I paid off nearly $27,000 of student debt in 11 months without a six-figure salary. All my student loans, my only debts, are gone and it didn’t happen by chance. It was a concerted effort that took sacrifice.
What I Did
I didn’t want my future self to miss any opportunities because of money problems. I wanted to be financially secure and grow wealth and so I sought out financial advice and learned from Dave Ramsey that the first crucial step to security is to become debt-free.
Having always been interested in Japan, I secured a private-sector job in Tokyo before graduating in May 2018 from SUNY Albany. I started working full-time in August 2018 and immediately started attacking my student loan debt while editing English for a non-profit on the side. I had about $7,500 in savings when I graduated and made approximately $30,000 after taxes between the day I started work and when I made my final payment in the first week of July 2019.
Do the math and that leaves very little money for living after debt payments and so making a budget and sticking to it was important. I put as much of my income as possible toward the debt, while keeping a cash balance for emergencies.
To accomplish this stringent budget required sacrifice, more than anything else; probably the greatest of which was deciding to live in my company’s dorm and the commute this entailed. Door to door my commute was one and a half hours. That’s three hours every day spent on jampacked Tokyo trains. For a college student, the dorm itself wasn’t terrible, but as an adult working full-time, I wanted more. The bathroom and the shower were shared and my room was only 100 square feet. It wasn’t comfortable but the rent was just $50 a month.
The cost of living in Japan, especially Tokyo, is very high. The food prices are incomparable to the U.S. and so were another area that required sacrifice. Living within my means meant packing a lunch, brewing coffee at home, and buying what was cheapest.
Thanks to my family and values, I believed that I could achieve anything through hard work and so made sacrifices knowing they’d pay off. Conversely, if people think the cards are rigged against them, they turn to things like socialism and identity politics, blaming systems rather than working to succeed. That’s why the message of liberty and personal responsibility is vital.
It’s a choice to take on debt of any kind. Student loan forgiveness, “free” college, and federally insured student loans aren’t the solution to rising college costs. If we absolve individuals of the consequences and benefits of their decisions we rob them of something important: personal responsibility and ability to rise to the challenge.
You can and Should Become Debt Free
The American dream isn’t dead. As conservatives, we believe that through hard work nearly anyone can succeed and prosper and that freedom and the free market gives people the opportunity to live a better life. We should put our money where our mouths are and prove it. We criticize deficit spending and government debt, but how many of us practice fiscal responsibility in our own lives?
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.