About me -
I paid off $46,514.91 in 20 months.
My journey was long, I took out (a lot of) student loans to study abroad and get through college - ensuring I had the true college experience along the way.
After making payments for eight years, I barely made a dent and I'd had enough! During this time I was in West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer and I saw first hand what true poverty looked like. I mentored small businesses on tracking expenses, logging revenue and staying out of debt. This is where I first realized that we can do better, and we must! Debt does not have to be a part of life and I did everything imaginable to get out of it.
Make this your story, join me in getting out of debt and stopping the paycheck to paycheck cycle that currently owns you!
I have not always been good at finances, yet I don't think any of us were. Some people are fortunate enough to have a parent who didn't believe in debt or a teacher that went outside of standard curriculum to teach about cash flowing college, but this isn't the norm and that wasn't me.
I graduated from college with around $60,000 in debt (I would tell you the number but I don't actually know, I was too afraid to know the grand total, and my loans were distributed across two to three providers and I never added them up). I guess I was under the impression that they would be paid off in 10 years, that was the term I signed up for, right? Right? My loans got sold, I re-consolidated and I basically made minimum payments. I discovered that eight years later, not nearly a big enough dent was made, how could this be?
A couple of years after college I lived in Senegal, West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer and that was the first time in my life I had a budget. It wasn't pretty but it was necessary to manage the small amount of money I had coming in and going out. As a volunteer I worked with various small businesses - I taught basic business principals (without fancy spreadsheets) keeping track of expenses, revenue and profit at the end of each month. This is where I saw real poverty. This is where I learned that you don't owe people money, you are good on your word and you work hard to make an honest living. Working with these entrepreneurs changed my life, they were in it to keep their families fed and they would do whatever needed to make their business survive.
Once I returned back to the states I worked in the nonprofit sector, let's just say that I was not rollin' in dough. I always complained that I had to pay $500 a month JUST to student loans, I remember being horrified by that number, but I didn't think there was anything I could do about it. Student loans don't go away in bankruptcy (trust me, I checked!) and I was already making all of my full payments, no payment plan for me. I was even that person that balanced my checkbook until I was about 29 years old (yes, pen, paper, check register, sitting in line at Target) just to be sure of every penny I had in my account so I didn't get an overdraft fee. I lived like this for years, always stressing about how much money I had and how much money I owed - there had to be a better way. Then I learned the ways of the debt free world, those paying off incredible amounts of debt in 1-3 years and I thought, if they can do it, I CAN!
I guess you could say that I fall in the "over-achiever" bucket, usually obsessed with one thing or another, and becoming debt free was my next big obsession!
In 20 months, I was able to pay down $46,514.91 of debt. How do I know that number? You remember the day that you have had it. You remember the day where you realize you are paying for things that you have done in the past and not saving any money for your future.
It is a lot easier mending a story together when looking back at your journey. But here we are today, and looking back, I would tell my younger self that there is an easier way. A way that doesn't involve interest payments. A way that involves a little bit of accountability for a lot of happiness. No more stressing about how much money I owed, or had, or didn't have. No more checkbook registers!
Join me, my story can be your story. I didn't make six figures, I didn't inherit money. I knew some basic, yet real, principals to help guide my life into a money-positive lifestyle.