I’m Debt Free: $201k Paid Off on a Teacher’s Salary
I truly can’t believe I have paid off this much debt. I’ve been on this journey for about 5 years and I truly thought it was going to be endless when I started.
It turns out, I can do really hard things when I put my mind to it. And by creating a very detailed plan to get it done.
This has been a long journey, but truly life-changing as I moved through it. Without this massive debt, I’m not sure I ever would have been forced to learn how to manage my money. I am forever grateful for that.
I wanted to share some of the biggest lessons I learned on my journey and the goals I will be tackling next.
Lesson #1: Live below your means.
You’ve heard this before, I know. But it really is so important. Lifestyle creep can keep you from reaching major goals.
When you live below your means you are allowed the opportunity to do more for yourself. While I was paying off my debt, that extra money helped me to pay off my debt faster.
Living below your means doesn’t mean you don’t get to live your life. It means you get to determine where your money goes and how you want to use your money.
Lesson #2: Automation is your friend.
This was so helpful throughout my journey. I had everything automated as much as possible to save myself time and money.
It saved me time because I didn’t need to spend time paying bills each month. This comes when you live below your means. You don’t need to worry about over-drafting when you are living below your means.
This saves you money because you sometimes get interest discounts for autopay and you also won’t have to worry about late fees.
Lesson #3: Know your values, goals, and priorities.
When I first started, I cut everything from my spending. Literally everything. And I quickly felt defeated when I couldn’t do anything or spend money on things.
It wasn’t sustainable, especially when paying off 6 figure debt.
So, I changed course and revamped how I went about my spending. I got clear on my goals, values, and priorities and made sure my budget aligned with them.
This was key to no longer feeling like I was sacrificing during my long journey and allowed me to create a life I loved, while still reaching my goals.
I still got to go on vacations, go out with friends, and have new experiences. I just sometimes had to hold off until I saved up for it.
Lesson #4: Have multiple income streams.
There is just no way I could have accomplished this in the time frame I did unless I had more income streams.
Not only does it speed up the timeline, but it also provides such peace of mind to know you have more than one income stream. I got to the point where I was making more in my side hustles than I was spending.
This allowed me to put my entire salary towards my student loans, plus some of my side hustle money.
Lesson #5: Evaluate and reflect often.
I always budgeted monthly and used a zero-based budget. Every month I would evaluate my spending and reflect on the month.
Did my spending align with my goals, priorities, and values? If they didn’t, how was I going to change for the next month?
Was I going to cut my expenses in certain categories? Was I going to save more in a certain area? Was I going to side hustle more to increase my income?
Lesson #6: Have wildly big goals and why you’re doing this.
You can’t simply say you’re doing this to become debt free. That’s not going to cut it. The problem with that is it won’t motivate you when you want to quit.
Get crystal clear on why you want to be debt free. What will it allow you to do?
For myself, I didn’t want to be controlled by my debt and wanted to have the financial freedom to do whatever I wanted.
When you have minimum payments over $2,000, your life is completed dictated by it.
Remember, you can do hard things.
I know it feels daunting now. It probably feels totally overwhleming and like it can’t be done. I’m here to tell you, you can do it.
I’ve been oversharing my life on the Internet now for 6 years and my sole purpose in doing this is to help others change their financial life. So, if you’ve made it this far through this post (bonus points if you’ve been following my shenanigans since 2015 lol), use READER for 30% off my student loan course.
This course is everything I wish I had back in 2015 when I was scrambling and had no idea what the heck I was doing. We go over money management, zero based budgeting, saving, investing, and how to tackle crazy amounts of debt while living your life.
So, I wanna know. How can I help you to better your financal life? What do you need to lessen the stress and get to a place of financial freedom? Comment below!