I want to brag for a second, although my self-deprecating side would argue this whole column is just a biweekly boast. After ignoring incessant calls from student loan debt collectors and consequently messing up my credit score, I’ve been spending a few years building my credit back up.
When I took out my student loans starting in 2010, I was so excited to jet off to Boston and receive a top-notch education. I wasn’t thinking about interest rates.
Now, in 2021, I have been adamantly aware of interest rates and overwhelmed by my loans with 9% rates. I couldn’t refinance them, though, because of my aforementioned tanked credit score.
So I spent several years making payments that barely covered interest on the loans while opening credit cards with $500 limits in hopes of boosting my credit score here and there. I would watch my score like a hawk.
It slowly climbed, passing different milestones. Over time, “special offers” and “prequalifications” filled my post office box and although I didn’t take the bait, I felt honored to finally be receiving junk mail! Every time I reached a certain number, I would dabble in loan consolidation just to be disappointed by a denial letter and a hit to my credit score.
But, finally, after seven years at 9%, I was able to refinance my student loans and I’m ecstatic. I was able to cut my interest rates in half and will save thousands of dollars over the course of the remainder of the loan.
It’s probably a bit boring to read about loan refinancing in a column that’s meant to be about recreating, but I couldn’t help myself! And I know that I’ll be walking a bit lighter in all my adventures and activities moving forward without those high interest rates weighing me down.
To make all this financial discussion more exciting, I want to pull out the cliche, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” I spent so much time training and working toward improving my credit score.
I researched and researched and tried nearly every legitimate (and some not so) trick in the book. Bringing up my credit score and ultimately refinancing some of my student loans definitely took a marathon effort.
But, if I make that analogy, I have to wrestle with the larger beast that is actually paying off the student loans. This goal is a few more years down the road, so maybe it’s like running an ultramarathon? Haven’t done that yet, but I guess it’s next on the list.
By KAT SORENSEN
For the Clarion