My Debt Payoff Story: How Rachael Paid off $60,000 Debt in 60 Months
My Debt Pay off story is a OneSavvyDollar series where we interview people 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?
Hi, my name is Rachael. I was born and raised in a very low-income but high-debt neighborhood in a single-parent household where everyone around me struggled financially.
I figured there had to be more to life and I was determined to find out what that more was. So I set off on the path to financial freedom by: educating myself on investing, budgeting, entrepreneurship, and generational wealth.
What and when was your “sick and tired” of debt moment?
One day in my early 20s I did the math on how much interest was being added onto my student loans and my car loan every day. That was the day my debt-free journey started.
How did you acquire the debt and do you regret doing so?
I purchased a brand-new car in the year it was released with the plastic still on it. I don’t use the word regret but that was a bad idea.
However, I turned it into a great investment. I still have that car 12 years later and paid it off 9 years ago.
I also had student loan debt as well as credit card debt. When I first moved out of my mom’s house, I didn’t plan for it so I didn’t have much saved. I lived off my credit cards for a while and of course, that was a terrible idea.
How much debt did you pay off in total? How much money in interest and time did you save in total?
I originally paid off $60,000 in debt with my student loans, car, and credit cards.
I did that all while saving a year’s worth of income so that took me 5 years in total to complete because I wasn’t making much at my day job and I was living on my own paying all my own bills.
Then I paid off another over $30,000 in debt on my home. That took 3 years.
How much income were you earning when you accomplished this?
When I first started my debt-free journey I was making about $36,000 annually. By the time I was done, I was making about $55,000 a year on my day job, but I always had little side jobs.
I sold Avon, worked in retail during the holiday season, and plenty of other things. At one time I was working 3 jobs.
Can you describe the specific choices you had to make to pay off your debt?
I created 3 goals for myself. I wanted to be completely debt-free, save up a year’s worth of income in an emergency fund, and have a credit score of over 800.
To fulfill this goal, I had to say no to a few things like finding cheaper, more creative ways to celebrate birthdays, holidays, and other accomplishments.
I had to set up a tight budget and give myself a weekly allowance amount, started couponing, only shopping for what is on sale and packing my lunch to work every single day.
Was there any time during your journey where your friends and or family challenged your plans to pay off your debt?
Of course! I was called all kinds of names, selfish, stingy, cheap, stupid, etc. I was told that I need to just enjoy my 20s and worry about all that stuff later.
One woman that I looked up to told me that I would never be debt-free and I would always owe someone so I should just have fun.
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 used to read the Wall Street Journal.
Ha! I know that sounds weird, but my college professor made us get a subscription to the Wall Street Journal for class and he gave us a coupon code to use to get a discount.
I kept the membership after the class was over and although at the time, I didn’t understand everything in it, it still helped me and inspired me on my journey.
I did read The Richest Man in Babylon and other books like that but honestly, I think the pain of being broke was enough to keep me motivated. There were some tough experiences I had that I never wanted to have again.
How did you feel when you made that final payment?
So good! I can’t even describe it! It wasn’t really about the money in that moment but that I believed in something and stayed committed to it even in the very very hard times.
What steps are you taking to ensure that you stay debt-free now?
My plan is to never have a car note again.
I have saved enough to pay cash for my next car and I also still have a year’s worth of income saved in an emergency fund, so I won’t have to depend on credit cards anymore.
I am paying double on my current mortgage and I am increasing my payment amount every year until it is paid off.
If you could go back in time and advise your 18-year-old self, what advice would you give her?
I would tell her that where you start doesn’t have to dictate where you will end because your mindset is everything. Once you change your mindset, your whole life will change.
Let go of the anger, turn the pain into passion. Finally, I would tell her, don’t share your dreams and goals with everyone, everything is not for everyone.
What advice would you give anyone who has debt and seeking encouragement?
I would tell them to imagine how life would be without debt. Imagine all the things they can do with that extra money every month when it is not going to debt. Debt means your future earnings belong to someone else.
How can our readers keep in touch with you?
You can catch me on Instagram @peptalks_ where I give out free finance tips.
Congratulations, Rachael! 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.