Happy Tuesday friends! Today I’m super pumped for another installment of the Student Loan Conqueror Series. Student Loan Conquerors is an interview series. I talk with some awesome people tackling their student loan debt head on. Finding out how they are doing it and what inspired them to start in the first place.
If you are interested in participating, please contact me and share a little information about your student loan debt situation.
Today I’m excited to have Matt from Nursing Debt sharing how he’s paying off over $67k of student loan debt. Matt is a registered nurse from San Diego. Aside from his day job, he loves to write. When Matt was in nursing school he developed some bad spending habits and accumulated large amounts of student loan debt. In his free time he spends his time writing about his journey of paying off debt.
Now on to the interview!
When did you graduate and with what degree?
I graduated in the Spring of 2011 with my degree of a bachelor’s of science in nursing from San Diego State University (Go Aztecs!).
(editor’s note: pretty sure SDSU was where I took the MPRE)
What was the maximum amount of student loans you owed and where do you stand now?
My current amount of student loan balance is at $67,244.06. My starting balance was $76,608.31.
But that’s not also including $11,731.97 of credit card debt and $13,617.65 of a car payment. I know, it’s ridiculous and there were some incredibly bad financial decisions made. I put budgeting in the back of my mind through the later half of my twenties.
When did you start to focus on your student loans and what motivated you to do so?
In the Spring of 2017 I had what I call a, “debt get off the floor moment.” That moment was when I had taken a good hard look at my finances. I looked at my spending and I saw how much money I was losing each month to paying off debt. My debt to income ratio is absolutely horrible.
There was also a pretty significant life change that was happening to me at the time. I’m currently still waiting for a divorce to be finalized but when I had my “get off the floor moment,” I was in the middle of dealing with the process of a divorce. My ex and I also owned property together. While we owned property I fell in love with real estate and loathed the idea of renting. For me, real estate is fascinating and a path to retirement and passive income. My ex and I had to sell our house but my goal is to purchase property on my own again – something that is hard to do without knowing your financial situation .
Purchasing a property with my financial situation is going to be quite difficult. For one, I would have a lot more wiggle room with a monthly mortgage if I didn’t have so much debt. I’d also be able to save money a whole heck of a lot faster if I had no credit card debt, no car payment, and no student loan debt. (editor: word.)
My financial goals with the amount of debt I have make me sick. I want them gone. I want to snowball my debt and eliminate them one by one.
Related: The 5 Steps to Paying Off Debt
What is the one action you’ve taken that has made the biggest difference in your finances?
The biggest differences for me have been a few things:
1. I work extra shifts at work. As a nurse I’m only required to work three twelve hour shifts a week. This leaves for a lot of extra time. If I work one extra shift a week (even if it’s a partial shift) I make overtime (which can be time and a half or double time depending on the day). Some of these extra shifts even pay $7.50 an hour EXTRA on top of the overtime pay.
2. I have clear defined goals. I want to purchase property and begin a debt snowball.
3. I keep track of my spending. My financial life during my college years used to consist of me spending money on nearly anything. I didn’t really realize the kind of hole I was digging and how hard it would be to climb out. My financial awareness was absolutely terrible. Now I’m more aware of what I’m spending and I could care less if I’m not keeping up with the Joneses.
Did you ever consider refinancing/ consolidating? Did you go through with either, why or why not?
I have. At the time when I was looking into refinancing/consolidating, neither option made sense to me. The best rate I could get was somewhere around 7% variable. My student loans consist of five private and only one Federal loan.
Altogether I have six student loans and consolidating them would have increased the rates of over half of them versus the debt snowball method.
Recommended Refinancing Company
If you have private loans or your debt to income ratio allows, consider refinancing with a company like SoFi. Learn more about what it’s like to refinance with Sofi. Refinancing my bar loan with SoFi ended up saving me over $1,000. Use my link to refinance your student loan and you’ll get a $100 bonus.
What is the best piece of financial advice you’ve received?
Honestly, I’m not sure where to start. My parents and friends never really talked about finances so it would certainly not be from them. If I had to think of just one thing it would be a quite from Robert Kiyosaki that stands out to me. I’m paraphrasing but in one of his books he said if you have a financial problem that you created you need to create a solution that’s bigger than the problem.
What is one piece of advice you would give to others paying down student loans?
Just one? Ha. Don’t let other people dictate your happiness. If paying off your student loans is a priority, don’t let the actions of other people hinder your own goals.
What I mean by that is, don’t be caught up in the emotion of going out and spending money at fancy restaurants or buying lavish things all the time. I’m not saying a person shouldn’t do that, because I still do, but make a budget for it and don’t exceed it. Ask yourself if you really need things and take some time before making purchases to ensure you’re not purchasing based off of emotion.
If you could do it all over again, would you? Why or why not?
I assume, if you mean by do it all over again, you mean going to college and taking out student loans again? There’s quite a bit of an argument for going to school vs. not going to school. But I would go to school again in a heartbeat.
I was working as a waiter and coming from a background of playing in bands. I didn’t take my SAT scores and I never really cared about putting in a legitimate effort to going to college when I was in high school. The only way that I saw myself providing for a more financially stable future, is if I went back to school. So I enrolled in college when I was 24.
Are you actually utilizing your degree? If not, why not?
Yes, I love the nursing field. It’s such a broad career and there are so many things that having a nursing license can allow me to do as a career. The science of how the body works is incredible fascinating to me. Currently I work in an emergency room so I get to see some pretty cool stuff. I’m also never short of stories at the dinner table.
Anything you’d like to share with LDMW readers?
Just a plug for my debt blog: Nursing Debt
Editor: You guys should definitely check out Matt’s blog.
Thank you, Matt! I appreciate you being a part of Student Loan Conqueror Series. Good luck to you with the rest of your journey to debt freedom (I’ll see you there one day!).