Preparing for Final Exams: $66,663.50 Paid, $18,644.57 Till Payoff

So final exams ended for me recently, THANK GOD! I’m satisfied with my final grades and can’t wait to destroy my summer class. Another thank you goes to my wife. Thanks for taking care of our baby boy, and entertaining our ornery 2-year old daughter. Below are tips that helped me meet my academic goals with family and a full-time job.

1. Go to Class-And Yes, On Time.
Resist the urge to skip class for non-emergencies. Don’t create excuses either, reflect on the lesson from ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’ children’s story.

2. Stay Engaged-Use Different Methods.
Some of us learn through long lectures, others prefer instructors with engaging PowerPoints, while others must do something with their hands. Try taking notes with different colored pens, pencils, and highlighters to stay entertained during class.

3. Don’t Cram-Study Now.
Waiting until the night of a major exam can be disastrous for your GPA. Throughout the semester review your class notes daily before going to class and after class. This way you will retain more of the information through repetition.

4. Stop Procrastinating-Manage Your Time.
Organize your days by designating time for work, hanging out with friends, and study based on priority of deadlines.

5. Seek Support-Before Needing Help.
Remember, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken. We all go through stressful times, arrange to study with others in groups. Tackle challenges to learn material together, choose study mates wisely.

6. Quiz Yourself-Improve Your Knowledge.
Make flash cards or go digital with Quizlet’s online tool. Gauging your knowledge before exam time can prevent all-nighters.

7. Focus on Strengths-Not Weaknesses.
Are you most focused in morning or night? Consider your responsibilities at work and family obligations to allow time for rest.

8. Stay Positive-Visualize Success
If you tell yourself, “What’s the use? I’m going to fail anyway?” You will be 100% correct, 100% of the time. See yourself doing well on the final and determine steps necessary to make your dream a reality.

9. Rest-Don’t Stress.
According to Psychology Today, sleep is beneficial because 1) sleep protects new memories, lack of sleep makes you more irritable and forgetful 2) sleep consolidates memories according to their relative importance and the learner’s expectations for remembering.

10. Repeat Steps 1-9-Never Give Up.
Before you know it the semester will be over, you will log into student portal to review your semester grades and smile. You paid the price to win.

As usual, below is an update of my student loan balance. Until next time everyone! Stay strong, fight on, and have no debt but love!

Grief Is A Process: $66,305.41 Paid, $19,002.66 Till Payoff

Just Be There
Death seems so final. There are things we wish we could have said and done with loved ones before they pass away. It stings more as you grieve and people ask, “Is there anything I can do”? When the pain is indescribable, the best thing anyone can do in your time of hurt is be there.

I lost my biological father at an early age and recently lost my stepfather. As the Bible says, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy” –Proverbs 14:10. I simply wish someone can just reach into my chest and take this pain away.


My Guilt, My Shame
I too am guilty-that even in our best intentions we are selfish. My encounters have been, “We will keep you in prayer”, “I’m sorry, I’m not available right now”, “How about tomorrow or next week”?
Or worse… the deafening silence from those you thought were closest to you.

But I have a friend in Christ who sticks closer to me than a brother.

Grief doesn’t have a schedule; it strikes at any moment. The most painful thing to hear at this time from someone is that they are too busy. Why are we too busy to comfort the ones we love? It leaves me to wonder, do we really love people as we claim to?

The Deepest Hurt

I now know not to ask, “What can I do” for someone who is grieving. It is best to just be there and serve the brokenhearted. We overthink what service looks like and in fear of rejection, we do nothing. At times, I don’t want to speak.

At times, I don’t want to have to explain that maybe I do need a cup of water or food after hours of sitting alone thinking about my fathers.

The pain of losing two fathers in my life cuts deep. I pray my children won’t have this same experience of loss at the ages of 6 and 33. I guess what hurts most is that neither man got a chance to meet my children.

