Greetings my upwardly mobile friends,
As of today, December 22, 2018, I have no outstanding student loan debt. Post graduate education completed in June 2013 with over $150,000 in student loan debt. For the first year, I paid several hundred each month and wasn’t even denting the balance.
It took 3 refinancings, and a dedication to regularly increasing payments and figuring out how to live on what was left over. Toward the end, I decidated a minimum of $3,500/month for student loan payments (more than all of our other monthly expenses combined). Even then, I worked twice as hard to increase income such that between December 2017 and December 2018, I paid down the balance by $118,000.00. That’s a mind boggling sum. It required me to work about 2.2x more hours than my peers and is far more after tax income than I earned in the first two years after graduation.
How did I do it all?
- Every 6 months, I increased my payments no matter what. I basically stopped drinking alcohol and any eating expensive food for over three years.
- I lived at home for two years after graduation. On my original salary, I couldn’t have afforded rent during those years anyway.
- I drove the same beat up 90s car I bought in high school until it wouldn’t reliably drive anymore. Yes, I was that guy driving a car that probably was a death trap until Mrs. Upwardly Mobile and I began trying to have baby Upwardly Mobile. At that point, we needed something safer, and I bought a modest economy car with a low monthly payment and 0% interest.
- I bought clothing only when drastically on sale. 3 suits for the price of one sales when a particular regional chain opens new locations.
- I worked more than my peers (6-7 days per week averaging 12+ hours per day for over 4.5 years). I made myself an expert in my field despite my relative youth. I read everything on point for my field, volunteered to speak at conferences, and took any assignment that would increase my business origination and visibility.
- My social time was taken over by business development for work (which simultaneously reduced the sting of decreased social time and drastically increased my income by 5 figure sums every year).
- My student loans were refinanced three times getting the rates down below 3% interest from 7.8-8.6% originally.
- As my income went up, my spending did not (until this year).
The truth is, there is no magic formula. It basically came down to consistency, hard work so that I could pay more, frugal living, and wildly over paying the monthly payments.
My final payment $19,859.07. A huge chunk of my annual compensation. It’s an amount I couldn’t have imagined paying in a single year when I started 5.5 years ago.
This is the first major mile stone toward FI. I’ve been dreaming of this day since just before graduation 5.5 years ago when I thought I could never afford to pay back my student loans.