Savvy Savages! Today we have an awesome success story guest post from Kyle over at Dollar Diligence. He followed a serious strategy to make his debt free journey come to fruition. – T$C
Have you ever heard a “debt free story,” where someone paid off an insane amount of student loan debt in a relatively short amount of time? I remember reading about these stories when I was buried under $33,000 in debt thinking, that’s impossible. I’m here to tell you today that it’s not impossible, I know because I did it! I paid off $33k of student loan debt in just over 18 months. Did I mention, I did this on a teacher’s salary? Shoutout to teachers:) Read my full debt free story here.
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How did I get into Debt?
Well, frankly speaking, I was normal. I graduated high school with grand plans of going to college, getting my teaching degree, coaching football and living happily ever after. I followed that plan pretty much perfectly and set out on my new career.
After about 5 years of teaching, I looked up and wondered when I would really be able to “start a normal life.” You know, marriage, buying a home, kids, etc. This is also when I checked out how much of my student loan debt I had paid off. I about passed out when I discovered I’d hardly dented my loan debt. I was simply on auto pay and basically didn’t even check the accounts for months at a time.
When I did the math, I figured out that by the time I was about 33 years old, my debt would be gone. It was also around this time that I decided to get a master’s degree, so I took on more debt (Not smart at the time, but grateful I’m done with that now!). Instead of 33, now I’d be 37 before my loans were gone if I stayed on auto pay.
In short, at age 28, I owed $33,000 of student loan debt. I was pissed off, angry, and lost. I set off on a journey to do whatever I could to destroy my loans. I learned as much as I could about money. I read books, listened to podcasts, read blogs, and did whatever I could to educate myself on the subject. I became infatuated with this subject and getting out of debt.
Within 18 months I was debt free. Here’s how it happened.
My Strategies for Getting out of Debt
I did a number of things to get out of debt, and to be honest, it was hard. Really hard. I had to sacrifice big time to do this so quickly. I don’t have a monster salary, I’m a teacher. I didn’t inherit any money, sell anything more than $100, or win the lottery. I rolled up my sleeves and got after it.
I’ll list everything I did to get out of debt shortly, but the number one thing I did that contributed to my debt payoff was creating a budget. Without a budget, you have no roadmap. You wouldn’t plan to build a house without blueprints, so why do so many people skate through life with no roadmap with their finances?
I was doing this before I woke up my finances, I was wondering around aimlessly just being normal. When I first started tracking my spending, I noticed that I was spending an abnormal amount of money on food. I also had numerous subscriptions, memberships, and monthly fees that were eating away at my budget.
Did I mention I also had a student loan payment taking a nice chunk of my income?
When I got it really set in stone, I tracked everything. I tracked $1 soda purchases. I was insane to a certain degree (my fiancee would attest to this!). But guess what. It worked.
Instead of paying the normal $250 monthly payment to my student loan provider, I was paying around $2,000 PER MONTH at the end of my debt payoff. This was almost ⅔ of my income. I threw every extra cent I had towards my debt. It wasn’t fun, and it was challenging, but once I started it happened fast! None of this would have happened without a budget!
The budget wasn’t my only weapon against debt. Here’s a short rundown of things I did to get out of debt.
- Spent $100 a month on food. Total. This includes dining out (which didn’t exist.)
- Sold stuff on Craigslist (kind of scary, but addicting).
- Lived with roommates.
- Lived in my sister’s basement.
- Cut the cable.
- NEVER went out, kind of became a loner for awhile.
- Said NO to friends a lot, no trip, no dinners out, etc.
- Cut my gym membership and worked out at home or outside (who knew?).
- Didn’t buy new clothes for a long time, still don’t.
- Took online surveys.
- Bought hair clippers and haven’t been to a professional barber since!
- Had a side job along with my summer job, us teachers get “summers off.”
- Threw every extra penny at my debt.
And then all of a sudden it happened. I was debt free! Goodbye student loans. Goodbye student loan payments, forever!
Related Post: 10 Reasons Why Having a Budget is So Important
I thought being debt free would “feel” different. I really don’t feel much different. I’m grateful for the sacrifice it took to endure those 18 months. It really sucked, and was difficult, but makes everything now seem like it’s achievable.
After paying off my debt, I saved up an emergency fund, saved for an upcoming wedding (all cash), vehicle purchase (straight cash homie!), and started investing in retirement. My future goals include saving for a house and cranking up my investments.
Becoming debt free was only the beginning. When you don’t have to pay someone else every month, do you know what you can do with your money?
Whatever you want!
Kyle is a personal finance blogger who paid off $33,000 of student loans in 18 months! His goal is to share strategies, tips, and tricks for getting out of debt and saving money! Check out Kyle’s blog at dollardiligence.com
Follow him on Twitter @dollardiligence