Home Debt How Michelle Paid Off $40,000 in Student Loans in Just 7 Months

How Michelle Paid Off $40,000 in Student Loans in Just 7 Months

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After getting a really great feedback for our Freelancing (and Small Business) Success Stories series, I decided to create another inspiring collection of interviews with people who have successfully paid of their debt. Our first interviewee is Michele from Making Sense of Cents, who was nice enough to provide us a clear insight into her debt payment strategy and story.

Let’s find out how she smashed 40K in student loans in alomost half an year:


We’d like to know you better: please tell us about yourself.

Pictureofus1Hello! My name is Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I blog over at Making Sense of Cents. I try to help others pay off their debt, increase their income, and more, so that everyone can be more in control of their life. This way, everyone can live the life they want to be living.

My blog is my full-time job and it’s something I really love to do. I also have a husband and two dogs. We are currently driving around the country in an RV we recently bought. We are having the time of our lives and it’s crazy to think about how much life has changed ever since we got rid of our debt.

How did you get into debt?

My debt was all from college. My father passed away when I was 18, so I have been paying for my living expenses since. I also wasn’t very smart with money at that age – I decided to spend all of my money on housing, food, and clothing, instead of putting the money I was earning from my full-time job towards college tuition.

Before I knew it, I had $40,000 in student loans from my three college degrees. While it’s not a ton when compared to some people, it was too much for me.

What was you debt payment plan? Tell us your debt-payment story.

I detail my student loan repayment plan in my post How To Pay Off Student Loans Quickly. Basically, my plan was to earn enough side income so that I could put ALL of it each month towards my student loans. At the end, I was making around $10,000 a month on the side and that greatly helped me to be able to pay off my student loans quickly. In fact, I was able to pay off my student loans after just 7 months from the day I started.

Did you have any setbacks?

I honestly can’t think of any setbacks. I actually learned a lot from paying it off so quickly. Plus, I built my business up so well that I was able to leave my day job and focus on the business that I love full-time. It was a win-win for me!

What do you think were your biggest mistakes when paying off debt?

I can’t think of any mistakes I made when paying off my debt. I am extremely happy I did it and I think everything worked out well.

What would you advise anyone who is in a similar situation?

My top tips would be to look for ways to increase your income and ways to cut your budget. Usually there is only so much you can cut your budget back though, so my top way is to increase your income.

There are so many ways to increase your income. You can find a part-time job, start a blog (I highly recommend others do this!), freelance, ask for a raise at your day job, and more.


This was an amazing interview, thank you Michelle for taking the time to share your story. If you have another debt payment success story, please feel free to contact me and you’ll be featured here.

19 COMMENTS

  1. Paying off any kind of debt is a nightmare, which is why I’m always happy to hear about successful stories with a debt-free ending 🙂 Congratulations are in order! Few are able do this in such a record time.

    • She did an outstanding job, that’s for sure. 40K in less than a year is absolutely amazing. And getting yo build your own successful home business that pays off your debt so soon is remarkable.

  2. I think the secret here is not so much how she paid of her loan, but how she made $10,000 a month in “side” income. That is pretty impressive. I don’t make anywhere near that much per month in “center” or “total” income LOL. That’s the kind of salary that makes a 40k debt extremely manageable.

    • Agreed…I wish the article had detailed how she had been able to manage that kind of money from a side job. Regardless, it was impressive.

      • You took the words right out of my mouth! I’m very interested to find out more about how to make a lot of money as well! LOL 😀
        Seriously though, I look forward to reading the interview.

    • Yeah, this was certainly something that might have gone a little under-noticed in the article. That is a good amount of side income, and that would make things a lot easier to allocate some funds for the repayment of loans. That said, though, the direction and the strategy that she employed and used were really the highlights of the story here, and I would like to think that no matter the income that drive will lead you in the right direction. Interesting stuff, and thanks for sharing.

  3. Ah, paying off debt, ye olde nightmare! Unfortunately, not many are able to make money as a side income (such as myself), so as an alternative, cutting back on certain expenses can be quite helpful.

  4. My mom went to college years before I was born. She is just now paying off her college loans and I’m now in my twenties. Can you imagine having college loans for 20+ years? I want to congratulate Michelle for taking care of this debt in such a short amount of time. It must feel like a load has been lifted off your shoulders.

  5. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why society puts such a bug emphasis on college education. My parents weren’t rich, but somehow one of their top priorities was my college fund. Well, just like Ramona said in the comment above, having a fancy degree doesn’t also mean you get to use it. So, I’m really facing a huge dilemma here! Do I “risk” going to college next year, just to have a “precious” diploma? Or do I wait a couple of years and see what my priorities will look like by then. Having to make such decisions is just not fair!

  6. Anyone who is able to pay a loan in such a short amount of time is a great example to all of us! My cousin did (and still does) the opposite: he got a bigger loan, to cover up the first one, later on got an even bigger one, to cover up the second one and so on. That’s like the worst thing you can do! Paying a loan with another loan only means you’ll be forever stuck in a loop, a.k.a. in debt!

    • Sometimes, taking on a new loan to pay off debt makes sense (if you get some better interest rates for instance). But just replacing loans with new ones, without making some changes in your spending habits, try to earn more etc. won’t help too much. Sorry to hear about your cousin, it’s indeed tough to be in such a place
      Ramona recently posted…The 11 Top Benefits of Having a Company BlogMy Profile

  7. Amazing article. When I first read the title, I thought I was just mistaken. A 40k debt is just huge! *jaw drops* I commend your persistence and willpower to pay it off in less than a year. Thanks for being an inspiration 🙂

  8. Awesome!
    Most people would have dragged the loan for years! Or would have applied for a debt consolidation loan or god knows what else. But this! This is what everyone should do, prioritize huge debts and find a way to pay them off ASAP.

  9. Wow! I can’t imagine having a $40,000 loan as a student! I’ll probably lose a lot of sleep because of it. Luckily, I was a university scholar so student loans weren’t in my horizon during my university days. Generally, I’m afraid of loans as I have this fear that I may unable to pay it off. I really admire those people who are able to keep their finances on track. Loans with their interests are really savings-killers. So, kudos for settling it in just a short time.

  10. Well that is certainly good for her, but I have a feeling that the rest of us are nowhere near that. I would probably look exactly like the people in the picture if I was able to do it though, jumping for joy, but maybe someday. A well organized plan for repayment is certainly important, and for me it is more a matter of sticking to it, and I am guessing that I am not alone there. Thanks for sharing.

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