10 Ways Being Single AF Helped These People Pay off $126,000 in Debt

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

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.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the financial institution.

how to pay off student loan debt

We’ve got your back! Student Loan Hero is a completely free website 100% focused on helping student loan borrowers get the answers they need. Read more

How do we make money? It’s actually pretty simple. If you choose to check out and become a customer of any of the loan providers featured on our site, we get compensated for sending you their way. This helps pay for our amazing staff of writers (many of which are paying back student loans of their own!).

Bottom line: We’re here for you. So please learn all you can, email us with any questions, and feel free to visit or not visit any of the loan providers on our site. Read less

A few months ago, I was talking to my friend Joey Ferguson, a web developer in D.C., and asked how he was able to pay off $16,000 in student loans in just two years.

“I’m single AF,” he said.

I thought this was fascinating because being married helped me pay off my debt. My husband and I split expenses and had two incomes to help us reach our financial goals.

But for Ferguson, his single lifestyle was the key to his own journey out of debt.

“Frankly, being single was a massive boon to my efforts in eliminating debt,” he recently told me. “I was able to live off very little and make big sacrifices, which made it easy to dedicate large amounts of money to paying off debts.”

10 ways being single AF can help you pay off debt

Intrigued, I asked other single people how they capitalized on their lifestyle to pay off student loans and get out of debt.

Essentially, instead of focusing on romantic relationships, these people fixed their relationship with money. Altogether, they paid off more than $126,000 in student loans and other debt while enjoying the single life.

If you’re wondering how anyone can possibly benefit from being single while paying off student debt, here are several reasons why it can be a good thing.

1. You have total financial control

“One benefit of being single is that I don’t have to negotiate with anyone about how I spend or don’t spend my money,” said Denise*, creator of personal finance blog DoubleDebtSingleWoman.com.

So far, Denise has repaid over $70,000 in credit card and student debt, and has another $72,500 to go.

“I have total control over all of my finances,” she continued. This has its own benefits:

  • You set your own financial priorities. “I can spend a little money on a few things that are important to me and ruthlessly cut spending from elsewhere,” Denise said.
  • No one else can negatively affect your budget or influence you with bad financial habits. “I don’t have to take into account a spouse’s/partner’s spending in a joint account,” added Denise.
  • You get to decide how intensely you’ll focus on debt repayment.How fast I want to pay off debt is up to me and the choices I’m willing to make,” Denise stated.

2. You get to live a flexible lifestyle

“Being single comes with a measure of choice and flexibility that may be difficult to achieve if one is married/partnered, especially if one’s significant other is not on the same page with respect to personal finance,” Denise pointed out.

According to Denise, when you’re single, you can also:

  • Explore what others are doing to pay off student loan debt.
  • Take this time to experiment and find out what keeps you motivated.
  • Establish good habits with your money.
  • Push yourself to your financial limits and find what works for you.

3. You can resist lifestyle inflation

“When I graduated college, I knew I wouldn’t be making much money for a while,” Ferguson said. “Just because I graduated college didn’t mean I had to immediately stop living the frugal lifestyle of the student,” he continued. “Being single made that easy even if the paychecks were very small.”

That’s why he recommends that single people resist lifestyle inflation — the temptation to spend more as your income increases.

“Even if you get a job out of college and start making money, that doesn’t mean you should start spending it,” Ferguson explained. “It’s worth it in the long term to live frugally until the debt is gone.”

4. You don’t sweat the small expenses

As you’re working to keep costs low, you also want to make sure your budget doesn’t kill your social life. Lauren Weber, a sandwich shop manager and founder of a money blog, learned that lesson as she paid down $11,000 in debt.

“Don’t try to save money by skipping dinner with friends and/or going out occasionally,” Weber advised. Attending social events — “That’s what single people do!”

Instead, focus first on your biggest costs, not nights out or weekend brunches.

“If you want to make an impact on your finances, work to lower the big expenses like rent and car payments,” Weber said.

5. You can live with roommates to cut rent

Most of the single people I spoke with said they chose to live with roommates at some point to lower rent costs.

“I have been able to pay less in rent so that I can put more money towards rent,” said Kerrie Barry, an attorney who lives in New York City and chose to rent with roommates.

While it’s helped Barry repay $15,000 of her $250,000 student debt, she admits that sharing a living space can straight-up suck. “I have suffered both [lack of] privacy and space in order to pay back my loans,” she said.

