We officially started paying off my 4 student loans heavily in November 2016. The balance at that time was $16,163.46 – we actually began paying in January 2016 on the total amount: $18,179.53 – putting minimum payments until October.
I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in
Communication Studies in December of 2015. My loans were from three different institutions: East Carolina University, Cape Fear Community College, and UNC. I had both Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans. My interest rates ranged from 3%-6.8%. The amount of interest I have paid will be around $5,000 by the end of the payments. We’re student loan debt free, 1.5 years after graduation at the ages of 24 and 25. We have paid off all of my loans 8 years early.
How did we do this? I’ve written about it before, but I’ll add some extras for you.
- We Got a roommate — When we moved to ILM we knew we were going to buy a house, which typically isn’t recommended during your debt payoff. Fortunately, we had the VA Loan to help with cost, and buying a home actually saves us money each month. We had space that we didn’t use, so when one of our best friends needed a place to stay, we agreed to have a roommate! First off, I adore her and she’s a great person to have around. Second, it’s another stream of income! Being married and having a roommate is actually pretty freakin’ boss – especially since James works nights. I love having someone around me all the time. 🙂
- We Haven’t Had Cable in Three Years – Cable is a money sucking service. Period. You can get everything you need for a fraction of the cost with different subscriptions – Hulu, Netflix, Sling, Vue, Amazon, HBO Go… the list is endless.
- We Said “No.” – A Lot – We’ve given up vacations, weekends out, lunches, brunches, dinners, home renovations, new clothes, movie dates, family gatherings, friend functions… you name it, we’ve said no to it. The phrase ‘Live like no one else, so later you can live and give like no one else’ is rooted in our brains. It’s not a joke. We say no to everything now, so that later we’ll have the money to say yes to whatever we want. This what I call my “Notivation.”
- We Were Bored – A Lot – When you say no to everything, you’re saying yes to paying off debt. Which means you have $0. The ugly truth of Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step 2 is that you end up being in your house, bored, most of the time. In the summer, it’s not such a big deal for us – we have the beach and the pool to keep us occupied. The winter months are brutal though.
- Extra Money? Lol – There’s no such thing as ‘extra’ money – anything outside of our paychecks went to debt, or we cash flowed things we needed.
- We’re DINKS – Dual Income, No Kids. I’m in no way, shape, or form ready for children. I won’t be for a long time, and because of this, we’ve been able to dedicate a boat load of money to debt. Is this plan possible with kids? Yup – the majority of my followers have children – so it’s not an excuse. It just means James and I are getting out of debt sooner rather than later.
- Frenchy – My 2004 Saturn Ion looks and sounds like a hunk ‘o junk. Guess what? I don’t care. She’s f r e e. NO CAR PAYMENT! 165,000+ miles and still truckin.’
- Accountability – I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: without your partner being 100% on board, you’re going to get nowhere paying off debt. If you do get somewhere, it’ll be a struggle. This is the single most important part of a debt free journey. If your spouse, partner, significant other, etc. isn’t down with a plan to get out of financial burden, there will be an obvious strain quickly. I’m not saying you’re not going to argue over the budget. I’m definitely not saying that it’s a breeze. I am saying that it makes things easier. With the right communication and support, this journey should strengthen your relationship.
- We Stopped Adding More Debt – Cash is Queen, boos. If we don’t have cash, we don’t get it. End of story. We gave up loans, credit cards, and anything that isn’t physical cash. Getting out of debt means getting out of debt. Not adding to it. We have sinking funds for everything – even Christmas 2017. This allows us to put our focus on paying off debt that we have already accumulated and not making ANY payments to something we couldn’t afford after starting this journey.
- Overtime – OT is a beautiful, horrible thing. You’re not going to get out of student debt without making more money. James and I both work a ton. It’s slowed down significantly from last year, which I am actually thankful for, but when you’re passionate about getting out of student debt, you do whatever you have to do. That means working more at your current job, or taking on a side hustle. It sucks when it’s crazy and you don’t see your partner a whole lot – but the payoff is worth it in the end.
- We Stopped Spending – You may not have any control over the amount of income you make. You know what you do have control over? The amount of money you spend. Stop going into Target every day. Stop getting Starbucks every morning. Stop online shopping. Stop getting shit you don’t need when you should be paying attention to your debt. I’ve literally stopped going into stores because I know I can’t control myself. If I can do it, you can do it.
- E-M-E-R-G-E-N-C-Y-F-U-N-D — The biggest biggest biggest bit of financial advice I can give ANYONE is to have an emergency fund. Please for the love of God, save up a fund for things you can’t predict. Even if you think I’m bonkers for doing this Dave Ramsey thing, everyone needs an EF. It’s saved our butts 5 times this year alone, and guarantees that we won’t regress back to loans and credit. Without our EF we wouldn’t have paid off my loans as quickly as we have.
That’s about it, folks! There are of course other ways, but I’ve written about them numerous times. I highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover. It completely changed my life and my relationship with money. Ramsey’s method is how James and I have been able to pay off $37,000+ of debt in less than a year and a half. It’s also how we will be able to build wealth and do whatever we want in the future.
Without these people, my journey would not have been possible. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. You can follow my debt free journey on my Instagram: @veefrugalfox