Did you know that working a couple of jobs helps you pay off 50k in school loans in 6 years or less?
A second job certainly kicks your debt pay off into high gear as Alexandra found out when she and her husband paid off $50,000 in a total of 6 years!
Welcome to another Money Wins interview! Today I am talking with Alexandra from My Urban Family about how she was able to get rid of all her student debts very quickly after graduating.
I started the Money Wins series to celebrate with others who have worked hard and have accomplished a big financial goal.
It is always encouraging and motivating to me to hear how someone else has been smart with their money in order to reach the finish line. I do hope you are encouraged too and have hope that you too, can make a plan, work hard and overcome that big money obstacle in your life.
My questions will be in bold and Alexandra’s comments will be in regular font. Enjoy!
Tell me about your background with money
While I don’t have a formal background in finance, I tend to think I’ve been a bit more educated than most my age. I started working by babysitting in my neighborhood when I was 12, took my first real job with a work permit at 15, and have been working ever since- many times, multiple jobs. Aside from my work experience, my parents own their own financial planning agency. While I do not pretend to be an expert, I am happy they have been able to pass on financial wisdom to me from a young age.
Was there something which triggered being responsible with money?
I’ve always been very independent, even as a kid. I saw my friends relying (heavily) on their parents and I didn’t want to be in a position where I needed to rely on others, especially for money. I know my parents are always there if I need help, but I’ve wanted to work hard to able to not only be on my own, but be comfortable and happy in my situation.
Have you ever carried debt?
I took out student loans so I could attend a private college. It was important to me to have a degree from a school I felt really comfortable and confident at. But unfortunately that came at a large price tag. I also bought a car from a family member that I was paying off in monthly installments during college.
How much student loans did you end up with?
My husband and I were around 50k in debt with school loans together. This was just the debt after graduating. We had been paying off money during school as well but I’m not sure what the exact number was (I think I may be happier not knowing haha) My husband graduated in 2008 and then I did in 2011.
Think your student loans will be around forever? Check out Alexandra's story- 50K in 6yrs!
How did you pay off the student loans?
I worked – a lot. Looking back on my college years I’m not really sure how I pulled it all off. I took an overload of classes each semester because it was cheaper than staying for an extra semester – and I had two degrees I wanted to fulfill.
I also worked as a newborn photographer at two local hospitals, worked on campus as a student graphic designer, sat for gallery times, cleaned art studios, and was the creative director for our campus publication. On top of that, I participated in the tennis team and lived off campus. Just writing that all out makes me tired again.
We didn’t do much other than working a ton and being as frugal as we could while still enjoying life.
We were paying double what we owed each month to cut down on how long we would have to pay. After a move, we decided to take a chunk of our emergency fund and finish off the last large amount all at once, and then start building our savings back up.
No kidding! You were busy during college!
And while I did have bills, and I tried to still do some fun college things when I had time, I mostly saved away my money. I was also lucky enough to have an amazing boyfriend (now husband) who saw how hard I was working.
He was working full time by my sophomore year and had saved up a bit himself – when we decided we would move in together he bought a small condo. The mortgage was lower than our rent would have been in the same area, and he insisted since it was an investment, that he would take care of the mortgage. That really helped me start saving from that point forward.
We also had my husband’s student loans to worry about, so once I finished paying off mine, I continued to work to help him pay off his.
How long did it take you to pay off both of your student loans?
We finished paying off all our student loans about a year ago, so 6 years to pay off all my husband’s loans and three years to pay off my loans.
What money principles have you lived by?
I was taught to always use a credit card and build up my credit. I know this isn’t always the most popular opinion, but I’m really glad I learned that way. I never put more on the card than I have, and I pay it off in full each month. I’ve been doing that since I was 16 and it came in handy when applying for mortgages and car loans later on.
Do you follow a budget?
Sort of. We monitor all of our spending each month and are generally very aware of where our money goes. While we do have a goal we try to stay under each month, we also try to live life and not worry about every penny. But we can only do so because we took care of our debt (aside from our mortgage) early on. I’ve actually found when I’m a bit easier on myself about the budget, I tend to spend less overall.
How interesting that you spend less when you are more relaxed about the budget, how do you control your spending?
I tend to think of the amount of time I would have to work in order to pay for an item and it really helps put into perspective what is important to purchase and what isn’t. Are those new boots really worth 5 hours of working? That kind of thing.
I also think about how long I have to work to pay for this item, and usually end up putting it back. When you know the value of your time, you are much more careful with how you spend your money.
How do you pay off $50,000 in debt in six years? Work a lot of extra jobs!
What tips do you use to plan for the future?
For our not too far future, we’re just putting as much as we can into our savings each month. We’re hoping to use that for moving and starting a family. But for the long run, we have a retirement plan as well as a 401k through my husband’s work. I know a lot of friends who haven’t started their 401k yet because they don’t want to miss out on any of that money from their paycheck, but I would say if you have an employer that will match money that you put into the account, you really should take advantage.
Tell us about your money win and how you were able to accomplish it?
Our biggest money win was paying off both of our student loans. My husband unfortunately took some bad advice and took out a few loans that started accruing interest right away instead of being deferred past graduation. The day we finally paid it off was a really happy one.
Once the loans were paid off it was a huge relief. And even though we depleted a good chunk of our savings, it was nice to see that extra money each month go into building that back up instead of to the loans. We were able to set new goals for our savings which felt like a huge step forward.
What advice do you have to share with others about money?
There are always jobs and always ways to make money – they just take time and hard work. It was really important to me to not be underwater after school, so I sacrificed a bit. But in the end I’m so happy I did.
So I guess my biggest piece of advice is that those sacrifices really are worth it in the long run. To not be underwater, and to have a bit of savings in my 20s has really helped open up some doors in my life.
This is really incredible Alexandra! Thank you for sharing how you were able to pay off your student loans, and your hubby’s, while building some savings. I appreciate you coming on and letting me interview you!
All the best as you save up money to move and start a family!
Want to know more about Alexandra?
Alexandra is a writer, graphic designer and photographer currently living in the suburbs of Chicago. Along with her husband, she is embarking on a journey of downsizing, moving into the heart of the city, and starting a family. Her blog, My Urban Family is a mix of her adventures, experiences, life advice, Chicago themed posts, and family friendly topics. You can also follow her on Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest // Instagram // Bloglovin!
Hi! I’m Charissa. I’m on a mission to help hardworking women overcome money struggles and gain financial peace with a Biblical perspective so they can have the freedom to impact their families and communities. Ready to make some changes that will impact your finances in 2020? Click here to get a free worksheet to help you make it happen!