The Effect of Just $20/hr on a Student Loan

Hello! Enjoy this post from a blog friend of mine. I think most of us would agree that earning more would allow us to save more. Contrarily, SPENDING more is going to save you more, and I’ll illustrate how. Fact. The average college graduate has $33,000 in student loans at graduation. In a generation with abundant…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: June 5, 2023

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The Effect of Just $20hr on a Student LoanHello! Enjoy this post from a blog friend of mine.

I think most of us would agree that earning more would allow us to save more. Contrarily, SPENDING more is going to save you more, and I’ll illustrate how.

Fact. The average college graduate has $33,000 in student loans at graduation.

In a generation with abundant information, I’m always amazed at how the post-college world is mystified, and how the approach to student loans thus far has not been met with solutions, only an explanation of the problem.

When I finished school, I started making $20 per hour designing logos for friends and family. If I worked just 5 hours per week, I’d make $400 per month. In a year that’s $4,800. That second income, the Side-Stream, was HUGE for me.

In 4 years, I’d have earned $19,200.

So let’s talk about debt and how this $20 can earn and save money at the same time.

With an average of $33,000 and a common 6% interest rate and ten-year term, you owe just under $400 per month. But with interest added, your actual debt becomes nearly 30% higher, assuming you only pay the minimum monthly payment:

The Effect of Just $20:hr on a Student Loan 1The Effect of Just $20:hr on a Student Loan 2

Not only are you paying for 10 YEARS (into your early 30s), but you’re paying $11,000 in interest!!!

I didn’t, and you probably don’t, have more money from work to throw on to the loan without eating less steak and more Ramen. So, the only option is to earn more. If that sounds scary, and unfamiliar, you’d be surprised to find that there are people out there that would pay you for what you do well and know, even if it’s weird (read more about skill selection mentality here):

Are you really good with your calendar?

Can you swap broken phone screens?

Are you really good at teaching the binomial equation?

You might think I’m crazy, but these are actual businesses that people are using to Side-Stream.

Related: 20+ Best Jobs That Pay $20 An Hour Or More

So, let’s say you were a Psychology Major in school, and you’re already working. But, it’s not enough, and you’re just treading water financially. You contact your local school and start tutoring at the local high school for kids interested in Psychology degrees. You earn $20/hour for 5 hours per week on your Side-Streaming skill.

You walk with $100 per week, or $400 per month, and apply ALL of it to your loan.

Look at the difference it can make on debt:

The Effect of Just $20:hr on a Student Loan 3

By earning on the side, and applying the entire income you’re making, which is just after only 5 hours per week, or $4,800 per year, you effectively:

  • Drastically reduce your debt period from 10 years to 4
  • Make 49 payments rather than 120, a whopping 60% reduction
  • Slice interest by 38%, from about $11,000 to $4,200
  • Pay a total of $37k versus $44k, seven-thousand dollars less

SPENDING what you earn on your loan, SAVES you big money.

For some of us, scholarships or parents got us through, debt-free…at least for the moment.

Your $33,000 debt could be credit card debt, or the new car you needed. Mathematically speaking, making more and dropping it into loans can save you THOUSANDS.

If the math doesn’t convince you, there’s another perk of Side-Streaming for $20 per hour. When I started meeting with clients, negotiating rates, networking for more work, and finding solutions to other people’s problems, I actually got better at my day job.

There’s beauty in getting paid to do what you love – work doesn’t have to feel like servitude. Because my business was growing, the experience started to bleed over and suddenly I was developing at a faster rate than my work peers.

Here’s my Top 6 reasons Side-Streaming improved my work performance:

1. I was no longer afraid to outreach, network, and find new clients.

When you are operating for yourself, your motives change. At work you can coast, but when it goes directly to your pocket, you WANT to succeed, and you’ll be shocked at how much you can grow on your own just from challenging yourself to do so. When I learned how to find people that would be interested in my service, and do it over and over, I learned how to attract and market a product. No school needed – the education was experience.

