Yes, you just read the title of this blog post correctly. My student loans are gone and fully paid off!
Donezo. Eliminated. Demolished.
It seems like just a couple of months ago I published my post about my $38,000 in student loans (scroll down to the bottom of this post if you are interested in how I paid off my student loans) and how badly I wanted them gone.
I have made a decent amount of recent payments and have watched our savings account dwindle down to a very low and uncomfortable number (still livable though).
Our monthly income keeps increasing and without it, none of this would have been possible. I am very grateful for everything in life.
Also, many have asked about why I made some small payments of less than $1 (see the picture below). It is because whenever I would pay the full amount of the loan off, they would still charge interest on the loan for the day until the actual payment was received. So, I had some small payments of less than $1.
Related blog posts on how to pay off student loans quickly:
- 30+ Ways To Save Thousands of Dollars Each Month
- How To Work From Home By Selling on Amazon
- 75+ Ways To Make Extra Money
- How Do Student Loans Work?
My Student Loans
I worked full-time all throughout my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and still managed to have student loans. I’m going to blame it on the fact that I had to move out when I was 17/18 and I had to pay for myself to live, but honestly, I wasted a lot of the money I made as well.
I spent tons of money on clothes and food. Wes and I were not the smartest with money when we were younger and first moved in together. I will be honest and say that.
The total amount of student loans that I accumulated was around $40,000 after I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. You can read more about my degrees in the post How I Graduated From College In 2.5 Years With 2 Degrees AND Saved $37,500.
We have had some of the money saved in our emergency fund for quite some time, but I had a hard time parting with it. That is the main reason for why I was able to throw such large payments at my loans every week, and especially the last couple of weeks when I had student loan debt.
Some people ask me if I regret my degrees now that I will be switching to being a full-time blogger. No, I still don’t regret going to school even now that I plan on switching to 100% freelancing. I don’t think I would be where I am today without my degrees, and I do think that they will continue to help me into the future.
My original goal was to finish paying off my student loans in March of April of this year, but I fell a few months behind.
We definitely did some unnecessary (but fun spending), which caused us to be a little behind schedule. However, I’m not going to complain, I’m super proud of myself! I thought that my goal seemed a little hard, and it was, but I only fell a couple of months behind, so it definitely wasn’t impossible.
My Financial Future
What will we do with the additional income that we make every month now that $5,000 to $10,000 isn’t going towards student loans? We’re still not sure! Having this kind of cash flow will be very different from what we are used to because for such a long time everything has been going to my student loan debt.
We definitely want to save as much as we can in order to build a large enough emergency fund to prepare us for the freelancing life that I will be entering.
We also want to start investing more aggressively starting this month. We’ve always invested a little, but not enough as to where it’s a meaningful accomplishment relative to me paying off my students loans.
We still don’t know when we will be buying our next house, and lately we have been talking about putting it off for a couple more years. We haven’t lived in our current home for very long (4 years), and it still fits us for now. So we will be saving for our next house down payment fund, but at the moment it’s not at the very top of our list.
Now, I do realize that in a couple of months that we won’t still have this huge savings amount every month since I will be eliminating an income source. Our income and, therefore, our amount of savings per month will decrease significantly, and that is something that will take getting used to. It’s all relative, though. Just one year ago, I could have never dreamed of being anywhere near half of what we make today. It’s only normal that I can’t work 2 full-time jobs forever.
Anyway, I am so excited that my student loans are gone! And yes, this is a bragging post 🙂
Here are my tips to pay off your student loans quickly:
Do you know how much student loan debt you have?
The first thing that made me jumpstart my student loan repayment plan was the fact that I took the time to add up how much student loan debt I had.
It shocked me so much that I wanted to throw up. That’s good though because it can be a good source of motivation for most people.
I know it was for me!
When you add up your student loans, do not just take a guess. Actually pull up each student loan and tally everything down to the exact penny.
Understand your student loans.
There are many people out there who do not fully understand their student loans. There are many things you should do your research on so that you can create the best student loan repayment plan.
