Happy Friday friends! Today I’m excited to announce a new series here on Less Debt More Wine, the Student Loan Conqueror series. Student Loan Conquerors is an interview series. I will be talking with some awesome people tackling their student loan debt head on and finding out how they are doing it and what inspired them to start in the first place.
I hope that seeing others being aggressive with their student loans will inspire you to kick ass with your own student loans. If you are interested in participating please contact me and share a little information about your student loan situation.
Today, I’m excited to have someone here who helped to inspire me to start this blog and share my own journey with my student loans. Please welcome, Natalie Bacon, a financial planner, blogger, and recovering lawyer. Natalie writes about personal finance, life, and career on her blog NatalieBacon.com. You can find Natalie on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Here is what Natalie had to say about student loans, changing careers, and the best piece of financial advice she has ever received:
1. When did you graduate and with what degree?
I graduated from college in 2008 and law school in 2011. I have a bachelor’s of arts in Political Science with minors in Philosophy and Theatre and my Juris Doctor.
2. What was the maximum amount of student loans you owed and where do you stand now?
I owed $206k in 2011 when I graduated from law school in 2011. Now, my debt is down to just under $120k (and the average interest rates is 7.9%).
(Editor’s note: In case you haven’t done the math, that means she has paid off over $80k of student loan debt in just 5 years! Impressive!)
Editor’s Note: FYI if you have federal student loans and are struggling with your payments, consider utilizing an income-driven repayment plan at least temporarily. If you have private loans, consider refinancing with a company like SoFi. I wrote a review about my experience refinancing my bar loan with SoFi. Refinancing with SoFi ended up saving me over $1k. Use one of my links to refinance and you’ll get a $100 bonus.
3. When did you start to focus on your student loans and what motivated you to do so?
My first job out of law school was making $75k, and I thought I was going to be rich. Then, I got my first student loan bill and was in complete shock. I felt tricked. I didn’t understand how I had made it to 25 years old and an attorney without knowing anything at all about personal finance. So, I did what I always do — I committed to learning what I didn’t know.
4. What is the best piece of financial advice you’ve received?
My grandpa once told me using a credit card is like taking out a mortgage on your clothes. I’m a spender by nature, so I took his advice quite literally, and I’ve never had a credit card (too much temptation for me).
5. What is one piece of advice you would give to others paying down student loan debt?
6. If you could do it all over again, would you? Why or why not?
I would not go to law school if I could do it again. Becoming a lawyer is an American dream for many people. It’s very prestigious. And I liked that. But the practice of law is very different. It’s a grind with very little reward. I don’t know many lawyers at all who actually like what they do. For me, no amount of money is worth that type of commitment.
(Editor’s note: I too am an attorney, though not practicing, in my job I see lots of attorneys working at all different levels and while I have seen some that truly thrive and love being an attorney, I’d have to agree that they seem to be the exception rather than the rule. If you are thinking about becoming an attorney try getting an internship in a firm or court, to see if that line of work is really for you before taking out a ton of student loans for law school.)
7. Are you actually utilizing your degree? If not, why not?
I was a lawyer for 4 years, then quit to become a personal financial planner and blogger. I didn’t like working late hours at a big law firm that was very stressful. It wasn’t rewarding, and I didn’t see that changing.
I talked with so many other lawyers and they all hated their jobs. The culture around law firms is not what I want to be a part of for the rest of my life. I’m so much more fulfilled helping people manage their money and inspiring them to live more fulfilling lives.
8. Anything you’d like to share with LDMW readers?
I want to encourage your readers to take a chance on themselves and make a career change if they don’t like where they’re at right now. It’s never going to be easy, but it’s worth it if you get to start a career you enjoy. I share little tips of life, career, and money advice on Instagram, for any of your readers who are interested.
Thank you, Natalie! I appreciate you being part of the inaugural Student Loan Conqueror Interview Series. I’m so excited for you and your new career and of course good luck as you continue to conquer your student loan debt. If you want to continue to learn from Natalie, you can check out NatalieBacon.com.