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.