This mainly includes:
- Your interest rate. Some student loans have fixed interest rates, whereas others might have variable rates. You’ll want to figure out what the interest rate on your loans are because that may impact the student loan repayment plan you decide on. For example, you might choose to pay off your student loans that have the highest interest rates first so that you can pay less money over time.
- Student loan reimbursements. Some employers will give you money to put towards your student loans, but you should always do your research when it comes to this area. Some employers will require that you work for them for a certain amount of time, you have great grades, good attendance, and they might have other requirements as well. There are many employers out there who will pay your student loans back (fully or partially), so definitely look into this option.
- Auto-payments. For most student loans, you can probably auto-pay them and receive a discount. Always look into this as you may be able to lower your interest rate by 0.25% on each of your student loans.
I recommend that you check out Personal Capital (a free service) if you are interested in gaining control of your financial situation. Personal Capital is very similar to Mint.com, but 100 times better as it allows you to gain control of your investment and retirement accounts, whereas Mint.com does not. Personal Capital allows you to aggregate your financial accounts so that you can easily see your financial situation, your cash flow, detailed graphs, and more. You can connect accounts such as your mortgage, bank accounts, credit card accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, and more, and it’s FREE.
Create a budget.
If you don’t have one already, then you should create a budget immediately.
First, include your actual income and expenses for each month. This will help show you how much money you have left over each month and how much money should be going towards your student loan debt each month.
Earn more money.
The month I paid off my student loans was a month where I earned over $11,000 in extra income. While this does sound crazy, I did start off by making just $0 in extra income. Everyone has to start somewhere.
Even if $11,000 a month isn’t possible for you, I’m sure something is. If you can make an extra $1,000 a month in extra income, that can help you knock out your student loans in no time.
Some ways to make extra money are below, but check out the related articles below to see many, many more:
- Start a blog. Blogging is how I make a living and just a few years ago I never thought it would be possible. As of December of 2016, I am now earning around $100,000 a month blogging and I never thought this would be possible. You can create your own blog here with my easy-to-use tutorial. You can start your blog for as low as $2.95 per month plus you get a free domain if you sign-up through my tutorial.
- Sell your stuff. There are many things you can do to make money by selling items. We all have extra things laying around that can be sold, or you can even search for items that can be bought and resold for a profit.
- Answer surveys. Survey companies I recommend include Swagbucks, American Consumer Opinion, Survey Junkie, Pinecone Research, Opinion Outpost, Prize Rebel, and Harris Poll Online. They’re free to join and free to use! You get paid to answer surveys and to test products. It’s best to sign up for as many as you can as that way you can receive the most surveys and make the most money.
- Rent an extra room in your home. If you have extra space in your home, then you may want to rent it out. Read A Complete Guide To Renting A Room For Extra Money.
- Try InboxDollars. InboxDollars is an online rewards website I recommend. You can earn cash by taking surveys, playing games, shopping online, searching the web, redeeming grocery coupons, and more. Also, by signing up through my link, you will receive $5.00 for free just for signing up!
- Find a part-time job. There are many part-time jobs that you may be able to find. You can find a job on sites such as Snagajob, Craigslist (yes, I’ve found a legitimate job through there before), Monster, and so on.
- 75+ Ways To Make Extra Money
- 8 Things To Sell To Make Money
- 10 Ways To Make Money Online From The Comfort of Your Home
- 10 Things I’ve Done To Make Extra Money
- Ways To Make An Extra $1,000 A Month
Cut your expenses.
The next step is to cut your budget so that you can have a better student loan repayment plan. Even though you may have just created a budget, you should go through it line by line and see what you really do not need to be spending money on.
There’s probably SOMETHING that can be cut.
You might not have even realized it until after you wrote down exactly how much money you were shoveling towards nonsense until now. However, now is better than never!
We worked towards cutting our budget as much as we could. I can’t remember exactly how much we cut it by, but I know that it was enough to where I felt like I was putting a dent in my student loans.
