Getting a college education is a great thing, but it does not come cheap. I was fortunate enough to receive my Bachelor of Science degree at Michigan State University without any debt thanks to my parents and a number of part time jobs. But when I decided to go to graduate school, there was no way I could manage without student loans. I finished with two MBAs and $35,000 in loans to pay. I didn't want this hanging over my head for years and I didn't want to pay all the interest that would come with it if I only made minimum payments. I did a lot of calculations and decided that if I could manage about $1500 per month, I would be able to get this paid off in two years. My next challenge was to figure out where I would come up with an extra $1500 a month.
I began by starting a spending and budget journal. I noted every expense and every penny I spent daily for a month so I could see where my money was going and where I could start cutting back. My first change was moving from my two-bedroom apartment to an efficiency apartment with utilities included. Because of the lack of space I started selling things that I didn't really need. I dropped my cell phone at the end of my contract and bought a prepaid phone and chose to not have a landline. I bought a second hand bike and pedaled to work every day, except during the winter. I always went grocery shopping with a list and coupons. I shopped resale shops for clothing and household items. I worked overtime whenever it was offered and I babysat on the weekends to earn some extra money. Every month I was able to make a larger payment than I had originally planned.I paid off my student loan in fifteen months, lost weight, got rid of my clutter and began eating healthier. I don't regret one moment of choosing a rather austere lifestyle temporarily. Thanks to the choice I made to eliminate that debt as quickly as I could I learned many lessons. I still keep a spending journal and pay attention to where my money goes. I live in a house with no mortgage and drive a car with no payments. Although I live a different lifestyle now, I still find opportunities to save money so that I can have a more comfortable life now and still have the peace of mind of knowing I'm not in debt. That makes those couple of years all worth it.
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- Michigan State University