From Student Loans to Debt Free and my first place with CA$H
I graduated college 5 years ago, which is where my financial life journey began. Like most college graduates, I was ready to change the world and do meaningful work that contributed to society. After 54 job applications, I selected the most prestigious position available…cleaning cars. On the heels of $30,000 in student loans, I was ecstatic to have a job making $48k, producing the largest bi-weekly checks I had ever seen in my life. Through this 4 year journey I have been asked countless times how did you do that, or wow that is awesome I wish I would have done that. So, I decided to put together a simple 5-Step Guide that outlines the exact steps I took to reach my goals. One common theme throughout my blog is that I refuse to be another statistic and want to be a young adult game changer.
Okay let’s take a step back and figure out how I got to this point, I think you can relate to how I felt. Initially after graduating I had a feeling of “what now?” In life, society, our parents, and/or others we respect tend to funnel us into “the plan”: go to school and get good grades so you can get a good job (whatever “good” means). Once you complete school then you’re off to the “Rat Race”: go to work to make money to pay your bills – repeat. The idea of a revolving wheel and being another millennial statistic got me fired up. My girlfriend says I always question and challenge everything (conventional thinking??), so she was not surprised when I spoke to her about my desire to do something different, to work smarter not harder. Instead of doing what everyone else was doing, I decided to dream and think outside the box. I didn’t want to be just another number in the Rat Race. Can you relate? So, I did some so-called “weird” things to change my lifestyle for the better. I got my trusty note pad out, which I still use to this day, and wrote down my 1 year, 5, 10, and 30 year goals. The first, immediate course of action was to pay off my student loans ASAP. To me, that meant 12 months, 1 year, 365 days.
Armed with these new goals and milestones to aim for, I had to figure out how I was going to get there. $30,000 seemed like $1 million to me, I could not comprehend how I was going to save that much money to pay off my student loans. The tool I uncovered to guide me and keep me on track with a plan to attain my goals was the BUDGET. I knew that making $48k per year, after taxes each month I would bring in about $3,000. In order to reach my goal of paying off $30,000 in 12 months I would need to pay $2,500 per month and live off $500. Like I said, I did some so-called “weird” things. Did I have to make some sacrifices; yes. Was my first year after college all the glamour and independence it is portrayed as; no. But, I did it and this is how…
Throughout my childhood and college years, my Dad was very involved in my life, but I never lived with him. He and my Stepmom were gracious enough to open their basement room to me, but with several stipulations. I needed to keep their grass cut, I was on permanent gutter/ladder duty, and the best one… I was a free on call baby sitter for my two Brothers. But hey, for free living for a year I couldn’t complain. In college, I purchased a 12-year-old Saturn manual transmission, so I did not have any car payment, and gas cost 20 bucks every other week. Monday through Thursday I brought my lunch which consisted of a ham sandwich, chips, and Pepsi. But, you better believe that every Friday was Yum-Yum Friday where your boy could splurge and eat out. The whole office where I worked knew this and would cheer me on every Friday for treating myself. In the moment it seemed challenging and took a lot of sacrifice, but the end result was well worth it. Looking back on it, I should have probably looked at making extra cash on the side to have a little more of a life. But, that is why I am here today to give you advice that worked for me and advice on things I would do different if I were facing that challenge again. Fast forward 12 tough months and 52 yum-yum Fridays, and I did it!
On that day, when I paid my final loan payment, in that cold basement room something changed in me. I knew at that point, if I wanted something bad enough I could stick to a plan day in and day out and consistently execute. As I made my way up stairs to share the good news with my family I reminded myself that this was the 1 year goal I set. But, through this new found 5-Step Guide, if I can get 30k out of debt in a year, what if I ran this plan for the next 2 years…well I would have $60,000 in the bank. I thought about how awesome it would be to buy my first home with cash and have no payments. At this point, I went back to my Dad and Stepmom and renegotiated my contract...haha. Now, along with being an on call laborer, I would also pay rent of $200. When I share my story, people usually begin to say man this guy has it made, gets lucky, or is in the right place at the right time. To that I would say yes, I do have a loving and caring family, however if you want something bad enough you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse. There are countless strategies to increase your income and there are ways to budget your money more efficiently. But, at the end of the day how bad do you want it? I refuse to be another millennial statistic. Someone has to be successful, why not us? Why not you?
Over the next 2 years, I was excelling at my job and getting promotions and pay increases, however I never lost focus of the goal. I continued to execute my budget and began reading and looking at properties to figure out how I was going to buy a place with $60k in the 6th most expensive place to live in the Country. Like I said previously, if you want something bad enough you will find a way, and I did. I found a motivated seller who wanted to sell her place to a young person doing the right things with their life. Plus, it also helped that I had straight cash. So after coming down 1/3 of the offer price I called in the BRINKS truck to deliver all that money to her at settlement…haha. Check out my place ---
After hitting these milestones in my life I started to ask questions again. How did I do this? But, most importantly, Why? The keys to attaining the goals you set are desire, action, and purpose. I outlined my desires when I established my life goals, I determined the action I was going to take with my budget, and now I needed to figure out what is my life purpose. Throughout this process, I realized that I find the most satisfaction in life when I am helping people, which is the reason I started this blog. I want to provide a guideline of what I did so that every other young adult can replicate my success. I will continue to write blog posts that are relevant to these topics to contribute to your unique journey to reach your goals. Please subscribe, but most importantly let’s be friends, everyone has a unique story and unique goals, please share them with me…let’s connect!