A few months after I started blogging, my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, and I decided to share our journey paying off her student loan debt.
When she graduated in May 2011, she had over $80,000 of student loan debt.
It was scary, but together we decided we would destroy the student loan debt as fast as possible.
Student Loan Debt Pay Off Updates
Unfortunately, we didn’t start publishing monthly student loan debt updates until December 2012. At that time she had $60,266 of student loan debt remaining.
However, from December 2012 until we paid the student loan debt off in full, we shared exactly how much debt we paid off each month.
We also shared what was going on in our lives that affected how much we could pay and how we were going about paying off the debt.
The journey was not a straight path. There were good speed bumps and bad speed bumps that delayed our debt pay off date. In the end, we’re glad we took the approach we did to paying off the student loan debt.
Below is a listing of all of the student loan debt update posts if you’d like to read about our journey. I’ve listed the month, the total balance remaining and the debt paid off since the prior update.
It is important to note that we only kept track of the principal reduction of the student loans. We did not include the amount of interest we paid each month in our payments.
- December 2012 – $60,266 remaining
- January 2013 – $59,209 remaining – $1,056 paid off
- February 2013 – $56,532 remaining – $2,677 paid off
- March 2013 – $55,662 remaining – $870 paid off
- April 2013 – $54,601 remaining – $1,061 paid off
- May 2013 – $54,177 remaining – $423 paid off
- June 2013 – $53,238 remaining – $1,003 paid off
- July 2013 – $52,219 remaining – $978 paid off
- August 2013 – $44,559 remaining – $7,660 paid off
- September 2013 – $43,328 remaining – $1,280 paid off
- October 2013 – $33,153 remaining – $10,185 paid off
- November 2013 – $26,612 remaining – $6,541 paid off
- December 2013 – $22,028 remaining – $4,584 paid off
- January 2014 – $13,719 remaining – $8,308 paid off
- February 2014 – $9,263 remaining – $4,456 paid off
- March 2014 – $0 remaining – $9,263 paid off
The Keys To Paying Off Our Debt
As you can tell from the updates, it took us just shy of 3 years to pay off the student loan debt. Initially, we thought it’d take us much longer. However, we were proactive and worked hard to pay our debt off ahead of schedule.
The two main ways we paid the debt off ahead of schedule were keeping expenses low and earning extra income.
Keeping Expenses Low
It was easy for us to keep our expenses low as we had both recently graduated from college. We lived as simply as possible and rarely spent on many of the luxuries that many college graduates indulge in after graduating.
We rarely ate out. My wife and I didn’t decorate our house much. We didn’t buy new furniture. We simply got by with what we had or bought inexpensive items on craigslist.
Earning Extra Income
Earning extra income was the major contributor to paying off the debt so quickly.
I started blogging in 2012 and within a year I was earning thousands of dollars a month from my blogging work. This money was set aside for paying off the student loan debt after accounting for the taxes.
If you’re struggling with paying off debt, please use our story for inspiration to help you achieve your debt goals. Start working to cut your expenses back. Start figuring out ways to earn extra income. Your options are endless if you just put your mind to it.
Start Your Own Blog
You don’t have to do what we did to pay off our debt, but if you would like to start a blog, I have a couple major tips you should follow.
First, blogging isn’t easy. It takes a lot of work and that work probably won’t pay off right away. It took months before I earned my first dollar from my blog. That said, blogging and freelancing online is now my full time business.
Second, if you’re going to start a blog, do yourself a favor and start out right. I had tried to start blogs before Money Manifesto and they all failed. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to have a self-hosted WordPress blog.
Having a self-hosted WordPress blog means you have a real website address, not something like BlogName.FreeService.com. Instead, you just simply have BlogName.com. Being self-hosted is also a benefit because you’ll have total control over your website.
If you want to start a self-hosted WordPress blog, I suggest using SiteGround for hosting. They have great prices and amazing customer service.
While many bigger bloggers recommend BlueHost, their customer service and product have seriously gone downhill over the last few years.
The big bloggers continue to recommend BlueHost because of the name recognition and the high affiliate payouts the bloggers receive.
Instead of going with a company that used to be good, go with a company that is still good even if it does cost just a bit more. That’s why I recommend SiteGround.
More Details On How We Paid Off Our Debt
If you want more details about exactly how we paid off our student loan debt and our journey, check out the summary post – How We Paid Off $80,000 Of Student Loan Debt In Under 3 Years.
Are you working on paying off debt? What challenges have come up during your journey? What has helped pay off your debt faster than anticipated? Share your experiences in the comments below!
Lance Cothern, CPA holds a CPA license in Indiana. He’s a personal finance, debt and credit expert that writes professionally for top-tier publications including U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Investopedia, Credit Karma, Business Insider and more.
Additionally, his expertise has been featured on Yahoo, MSN, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, The Huffington Post, Fast Company, Kiplinger, Reuters, CNBC and more.
Lance is the founder of Money Manifesto. He started writing about money and helping people solve their financial problems in 2012. You can read more about him and find links to his other work and media mentions here.