How I crushed $20,000 of student loan debt in 1 year making $10/hour

vz_acs_debtfree_644x361_feb13

 

This is no lie. I was only making $8/hour when I graduated from University and I had already started paying off my student loans. Shortly after graduation I landed a job that gave me a 50% increase in pay! That’s right folks I was making a whopping $12/hour. So the average over that year of pay off was $10/hour. Glorious times.

Looking back I realized that there were some principals that helped me accomplish such a large task. My hopes are that by sharing these I can help people in a similar situation to my situation at the time.

1. Make A Plan

My wife and I were concerned about the student loan debt. We saw how people who did not have a plan to pay off their debts or control their finances usually ended up in a bad situation. My wife had recently read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and told me about the envelope system. So we decided that was our plan. We would allocate enough cash for each category: savings, groceries, gas, rent, etc. and all of the left overs would go to paying off my student loan debt. We found that we wanted to pay off the debt faster so we had to cut down on dates, eating out, and some other luxuries that we often enjoyed. But it was all for a greater good.

I also decided to pay off my unsubsidized loans first. They were accruing interest while I was attending University and my subsidized loans would be interest free for 6 months after I finished school. I figured that would help us save as much as possible on interest payments.

2. Stick To Your Plan

Normally you get this one at the end of the blog post. But I am going to put it right here. Immediately after setting the goal of paying off my debt as fast as possible so many “fun” things came up and we wanted to spend money on it. Vacations with friends, new movies that looked to awesome not to see, birthday presents, Christmas presents… you know how it goes.

My wife and I had to constantly remind each other that we had a worthy goal and we could accomplish it with a little bit of grit. So we stuck to our plan. If you do not have a wife or a significant other get an accountability partner that can help you stick to your goal!

3. Leverage All Income Sources

My wife was working during this period of time so that helped us so much to fund our food and rent and pay extra off on the loan. I know many people are not married who are reading this so I will not focus on this too much.

I did happen to have a job where I could earn commissions which was a great benefit as well. While the commissions were not big they were big enough to help pay extra chunks of loan off. The new job I found also had a commission plan (which I was not aware of at the time of hire) and that was great! Ask your boss if there is a way to earn an extra bonus to pay off some student loans. I am sure your boss will even appreciate your proactive approach in your personal life.

That brings me to my next point…

4. Kill It at Work

Honestly commissions do not mean a thing if you are not earning them. You will not get the bonus you need if you did not earn it. You must put your nose down and get work done! When you kill it at work it gives you confidence to do other things better. It gives you the attitude that you can do any thing and guess what. You can do anything! You can get a better paying job! You can do freelance work on the side! There is so much you can do to quicken your run out of the valley of debt.

Heck, if you are killing it at work you may even get a promotion and make more money! Making more can only help you get out of debt. It sure did help me.

5. Give back, give back, give back

To me giving back was the biggest help while trying to get out of debt. I am a religious man and I pay a full tithe. That is 10% of my income that goes to the church who in turn gives it to those in need. I served as much as I could in my local community. I looked for ways to be the best man I could possibly be.

Giving back helped me keep perspective. I knew others were in far worse situations than myself. I believed in the promise that I have been taught about paying tithing in Malachi 3:10 it says: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

Now if you do not believe that you can also look at any uber successful person. They all say the same thing about earning more money and becoming more successful. When they give back they get back. It keeps life in perspective and that is what is important. The principal is eternal.

Well, those are my tips folks. Have you paid off a large amount of debt? How are you crushing your student loans? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

The Best Books of 2016 According to Matt

Last year I set a goal to do two things. Both equally daunting yet I was determined to succeed. My first goal was to not drink a carbonated beverage from January 1, 2016 until December 31, 2016. My second goal was to read one book per month or 12 books over the course of the year. I am proud to say that as of the end of 2016 I have achieved both goals! Achieving your New Year’s resolutions is possible my friends!

It was amazing that when I began finding time to read each day (really just 10-20 minutes) how invigorated my mind felt. I actually began to crave reading and devouring the information in the pages. I became sharper at work and more creative. I felt that my writing improved and my vocabulary expanded.  Books were the best investment I made on myself last year. Below are some books that I highly recommend and what I thought of them. I will write about the no carbonated beverages goal in a different post. So now, on to the library!

  1. The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown

Perhaps I loved this book because it was an Olympic year or it was just a captivating story. It is about nine American boys from the University of Washington that qualified for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany. This story focused mostly on one of the boy’s life and perspective which was interesting. But what I loved about this book is how applicable it is to work, relationships, and life. The book mentions finding the “swing” or the stroke pattern that would best propel the athletes to victory. We too can find our “swing” when we work well with our colleagues or work on communicating better with our significant others. This book also made me want to join a rowing crew.

  1. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

In 2015 my wife and I moved to Singapore for a work assignment. Never in my life have I felt more challenged or inadequate for the task I had at hand. I was to set up the company’s first office in Southeast Asia, hire and train all the staff, and help things grow. Now, that we have almost reached our two year mark overseas, looking back I should have read this book in 2015. I started to apply what I learned in the book. Meetings went smoother, work was more enjoyable, and I learned so much about other people. The most amazing thing about the principles in this book is they transcend borders and cultures, languages and traditions. Thank you Dale!

