Kim paid off $45,404 in student loans in 28 months.
Her mantra was to be debt-free by thirty-three. And she did it! Can I get a, you go girl!? Kim is now 100% debt-free and accomplished this before her 33rd birthday.
“It isn’t about just your debt, or your salary. Making the decision to have self-discipline changes everything. The energy you get when you’re debt-free is so much more than a little spending high,” said Kim.
Here’s Kim’s Debt-Free Story
Kim completed her Master’s in Architecture and owed $45,404 in student loans and a car loan. The debt at first seemed insurmountable and overwhelming to tackle. Initially she had a don’t ask, don’t tell kind of attitude. Or felt that if you hide from it, it won’t be true. Everyone told her that debt is part of life: it is what is it, so just get used to it.
But her debt wasn’t something she wanted to get used to or pay for the next 20 years.
Kim tried doing budget after budget, and spreadsheets galore. After making no progress on her own she enrolled in Best Money Class Ever.
Everything changed for Kim.
First, in class she learned how to complete her financial statements to see exactly where she stood. Her payments towards her car and student loan were $700 a month. By paying at least $650 extra towards debt each month she’d be debt-free within 36 months.
“As soon as I physically saw it was possible, I no longer felt overwhelmed,” said Kim.
Or, as the saying goes seeing is believing. It helped her tremendously to have a defined roadmap and to see her goal. “Otherwise, I’d never been able to get started because I was too overwhelmed,” said Kim.
Every time she made a payment, she’d mark it on a sticky note on her mirror.
“Loan by loan, I had the visual of my progress on a full-length mirror. Every time I left my room, I had to look at that,” said Kim.
To pay extra towards her debt she took on side hustles like dog sitting and worked as a wedding planner assistant (see photo above from Jessica Frey photography). It helped that she ended up getting a new job and negotiated a higher salary.
It wasn’t just about numbers in spreadsheets.
“You can type numbers in spreadsheets all day and it doesn’t help if there isn’t a behavior change,” said Kim.
The way we manage money is deeply engraved in our personal lives and habits.
Next, she learned in class money myths and beliefs that you’ve gotta overcome to get unstuck with money.
How exactly did Kim pay off $45,404 in 28 months?
It started with her attitude. Her attitude wasn’t, “I’m going to try to get out of debt.” Instead she thought, “there is no trying, there is only doing.”
She decided she was going to be debt-free by thirty-three.
That meant every time she went to make a purchase, she had to make the decision, “Do I need this, or do I want to get out of debt?”
In retrospect, she used to buy nice clothes or things that helped her feel good and look good to the outside world.
It was this facade of defining her true value with nice stuff that was holding her back. Now, being debt-free is her true value, and she doesn’t care about “things.” Kim learned, as the best-selling author Mark Manson puts it: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.
After taking Best Money Class Ever she became more cost-conscious, and understood how little costs add up.
The big shift was learning that: spending money doesn’t = fun.
Having money = fun.
“I have fun just being with people. How much money I spend doesn’t define how good of a time I have. I have a better time when I look at my bank account and have money in it,” she said.
The best part is that Kim made changes with her spending, but her friends didn’t even notice.
“Anyone who really knows me, didn’t notice a difference. No one said, ‘Oh Kim’s paying off her debt she’s no fun anymore.’ It was more subtle changes,” said Kim.
Weekly cash quickly became her “magic pill.”
“Weekly cash changed my life,” she said. Having a set amount of cash to use for day-to-day spending was her big game-changer. You can learn more about this brilliant system for managing money here or in the next class.
By pacing her spending each week she found that everything else fell into place.
She found standard, “budgeting” to be hard, but instead if she just stuck with spending $120 a week on groceries, gas for her car, entertainment, etc., then she’d be financially secure and able to pay extra towards debt.
Doing weekly cash, she was able to pay up to $2,000 extra towards debt each month.
Kim made meal prep a priority.
Food is expensive; Kim started planning her meals in advance and going grocery shopping versus always eating out. She saved a ton and still eats healthy whole foods.
When going out with friends she had a personal two drink policy. She’d always get vodka soda, because it’s much cheaper and healthier than the $8 margaritas. Once she had her two drinks, she’d switch to club soda.
She used to fall into the trap that you needed to buy expensive things to look nice.
Now, her favorite pair of jeans is a $7 pair from Forever 21. Of course, they aren’t gonna last forever, but she figures by the time they wear out, they’ll be out of style anyway (even if it was a $100 pair!).
She bought things that were important to her and that had a lot of value rather than mindlessly spending on things that weren’t important.
Kim went on a safari in Africa that was paid for before she set foot on the plane.
When she was traveling, she was able to enjoy the trip without guilt or having to think, “I can’t afford this, or I shouldn’t be doing this.”
Now, it’s an absolute principle that she won’t take a trip if it isn’t prepaid. Her mindset is if she can’t pay for it upfront, then she can’t afford it. Here’s how she made progress the first year to get out of debt.
“I felt comfortable saying, yes this is something I have, and I’ll be able to overcome it. It isn’t a big secret. You shouldn’t live in shame and pretend like you have money,” said Kim.
Debt is something as a society we’re ashamed of, but everyone deals with it.
All her hard work and determination has paid off. She’s 100% debt-free and now it’s like she has a pay raise. The $700 every month that she was paying toward debt, is her money to keep.
“I feel on top of the world. I feel like a stronger person,” she said.
Now that she’s debt-free there is less stress and it even makes dating easier. When dating now instead of thinking, ‘I have $45k of debt and if you marry me, it’s yours too’…. she feels relief. Being debt-free says something different when dating, it says ‘oh yeah that girl has her stuff together!’
Kim, congrats on this HUGE milestone in your life! You did it!