Arbitrage, Miscalculation, And A Scarlet Letter – My Student Loan Story


Student Loans are crazy!

We’ve never really talked about student loans on this site, and that’s partly because only one of us had student loans and they were paid off in full before we moved in together, about a year before we got married and combined finances. But mostly it’s because the way I approached student loans (though it ended up working out OK) isn’t necessarily one that I would endorse for most.

So here’s my story. It’s not super pretty, but it is what it is. The numbers are to the best of my recollection (since this all feels like ancient history now), but are probably accurate to the nearest hundred.

The College Plan

In high school I wanted nothing more than to get away from the city where I grew up, but whatever higher education savings accounts there had been in my family were long since drained by the time I, the youngest, approached college. My parents were honest about that and said that while they’d pay for two flights per year and my course books, the rest was on me. This came as no surprise to me; I knew I was working my tail off in high school for a reason.

My top choice college offered me a full-ride* scholarship (tuition + room & board). But the reason for the asterisk (*) is that there was a catch. The donor funding my scholarship required that every scholarship student have “skin in the game”. Students (or their parents if they had parental support) had to pay at least what they were eligible to take out in subsidized loans. The idea being that if you were financially invested in your education you were less likely to blow it off. (Research supports this theory.)

Finishing Undergrad

So off to undergrad I went. Over 4 years, between getting the best on-campus jobs, and paid summer internships, I ended up taking out subsidized loans that averaged about $1.5K each during 4 different semesters. So I graduated undergrad with a loan balance of ~$6K, and I had about $10K saved up in the bank. Score!

Remember all those flights and books my parents were paying for? Well, those were actually all being put on a joint credit card in my name and my parents’ name. But my parents fell on hard times and when I graduated I assumed responsibility for the balance on this card.

Since I now had ~$5K in credit card debt and $10K in the bank, I paid those credit cards off in one swoop. Then having depleted about half of my savings at once, I held on to the $6K in student loans even though I probably could have wiped them out pretty quickly. After all, I was headed to…

Grad School – Land of Low Pay and Deferment

When I enrolled in grad school, my undergrad loans continued to be subsidized and deferred, which was great. I had a full scholarship with tuition and modest living allowance, so I didn’t HAVE to take on any additional debt. But…

The Arbitrage Opportunity Was Too Tempting

I was offered a $10K subsidized loan as part of my grad school financing package, and even though I technically didn’t need it, I took it. I took it and I put it in a money market savings account. At that point I thought there was a decent chance I’d be in grad school for 5 years (I was enrolled in a PhD program), so at 2% interest in a money market account (“Those were the days…”), I’d earn $1000+ and have the money safely waiting to pay back the principle at the end of 5 years of school. Plus if I ever needed big time emergency funds, I’d have it.

“Help! Stop! It’s eating my SOUL!”

These were the words I literally shouted in my sleep while having nightmares about school during my first year (True story, I was there-Mr. PoP). My dream self was pretty spot-on with her assessment of my relationship with grad school, so I figured out how to get a consolation masters after a year and started making plans for what to do next.

I Bought A Car… A Nice Car

I knew I would need a car where I was moving for my next job and that I would know no one within 100+ miles that I could rely on for help if I had car trouble. So I bought a nice car. Probably too nice a car – a used Mini Cooper I christened Emma. She was cute and a ton of fun. But she definitely depleted a chunk of the $10K I had specifically set aside for the $10K grad school loan repayment.

When I moved for my new job, I had my adorable new-to-me car, about $16K in student loans outstanding, and about $8K in the bank. I felt like Mary Tyler Moore throwing her hat up in the air in the opening credits of her namesake show, but with a cute car and a more glamorous destination – Florida.

Public Service Jobs & Loan Forgiveness Opportunities

Here’s where things really start to get interesting.

  • First, I had a six month window where I knew my loans would continue to be in deferment. So by my calculations I didn’t need to make any payments until February since I graduated in August.
  • Topping it off was the fact that my first job out of college was in public service, and came with various student loan forgiveness opportunities for working in areas with “high needs”. The loan forgiveness amounts were based on the total you owed at the end of each year working in public service, so there wasn’t much incentive to pay off the loans too quickly since you’d lose out on forgiveness funds.

