Student loan debt is a concern for quite a few of us, but Joe Mihalic especially. On his blog No More Harvard Debt, Mihalic details his journey paying off $90,000 in student loan debt. He spoke with us about what it took to pay it off and why.
How did you feel when you took on paying off $90,000 in debt?
Scared. Anxious. Nervous. But also excited, determined and focused. I felt like a trailblazer because I knew I was doing something that people rarely do.
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice while working out how to pay for school, what would it be and why?
Nothing. I didn't take out more than necessary, and I didn't spend more than necessary. I think this is the one thing I actually got right. Now, after I graduated - that's an entirely different story.
What happened there?
I shouldn't have spent my signing bonus on nice furniture. I shouldn't have bought a house. I shouldn't have bought two cars and a motorcycle. I should have rented a tiny apartment and put some Craigslist furniture in it and put all extra money towards the student loans.
What was the most surprising thing you discovered as you were paying off the debt?
It actually felt really good to cut back and simplify my life, to say no to discretionary expenses and to instill a healthy amount of discipline into my wallet. An open admission to quit trying to keep up with the Joneses lifted a weight from my shoulders.
Were there any early difficulties?
I remember that I was trying to do the whole debt pay-off without getting rid of my second car and motorcycle. I had let them define me, and I didn't want to let them go. When I finally realized I wouldn't be able to pay off $90k in ten months without converting these vehicles to cash and putting it to my loans, I was surprised by how much I embraced the simplicity of having one car more than I ever thought I would and not attaching my identity to material things. Three years later, I look back and wonder why the hell I ever got a second car in the first place.