How I Paid Off My Student Loan in Less Than a Year

I’ve noticed there’s one thing I haven’t really written about since I started this blog and that’s getting out of debt. Well, I’m happy to say I’m no longer in debt and have been debt-free for almost two years. On top of that, I managed to pay off my student loan in less than a year after graduation (9 months to be precise).

How Much Did I Owe?

Now, before you scoff at me and start to feel like crap because you’ve got a $50,000 student loan currently kicking you in the junk every pay cheque, let’s get a few things straight. I’m no wunderkind, I do not come from a rich family, and I am not a lady of the night.

The truth is, I took out a small student loan of $5,000, so it wasn’t a crazy amount of debt to pay off. That being said, I did work my butt off to pay my tuition throughout university (thus avoiding a larger loan) and I worked even harder to pay down my debt once I graduated.

But I will level with you. Right after finishing school, I wasn’t at all concerned about paying off my student loan. Everyone I knew had way bigger loans to pay off than I did, plus there was a 6-month grace period which I wanted to take full advantage of.

Looking back, I really wish I hadn’t deferred it for those 6 months because I probably could have paid it off in half the time. Oh well, live and learn.

How Did I Pay It Off So Quickly?

About a month after graduating, I got this great contract job that paid more than I had ever made at any of my previous part-time customer service jobs. The excitement of my new-found wealth did not die down anytime soon either because I ended up blowing through 70% of my earnings in just 4 months.

On what you ask? I have no clue! I had no expenses besides my $40 phone bill and my $120 transit pass (I still lived with my parents you see), and I definitely wasn’t keeping receipts or sticking to a budget.

But I’ll tell you what, as soon as the stench of unemployment set in once my contract ended, with no option of getting Employment Insurance (I didn’t qualify because I didn’t work long enough at my contract job), that’s when I started getting really interested in learning how to manage my money.

I started reading finance books, I switched banks to pay less fees, I set up automatic payments to pay off my bills on time, and I came up with a budget and deadline to pay off my student loan.

Besides setting this goal for myself (and I do not back down from a challenge, so I knew it would work), what really motivated me to aggressively pay down my debt was the fact that once it was completely paid off and was working full-time, I’d be able to afford moving out of my parents’ place before my 24th birthday. Failure clearly wasn’t an option.

Key Takeaways

So, what are the key takeaways from my experience that you can apply to your debt repayment plan? It’s simple really: create a budget, track your spending, find ways to make extra money and set a firm deadline.

I feel like setting a deadline is the most important thing you could do. Without that date set in your calendar, there’s no sense of urgency. I believe that’s why so many young people are taking years if not decades to pay off their student loans.

You need to make paying off your debt your main priority. I promise you, once you’ve paid off your debt for good, you’ll be so thankful you made those small sacrifices to finally live a debt-free life.

And on top of that, once your debt is gone, you can start putting that same amount of money you were putting towards debt-repayment right into savings. Just think of all the things you could do with that extra cash!

What is your debt story? How much student loan debt did you graduate with and how long did it take you to pay it off (or when do you intend to have it paid off by)?

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Showing 6 comments
  • Sarah S
    Reply

    You were a very wise lady to pay it down at a young age! Unfortunately, my husband and I spent our 20’s spending money and not paying down student loans, which were initially a combined total of around $85,000. We are now down to around $71,000, which has largely been paid in the last 7 months (my entire debt story and pay down mission has been documented for the same time period on my blog We Saved by the Bay). At the rate we’re going, we’re looking at kicking our student loans to the curb in a couple of years rather than 20!

  • Mo' Money Mo' Houses
    Reply

    I’d say it definitely helped that I was unemployed for 8 months so I had a lot of time to think and a lot of time to do some reading up on personal finances. I was also lucky to have a small amount of debt to pay back. Way to go on paying back your debt, wow, you paid off $14,000 in 7 months? That debt will be paid off in no time!

  • Michelle
    Reply

    I will graduate with around $35K in student loan debt for both my 2 undergrad degrees and my MBA altogether. Hope to have it gone by next year!

  • Daisy
    Reply

    I could probably pay my car loan and student loan off in a little over a year (26K right now) if I had a permanent job and didnt have to pay rent, etc. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think I’m just going to continue paying it off just moderately quicker than expected so I can save some money too – in my EF, RSP, etc.

    • Mo' Money Mo' Houses
      Reply

      Hi Daisy, you’re not crazy! My situation was different so I totally understand you going a different route. If was in your shoes and my priorities were different I’d probably choose a route similar to yours. Thanks for reading!

  • AfterCollegeMoney
    Reply

    Good Job! I bet it feels great to finally have all your education paid for. I wrote an article on my blog about how I paid off my student loan debt quickly:

    http://aftercollegemoney.com/how-i-paid-off-15k-of-student-loan-debt-in-one-year/

    I am still only halfway there, and have $20K to pay off before I am debt-free, like you!

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