Between these two facts I decided that I was best off to pay nothing until February, and then pay the minimums after that until I started getting some loan forgiveness. Worst case, if I stayed in that job for 5 years I would have had ALL of my loans forgiven. In my head, this was like my job buying me my cute car and then some. Could be worse, right?

The Poo Hit the Fan Six Months After Graduating

When February rolled around and I hadn’t received any e-statements from my student loan provider, I logged in to make my first payment and was SHOCKED when it said I was 90-days past due. I immediately called in to see why this was the case and was horrified when the loan provider said they used a date in May as the start of my 6 month deferral period rather than my August graduation. That compounded with the fact that they had been sending print statements to my parents’ house across the country instead of e-statements to me as I had requested led to “my communication problem” (as AES referred to the entire ordeal).

I immediately threw about $500 at the loans to get them current and then some, and tried to get the blemish off my credit record. Despite written statements from the school of my actual graduation date, I was never able to get this blemish removed and it’s still there. By my calculations my 7-years with a scarlet letter on my credit report should be up soon, so (in theory) it will drop off then.

But I was still eligible for loan forgiveness (and the bigger my loan balance, the more $ I was eligible for), so there wasn’t much incentive to pay them off all that quickly despite my newfound frustration with them. For the time being, I just paid the minimum payments.

After completing one year working at my public service job, I knew I needed to move on. I wasn’t going to be happy staying for 5 years, and it wasn’t financially worth it to stay for the sole purpose of loan forgiveness when I could jump ship and get an almost 50% raise by doing so. But, on the bright side, I did get a PARTIAL loan forgiveness. One of the tiered loan forgiveness programs kicked in after just one year, and so I received $900 in loan forgiveness funds right as I was leaving that job. Not $16K, but something.

It Gets Less Interesting After That

I didn’t really have any incentive to keep the loans around after that, so I started throwing random amounts of money at them to pay them off while maintaining a cash buffer that I felt comfortable with. After about 14 months of doing this, I had enough money and was getting ready to move in with Mr PoP, so enough security too (didn’t think he’d let me be homeless at that point), that I just paid off the balance – about $8.5K. The final payoff was about 2 years after leaving grad school, and 7 years after taking out the first loan as a freshman in college.

How Did My Arbitrage Work Out?

Well, I earned ~$250 in interest by having the cash in a savings account when I could have paid it off. Then I got about $900 in loan forgiveness funds. So I “earned” about $1,150 off of the loans. But I paid out about $1,500 in interest on the loans before paying them off.

And There’s That Credit Blemish

Remember that blemish on my credit report I couldn’t get rid of? Well, it cost us about 1/8th of a point on our first mortgage since we took it out in my name alone. By the time we refinanced as a couple (and with Mr PoP’s pristine credit score) after about 21 months, this cost us about $300 additional dollars in mortgage interest over the previous 21 months.

Arbitrage = $1,150 earned – $1,500 (SL interest) – $300 (mortgage interest)

Arbitrage = -$650

Step 3 Is Not Profit – Lessons Learned

Instead of profiting, I lost about $650 on the whole student loan endeavor. And I learned that when you’re in your early 20’s, walking away from a 5-year plan shouldn’t be all that surprising, so I shouldn’t count on seeing every 5-year plan through to its end.

Would I recommend student loan arbitrage or loan forgiveness programs to others?

No, probably not. It just doesn’t seem worth the risk. Although I wasn’t going hog-wild and being a complete spendypants with the student loan money, I probably wouldn’t have paid $14K in cash for a car fresh out of school had an extra $10K not been sitting in my bank accounts.

As for relying on loan forgiveness programs, the difference in pay in just my first year in the private sector was more than the entirety of my starting student loan balance. So it doesn’t seem to make sense to stay in a job that doesn’t make you happy just for loan forgiveness dollars if you can leave, earn more and pay the loans off yourself – particularly if doing so puts you in a job where you are happier.


And that’s my student loan story. It’s a bit weird since, for me, my student loan debt KINDOF felt a little like a security blanket at a time when I was really trying to make it on my own, and I know that’s definitely not the norm.

So like I said, it’s not really pretty, but hopefully someone can learn something from it.


Mr. PoP Notes – I still can’t believe that I was the one with the good credit score when we got married! The only time I payed the electric and internet bills was when they would cut me off every third month! Also, Mrs. PoP looked great in that Mini Cooper, but I had to talk her out of getting a Camry!


