Since arriving in Tokyo at the end of October, I've eliminated 10% of my remaining student loan debt. Ironic, given that Tokyo is a famously expensive city, but a COLA and free housing make all the difference. Glad I was aggressive enough to give up my apartment at home and nearly all of my reoccurring expenses. (iPhone, I miss you!) Every. Dollar. (Yen?) Counts.
Since graduation, I have paid the minimum payment on my student loans and car loan, maxed out my 401(k) contributions, made a modest contribution to savings, and funneled all remaining cash at month-end to another financial obligation which, happily, was met in full just before I took off for Tokyo. It is a great feeling to direct my month-end cash to student loan repayment instead.
The relief I feel when paying off a loan in full makes me realize how much my student loans weigh on me on a day-to-day basis. This from someone who had modest scholarships from both her grad programs, worked part-time every semester, and got lucky with a high-end salary after graduation! It could be so much worse... I have been incredibly fortunate, but still find my student loans influencing even the smallest decisions in my day-to-day life.
The extra payments I'll be able to make while I'm here will take years off of my loan repayment. Years. That's one of the things I think about when I'm feeling homesick.