This Woman is Paying Off $35,000 in Student Loan Debt by Snuggling

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Having a side hustle is a great way to pull in some extra cash. In fact, according to data by GoDaddy, one in two millennials makes an average $258 in extra income from odd jobs-some are just a bit more creative.

While the study reveals the most common gigs include selling items online and cleaning, one woman decided to try something a little more outside the box: Snuggling.

Sam Varnerin of Boston found herself in a similar position as many people in her generation. Though she had a full-time position as a construction engineer, Sam wanted to make a little more dough to help reduce her student loan debt.

“When I graduated from school,” says Sam, “I had $35,000 worth of debt that I wanted to get rid of as quickly as possible. My full-time job certainly helped cover the bills, but didn’t help with my goal of getting rid of this student loan debt fast.”

With that goal in mind, the now 27-year-old decided to look around for a flexible side hustle, and says finding snuggling was “a sheer accident.” Sam subscribed to entrepreneur Jason Zook’s email list where he once joked about a professional snuggler.

“I read it and thought it was a joke,” says Sam. “But there was a part of me that realized if this was a legitimate business, I’d be good at it.”

So, she started searching online to see what others were saying about professional snuggling and came across the Snuggle Buddies agency. “I found that there were a lot of people looking for someone to snuggle with in my area,” says Sam. “I reached out to the company and explained that I worked full-time, but that I was interested.”

To her delight, the college grad learned that most clients also preferred snuggling sessions outside of traditional nine-to-five work hours and the pay was hourly. “I loved how flexible the gig was,” she says. “And I could make $40 an hour.”

Uber or cleaning homes pull in about half that hourly rate or less. DoorDash Dashers can make between $15 and $25 an hour, and house cleaners make around $10 an hour. It was a hard wage to pass up.

“Once I expressed my interest, the agency interviewed me over the phone, gave me [a] training manual and code of conduct, and explained how snuggling works,” she says. “It’s legitimate work, and you have to go through all the same onboarding processes as any other job.”

Two weeks later, Sam had her first client.

“My first session was with someone who has used the snuggling agency in the past and could report back on how I was during the session,” she says. “I got a good review and started booking regular clients.”

At this point, you’re probably wondering exactly what a snuggling session entails. According to Sam, it’s similar to a therapy session with more physical contact (obviously). “With new clients, I have a pre-session to understand what type of support they need,” she says. “Some people just want to talk where others want to cuddle.”

Sam makes it clear she is not a therapist and makes sure her clients understand she is there to talk and listen more like a friend. From there, she meets the person outside of the location where they are snuggling (sometimes at the client’s place, sometimes at her place) and takes care of payment before the session. She and her client also establish where the client doesn’t like to be touched.

Also, for safety, Sam checks in with an off-site supervisor, sharing where she is, who she is with, and what time she will be done. She then checks back in with the off-site supervisor when the session is over. Sessions last one to two hours on average and, occasionally, overnight.

The actual session starts with a conversation to understand what the client is emotionally experiencing and what they need. “When the conversation dies down, I tell them to lay down on my shoulder or chest,” says Sam. “I’ll ask if they’re comfortable and will move around until they are happy with the position. We may spoon or big chair, but this isn’t cuddle-sutra. We’re not doing 50 moves, and I have the freedom to move, if I’m not comfortable.”

And, yes, it’s just snuggling.

Regarding clients, Sam has worked with a wide range of clients, from a real estate law firm owner to an autistic college student who needed comfort. “Snuggling is helpful for people who have some disconnect in their lives,” she says. “It could be people with spouses that may be going through something and can’t be physically affectionate, or someone who found traumatic news recently. I’ve worked with 18-year-olds to 70-year-olds.”

Sam even explains there’s a “high season” in the snuggling world. “I’m always super busy around the holidays,” she says. “People tend to feel especially lonely around then.”

Of course, there’s bound to be some odd experiences in such a unique line of work. “One time, I had a guy in a full suit with tails who didn’t want to change but didn’t want his suit wrinkled. I had to laugh,” says Sam. “You also have to have a sense of humor since weird things will happen.”

Though her friends and family were hesitant about her new side hustle, Sam loved that she was able to help people, while earning around $500 a month working around three hours a week. “I could pay rent without even trying,” she says. “I also started paying down that student loan debt faster than I could have imagined.”

Sam found snuggling to be so lucrative, she decided to pursue it full time. After a year and a half, she quit her full-time job, created the business Snuggle With Sam, and now exclusively snuggles for work. “I work around 18 hours a week, charging between $80 and $100 an hour, and make between $3,000 and $4,000 a month,” says the snuggling enterpriser. “I’m making so much more than I was in my previous career.”

Working full time as a snuggler, Sam was able to pay off most of her student loans in under five years when it would have originally taken 10 years. “I’m about three years or less from paying the rest off,” Sam says.

Sam’s success inspired her to expand her business by helping others get into professional snuggling. She’s working on creating a professional snuggling start-up manual to demystify what people might think of snuggling, and explain how to start snuggling on the side.

“There are no start-up costs to begin snuggling, and it’s good money,” says Sam. “If you’re keen to help people, are a good listener, and don’t take yourself too seriously, you could be a great professional snuggler, too.”

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1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student Loan RefinanceFixed rates from 3.999% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.480% APR to 7.524% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.480% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.17% (2.72%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.69% (3.50% – 8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Average savings based on 18,113 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. The calculation is derived by averaging the monthly savings of Education Refinance Loan customers whose payments decreased after refinancing, which is calculated by taking the monthly student loan payments prior to refinancing minus the monthly student loan payments after refinancing. The borrower’s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.
2.57% – 5.87%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.80% – 6.38%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 7.52%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 7.99%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.57% – 6.65%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.72% – 8.17%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.