I paid off $35,610.37 in 6 months. When I got to the point of being sick and tired of having a massive amount of debt ($180,000 in student loans when I graduated) I knew something had to change. Here’s how I succeeded and encourage others to succeed in paying off debt.
Educate yourself about money
Read… a lot! After reading personal finance books and audiobooks I had to rethink how I managed my money. I read or listened every day to keep my motivation up. It’s exceptionally hard to not feel bad when your social media feed is flooded with posts of dream vacations and new shiny things. Reading these books increased my financial literacy and kept me focused on my goal.
My favorites are Robert T. Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, and The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason.
It’s hard for me, someone who’s only beginning to learn the principles of money and wealth building, to simplify the overall themes of these books. I recommend reading them! The common message of wealth building that stood out to me: have multiple streams of income, keep your expenses low, always save a portion of your money, invest the money, never borrow money, and don’t rely on credit cards. (The only debt I’d be okay having is a mortgage sometime in the future!)
Change your mindset
For a long time I was stressed and angry because of the debt. I thought to myself, why am I being punished for wanting to get a degree? Why didn’t I get more help for my tuition? I acted as if the debt came out of nowhere and not from my decision making.
It took some eye opening experiences for me to realize that I had to get myself out of this situation instead of blaming the situation and not myself. Read about my Quarter-Life Crisis here. Create a vision, set your goals, and just start working toward it!
Come up with a plan and stick to it
Dave Ramsey is mentioned a lot in my blog because his teaching is invaluable and his plan has actually helped thousands of people. I’m a big fan! After reading his books The Total Money Makeover, The Complete Guide to Money, Financial Peace and took Financial Peace University online, I made a commitment to the Baby Steps.
Read about my plan to get out of debt here. To be honest I didn’t feel comfortable with Baby Step 1, which is only having $1,000 in an emergency fund. My emergency fund has its own emergency fund!
I did, however, shell out a couple thousands from savings to pay off the remaining chunk of my Fed loan in January. I prayed about it for weeks before doing it because I was afraid of letting that money go. Now I have no ragrets (please tell me you know what movie that’s from)!
Currently I’m on Baby Step 2, which is using the snowball method to pay off the remaining of my debt. Read about the debt snowball method vs. the debt avalanche method here. After doing this, I’ve successfully paid off 3 out of 5 student loans!
Cut out unnecessary expenses
The biggest help that kept my expenses low was moving back with my parents. I’ve lived with each of them, currently now with my mom, and I’m so thankful to them for letting me stay. The US Census Bureau reported in 2015 that one in three millennials (24 million 18-34 year olds) live in their parents’ home. No 30 year old likes to admit this, but I honestly would encourage it if you have the opportunity and if you have monstrous debt to pay off.
Student Loan Hero (love this site by the way) wrote that there are 44.2 million Americans with student loan debt, owing $1.48 trillion in total, and averaging $39,400 each. I scoff to myself when I see the average amount, $39,400 total? That’s child’s play. I see your almost $40K and raise you $180K! Jk. That’s nothing I should be proud of… I digress.
Slashing out random crap from your budget is a must! I had to tell myself, Two gym memberships and you’re still not buff? Slashed. $50 makeup palettes and your makeup still ain’t on fleek? Slashed. Read about how I cut $317.98 from my monthly budget here.
Increase your income
Dave says, “There’s a great place to go when you’re broke… TO WORK!” I worked a lot. As a nurse there are many opportunities to work overtime, a part-time job or a per diem job. I worked a full-time job, worked extra hours sitting on two committees, each with their own side projects, and worked per diem 1-2 times per week.
I have to caution healthcare professionals about consistent overtime; this will increase your chances of on the job injuries or compassion fatigue and caregiver burnout. I rarely saw my family and friends, and hardly had time to do other things. Although it helped greatly to have the extra money, I had to sacrifice time, commit to 52 hour work weeks, and worked up to 9 days in a row.
The real pay off
I feel like a weight is slowly lifting from my shoulders while knock this debt out. It’s motivating and addicting! I’m writing this to inspire others because paying off debt is always possible!
While it may not be your priority now, what if it was? If you didn’t own a soul, how would that change your life and your spirit?
For those who get me, let’s continue to get rid of debt and aim to be part of the debt free community!
- What will you do to be a step closer to getting out of debt?