Single Post

How I Paid Off Over $40,000 of Debt in 14 Months!

Natalie Torres
After graduate school I had the privilege of having my diploma on my wall reminding me of what hard work looks like, however, I also had the reminder every month that this “piece of paper” comes with responsibility and the obligation to pay back student loans.
Most Latinos are brought up not to take on any debt including for your education.  This is a major factor why most Latinos don’t seek higher education or are under the illusion that someday they will go back.Well not me, I made a goal to go back as soon as I could pay a portion of my tuition and the additional cost that goes with it.
How anyone could pay off $40,000 on an income of $60,000 a year was no easy task, but here’s how I did it:

Get Ready…

  1. Set a goal
  2. Share your goal with your spouse or family members- I was getting married and decided to discuss my goals and how our wedding had to be within budget and we would need to wait a year to take our honeymoon.  I also shared my goals with my parents since I have had a good relationship and may possibly need their support.
  3. Keep a Picture of what you want to get after your debt is paid off. Make it fun for yourself. I said I wanted to enjoy my wedding/marriage and not worry about this large burden over our heads.
  4. Remember, short term pain for long term gain. The sacrifices you make during this time won’t last forever and will be totally worth it.
  5. Pick a deadline for when you want your loans to be paid off. Stick to your time frame.

Get Set…

  1. Look for cheaper living arrangements: I moved back home for a couple months to save on rent. (THANKS MOM and DAD and boyfriend at one point). Or possibly get another roommate for a couple months and crash with friends and family members. I also got a roommate that same year I was about to graduate to help pay for apartment cost.
  2. Cook and meal prep at home. No takeout Monday thru Friday and weekends if you can do it.
  3. Consider shopping at the Goodwill or consignment stores for clothes.  Stay tuned for next month’s, 30 days under $30 outfit challenge.
  4. Earn extra money by selling items like old textbooks, clothes, etc online or yard sales.
  5. Get a part-time job or a side business like babysitting or becoming a dog walker.  During my lunch break, it helped me keep my weight off and I enjoyed my walks with the cutest creatures.
  6. If you are continuing your education, apply for scholarships.
  7. Attend swap parties for new clothes and jewelry! I was introduced to the concept while living in Europe. I found some great clubs here in Los Angeles.  Check out my Instagram (@financiallysavvylatina) for local swap parties Your area.
  8. Put off big purchases like a car or expensive vacation until you reach your goal.
  9. Stay away from credit cards! One of my credit cards had a 0% interest for 2 years with a 3% transfer fee compared to my student loan of 4.99%. That sounded good but the problem was it wasn’t tax deductible benefits. It will lower your credit score, be seen as bad debt, plus there is no forgiveness or grace period in case you lose your job.


  1. Set a household budget.
  2. Track your budget on
  3. Ignore grace periods and pay off your loans immediately to avoid accruing interest.
  4. Pay off more than the minimum payment due.
  5. Pay off the loan with the highest interest rate first.
  6. Set up Auto payments- NEVER be late on a payment!
  7. Keep your contact information current- in case you move so that no bills will be misplaced.
  8. Keep a student budget even when you begin a full-time job. No shopping sprees!
  9. Use a portion of your tax returns to pay off your debt. Save the rest.
  10. Talk to your Employer. Your company, whether a corporation or non-profit, may have benefits to help pay off part of your loan.
  11. Keep repeating steps until you reach your goal.

Don’t forget…

  1. To celebrate your progress. Plan something nice for yourself each time you see your balance drop. I took long baths and pampered myself with homemade facials.
  2. These tips can apply to any type of debt you have.
Congratulations on being a graduate or smart student! We’d love to hear how you are paying down your student loans. Let us know in the comments.
P.S.- Order my guidebook “Financially Savvy in 20 Minutes” the perfect gift for the college student. When you join the EDL Society here,  you can get the E-book for 50% off valued at $10.

Author: Natalie Torres-Haddad, M.P.A

An award winning author for 2016 International Latino Book Awards for Best Business Book for her published book “Financially Savvy in 20 Minutes”.  She is a first-generation college graduate with her MPA from Cal State University Northridge and 2 undergraduate degrees from Cal State University Long Beach in Finance emphasis in Real Estate & International Business. She is a workshop Facilitator on financial literacy and Winner of International (Inspirational) Speech contest 2017 for Toastmasters Area C-5.


Leave a comment