Today, I’m pleased to share with you a guest post from Josh Wilson, a Millennial working to become his generation’s personal finance thought leader. Check out his blog at familyfaithfinance.com.
One of the many things that I have done in the past is worry about debt (I’m not alone!). In fact, I used to worry about it so much that I was unable to concentrate on other things. It became a problem for me which I’ll call money anxiety.
I knew that something had to be done about it, or I would be living in debt and anxiety for the rest of my life. In order to get rid of the constrictions in place by my debt, I needed to make a few financial moves that put myself in the right direction. These moves are pretty well known, but I’m going to reflect on my experiences with them.
I hope that my experiences below will help guide you towards a mentality free of money anxiety.
Student Loan Refinancing
When I graduated college, I had plenty of student loan debt. In fact, my debt was to the tune of $31,000. Yuck. I know that number is high, but it could have been worse. Some borrowers graduate with balances that are higher than mine, but I still wasn’t happy with it.
Either way, I knew that I needed to tackle that debt and eliminate it as quickly as possible. You could say that I used to be a typical graduate hating debt and wanting a solution. By hating that debt and yearning for a solution, I was creating more anxiety for myself. After some work, I decided to finally act on making a change.
I chose to refinance my student loan debt after reaching a milestone which was paying off roughly $19,000 of my debt (it took 7 years!). That part was not easy by any means, but I was able to accomplish it with time and work. Knowing that I had a plan to make a change helped me handle my debt and reduce stress.
Another thing that factored into the plan to wait was my credit history. I knew that applicants with subpar credit were less likely to be approved, and I didn’t want to submit an application to only be denied. I was able to build up my work history, income, and credit to get the approval I needed. I actually touch on that stage when I discuss my credit card debt. I currently have less than $5,000 in student loans left, and the choice to refinance has made the debt more manageable in light of other obligations
Transferring Debt with a Balance Transfer Card
During and soon after graduating college, I carried around a credit card that had a $1,500 credit limit. Well, guess what? I used it ALL up and carried a $1,500 balance. How did this happen? I really just didn’t care as much in college, but when I graduated with student debt, I straightened up really quick.
I knew I needed to get this debt paid off for a couple of reasons. First, I had a lot of debt in student loans. Secondly, I would pay a lot in interest rate if I kept things the same.
I chose to transfer my debt using a balance card transfer to help me pay it off. Like many people, I shopped around for a low rate introductory offer that lasted for at least a year. If I pulled out all the stops, I knew that I could get most of that debt paid off by the end of that intro period. After making the transfer, I saved more and worked more, and long story short, the transfer helped big time along with the change in budget. It was a solid lesson in debt repayment strategies. I couldn’t have done it without side hustles though.
My Side Hustle Experiences
I am an IT professional who works full-time today. I had to enter as an entry-level IT guy out of college, so I wasn’t making millions. Considering what I just talked about, I should elaborate on how I was able to handle my debt since I didn’t make a ton of money. That’s where side hustles came in.
So, I did quite a few side hustles including mowing lawns, freelancing in IT, selling items on eBay, and selling baked goods at community events. I still do most of these with the exception of mowing lawns (competition was no joke).
Depending on the month, I could make anywhere between $100 to $600 or more. It just depended on what opportunities were available on a month-to-month basis. It was tough at times since I had to work full-time, but it was doable with some planning.
I am happy that I achieved a free mentality through my finances, and I hope that you can take life by the horns. Setting a goal for a free mentality can sound a little vague, but you can always come up with a clear, discrete objective that helps set your sights.
For me, my old goal was to get rid of my old debt from college, but I have a new one now. Moving forward, I would like to do several things. One of them involves a short-term goal for fun, and the other is a long term goal for finances.
The short-term involves a family vacation, something my kids have not experienced yet. The long term goal requires me to look into investing my new savings. Since I was able to get past my debt with a frugal mindset, I’m now ready to move forward with a bit more freedom!