My husband and I both had student loans—mine for an undergraduate and graduate degree, his for a graduate degree. We paid off mine about eight years ago, but we still pay approximately $300 a month on his. When COVID hit, we were relieved to hear of the payment suspension on all student loans. Even though we could continue payments, we had several reasons why I didn’t pay down my student loans during the pandemic. In the end, we decided that wouldn’t be the best use of our money.
Instead of using our money to continue to pay down the student loans while payments were paused and the interest was frozen, we decided to make some other financial moves.
Paid Off Our Credit Cards
We took the money we used for our student loan payments and put it on our credit cards. We had lingering credit card debt from thousands of dollars in medical bills from one of our children several years ago and from mold remediation in both of our showers in 2016. I hated that credit card debt!
We were able to pay off the entire amount in December 2021. Not having credit card debt feels amazing!
Paid Off Our Car Loan
My car is 17 years old; we paid it off 13.5 years ago. My husband’s car loan was scheduled to be paid off in October 2022. However, we made extra payments and paid that off in January 2022.
Made Some Much-Needed Home Repairs
We moved into our house 7.5 years ago. Since then, we hadn’t been able to make many repairs because of the expenses from our child’s medical issue and the mold remediation.
We took our stimulus money and made much-needed home repairs including having our house exterior painted. In addition, we had the roof inspected and repaired. (In the desert, cracked tiles need to be replaced so they don’t let in water during the monsoon season.) Finally, we had our old master shower replaced as it was leaking behind the shower wall. We wanted to take care of the problem before we had to pay for more expensive mold remediation.
How Much Money We Freed Up Monthly
By paying off the credit cards and car loan, we freed up an additional $700 in our monthly budget! It’s nice having a little breathing room.
While we could apply that money to our student loan payment, we’ve instead decided to save it in a fund for a replacement vehicle for me. (At 228,000 miles and 17 years old, my car is definitely on borrowed time.)
Currently, student loan payments are set to resume in May 2022. Until then, we’ll continue to save for a replacement vehicle.
While we could have made quite a dent in our student loan balance if we’d continued to put money on it during the pandemic, you can see there are important reasons why I didn’t pay down my student loans during the pandemic. When student loan payments do resume, we’ll be in a much better financial place than we were when they were initially paused.
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Melissa is a writer and virtual assistant. She earned her Master’s from Southern Illinois University, and her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan. When she’s not working, you can find her homeschooling her kids, reading a good book, or cooking. She resides in Arizona where she dislikes the summer heat but loves the natural beauty of the area.