Debt Repayment

Month 8: -$114,659.31

I have two super exciting announcements in this post! I’m not going to take much time here, so that you can read about them below without me spilling the beans!

If you want more detailed information, check out November’s payoff report.

Remember, calling this “Month 8” is a misnomer. This is year 5 & Month 8 of payoff. And guess what? For the first 5 years of my student loan payoff I paid NONE of the principal balance on the Subsidized and Unsubsidized student loans, which makes up almost all of that balance. The remainder was my private bar exam loan. Since paying off my car and credit cards, I’ve focused all of my attention on my bar exam loan!

Law School Student Loan Payoff Progress - Month 8: -$114,659

Extra Income This Month

Affiliate links are used in this post, and most posts here on WMSB. If you click on a link and make a purchase, WMSB receives a small commission. You don’t get charged a penny more for this, but it keeps WMSB running, and makes my debt repayment happy.

Amazon Affiliate: $0.00

SiteGround Affiliate: $0.00

Day Designer Affiliate: $0.00

Sponsored Posts: $85.00

Side Hustles: None. This project should start again next month.

Expected/Unexpected Reimbursements: None – Waiting on my refund from Century Link which seems to be taking forever.

Where My Payments Went

March was a three pay period month for me. I budget by pay check so I didn’t totally notice the difference in income, but my debt did! Because guess what?! I paid off my bar exam loan!!! I did cheat a little bit by taking money out of savings, because the suspense was killing me. But I repaid over half of it with my next pay check.

Law School Student Loan Payoff Progress - Month 8: -$114,659

I also got to go to Washington DC for work. I’ll tell you more about that trip later this month, hopefully.

Bar Exam Loan: $470 (Paycheck #2) + $3 (Because I wanted to see the balance below $1,000 and after my $470 payment it was $1,000.23) +$999.35 (Paycheck #1/Savings)= $1,472.35

Unsubsidized Loan: $236.00 (minimum) = $236

Subsidized Loan: $604.58 (minimum) = $604.58

Extra Blogging Expenses: $80 (Sponsored Post Supplies)

Discover Card at 0% Interest from Household Projects: $150.00

Total Payments: $2,542.93

Current Law School Student Loans Balances

I can’t even tell you guys how fun it is to update these charts. I even go into Numbers in between updates here to plug new numbers in and see what happens. Paying off six figures of student loan debt feels like a bottomless pit. But seeing the progress in a graph and chart form helps to see that there really is progress.

Law School Student Loan Payoff Progress - Month 8: -$114,000

The interest rates on these loans are what make my payments look almost meaningless on the subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

Bar Exam Student Loan: 7.75% Interest – Went up .25% in December & caused me to attack this more than ever – Screw you, Wells Fargo.

Subsidized Student Loan: 7.125% Interest, Accruing $5.71 Per Day

Unsubsidized Student Loan: 7.125% Interest, Accruing $14.63 Per Day

I am surprised to see that I’ve paid $1,000 toward the Unsubsidized loan. When I say that, though, it’s really toward the accrued interest that built up while I was on income based repayment. I’m still on income based repayment, but for the first time, it actually pays off more than what accrues that month. Before I can pay ANY of the $104,490 of capitalized principal (the principal at graduation, before any interest capitalization, was $82,000), I have to pay off what is now $10,169 of interest. It makes it feel impossible to overcome. So I’m surprised to see that I’ve made any progress at all on the big Federal loans.

Law School Student Loan Payoff Progress - Month 8: -$114,000

What is a Bar Exam Loan?

The bar exam loan was to pay for the cost of BarBri, the only bar exam preparation course in Nevada in 2010 (roughly $4,000), the video iPod I had to buy to take my classes remotely because I took a clerkship in the middle of nowhere and back then there wasn’t reliable online streaming (roughly $200 I think?), the cost of applying for the bar exam (roughly $1,000), the cost of moving to a different state in the middle of nowhere (roughly $1,000), my apartment deposit and first month’s rent (roughly $1,200), oh and my two best law school friends got married during bar prep/the week after the bar exam and I flew to both their weddings/stayed in hotels/etc (roughly $800 – totally worth it), and then the cost of living for 2.5 months while I studied for the exam.

