Apr 12, 2017 05:16 AM EDT
Zina Kumok, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism in Indiana University, had $24,000 in federal student loan debt after college. She was fortunate because her debt was less than the average amount for the class of 2011.
One problem, though, was that she was only making $28,000 a year after she graduated from college. She knew that, to finish paying off her debt, she needed serious dedication.
She decided to go into blogging to keep herself accountable, similar to Amanda Page, an assistant professor Mount Carmel College of Nursing. Page started a blog named Dream Beyond Debt in order to keep track of her progress as she made "monster payments" repay her student loan debt.
Kumok named her blog, Debt Free After Three, and was able to live up to it. In 2014, she was able to pay off $28,000 in student loans including interest.
In an interview with Nerdwallet, Kumok shared what she did to succeed in repaying her loans and her experiences on the journey to being debt-free. She admitted that she started by budgeting carefully.
She used apps to project her expenses and track how much she spent. She also began to consciously put money toward her loans, starting by paying an extra $10 a month and increasing the next year when she got a new job.
Moreover, she put the difference between her old salary and the income she got from her new job toward her loans. The year after, she moved in with her then-boyfriend and their friend, which helped her save an additional $350 on her monthly expenses.
She admitted that she had to "radically change" how she spent her money. While in college, she would spend it with abandon but after graduating she rarely ate out or went to bars.
One advice she gave to graduates was about refinancing. She was paying 6.8 percent interest on her loans and regretted that she did not refinance to a lower rate.
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