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In this article, I will share how we came to realize student loan debt is the best thing to have. Then I will introduce the 11 money tips that helped accelerate our debt-payoff process and allowed me to become student debt free by graduation! In total we paid off $56,000 in student loans.
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Back in the day, my wife Shan and I didin’t think student loans were a bad thing. The thought of graduating zero debt in student loans had never crossed my mind.
When purchasing our first townhome, I had to give our lender my student loan payback plan. This is the amount I would owe each month upon graduation.
At that time I had a much lower income. The monthly payment plan was only $30 going off an income-driven payment plan. I thought to myself, wow! Having student loans isn’t too bad because the monthly payments after graduation are so low.
I would only need to pay $30 a month after I graduate! But when we purchased our second property I had a better job with a higher income.
At that point, we needed to provide another income-driven payment plan to our lender. I was shocked to see how much I needed to pay every month. The monthly payment amount shot up like crazy!
I realized student loans were not the best thing to have.
Thankfully we found Dave Ramsey and agree with many of his money tips. Even now, we are still very grateful for Dave Ramsey’s teachings on personal finance and getting out of debt. His teachings helped spark our change toward our finances.
At first, it was Shan who listened to him who would tell me, “let’s save up for your MBA tuition by ourselves and pay down your bachelor’s student loans”!
“The average total student debt continues to teeter around $30,000”US News
She received a full scholarship, and her parents also helped her with other expenses before we got married.
Me, on the other hand… I had accumulated $25,000 in student debt from my bachelor’s degree.
My MBA program was remote/online with six semesters, and the total tuition for the program was $31,000.
So, we needed to pay off $56,000 once I graduated!
It was time to change and start paying off my student loans EARLY! Let me introduce how I graduated debt-free and after becoming a new father and still being a college student.
1. Mint Mobile: monthly phone plans at AMAZING prices
Mint Mobile has helped us save tons of money, especially during college! We all know how phone plans can get pricy with long, frustrating contracts.
Our friends told us about Mint Mobile many years ago. For many reasons, we are still using them today!
Mint Mobile offers amazing plans at incredible prices, with plans as low as only $15 a month! My wife and I pay only $15 monthly for our phone plans. Check out how you can save money with them today!
2. Budgeted life and Raise
We wouldn’t eat out a lot but instead would cook at home. We would frequently make a lot of food, divvy it up into lunch boxes, then put it in the freezer.
Doing this was so convenient, especially when constantly on the go. You can just warm it up in the microwave when needed.
We decided to buy a lot of things second-hand, don’t buy brand new!
There are many free things through the Facebook marketplace, such as our baby’s toys, stroller, etc.!
We are big fans of Raise where you can buy gift cards at a discount for places like Walmart.
3. Rent out our extra room
Before having our first baby, we would always rent out our extra room to friends or family members.
We personally didn’t want to share the place with someone we didn’t know so we typically stuck to people we knew.
Giving them a good deal was important to us, so it turned out to be a nice win-win situation.
4. Sold a lot of stuff (minimalize)
We watched minimalism videos which were very intriguing to us and gave us the motivation to sell items we didn’t need.
To help us know what we don’t need, we would ask ourselves, “does this item really add value to my life?”.
I even sold my PS4 and Nintendo Switch because I was simply too busy with my full-time job and full-time school.
I wanted to spend any extra time doing more meaningful activities (such as learning about investing!).
In another article, I dive into what What Financial Minimalism Is and How To Achieve It. You’re welcome to check it out as it has helped us become more financially healthy and happy. 🙂
5. Taking up Side Hustles, For us: Pet sitting!
We love pets! Whenever our friends would ask us to help watch their pets, we were more than willing to do so.
My wife is from China, so she knew a lot of international students who didn’t have family here. They needed people to watch their pets when they traveled or went back to China.
Since we love animals, this was an easy side hustle.
For us, this was not a job at all; we both enjoyed playing with each pet (by the way, we would only watch fully trained pets, so it wouldn’t be hard to take care of them).
We like using the pet sitting site/app called Rover where you can get paid to help watch other people’s pets!
Regardless of what you do, finding a side hustle is a great idea to add some extra cash to help pay off student debt.
