Do you fantasize about saying “Bye Felicia!” to Sallie Mae?
Trust me, I feel you sis.
Graduation is supposed to be an amazing day where you feel accomplished and ready to take on the world, right?
Except, for many of us, that feeling is overshadowed by the realization that six months from that glorious day we are expected to begin paying back dear old Uncle Sam who so graciously lent our 18 year-old, barely adult selves, thousands of dollars for a degree that may or may not give us a return on our investment.
You know the saying,
“There are only two certainties in life: death and taxes.”
Well whoever said this, (I think it was Ben Franklin) forgot to mention student loan debt!
If you would have told me when I graduated that I’d manage to pay off all my student loan debt before the age of 30, I would have laughed hysterically!
But, I did.
And I’m here to tell you:
You can too.
What You Should Know About My Student Loan Debt Journey
You should know that I started out just like a typical college graduate. I graduated with about $38,000 in student loan debt. I racked up consumer debt, couldn’t find a job in my field, got depressed, deferred payments for FIVE years, and that original $38,000 grew to $49,000 by the time I was prepared to pay it back.
F@%k you INTEREST!!
After graduation, I went from making $15,000 the first year to $18,000 the second year to $31,000 the third year to over $170,000 the fourth year.
I know what you’re thinking!
“Whoooaaaa slim! How did you manage to quintuple your income in one year!?”
That’s a great question.
Some of it was luck, some of it was networking, and some of it was being able and willing to take advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity when it presented itself-no questions asked.
Paying off that amount of debt in five months requires a high income, but don’t let that fact deter you if you’re not making that kind of money. People are so quick to dismiss a story like this one because of the high salary, but they don’t realize that I started off broke!
The 3 Factors That Contributed to My Rapid Payoff
I’ll let you in on a little secret:
My income was not the only factor that contributed to my rapid debt payoff. The truth is, I was surrounded by people making either the same or more than me and they were neck-deep in debt because they chose to inflate their lifestyle instead of focus on financial independence.
Simply put, it takes more than a high income to pay off a mountain of debt. The three factors that impacted my success in this achievement the most were:
- My mindset as it pertained to debt
- My dedication to personal and professional development
- Fear as it pertained to my job at the time
Allow me to elaborate…
I was under the distinct impression that as long as I owed anyone anything I was a modern-day slave.
Now I know that’s a little dramatic, but that’s how I felt. I equated paying off my student loan debt with freedom. I simply couldn’t adopt the mindset that having student loans was normal and acceptable.
I was so intense with my mindset around debt, that I even told my boyfriend (now husband) that I wouldn’t marry him until I was debt-free. I wanted to marry him so bad that I made paying off that debt my number one mission!
- Dedication to Personal and Professional Development
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the year I paid off my student loan debt was the same year I had also deleted all my social media accounts, read 50 books, and got promoted.
The level of dedication I had to becoming the best version of myself possible was the fuel I needed to stay disciplined enough to contribute 93% of my paychecks to my debt!
It helped that I wasn’t constantly bombarded with everyone’s highlight reels on social media too. That was a distraction I did not need while pursuing such an ambitious goal.
Let me tell you something:
I was so friggin scared!
“Scared of what?” You ask
Well, I was scared that the job opportunity I had at the time wouldn’t last. It was a miracle that I had gotten it in the first place. For the first time in my life, I was in a “too good to be true” scenario and I didn’t want to take it for granted.
This was the first time where my fear of losing something contributed positively to my outcome. I always thought of fear as a debilitating emotion up to this point.
In this case, my fear served its purpose as the proverbial fire under my ass!
The Taste of Freedom Is Addictive
I was on my honeymoon when I pressed the “send” button on the last payment to Nelnet. It was such a liberating moment. I wish I could describe it better.
I just kept thinking,
“I’m free! I’m free!”
The whole journey made me realize one thing:
I never ever want to go back into debt again-not even for a car or a house! I told my husband that when we decide to settle down I want us to pay for our house in CASH CASH (my Cardi B voice).
My new motto: CASH IS QUEEN
What This Means For You
It’s easy to look at the amount I paid off and how quickly I did it and dismiss it all as just being something I did and something not practical for you, but I challenge you to take the three factors I talked about and apply them to your life.
Student loan debt doesn’t have to be this thing that you just accept as part of your life. It’s a shitty hand we’ve been dealt, but with some discipline, optimization, and determination, you can say “Bye Felicia!” to Sallie Mae sooner than you think.
The key to paying off debt fast is hating it more than your desire to be comfortable.
I’ll say it again:
The KEY to paying off debt FAST is hating it more than your desire to be comfortable.
You don’t have to pay off your student loan debt in 5 months. You just have to take action and begin implementing the factors I talked about in this article.