I worked part time while I took the bar exam. I don’t recommend this, but remember, the economy sucked and I had to take the job I was offered. That job required me to start three days after graduation. At the end of the exam period, I had a little bit of money left over, and I used it to pay a super high interest rate credit card I’d gotten to buy furniture in my 1L year.

Law School Student Loan Payoff Progress - Month 8: -$114,000


YOU GUYS!!!!!!!!


Law School Student Loan Payoff Progress - Month 8: -$114,659

Paying off my bar exam loan makes me even happier than this photo!


There are still things to accomplish, and goals to achieve that I’ll discuss below. But we definitely need to take the time to celebrate the wins we achieve throughout the payoff process. If we don’t, we will burn out or get discouraged. I’m speaking from experience here. I have the urge to run through the streets and cheer. Maybe I will! haha But I know for a fact I couldn’t have gotten here if you all weren’t holding me accountable each month! And I can tell you for certain now, that this feels way better than buying that $180 fit bit I wanted last month! (Btw, I still want it, but this is better.)

My Debt Repayment Goals

1) Pay off my car.

2) Pay off my credit cards.

3) Pay off the Bar Exam Student Loan.

I stuck with the snowball method, to pay off the bar exam loan, and it totally worked!

4) Re-evaluate my savings and retirement plan.

I did this a little early, because I got my annual wage increase and figured it was best to start contributing more money before I got used to the increase. I set up my office 401k to remove 8% of my pay toward retirement. Because it reduces my income before taxes are taken, and I did it when I got a raise, it only changes my take home pay by about $100, despite contributing over $200.00 a pay check toward my future. Watching that account grow makes me wish I had that money to spend, but I know that I’ll be very happy I did this when I’m ready to retire!

I’ve also re-budgeted to adjust some of my snowball payments to go toward savings for big life events. You’ll see the impact of that next month when I lay out how I plan to pay off that dang $114,659.31 left between me and freedom!

5) Tackle the accrued interest from my income based repayment plan. CHANGE OF PLANS! Big Announcement #2 is this goal: Refinance my Student Loans.

Because I have been on an income based repayment plan, without making a ton of income, my monthly payments did not cover all of the interest on my student loans. I cannot make principal payments on the loans until I pay the accrued interest.

I am also paying the really stupid interest rate of 7.125% (that’s after a graduation and auto-pay rate discount). Why the government is surprised that our generation struggles more than our parents and grandparents did is beyond me. Anyway, in the last few years, multiple companies have come out to help refinance student loans. They were very appealing to me, but I have some credit in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and I wasn’t sure that it was worth taking my loans out of the 20-25 year forgiveness we get no matter what area of practice we go into. (Spoiler: You have to pay income tax on whatever is forgiven at the end of your payments, after already paying a shit ton of interest. It’s not free money.)

After hearing the experience of so many of you in the comments (I’m looking at you, Sarah! :) ), and taking an informal poll of my friends on Facebook, I really started crunching the numbers and realized that if I take my loan through the entire 20 year term remaining on them, I’ll have paid $101,000 in interest. ONE HUNDRED AND ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS! That’s 19,000 more than what it cost to go to law school, in interest alone!!! And that number doesn’t include the $32,000 that has already accrued in interest.

So, I started the process of refinancing this week! I have received three pre-approval rate quotes, and heard back on one application. That officially approved interest rate is 2% lower than what I’m paying now, and changes that $101,000 interest to about $32,000 if I only paid the minimum. That’s a savings of $70,000 in interest, and I’d pay it off in 10-15 years, vs 20-25 years. It only increases my monthly payment by $90, and as you can see from my snowball payments above, I can definitely pay more than even the increased minimum if I remain even minimally focused. Now I’m just waiting to hear back on the other applications before I make a decision. I’m hoping to hear back tomorrow, because now that I’ve decided to refinance, I want it nnnooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwww!

