Bench Talk: How I Paid Off $50k in Student Debt

Did you know that there are over 45 million people in the United States that carry student loan debt? And….as of right now, you just watched me make my last payment, and I am no longer one of them. Here’s how I paid off $50k in student loan debt.

When I graduated from undergrad less than four years ago, I had 12 different loans with a principal balance of 42k. Upon entering the workforce, I wasn’t making much money, so I chose a graduated re-payment plan with low payments. I saw that I wasn’t making much progress, and I couldn’t stand the thought of making these payments for the next 10-30 years, so I decided to make a plan.

The Plan

The four key steps to this plan were:

  1. Creating a Budget
  2. Automating my Payments
  3. Creating a Repayment Strategy
  4. Monitoring my Progress and Staying Focused

The budget wasn’t too bad, I had just gotten out of college and was used to living on very little. But by actually putting my expenses on paper and tracking those opened my eyes to some areas where I could be doing better.

Automating Payments was important because it ensured that I never defaulted, and it forced me to contribute every month.

For my Repayment Strategy, I actually kept the low monthly required payments so that I could choose where to allocate my additional money. (Image of Repayment Plan) By attacking the smaller loans first, it helped me realize the progress I was making and build momentum towards my goal.

This is where monitoring my progress and staying focused came into play. After the first year, I had made solid progress paying off two of my highest interest loans, but I wasn’t moving quickly enough. I added a second job and took any additional side work that I could find.

Now here I am, having just made my last payment on $50k in student loan debt in less time than it took me to accumulate that debt. Ridding yourself of your student loans is attainable. It didn’t take an inheritance, a government bailout, and I certainly wasn’t making a 6 figure salary; just a plan and some hard work.

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