My Debt Payoff Story: How Dannielle Paid Off $26,000 Student Loan Debt in 2 Years
My Debt Payoff story is a OneSavvyDollar series where we interview people who have successfully paid off any major debt i.e. student loan, car loans, credit cards.
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 Danni Romoleroux. I’m a first-generation college graduate and daughter of immigrants from Ecuador; born and raised Jersey girl, who’s currently living in Brooklyn.
I work in the diversity and inclusion space helping other people of color land opportunities and by night I manage the First Gen Money Instagram.
What and when was your “sick and tired” of debt moment?
I was about one year into my first full-time opportunity in 2017, when I realized I had nothing to show for my then $50,000 salary. My student loans were the same and I didn’t have any savings.
How did you acquire the debt and do you regret doing so?
I acquired debt during my undergraduate degree through student loans. I do not regret this decision because it was the only way that I could afford to attend at the time. What I do regret is having used my refund money for non-educational purchases.
How much debt did you pay off in total? How much money in interest and time did you save in total?
I paid off $26,385 in 26 months. I do not know how much money in interest this saved me.
How much income were you earning when you accomplished this?
I was earning a few different salaries, but on average it was no more than $59,750.
Can you describe the specific choices you had to make to pay off your debt?
Some of the weirdest things I did was save on transportation costs by renting a CitiBike in NYC to travel from Port Authority to 14th Street to avoid a monthly MetroCard purchase. I also lived at home for almost four years in Jersey with a one and a half-hour commute each way.
Was there any time during your journey where your friends and or family challenged your plans to pay off your debt?
There were a few trips I didn’t go on because of my debt payoff goal, which gave me FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). The biggest challenge was waiting to move out of my parents’ home until I had a fully-funded emergency savings account and apartment moving cost.
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?
I was really motivated to start my journey because of Farnoosh Tarobi’s So Money Podcast, I later found ChooseFi, HerMoney, Her Dinero Matters, the Money Nerds Podcast and Journey to Launch.
I had a lot of time to listen to podcasts because of my commute so that kept me inspired.
What steps are you taking to ensure that you stay debt-free now?
I’ve never really had a problem using credit cards, but I’m definitely being more mindful about which cards I open and not getting too excited about points.
Always making sure that I pay for things in full and not buying things I don’t actually have the cash to purchase. Constantly have a savings goal and having the money direct deposited so that the money that comes into my account is for spending purposes.
If you could go back in time and advise your 18-year-old self, what advice would you give her?
Start thinking about your career earlier and find paid internships. I was really interested in the non-profit space because I thought I could only do good by working at one, but the reality is there are so many opportunities with mission-driven companies.
Look for a job before you graduate, NOT AFTER!
What advice would you give anyone who has debt and seeking encouragement?
Remember your WHY. Why are you doing this? Understanding this reason will help you in the toughest moments.
Keep a vision board in a place you’ll see every day. It’s okay to take a step back and remove yourself from platforms that are feeding you the good life only images into others’ lifestyles. You only see the highlights.
How can our readers keep in touch with you?
Follow my Instagram firstgenmoney, I have some exciting things coming soon.
Congratulations, Danni! Here’s wishing you much success on your financial journey.
Have you paid off your student loan debt or any major debt? Would you like to be featured? The quickest way to contact us is via Instagram DM. We will be sure to get back to you as soon as possible.