Once I moved back to Ontario and worked through some months of unemployment, under employment, and finally settled in my current employer, I was in a position to attack my debt in full force.
A faithful follower of Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s teachings for a number of years, I was thrilled prepared to take the steps needed to eliminate my debt. With about $22,000 still outstanding in June 2011, it was still a substantial undertaking. I was worried about debt fatigue, with a number of high performance debt months/years behind me.
How would I continue on this track and eliminate my debt in the 3 years and 3 months before I would turn 30? It would take about $600/month, but my recent underemployment and the 4 months of unemployment before meant my average payment for the previous 12 months was $156. A big difference!
I made a few major decisions while returning to my hometown which helped me up my ability to make major payments.
Renting well below my ability
At the time, I was just out of my childhood home after some months of unemployment, a shudder to be one of the boomerang millennials much maligned in the media, but I was for 4 months. While underemployed I found an apartment* for $650. Coming from Vancouver months earlier, this was akin to rent Christmas! Apartments for everyone!
Now, I did choose to live alone after 7 apartments and 7 different roommates in 7 years. I was 26 and wanted to live alone for the first time. It provide much more in personal peace than the $200-$300 I would have saved living in the abundance of student housing in my city, and was a quality of life choice I made and haven’t regretted it.
I could have easily spent up to 1200 with my new paycheque for a nicer, larger place, but made the choice to find something clean, but just acceptable in terms of location (sketchy), and size (tiny).
Choosing a stable employer in my field of choice
My parents were civil servants. My whole life I expected to get a similar type of job and enjoy the pension, benefits, and stability it has. I had been employed in Vancouver at a similar workplace, and was able to finally land a secure, permanent job in my hometown after a year of looking and suffering though 6 months in a toxic workplace under-using my skills.
I knew in beginning this new position i could stay not only in my role, but with that company in the long term. I may be a unicorn for people my age, but I’ve always know I would likely never be an entrepreneur and would enjoy working for one company for the great majority of my career.
By taking this entry-level job, building on my existing experience, i set myself up for the type of job I wanted my whole life.
I could count on my paycheque and make large chunk payments each month knowing we wouldn’t go out of business.
Choosing to not use a car
I spent most of my pre-teen years begging my older sister to give me rides places. My city is mid-sized, but our house was near the city limits and a 30 minute walk to the nearest bus stop… for a but that ran every hour (every 2 hours on Sundays!) Not having a car as a teen was unimaginable.
With 3 kids of driving age at home and one car for the whole family, we were given a used car to share in my late high school years. Ahhhh.. freedom! Finally my own car (to share.)
Cut to Vancouver/university years and 7 years of heavy transit use. If you live, study and work in Vancouver, there’s no need to have a car as a 20-something single person. I did without for years.
When i moved back to my hometown in the summer of 2010, i decided to take a chance on transit and see how well it worked out. My cheap and sketchy apartment was in downtown, so very near the bus terminal and with my new employer along several major bus routes, I imagined I could do without for at least a year. 5 years later I’m still car-less!
These major choices gave me the stability, and low basic expenses to make payments as large as $1500/month to pay down my loans.
It took all 39 months to pay the debt off, allowing for last minute trips to Europe twice and a couple emergencies, but in Fall 2014 I was able to pay off my final student loan debt the day before I turned 30.