6. You’re able to downgrade (or dump) your car

Car expenses are another huge cost that single people can cut back on to create more room in their budget. Here’s how the borrowers I spoke with are doing this:

  • Weber is working to pay off her car loan early, which will free up cash and help her avoid interest charges.
  • Barry said she drives “a beat-up car, whereas my colleagues drive high-end vehicles.” But unlike her coworkers, Barry isn’t facing a high monthly auto loan or lease payment that can come with flashier rides.
  • Denise finds it more cost-effective to make do without a vehicle. “I rely on public transit so as not to have the expense of a car,” she said.

7. You can dive into a second source of income

“We’ve all heard the saying ‘time is money’,” said Christina Oswald, a digital marketing analyst for ThinkMoncur.com. “[By] being single you have more time to side hustle,” she explained.

To get a second income stream going, here are a few ideas:

  • Get a second job. Oswald currently works night shifts as a bartender.
  • Try freelancing or contracting to make money off a valuable skill you hold.
  • Figure out how to make a little money from a hobby. For instance, one fitness buff became an exercise instructor and turned his gym time into additional paychecks.
  • Rent out an extra room via Airbnb, or even rent out your car with Turo.

If you get creative, you can generate a new income stream — and devote this extra money to paying off debt.

“I use the paychecks from my bartending gig to pay a little extra each month,” Oswald said. This has helped her repay $14,000 of her $25,000 in student loan debt.

8. You’re able to focus on your career

Living that single life also makes it simpler to devote more time and energy to your day job — and quickly become a standout employee.

“Being single also allows me to work long hours at my firm in hopes of being recognized for my hard work,” Barry said. This dedication is the perfect ammunition to ask for and receive a raise. You can then use these extra funds to pay more toward your debt.

It also makes it easier to follow opportunities that can grow your career. “I have been able to switch jobs in order to pursue higher paying jobs,” Barry said. And being single allowed Denise to move out of state when she was offered a job after months of unemployment.

9. You can save a little less

When it’s just you that you have to support on your income, this can have its advantages. In the age-old question of which financial goal comes first — saving money or paying down debt — being single means you can squeak by with smaller margins.

“I found myself saving absolutely nothing and putting my income towards loans and bills,” Barry said. “I was able to do this because my only responsibility is me.”

Of course, an emergency fund is always a good idea, even while you’re working to repay student loans. But you can get by with smaller savings than your friends who are married or have kids.

10. You’re able to sacrifice for a better future

You can make a lot of sacrifices when you’re single to get ahead of your debt. But as you’re figuring out how to pay off student loan debt, make sure you remind yourself why you’re doing it. Remind yourself that you’re building a better future and becoming more financially independent.

“The freedom you have after [the debt is] gone is amazing, and it will put you in a place where you can avoid future debts,” Ferguson pointed out. “For example, I was able to buy my car with cash because I wasn’t buried in debt payments.”

Singlehood is the time to invest in yourself, and paying off debt is an investment with guaranteed returns. Paying off student debt also frees up resources for life goals such as travel, founding a business, or even settling down and starting a family.

As Weber said, “If you are single and paying off debt, you’ll do so much for your future self (and your future family because you probably won’t be single forever) by putting your nose to the grindstone.”

Whatever your dreams are for the future, paying down student debt while you’re single AF removes a major obstacle that can stand in your way of achieving them.

*Name has been changed to conceal identity

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

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 hello@earnest.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.

© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

2 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.

3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 3.899% APR to 8.179% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.570% APR to 6.980% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. SoFi rate ranges are current as of September 14, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.570% APR assumes the current index rate derived from the 1-month LIBOR of 2.08% plus 0.740% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay 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)

4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

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.

5 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.

6 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 2.57%-8.17% (2.57%-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 3.75%-8.69% (3.75%-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. Estimated average savings amount is based on 14,659 Education Refinance Loan customers who saved on loans between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2018. The calculation is derived by averaging monthly savings across Education Refinance Loan customers whose payment amounts decreased after refinancing, calculated by taking the monthly payment prior to refinancing minus the monthly payment after refinancing. We excluded monthly savings from customers that exceeded $4,375 and were lower than $20 to minimize risk of data error skewing the savings amounts. Savings will vary based on interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of loans to be refinanced. Borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if monthly payments are lower.

2.57% – 6.98%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 5.87%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.47% – 8.03%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.80% – 6.22%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 6.25%5Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.57% – 8.17%6Undergrad
& 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.