Door and Names

Well, this is it.  The end of an era.  I’m closing up shop here at RR – I’ve been here almost 4 years… but it’s time to move onto the next chapter.

They say, when one door closes, another opens.  And that is so true.  With my divorce, a door closed – a lot ended, and with that was using my married name.  It took months of deliberation, whether I wanted to keep my married name, or go back to my maiden name (I had to decide before the divorce was finalized).  It was mostly a tug of war between having the same last name as my son, and associating with a married name I wasn’t married to anymore.  In the end, I decided to go back to my roots, and use my maiden name.  It’s just a name right?  I don’t think it’ll affect Avery in any negative ways, having a different last name than me.  Plus, it’s sooo nice to be back where I grew up and have the name everyone here knew me as.

Speaking of which, that’s one door that opened right up – moving back to Vermont.  It’s been nothing short of amazing, moving back home and having friends and family here to support us, and spend time with.  Avery is growing into such a wonderful little boy, and I know much of it is because of all this fresh air, outdoor activity, and presence of family and friends.  And in just a few months, we’ll be able to move into our forever home, a place Avery will always call home and grow up in, creating so many memories – something I wouldn’t have been able to give Avery back in Boston.

So, it’s only fitting, we start this new life in Vermont with a new blog – I know we’ve been up here a year already, but we’ve been in ‘limbo’ for a while now, first living in an apartment in Boston during the divorce – not knowing if we could move to Vermont, and then we moved, but we’ve been living the past year with my parents so I could save money.  With buying the house, and finally having a direction and putting down roots, we’re finally moving out of this limbo state and getting a fresh start.

As you know, I always sign my posts ‘<3 Meghan’, so that’s where the idea came from… leaving the door open for me to write about everything and anything happening in our crazy little life here in Vermont.  No worries, all my old posts and pictures are there too.  We’re not erasing any memories in the past, just building on them under a new roof 🙂

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Our next chapter begins with our latest adventure….camping last weekend.  Check it out on the new blog.

www.LoveMeghan.com

❤ Meghan

Avery Turns 3!

Avery turned THREE!  As per family tradition, we had to throw a big bash.  The first means of business was picking a theme.  If you follow this blog at all, you could guess what theme Avery would pick… and so the invitations were born:

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I knew there would be questions about what to get Avery, so I made a Birthday Wish List on Pinterest:

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Next, tons of shopping and party planning (which by the way was quite difficult because Ice Age is not a new/popular movie, so finding any decorations for the theme was near impossible!) and cake making!

Avery picked out a blue cake mix, so I used my Grandma’s giant cake pans to make an epic cake…

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And after two nights of frosting…

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The iceberg was finally made! IMG_3262

My parents had taken Avery to the store so I could have the night to make the cake and when they came back, my Mom loved the cake and asked how I designed and made it, and I have no idea!  I just took a really big knife and chopped away at it until it looked like an iceberg and I could put a waterfall down it (like in the movie).  I topped it with Ice Age characters!

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A little work from some paper and a sheet and we made this fun display for the party!

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Some balloons, snowflakes, streamers.. and it was party time!

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Avery had loved the bouncy house at a party we went to this summer, so it was only fitting he had one at his party!

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It was a hit!

And so were the Ice Age games… First, acorn hunt!  We acquired alllll these acorns from Uncle Todd the week before…

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We spray painted a few of them, and had the kiddos search for them!IMG_3341IMG_3345

Next, dinosaur excavation! (dinosaur’s frozen in ice)IMG_3347

It kept the kids occupied for quite a while… and the kids were quite creative, using the spoons, smashing them on the ground, or licking them!

Avery opened his presents… (which took me days to put them all away – Avery is very loved and now has an even bigger college fund)

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We ate yummy burgers and hot dogs (and the delicious dishes everyone brought to share!)

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Each kiddo took a whack at the acorn pinata (Thanks Mimi)!IMG_3355

Everyone got a goodie bag of dinosaur stamps, figures, tattoos, and noise makers (per Avery’s specific request)

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After going thru three rounds of hitting the piniata, and a little help from Jeremy… there was candy all over!IMG_3358

Avery blew out his #3 candle…IMG_3361

And he opened his big present from MiMi and Grampy… a tractor with wagon!

