I was a jobless sophomore with $9,400 of debt to pay off and fast! I had a $3,400 90-day loan from the university, $6000 in credit card debt, and a bad habit of expecting my parents to manage my money. The 90-day window to repay $3,400 kicked me into high gear and I began searching for ways to find cash. Once I got energized about the loan, I also made a goal to pay off my credit card debt before fall semester started in 8 months.

Before setting the goal to pay off my debt, I rarely looked or thought about bills.  Setting an aggressive goal changed me a lot.

My lease ended soon after I set the goal, and I moved into a one-bedroom apartment with a friend who was an architecture major. In addition to being a blast to hang out with, she taught me money saving tricks that began to reform my bad habits. The living room was huge and the bedroom had just enough space for one bed and both of our clothes. She built a dividing wall in the living room to provide a private place for one of us to sleep. Then she taught me to go without cable, not to buy stuff to solve every new need or problem I had, and to make the air extremely cold during the night and let the apartment cool off during the day to decrease the air conditioning bill.  My monthly bills dropped from about $1,000 to $750.

I also took a part-time job which paid $3,000 over four months. Even with those changes, I needed more money and looked for ways to bring in large amounts of cash. I called my mom and seriously talked with her about if or how she could help. She was able to contribute $2,000.


Money-Saving Item Amount
Rent Savings $1,200
Lower Bills $   750
Part-Time Job $2,450
Mother’s Assistance $1,600
Total Saved $6,000
Total Initial Debt ($9,400)
Remaining Debt $3,400


Although my horizon was looking brighter, I still needed another large infusion of cash to finish paying off the credit card. The part-time job only lasted from May – August. After that, I’d only have $250 per month to pay down the debt and buy textbooks.  At that rate, it would have taken me 2 years and cost almost $812 in interest to pay off the card.

I weighed my options and decided to apply for an unsubsidized student loan. Instead of the whopping the 22% monthly compound interest rate on the credit card, the loan had a significantly lower 5.8% interest. I paid the loan during the first 6 months after graduation, which cost me only $58 in interest.The loan saved me $754 in interest payments!

In those 8-short months, I went from being completely clueless about my finances to implementing innovative techniques to save money and decrease interest payments.

Your turn:

Do you have a lot of debt to pay? How about setting an aggressive short-term goal to get you energized? If that doesn’t work, what will motivate you?

Think outside the box for ways to bring in or save $200 or more in a month or two.

A few ideas:

  • How about changing apartments or postponing a large purchase?
  • Or you could find something you spend a lot of money on–such as cable, concerts, vacation, eating out, or shopping–and cut out one item for long enough to reach your goal. During that time, you’ll grow in your ability to do without. You’ll get stronger like I did. Once you hit your goal, you can add the item back into your budget.

What other ideas do you have for quickly saving money?


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