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How My $20K Debt-Free Journey Prepared Me to Leave Student Affairs

If you told me two years ago that I'd be able to afford to leave my student affairs job, I would have never believed you. And if you told me that I would leave without another job lined up, I probably would have laughed in your face. But a shift in money mindset made the impossible, possible for me.

Six short months after completing my masters program, I set a goal to pay off my $20K in student loan debt in one year. Instead, I crushed my goal in 10 months and it changed my life forever. While it wasn't easy, it put me in the position to boss up in more ways than one, including leaving my 9 to 5 sooner than expected.

1 | I Learned How Much Money I Actually Need To Survive

Prior to tackling my debt, I spent my money frivolously. I treated myself to anything that my heart desired because I felt like I deserved it (to be fair, I did). But when I committed to paying off my loans, I knew I would have to make some changes. As a Resident Director, I took advantage of my free-housing and started making smarter decisions with my money.

After crunching the numbers, I realized I needed to pay a whopping $1.7K per month to pay off $20K in 12 months. That’s a whole mortgage (and some)! I made about $2.5K a month. That’s nearly 70% of my monthly income. Whew!

I put myself on a strict (but realistic) budget that included my bills and limited funds for a few of my favorite small luxuries to maintain my sanity (e.g. mani/pedi, lunch dates with colleagues, and occasional happy hours). I needed a total of $800 a month to survive.

2 | Having Multiple Streams of Income is KEY

It didn’t take long to start thinking of ways to reach my goal sooner (I can be an over-achiever). I refused to work a second job with a bachelors and masters degree (your girl had too much pride). So, I started my own resume writing business in June 2018.

In the first quarter I averaged $400 of revenue each month. I transferred every penny to my savings account to put towards my loans. That’s how I cut my timeline down by 2 months. Amen? Amen!

3 | Money Mindset Is a Major Game Changer

At first I had severe FOMO (fear of missing out). I turned down invitations to any outings that weren’t included of my budget. I got laser-focused. I cut things out that didn’t align with my goals. I stuck to my