I am going to write an entire post (maybe 2?) about the process, how it went and what I thought, so I’ll stop talking about it here. But thanks for all of your support and encouragement!

6) Attack those Federal Student Loans!!

I’m coming for you, law school student loans!

Thanks for coming alongside me during this journey. I’ve loved hearing your stories too. You can leave it in the comments, or tell me about it on Facebook or Twitter!

Law School Student Loan Payoff Progress - Month 8: -$114,659

Common Questions:

I’ve written a few posts about finances and being a lawyer already. Here are the links if you’re interested:

Previous Story
Next Story


  • Reply
    April 10, 2017 at 7:43 am

    Paying off law school and all the added costs is NO JOKE. You are amazing. I wish I could manage money the way you do!

    • Reply
      April 10, 2017 at 9:24 am

      Thank you, Divya! It has been a loooong journey of building habits and making better choices. It isn’t easy, but times like these make it totally worth it! Progress!

  • Reply
    April 10, 2017 at 7:51 am

    That’s such a huge step! Congratulations on paying it off!
    Marissa recently posted…15 Activities to Do on a Cruise

  • Reply
    April 10, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    It’s horrible that you can go to school to better your life and end up with so much debt. My husband finished graduate school a little over 10 years ago. He unfortunately deferred the payments a bunch of times during the economic downturn. Which meant his loans accrued about $20,000 interest. Crazy. Luckily he has a pretty low interest rate. Congrats on paying off the bar exam loan. It is always great to cross something off your list.

    • Reply
      April 11, 2017 at 7:35 am

      I totally understand his position, Erica. I graduated during the downturn and it made the entire repayment process so painful! I’m happy he has a low interest rate so that you guys won’t be dragged down by his loans! I agree that it’s horrible!

  • Reply
    Breena Blake
    April 10, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Omg! I am so proud of you and we don’t even know each other haha! The feeling of paying off debt is so satisfying. It’s so much better than spending money on even things you love! Congrats to you! School loans are good debt and totally worth the investment!

    • Reply
      April 11, 2017 at 7:34 am

      awwww Thanks, Breena!! I appreciate it so much :). It was worth the investment (at least, I think that now. I didn’t at first when I hated being a lawyer). I just wish I could win the lottery I never play. haha :)

  • Reply
    April 10, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    Sweetheart, you are doing more math than an accountant. Wow, that is so much debt. I know if you keep this up, you’ll get them all paid in no time.

    • Reply
      April 11, 2017 at 7:33 am

      And I’m terrible at math, so it takes me FOREVER. But it’s totally worth the motivation it brings!

  • Reply
    April 11, 2017 at 3:34 am

    Wow, good for you. I am happy you are able to do this and lift that weight off your shoulders.

  • Reply
    Bailey @ Becoming Bailey
    April 11, 2017 at 6:22 am

    Congrats on paying off the bar exam loan!!!!!! Wow, that is SO much interest for the student loan forgiveness program!!!

    • Reply
      April 11, 2017 at 7:32 am

      Thanks! It’s a ton of interest because federal loans can be forgiven after 20-25 years (depending on the payment plan), but the entire time you’re paying 6.8% or 7.5%% or some other super high number for graduate level loans. So it just builds and builds and builds! Ick!

  • Reply
    April 11, 2017 at 8:58 am

    That’s awesome that you got your bar exam loan paid off!! Oh my gosh that’s insane amounts of money to pay off for a law school course! I wish I was as budget-minded as you!!

    Ellie recently posted…Sleep vs. Anxiety: More than just “Beauty” Sleep

    • Reply
      April 12, 2017 at 6:50 am

      Ellie, I spent many years not at all budget minded. Then I spent many years too broke to make more than $25 above principal payments on my debt. Getting a budget isn’t as scary as it sounds, and it will actually make you feel more at peace about your finances! You should give it a shot and I bet you’d be surprised at how budget minded you actually are :).