What’s your student loan story?

49 comments to Arbitrage, Miscalculation, And A Scarlet Letter – My Student Loan Story

  • When I graduated I had around $28,000 in student loan debt. My mom helped out and I had some grants and scholarships, about half went for tuition. The rest was for pizza and beer on a several times a week basis. We had huge $5 pizzas and $3 beer pitchers delivered to our dorms. For $5 the pizza tasted like the box it came in. Ironically using student loans to pay for that crap probably ended up costing me $30+ a pie because of the interest and deferred payments.
    Charles@Gettingarichlife recently posted..My $35,000 Solar Bet With The BankMy Profile

  • I think confusion around the right way to handle these kinds of money questions is pretty typical for someone that age. You were able to learn your lesson without much damage. I think your point about not staying in a job just for student loan forgiveness is a good one. It’s very easy to focus on the explicit “benefit” of a situation when in reality your alternative choices without that benefit could be better.
    Matt Becker recently posted..The Terrible Twos and Financial ResponsibilityMy Profile

    • And often I think they are better financially even after paying off loans! It’s one thing to stay in a public service position that’s low paying because it’s your passion and another to make a possibly career limiting move by staying there for a long time for the sole purpose of loan forgiveness.

  • It sounds like you were on top of your finances even back in college. I think I would have tried the arbitrage as well, but like you pointed out, because things change it wasn’t worth it.
    I’ve had a couple of opportunities to take incredibly low interest loans, and I always thought about arbitrage, but the amount you’re going to earn is just so small compared to anything else that could happen.
    Also, I absolutely feel your pain regarding grad school. I think I said something similar when I was trying desperately to find a job that would save me from my research adviser.
    CashRebel recently posted..Salary envy and unrealistic expectationsMy Profile

    • Advisors are make or break when it comes to grad school. Sometimes I wonder if I would have stayed longer if the profs that recruited me hadn’t decided to take sabbatical my first year. Ah well.

  • trudy

    I’ve always had a horror of owing money, and regardless of the financial wiseness in terms of options, paid off everything as soon as I could, keeping an emergency fund around, however. Even my mortgage I threw extra money at whenever possible.

    • Do you think that was the way that your parents brought you up that led you to feel so averse to debt even “good” low interest debt like mortgages?

  • It’s crazy that you’re supposed to know how to pay of thousands of dollars of debt fresh out of college (especially if you didn’t major in finance or economics). Despite the hiccups, it seems you were both responsible and efficient in paying off your loans. I know folks who carry them around, paying loads of extra interest for years.
    Stefanie recently posted..Budget Travel: 6 Destinations, 400 Dollars.My Profile

  • I wish I would have thought like you when I was young. I ended up with $50,000 in student loans. 4 years of undergrad + a year of pharmacy school (couldn’t stand the thought of counting pills and battling with insurance companies, so I bailed).

    I’m just thankful that I was able to get a good IT job so I was able to pay off the loans without them setting me back too far. It still took years though.

    I got straight As in college, but was also unable to land any scholarships.
    Mr. 1500 recently posted..Thursday Rant Rained OutMy Profile

    • Shame about pharmacy school. My uncle has a degree in pharmacy and has never worked in a pharmacy in his life. He always had the coolest jobs. =)

      As for scholarships, my high school counselors were very adept at helping students navigate college applications and scholarships, and then I had advisors in college who were the same way. I probably had $150K+ in education paid for in scholarships because of the guidance I had navigating the system. And it helps that I test well. =)

  • Yikes! That whole story sounds super complicated! And I’m so sorry that you had to pay for the flights your parents promised to pay for =/
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..5 Job Seeking Tips for Job SearchersMy Profile

    • Unexpected credit card debt wasn’t the greatest graduation present ever, but it is what it is. Plus, the money was spent on me so it feels petty to get too bitter about it.

  • Yes, I’m no fan of AES either… sorry that happened to you. At least now, you’re far enough away that the credit blemish should be gone.

