Want to Pay Off Debt and Start a Business? Here’s How One Woman Did Both

debt payoff

Alicia Stacey Hyatte is a woman who knows what she wants and stops at nothing to make it happen. And when her goals change, so does her strategy.

In fact, her focus, drive, and adaptability have helped Alicia manage her student loans, start a family, and transition from her long-held career in social work to a new venture.

Here’s the story of how one woman managed to pay off student loan debt, launch a business, and create a life of prosperity and balance.

Beholden to student loan servicers no more

If there’s one thing Alicia is passionate about, it’s not having things hanging over her head. So when she decided it was time to get rid of her student loan debt once and for all, she turned to her laser focus to make it happen.

Luckily, building a career as a licensed clinical social worker enabled Alicia to become research savvy. Spending countless hours of her time helping people find resources they needed made it easy for her to do the same for herself.

What’s more, while she was in the midst of her debt payoff journey, Alicia was also buying a home. She even managed to save up 10 percent for the down payment.

When Alicia turned to her bank for financing, she learned she could acquire two loans for her home. These loans enabled her to forego costly private mortgage insurance (PMI), lower her overall monthly mortgage payment, and save a significant amount of money that would eventually go to her student loan debt payoff.

Ultimately, Alicia was able to pay off her $21,600 student loan debt the same year she paid off her down payment loan of $23,000.

So how did Alicia do it? Believe it or not, it all came down to a spreadsheet.

How a spreadsheet took a debt payoff strategy to the next level

Alicia and her husband were both intent on communicating diligently with each other about their finances and financial goals.

So they created a family budget spreadsheet in Excel. They used it to track their family earnings and expenses each month. According to Alicia, the visual made all the difference.

“Having a visual was critical, as it helped me see where all of my money was going and where it actually needed to go,” Alicia explained.

That visual prompted Alicia and her husband to seek out financial advice, following experts like Dave Ramsey and Manisha Thakor. They learned different ways they could apply their money to reach their goals, Alicia said, rather than “blindly throwing money” into their 401(k)s each month.

Ultimately, Alicia didn’t just learn how to save and pay off debt. She also learned how to invest and grow her money.

Finally, Alicia took on more work to boost her income. She started to do therapy part-time in addition to her full-time job. This increased her income by 20 to 25 percent and it required only a few extra hours of work per week.

As for paying off her student loan debt, Alicia spent many years using automatic payments and staying on her repayment schedule. Then, as she continued to build her savings, she got to a low enough debt amount that she could pay it off in one fell swoop.

Strategically escaping the daily grind

Sometimes when we’re trying to solve one problem, solutions for another problem suddenly come to mind. And that’s just what happened to Alicia.

As Alicia progressed in her career, it became increasingly apparent that she needed a change. “The grind wasn’t compatible with the family lifestyle I wanted,” she said.

In fact, Alicia realized that instead of doing therapy part time to earn extra money to save for her business, she could build an entire business around the skills she had developed in her career as a social worker. That business would offer freedom from the grind and provide the thing she wanted most: more time with her daughter.

And thus, an idea was born.

Once she had paid off her student loan debt and down payment loan, Alicia shifted her focus to saving money. Although she had spent years working her way up in her field, she knew starting her own business would be a unique challenge. Building up her savings was her way of being ready for it.

So Alicia did the same thing that had helped her pay off her student loans more quickly. She became laser-focused on saving money so she could quit her job with a safety net.

Then, just a short time later, Alicia went full time with her business, Whole Family Living.

Balancing goals for a balanced life

When experts teach people how to find balance, they don’t often talk about the role focus can play in achieving that balance.

Well, focus has been Alicia’s winning strategy from the start. With the simple act of setting her sights on one clear and achievable goal at a time, she’s been able to knock out each one systematically.

Now, as Alicia is working to get her business off the ground, she recognizes that she needs to maintain the same focus that got her to this point.

For instance, she has to put her desire to pay off her mortgage on the back burner. That way, she can save more and use that financial flexibility to build up a successful  business.

She’s also using the skills she learned in her career to take her business to the next level. Not only is she providing therapy and coaching, but she’s also hosting community workshops — all to help people achieve wellness in their lives.

While Alicia achieves her own dreams, she’s helping others achieve theirs, too. In the world of debt payoff success stories, there’s nothing better than a person who uses his or her success to help others.

A few tips for budding business owners paying off debt

The entrepreneurial bug seems to be hitting a lot of people these days, but if there’s a load of debt standing in your way, it can hamper the goal of starting a business.

Here are a few things you can do to remove that obstacle just like Alicia did:

  • Create a spending plan so you know exactly where your money is going and how you might be able to allocate more of it toward debt payoff.
  • Stay focused on your debt payoff goal so you can achieve it more quickly. Then, move your focus to saving money to start your business when the debt is gone.
  • Find ways to earn extra money that could help with your eventual business. You might even pay off your debt more quickly while also building your network and skills.

When your debt is paid off and you’re gearing up to start your business, use the same focus that got you to where you are to build a sustainable business. Like Alicia, you don’t have to jump overnight. You can wait a bit longer while saving to make sure you have the financial resources to carry you through the first few months or year.

If a starting a business is your ultimate dream, don’t let debt stand in your way. And remember that the skills you developed to pay off that debt (strategy, focus, and diligence) can be used to grow a successful business.

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