I Paid Off $33,000 Of Student Loans In 18 Months On A Teacher’s Salary5 min read

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Next, food.

I can not believe how much a person can spend on food if they don’t pay attention.  I’m not a big dude, average at best, but I eat a lot.  When I started tracking from the beginning, I was appalled at how much I spent eating out and on groceries.  So I went extreme, I mean extreme.  I ate freakin’ peanut butter and jelly sandwiches EVERY day of the year (still do-like I said, I go all in!), I ate rice and beans, spaghetti, oatmeal, and deer-a lot of deer (I hunt).  Once I got this figured out, I had it down to a science, I was spending around $100/monthly on food.  I’ve loosened up a bit on this since I now live with someone-but there’s a simple lesson here-don’t eat your paycheck. I’ll have a whole blog post on cheap eating coming soon!

Other stuff I did on my debt free journey.

I sold stuff on Craigslist (kind of scary).  I lived with roommates.  I cut cable.  I NEVER went out, kind of became a loner for awhile.  I said NO to friends a lot-no trips, no dinners out, etc.  I cut my gym membership and worked out at home or outside (who knew?).  I didn’t buy new clothes-for a long time-still don’t.  I took online surveys.  And I had a side job along with my summer job-us teachers get “summers off.”  I threw every extra penny at my debt.

Also during this time while I was paying off debt-I paid off my car (about $4000)-cash flowed a Master’s degree-$15,000 (*I wouldn’t recommend this during a debt payoff, but I started before I had my epiphany), and bought an engagement ring ($$$ those things aren’t cheap!).

And then it happened, I became debt free.

I looked up in May of 2016 and made my final debt payment.  Since May I have saved up an emergency fund-saved a decent chunk of change for my upcoming wedding-and nearly saved enough to purchase a new (used) car.  It’s amazing what you can do if you are diligent-if you are purposeful with your finances!

When I became debt free-I thought I would feel different.  I really don’t-I want more.

I will have more and I will chronicle my path to financial freedom on my blog.

I will never, ever have debt again (besides a house *maybe, gotta work on the future wifey;)).

I will never buy anything I can’t write a check or pay cash for.

It’s a relief to be debt free, but I’ve only just begun my debt free journey.

It’s a relief to be debt free, but I’ve only just begun my debt free journey. Click To Tweet

I Paid Off $33,000 Of Student Loans In 18 Months On A Teacher's Salary | Click through to read about my debt free journey and what it took for me to pay off my debt and start building wealth! A guest post by Kyle from DollarDiligence.com

Do you have a debt free journey to share?  What are your thoughts on debt in general?  Is there good and bad debt? Share below!

diligence: noun meaning careful and persistent work or effort.

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Kyle Steinkuhler

Hey ya’ll! I’m Kyle, a teacher who dabbles in personal finance. After meeting my fiance, I realized that my wandering through life with no direction financially probably wouldn’t cut it, so I changed my habits, pulled up my big boy pants and started in on a financial plan to change my future. This blog will chronicle my journey to financial freedom while destroying debt, earning my masters degree (cash flow!), and getting married along the way. I don’t claim to be any kind of expert (except on the topic of eating cheap!). My experience is what I will draw from, and I think my experience is far too normal.
Posted in Budgeting, Debt Free Stories, Finances, Frugality, Guest Post, How To, Paying Off Debt, Saving Money, Working The Baby Steps and tagged , , , , .


  1. Great! I used both Mint and Everydollar, they both work great!

    Kyle Steinkuhler recently posted…5 Tips to STOP Eating your PaycheckMy Profile

  2. Wow that’s inspiring! I know it had to have taken a TON of discipline, but you’ve got to be so proud to have made it to the finish line.

  3. Thanks! It really did take a ton of discipline, it was hard, and was not glamorous. I think the thing it taught me most was to be disciplined-and now that habit is developed within me and it makes it easier to continue along this path! Once I got the system down, it just became normal! It was honestly probably harder on my fiancee than it was me-as all of a sudden I just became obsessed with getting rid of debt-but it worked and I’m debt free still today! Thanks for commenting!
    Kyle Steinkuhler recently posted…5 Tips to STOP Eating your PaycheckMy Profile

  4. Wow, good for you and very inspirational I still owe over $150,000 and it makes me sick to think about it and wondering If i’ll ever pay it off. these are some good tips to keep in mind and I definitely have a lot of places that I can cut back.