The Future Isn’t Bleak
I am grateful for this pain because I understand more now than ever how important fathers are. I desire to grow old and witness the births of my grandchildren. Lord willing, I want to be a father who is involved in the lives of my children, my son and daughter-in-law(s).

I want my friends to know that I love them and I support them. I want to be a man who shows his wife what my submission under the authority of Christ looks like.

As part of bowing down to authority, I have debt to pay back. “The wicked borrow and do not repay…” -Psalm 37:21, and I don’t have time for wickedness. Below is an update on my student loans. Until next time everyone! Stay strong, fight on, and have no debt but love!

Tuition Assistance Is Here! $65,596.78 Paid, $19,711.29 Till Payoff

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

Just because you have “finished” college doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider going back. I know… I know… I’m still paying back my undergrad and grad school student loans. Remember, there are many ways to pay for school besides going into debt (Scholarships, Family, Grants, 529 Plans, and crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe®).

However, an often overlooked tuition assistance source is employers.

Work Hard, Learn More

That’s right! Your job may extend scholarships to you and your dependent children. You may also get a salary boost or stipend for earning your degree as an employee. Talk to your HR office about existing educational benefits for yourself and perhaps your dependents. With the rising cost of tuition, a dollar saved is a dollar earned; because tuition won’t cost you pennies. That’s for sure.

Colleges and universities also offer great staff/administrator educational benefits. I am fortunate to work in higher education, so my employer pays the costs of two classes each fall/spring/summer sessions regardless of credit hour and final grade earned. However, I am mindful that my boss reviews my midterm and final grades to justify spending on my educational endeavors.

Employers Need Skilled Workers

Did you know your state may offer tuition exemptions/waivers for certain occupations? For example, the state of Texas will cover the cost of tuition for Police Officers enrolled in Law Enforcement or Criminal Justice classes. Firefighters receive the same benefit as employees or active members of volunteer fire departments to take Fire Science courses.

Right now, I am completing accounting courses in route to a certification to further improve my financial literacy. I am blessed with the opportunity to share my student loan debt story with students daily. The Lord has placed other things on my heart to take this mission further. It’s rough at times but as Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers says, “Trust the Process”.

Life’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Here’s an update on my student loan progress below. Until next time everyone! Stay strong, fight on, and have no debt but love.

It’s Spring Break, Not Spring Broke: $63,971.03 Paid, $21,337.04 Till Payoff

Dear Parents, Friends, and Loved Ones,

Please pass this along to the college students in your life. Spring break is upon us, and they are being tempted to jump on planes and make it rain with tuition refunds.

Remind Them They Are Students:
Don’t ignore your college work over Spring Break. Use the week to relax from the regular grind, but stay in the habit of studying for school.

I think a lot of us dream of spending Spring Break on a beach with friends. Whatever your plans, use the time to continue being a student.

Encourage to Think Beyond Spring Break:
When I was a student, I found keeping this balance let me enjoy my break while also helping me stay caught up with the schoolwork to come. I was also less stressed when the break was over.

I’m not suggesting you lock yourself in your room and do nothing but school work. That will lead to burnout. Remember, balance is the key. Use the week to relax, but also keep up the routine of having study time:
• Continue doing classwork each day on your regular schedule.
• Schedule time to have fun and catch up with friends.

Prepare for The Next Academic Year & Career:
Besides the no-brainers of exercising and eating healthy, here are a few other things to do during Spring Break. The suggestions below will take time, so extend yourself some grace. For help, visit your college’s Career Services office when it reopens.
• Start working on a generic cover letter.
• Find a summer internship or job.
• Apply for scholarships.

Assess Your Finances:
If you can’t afford to jet set with classmates, just don’t go. Just imagine yourself in your career after graduation taking paid vacations from work. You will soon be a working professional who can afford multiple international trips a year-if you practice good money habits today.

