I’m Liz. At the time I’m writing this post, I’m $25,104.48 in student loan debt.
- I started college in 2006. Totally unsure of what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go, I knew the cheapest place to make those mistakes was going to be community college.
- 2 years of gen-eds out of the way, and I was able to pay for it all by working as a hostess at a local restaurant.
- 2008 I transferred to Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois. At the time, tuition was ~$21,000/year. Room and board was roughly $10,000/year. And thank goodness for Chegg so I could rent all my books instead of buying them.
- I received a $14,000/year scholarship for academic achievements and being an overall smarty pants. Thank goodness for that.
- I got crafty to reduce my expenses. I took a job as a server at Buffalo Wild Wings because I knew I could eat for free while I was working. I also would buy the security guard in our dining hall Starbucks gift cards so she wouldn’t kick me out for not having the $1500/semester meal plan.
- The kicker? I deferred my debt until graduation because I couldn’t afford to pay for food and my loans. So I chose to pay for basic necessities over my loans and that interest crept up quick like a wedgie.
- I graduated in 2010 with a whopping $55k in student loans. Woof.
Then I started paying. I was making $30,000 a year at the same Buffalo Wild Wings job I held through college and made sure to pay back my loans on an IBR (income based repayment) plan so that I wouldn’t be too strapped for cash all the time. The downside? My interest was dominating my payments. I was barely making a debt into my principle balance.
Over the years, my IBR payments increased when my income did. I was paying off more of my principle as the time went on. Then I did the smartest thing I could have done…no, I didn’t fake my death to get out of paying the loans back…I refinanced with SoFi. It took my 6-7 individual mini loans with interest rates all over the place and consolidated them into 1 loan. We’re cooking with gas now!
It’s January 2020 now. I have just over $25,000 in loans, and I’m paying $448/month.
Every year I do a review of my finances and when I got to these loans, it honestly made me nauseous. I’ve been paying for 10 years and I’m still staring at this balance just thinking of all the things I’d do with an extra $448/month.
My estimated payoff date if everything remains the same, is 5/23/2025. I’ll be 37 years old. Whaaaaat?!
Last month I saw my brother graduate from Northern Illinois University and he’s going into his adult life with loans as well. In fact, there are nearly 44 MILLION Americans with student loan debt. Out of everything they taught us in school, paying back these loans was not in the curriculum. By no means am I an expert, but I’m hoping that my journey will inspire someone else to kick ass on their loans too and enjoy their 20’s and 30’s any any age, student loan debt-free.
I have experience making money through side hustles and I even paid for an entire trip to Europe with only side hustle money. (I’ll definitely write about that soon.) My plan is to continue paying my $448/month but supplement that payment with side hustle money, creative fundraising, and really anything short of robbing a bank.
Let’s do this.