Since the beginning of the year, I have been floored at the progress I have been able to make on my loans. Starting the year with $13,000 meant that it was going to be a long year of hard work. Since I’m a sprinter and not a marathoner when it comes to debt payoff, I started working like a madwomen and haven’t let up yet. I have been taking every chance to make extra money and to spend as little as possible, all to get myself out of this student loan debt ASAP.
As of today I am $7,200 in debt. I’ve been able to pay off $5,800 in the last three months. For my income level ($25,000), that’s pretty good and I’m damn proud of myself.
I’m able to do a lot in my life that other people aren’t. I am at an age and a time in my life where I have no dependents, and no major life costs. I don’t have a chronic illness, a child or a mortgage. I don’t have to think about spending money on anyone other than myself. That alone makes a huge difference over some other people who are also paying off their loans. There are some serious benefits to being 26, childless, in a low cost of living city and working from home!
Additionally I have built my life around my debt payoff. I live like a hermit. I spend A LOT of time in my house. I don’t go out a lot, so I don’t spend money on food or drinks out. I go without cable, a gym membership, shopping sprees, dinners out, fast food, new gadgets, highlights for my hair, manicures or massages…the list goes on endlessly. The key phrase here is I do without.
I keep my costs low and I revolve my life around work. I have a fixed and low utility rate and rent. My car is totally paid for. My car insurance could be lower, but I haven’t found a competitive offer yet. My health insurance is manageable. I minimize my gas needs and I eat leftovers. Where the could be high spending, I make it low spending. Where there could be low spending, I make it free. I work 5 part-time jobs right now, and I’m always looking to pick up an extra shift or to stay later if that means more pay.
Additionally, living without some things means not being tempted by some other things. I don’t have cable and I never stream shows, so I miss out completely on advertising. This in turn means I am very rarely tempted by the latest and greatest things out there. I don’t see the new styles or the coolest new gadget until months after they’ve been out. I don’t feel the competitive urge to keep up with the Jones’. Lack of temptation=big savings.
I’ve also never really bought into the media image of what a perfect woman should look and act like. My appearance has never really been a priority for me, and it’s even less so now. I don’t dye my hair. The only make-up I wear on a daily basis is mascara. My clothes come from clothing swaps and thrift stores. I shave my legs once a week. I simply don’t care about those things as much as I care about paying off my debt. I am absolutely not bashing women who do these things- it’s your choice! It’s just not something I do and that choice saves me money.
All of this means that I can focus all my energy and all my money on my student loan debt. Yes, it seems extreme to some people, but as I’ve written before, getting myself out of debt is the best thing I can do for myself. I am taking advantage of the benefits of this stage of life as best I can!
Kara Perez is the original founder of From Frugal To Free. She is a money expert, speaker and founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Her work has been featured on NPR, Business Insider, Forbes, and Elite Daily.