Cutting Down a Mountain of Student Debt: Meet a Super Saver
By Austin Kilham
- PUBLISHED October 18
- 3 MINUTE READ
When Tim Stobierski graduated from college in 2011, he had more than $50,000 in student loan debt spread across seven different loans. The job market was tough, and it took him two years to find a job that paid enough to cover both his bills and debts. During that time, he deferred his loans, and watched the balances increase.
In 2013, though, all of that changed. “Once I found a decent-paying job, I knew that I needed to start tackling those loans,” says Stobierski, now 28.
His first step was to open a dedicated savings account where he accumulated the money he would use to pay off his loans. Then he took a look at his spending to find areas where he could slash expenses. He found that he was spending a lot of money on little things like happy hour drinks with friends and ordering take out. “They seemed like small purchases at the time,” he says. “But when I multiplied that spending over a full year, these little purchases were costing thousands of dollars.”
Stobierski started redirecting the money he previously spent on these little expenses to his savings account. Every time he was tempted to buy something unnecessary, he would instead immediately transfer the money from his checking account into his savings account.
“When I started to cut that stuff, I thought I would be miserable,” he says. “But you start to enjoy the fact that you’re saving. You see your success and want to build off of it. It’s a really awesome feeling.”
To reach his goal faster, Stobierski also started taking on freelance writing gigs and putting the extra income into his savings account. “Bringing in extra money was a real saving grace. It’s astounding how much even an extra $200 a month can do in terms of helping you reach your goals.”
Stobierski decided to target one loan at a time, saving the amount needed to pay it off in one lump sum before moving on to the next loan. In the last five years, he has been able to pay off $61,500; today, he has just $3,500 of student loan debt left, and he’s also started to save money for his retirement. In fact, Stobierski feels so strongly about what he’s learned that he even started a website to help college students and other recent grads tackle their own debt.
“I’ve had a lot of success, but I also made so many mistakes along the way,” he says. “I figured I should share my experience to help other people in the same position I was in.”
Austin Kilham is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor. He writes about personal finance, retirement, business and investing.