My Debt Free Story: How Chris Paid Off His $50,000 Student Loan Debt in 24 Months
My debt free story is a OneSavvyDollar series where we interview millennials who have successfully paid off any major debt i.e. student loans, car loans, credit cards.
Please note: If you’re currently unemployed and facing so much uncertainty with your finances, it’s best to save as much as you can right now. If you’re still employed and carrying on with your financial plans and debt-free journey then read on…..
The aim is to inspire, encourage, and motivate you to take hold of your personal finance because “financial fitness is not a pipe dream or a state of mind. It is a reality if you’re willing to pursue it and embrace it.” – Will Robinson
Can you tell us a bit about you?
My Name is Chris and I’m currently living in the Washington, DC area! I am a data analyst and love analyzing charts and graphs to make analytical business decisions! I enjoy rock climbing, traveling, and spending time with family.
My focus is to achieve financial freedom and not be burdened by the stresses of money.
What and when was your “sick and tired” of debt moment?
This moment came when I graduated with student loan debt after college. It was more money than I expected to owe so I knew that I had to figure out a plan to pay off my debt before accomplishing many other milestones I had in my 20’s.
The debt wasn’t going to disappear on its own. It was up to me to determine my own financial future.
How did you acquire the debt and do you regret doing so?
I acquired student loan debt from college and we didn’t have a choice whether or not to. I grew up in a middle-class family so loans were required, but I’m glad I had the financial discipline to only have student loans.
I haven’t had any credit card debt.
How much debt did you pay off in total? How much money in interest and time did you save in total?
I paid off over $50,000 in 2 years, while saving for other milestone items. It was a major accomplishment because my salary was quite low during that time period as well in a high cost of living area.
How much income were you earning when you accomplished this?
I believe I was making under $60,000 during this 2 year period. With rent being so expensive in the DC area, it isn’t much. Rent was taking up more than 40% of my income.
Can you describe the specific choices you had to make to become debt free?
There were many choices I had to make. Many being lifestyle choices surrounding happy hours, eating out frequently, and making sporadic purchases on “things”.
I realized that I had to live below my means to save more and pay off my student loans faster. Especially understanding that entertainment doesn’t have to be expensive can be a game-changer.
Embracing frugality for me was super crucial to reaching my goal of paying off my student loans. I prioritized saving and doing more with what I already had.
Cooking at home was a hobby that saved me so much money.
I didn’t realize how expensive eating out was until I started cooking. I saved $300 a month by cooking! I used a website called BudgetBytes which has amazing and affordable recipes. I highly recommend it.
Making my own coffee at home also saved me a tremendous amount of money. You can make it for less than 50 cents at home compared to $4 at Starbucks! Every little bit added up to help me pay off my debt in under 2 years.
I wanted to be debt-free so I did my best to keep my expenses as low as possible and throw all of my savings towards debt! It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you are motivated towards something.
You’re willing to do whatever it takes to reach your goals.
Was there any time during your journey where your friends and or family challenged your plans to pay off your debt?
Luckily, there wasn’t. My friends and family have always been supportive of my lifestyle and financial decisions because they recognize that everyone is likely in a slightly different situation.
We need to do what is best for ourselves and our future.
Were any resources such as blogs, books, podcasts particularly helpful to you in staying on track? Or where did you find your inspiration to stay on track through your journey?
My main inspirations were Mr. Money Mustache who showed me that being frugal can be really cool. It can be a smart decision as well for your future! I also enjoyed learning a lot from Reddit Personal Finance.
Both were helpful to have a community or someone to look up to during my journey.
How did you feel when you made that final payment?
It felt amazing! Honestly, it was a weight lifted off my shoulders. But the best part is the mental confidence to know that if you work hard at something, you can see real results. A little effort adds up.
What steps are you taking to ensure that you stay debt-free now?
I’m focused on living frugally and below my means! By tracking our expenses, we’re able to see the numbers every month so we’re financially aware.
I’m also focused on investing our savings for the future so our money can grow.
If you could go back in time and advise your 18-year-old self, what advice would you give him?
I would tell him that you don’t need to worry about what other people are doing, or what they think about you! You have to do what you believe is best no matter what! Don’t give in to peer pressure.
What advice would you give anyone who has debt and seeking encouragement?
Take steps and develop habits every single day. It takes some time for habits to shift but once they do, you can see some real changes for your financial future.
How can our readers keep in touch with you?
You can follow me on Instagram where I discuss daily money and life tips to help you achieve financial freedom.
Congratulations, Chris! Here’s wishing you much success on your financial journey.