leases, everyone is paying something off.

When Heath and I bought our RV, we consciously chose to purchase off of Craigslist and run the risk of choosing an older, more rickety RV because we didn’t want the added stress of managing monthly payments. A newer home would be more comfortable and much nicer, but for our first year of marriage, there was no way we could afford it.

So we live in a lovely, quaint, small, looks like it’s from a season of Breaking Bad, 1994 RV that we love. We definitely aren’t keeping up with the Joneses, and we aren’t trying to. We’re trying to pay off student loan debt.

When Heath graduated college, he had a hefty stack of loans waiting on him. (Thanks Mom and Dad for saving up and paying for my college!) I’m not sure what Heath’s loan amount was then, but I know by the time we finished driving across 48 states and returned to Texas to face our financial reality, interest had compounded and we were staring in the face of $27,397.46.

That is a lot of money. In 2014, we contributed exactly $403.86 toward our debt, while it grew another $600+ in interest. Was it worth it?** Absolutely! But we spent a year ignoring our debt instead of attacking it head on.

Why do we do this? Why do we ignore debt?

1. No one teaches us how to pay off debt.

2. Everyone around us has debt, so being in debt feels like the norm.

3. No one tells us what’s on the other side of debt.

But we aren’t putting off paying our debts any longer. That’s why we declared 2015 as the year of the RV versus Student Loan Debt.

rv versus student debt

Why?

It’s a pretty audacious goal to attempt in one year’s time, for us it’s worth it.

1. Paying off our debt makes our marriage better.

One of the number one causes of divorce is finances. (I have no data to back this up, but have heard this said multiple times and judging by the fights Heath and I have had about money, it’s a touchy subject for most couples.) People don’t like talking about money because when you talk about money, you suddenly realize how little money you actually have, which causes a lot of stress. On the road, Heath and I wouldn’t talk about money unless we had wine and chocolate in hand. We needed to be in a mentally happy place before long, frustrating discussions about how to make enough money to keep us going on the road.

2. We want to be free.

Our number one reason for loving RVing is the freedom. We have no mortgage or lease to tie us down. We can go anywhere we want at the drop of a hat. Debt ties us down, whether we’d like to admit it or not. When you’re living in debt, you’re enslaved to a bank or the government until you can repay your loans.

But living in our RV helps us save enough money to pay off our debts sooner. Living in an RV to help pay off student loans isn’t the norm, but it’s also not as drab as it sounds.

Average rent in Austin: $893.33

Average utilities bills in Austin: $158.53

Our monthly rent + utilities: $360.00

How much we save per month by living in our RV: $691.86

For everyone who keeps asking when we plan on getting a house or an apartment, see the above number.

3. Paying off our debt will let us upgrade our lifestyle.

We do not plan on moving out of our RV any time soon, but we do plan to upgrade into a better, newer RV. Once we’re debt free, we can upgrade our rig and live a little more comfortably. This doesn’t mean living above our means, but just that we can live in a little bit more than 200 square feet.

Is living in an RV to pay off your debts the norm? No. Do we have a lot of closet space, a big tv, or reliable Internet? No. But it’s also not as bad as people think it is. We live lakefront at an RV resort–not a trailer park, as people typically picture when they think of RVs. We love our RV lifestyle.

And so far in 2015 alone, we’ve paid off 21% of our debts. Currently balance to be paid: $21,616.48 (Interest tacks on about $3 a day, down from $5 a day on average in January)

rv versus student debt

Our goal is to pay off the remaining balance by New Year’s Eve. As we pay off our debts, I hope to share more of our story as well as give some of our budgeting and money saving tips along the way.

Are you debt-free or enslaved to debt like us? How are you paying it off?

** It’s worth mentioning that we did not go into any debt during our travels. All of our current debt is from student loans.