Student Aid.gov reports that 43 million student loan borrowers borrow federal student loans. They have $1,447.1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt. Although this may seem overwhelming, you can conquer this debt with a plan.
She has repaid six figures of student loans.
My Back Story
How did I manage to get six figures in student loan debt? I primarily accrued my student loan debt while I was in graduate school. However, I also took out student loans while completing my undergraduate degree. My student loan balance stood at $89,275 when I finished my grace period. Although I didn’t borrow as much, my graduate loans weren’t subsidized, so I began accumulating interest when I took the money.
Although I was a big spender in my youth, I didn’t have much to show. I spent it all on shoes and other nonsense. My senior year in high school was my first credit card. I thought I would use it to build my credit. It was a domino effect.
Money was not something I learned as a child. I can’t recall ever seeing my family go to the bank. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn how to invest, save, or use credit properly.
Making the decision
FedLoan Servicing sent me a letter advising that my grace period was over and that I would need to pay immediately. I was shocked to learn how much I owed. I was not convinced there was a way out of the mess I had created. I needed to find a solution that would take me between 20 and 30 years. I wasn’t okay with spending two- to three decades building interest and putting my life in jeopardy. Priorities were travel, early retirement, and debt-free living.
I was at a complete loss as to how to pay my debt. As I was scrolling through social media, I came across a friend who shared her debt-free journey. To learn more, I reached out to her, and she shared details about a course she had taken at church on finances. A local church was teaching the course. The instructor was kind enough to let me sign up. She also took the time to review my budget and pointed out that I was spending nearly $700 per month on food, snacks, and coffee.
Next, I listed down my monthly expenses to the penny. I also included holidays, gift-giving, and my monthly tithe to the church. Once I had a better understanding of my outgoing and incoming income, I created a plan for paying off the loans. To get rid of the debt, my goal was to make as much money as possible. I worked hard to find a full-time job and a steady side hustle. Because my income fluctuated, I paid little or no interest on my loan.
This is what I did to achieve my goal:
- I created a timeline to help me reach my goal of paying off my student debt in 4 years. The goal was to eliminate all debt by 2020.
- To determine how much I would have to pay monthly, I calculated my daily interest rate.
- I calculated how much I would have to pay each month to reach my goal. This included daily interest.
- I compared my outgoing and incoming incomes. I realized that I needed more money to reach my goal. I secured a side hustle that would last a lifetime and one that would only be seasonal.
- Every Friday, I paid my loan payment from my side business. Every Friday, I paid my loan from my full-time job and my autopay.
- I used every penny that came my way to repay the loan. Bonuses, gifts, and so on. I took every shift available and worked every weekend.
My plan started in December 2016 and ended in October 2020. I paid $3,568.23 between June 2015 and December 2016. From December 2016 to October 2020, I paid $103,896.09.
Other Financial Goals
My goal is to move, so I created a moving fund. My ultimate financial goal would be early retirement. Therefore, I am focusing on a bridge fund to help me through the early retirement phase. To build a cushion for my later years, I also invest in my 401Kor Roth IRA.