I paid off nearly $80,000 worth of student loans within 8 years of graduation — here’s how I did it

I paid off nearly $80,000 worth of student loans within 8 years of graduation — here’s how I did it

It’s a moment many student loan borrowers look forward to, and after nearly eight years, it’s my turn: As of Oct. 3, I’ve finally paid off my student loans!

After accruing nearly $80,000 worth of student loans, I can remember graduating at 21 years old and thinking to myself — during many sleepless nights — that I would do everything in my power to pay them off in full before I hit 30. Now, just a few weeks shy of my 29th birthday, I can finally breathe that long-awaited sigh of relief.

The journey hasn’t been easy. On some of my darkest days, I chose to skip meals or not turn on my heater in the winter out of immense guilt. Now that I’ve reached the other side of my student loans, I’ve learned how destructive student debt really is and how much it affects so many people’s lives.

While some student loan payoff stories tend to highlight spending extremes, mine is more of a story of finding a balance. In short, I decided to live my life fully without losing sight of accomplishing my goal — while I could have paid my loans off even faster, I chose not to because I wanted to prioritize other goals, along with simply enjoying my life.

Overall, the success of paying off my student loans can be summarized by two simple principles: making more money and maximizing student loan refinancing. Here’s how I did it.

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Our best selections in your inbox. Shopping recommendations that help upgrade your life, delivered weekly. Sign-up here . How I paid off my student loans in less than 8 years

First off, I attended two years of community college, which was covered by my parents. Then, for my second two years, I decided to attend college out-of-state, which came at a premium cost.

The kicker was I was unable to qualify for any loans or grants through FAFSA since my parents’ expected contribution was so high. My parents hadn’t saved up for me to go to college, so I was forced to apply for private student loans through Wells Fargo.

My 19-year-old self had no idea what he was getting into, but after graduating in August 2015, I had to face the financial reality of being $72,669 in debt — an amount which eventually ballooned to just under $80,000 thanks to accruing interest.

Thankfully, roughly 85 months later, I was able to crush my student debt by using these tactics: Side hustling

Having a side hustle or two has become quite popular over the last decade. As wages stagnate and the cost of living continues to rise , Americans have found themselves needing to supplement their income from their full-time job.

In my case, I was looking for a way to pay down my student debt without having to sacrifice my lifestyle — and that’s where side hustling comes in. I’ve had many side gigs, including delivering groceries for Instacart at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, working as a lifeguard for private pool parties, reselling items online and doing freelance writing projects. I’ve also taken full advantage of welcome bonuses from certain credit cards and bank accounts .

While I had little to no money coming in some months from my side hustles, other times I’d see upwards of $5,000 per month. Through it all, the one requirement I had for myself at the time was that these side jobs would always be flexible within my current schedule. I was already working around my full-time job’s fixed schedule so I didn’t want to work in another concrete schedule on top of that.

Over the last four years, I would estimate I’ve made about $30,000 in side hustle income. And while it did help me to aggressively pay down my student loans, having that side income also gave me the flexibility to enjoy my life.

If you’re considering picking up a side hustle , follow my advice and do something you enjoy. It will make the time fly by and paying down your student loans (or other debt) will be a less agonizing experience. Changing jobs

A recent Forbes study showed that employees who stayed at one job for more than two years would end up making 50% less than those who made the jump to another job. Moreover, if your salary hasn’t increased in the last two years, you’ve likely been experiencing a much tighter monthly budget as record-high inflation continues to drive consumer prices higher.

At this point, I’m on my […]

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