HOW I PAID OFF $70K IN 3 YEARS

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I need to open by saying I’m not a financial professional or a financial planner. I’m a marketer who has spent the past 6 years or so progressing from budget-less to generally budget savvy. Hopefully, this and future posts can help a few of you out there looking to get a better grasp on your finances this year. 

My introduction to personal finance came in August 2013 when I moved to San Antonio after graduating from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.  I moved in with Patrick (then boyfriend/now husband) and quickly learned we had very different financial mindsets. He could tell you when payday would come, how much would be in his account, where it was going and when, how much would be left after everything was paid, and what was planned for the rest… I could usually tell you when payday was. Usually. 

Hey, I was 25.  That counts for something, right?

To be clear, I wasn’t terrible with money. I had worked since I was 16. I lived alone in Chicago and paid my bills on time.  I had the same, manageable kind of debt as most of my friends. I wasn’t reckless, I just never had a plan for my money. It was usually there when I needed it, I rarely spent more than I had, and that was enough for me.

When I landed a good job and a steady income here in San Antonio, I figured working would eventually lead to a nice house, car, and everything else that comes with media depictions of adulthood. I just didn’t know how long it would take for those things to come to fruition. In hindsight, it probably would’ve taken forever had Patrick and I not gotten real about my/our finances.

Like most college graduates, I accrued a lot of student loan debt while earning my bachelor’s degree, especially since I took my sweet time graduating. I’d always heard people refer to student loan debt as “good debt”, so I never considered that they could hold me back long after graduation. I’d just need to make my regular monthly $900/month payments until I paid the loans off, and that’d only take 10 years. That time would go by in the blink of an eye, right? Plus, $900/month isn’t that much, right?

The more Patrick and I looked at it, the more I began to see that $900/month payment as a ridiculous amount of money, even if it was going toward “good debt”. We ran the numbers and realized we’d miss out on a lot if we were paying on these loans for the next 10 years, and we’d be paying a ton of interest along the way. More on that later.   

If we were going to get them paid off early, however, we’d need to be diligent and deliberate with our finances. It’d require an all-out student loan assault, a rock-solid budget, and a lot of sacrifice from both of us along the way.

It wasn’t going to be easy, but all signs suggested it’d be worth it.

Between 3/19/2014 and 6/25/2017, we paid our private student loan company $66,537.77. That’s 3 years, 3 months, and 6 days. That doesn’t look like a long time, but there were times where it felt like an eternity.

During our student loan vendetta, I learned a lot about my financial habits, Patrick and I began to learn about how to communicate about money as a newly married couple, and I developed a passion for helping others with budgeting. Honestly, I felt that if I could do it, anyone could do it without sacrificing the occasional Target impulse buy or a stylish wardrobe, as materialistic as that sounds.  

I wish this one article could give you the key to paying off your looming student loan sum in one go, but in reality, it starts with budgeting and a solid plan of attack. Through my next post or two, I’d like to shed more light on personal budgeting, my student loan story, communicating about finances with your partner, and more. I hope my stories will help others, and maybe even inspire a few of you to share your stories.  Coincidentally, Florecer Femme is also hosting an incredible #GOALS event on February 2nd, where one of our speakers (a real professional in this stuff!) will help you get down to business on budgeting, saving, and preparing for your future.  

Please feel free to ask questions and share your comments!

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meet the author

Chrissy is a marketer, artist, foodie, and transplant to Texas, originally from Las Vegas, NV.

She graduated from DePaul University’s Driehaus School of Business with a bachelors degree in Marketing. She’s currently finishing her Master of Business Administration through the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign’s iMBA program (ask her about it - it's an awesome program!). Chrissy currently manages integrated marketing projects for a global food manufacturer based in San Antonio and loves working in the food industry.

In her spare time, Chrissy runs a small calligraphy business, restores vintage furniture for her 1950s ranch-style house, and loves on her husband and dog.