  1. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

This is the book that sparked my creativity and imagination. It made me feel like a kid again. I truly believe that whether you read fiction or non-fiction having to put stories and ideas together in your mind that you glean from the pages of a book you will benefit from it. This book helped me pull myself out of my day to day routine and become excited about life again. If you have not read this one and you love pirates, adventures, or both you must read Treasure Island.

The remaining nine books were great. However I only recommend eight for you all to read too. They are as follows:

The Martian by Andy Wier

The Book of Mormon (I actually read this one twice)

7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins

The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn

The Lincoln Hypothesis by Timothy Ballard

Well that is my list! As for 2017 I am almost done with Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. I will let you know how that one goes. It has great advice for people starting out in investing and trying to build wealth. Perfect for you and me!

Have any books you loved? Let me know in the comments! I want all the books I can get on my list!

Until next time,

Matt (Check out my reading room below. JK but it would be cool..right?)b0791691687f87a07adc42c19ef66f6f

Homegrown Productivity

I have been on this productivity kick recently and I have been loving it! I get more done during the day, I feel confident, and I have more of what we all want, TIME. Let me share with you some things that have helped me be more productive.

Get Up Early

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Early to bed, early to rise. Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”. My mom or dad would tell me that saying at least two times a day every day while I was growing up. I am glad I finally listened!

Waking up early is one of the biggest factors in how productive I am through out my day. It sets me up to do the other things I need to in order to have a productive day. Basically waking up early gives me time. Time that is mine to do what I need.

Try getting up an hour early and see what you can accomplish.

Exercize 

Just 30-60 minutes of exercize in the mornings helps lift my spirits and give me the energy that I need to get through the day.

I usually set a goal for how long I run, how much weight to lift, or how many push-ups to do. Accomplishing that goal gives me confidence and I know my body is getting healthier too.

Meditate or Ponder About Life

Take time each day to meditate or ponder. Fill your mind with gratitude and positive thoughts. We spend a lot of time comparing and competing, which can be healthy, take some time to just appreciate what you have, to set goals, and to better understand yourself and your life’s purpose.

This will put you into the mind set that you can accomplish what ever you want! It will help you find solutions to problems and keep your mind organized.

Eat Breakfast

If you have never experienced a “hangry” person come talk to me just before lunch on a day when I haven’t eaten breakfast.

It is difficult to be productive when your blood sugar is low and you want cant hear your colleagues over the rumbling in your stomach. Do me a favor and eat breakfast.

Make a Schedule

Architects cannot build a skyscraper with out a blueprint. A regular Joe will have a rough time with out a schedule. Anytime you have something urgent or important come up put it down in your schedule. This will do two things:

  1. Help you realize what is a priority and what is not.
  2. Allot the correct amount of time to your tasks.

When you begin to do those two things you will begin to get more and more done throughout the day .

Those are a few big ticket items that have helped me be the most productive that I can. What are some of your hacks or tips? Leave them in the commentd below!

Follow me on Twitter: @mattsfatblog

4 Reasons Why You Need To Challenge Yourself

article-0-0024f94000000258-244_468x659

When we are “fat” and happy it is usually because we have accomplished something great. We have completed a marathon, went a week with out logging on to Facebook, finished that book, or maybe we smashed our old buffalo wing record at Buffalo Wild Wings. What ever it may be challenges are everywhere. That is partially why I am blogging; it is a challenge for me. Whether or not we accept challenges that is another question altogether.

What makes me sad is when I look back over the past month and I have not challenged myself. Why would I let time pass by without using it to the fullest. The fear of not challenging myself caused me to sat back and think a while about what are the reasons for challenging ourselves.

These four points are some of the reasons why I like to challenge myself. I hope that I will never forget and always look for a challenge. I would hate to get to the end of it all and look back and think, “How much further could I have gone?”.

My top 4 reasons for challenging yourself:

Challenges Build Confidence

When I was growing up I enjoyed the wonderful sport of pole vaulting. I distinctly remember that when I pole vaulted I occasionally would get a little nervous about clearing the next bar. Sometimes I would fail, sometimes I would get close, and sometimes I would make the height. Once I made a bar (especially by a large margin) it would never bother me again. I would never wonder if I could clear that same height or not. I would just go for it. Those individual challenges day after day at practice and at meets helped me learn to push my own limits and have the confidence I needed to succeed.

Challenges Develop Self-Discipline

Often times the challenges that we find our selves in our self-imposed goals or rules we make. New years resolutions, fitness goals, educational goals, and all the like require that we show up. I have recently challenged myself to do 100 push ups a day for an entire month right when I wake up. What I learned is that if I do not have enough discipline to do those push ups first thing in the morning I will never get around to them. I learned if I do not get up when my alarm goes off I end up sleeping in and do not end up doing those push ups. I learned that if I do not go to bed at a decent hour I will not get out of bed on time……get the point? Anytime we try to have self-discipline it effects us in so many ways that we are actually changing based off of our challenges.

