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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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
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2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
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