    And yes, I totally agree about the loan forgiveness programs! I work in non-profit (fundraising) so while I could technically qualify for forgiveness after 10 years, my federal Direct loan got sold to a third party after the US government managed it for so long and that “restarted” the clock on the repayment so I think the 10 years would be even longer than I have technically been repaying. With a 6.55% interest, it just makes more sense to pay if off sooner rather than wait for a “promised” forgiveness.
    Tara @ Streets Ahead Living recently posted..Why I love the humble TV antennaMy Profile

    • Last I checked it was still there! 7 years is up this coming February, and you can be sure I’m going to check in March! =)

      Another party selling your loan re-sets your forgiveness clock? Is that true? I knew that worked for consolidations but didn’t realize your loan provider could reset the clock too. How awful!

  • Jeez, feels like a lot of consternation over $650, doesn’t it?

    I have tried to scheme various things like this and I’ve found that the reward is rarely worth the effort and stomachaches that go with it.
    No Waste recently posted..I Hate FashionMy Profile

    • I think most of the consternation is the scarlet letter on my credit report. I always prided myself on being responsible and I’ve never liked having that on there. I’ll be glad when it’s gone!

  • Well this certainly isn’t your typical student loan story! You sounded very financially mature even at such a young age! Thanks for sharing Mrs. PoP.
    Girl Meets Debt recently posted..Finally Free From Credit Card Debt!My Profile

  • It’s unfortunate that the arbitrage didn’t work in your favor because, if it wasn’t for the confusion re: the start of that 6 month timeframe, it sounds like it might have worked out. When I was planning on being a teacher I looked into loan forgiveness programs but ultimately just decided to pay off the loans instead. As there’s no such thing as a free lunch, I get the feeling that the public institutions use these programs to (continue to) keep salaries down and create a captive labor market. I think you did the right thing by leaving for a better job that you enjoyed more.
    Done by Forty recently posted..Is it Moral to Let a Sucker Keep His Money?My Profile

    • I think unions are part of the problem. When it comes down to it, teachers for some subjects like math or science would probably be able to get a higher paying job than someone with an english ed degree. So for the forgiveness programs that I was eligible for, they were specifically for teaching in tough to fill subject areas where the salaries outside the profession would have been higher. (Math, science, etc.)

      Contractually the district couldn’t pay these subject teachers more b/c of union b.s., so the forgiveness programs seemed like a loophole around that to get some back-end pay to those that could probably easily earn more elsewhere. Weird, though.

    • I also looked at teacher forgiveness programs and realized it wasn’t worth my time. They’re fairly picky in my state, and the paperwork to show that your school is high enough poverty was frustrating. I figured I’d save more by paying it off and having flexibility to move around, so I did. Good thing, since I now teach at a private school. I technically get paid less, but there are a variety of perks that make my life much better and the minor pay cut (and no loan forgiveness) worth it.
      Leah recently posted..Celebrating LifeMy Profile

      • What kind of private school perks do you have? My mom got free tuition for her kids – which was the only reason my brother and I went to private school for elementary =)

        • When we have kids, yes, free tuition. But it’s a 6-12 school, so that won’t work for elementary. There are several good charter schools around as long as I’d be willing to drive (blegh). We don’t know what we’ll do yet, but we have a long time until we get there.

          Other perks:
          -> it’s a boarding school, so free housing (whoo!). We both work here, so we both do dorm duty 1 night a week and 1 weekend a month. Plus, no need to drive to work (double whoo!). We got rid of one car, so extra savings there.

          -> free food — all meals, if we would want eat them all, which we mostly do while we’re in coaching season (right now). Once the season is done, we’ll mostly cook dinner at home.

          -> I know every single one of my neighbors. Well, okay, I’m still learning the dorm boys. I know all my adult neighbors, and we all help each other out as needed, including emergency babysitting.

          -> free tix to pretty much any school event. We bring in a lot of outside groups for concerts and things, and I get to go to those for free. Last year, I went to Jay Unger and Molly Mason (he wrote Ashokan Farewell and is famous in his circles). I go to sports games, school concerts, school plays, and also these awesome outside groups and speakers.

          There’s more little things too, but those are the main perks I take advantage of. Plus, I love getting to know my students so well, since we live with them. It truly is a community.
          Leah recently posted..Celebrating LifeMy Profile

          • That’s awesome. Boarding school sounds like it could be such a great experience for kids – is it really expensive for the families?

          • Yes and no. Obviously, some kids are full-pay. We give out a lot of scholarships (many funded by alums who went on from here to make good money and want to give back). Some students come here for elite sports or music. Their parents pay the tuition here in hopes that their child will get a full scholarship for college, which does happen with a number of our athletes/musicians.

