Woman holds incredible photoshoot to celebrate paying off student debt: 'My loans are dead'
A New York woman is going viral after finding a hilarious way to celebrate being debt-free.
Mandy Velez, a 28-year-old social media editor, announced she had paid off $102,000 in student loan debt by holding a funeral inside a New York City cemetery.
"DING DONG MY LOANS ARE DEAD," Velez announced in a Facebook post, along with pictures from the celebration.
The photos show Velez in a black funeral dress, smiling widely as she hoists up a giant balloon that spells out "102K."
"I finally killed them," she added in her post. "It was a slow death but was worth every bit of the fight."
Velez's path to being debt-free began in 2013, when she graduated from the University of Pittsburgh owing $75,000 in student loans. The 28-year-old told USA Today that the process involved plenty of changes in her daily life.
"There are ways to kind of budget that you don’t realize until you really sit down and look at every single item," she said. "It made a huge difference, we’re talking like hundreds of dollars of difference."
According to her Facebook post, Velez managed to cut the final $32,000 in just eight months. She cited a number of money-saving tactics, including packing a lunch, skipping out on expensive Uber rides and always making more than her minimum monthly payments.
The final eight-month stretch was full of more extreme measures, though, including a variety of side jobs.
"I walked dogs until my feet literally bled. In the cold. In the rain. In the heat. Nothing was beneath me. I babysat. I cat sat," her post read. "I stayed up for 24 hours straight to make a few hundred bucks as a TV extra on shows they filmed overnight."
Velez added that her diet in those final months become simple and cheap — containing mostly salad, eggs, chicken and rice. She also noted how often she had to turn down friends' invitations in order to save cash.
"I said 'no' — my God, I said no — to making memories with my family and friends and prayed there would be other opportunities in the future," Velez wrote.
The 28-year-old emphasized that she never received any financial help at all during the loan repayment mission. However, she also noted how lucky she was to be in a position to accomplish her goal.
"It was more than most people can do, and I, a single, childless, able-bodied woman consider myself lucky," Velez's Facebook post read.
Velez told USA Today that she hopes her story can inspire others to tackle their loans and take control of their financial future. She added that she now wants to start saving up to make a down payment on a house in the next few years.