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How I Paid Off My Student Loans in 17 Months

Mel R
Photographer ➡️ Programmer Documenting my Coding Journey Enneagram: Social 9w1 Meyers-Briggs: ENFP
・3 min read

If you would have told me 5 years ago that I would be completely debt free and would be learning to code full-time during a pandemic, I would have thought you were nuts... especially about the pandemic part.

I was always interested in budgeting but I was not consistent with it and most of the time was wondering where all of my paychecks were going. I had a car loan, student loans accruing for a degree that I never finished in a major that I ended up not wanting to pursue, an iPhone loan from AT&T, and a PC loan (because I just had to have that gaming computer)...

"This is what everyone does." I would tell myself as I was making all of these monthly payments towards debt and interest, not realizing that this is where all of my paychecks were going. My total debt was 70% of my annual household income. I was not even able to have $1000 in savings at one time.

In October of 2018, my partner and I were newly dating and discussing finances. We were listing out all of my debts and trying to start a plan to get them paid off. I told her that I had about $5,000 left on car.

"How much is the interest?" She asked.
"Uhh, 16.99% apr... I think that's what the paper said but I don't really understand what that means." I replied.
Her jaw dropped to the floor and she quickly grabbed her calculator and started the process of telling me just how little I was paying on principle every month. It was going to take forever to pay off the car at the rate I was paying it off.

That was the moment where I decided, no more.

We kicked it into high gear.

I got my budget planned out using the EveryDollar App which I HIGHLY recommend!

Then I started to follow Dave Ramsey's baby steps:

Step 1.
Save $1,000 and DO NOT TOUCH IT. Lock it away in a shadow box and only break the glass if you ABSOLUTELY have to.

This I worked a little extra that month and was squeezing every little bit I could out of my budget. I ate out less, and really made sure that what I was buying was necessary. It took a lot of self-discipline but I wanted to be debt free more than I wanted that game, or those tacos. I hit my $1000 emergency fund and put it away in a savings account used ONLY for the emergency fund.

Step 2.
List out all of your debts smallest to largest and start throwing every spare dollar at the smallest one.

This is the point in time where you get hyper focused. Pick up extra hours, sell stuff, get a part time job selling pizza's. Make this step take as little time as you can. It will be uncomfortable, but it is worth pushing hard to get out of debt and free yourself. I paid off my car within 3-4 months of finding out about the apr and refinancing. My entire tax return and everything I had was going to my car. After the car was paid off, I started tackling my student loans, smallest to largest.

This year I finally did it and it was the most liberating feeling ever!

Step 3.
Boost that $1000 emergency fund up to 3-6 months worth of expenses

Continue the momentum and instead of throwing the extra money at your debt, throw it in your savings and build it up to 3-6 months worth of expenses. This one is more fun because you actually get to keep the money you are working hard for. But... DO NOT SPEND IT!

I will quickly list the last steps:

(Note: 4, 5, and 6 are done consecutively)

Step 4.
Invest 15% of your household income in retirement.

Step 5.
Save for your kid’s college fund.

Step 6.
Pay off your home within 7 years if possible.

And the final, most fun step:
Step 7.
Build wealth and give generously.

Anyone can do this! You just have to shift your perspective and believe you can.

Know your "why?" and do it.

Stay focused and you can become debt free and follow your dreams!

Thanks for reading!!

Discussion (4)

courtneypure profile image
C. Pure

This is so inspiring! Also my partner helped me to refocus my financial goals as well. I really have to sit down and write down how much I have to go but I believe I have somewhere around the $32,000 mark left. I just paid off a student loan this year which I am proud of but still chugging along.

I went to an expensive private art school so my loans were pretty high once I left. Currently I don't have a car because of the pandemic. I had the car already paid off but it helped to save on insurance payments every month. So I donated it (it was super old basically no real value). Now I'm focused on trying to use my bike more to get the essentials that I need day to day which also doubles as exercise points haha

harpreetslater profile image
harpreetslater • Edited

I love the story that you have shared. I love how you made your own tactic on how to pay your student loans in 17 months. To pay a student loan in 17 months is quite fast and really interesting. But there is a catch, there are more tactics that can help you to pay the loan a lot faster. I am sure that it is possible to pay the loan in 12 months or even faster, it really depends on you. I have read on that you can pay your loan a lot faster if you want. You don't need to wait if you have the money on in your hand.

mateerleen profile image
Mateerleen • Edited

It's very interesting, thanks for sharing! Getting a loan is very responsible, that’s why before getting, one should learn the conditions and read some additional information about your loan provider. I know a good site that can help you find the most important information about the most popular loan companies, with ratings and reviews.