Remind Them of Possible Financial Ruin:
For the last 7 years and 9 glorious months, I’ve been paying back student loans. Do you really want this in your future? Do yourself a favor, sacrifice what you want now for a future that’s a little more comfortable. Below is my balance update. Until next time everyone! Stay strong, fight on, and let’s help the youth have no debt but love.

Tax Time! $63,620.94 Paid, $21,687.13 Till Pay Off

Howdy and thank you for stopping by! Your visit to No Debt But Love isn’t taken for granted. Your presence here greatly encourages and motivates me.

Now Let’s Roll…
Grrrr… I hate giving the federal government an interest free loan. This is what happens when you get an income tax return, you essentially paid too much in taxes. Getting a return is better than the alternative, owing the federal government. Just thinking about these three letters makes me break out in a cold sweat! They are the IRS.

Pay What You Owe
The Internal Revenue Service possesses a very particular set of skills. Skills that make it a nightmare for your bank account. If you are some poor soul who owes years of back taxes without legal representation, the IRS will find you and garnish your wages.

I am grateful to have not owed the government a dime. Thanks to deducting $2,500 paid in student loan interest this past year. I also received a tax credit for the cost of childcare for my children. These tax provisions help immensely, but NOT enough to take out more student debt or have more children.

Am I Done Yet?
Paying off student loans has been frustrating and I grow evermore anxious as my balance gets closer to ZERO. I am instructed to not be anxious about anything, as found in Philippians 4:6-7. It’s weird that I am now grateful to have had the student loan debt in my life.

I have learned to count the cost of things I want; as in hours on my job it will take to pay for something. In this case of student loans- the years exchanged for pieces of paper. I am determined and have plans to not allow history to repeat itself through my children.

Making It Rain
As soon as our tax return hit the bank, my wife agreed to put some it towards my student loan debt.  Below is an update of my loan balances. I am blessed to watch my debt shrink each month. I am grateful and can’t stop thanking the Lord for it.

Until next time everyone! Stay strong, fight on, and have no debt but love.

Student Loans Are Stressful!/I’m Going Bald: $60,548.56 Paid, $24,759.51 Till Payoff

We have all read the nightmare stories of student loans wreaking havoc on the personal finances of the young and old.  Here’s another thing student loans may cause… HAIR LOSS! DUN-DUN-DUUUUN!!! Haha.  Life isn’t meant to be lived seriously all the time, so I decided to post about my male patterned baldness haha.

Going bald is a pain for me, as I have placed a bit of my identity in the strength of my hairline.  Yeah… kind of silly.   This past November, I stressed tremendously about my son starting daycare with his sister.  I was on paternity leave at the time and the stress wasn’t about missing my son per se… it was the pressure to provide for two kids in daycare lol.

Yet the Lord provided and continues to provide.  My nights became sleepless as I wondered how we would make it with my student loans, regular monthly expenses, and now daycare for 2.  I was prepared to reduce my student loan payment to make things work.  I grew frustrated thinking about all the progress made in reducing the debt to only watch it creep back up.

I was literally going bald at the top of my head due to stress, check out the picture.  

The elders in my family with wrinkly, low-hanging, bubbled lips would say, “Boy, the Lord is never surprised”.  To which I would immediately exhale audibly and roll my eyes.

Soon everything became too much, I broke down and decided to challenge the Lord with Psalm 127:3-5 (NIV), “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them”.

I didn’t feel blessed at the time. After I decided to relinquish control as Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight”.

My family follows a strict budget and my wife isn’t too thrilled about it.  However, there is more than enough every month.  The provision doesn’t make any sense, as we should be in the negative.  We may not have always have we want, but we always have what we need.

My hair even grew back, check out the waves HAHA.  Hair is a trivial matter in the grand outlook of life, my razor is ready to “Come On Home” and join the pantheon of bald greats-Dwayne Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Vin Diesel

Below is an update on my student loan balance.  I have no choice but to give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!  His faithful love endures forever. -Psalm 136:1