    • I understand the feeling. It’s honestly discouraging to look at the number as a whole-no matter how big or small. I think just getting started and making it a priority is the biggest piece of advice I would give. Thank you for reading!


      Kyle Steinkuhler recently posted…5 Tips to STOP Eating your PaycheckMy Profile

  5. Wow, you did awesome! I love your tips. I do a lot of these already. The only debt I have is my mortgage.
    Amber Myers recently posted…What’s Your Word Of The Year?My Profile

    • That’s great! I do not have a mortgage, but will one day. I hope to treat it just as I did the student loans, although I know it is a bit different. Thanks for reading!


    • Absolutely, my most recent post details my food budget further!


      Thanks for reading!

  6. I am terrible at budgeting but it is something I need to work on as I spend way too much especially on food and drink.

    • I understand Ana. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, in fact, it’s completely normal! I would simply start small with 1 or 2 things a month, or try tracking for a month. You’ll be amazed at the progress! Thanks for reading dollardiligence.com

  7. Big congratulations on paying off student loans. Getting that monkey off your back must feel amazing. Also thanks for the spreadsheets download.
    The Travel Ninjas recently posted…Taman Negara, Malaysia – Fun and Adventure in the World’s Oldest RainforestMy Profile

    • Thank you! It does feel very liberating! Just getting started! Thanks to Steven for the spreadsheets!



  8. Great! Thanks for sharing such helpful tips. It’ll really help me with my budget.
    Anne recently posted…There Were Selfies and Then Came Moonlight Selfies With Vivo V5My Profile

    • Thank you for reading! Now is a great time to start a budget!



  9. This would be a nice example to the fresh graduates who are currently paying off their debt or to those who have debt that they want to finally pay off. It’s awesome that you formed a system to save money, we all need a process that works for our lifestyle.

    • Thanks! I would absolutely love to share this with recent college grads. I waited too long to really get down to business in paying off these loans. I can’t imagine where I’d be currently if I had attacked this right out of college! Live and learn! Thanks for reading!



  10. Awesome, job! Way to go paying down your student debt. It’s a lot easier when it’s just you and you can manage your bills and where to cut expenses.

    • Thanks Debra! Absolutely correct that it was much easier that it was just me. That being said, I did this partly for my future and to make sure I had financial options when I do get married and have a family! Thanks for reading!
      Kyle recently posted…5 Tips to STOP Eating your PaycheckMy Profile

    • Knowing it was possible really hit me when I read stories from others that had done the same! I just thought to myself “I could do that.” It finally came to fruition!
      Thanks for reading!
      Kyle Steinkuhler recently posted…5 Tips to STOP Eating your PaycheckMy Profile

  11. Congratulations! I could just imagine how hard that is, but you were able to do it! That was really great. It makes me think how lucky we are Filipinos that we don’t have student loans. Our parents were the ones who paid full for our tuition, but it’s extremely hard!


    • It really makes no difference what the situation-everybody has something they have to overcome. This isn’t something I consider a “hardship” or anything as I technically signed up for it! I was just uninformed as a teenager! Thanks for reading!

  12. Good job! What you’ve accomplished is admirable. I’m not debt-free because I’m paying for my car, but so far so good. I can’t stress enough on the importance of keeping a record of your expenses whether by writing or thru apps. This helped me big time in saving. Only when you keep a record & regularly check it do you see where you can scrimp a bit to get that extra savings. This, essentially is the first step. Then you start prioritizing which things are needed and which are just luxuries that can be delayed.
    R U S S recently posted…I will never forget the good times, 2016My Profile

    • Russ, you nailed it! It is so eye opening to track those expenses to actually see where you can cut costs! It also is freeing in a sense because you know exactly where your money is going! Thanks!

