This blog post is part of the Pay Down My Debt (PDMD) blog tour, sponsored by US Equity Advantage. PDMD is a solution that accelerates debt payoff and helps consumers monitor their credit and make smarter purchasing decisions. If you’re looking to pay off debt find out how they can help.
When I meet new people, eventually the topic of my debt payoff journey comes up. I tell them that I write about personal finance and that I paid off my student loans in three years. Most people I know are millennials who are still making their own payments to Sallie Mae. “So how did you do it,” they ask.
Nowadays, I condense my three-year experience into a few short sentences. “I tracked my expenses, threw extra money toward my debt and avoided spending money on things I didn’t really need.”
I’ve recently realized that this story cuts out some of the hacks that really helped me become debt free. Read below to see the best thing I learned on my way to debt freedom.
I Made it Easy for Myself
One of the only ways I was able to pay off my loans early is because I made it easy on myself. I automated my monthly payments, which lowered my interest by .25%. I also made any extra payments automatic. I didn’t trust myself to remember to add $200 or $300 a month, so I had it automatically come out of my checking account.
Pay Down My Debt is a start-up that also wants to simplify the debt paydown process. They take charge of the payment process and make several payments a month toward your loans. By making multiple payments a month, they decrease the total interest paid and speed up your debt payoff date.
Of course, you could try to do this yourself, but sometimes it pays to simplify your finances. I’ve learned in my years of financial coaching, writing and speaking that people avoid finance because they think it’s complicated and difficult. The easier it is to pay off your loans, the more likely it is you’ll do it.
Pay Down My Debt also tracks your credit score and report, another financial priority that most people don’t pay attention to. Twice a year, they’ll send you a full credit report. It’s like having a financial guardian angel watching over you.
Why It’s Important to Simplify Your Debt
Research shows that willpower and discipline are finite. If you spend too much of your day making difficult choices at work, you’ll have less willpower to go to your Crossfit class instead of drinking margaritas with your friends.
Every day, we’re confounded with countless financial decisions, many we don’t think about. Are you going to make coffee at home or grab Starbucks on your way to work? Are you driving to the office or taking the bus? Did you pack a lunch or are you grabbing fast food later? Do after-work plans include eating at a restaurant or inviting friends over for a potluck?
These decisions weigh heavily and it’s no surprise that we’re left fatigued at the end of the day. It’s during my most tired days that I want to grab a milkshake from the diner across the street or buy a book online instead of waiting to get it from the library.
Making the decision to be debt free isn’t easy. Now that I’m almost three years removed from my own student loans, I forget how hard it was to say no to lunch with my coworkers or a trip to D.C. with my high school friends. I forget about all the sacrifices I made.
But it was worth it. The life I live now wouldn’t be possible if I still had student loans. I still carry those lessons with me. I try to avoid buying new clothes and eating out. I also keep my finances simple. I automate my savings so I don’t have to make manual transfers to my IRA or my vacation fund. I make it easy on myself, and that’s the only reason I succeed.