Paying Off Nearly Six Figures of Student Debt in Seven Months

How one Harvard graduate aggressively paid down his loans with creative cost-cutting measures.

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For the most part, my friends were pretty frugal. I think I just may have subconsciously chosen frugal friends. Yes, most of them have houses and they do travel, but they don't really throw their money around unwisely. So, when they saw me tighten my belt a little bit they were like, "Yes. We get it. That's cool." They didn't go out of their way to do really flashy things and exclude me. I appreciated that.

[See How to Live Happily on 75% Less.]

Do you think that the accountability of blogging played a role in helping you reach your goal?

I'm pretty intrinsically motivated to begin with, but I knew that I would be held accountable at the end of every month with my progress report. "Here's how much I made, here's how much I spent, here's why." Just knowing that at the end of the month I would have to admit to my sins, so to speak, made me think twice about buying things and doing certain things.

For example, when I quit my pedi-cabbing gig, it was very humbling to report that on the blog. It made me approach future revenue opportunities with a lot more caution. There are so many pedi-cab drivers in downtown Austin just driving around without anybody in their trailers. I should have seen that and made the connection. I was just excited to be a pedi-cab driver. I thought it would be really fun. I didn't really do the due diligence. I had to admit on my blog that I failed in pedi-cabbing. It was kind of humiliating.

Now that you've paid off your loans, will you continue some of your cost-cutting measures or go back to the lifestyle you had before?

The roommates signed their lease until the end of June, so they're entitled to stay there until the end. After that, I'm thinking of renting the house out and getting a studio closer to the city, because the house is really too big for me.

Spending is pretty similar to when I was paying off the debt. I haven't gone on a dinner date yet. I'm still driving my 12-year-old Honda. I'm still packing a lunch every day. My friends and I are still hitting up the BYOB place before we go downtown. I bought a couple of shirts for the first time in a year.

I need to build back up my cash cushion to get six to eight months of living expenses in the bank just in case anything happens. Then I'll have the option to spend more. Right now, I just got used to the lifestyle I was living.

People who win the lottery, their level of happiness actually returns to the baseline even though they have so much money. People who lose all their money, there will still be some dark days, but they'll rebound. I got used to that lifestyle. So, I haven't been in a rush to go spend crazy amounts of money or do anything really wild.