PODCAST: How this CPA paid off her student debt in 2 years

Posted on Monday, January 27, 2020 by Nicole Fracasso

Almost 70% of college graduates leave school with an overwhelming amount of student loan debt, according to a 2019 CNBC article. With the average debt balance being $29,800, a lot of people think they’re going to die in debt. But committing to a plan to pay it off can help, said A’Shira Nelson, CPA, on a recent episode of The State of Business.

In March of 2017, Nelson set a goal to pay off all $24,000 of her student loan debt in two years after having lunch with a colleague. The colleague mentioned his girlfriend was “aggressively paying off her student loans,” which caused Nelson to consider “what does ‘aggressively paying off student loans’ mean to me?”

“It became important to me because I realized if she could do it, I definitely could. What was stopping me?” she said.

Shortly afterwards, Nelson put together a plan to limit subscriptions, specifically streaming channels and cancel any add on packages she rarely used. By doing so, she discovered that creating a budget was the push she needed. Nelson also managed to recalculate her auto loan payment by switching companies, allowing her to pay significantly less on her car payment. All of these tweaks gave her more money to pay off her student debt.

Nelson says she wasn’t as open about her goals with her friends and family in the beginning because of fear.

“I genuinely didn’t know I had that in me to do,” she said.

To stay motivated, she began following people on social media with common goals. This is known as the “debt free community.” Nelson goes by “Savvygirlmoney,” online and says this community consists of a lot of millennials and recent graduates because their student debt situation is similar.

Nelson, who works as a tax manager at Apple Growth Partners also says being a CPA significantly helped her pay off her debt.

“I’m surrounded by successful partners in this industry and successful clients,” she said. “They inspire me to want to do more and learn more.”

Now that she has met her goal of paying off student debt, her focus has turned to paying off her auto loan, the last loan standing between her and financial freedom.

Nelson’s advice for those tackling their debt is to start by committing it to paper.

“The best advice I have is to start by writing down a plan,” she said. “Remember that your plan is unique to your life and write it down.”

If you’re thinking of embarking on your own debt free journey, it might be time to consider “What does aggressively paying off student loans” mean to you?

In the meantime, check out the podcast in full for more advice from Nelson.

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