Even if all you can cut is $100 each month, that is much better than nothing. That’s $1,200 a year right there!
Some expenses you can lower or ways to save money include the below:
- Earn free cash back. Sign up for a website like Ebates where you can earn CASH BACK for just spending like how you normally would online. The service is free too! Plus, when you sign up through my link, you also receive a free $10!
- Lower your cell phone bill. Instead of paying the $150 or more that you spend on your cell phone bill, there are companies out there like Republic Wireless that offer cell phone service starting at $10. YES, I SAID $10! If you use my Republic Wireless affiliate link, you can change your life and start saving thousands of dollars a year on your cell phone service. I created a full review on Republic Wireless as well if you are interested in hearing more. I’ve been using them for over a year and they are great.
- ATM fees. Why do people do this to themselves?
- Pay bills on time. This way you can avoid late fees.
- Shop around for insurance. This includes health insurance, car insurance, life insurance, home insurance and so on. Insurance pricing can vary significantly from one company to the next. When we were shopping for car insurance last, we found that our old company wanted something like $205 to insure one car for one month, whereas the new company we have now charges $50 a month for the same exact coverage. INSANE!
- Save money on food. I recently joined $5 Meal Plan in order to help me eat at home more and cut my food spending. It’s only $5 a month (the first four weeks are free too) and you get meal plans sent straight to you along with the exact shopping list you need in order to create the meals. Each meal costs around $2 per person or less. This allows you to save time because you won’t have to meal plan anymore, and it will save you money as well!
- Fuel savings. Combine your car trips, drive more efficiently, get a fuel efficient car, etc.
- Trade in your car for a cheaper one. For us, we are car people. Cars are one of our splurges. However, if you only have a nice car to keep up with the Joneses, then you might want to get rid of it and get something that makes more sense.
- Live in a cheaper home. I’m not saying you need to go live in a box, but if you live in a McMansion then you may want to think about a smaller home. This way you can save money on utility bills and your mortgage payment.
- Learn to have more frugal fun. We don’t spend anywhere near the same amount of money on entertainment as we used to. There are plenty of ways to have frugal fun.
Pay more than the minimum.
The point of all of the above is to help you pay off your student loans. However, you can always go a little bit further and pay off your student loans more quickly. The key to this is that you will need to pay more than the minimum each month for you to speed up your student loan repayment plan process.
It may sound hard, but it really doesn’t have to be. Whatever extra you can afford, you should think about putting it towards your student loans. You may be able to shave years off your student loans!
How much student loan debt do you have? What’s your student loan repayment plan?
Mark Ross says
Congratulations Michelle! That’s quite an achievement you have there. For me, my current financial goal is to save at least 1,000 dollars or 40,000 pesos here in the Philippines before my 18th birthday. I’m planning to invest it to make my financial life a little better than what my parent’s have.
Thanks Mark. And good luck, sounds like a great goal 🙂
I can totally relate to that Mark.
My parents weren’t the best off when I was young, but they still managed to raise 4 kids.
My current goal is to try and pay off my student loans as well. Slow going, but it’s getting there
DC @ Young Adult Money says
You’re an inspiration, Michelle! I have student loans but I have started to work side hustles to help finance the paydown, and seeing someone go through the process and have a lot of success makes it much easier to stay motivated. Congrats again!
Thanks DC. I still can’t believe that I’m at this point. Doesn’t feel real!
Wow! Congratulations! That’s super impressive!!!
Our goal is to pay off all our debt by next year, including mortgage. Only 314 days to go!
Sounds like a great goal. You are so close!
Alexandra @ Real Simple Finances says
CONGRATULATIONS! This is fantastic news! I am so glad to hear the burden of debt has finally lifted for you. You have worked so hard, and are truly an inspiration.
Thank you Alexandra.
Lance @ Money Life and More says
Congrats Michelle! DONEZO! BAM! That’s a fun word.
