I graduated from dental school at 26 years old with $575,000 of student debt. That fact alone was mind-blowing enough to land me a podcast interview on Choose FI back in 2018. I then became the first interview with Travis Hornsby on Student Loan Planner Podcast. Since then, I have partnered with Student Loan Planner and Student Loan Advice to help young grads tackle their debt. Because the shocking reality is that big debt exists for almost every new-grad out there. Which is why this blog was originally born. I wanted to share my path towards financial freedom in the hopes of helping others maneuver past their student loans. I really hope it has helped thus far. Today, I decided to write a round-up post on everything I have done to get out of student debt. I’m sorry it has taken this long.
But before we get to it, you might be interested in The Ever-Growing List of Ways to Earn Extra Income, The Ever Growing List of Things I’ve Given Up in the Name of Frugality, and The Ever-Growing List of Things I Have Given Up in the Name of Creating Less Waste. You may also want to read my interviews with other bloggers. The UnOrthoDoc shares how I am paying back my student debt in 7 years. I talk about the effects of our heritage on personal finance in an interview for the series Blood Debts. And Making Sense of Cents shared how I used side-hustles to catapult debt repayment.
The Ever-Growing List of Things I Have Done to Get Out of Student Debt
- I worked three jobs during under-grad to support myself financially and to take as little debt as possible. This work ethic is what got me to start side-hustling my way to financial freedom. Check out these posts for ideas: 15 Early Morning Jobs To Jump-Start Your Day and 3 Early Morning Jobs I’ve Done to Earn Extra Money.
- I chose a college that I could commute to for Undergrad. Even though I got into more prestigious schools, staying local was an intentional choice. I lived at home with my parents in order to save money on rent and food.
- I finished Undergrad in 3 years. I was able to do this by taking more than 10 AP classes in high-school. These credited as college credits. My college classmates suggested I stay the fourth year to ‘get the full college experience’. I chose to graduate in three years so I could save on tuition and work full-time in my ‘fourth year’.
- I moved in with my then-boyfriend, now-husband and two guy friends in order to save on rent during dental school. I lived near campus the first two years and was paying $1200 per month in rent. I asked to live with the boys in a city 30 minutes away to save money. My rent went down to $375 per month. After calculating in the gas, I ended up saving $600 per month the last two years of dental school. This equated to over $14,000!
- I hired a financial planner who ended up saving my life. I spent my first paycheck to pay for his services. He listened to my needs and wants, and made a plan that worked for my goals. I owe all of my financial success to him. I always recommend interviewing a few options before choosing the planner that’s right for you. A few options are Travis Hornsby’s Team from the Student Loan Planner or Andrew Paulson’s team from Student Loan Advice backed by White Coat Investor.
- We mastered our budget. I think budgeting is the most important life skill for financial well-being. It doesn’t matter how much you make, if you don’t know how to control spending. That’s why I wrote a Free Course on Mastering a Budget. We use You Need a Budget (YNAB) for our budgeting tool. It is my absolute favorite. I call YNAB our secret weapon. I recommend people create a budgeting tool that works for their needs. You can always try YNAB for free for 34 days.
- I paid off all credit card debt within six months of graduating from dental school. If you have trouble paying off your credit card debts, you can always try The Credit Pros. They will help identify the most damaging and most helpful credit items, as well as provide advice and educational tools.
- My husband and I got a roommate for the first five years of our marriage. Getting a roommate is the best way to save money on rent. In California, housing expenses are very high. By getting a roommate, we were able to save money to buy a home. Learn more about co-housing here.
- We bought a home which gained equity. We then sold the home in 2021 to buy a better home. We took the equity and saved it for loan repayment. Find out How We Made Our Home Cash Flow Positive and How Home Ownership Sped Up My $575,000 Student Loan Repayment.
- We travel-hack in order to see the world. One of our top life priorities is to travel. We spent the first five years of our marriage traveling to 10 countries and over 10 states. We did that without paying for air-fare. Learn how to TRAVEL FOR FREE in this post.
- I worked midnight shifts as an early morning baker. It eventually led me to open my own bakery. When that shut-down in 2020, I became the wholesale director of the previous bakery. I had no experience as a baker, shop owner, or salesperson. But I ended up doing those things simply because I asked to learn.
- I opened a dog-sitting business. I now earn over $1.5k a month taking care of other people’s pets. If you want to set up a dog-business, sign up below to receive my guide in your inbox. It walks you through the steps I took in order to set up my business and thrive within 6 months!
- We placed all of our savings in a High Yield Savings Account with Marcus. A HYSA gives a higher interest rate than a savings account at a bank. When the pandemic caused a pause in student loan repayment, we held on to our money ‘in case of emergencies’ and stored it in a HYSA. It has grown with interest while the student loans are at 0% interest. It really catapulted our loan repayment journey forward! Sign up with my referral link to receive an additional 1.0% APY bump on the current listed APY for the first three months.
- We invested money in I Bonds in order to beat inflation. On top of putting our savings in Marcus, we recently invested the maximum amount possible in I Bonds. Due to high inflation rates, I Bonds are currently at 9.6% APY until October 2022. This rate of return is unbeatable especially at a time when stocks are down. I really recommend I Bonds as a hedge against inflation. Learn more about it in this free email course.
- I decluttered all my stuff and embraced minimalism in order to reduce spending. Here is a list of 100 things to declutter if you want to get started!
- I try my best to resist the attention economy. I try to avoid a consumerist lifestyle. Instead, I engage in free activities that bring me joy and vitality.
- I started this blog! I learned a lot about blogging and how to turn my writing hobby into a side-hustle. It all started with taking the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I learned how to make passive income through my writing. I really love this course and have taken it over and over again. It’s a one time fee for life-time access. It is the most life-changing course I have ever taken and definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to start a blog.
- I’ve done everything on this list to save as much money as possible. All the money I saved, I put towards my student loans!
- I’ve done everything on this list to make money. Saving only gets one so far, so making money is also key.
- I invest in personal growth and learning. I read at least two books a month. There is variety in the topics I choose. I never assume I know everything about a topic. Plus I have embraced fiction as a way to learn more about the self. You can check out the recent books I have read on GoodReads.