2. Creative problem solving became normal for me, and work wanted more of it!

If I was asked to create a logo for a volleyball program, I wasn’t given instructions, a deadline, and a process to get through it – I had to invent it myself and find ways to make it happen. At work, where my large corporation set the stage for me to be moderately successful, I didn’t have to do any of that. When I did it for me, and brought that skill to the office, I quickly became a top performer.

3. Getting feedback from clients, and using that data to improve the service, was a habit.

When someone tells you that they like what you’ve done, and they’d happily recommend you, it’s the best thing you can hear. When someone says they wish the work had been done a little faster, or was a little crisper – it sinks in deep. Learning to evaluate and react to my clients’ needs gave me the platform to understand and collect data and use it to create more value from my service, one that carried over into my 9-to-5.

4. I could assert my skills, knowledge, and ability to an audience of peers with confidence, and politely decline to know expertise without feeling threatened.

As a Side-Streamer, I would often get asked why my service was more than a local competitor charging half. I had to not only express why I was a good use of funds, but I had to do so with confidence, asserting my expertise, speed and performance over someone else’s. I was shy, but when it was directly for me, I learned how to do it and why it was important. From my experience with high level clients, I was better equipped to handle negotiations for raises, which netted in a $16,000 raise on day 11 on a new job.

Contrarily, I’m a graphic artist, but if someone wants me to digitally paint a family portrait, I would likely decline the project, and see if I could recommend someone that would do an excellent job. Doing this in the workplace is always smarter than BS-ing what you don’t know.

5. I became quick to ask for expectations so that I could surpass them.

When I made a few mistakes on my own, I HAD to adjust. One time, I had a project thrown in my face because I didn’t listen to my client. I forgot to ask questions about his expectations (read which questions I ask now). When I sat and digested it, I realized I hadn’t done a good job of hearing, with clarity, what he wanted. In the office, when projects came up and I took initiative, I was proactive and asked for expectations, making it really easy for me to hit the mark, and exceed it.

6. Failure was often; so was Success.

It’s common to get comfortable at work after a while, but when first starting, you’re on edge and feel like you can’t fail. When you fail, you learn, right? When you touched the hot stove, did you do it again?? Failing is how you’ll grow fastest and sometimes work won’t be the place that lets you spread your wings, they just want you to follow the leader (or system). When you Side-Stream, you can learn and learn fast through the things that work and the things that don’t. The more you fail, the more you succeed, and this wasn’t a loss of my job, it was just ‘a’ job.

So maybe it sounds like fantasy?

It’s not, and more and more people are starting a Side-Stream every day. Ordinary just isn’t what we were built for.

$20 an hour, for me, was worth much more than the financial opportunity – it was an invaluable representation that I wasn’t solely reliant on my job for income, and that to me was freedom. Could I quit? No. But I had options, and if work wouldn’t give me another raise, I could go earn it myself. If I wanted to work ten hours this week or none, I could.

School to me held freedom. Freedom to learn, or eat, or meet, or party. That’s the freedom that’s missing after school. So I started chasing that freedom.

Soon, $20 an hour turned into $60, which turned into $100.

Most starting salaries don’t allow much room for increased loan payment – there’s just not enough income to do so. You need to EARN more, to SAVE more.

With zero experience, I started helping friends, or family, with art projects. One day, someone asked me for a logo for a new company, and it wasn’t long before I was teaching others to start up a second income stream.

Often, the skills we have are just untapped. Side-Streaming isn’t about reinvention, it’s about re-connection!

If you could pay off your loans early (worth a celebration I might add), and were still making an extra $4,800 per year, what you would you use it on?

Let’s get lavish – share the luxuries of living well to you! Where would you go, what would you see, what would you buy? Do you have a side income stream? Why or why not?

