In August 2020, I paid off a little over $30K worth of student loan debt. I also did this in just about one year. For those of you who are curious as to how I did it (and as a quick shameless plug), I made a YouTube video outlining what I did before, during, and after college to pay them off.
My Student Loan Debt Payoff Journey
As it has been a little over a year since this has happened, I’ve had a considerable amount of time to reflect on it. And after creating and posting my YouTube video, I was able to get a fairly objective perspective on what may have been going through my mind at the time.
But just before I get into those points, I want to clarify that, as a whole, I do not regret what I did. The main reason I even did it was because I knew one of the main factors that prevented people from building generational wealth was debt.
When you’re in debt, you’re not at ground zero—you are below it. Your wealth calculation is negative. Once all debts are paid off, then you’re at ground zero. And even though you might take out a mortgage for a house or have to finance a car, those items are considered assets since you can liquidate them for money if you choose to. Therefore, you can still be considered at ground zero with those “debts.” However, student loans, credit card debt, and other types of consumer debt cannot be liquidated. The only way to get rid of them completely is to pay them off or file for bankruptcy, which looks bad on your credit score.
Another statistic considered was the wealth gap for black people in America is significantly lower amongst other races. I’m also a woman, so, you know, double minority probs.
What I Would’ve Done Differently?
Essentially, and objectively speaking, I believe I was also partly driven by fear when I decided to aggressively pay off my student loan. I’m a numbers and stats girl, so the stats drove some of my decision-making here. But, if I were to do this again, these are the 3 things I would have done differently.
Waited for the 6 month grace period before paying off my student loan debt.
I secured a full-time job just a few days after my college graduation. At the time, I thought that this was an indication that I was good to go to start paying them off. I also did something to help me pay them off more easily, but that caused me to basically start paying them off immediately, which I mention in my YouTube video. My second paycheck, and every paycheck all the way up until August of 2020, was automatically assigned to my student loan payment.
There are two additional things I would have done with those six months if I had the chance to go back.
Built an emergency fund.
There were a few minor emergencies that happened within the year of paying off my student loan, and if any of them were more than a few hundred dollars, I would have not been able to reach my goal in the amount of time that I did. I was saving a little, but definitely not enough. Thankfully, nothing too expensive came about; but if it did, I would not have had much of a choice of where to put my money in that kind of situation.
Enjoyed spending the money I earned.
Second, to building an emergency fund (because I am pretty risk-averse and I just believe that saving is important), I would have just enjoyed spending the money I was working for during the 6-month deferment! I secured a pretty well-paying job, and that was my first time seeing so much money being deposited in my bank account on a regular basis. Also, no one else around me was aggressively paying off their student loans—though, I didn’t let this influence my decision to do it, obviously. But it was definitely unheard of for people in my immediate circle to be doing something like this. I would have spent more time just being 22 and spending my money the way I wanted, even if it was just for a few months.
Share Your Financial Journey
Hopefully, some readers will be able to gain some insight from what I’ve shared. Although I’m no kind of financial advisor, I love talking about personal finance and would love to open a discussion with any other questions you have about my student loan debt journey or yours!