By Daniel Potter, Guest Writer

If you’re reading this, you’ve made it to the last few weeks of the Spring 2016 semester. Congratulations! We’ve come a long way in the Money Minute, having discussed shame around money, budgeting financial resources and time, and the cost of our habits. As the semester dwindles, let’s turn our gaze to the horizon and the daunting beast of student loan repayment.

In a perfect world, an individual gives (at least) the first ten percent to “God,” roughly the next ten percent to savings, and uses the rest conservatively to keep control of their spending. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. There’s that unexpected car repair that took a month’s worth of savings or that forgotten textbook that throws a wrench in the tightest of budgets. I’m not trying to be sacrilegious about the importance of stewardship to the church, but I think we’ve all hit that Sunday where we needed to skimp at the offering plate to make sure there was food on the dinner plate (Ramen noodles count!). And, if you’re like me, you’ve rolled your eyes more than once at Tom Benza’s radical notion of paying off student loan debt while still in school – who has free capital for that? As the academic year draws to a close, though, it’s important to gaze at the total amount borrowed and to begin plotting your course for the muddy adventure of repayment that lies ahead.

For first year students, checking in on your amount borrowed provides perspective on the first steps of your journey and provides a chance to review the amount that lingers in the corner from undergraduate studies. Second year students can reassess their financial standing and make a new, more realistic plan for the final push beginning in the fall.

Finally, third year students must take a hesitant-but-necessary look at the total damage done and begin diving into the murky waters of loan repayment. Whatever your situation, the important thing is that you make time to assess your financial journey thus far.

If any of this sounds like a foreign language, don’t worry. It is. It’s stranger than fiction with the potential for more plot twists, pit falls, or red herrings than the best novel. The good news is that you are not alone. A helpful starting point is to contact Tom Benza or Lauren Trethaway in Financial Aid. Not only do they enjoy helping students, they can decode student loans faster than Dr. Moyer transposes Hebrew. They are willing and ready to help you understand how much you’ve borrowed, where to find that information on your own, and which company will eventually be coming to collect. They are an oasis of resources in the barren landscape of navigating repayment. Use them.

In short, borrowing money is a necessary evil for many who have embarked on this divine journey at Wake. Do not feel ashamed of having borrowed or of being unaware of the process moving forward. Instead, take steps towards future financial freedom by crafting a plan to tackle loan repayment. Relax, breathe deeply, and find security in sound financial planning that is buttressed by good budgeting aimed at the road ahead.