Different kinds of health

Generally when people talk about health, they are referring to physical health. I am of the mindset that there are many different kinds of health. Physical, mental, emotional, financial, spiritual etc. all matter in my book. Seven and a half years ago I made two big decisions that impacted multiple facets of my health. I went gluten free, which had an immediate impact on my physical health. I made another decision, that I won’t discuss here in any real depth due to anonymity issues, but it had a major impact on my mental, emotional and spiritual health. Through all these decisions, I’ve found there are various sublayers within each facet of health, kind of like an onion. Going gluten free was great for my health overall, but there are other things I can do for my physical health, like exercising more consistently, or paying better attention to the quality of gluten free foods I put in my body. Add in how these various facets intertwine, and I’m now also realizing that when I take better care of my physical health, I feel better mentally and emotionally.

Something that has grown out of this whole self care mission has been paying better attention to my financial health. Some of you may remember seeing this post at Get Rich Slowly about how I paid off my credit cards before coming back to school. My financial health is extremely important to me, and in relation to this blog, more so now because it allows me the financial space to be able to afford better quality food, support local farmers, and start buying meat from more sustainable sources. Needless to say, I’m careful with my money.

Here is where this post will go VERY off topic for this blog.
Sometime last year I made the decision that since interest rates on savings accounts were so low, I was better off working on paying off my student loans rather than saving a ton. That and I no longer like the idea of being in debt. I still save a very sizable amount each month, especially considering what my student stipend is, but now I also have a line item in my budget to send to my student loans every month. Somehow, somewhere, I was informed that I could apply my student loan payments to one subset of my loans, namely the unsubsidized portion. So this is what I’ve been doing since last Dec, at least so I thought. (I’m trying to figure out where I got this piece of information, so if you know, please feel free to contact me. Usually I’m good about writing these things down, but apparently not this gem, so now I’m second guessing its validity.)

Sunday night I made my student loan payment to Sallie Mae just like I have for the past year or so. Based on a phone conversation I’d had with a representative back in December, I know to email them directly afterward to request that my most recent payment be applied to my unsubsidized portion. And every other month I’ve received an email back that my payment has been processed as requested. Except for this morning. This morning I got a email stating that this was not possible because of the nature of my student loans (namely, consolidated). I saw red. Any shreds of mental and emotional health flew right out the window. I called Sallie Mae and long story short, was informed by a representative that no, my payments had been applied as they saw fit, not according to my instructions, and not solely to the unsubsidized portion of my student loans. The story gets odder though, because when I log in and look at the payment history on my loans, it shows that each payment has been processed as posting to my unsubsidized loan. So I am left wondering who doesn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground and who’s been lying to me. Supposedly an expedited inquiry has been placed on my account to see what is actually going on. But between a representative who didn’t seem to have a full grasp on English AND so much background noise on her end, I can’t be quite sure what is really being done. Oddly enough, last month I received a customer satisfaction email from them that I had yet to fill out. I filled it out today and wrote about this all in the comments section.

I’m not holding my breath on this. Either way, I know I’ll be in better financial shape making payments now on my student loans rather than waiting until I graduate. If it is the case that my payments have not been applied as I requested, it simply means I’ll pay a bit more in interest over the life of the loan and it will take me a bit longer to pay them off. But this will still be a shorter time than if I waited until I’m done with my PhD program. Just like other facets of my health, I’m sure I’ll face various obstacles along the way (just like lack of support for further dietary changes). Other than my own stupid decisions, this is honestly the first financial obstacle that has enraged me. In the long run, it is likely to be minuscule compared to my totals, but today, it makes me want to rage. And write about it on the internet.

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