When I was younger, I used to play this weird game in my own mind where I would try to guess exactly what my life would be like in X amount of days or X amount of years. For the most part, this quirky pasttime, which I later dubbed “Future Game”, consisted of me interrupting my typical daydreams (something monumental I’m sure, like contemplating where exactly I should part my hair) to ponder some bigger and more exciting unknowns: Where will I be living? What will I be thinking about? Who will I be with? Will I have met my husband yet—or even weirder, have I met him already and don’t even know it? Will I be in good shape and still have all working body parts? But my favorite question to ask was always this one:
If I could see the future me, how would present me feel?
Clearly, I am not and never will be a world renowned philosopher, but I still think that playing “Future Game” and musing over what is to come is an interesting way to get lost in thought. As I was playing “Future Game” a few days ago—wait did I give you the impression I quit playing—oh, I’m sorry, I should have made it more obvious that “Future Game” was invented in my younger years and is still going strong! I know, I know, everyone probably wishes they could hang out with me on the weekends now that the secret is out about how cool and exciting I am 😉 All jokes aside, I recently created a more fact-based variation of “Future Game” that I’m calling “Five Year Financial Future Game” (creative I know). I used a Financial Aid Loan Calculator to plug in the numbers for two different debt repayment strategies:
- STRATEGY ONE: Making only Required Monthly Minimum Payments
- STRATEGY TWO: Making Monthly Minimum Payments AND Contributing as much Additional Money as Possible
If you are having any second thoughts—or no thoughts at all—about putting extra money towards your debt, then I suggest you play “Five Year Financial Future Game” too. The results were MUCH more DRAMATIC than I had anticipated. Here is what I found:
Making only Minimum Payments on my Debt for the next 5 years results in…
Me making minimal financial gains. If this is the route I choose to take, five years from today I will still be putting $616.59 towards my student loan debt every month. My total debt numbers will be lower, but essentially nothing else will have changed because I will still be 2.7 years away from escaping my biggest financial burden. Even worse, when it is all said and done, I will have paid over $12,000 in interest alone! That is nearly 1/3 of the total debt I owe. Ouch!!
Paying as much Money as I can towards my debt over the next
FIVE 1.5 years results in…
Me only being in debt for 1.5 more years! That is no joke, folks. By putting more than 50% of my income towards paying off my debt, five years from now my debt-paying days will be 3.5 years behind me, and I will have paid just $2,700 in interest (that is only 6% of my total debt). In comparison to using the strategy of scraping by on minimum payments, paying off my debt faster will provide me with an additional 3.5 years to do whatever with the money that would have otherwise been going towards loan payments, and I will save $10,000 in interest alone! Retirement savings, vacations, home buying, college funds–you name it, and I have the extra funds to work towards it. Yes, please.
Playing the “Five Year Financial Future Game” helped me discover that when it comes to paying off debt, a lot can happen in just 5 years. If I work a little bit harder, spend a little lot less, and pay attention to where my money is going right now, I could be debt free before potential BIGGER expenses and limitations (ex: children, mortgage, etc.) have a more significant impact on my life. Using the Financial Aid Loan Calculator makes the “game” a reality and allowed me to see accurate financial forecasts for each debt repayment strategy. After seeing the major effect that today’s actions have on my financial future, “present me” just can’t stomach the thought of choosing some instant gratification over long-term success and comfort. How could I crunch these numbers and not buckle down sooner rather than later?!?!
Actually doing the math and facing reality can be so eye-opening. Did you use the Financial Aid Loan Calculator to play the “FIVE Year Financial Future Game”? Does looking at your Financial Forecast have an impact on how you are choosing to pay back your debts now, and what is the main factor in how you have decided to eliminate debt?