I paid off $33,000 of student loans in just over 18 months…on a teacher’s salary.
So, here goes…I start my debt free journey
It was the fall of 2014 and I finally remembered my student loan account password after being on “auto-pay” for about 6 years after college graduation. I looked at the website and about fell off my chair. I owed nearly $33,000. You mean to tell me that 6 years after graduating college, with a “real” job that I had only paid down a few thousand dollars of my debt?
Uh, yea. I apparently didn’t take many math or finance classes. They don’t teach you this stuff in high school, or college. It was simple. I owed around $40k at graduation, paid the very minimum every month (around $180-230/monthly) and wound up barely denting the principle after 6 freaking years. After getting over the initial shock, I set off on about an 18 month journey to get rid of my loans. Inspired by the master Dave Ramsey (Uncle Dave as I call him) I went Gazelle Intense. I mean intense for about the next 18 months until I finally got everything paid off in May of 2016. I paid off over $33,000 in just over 18 months…on a Nebraska teacher’s salary.
*real screenshots of my payments from my student loan providers website.
I’m not sure what’s more amazing. How fast I paid off the loans, or how little I paid in 6 years following graduation!
Here’s a brief rundown of how I survived my debt free journey:
First of all: budget.
I never really used a “budget” before, but when I do something-I go all in-I tracked every penny. Immediately after I spent money on anything, I tracked it with an app and became amazed at how much I could save. There are tons of good apps out there, but I used Everydollar and Mint. I used the debt snowball method for the most part-paid off my smallest debt first, and then paid them in order of smallest to largest balance, again-I became a Dave Ramsey fan and disciple-still am for the most part.
Are you ready to finally take control of your finances? Let my budgeting spreadsheets help!
Just fill out the form below and I'll send you the link to get the same exact budgeting spreadsheets that I use each month!
Included in the workbook:
- Monthly budget form
- Breakdown of savings form (for your sinking funds)
- Overview of your financial plan
I've been using these same forms since August 2011 and have grown my family's net worth 500% tracking our money using these forms!
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.
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.
Latest posts by Kyle Steinkuhler (see all)
- 5 Tips to Stop Eating Your Paycheck; How to Save Money On Food - February 6, 2017
- I Paid Off $33,000 Of Student Loans In 18 Months On A Teacher’s Salary - January 2, 2017