Like millions of Americans, Michelle Schroeder-Gardner stepped foot into the real world with student loan debt. Now, she’s the founder of Making Sense of Cents, a personal finance website that helps readers learn how to save more, earn more and live more. She’s been featured on Forbes, Oprah, Business Insider and CNBC. But before all that happened she had to get rid of her student loan debt. Keep reading to find out how she paid off $40,000 in debt.
After paying off her loans, Schroeder-Gardner can save more for retirement and pursue new goals, like traveling full-time with her husband and two dogs via a sailboat. On her blog, she writes that she accelerated her debt payoff and boosted her net worth, by taking steps including:
- Automating her payments, which led to an interest-rate reduction
- Creating a budget to avoid overspending
- Finding ways to earn more money
Click to find out what else she did to build the financial life of her dreams.
What is your money mantra?
Earn more, save more, live more.
Before achieving financial success, what was your biggest obstacle? How did you overcome it?
My biggest obstacle was definitely my student loan debt. I had around $40,000 in student loans, even though I worked full-time all throughout college and most of my teenage years, as well. I didn’t manage my money the best, and this led to me living a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle. The debt was very stressful. I gave myself a goal to pay off my student loan debt extremely fast. I remember reading a story about a person who paid off their student loans in less than a year, so I gave myself a goal of paying it completely off within just six months. By pushing myself hard and finding several ways to make extra money, I was able to pay off my student loans completely in seven months.
What advice would you give your younger self about money?
I would tell myself not to spend so much money on clothing. I’ve worked full-time since I was around the age of 14, yet I didn’t really start saving money until nearly a decade later. I would spend hundreds of dollars a month on clothing, even as a young teenager. This was a huge disaster and led me to saving hardly anything and living paycheck to paycheck.
What is the best piece of advice you received along your financial journey?
The best thing I learned about was early retirement and financial independence. When I first started Making Sense of Cents, I started it so that I could talk about my student loan debt and my paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle. However, I soon learned all about side hustling, early retirement and financial independence. Those three things put together completely changed my life and helped me realize that I don’t have to live a “normal” life full of debt. Instead, I could drastically improve my financial situation and live my best life.
What is the best thing you did to begin building your savings from a young age?
The best thing I did was learning how to make extra money. This helped me to pay off my student loans fast, as well as at a very young age. It also helped me turn one of my side hustles into my full-time business. And, that has allowed me to travel full-time.
What is the best thing you did to reduce your debt after college?
The best thing I did was motivating myself to pay off my student loan debt extremely fast by making extra money.
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