            I am not 100% sure of the cost, but it’s pretty much in line with living at a mid-cost SLAC. Maybe $30k or so a year? There’s a lot of permutations depending on which outside of school things one does, as we have a number of special extra programs students can do.

            In any case, I love working here. Such a unique environment!
            Leah recently posted..Celebrating LifeMy Profile

  • This post reminds me of when I read about plans of people who play to due income based repayments and then let their debt be forgiven after 10 years. The problem with that is 10 years is a really long time. You could easily get a salary increase that makes you ineligible for income base repayments. Then you just flushed a huge amount of money away on interest and still have to repay all the debt.
    Micro recently posted..What fantasy football can teach us about investingMy Profile

    • Yup. And what about the limitations you might be putting on your career in the meantime! It’s easy to get “tracked” when you stay in a low paying position for 10+ years even if the reason is loan forgiveness.

  • Debbie M

    Ha, you did the one thing I regret not doing. My senior year, they wanted to give me two loans, one for $1000 and one for more $2500. No way was I taking out that much money (in 1983-4). I decided to really scrimp and just take the $1000 loan. Decades later, I realized I could have taken the other loan and used it to buy a one-year CD for free money. And back then I was still afraid of the “substantial penalty for early withdrawal,” so I would have been in no danger of using it to buy a car.

    What actually happened:
    * Freshman year – $1000 loan
    * Sophomore year – $1500 loan
    * Junior year – $2500 loan
    * Senior year – $1000 loan (as described)
    * Grad school, year 3 – $4000 more (I guess)
    (Yes, I started when Reagan started, so loans kept going up.)

    So I graduated with five loans totalling $10,000 with all different interest rates. I was to pay $50/month on each one for eleventy-billion years. (Fifteen maybe?) Back then, this was equivalent to a standard car loan. I got offers to consolodate these loans into one big loan with an interest rate equal to my highest interest rate. Uh, no. I decided I could keep track of five loans.

    Finally, finally I got a real full-time permanent job. I didn’t get paid much, but I could afford an extra $50/month. So I threw that at the loan with the highest interest rate until that was paid off. Then I threw $100 at the loan with the second-highest interest rate, etc. until they were all paid off. I think that took about five years. Then I threw that money into a savings account for a car until I could afford a used one for cash. Then I continued throwing some money into a car repair fund and saved the rest for a house down payment.

    • Ooh, and the early 80’s was when interest rates were crazy high at times, right? So your cd could have earned a pretty penny, though a mess-up and your student loan interest could have been quite high, too!

      Sounds like you did them right.

      I never understood consolidation! Roll all your loans into 1 and take the highest interest rate? And lose out on forgiveness opportunities, etc? All for the sake of writing fewer checks?

  • I hated my student loan company – they just seemed to want to squeeze every penny they could out of me. I had a similar miscommunication problem when they were bought by another company and gave customers about 2 weeks’ notice. So I drained my savings and paid the whole thing off in one fell swoop. I was so done with their awful service!
    Amanda @ the giraffe life recently posted..Eating Vegetarian in RestaurantsMy Profile

    • That’s crazy that they only gave you two weeks notice! What if you had sent a payment in early? Would it have been lost in the shuffle?

      I hope student loan servicing has gotten better in recent years because it was AWFUL when I was dealing with it.

  • Thanks for sharing your story Mrs. PoP. That is awful that the late payment went on your credit, despite getting the written letters. I can’t imagine how frustrating that is, especially since you requested e-statements be sent to you! I admire that you paid off the credit card debt even though your parents had said they would pay for it. I went to community college for a year and paid out of pocket with mutual funds my parents had for me, and then went on to a local college for three years. My parents were able to help me out in my first year, but then my dad lost his job and I was on my own for the rest. I am sitting at $15k, but I know the balance would have been larger had I gone away to college.
    E.M. recently posted..10 Ways to Prepare for a FlightMy Profile

    • “The balance would have been larger had I gone away to college”

      Definitely! You probably saved a bundle going to CC and then a local college!