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Needless to say, Avery wasn’t too graceful his first time at the wheel.

And what do you do with a wagon?  Carry other kids of coarse!  Avery wasn’t driving the tractor for more than a minute before another kiddo jumped in the wagon for a ride.  Both of them fell out (nobody was hurt!)

The party came to an end, but the after party continued that night and the next morning. Avery’s cousins spent the night and they had fun together…IMG_3364

We put Avery’s new quilt on his bed (Thanks Nana!)IMG_3366

And we displayed all of Avery’s fun birthday cards on his book shelf!IMG_3365

And to follow up with Avery’s THREE post update, I’ve got Avery’s annual checkup details. We met Avery’s new pediatrician, took a fun test (I had a list of things to ask Avery to do and questions for him to answer, and he did great!!!), and Avery got his height and weight checked. 

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Avery is 31.75lbs (50th percentile, up from the 42nd last year), and 38 inches tall (70th percentile, down from 78th last year).

He checked out very well, got a flu shot (and band-aid), and two stickers, which he proudly displayed on our way out.

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And we did our annual height mark on Avery’s giant ruler.

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It’s official… I have a three year old!  And he’s awesome!!!  We had such a fun party, and birthday celebrations – thanks to everyone for making it fun and special!  Until next year…

❤ Meghan

THREE

My baby is three today.  He’s grown so much in the last couple months – really gaining his independence, talking up a storm, and he’s no longer a baby, or a toddler, he’s a preschooler!

Avery started his first day of preschool today.
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I dropped him off, and he gave hugs and kisses to Joey and I and went off to play.  He didn’t cry or cling.. he’s all grown up!  He was so proud of his new backpack (a hand-me down from cousin Aiden), and wouldn’t let go of his ice age characters from his birthday party this weekend.
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There are so many things about Avery that I just want to bottle up and save forever because I know he will continue to change and grow.  But for now, here are a few things I’d like to store away and look back on someday…

Things ‘I can do myself’ :

    • Put on & Take off my shoes.  I’m working on taking off my socks, but since I demand to wear big long white sox like Grampy that practically go up to my knees, I get too frustrated before I can pull them off completely.
    • Sing the ABCs. I like to sing when putting the alphabet puzzle together with Mommy and when Mommy asks me to read anything, I recite the ABCs.
    • Use the Potty. I’m ALMOST potty trained… I just have to remember to tell Mommy I need to go, BEFORE I go.  I  can pull my pants down and use the step stool to get to the potty myself!  Oh and I stand up like big boys do 😉

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Avery was sooo excited when we went shopping for big boy pants – he took them out of the bag and laid them all out like this, silly kid!

    • Wash My Hands.  If Mommy asks me to wash my hands before dinner, I can go into the bathroom, turn on the light, pull up the step stool, turn on the water, get the soap and wash my hands, and put everything back.
    • Count to Thirteen.  I can count very high, but after 13, I tend to go back down to 8.
    • Ride a Trike and my Bike with Training Wheels. My favorite time to ride my bike is when we are visiting Great Grandma & Grandpa.

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  • Pick Clothes Out of My Dresser.  Mommy can ask me to go pick out clothes and I can get them all by myself.  Sometimes I come back with Pajamas or long shirts and I have to make a second trip, but I am learning!

Avery’s favorite things change pretty often now.  He has a short attention span and moves from one activity to another after a few minutes, and he could like one food today and hate it tomorrow.  But here are a few consistent favorites…

Favorites:

    • Fruit: Strawberries & Apples
    • Meat: Sausage & Hotdogs
    • Vegetable: Corn on the Cob

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    • Meal: Tacos or Spaghetti
    • Books: Thomas book from Sarah T
    • Candy: Jelly Beans & Sour Patch Kids
    • Snack: Popcorn & Fruit Gummies
    • Songs: There’s a Hole in My Bucket, Rain Rain Go Away, and the commercial song ‘I’m a Big Kid Now’
    • Color: Blue! or Red, or Green, depending on the day, haha.
    • Movie: The Elephant Movie (Ice Age)
    • Outdoor Activity: Riding his new tractor, playing in the garden, playing in the garage
    • Indoor Activity: Thomas Trains, Cars, Play Doh

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There are some quirky, distinct, and particular things we do every day that not many people know about but Avery never lets me forget and reminds me if we don’t do them.

