Welcome to another installment of IonTuition’s Q&A spotlight with personal finance bloggers. Today, we have Jessica from Oh These Student Loans.
After attending a free community college (thanks to an academic scholarship), Jessica went to the private school of her music business dreams for 2 years and borrowed $68k to do so. She has no financial background whatsoever, but in figuring out how to tackle her student loans she has learned some lessons worth sharing. She created a blog in 2010 and it has brought her much joy and a real sense of community within the financial world. She is now 5 months away from paying her student loans off completely. In total, Jessica will have paid $113k – that is how much the $68k cost her.
What’s the best piece of financial advice you ever received?
This probably should be some amazing one-two punch quote, but either I never came across those or they just didn’t resonate. I think the best piece of financial advice I ever got was actually more of an example set by my mom; she opened a checking account for me at a young age and taught me how to balance it correctly so that I would never overdraw. I’m sure that act alone played a big role in my financial responsibility as an adult.
If you could go back in time and give your 18-year-old self a piece of financial advice, what would it be?
Look at all of your interest rates and make sure they are reasonable. If they are not, find a way to refinance because interest sucks and will make itself at home in your principal balance. Take a look at your debt-to-income ratio and find a way to get your income up and your monthly expenses down. Once you have control of what’s going out and what’s coming in, make a solid plan of attack on your monthly loan payment (above the required minimum, of course) and stick to it.
Take it one step/loan at a time. I promise, the time will go faster than you think. I started aggressive payments in 2013 thinking it would be an eternity before I was done and I will finish in late 2016. Not to be cheesy here, but to quote whoever said it, “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”
How do you stay ahead on paying your student loans back?
By putting them first. I have two jobs, an old car, roommates (whom I love), and I sometimes have to say no to outings with friends or very cute purses. I still have fun, but it does take sacrifice. Once you have a goal in place, let nothing stop you; I didn’t. This aggressive student loan payment is all behavioral. It is all up to you. Rise above your situation and do not play the victim. To quote some Dave Ramsey here, “The best way to get out of debt is to get mad at the problem and attack it with a vengeance.”
Would you go to a different school if you knew what you know now about student debt?
Three years ago when I felt as if I was drowning? Yes. Now that it is almost paid off and I am still in my 20s? No. That school and the people I met there are very much a part of my present day life. I like my life. I am proud of myself for following the dreams I had at 18, including Belmont University.
Any other financial tips for our readers?
If you’re anything like me, there will come a point when you feel like you are in over your head and you’re not sure if you can keep up the momentum. If and when that happens, dive into financial blogs, books, Twitter accounts, YouTube channels, any outlet that you can find to fuel the inspiration you need to keep going. Debt freedom really is there if you want it!