Michelle Schroeder-Gardner fast-tracked her college education and graduated with two degrees in two and a half years.
Still, she owed about $20,000 worth of student loan debt. After completing her Master’s in finance two years later, she racked up more debt and owed a total of $38,000.
Schroeder-Gardner, now 28, managed to pay it all off in just seven months.
The first step to getting out of debt sounds obvious, but it is often overlooked, she tells CNBC Make It: Add up the total amount that you owe.
“A lot of people don’t know the exact amount down to the dollar,” she says. “They just kind of guesstimate. Once they realize how much debt they actually have, it can be pretty shocking.”
If you’re paying off student loans, “pull up each student loan and tally everything, down to the penny,” she writes on her blog. “By doing so, you will have a much more realistic view of exactly how much you’re dealing with.”
Next, Schroeder-Gardner focused on making more money: “The biggest reason for why I was able to pay off my student loans is because I earned as much money as I could outside of my day job. I mystery shopped and got paid to take surveys, but the biggest thing I did was I made an income through my blog,” which she launched in 2011.
The extra income not only allowed her to pay off her loans but also to quit her job as a financial analyst.
Schroeder-Gardner has been blogging full-time since October 2013, when she left her day job. At the time, it was generating about $10,000 a month. Today, she regularly earns over $100,000 a month from her blog.
Whether you’re paying down debt or looking to achieve financial independence ASAP, focus on earning, the millionaire blogger advises: “While cutting your budget is great, usually there’s a limit to how much you can save. Find ways to make more, because there’s no limit on how much extra money you can make in your spare time.”
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