Routine:

  • When I pick Avery up from school, he likes to wear his (heavy and full) backpack outside to ‘Show my kids’ (classmates) as he says, because he is ‘Big and strong’ and ‘Im a Superman!’
  • When Avery says goodbye or goodnight to Mimi, she gets 2 Kisses and 1 hug… every time!
  • Avery gets the mail every day after school.  He sits in my lap in the car at the mailbox, reads off the mailbox numbers, gets the mail out and brings it in the house.
  • When we go for walks, on our way back, Avery races us by going down Tom’s driveway (the neighbor, which runs next to ours) and beats us home.
  • We get jelly beans every day after school at Joey’s work
  • We stop and look at the ‘broken house’ every day (It’s a house they are building, but Avery has called it the broken house, haha)

Personality:

Oh Avery.  Words to describe this kiddo… Energetic, loving, caring, fearless, stubborn, persistent, determined, athletic, clever, daring, polite, bold, handsome, entertaining, bright, confident, curious, thoughtful, happy, and healthy.

Avery has his 3 year check up on Wednesday, I’ll be back to give his stats after that, and post pictures and video from Avery’s birthday party!

❤ Meghan

Keep Calm….

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Strangely, I’m not freaking out!  It’s the last year of my 20s, and I’m totally OK with that 🙂  I’m happier, healthier, and have so much more going for me this year, than last year, and the years before.  So, bring on year 29!!!

And honestly, how can I be bummed about the end of an era closing in on me when this little munchkin gave me a pink loufa, blue leopard print pajama pants, and mini M&Ms for my birthday this morning??!!

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Gotta love when you’re 3 year old picks out the most random things for your birthday present 🙂  Nothing better than that!

Oh and guess what I did on my lunch break today…
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Happy Birthday to me!  Thanks to my thoughtful little sis, I got pampered at the spa 🙂

Way to start off a birthday!!!  Back to work this afternoon, and then later tonight…we’re making pizza and watching a movie together to celebrate.  Tomorrow is Avery’s big birthday bash… sooo excited for this weekend… FUN FUN FUN!

❤ Meghan

Summer Vacation!

Whoa, can’t believe it’s Friday already!  These short weeks and long weekends are nice, especially after we spent a week on vacation at the end of August!

We spent a week (Sun-Fri) camping in Lake George, New York.  “We” being Avery and I, MiMi and Grampy, Joey, and Aunt Sarah!
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We arrived and setup camp!

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We got a site right on the river and next to a big field.  The campground was pretty quite most of our visit.  There were some kids on Sunday, but the rest of the week we felt like pretty much the only ones there.  No campers on either side of our site.

It wasn’t long before these two settled in and made themselves at home…

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We took walks around the park every day.  Avery loved stopping at the river and throwing rocks in.
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When Avery got tired from walking, he insisted Joey carry him… then Joey HAD to carry me too… sillyness!
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More fun…

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Avery on top of the world!IMG_2711

Look, we’re taller than Joey!IMG_2713

We enjoyed dinner outside…

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And we met our new friends…

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These ducks, who we named Donald and Daffy, came by a couple times a day.  We had fun feeding them!
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We ended the night, and every night, with a campfire.  Avery was so excited about eating marshmallows 🙂
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Everyone slept well and we started off the next day…

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Avery woke up and sat by the river with Mimi, eating breakfast.  Then when all our bellies were full, it was time for some basketball and bike riding!

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I treated Avery to a new bike, a big boy one with training wheels because he mastered his little trike last camping trip.  So, he and Grampy put together this little number:
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It’s hard to ride on gravel or dirt, so the basketball court was perfect!  We played basketball (well, I lost at horse over and over, haha) while Avery cruised around!

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And like I’ve said before, nap time while camping is a challenge… but not when you have a Grampy and a hammock…
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Joey brought his study materials for his Personal Training Certification Fantasy Football Draft 😉

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Ok, so I HAD to put this in… the boys are napping and the girls are playing cards and we notice a new camper near us, a couple sites over.  Then after a few glances we notice the guy is laying on the picnic table while the woman tweezes his nose hairs!  Ew!!!  I HAD to snag a picture, hehe.