Aaron Velky is a Side-Streaming educator. Side-Streaming, a website for entry-level professionals who aren’t earning enough or suffer from heavy debt, guides pupils to set up a second income and earn from pre-existing skills. Aaron’s passionate about empowering young professionals to find financial freedom, and coaches them from idea selection to finding clients and setting up business systems. Visit his site, sign up for his email list, and start Side-Streaming today at


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Gratis lån

    Interesting to see ….. thank you it’s well done 🙂

    1. Aaron Velky

      Thanks Gratis! I appreciate your feedback!

  2. Petrish @ Debt Free Martini

    Well I am planning on not forcing my child to take out any student loans because I know how it can be a burden after graduation. I do agree that a lot of us have untapped skills that could bring in income, but too busy to capitalize on it or the talent is just never discovered. If I had a good side job I would use it towards my debt, and once the debt is gone I would use it to build wealth.

    1. Aaron Velky

      Petrish, I love that you have such clarity! Going from debt-freedom to building wealth is absolutely awesome, and I would love to see more people with that mentality. The first step is to get away from treading water, and once you do, you can set yourself up to soar financially! Thanks for your feedback!

  3. Taylor Lee

    I’m trying to build up some side income with writing now, though it is a slow-going process. For me, at least, it’s been hard to focus on major side projects alongside the full-time job, which ends up eating a lot of my mental energies. Slow but steady.

    If I had a side income like that, I’d probably invest it in growing my business. Or add it to our early retirement contributions. Or help SO with his hobby-drawn business. Or take a trip somewhere far away. Probably that one.

    1. Aaron Velky

      Taylor, I TOTALLY relate to that. I think there are some strategies that might help.

      They might offer some insight. With a lot of Side-Streaming opportunities, handling it all is my biggest challenge, and it’s gotten better and easier as I’ve implemented a few new strategies. Give it a shot and let me know if any of them help! Slow but steady will always win, and you don’t want overnight success – that’s unstable. You’re doing the right thing, so stay with it.

  4. Excellent post. Thia is great information. I agree that everyone holds a talent or skill that could produce extra income. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Aaron Velky

      Thank you so much Shanna! I’m really glad you enjoyed it and you hit the nail on the head – untapped or not, we all have things that we can earn from!

  5. Great post! I especially love the reasons that doing a side hustle improved your overall work performance.

    1. Aaron Velky

      Thanks Christina! It’s such a strange circumstance, but at work we can get complacent when our basic results are always the same. Production outside of work really helped me grow fast, and I think it challenges the concept of pure busyness without results. I love sharing thoughts like this, and I’m glad you liked it! Hopefully student-debt is an obstacle soon conquered for more people!

  6. fatima

    wow! this was such an interesting post!

    1. Aaron Velky

      Thanks Fatima!! Glad you enjoyed it. There’s more like it at my site. Feel free to check it out and we can start building a second income together!

  7. I agree 100% with you. The only way to really eliminate the debt is to earn more. You can only cut your cost so much.

    1. Aaron Velky

      Boom! You nailed it Jason. The best defense is a great offense. As a soccer coach, that’s not always my approach, but with student loans, I would take that angle 10000% of the time!

  8. Right now, my side income is selling stuff we no longer use on eBay. It’s not a lot, but hey, it’s more than we had before!

    1. Aaron Velky

      I don’t think there’s anything that’s “wrong” when it comes to side-streaming. You have found something that works for you, and I fully support that. There are often ways to increase, scale or maximize it, and that’s where I’d love to help, but you’re already on the right path! Keep it up Jayleen!

  9. Interesting mentality. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Aaron Velky

      Thanks Kayla! I don’t want to hide from debt or anything, so taking a head on attack position is just one way I see obstacles like student loans. Hopefully this made some impact on your thoughts as well, but I’m sure there are a thousand ways to look at this, too.

  10. Pamela Gurganus

    I’m investigating my side-streaming skills! 🙂 This was a great read. Thanks!

    1. Aaron Velky

      I would love to help you go from selection to earning! That’s my passion and it’s also the purpose of my website. Visit the page on enroll, and see if this is a good fit for you.
      Either way, I believe you can do it!

