Please tell us a little about yourself in a few sentences.
During the day, I work in finance for a regional bank. On the side, I write a blog called BaldThoughts.com, where we teach people how to travel more, spend less, and live better using miles & points and other strategies to reduce their travel expenses, while still making their travel dreams a reality.
The goal is that our readers will take the money they’ve saved on travel and redirect that money towards paying off their debt or investing for their future.
Here are a few related links:
What type of debt did you have?
- Student Loan(s)
- Auto Loan
What was the total amount of debt and how fast did you pay it off?
My auto loan was $56K and was 0% over 72 months. I paid that on time because there was no hurry when literally everything else has a higher interest rate. I made the final payment in November 2015.
Related: Selling My Car To Pay Off Debt
My student loans were another story. Originally they were around $60K.
I signed on for “graduated” payments over 30 years, where you’re only required to pay a small amount each month and the payment increases every year based on the expectation that you’re getting raises and moving forward with your career.
As I paid off all other debt and saved for the future, I brought the balance down to $32K as of March 2015. That’s when I became really focused on paying it off and refinanced out of my Stafford 30-year loans into a 10-year variable loan from SoFi.
I calculated that the lower rate of the variable loan would allow me to pay off the loan in about 5-6 years if I kept paying the $500 a month I was paying.
I refinanced my house to eliminate PMI and that savings went towards the student loans. And when I paid off my truck loan, that amount went towards the student loans as well.
At the end, I was paying over $2,000 a month towards the loans. And to knock off the last portion of the balance, I used my annual bonus from work and some savings to completely pay everything off in 12 months from when I refinanced with SoFi.
Related: Til Debt Do Us Part No Longer
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How did you acquire the debt in the first place?
The student loan debt was a combination of undergraduate and MBA loans for tuition and living expenses.
Describe the moment you decided that enough was enough, you needed to pay off your debt.
The biggest motivator for me was being able to qualify for more rental property mortgages.
I’m on a path to build my portfolio of rentals to 30 over the next decade and every non-mortgage debt is a complete drag on debt-to-income ratios with the bank.
I had a frank discussion with my mortgage broker about what I could do to get the best interest rates and improve my odds of approval for the rental property mortgages, and his number 1 suggestion was to eliminate all non-mortgage debt.
How did you end up paying off the debt?
I answered this in #2. In summary, it was a combination of paying more than the minimum each month, then snowballing payments from other debts that were paid off until I reached a large monthly payment, aided by a little bit of savings and an annual bonus from work.
Related: When Debt Comes Back to Haunt You
Did you have a plan for paying off your debt that didn’t work. Why did it fail?
Nothing failed with the previous plan to pay off the debt.
The biggest problem was that, although I was paying a couple hundred more than the minimum payment, because the balance was so large, it was taking far longer than I liked for the loan to be paid off.
Can you describe a time where your friends, family or significant other challenged your plan to pay off your debt? How did you deal with it?
Other than with my wife, I didn’t communicate the plan to anyone. Luckily, she was really supportive throughout the whole process.
Now that all of my non-mortgage debt is paid off, we’re taking a dual-pronged approach to paying off my rentals and her student loans in an accelerated timeframe.
Describe the moment that you made your last payment on your debt. When was it? What did it feel like?
The final payment on my student loans was in March 2016. It was pretty awesome!
My wife and I took the kids out to a nice dinner to celebrate…. the next day it was back to work, focusing on paying off the rental mortgages and her MBA student loans.
What’s next for you now that you are debt free?
I’m taking the money that I was paying monthly towards my student loans and have now focused it on paying off my original 3 rental properties and my house over the next 10 years.
I paid off the first rental property in September 2016 and am on track to pay off the second rental property in late 2017.
As each loan gets paid off, the “free” money gets snowballed towards the next mortgage.
Thanks to Lee for sharing his story! For more information from Lee, check out his website and see his social media links below. Stay tuned for next week’s Feature Friday!
If you would like to share your story on debt payoff or entrepreneurship, check out our ‘Get Featured’ page for more information.
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