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There was a nice wooden playground that Avery had a good time on every day.IMG_2731

And more marshmallows at night…IMG_2733

Aunt Sarah was with us for two days, since she’s off to grad school, and on one of those days, we all went together to Great Escape!!!!  It’s a Six Flags theme park.  We had been here when we were kiddos and since Avery was now tall enough to ride the kiddy rides, we went!
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We rode rides, had a picnic lunch back at the car, went to the water park, played games… a fun filled day!
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I’m not alone in the car… Avery’s driving but he’s too short to see!

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Riding the Train!

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Avery was so strong!!! He won a prize!IMG_2754IMG_2757
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Kiddie Roller Coaster with Aunt Sarah!

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Oh no, in jail!!!

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Waterpark fun!!!IMG_2826IMG_2827IMG_2828IMG_2829IMG_2830IMG_2831IMG_2832IMG_2833IMG_2834
We had such a fun day!!!!!!!

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Someone even got a prize when we left…

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More fun back at the campground the next day…
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Treasures, As Avery calls them.  (aka, rocks)IMG_2760

Cheese for breakfast!IMG_2761

A morning walk with Grampy

We spent a day in Lake George walking around visiting shops, stores, the waterfront, and arcades!!!
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We had some nice warm weather, so we cooled off in the campground pool…
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Avery did so well in his swimmies.  He was always with someone,  but he can float in the arm floaties by himself, and he’s learning to kick and paddle… he just isn’t quite going anywhere yet without someone giving him a little push 🙂

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Jump!!!

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Avery loved jumping in the pool… and we had some fun taking pictures of us jumping over each other…

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On our last full day camping, we woke up to a rainy day.

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But in between showers, we went mini golfing!  It was Avery’s first time…
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He did great and had so much fun!IMG_2785

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At times when he swang, Grampy said he played like Happy Gilmore with a hockey stick, haha! Like this swing I caught on camera…IMG_2790IMG_2792IMG_2793IMG_2794

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We built up an appetite golfing, so for lunch… we had ice cream!!IMG_2795

On the way home, the boys were pretty tired…

We got back to camp and their napping continued…. what else is there to do on a rainy day but nap???

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Mom and I played scrabble!!!
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Avery kept occupied making up games like making his own little hideaway under the table seats…

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We packed up in sprinkling rain on Friday and headed home.  The trip was fun and full of laughs and memories… 🙂

❤ Meghan

Our Weekend SUCKED

Literally!  We were in stitches laughing Saturday night when Avery drank from a straw for the first time…

For the longest time, Avery would just chew on a straw.  But for some reason, at the Mall Saturday night while feeding Avery chicken and french fries, I gave him a little fruit punch from my cup to see if he would drink out of the straw… and he did!  And I’m so glad I did it with a fruity drink, because he LOVED IT and just wanted more and more haha.  I couldn’t stop squealing because it was the coolest thing EVER!  Him drinking from the straw + his adorable reaction to the juice.  Too cute!

As for the rest of the weekend, we spent A LOT of time outside, enjoying the sunny fall weather.  We took Avery to a new park too, and he had a blast.  I think we wore him out too, because he slept thru the night all weekend!!!!

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And we got this cute football for Avery (for $1 at Target) and he wouldn’t put it down!  He took it to the park with him (holding it the whole walk there).

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But with his short attention span, he eventually found something more amusing (a pine cone) and left the ball – and another little boy found it and played with it for the next hour.

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Avery had fun chasing another boy around and even joined the boys grandma on the tire swing – which was pretty cool since he NEVER sits still on that thing for me to hold him.

Oh and we had some fun eating adventures this weekend… Avery tried a clementine…

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He liked it..but he had more fun throwing and squishing it than actually eating it.

And we went to Dunkin Donuts Sunday morning and I shared a sandwich with Avery – well, he ate most of it.  This kid just eats and eats… no idea where he puts it!  And he drank some cranberry juice from a straw… I still got a kick out of that!

