Paying off $131,000 in student loans started with 5 key money talks
- Even though Corazon Ochanda-Eaton qualified for the PSLF, she wanted to pay off her student loans quickly.
- Before getting married, Corazon and her husband Curtis regularly talked about their finances.
- Here are five key questions that launched their 14-month journey to raise $131,000.
When Corazon Ochanda-Eaton graduated from college in the summer of 2018, she and her soon-to-be husband, Curtis, sat down to review their full financial picture before they tied the knot. The couple’s biggest worry? Corazon’s $131,000 student loan debt.
Corazon told Insider, “At the time, I was working in the nonprofit sector and making a minimum payment of $286 per month, which barely contributed to the principal payment.” She knew she was eligible for the Civil Service loan forgiveness, but she knew that 98% of eligible applications were denied.
She adds, “At that point, I knew I didn’t want to be tied down with my student debt, hoping the government would take care of it for me. I knew it was time to take action. making smart financial decisions early in our marriage.”
The first step was to agree with Curtis on their shared financial goals and to understand the kind of life they were both working towards once the loans were paid off. Here are five questions the Eatons asked themselves as they planned to pay off six figures of student debt in just 14 months.
1. Should we focus on debt repayment first?
Initially, Corazon and Curtis disagreed on what priority should be given to repaying Corazon’s student loans. Corazon says, “Curtis wasn’t 100% convinced that it was possible to pay off such a large debt.”
To convince Curtis to come on board, Corazon drew up a debt repayment plan that included details of their debts, including the interest rate and principal balance of each loan, and how much they had to contribute to repay the debts. ready as soon as possible.
Once Curtis saw the debt repayment roadmap, he was convinced. Corazon adds: “One of the things that put us on the same page was talking about how debt had – and would continue to have – impacted us mentally and financially.”
2. What is your credit rating?
Early in their relationship, the couple had to get used to sharing intimate details about their financial well-being. Corazon says, “We’ve been open and honest about our finances, including our debt,
past financial mistakes and success.”
Knowing each other’s credit scores is an uncomfortable conversation for most marriages, but, for the Eatons, it’s helped them set goals and measure their overall progress.
3. What are your strengths and weaknesses in budgeting?
The Eatons wondered what their personal finance strengths and weaknesses were. If one partner struggled to limit food spending, the other stepped in to provide accountability and support.
Corazon adds, “It allowed us to implement strategies around our weaknesses, like withdrawing cash envelopes each month, updating our budget tracker, and setting our financial plans and goals.”
3. What is your greatest financial achievement to date?
Corazon has had the same car for 10 years, which she paid for before their wedding – one of her biggest financial achievements. While creating a roadmap for their financial goals, she realized that paying off Curtis’ car bill would help them redirect more money into their student loan repayment journey.
Knowing what each of them had done right in their past helped them implement the same strategies throughout their journey to get out of debt.
5. Would you rather travel or live in an upscale home?
The biggest budget cut that helped the Eatons pay off Corazon’s $131,000 student loan debt was housing costs. Corazon says, “We eventually did house hacking and moved into a two-family property, which allowed us to rent out the other unit and reduce our overall housing expenses.”
To come to an agreement on this decision, the Eatons had to discuss their monetary value in detail so that they could prioritize what is important to both of them. According to Corazon, “We’ve made room for the things in life we enjoy, like travel, and cut spending on areas we don’t like, like material possessions.”