We’re working to pay down Tori’s student loan debt. We have a long way to go (still over $50,000) but we’ll get there soon enough 🙂
Haha I should have included BAM! I hope you get there soon.
Michelle-you worked your a@@ off and look at the reward! A HUGE congratulations!! I love, love, love paid off posts because they help to motivated me on my debt free journey. Also, I have taken up the challenge of trying to kick side hustling butt and grow my side hustles. Watch out here I come! LOL.
Thank you Michelle! And I’m glad you enjoy my paid off posts 🙂
John S @ Frugal Rules says
Congrats Michelle! That’s awesome! I remember getting paid off last year and it was such an awesome feeling. I get the same questions about my MBA and leaving to start my own company. The fact is that I really do not think I’d be where I am at without it.
Glad I’m not alone! I still value my MBA.
Yes I can’t wait! It’ll be nice watching an account grow.
Cause for (cheap) celebration! Fist pumping and everything! My first goal is to pay off the Mr.’s credit card. My second goal is to keep increasing these side hustles I’ve been diligently working on!
Thank you Keren!
Andy | Income by Examaple says
Congratulations Michelle! I can’t imagine the awesome feeling you must have right now. I can’t wait to make a very similar post one day. Just gotta keep plugging along! Thanks for the inspiration.
Thank you Andy!
Travis @Debtchronicles says
Hard work and determination ROCK – congrats, Michelle!
Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies says
Congrats, Michelle! Must feel so nice to have that monkey off your back!
Yes it does!
Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says
YEA!!!!!! SO happy for you, Michelle! Many, many congrats, and great job on all of the hard work you’ve done to get yourself to this point. Awesome news – thanks for sharing. 🙂
Thank you Laurie. I’m happy that I had good news to share today!
Matt Becker says
Congrats! Huge accomplishment and it will definitely be nice having so much extra income. Our big financial goals right now are retirement and a house. If I was in your shoes though I would definitely be trying to beef up my emergency fund as well.
Thank you Matt. And yes, a really fat EF is important to us right now.
Ree Klein says
Congratulations, Michelle, that is such an amazing accomplishment! Student loans are crippling people. To make the point, the Federal Reserve says that it’s second only to mortgage debt in this country. It outstrips auto and credit card debt.
The crazy thing is you can’t get an auto or home loan without proven income. Why then, would a lender give a student with no income track record loans that total in the tens of thousands???? THAT’S JUST CRAZY!!!
Thank you Ree! And I agree, student loan debt is a problem right now.
Congrats on paying those loans off once and for all!
Thank you Holly 🙂
Thank you 🙂
Wow congrats!!! That’s an awesome accomplishment!!
KK @ Student Debt Survivor says
You totally deserve a “bragging” post after paying off all that student debt. Woot woot, I’m thrilled for you! Now that you have that debt monkey off your back think of all the ways you can better spend and invest that monthly chunk of change! Way to go.
awesome work! i have even more in loans because i went to law school and i hate having them hanging over my head. i’m hoping to take on some side hustles to bring in extra money soon. and i would LOVE to switch to a freelance career as well. love your blog for tips on freelancing and good luck with your transition!
Thank you Jackie 🙂
Natalie Hinkley says
That must be an awesome feeling! Congrats on all your hard work 🙂
It is great!
Major Congrats! Just think of how much money all that extra income is going to make for you in your retirement accounts! It’s very exciting!
It’s going to be wonderful 🙂
Congratulations Michelle….you are really a good inspiration for everybody…cool
Wonderful! I was just there about a year ago myself. It is totally liberating and awesome to have the extra money each month. I put most of my new found cash flow to a “liberty fund” that gives me what an emergency fund does, plus an extra $25,000 in case I decide I want to move or get a new car.
Thanks Eric! And that’s a great idea.
Congratulations Michelle! I’m so impressed with how quickly you were able to pay off all of your student loans. It’s almost as impressive as your monthly additional income totals! Best of luck with your freelancing career 😀
Thank you Cassie. Life has changed so much in the past year, that it all doesn’t seem very real.