  11. nicole dziedzic

    Another great post to show my younger brother and sister, who have to deal with student loans. And those interest rates before the lower one, are eye shocking.

    1. Aaron Velky

      Thanks Nicole! I’m not happy that it shocked you, but I am glad you found it now. It can be quite alarming, right? As I’ve been researching more and more, it’s even more scary as you find out that those numbers don’t hold a candle to some of the debt that plagues us. Information alone isn’t enough to make good decisions (otherwise I’d probably be a much better Aaron!), but with the right tools, we can certainly make good calls and create habits and systems that let us tackle things like debt. I appreciate your feedback. Definitely share with the family!

  12. I’m all about the “side streaming”- additional income and diversity of income provides so much more flexibility!

    1. Aaron Velky

      You are speaking my language Stefanie! Flexibility is certainly a goal for anyone that wants to follow along the side-streaming site, and I’m happy to hear you’re already on it! It’s liberating when you can feel secure in your options, huh? 🙂

  13. Barrie

    Very smart and good information for those in debt! My daughter is 16 and we are getting ready to do our first college visit. Hubby and I are both “scared” of huge debt for her. This is good information for her…and us!

    1. Aaron Velky

      I’m glad you enjoyed this Barrie. As you guys prepare for all things college, don’t fear the debt itself, debt can be great leverage. I do think knowing how you can approach it, and moreso attack it, can be a massively successful change. Feel free to sign up or read more at my site, and if you have any specific questions as you go along, I’m happy to help!

  14. Michelle L

    Thanks for sharing Michelle

  15. Mayra

    wow! this was such an interesting post 🙂
    Thanks for sharing Michelle. xx

  16. Aaron Velky

    You’re absolutely right, but I think there are a few ways that have consistently worked for me. I started with analysis of what I was good at, where those skills were able to solve problems, and then working hard to figure out who would be best served by my talents. I’m inviting a few case studies to help me pin down a system for that exact process, so you or anyone is welcome to learn more about it!

  17. Awesome post! I’m a little behind on my reading, but I saved this to come back to later on. There are plenty of ways to make extra money in little time. I teach hour long spin and bootcamp classes and make between $25-$30/hour. It keeps me moving and I love sharing health and fitness tips to awesome people.

    1. Aaron Velky

      Katelyn, this is amazing. You’ve hit on something so simple yet so deep – there are plenty of ways to earn. I hope that his provided some interesting insights, and I’m glad to hear you’ve got passion behind what you’re doing. That always makes things more fluid. I’d love to know a bit more, and see if there’s any way I can help with your Side-Stream. Feel free to sign up for the email list or email me directly at my site!

  18. Owen

    Michelle, I think this is a great idea that can be applied to student, car, or credit loans. If tutoring for 5 hours a week can save me $11,000 dollars, you can bet your bottom dollar I would do it. I am still in high school so I have yet to meet a student loan but this seems like an excellent idea. Sude streaming is a wonderful way for young adults to save money in the long run and gain experience with different opportunities. I know many people who referee a few games on the weekend and pull $120 in six hours for similar reasons. I feel this idea can be applied to save money on any medium or small sized loan. I would love to see this become a popular thing for young adults to do.

    1. Aaron Velky

      Let’s make this more popular, because I completely agree with you. More should know,more should do, but should is a terrible word. Action steps are important. Check out what side-streaming is all about here:

  19. Awesome! way to pay off debt in time is earn more money . It will be batter if you don’t get student loan. Though you get loan, you should pay its payment in time. You may not change the police of loan but you may face to with increase income and decrease expense.

    Thanks to share such kind of vital writing. Keep it on…….

    1. Aaron Velky

      Thanks Joe! Really appreciate your positive feedback!

  20. Abby B

    Hi, I’m interning with, which pays you to share your old college application essays & advice. Thought you might be interested–you get paid every time an applicant views your profile. Totally anonymous and only takes minutes.