I hit the gym with Erin on Sunday while Avery snoozed – a nice 1.5-2 hour nap!  And oh man am I sore today!  We’re really getting into the groove of working out every week…. I’m excited for Zumba tomorrow and our weigh-in on Friday.  I hope last week’s weight-loss wasn’t a fluke because I feel all this gym-time paying off… my jeans yesterday were so loose!  When I told Vinay, he said ‘Burn them!’ Haha, and as much fun that would be celebrating my accomplishments – I would never burn a perfectly good pair of jeans, hunny 🙂  I should make them into a craft project… any ideas?

The weekend ended with some iPhone FaceTime with Grammy and Grampy… who just got their first smart phone!!!  Well, my Dad did.  My Mom STILL refuses to get a cell phone.  Do your parents still live in the dark ages like that?  We are so lucky to have the technology today to video chat with them because they are so far away…same with our family in NYC and Cali….and now my sis in Texas too.

How was your weekend?

Looming Student Loans

Ok, I’m running a little late… according to my weekly outlook, I should have posted this last week!  Opps.  Life is a balancing act and sometimes you have to drop one ball.  Luckily, I have some time this weekend to pick that ball up and throw it onto the blog.  I finally get to share about this constant bug in my head… student loans.  I’ve been wanting to write about this for months since I graduated with my Masters in December, and it affects our family finances, plus it’s a big topic of concern for the young college generation today.

Like many other post-grads in this country, I am strapped with tons of student loan debt.  This year, the average student graduates with $25,250 of student loan debt and private student loans average around 9% for interest rates. Based on these average numbers, students would be looking at a monthly payment of about $319.86.  And to top that, if you went for a higher degree in graduate school, you’ll have around $43,524 in debt when you’re done (that’s me).  AND I heard on the radio yesterday that the nation’s student loan debt is 1 trillion dollars.  That’s more than all this country’s credit card debt, combined!  Which irks me because all driven and motivated young professionals of tomorrow are paying bills just as big as the shopaholics out there maxing out there cards on frivolous materialistic items.

College Debt

Luckily, there is a light at the end of the tunnel… and a reason to all this madness of getting into tons of debt.  A higher degree means more earning potential.  A Bachelor’s degree position pays $26K/yr more than a high school diploma position.  A Masters? $15K more than that.  (source) So, it’ll all be worth it in the end, right?  Well, when we get to the end… whenever that will be.  I feel like I keep chipping away and with interest, it doesn’t seem to make a dent.

However, I’ve been doing this (paying off my loans) for 3-1/2 years now, so I’ve learned a thing or two.  I keep chipping away, and when I can, throw money at a loan and eventually pay it off..which feels AMAZING!  Here’s a few tips/tricks I’ve learned along the way…

  1. Consolidate.  Six months after you graduate, your student loans will kick in.  The best way to address the many loans you’ve accumulated over the semesters of school is to first consolidate them.  This gives you one payment, and one place to pay them.  That way you don’t forget about one and it allows you to easily prepare for one monthly payment.
  2. Automate & forget them.  By setting up an automatic payment with your bank, or thru their online servicing (Sallie Mae has this feature), you ensure the payments are made on time.  You never forget a payment which means no late fees!
  3. Lower Your Interest Rates.  Most loan companies knock off a percentage of your interest rate for setting up automatic debit or going paperless.  Check out what savings options are offered to you.
  4. Pay off Higher Interest Loans First. Now that you know how much you’ll be paying every month, throw a little extra $$ to the higher interest loans, so in the long run, you’ll pay less interest on them.  I recently had one loan down to $500 and paid it off.  Had I kept making the minimum payments on it, years later when I would have paid it off, I would have paid $720.
  5. Claim Interest on your taxes.  Don’t forget to claim the interest you’ve paid on your loans on your taxes!
  6. It’s Good Debt.  Remember although student loans can be daunting and you feel like they’ll never get paid off, they are good debt.  If you keep paying them off on time, your credit builds.  But remember that it will affect other purchases.  When we bought our house we had to supply all the info on our student loan debt, which affected how much of a mortgage we could afford.

I’ll end this little rant with some exciting news… I paid off another loan!
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Do you have student loans?  What are some tips/tricks you’ve learned to help pay them off?