CeCe @Pink Sunshine says
I know that wonderful feeling! Congrats. Now you can start paying yourself even more.
This is so awesome! I’ll be well into my 30’s or 40’s before mine are paid off! haha
Aww well I hope it’s sooner!
Nick @ ayoungpro.com says
Congratulations! I have loved following your story and have certainly used it to inspire my own debt payment and side hustle. Thank you for sharing your success and I look forward to seeing what life after debt looks like!
Thanks Katie! I’m glad that we were able to pay it off so quickly.
Done by Forty says
How cool! I remember the feeling when paying off my student loans — it felt good but like you said, it almost doesn’t feel real. Like with a lot of big changes, it takes some time to sink in.
I wish you guys the best going forward with your investing!
Congrats! You’ve worked super hard and this is the big payoff 🙂
Go Michelle!!! Congratulations! How are you going to celebrate? 🙂 I’m currently working on paying off my mortgage, which I think should be gone in a bit under 3 years now. I love throwing huge payments (> $10k) at it from my bonuses!!
Leigh, you have definitely been a big motivator for me. You seem to have such an awesome grasp on your finances!
I don’t know how I’ll celebrate. I didn’t even think about celebrating. Maybe those expensive bikes we bought on Sunday will be my celebration haha.
Awww thanks Michelle, that means a lot!
woo hoo!! blogger high five! You have worked so hard at this and I am so glad you have made it come true.
Thank you so much!
Sean @ One Smart Dollar says
Congrats on paying off your loans. 🙂
The First Million is the Hardest says
Congrats! There’s nothing better than making that last payment! I’m not working towards paying anything off right now, but I am working towards saving enough to purchase an investment property in the near future. We’ll see how soon I’ll be able to make that happen…
Sounds like a great goal 🙂
CONGRATULATIONS! I’m just under a year away myself and have a feeling I’ll be throwing some of my emergency fund at it if things are ok in my world for those last few months to kill it faster. And while you spend some time working out how to do freelance full time, you have one less monkey on your back, so ENJOY!
Thanks Danielle 🙂
Jacob @ iHeartBudgets says
Congratulations! What an accomplishment. Has to feel AMAZING to be done FOREVER! If you haven’t, I would suggest reading “The Millionaire Teacher” as a guide to investing. It’s a VERY EASY READ and exposes a lot of the fees and charges that most people pay a financial advisor that they could save using low-fee index funds.
But mostly, go enjoy yourself, you’ve obviously earned it! 🙂
Thank you Jacob 🙂
Kasey @ Debt Perception says
Congratulations! I can only imagine how happy I’d be with my student loans gone! Do a happy dance for me 🙂
I’ll definitely do a happy dance 🙂
Congratulations Michelle, so awesome!! I can completely relate with not wanting to part with the money I have saved in my EF, but sometimes it is worth it. You are right to be proud of yourself – it’s an amazing accomplishment, especially considering you did it in such a short amount of time. I hope you have something fun planned for the occasion!
Yeah it was definitely hard. That’s why there are so many smaller payments right in a row haha
Congrats! My current financial goal is to increase my online income.
Same here 🙂
Standing ovation to you Michelle. I hope this day will come to me as well, I got long ways to go. Congratulation.
Thank you Peter.
Michelle, that’s so awesome! Congratulations! Time to start beefing up the emergency fund 🙂
Leslie Beslie says
You know, I’m not quite sure it’s possible to pay your way through school by working full-time (without a degree) without taking out a loan or two. No need to justify why you have loans! 🙂
Thank you Leslie. I’m glad that no one is yelling at me! 🙂
Haha it doesn’t feel real!
Haha yes I have! Material purchases kept getting in the way, but I don’t regret anything.
Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans says
Congratulations Michelle! I can’t wait to write a post like this when my student loans are done with! So inspiring 🙂
Thanks! 🙂 I can’t wait until you write your post also.