Challenges Build New Skill Sets

In 2014 I bought a home from Housing and Urban Development. The previous owner was an alcoholic, lived with several (maybe 5 or 6) dogs, and did not have electricity or water for at least six months before being evicted. That house needed a lot of work and I did not have the money to pay for the work to be done. This left me with the challenge of remodeling my home. I could have just turned around and sold the home but my wife and I were determined to fix that place up. After a year of blood, sweat, and tears I can now frame walls, tile floors, hang drywall, and not hit my thumb with a hammer when hitting nails.

Challenges Increase Productivity

If you take what we have covered up to this point and put it all together you can see how the skills developed by challenges can help you become more productive. If you are confident, have self-discipline, and develop new skills how could you not be more productive at anything?!

In summary if you want to improve many facets of your life go find a challenge!

What have challenges taught you? What did I leave off of my list? Lets hear your thoughts!

 

The Art of Complaining

Recently, I have been extremely fascinated by complaining. In fact, I have been so fascinated by it that I was doing it….a lot! I was complaining about everything. Work, life, my lack of hobbies, lack of exercise, etc. etc. Something that I noticed about all of this complaining was that when I was actually complaining I felt great… at least for a few minutes. Shortly after that everything just turned for the worse. My self-confidence was being shaken, my temper was shortened, conversations were not deep and meaningful anymore. Something I noticed the most is when I complained about one thing I would complain about everything. Talk about me being a Debbie Downer!

Then one day while I was scouring the internet on ways to be more productive (that may seem like an oxymoron but I was doing just that). I came across this article by Tim Ferris, author of the 4-Hour Work Week and other books, about complaining.  After reading the article I decided to take the challenge that he outlines. Go 21 days with out complaining. Here is a very crude break down of how the challenge works:

  • Get a bracelet (I used a red rubber band).
  • Place it on one wrist.
  • Any time you complain move the bracelet to the other hand and start your counter over.
  • The goal is to keep the bracelet on one wrist for 21 days.

This challenge is not for the faint of heart. It is going to be very difficult at first. This  that challenge is completely in your control; which means you can literally change your life!

The fist week you are changing hands multiple times per day. You realize how much you complain and you feel like giving up every day. But after about a week I was only changing over about one time per day. Then I realized I was not changing hands for days.

Eventually my rubber band broke and I never got a replacement. But I am confident that I have completed the 21-day no complaining challenge. I have never been the same since. I have been more positive, more pleasant to be around, and my confidence has increased dramatically. Most importantly I am now able to recognize the times when I have begun to complain and engage in the down spiral to loathing and self-doubt. Because of that I have been able to change the direction of my conversation or change the subject all together if I did not have constructive way to make whatever I was complaining about less vexing to me. That ability has allowed me to make my life better.

In a fat life you do not have time to complain. You do not have time to listen to people complain. What you do have time for is recognizing things that annoy and you wish would change and do something about them. You have the time to take the 21-day challenge and change your perspective forever. A complaint free life is a fat life. The fat life is a life full of things you love. The fat life is a happy life.

This challenge works. This is my experience. What is yours? Please comment and let me know!

 

About Matt’s Fat Blog

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions”
-Dalai Lama

Here is a brief story about why I started this blog, mattsfat.com.

At the beginning of the year I would wake up just before I had to go to work, dreading what was to come that day, head to work (hate my entire work day), head home, complain to my wife about everything, eat dinner, and go to bed. I did this for about 3 months, every. single. day…I wasn’t exercising, eating right, or doing anything I normally like to do. To sum it all up, I was miserable.

One Sunday my friend asked me if I wanted to play some Pickleball with him. Pickleball is a game I really enjoy, check it out (maybe I will write a post about it later). We played hard for about an hour, had some good conversation, and that day instantaneously turned around the direction of my life. During the game my friend mentioned never having any balance in his life. He works all hours of the day and night, barely sleeps or see his family, and was considering quitting and moving back home (which happens to be across the ocean). That is when it hit me. Like a bolt of lightning. My life, like my friend’s, was completely imbalanced.

I knew I had to do something to change how things were going in my life. From that day on I decided to leave work on time, make time for my wife, make time for things I loved doing. Ever since that day I have been happy. Another thing I realized that day was that I was not the only one who was suffering from that same condition.

I want to share with everyone the things that I do that bring happiness to my life. This is my “fat”. I want to share with you how I found balance in hopes that it will help you find the inspiration to do the same. You can follow what I do to get started but eventually you must find what balances your life.

I have noticed that, online, a lot of folks associate happiness with money. Don’t get me wrong, I love money and success. I do believe that money and success makes life a little more cushy. But if you want to learn how to be a millionaire or negotiate 45% raises at your job please click here or here. Sure, I may share some things that I have learned about success and money. But our real goal is much different than that.

For us, we will live our “fat lives”. We will be doing things that will make us interesting to other people. But more importantly we will find balance and happiness.

Follow me on my journey as you begin your own. Let’s get fat.