“I did it.”

It was Wednesday morning. Kirk and I were sitting at our desks in our home office.

“Did what?” said Kirk, looking up from his computer.

I spun my desk chair to face him. “I paid off my loans.”

“Just now?”

“Just now. $1296.82. Last principle payment.”

“Are you serious?” He cracked a big smile.

– – –

I graduated college in 2008 with $55,000 in debt. For a few years I floated from job to job, and bounced back and forth between global hemispheres. I wasn’t making much money, and could barely afford to make the minimum payments on my loans. I was so discouraged by the amount I owed that I avoided checking my accounts — it was too depressing. The task of repayment seemed insurmountable. After a call to my loan administrator, I found out if I kept making only minimum payments, it would take me 18 years to pay off my debt.

Drag around that baggage until I’m 40? No thanks.

In 2011, Kirk and I made our way to California in search of sunshine and surf. After about a year of getting settled and starting our own business, things started happening. San Diego Home Photography heated up. I scored some writing and photography work with Carlsbad Magazine. I pulled evening shifts at a wine bar.

After four years of making minimum payments, I was able to make my first extra principle payment. I was so excited I wrote this and danced in my kitchen. At this point, my debt was at $45,000.

For the next three and a half years, I worked my ass off and kept spending to a minimum. Going out to eat and buying new clothes were low priorities, as was shopping in general. Travel was my weakness. If I would’ve stayed put for a while I would’ve paid my debt off sooner. (In 2014 alone, we took nine trips.) Oh well, I’m a sucker for seeing new places, and my family during the holidays.

No matter. It’s 2015, and I’m student loan free. And just before the big 3-0. That feels pretty damn good.

– – –

“Aw, I wanted to prepare! Champagne and confetti…” said Kirk.

I smiled. “It doesn’t matter.”

“We have to celebrate,” he insisted.

What would be nice, actually, is a little fanfare from the loan companies. Send Ed McMahon over with some balloons. Or mail a certificate of congratulations. At least something on the payment received page, like this.

“Come on,” said Kirk.

A minute later I was standing in the front yard holding a room-temp bottle of AndrĂ©. We hardly ever have sparkling on hand, but thanks to the previous weekend’s festivities (mimosas + morning MSU football), we had an extra bottle. How serendipitous.

Cheers. ☼