Learning how to pay off debt

Learning How to Pay Off Debt


Stephanie Benedetti works for a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., and while she's a savvy saver now, she wasn't always so budget-conscious. Here's how she managed to pay down thousands of dollars in student loans in just three years.

After completing undergraduate and master programs, Benedetti found herself with quite a bit of debt. "When I was in school, I had over $90,000 in student loan debt accumulated," she says. "[I was] just kind of living my life, having fun, going to happy hours [and] not really keeping track of how much I was paying off and how much I was saving."

Two years later, Benedetti met her husband, Rob, which changed everything. "He was totally planning for his financial future," she remarks. Rob motivated her to save and work toward paying off her student loans, while he continued to put money away for a house.

With the help of her husband, Benedetti was able to cut costs of living by consolidating bills like rent and utilities. She also cut her gym membership and other expenses that had free alternatives. "I went line by line through everything I was spending and monitored literally every dollar that was coming in and every dollar that was coming out," she explains.

Benedetti also thought it would be wise to look for an additional source of income, but she needed a job with flexible hours. She realized she could babysit to earn extra money, and parents were willing to pay a premium for her because of her masters degree.

With less debt and more cash in the bank, Benedetti is more financially stable than ever. She adds, "Now I'm well set up for the future, and I think my whole life has changed because I really set that financial goal and reached it."

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