  13. These are all good things to do. When we were saving for medical costs we sold things and cut down on the food budget. It is hard but can be done.
    Angela recently posted…Going For A Poo In Hospital And The Toilet PoliceMy Profile

    • Angela, thanks for reading. There is no doubt that it is HARD! It is not a simple thing, or everyone would do it! Have a good day!
      Kyle recently posted…5 Tips to STOP Eating your PaycheckMy Profile

  14. This is such an amazing accomplishment. Not many people can say that they know how to budget like this, so congrats.

    • Thanks! It absolutely took a lot of research, trial and error, and reading blogs like this one to succeed. Appreciate the comment!

  15. wow, you have done an awesome job. keep it up. i need to do the same, but with kids and animals it’s a little harder.

    • You’re correct, it is for sure going to be harder depending upon the situation. I would simply start small by tracking your income and expense for 1 month, and just adjusting little by little as you go along. You will be making progress very quickly and pick up steam, and pretty soon you will be amazed! Thanks for commenting!

  16. This is SO inspirational! We’re starting to do the same thing this year too. And I love your line “Don’t eat your paycheck!” It’s funny… but sad, because we spend SO much money eating out!

    Happy New Year!

    • Caitlin, thanks for reading! I totally understand the food thing, I just wrote a post on this, dollardiligence.com It is so easy today to just not cook at home, it can really constrain your money if you rely too heavily on it! Have a great day!

  17. oh wow I need to bookmark this blog – my food shopping bill alone is £120 a week, I really need to budget and cut down on so many things

  18. Wow! This is amazing. I am ion debt right now and I am slowly trying to pull myself out of it. I have a baby coming soon and I am hoping to get it down to 50% and then work the rest of the year slowly paying it off. Great blog. I blog about making money online over at http://www.ladiesmakemoney.com. If you ever want to guest post, I would love to feature you.

    Love this, thank you for inspiring me. I can do this!

    • Great plan! I checked out your blog, very cool. I would enjoy guest posting anytime, just email me or shoot me a DM on Twitter.

      You absolutely CAN do this! I remember when I was deep in debt just reading these debt free stories thinking, “that will be me one day.” I never envisioned starting a blog, but I feel like it is beneficial to me and others to share! Thanks for reading!

      Kyle recently posted…5 Tips to STOP Eating your PaycheckMy Profile

  19. It really is amazing how much we can spend on food if we are not careful. I honestly had no clue about this until I started tracking. I just wrote a new post about how to not “eat your paycheck.” Check it out here: http://www.dollardiligence.com/2017/01/02/5-tips-stop-eating-paycheck/

    Thanks so much for reading!
    Kyle recently posted…5 Tips to STOP Eating your PaycheckMy Profile

    • Yes I have many colleagues and friends who are in a similar situation to what I was. The hardest part is getting started! Thanks for reading!
      Kyle recently posted…3 Things to Look For in a “Side Hustle”My Profile

  20. Wow this is a huge accomplishment! I know so many plagued by debt from student loans that need to read about this!

    • The issue is that it’s far too normal! This is why I shared my story, thanks for reading!


  21. I hope that we can pay my husbands off in a timely manner.
    Angela Zimsky recently posted…Would You Help A Stranger?My Profile

    • The hardest part is actually getting started! Once you get going you’ll never look back!


  22. Wow! That is amazing. I can’t wait to pay off my student debt.

    Isaly Holland | http://www.memoriesbyisaly.com

  23. That’s fantastic! Thank you for sharing your tips. It will be definitely very useful for me after I graduate.
    Iga recently posted…77 You Can Get Rid Off & Conquer Household ClutterMy Profile

    • Thanks for reading! You are in a great position to do something like this if you are still young and in school, I wish I would have done it much sooner!
      Kyle recently posted…My 2017 Budget (and why you need a year long budget)My Profile

  24. Nice sharing, can’t wait to pay off all of my debts!
    Auth Ads recently posted…Two Simple yet Effective Ways on How to Save Money FastMy Profile

  25. Wow! Congrats!

    This is very inspiring. I love your perspective on how increasing income is a strategy just like frugality is one. Loved it.

    This post definitely takes on a different strategy which I think it´s more doable than the others I´ve read. Thanks for sharing!

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