Michelle's Finance Journal says
I’m so excited for you~ This is big!!!
I can’t wait to feel what you’re feeling right now. Thanks for motivating me and I look forward to seeing what’s ahead for you.
Thanks! It feels AWESOME.
I paid mine off earlier this year too – there’s no feeling like it! Congrats.
Congrats to you too!
That must be a large relief but you have done exceptionally well. Now it is time to start building passive income that will relieve you of the need to work. Cashflow is a good game!
Thank you John! And yes, passive income is definitely on my list of financial goals that I want to tackle.
#Broke Millennial says
Like everyone else has said…CONGRATS!
It’s interesting to me (the one without debt) to read everyone’s plans for a next move. Personally, I’m also working towards increasing my investments.
Yes I can’t wait until I can start focusing on other financial goals. Thanks!
Pretired Nick says
Wahoo!! Awesome Awesome Awesome!
Yes, we definitely feel free!
Thanks Jennifer! And I never thought that I would be anywhere near where I am today. When you first look at your number, such as her $55K, it is definitely overwhelming. However, once you start knocking it out little by little, it doesn’t seem as scary.
CONGRATS!! It’ll be years (decades?) before I can say the same so I’m going to live vicariously through you for today 🙂
My current financial goal is to make it through the summer without dipping any further into my savings. And find a new job.
I hope you find something new soon.
Emily @ evolvingPF says
Congratulations on getting rid of those loans! You’re well on your way to financial success!!
Alex @ Searching for Happy says
Congratulations on hitting an amazing milestone!
Congratulations! That is awesome you got rid of them so fast. We don’t tend to graduate with student loans in Europe thankfully.
I wish the U.S. was like that!
Nice work! It will be a lifetime before I pay mine off! Each time I get an update it seems I owe more!
🙁 I hope you eliminate them soon!
Tie the Money Knot says
Congrats! That’s great to get rid of those loans, especially since many folks simply can’t shake them for whatever reason. I know I was really happy when I paid off my loans.
In terms of what I’ve saving for now, there are a bunch of things….namely retirement and kids college expenses.
Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter says
Congrats on your student loan payoff! Very exciting. I too worked full time throughout my education and then ended up with some loans. I also moved out at 18 so that had a lot to do with it – I was pretty frugal.
You and I seem so much alike Daisy 🙂
Hey, congratulations! That’s awesome news.
You deserve to brag, girl!! Congratulations, all of your hard work has paid off and I am so proud of you! It’s been fun to watch your journey and I am sure there are many more great things to come in your future!
Thank you! I hope everyone sticks around and keeps reading 🙂
Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) says
So motivating!! You rock girl. I started my student loans from undergrad and grad school with 39k. It’s now at 35k so definitely slow going. I’m working on paying a ton of this fall now that my side hustles are increasing and I’m still working my day job.
I definitely see yours being gone soon. You work so hard!
Little House says
Congrats! That’s a terrific accomplishment. I’m working on paying off some credit card debt and this is definitely an inspiration to do so.
Congrats!!! Way to go in paying off the last of your student loans. It must feel like a huge weight off your shoulders! Even though it was put off a few months, the end result is still the same!
One of the things I’m planning on doing is making an extra payment towards my loans this month! It’s a goal that is pretty easy to achieve if I stop buying all these cool clothes that keep popping out of nowhere!
Yes please make extra payments! 🙂
Anthony @ Thrifty Dad says
Congrats! That’s exciting, to not only have that load off your shoulders, but not knowing what to do with the additional income. Kudos!
Chris @ Stumble Forward says
Congrats on paying off your student loans Michelle. I did the same with my credit cards and it feels so great to be rid of the ball and chain of debt. I plan from here to start building up my savings back to hopefully were I was before I built my house.
Yes, it feels awesome!
Thanks Walt 🙂
Newlyweds ona Budget (@NewlywedsBudget) says
FINALLY!!! Isn’t that the best feeling!?? I cannot wait to be debt free by the end of the year. I will be so thrilled!