How this 30-year-old paid off $ 100,000 in debt in 5 years

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By the time Alaina Curry graduated from college in 2009, she had accumulated over $ 80,000 in student loans. While she appeared to have been successful to friends and family – taking a high-paying public relations job in Las Vegas – her debt rose to over $ 86,000 in the five years following her graduation in reason for using their credit card. In 2016, overwhelmed by her growing debt, she broke down in front of her friend and admitted to missing part of her monthly student loan payments.

This moment motivated Curry to come up with a plan to pay off his debt. At 25, she decided to be debt free by the age of 30. She has researched various resources to learn how to pay off debt, reading Dave Ramsey’s book “The Total Money Makeover”, watching YouTube channels. As State of mind of minorities and Graham Stephan, and listen to podcasts from Patrice washington and The budgetist.

Curry decided to use the snowball method to pay off his debt, first tackling his smallest credit card bill, which was $ 750. With the snowball method, you start by paying off the smallest amount of debt, so that you can earn a quick payoff before you tackle your larger balances. The idea is that a quick win will help build momentum.

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Curry also admitted that paying off his debt in full would require him to make sacrifices. Her lease ending in September 2016, she decided to move in with her aunt and uncle to Las Vegas to save money. She began to treat her debt repayments like a rent payment: every month, she obligated herself to pay at least $ 900 for her student loan debt.

She also worked on building an emergency fund with the additional income she earned from her side activities. She held retail positions at Target, then Michael Kors, and also used online services like Upwork for freelance and editing. She even started her own photography business. In total, she earned $ 12,000 from her ancillary activities.

Curry lived with his aunt and uncle for three years and was able to pay off all of his credit card debt and two private student loans worth around $ 37,000. At the start of 2019, she felt ready to move on her own.

Manage surprise expenses

Yet in May 2019, shortly after leaving her uncle and aunt’s home, disaster struck. Curry had a car accident that totaled his car. Although she was fortunate enough to get by without injury, she had to buy a used car, adding another $ 14,000 to her debt. Just two months after that, she was in a four-car pile-up. Although this accident did not require her to buy another car, she had to prepay for the repairs. She was not reimbursed for these expenses until she settled down with the auto insurance company a year later.

Curry couldn’t take a break. In February 2020, she got a new job in public relations, but barely a month later she was fired due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Luckily, Curry had set up an emergency fund and paid off nearly $ 50,000 of the $ 101,000 in debt she had accumulated from her student loans, credit cards, and auto accident expenses.

“When they told me I had been fired, it was obviously a scary feeling,” says Curry. “But I can’t imagine how I would have felt if I had been up to the head in the bills like I had been in 2016.”

Become debt free

In September 2020, Curry started a new job in Dallas, and she decided to refinance most of the remaining student loan – a Navient loan worth $ 38,000 – with SoFi to get a lower interest rate. After recalling her monthly debt repayments when she was unemployed, Curry became aggressive about her debt, making monthly payments of $ 3,000 for her student loans.

On October 31, 2021, Curry wrote a Post on LinkedIn about getting off debt which went viral on the site, receiving nearly 25,000 reactions and over 1,500 comments. When asked what advice she would give to others struggling to pay off massive debts, Curry stresses the importance of having an end goal. For Curry, that meant losing his financial freedom and not having to constantly worry about money.

She says it’s important to stay motivated on your debt repayment journey. Curry regularly watched videos and listened to podcasts about other people’s debt repayment stories, which prompted her to follow hers.

Most importantly, Curry stresses the importance of being flexible and kind to yourself during the debt repayment process. When she had to face two car accidents and lose her job within 12 months, she was able to get back on track as she accepted that certain events were beyond her control and she was grateful for have an emergency fund that she could fall back on.

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Editorial note: Any opinions, analysis, criticism or recommendations expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the editorial staff of Select and have not been reviewed, endorsed or otherwise approved by any third party.


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