6. Donating Plasma
I heard about donating plasma from my brother and started donating it.
You can probably make around $400 a month, sometimes even more, when there is a promotion going on! Depending on the place, each donation will take around one hour total and you can donate up to twice in one week.
It was so easy, I just had to lie down there and could read a book or play on the phone.
I still donate plasma sometimes when they have a good promotion, but now the money I get is my “freedom/fun money” lol.
7. Find a higher-paying job
I always worked full time while going to school full time. During my time at college, I moved up the ranks to a supervisor position when I first got married. Then to an account manager during the last year of my bachelor’s program. I then became a product development specialist after the first semester of my MBA.
Each position change gave me around a $15,000 salary increase. In total, I had around a $30,000 salary increase during school! I would quickly move to another position once I became comfortable with my job responsibilities and look for opportunities to expand my knowledge and skills.
8. Employer tuition reimbursement.
The company I work at as a product development specialist is amazing. They offered me $3000 each year of tuition reimbursement.
For my two years of studying for my MBA, I received a total amount of $6000 for tuition reimbursement.
This is a great benefit that helped us pay off debt faster.
9. Other student financial aid
After getting married, I received some grants! So I didn’t pay any tuition for the remainder of my bachelor’s degree.
We highly recommend looking and applying for scholarships or financial aid rewards.
10. Using the Debt Snowball
While we were saving and paying for my MBA tuition, I still needed to pay off the student loans left from my bachelor’s degree. We used the debt snow method to get it.
First, we listed out all the balances and then paid them off from small to big, ignoring the interest rate. Using this method gave us so much motivation and a very positive feeling whenever we paid a loan balance off!
Related content: The Debt Snowball – How We Paid Off $56,000 In Student Loans.
Then what happened later was the COVID student loan relief plan, where the interest rate became zero during a certain time period. We were able to save a lot on interest from that relief plan.
11. Selling our first rental.
Due to Covid in 2020, the interest rate became so low resulting in a boom in the housing market.
It was a hard decision to sell our first rental property because we want to keep it long-term.
After thinking long and hard, we both feel peaceful about selling it. Around the last year of MBA, we sold our first property. I used part of the profit to pay off the rest of the student loans we owed.
It was an amazing feeling to be able to use cash to pay off the rest of my MBA tuition.
We became 100% debt-free except for the mortgage after that!
12. Bonus Tip: Refinance Student Loans
Although we did not need to refinance student loans, it can be an option that can save you potentially thousands of dollars over the life of a loan.
If you need to refinance student loans, we highly recommend using LendKey.
They offer low-rate and low-cost student loan refinancing. Additionally, your credit score will not be impacted when exploring rates.
Although the journey was not the path of least resistance, it was the biggest relief for us to pay off all student loans. The feeling is amazing and free!
No pain, no gain! We really like what Dave Ramsey has said, “live like no one else, and then live like no one else”! Below is a recap of the 11 steps:
- Mint Mobile: $15 a month phone plan.
- Budgeted life and Raise.
- Rented out an extra room out we had.
- Sold a lot of stuff (minimalize).
- Pet sitting! (ROVER)
- Donating Plasma.
- Found a higher-paying job.
- Employer tuition reimbursement.
- Other student financial aid.
- Debt snowball.
- Sold our first real estate.
Student Debt Paid Off!
The average monthly student debt payment in the USA is around $400 a month. If you instead invest $400 a month in a reliable fund (like S&P 500) with average an average return of 12%, you will have around $92,000 in 10 years and ONE MILLION in 28 years!
We are so grateful that I could graduate student debt-free with both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
I know someone who wanted to buy a house but couldn’t qualify because of their huge student loan debt and needed to pay down the loan balances first.
The housing prices went up a lot when they finally qualified for a house loan. It was so sad! We hope our experiences and tips can help each one of you!
You will not regret starting now. Take the time to create the best method for you to pay off student loans early; you won’t regret it!
What other ways have you used or have thought of paying off student debt early?
We hope the information in this article provides valuable insights to every reader but we, the Biesingers, are not financial advisors. When making your personal finance decisions, research multiple sources and/or receive advice from a licensed professional. As always, we wish you the best in your pursuit of financial independence!