I paid off $90,000 of student loan debt in 5 years.
In those five years, I’ve had so many ups and downs. Although my first job out of college didn’t pay much, through side hustling and making a few job switches, I was able to increase my income drastically.
Every little bit of my extra income was thrown towards my student loan debt. Here’s what I learned in the process.
1) Acceptance is the key to success
When I first graduated from college, I had no idea how much money I would owe. And when I received my first student loan statement, I was floored.
I wished someone had taught me about money. And while it would have been easy to blame the government, my parents, or my university, the reality is, it was my fault. Just wishing my student loan debt away doesn’t actually make it go away.
Once I accepted what I owed, I got to work paying it off.
You see, the longer it would have taken me to pay off my student loans, the more money I would have owed in interest. So, time is money in this instance. Accepting responsibility right off the bat helped me move forward that much quicker.
2) Side hustles help immensely
I couldn’t have paid off my student loans so quickly without the help of my side hustle.
With my freelance writing side hustle, I was able to earn an extra $200 a month from my first writing client. While that may not seem like much, it made a huge difference in paying down my student loan debt.
Eventually, I built my side hustle to earn several thousands of dollars extra per month. And you guessed it – all of this money went towards my student loan debt.
My side hustle helped me take more control over my income. Had I just relied on my 9 to 5 income, I would have felt stuck. By generating income, I took control of my situation and paid off my debt that much faster.
3) Debt doesn’t define you
Once I paid off my student loan debt, I had somewhat of an identity crisis.
Who was I without my debt?
My debt was the reason I worked so hard. It was the reason why I side hustled and worked hard for promotions. Without it, what really drove me to do the things I do?
After a lot of time in reflection, I realized that debt doesn’t define me. Whether I had $1000 of debt or $100,000, it doesn’t define who I am.
No matter how much debt you have, it’s only a part of your story. It’s not who you are.
4) Money isn’t scary
People often ask me if I could do it all over, would I have taken out student loan debt in the first place?
The answer is yes. It took me a long time, but today I am so thankful I had my student loan debt. Having debt taught me that money isn’t scary – it’s just numbers. It doesn’t have to be nerve-racking or overwhelming.
Once I started checking my financial situation more often, I became so much more comfortable with my money. And now that I’ve paid off so much student loan debt, I know I can do anything.
Rachel Slifka is a freelance writer and human resources professional. She is passionate about helping fellow millennials find success with their finances and careers. Read more by checking out her website at RachelSlifka.com.