Today I have four stories from college graduates who were able to quickly rid themselves of student debt. There are all kinds of nuggets of wisdom in these stories.
Just know that if these four college graduates can do it then so can you!
Being Creatively Frugal
Taylor Gordon and her husband went the creatively frugal route to finish paying off their student loans:
My husband and I paid off my student loan last year by changing our self-grooming habits. Instead of going to the salon we opted for at home haircuts and manicures.
Yup, I learned how to cut his and my own hair from YouTube – no professional training and he’s REALLY picky.
Plus, we packed our own lunches for work and gave up shopping for clothes.
Because of our efforts we were able to pay the final $4,000 on my student loan in 6 months. When the first $3,000 took me close to 2 years!
Taking Advantage of Community College Courses
Sandy Magura took a strategic approach in paying off student loans by forgoing her dream school and using community college to her advantage:
I guess it all started with my decision to go to college.
My parents said they couldn’t afford to help out, although they wish they could so I decided to go to community college for two years (I was also dating someone as well). I figured I would take the classes I would have to take in a 4 year college for HALF the price, and figure out what I wanted to do.
I took all sorts of classes there, as well as the core classes I needed in general, and decided on a major of Communications and business with a minor in Marketing.
I had a 4.0 in community college and would have loved to go to my first choice, Villanova, which I got accepted into first. BUT, after much financial consideration I chose the University at Albany in New York. It is a state school and MUCH cheaper than Villanova.
Instead of over $100K in debt when I graduated in 3 years it was $15K debt in 2 years. I worked while I was in community college full time and lived with my parents (so there was no debt there). I worked part time (my senior year) while going to UAlbany and that helped pay for some of the debt.
After graduating I got a job in my home town for a decent salary and continued to live at my parents. I paid off my loans in 2 years after graduation.
Creatively Earning Extra Money
Instead of being creative in saving money Ben Adams decided to look for creative ways to earn money:
I’m a clinical psychologist who racked up WAY too much student loan debt. I received a loan repayment award that lopped off a big chunk of it. It was an award from the National Institute of Health (NIH) Loan
Repayment Program (LRP) for my research work.
Then I got even more creative by writing a book I had been thinking about for years, The Creative Process Diet. I just recently published it, so am just now starting on the marketing.
I nearly went insane over the student loan debt. But then I got creative.
Using Debt as a Motivator
Tyler Williams used his disdain for debt to motivate him to quickly pay it off:
I graduated in 2009 with $25K in debt, which by all means isn’t a ton in comparison to some of the horror stories out there. I was committed to paying them off in under five years. I did it in three.
Being in debt is something that’s always made me uneasy, and the thought of throwing money away at interest over many years made my skin crawl. There were a number of things I did to pay my student loans off quickly:
– I essentially got a 2nd job. My first positions paid VERY little-especially for NYC standards-so, I freelanced my services during that time. It was a lot of work, and I frequently had to work several hours after getting home and on weekends, but I was putting an extra $400-$1,000/month (depending on the month) toward my loans.
– I put all work bonuses and gift money towards my loans. While it was very tempting to spend them on clothes and fun (after all, they feel like “free money”), I put every cent towards my loans. Over the three years it was about an extra $8,000, which took out about a third of my overall debt.
– I also kept it very simple back then: low rent apartment, not eating out very frequently, clothes from H&M, very frugal vacations, etc.
The Key Takeaways
I love how creative everyone was in paying off their debt. I think we can boil down quickly paying off student loans to two main points: creativity (in both income and expenses) and sacrifice.
I hope these stories help you realize that it is possible to quickly pay off your student loans as long you stay determined and creative.
Have you paid off your student loans? If so, what strategy worked the best for you?