How I Paid Off $28k in 8 Months
Written by Annette Jubert + Edited by Chelsea DuDeVoire
Although I was lucky enough to attend a state school in Florida with affordable tuition, living expenses left me in student debt, despite having several part-time jobs throughout my time of enrollment. So when I graduated from college, my number one goal wasn't to land my dream job or move to my favorite city. It was to get to a place of financial freedom by paying off my student loans as quickly as possible. And guess what? I did it.
To cut to the chase - debt makes me queasy, so I got out of it quickly. Here's how:
1. I made a plan.
After college, I accepted a full-time job and relocated to New Jersey. Instead of opting to have my own (unnecessarily expensive) place, I asked my Grandma if I could live with her. She needed someone to do her shopping and cooking and I needed an affordable roof over my head. It was a match made in heaven.
2. I set a goal.
As lovely as Grandma can be, we definitely had our differences (beyond the fact that I was stuck in suburbia and devoid of any friends my own age.) This was great motivation in itself to reach my goal. Overtime, I became enamored with Jersey City and vowed that I would move there within 8 months to save my sanity. Each time I would be tempted by online shopping, I'd look at apartment rates in Jersey City to properly reposition my mindset.
3. I took on side jobs.
Don't forget that income is income! I babysat for a lovely family that netted me an additional $200 a month, and I also managed my dad’s rental property on Airbnb to make additional commission. Depending on the season, that averaged me an extra $700 monthly, which went directly towards my student loans... or towards a fun trip I was planning. Side note: I learned that the only way my methods were sustainable was to have extra earning opportunities that allowed me to live my life while still meeting my goals. Everything in moderation.
These methods, combined with some bonus money from my job, made it possible for me to be out of Grandma’s house and move to Jersey City in 8 months... debt-free.
Is my experience a privileged one? Sure. Does everyone have the option to move in with a relative? Not at all. Do people have student loans with much higher balances and much lower incomes than mine? Absolutely. But regardless of our different backgrounds and circumstances, the following quick tips apply to all of us:
Prioritize your loans.
Make sure you have the cash flow to allocate funds to your loans first, and then pay for your trip to the Bahamas. Pay over the minimum each month, and don’t give up.
Don’t get more loans.
I've noticed that people like to buy cars after graduation. I strongly urge you to reconsider this move until you can get your debt into a manageable place. Unless of course, you currently don’t have a vehicle and desperately need one. Just make sure it is coming from a place of need and not of want.
Already in the soup? Consider refinancing. If you have a lot of private loans and your monthly payments are comparable to your rent check, you need to come up with a different option. Look into companies like SoFi and lists from NerdWallet to figure out what the best interest rates are for you. Make your payments manageable, and if you're proactive, your loan debt won't last forever. I promise.
Annette is a UX Designer by day and a hustlin' blogger by night. She is happiest when she is eating a fresh taco on a Jersey City park bench. Check out her other musings and millennial plights about careers, money, and love on the-juncture.com.