  • Reply
    April 11, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Congratulations! This makes me feel slightly more hopeful about the 41,000 loan I just took out to begin Graduate school…

    • Reply
      April 12, 2017 at 6:49 am

      Good! Make sure to do the best you can after graduation to make payments as soon as possible. Being stuck with a ton of accrued interest really sucks. (“Really sucks” is the official name for it. haha) Good luck in grad school!

  • Reply
    April 11, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Wow you are so smart… I still ahve some student loans haunting me…. I really need to get on a plan like yours!

    • Reply
      April 12, 2017 at 6:48 am

      You totally should, Marisa! You won’t regret it!

  • Reply
    April 11, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    Okay, I actually favorited this post! I’m in the process of paying off my student loans (undergrad, but prestigious school for 5 years– it adds up!)

    It can be hard to decide what money to put where every month so I love seeing how you broke things down. I personally have a high number of loans but many have different amounts and APRs. I’m trying to reduce the balances of the high APRs before consolidating. Isn’t being a grownup fun?

    • Reply
      April 12, 2017 at 6:43 am

      I’m glad it helped, Alayna! You’re doing the right thing to try to pay down some balances. If you consolidate, as you probably know, the interest averages out. I consolidated mine after law school because there was just no way for me to keep track of every single loan while also trying to learn how to be a lawyer, moving to a new city, etc. But as a result, the rates combined. If you can avoid that, you definitely should! I was lucky enough to not have any student loans from undergrad, but I covered the gap with credit cards and when I paid those off last year, I felt so excited! Make sure to reward yourself as you make progress on your loans. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and you can totally do it!

  • Reply
    April 11, 2017 at 6:37 pm

    Thinking about my student loans makes me want to cry, but making progress is always exciting!
    Akaleistar recently posted…15 Metallic Sneakers to Upgrade Your Basic Jeans and Tee Look

    • Reply
      April 12, 2017 at 6:40 am

      They used to make me cry as well, Akaleistar! Then, when I started tracking them like this, it made me feel less overwhelmed and hopeless about them. Even though it’s small progress on the big loans, seeing that there WAS progress made a major difference. Perhaps if you start keeping an eye on yours, it will help as well??

  • Reply
    April 11, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    A huge congratulations to you!!!!!!! This is a wonderful accomplishment! Enjoy this win, while you prepare for future wins. Debt payoff takes a lot of sacrifice and self control!! Kudos to you on both fronts. I’ll be following your tips as I payoff mine as well :)

    • Reply
      April 12, 2017 at 6:38 am

      Thank you so much, Maria!! It’s nice to have the support of other people who are also working to pay off their debts!

  • Reply
    April 12, 2017 at 8:10 am

    This is such a fascinating post! Love how you broke down all the interest and talked through the reasoning for the decisions in March. I keep saying to friends that I wish there was a college class for personal finance management… this stuff can be so tricky!

    • Reply
      April 12, 2017 at 8:19 am

      Yes! That’s genius, Katrina! And make sure it’s a mandatory class, so every kid has to learn it!

  • Reply
    April 12, 2017 at 11:38 am

    I couldn’t imagine law school student loans!! I am still paying off my college ones and fell just short of a bachelor’s!! You are making amazing progress keep going!!

  • Reply
    Rhonda Swan
    April 12, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Way to be unstoppable! Cheers to this great goal!

  • Reply
    April 12, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    OMG I AM SO EXCITED! You are going to see that balance nosedive! I can’t wait for the updates!

  • Reply
    April 18, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Congratulations! Such a huge burden lifted I’m sure. You amaze me!
    Shannon recently posted…Pregnancy Journal: Weeks 22-24

    • Reply
      April 18, 2017 at 8:21 pm

      Thank you so much, Shannon! It has definitely been a burden lifted!

  • Reply
    April 20, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Go girl! Congrats on paying off that loan and sticking to the snowball method. Also, well done on the legwork on the refinance. It’s awesome to think of how much you’ll save in the long run. During my loan repayment days, whenever I made a sacrifice to further debt repayment, I always though of my future self and how I was doing this to make sure she would have a better life. Future Brittany thanks you for all your hard work and dedication!
    P2P recently posted…My 2 Years as an AirBNB Host

  • Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge