Featured Image: Chris House Photography
*Currently listening to In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins radio on Pandora*
I have gotten a lot of questions asking how I managed to pay off my students loans so quickly. It was not easy and it was not fun… Okay, that’s a lie. It felt great once they were paid off.
As many of you already know, I graduated from Georgia State University in December of 2016. I had the cloud of student loans hanging over my head… pretty much like anyone else that goes to college. If you’re anything like me, finances stress you the f*** out.
Here’s the difference that has separated me from many of my fellow classmates. I didn’t take out any loans until I absolutely had to. Yes, I would be sh** broke eating ramen every night before I took out a loan. I was paying for a one-bedroom apartment in Midtown, Atlanta and working every moment that I wasn’t in class. I got my first loan my second semester of Junior year, up until then I had been paying out-of-pocket for my classes. So in total I had three semesters of loans built up when I graduated.
After you graduate, you have six months to begin paying off your Stafford loans without ANY interest accumulating. Here’s the kicker… many people take this time to focus on finding a job, saving money, and just relaxing. I mean, I get it, you’ve been in college for four years and you want to relax finally. This is my advice: start paying off your debt before the interest starts kicking in.
I made my first payment on my Stafford loans in January, a month after I graduated. I put $1000 down purely taken out of my savings account and then started an automatic payment plan. The suggested payment plan it started me on was $20 a month (this also told me I would pay off my student loans in twenty years, hell no). I changed the automatic amount to $150 a month. At this point in time, I was living in Kennesaw paying a substantial amount less in rent and still working full-time as a waitress. A couple of months passed and it was April, my birthday month! Wondering what I did with my birthday money? I put it all down on my student loans, plus I saved up enough to invest another $1000. Note: my grace period was ending on June 6th… I had two months left before interest would start accumulating.
For reasons that don’t really matter to this blog, I was jobless for about two months between June-August. I still had my automatic payment plan going knowing that something was better than nothing. I started my current job in August and my very first paycheck was devoted solely to my student loans. BOOM, I was done. Less than a year since I graduated and I haven’t worried since about the debt hanging over my head.
My story is different from many others, I didn’t take out any money until I desperately felt I had to. I started working when I was sixteen and saved every last bit of the money I had made from working through high school. I am so very thankful for my family because I learned the value of a dollar at a young age. If anything comes from this blog, I feel the most valuable piece of advice I can give is to start paying off your loans as soon as you can. If you can start paying them off before graduation, go for it and more power to you!
-Till next time-