  • This is actually a pretty cool story chock-full with lessons. I’m impressed with your maturity in college. I was not so impressive with my finances. Although in my immaturity I managed to buy a condo. But only because my then boyfriend now husband convinced me to. I was perfectly happy renting. Turned out to be a smart thing to do. I sold that condo to pay off $20k+ in student loans.
    Taynia @ The Fiscal Flamingo recently posted..How Delicious Is Your Net Worth (And Why The Heck You Should Care)My Profile

  • I don’t have an interesting student loan story, because I was fortunate to not have any student loans. The program I was in had a work/study option, so that definitely helped out with paying for school. My parents also helped me out a bit.
    Most people in my field went on to grad school. Although it did seem like the next step, I couldn’t stand the thought of doing more research and the possibility of having a student loan. I had had enough of school by that point. :)
    MakintheBacon recently posted..Overcoming Obstacles: Obstacle Course Race RunningMy Profile

  • I had no student loans from undergrad (thank you, mom!). I still had plenty of skin in the game, but maybe I’m a statistical anomaly.

    I had no student loans from my MS (a consolation one for me too! I had a non-supportive advisor and no business being in a PhD program when I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to study). I went to Michigan, and their pay structure for grad students is pretty nice. I even saved a lot and paid off my car in grad school by picking up a summer teaching job once I knew I was leaving.

    I did, however, have frustrating loans from my second master’s degree, which I’m two classes away from finishing. I was a TA, but the second-tier state school I went to was miserly with TA pay and credits. I had to take a lot of undergrad classes, and those added up. I was lucky enough to get subsidized loans before they suspended giving grad students subsidizing. Thank goodness for my poverty the few years before. I took out $13k in loans, even though I could pay for a majority of the cost.

    I saved carefully, subbed on top of my crazy crazy schedule, etc. I managed to pay off the whole amount with my first paycheck from my new teaching job. This was the week before I was due to come out of deferment and start paying interest. So, yes, two years of loans without a penny of interest!

    That’s my quite long story that should have been my own blog post. In a short note on my husband, he had $30kish loans from undergrad when we first started dating. Within 5 years (this summer!), he paid off the whole amount. I’m still impressed by that. Since we don’t own a house and don’t have car payments, we are officially debt free.
    Leah recently posted..Celebrating LifeMy Profile

    • PS forgot to mention that I was determined not to make this a permanent hit to the savings account I had worked so hard to build up. I resolved to pay myself back through my first year in teaching. I like that sort of ROI — loans shouldn’t be more than a year or two of salary, and mine was the better portion of my first year of salary.

      I paid myself back sometime this summer. I automated the savings to do this and don’t miss that chunk of out every paycheck, so I’m funneling quite a nice bit each month into my savings account.
      Leah recently posted..Celebrating LifeMy Profile

      • That’s awesome that you guys have knocked out all of your student loans. Yay!

        Sounds like your experience with your PhD program was pretty similar to mine, but toss in a mono diagnosis a week before classes started my first year. =( Whatever energy mono didn’t suck from my life, grad school did.

        • Yeah, it’s a story I hear from many. The PhD is just not for everyone. Double yuck on the mono! I don’t think I could have survived to the consolation prize with that sort of issue. I did have to go to therapy to finally be able to leave, but it’s not quite the same.
          Leah recently posted..Celebrating LifeMy Profile

  • I would have probably taken the loan and spent it on something stupid. I just paid off my loans this past spring, so that’s not an example to follow for sure. If I’d stayed with the Indian Health Service, I could have gotten loan forgiveness, but I’d have been living in the middle of the Navajo reservation and not meeting Jim, so I guess it was a good decision not to go that route.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Soggy In ColoradoMy Profile

  • I think a lot of people plan to do loan forgiveness and then end up “stuck” in jobs they hate. I know a few of them right now. Ironically, if they’d just quit the job they hate (like you did) and get a better paying job they could pay off those loans so much quicker and be so much happier.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..$130 Saved My RelationshipMy Profile

  • Pam

    I wish we had been smarter when my husband was going to school. Unlike you we didn’t mind taking on more debt than what we needed. We now have his student loan down to 132K. (total debt 141K and we do not have a mortgage) He could likely have gone to med school and been in a career making more than his current 45K.
    We have spent a lot of time being bitter and angry that we made these decisions… but we did it to ourselves and knew there were cheaper options than the route he went. But now we are hopeful that others can hear our story and learn from our mistakes.
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