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Debt Free Story Paying $50,000 of Student Loans

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We live in a society where we’re taught that education is everything. Unfortunately, in most instances we have to pay for our education. The worst part is, even if we graduate or not, our student loans haunt us for years to come. With interest rates applied on thousands of dollars worth of student loans, even making minimal payments can often get you no where. That’s what Paul didn’t want. His debt free story is about the steps he took to make sure he got rid of his $50,000 in student loans.

I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to speak with Paul (alias name-requested to remain anonymous). He is in the military, 29 years old from Allentown, PA and wanted to share his debt free story. After college he wound up with $50,000 worth of student loan debt. He decided that he will not carry it for the rest of his life. He enlisted in the military after college which helped propel his debt payoff since he didn’t have residency expenses. The military provided free board in the barracks. Without huge living expenses, he was able to knock out all $50,000 within 4 years making $24,000-$36,000. Truly amazing! Learn more about Paul’s debt free story of how he got himself out of $50,000 worth of student loans next!

Soldier facing American flag-My Financial Hill-Debt Free Story Paying $50,000 of Student Loans

1 | When did you first decide to start your debt free journey?

I pretty much decided after college. There never was a I’ll just live with these for the rest of my life, that never crossed my mind.

2 | Was there a specific event or situation that led you to decide to start getting rid of all your debt? 

Nothing major I just wanted to get rid of the debt as soon as possible. The debt just felt like an annoying nag. 

3 | What was your debt consisted of? How long did it take to pay off?

My debt consisted of about $50,000 in student loan debt. It took me four years.

4 | What was your income range throughout the debt free journey?

So to make a long story short, becoming an officer in the military, didn’t work out so I enlisted instead.

My first duty station was taxed free and I was an Private First Class (E3.) No car was allowed over there so didn’t have to worry about that.

Next duty station (it was taxed) I eventually got promoted to specialist (E4).

Third duty station got promoted to sergeant (E5). Mind you this whole time throughout my career so far at this point I’ve been living in the barracks (meaning I had no extra money that the military gives you to live off base.)

This was from 2014 to 2018.

My income varied throughout those years. Started with making about 2k a month at my first duty station, then got about 300 more when I got promoted.

At my second duty station I also got about 300 extra a month due to there being no dining facility for the lower enlisted.

Third duty station when I got promoted I made about 3k.

5 | Are there any specific things you did to help pay down debt?

Before I started, I researched the best way to pay off my loans.

I decided to go with the avalanche method (paying them off by highest interest loan first).

I looked at it as tipping the band-aid off first. Once I paid off the most expensive one first I thought, “Okay, the ones after this will become easier to pay off after this.”

Also, in the army we have this thing called charge of quarters. Basically a sergeant and a soldier have to watch the barracks for 24 hours. I would take other people’s shifts on Saturdays who didn’t want to work and got paid $100 for it.

Any extra amount of money would go straight to my loans. It didn’t even matter if it was only twenty for driving someone.

During my second duty station I researched credit cards and felt I was ready and financially mature enough to handle one. All the cash back I got went to student loans of course. It was very important that I made a budget and stuck to it.

Budgeted for food, groceries, emergency fund, going out, and for loans.

6 | In regards to budgeting, were there any particular tools or programs that helped you out?

I tried different apps, but what worked for me was just writing it out and revising via paper or by using a note app on my phone. That’s what I’ve been the most consistent on and obviously it worked for me.

7 | How did you stay motivated throughout your debt free journey?

At one point my going out money was too low for me and I reminded myself that it’s okay to enjoy life. So I allowed myself to add just a bit more to that and not make myself feel guilty. I know I was still going to be on track to pay off my loans in less than five years.

There were times especially in the beginning when I would feel annoyed by how much student debt I had, just constantly logging in to look at the debt, and constantly do the math over and over.

I would read successful student loan pay off stories for motivation.

Mind you, at my second duty station that’s when I really started to take saving for retirement seriously as well. My motivation was really the freedom that it would bring me and the options as well.

Before, certain things I would not allow myself to buy. At my third duty station I got myself a junker to drive. The window was cracked, it made horrible noise, but it was about $1,000 and it got me around.

After, well funny story, but after I paid off my student loan debt, I actually to reward myself got a car loan, but it was $8,000 and I paid it off in like ten months. $8,000 is nothing compared to $50,000. And being debt free from student loans has made it nice to actually pick out a car that I wanted, the cheapest thing!

Currently at my fourth duty station and got promoted to staff sergeant. I’m at a point now where I can easily max out my traditional savings plan (military version of the 401k) and my Roth IRA, and live by myself.

I started saving for my next future car, a vacation fund and a splurge fund as well. I started taking Brazilian Jiu Jitsu too. Not a cheap martial art, but worth it to invest in myself physically.

It hit me the other day like wow I have TWO TVs. I still have my simple flat screen 32 inch TV from college, but it was so nice to treat myself and get a 55 inch for my living room. The next goal financially is to get in rental properties and save up for a dog.

All these opportunities that I mentioned have become available to me since I paid off my student loans. It took sacrifice, but so so so worth it.

8 | Was there anything you wish you did differently during the debt free journey?

It felt great when it was over! Now I almost forget about the days about paying off my loans. I can’t imagine having to deal with an annoying $300 bill each month.

But now I’m so used to being debt free and my focus has really been to continue to max out my TSP and Roth IRA.

9 | Would you like to offer any words of encouragement to other readers?

In the words of Dory, “Just keep swimming.”

Thank you Paul for your service and for sharing your debt free story with us. Paul was able to save a significant amount of money by living in the barracks. He also did side jobs on base for any extra money he could get to throw at the debt. After paying off $50,000 in 4 years, he is now free from debt, what an awesome situation. At 29 years old, his future is looking so bright! Anyone can follow in Paul’s footsteps, anyone can pursue their own debt free story. All it takes is perseverance and never giving up!

Ready to start your own debt free journey? Today’s the day to make that change in your life. Start with this free gift – Debt Thermometer and join us in the free 5-Day Debt Free Bootcamp to begin knocking out debt ASAP.

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