When I graduated from college in 2009, I had 16 student loans, four different loan servicers, and $74,000 in student loan debt.
I had gone to a fancy private school and taken out student loans because I was told I would make anywhere from $60,000-$80,000 right after graduation. I thought if I invested my money and my time with this institution, the payoff would be much higher.
But that wasn’t the case. There was no immediate return on this investment and nobody was offering me help. I was scared, upset, bitter, and in way over my head.
When my student loan debt ballooned to $107,000 three years later, I finally realized it was up to me to change my financial situation. Loan servicers, debt collectors, banks – they didn’t have the final word on improving my financial health. I did.
I’ve found a lot of people believe they have no control over their money. But the truth is just the opposite. You control how you earn your income, how you spend it, and how you save it. And I’ve also learned that the easiest way to increase your economic freedom and become financially healthy is to increase your income and use that money strategically.
So that’s what I did.
Every day for the past seven years, I’ve been focused on growing my income, getting out of debt, and paying off my student loans. I aggressively contribute extra payments towards my debt because I don’t want to be stuck paying the interest. I don’t own a car because I can bike everywhere (even Uber and Lyft cost far less than shelling out money for a car payment and auto insurance). Basically, I live frugally because I’ve made my financial health my number one priority.
I even started a company to help other people like myself achieve what may seem impossible at first: getting their student loan debt down to zero. I wanted to help people realize they were in charge of their own economic freedom – that they have the power to improve their finances.
Since founding Student Loan Hero, I’ve talked with a lot of people who have given up on their financial situations or think they need to hand over responsibility to someone else. But you’ve worked hard for your money – don’t you think you’ve earned responsibility over it, too?
In two months, I will make my last student loan payment. It took me seven years to get to this point, but I can finally see the finish line. Still, every time I’m faced with the decision of whether or not to spend money, I ask myself, “What’s the tradeoff? What’s going to be my return on investment? Will this help me get out of debt?” I ask these questions because at the end of the day, I decide what I want my financial future to look like.
Remember, you are in control of your financial health. It’s up to you to determine how strategic you want to be. Once you accept control and responsibility over your money, you are one step closer towards creating the financial future you want and deserve.