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3 Years 3 Months. $75,000. I Am Free!

I have been waiting to post here for years! Finally I can!

My story begins in 2009 when I was 18, a new high school graduate in the south suburbs of Chicago with no idea what to do for a career or where to go to school. I ended up spending 6 semesters at 3 different universities (All public with financial aid), switching between 4 different majors, and often taking 18 credit hours a semester + summer classes so that I could graduate within 5 1/2 years. I worked part-time throughout my entire schooling career and in addition I went to 3 different community colleges and took classes there whenever I could to save money. Ultimately I ended up with 160 credit hours of credit over the course of 5 1/2 years, with a major in Information Systems from a college I loved and had a great experience at. I had $37,000 in private loans through Sallie Mae (now Navient) with a crazy interest rate of around 10%. I had the other $37,000 through federal subsidized and un-subsidized loans with a more tolerable interest rate of around 5% on average. I ended up refinancing the Sallie Mae loan over to SoFi with an interest of 6% instead of 10%. I graduated in December 2014 and started paying the loans 6 months later.

Fortunately I did two internships during my schooling and had a tech consulting job setup before I even graduated. (I cannot stress the importance of doing internships during schooling enough, do them!) The downside, it required 45 minutes of highway driving to get there and I had no car. Add another $20,000 loan with 3.5% APR for a reliable used car to get me there and back (Ended up refinancing that too). The other downside, the pay was a bit lower than I expected. Regardless, it was a great entry level job and I did not spend a single day after graduation not working. I spent my 6 months of loan forgiveness saving an emergency fund and took a trip to Spain. After 9 months at my job I realized I hated it and found a new job in downtown Chicago as a business analyst with a pay hike of 35% after a lot of negotiation!

I am now 27 and I have been at this job ever since and I love it and aggressively paid off my loans with highest interest first. I have lived at home this whole time with my single mother in a single story home and have had to sacrifice a lot of privacy but she is a saint and has never charged me a penny for food or rent so that I could pay off my loans. Now that my loans are paid off I will start to give her some rent while I save for a home with my girlfriend and hopefully soon to be fiancee (Yes I somehow got a girlfriend last year, she gets along great with my Mom actually). I am very fortunate to have found and graduated with an in-demand degree, get jobs, and have a Mom that allowed me to stay in her home. If there is any advice I can give to help those of you still paying your loans or those of you still in school don't be afraid to PM me. Paying it forward and you should too once you pay it all off! Don't give up!

My advice for all of you still paying or still in school:

Switch jobs often while you are young if you feel you aren't getting paid what you should. Leverage your experience from one job onto another, you owe them nothing so don't feel bad; even if your co-workers are great. Put you first. Raise your credit ASAP. Use a credit card and pay it off monthly. Pay all your bills on time, etc. Refinance your high interest loans if possible as soon as possible. Good credit helps a lot. If you're still in school start thinking about your loans now rather than later. I didn't even think about any of this or the magnitude of the loans until after I graduated. This doesn't mean don't have fun! College is the only time in your life to have that experience. My last semester I took out extra loan money just to relax and have fun and quit my part-time job. First time not working since 16! Do internships if you're still in school! They help a lot with getting a full-time job, and help you develop your skills Be frugile, live at home if you can, it sucks but is worth it. This one entirely depends on your situation. Our generation doesn't realize the magnitude of money as much because it's all digital in my opinion. When you swipe your card REALLY think about what you're spending and why. Imagine if you had paper money. Would you still buy it? Do you actually have the money in your bank account or going to plan on paying later. If you don't have the money NOW don't buy it unless absolutely necessary! Always pay off your debt first before you invest in anything not necessary. Every successful person suggests this. Interest is a killer! To follow up: Don't invest in stocks, cryptocurrencies, a home, etc until you are debt free. DO invest in your 401K by matching your employer, DO invest in an emergency fund. Everything else can wait. Avoid rent if possible at all costs! This is just my opinion again, but why pay someone else's mortgage?! If you can afford a small house at least you are spending your money on an asset that can grow in value or you can rent out. Renting in the city might be cool but really think about it before you make the plunge. If you're still in school take classes at community college if you can. They are easier A's (Again in my opinion and this is subjective depending on where you go) and a lot cheaper. In addition, if you get your associates then transfer you can get some scholarships for a good GPA and even get into somewhere you couldn't straight of of high school. Pay off your highest interest loans first DO NOT refinance your government loans unless they are extremely high interest (unlikely since government loan). I say this because you will lose a lot of your government loan benefits such as loan forgiveness, loan bankruptcy, etc. submitted by /u/shell_bullet_1991 [link] [comments]

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