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How This Lady Paid Off $26Ok in Debt in Below three Years on a Single Revenue

A young woman poses for a photo during winter in Lawrence, Kansas.


As a result of Kayla Higginbotham’s debt totaled $45,000 and she or he didn’t make way more than that yearly, she knew she may solely begin small. “I’ll be decided,” she instructed herself. “Even when it simply means $10 extra a month, you understand? No matter I can afford.” Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

Kayla Higginbotham was chatting with a good friend round Christmas of 2015 about how she made the minimal cost of about $300 on her pupil loans each month, but by no means appeared to make headway on the principal.

Her good friend, a math instructor, calculated how a lot curiosity she’d pay in complete if she continued to pay that minimal. Then he confirmed her what it will be if she paid an additional $100 or $200 per thirty days.

Higginbotham realized if she continued to make minimal funds, she’d pay extra in curiosity by the point she paid off her mortgage than what she initially took out for her diploma.

“I’m only a tremendous visible particular person,” Higginbotham stated. “So seeing these numbers on paper simply gave me an excellent clear understanding of the place my cash was going.”

Higginbotham’s debt totaled $45,000 — $38,000 in pupil loans and $6,000 on her automobile. As a result of she didn’t make way more than $45,000 yearly, she knew she may solely begin small.

“I’m going to be decided,” she instructed herself. “Even when it simply means $10 extra a month, you understand? No matter I can afford.”

The First Steps She Took to Pay Down Debt

Higginbotham works the management room on the College of Kansas on Dec. 14, 2018. Higginbotham was residing in Tampa, Fla. when the College of Kansas supplied her a job as manufacturing supervisor for athletics. She knew the transfer would enable her to make and save extra money. “Within the Kansas Metropolis metropolitan space, I had a very large community for side-hustle jobs,” she stated. Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

On the time, Higginbotham led video manufacturing for College of South Florida Athletics in Tampa, Florida. She was residing by herself in an condo together with her canine, Brooke.

A number of months later in March 2016, Higginbotham received a job supply to be the manufacturing supervisor for athletics on the College of Kansas, her alma mater.

She liked Tampa, however the price of residing and her lengthy commute had her residing paycheck to paycheck.

Whereas the place didn’t supply a giant pay elevate, she accepted it as a result of she knew transferring would enable her to make and save extra money.

“I used to be getting a robust community in Tampa, however I wasn’t fairly there,” she stated. “In [the] Kansas Metropolis metropolitan space, I had a very large community for side-hustle jobs.”

Higginbotham was ultimately capable of name on associates and colleagues. She supplied her video manufacturing companies for occasions and weddings. Now, she makes about $6,000 per yr only for her aspect hustling.

However earlier than she may drum up video enterprise on her personal, Higginbotham spent a summer time working at an escape room to place extra money towards her loans.

She additionally discovered methods to economize.

Higginbotham spent 4 months residing at residence together with her mother and father till reasonably priced leases for the educational yr opened in August 2016. The transfer allowed her to repay her automobile mortgage. She additionally didn’t exit to lunch together with her co-workers.

“Each time we exit for lunch, I’m spending about 10 bucks,” she stated. “So [if] you’re speaking each day of the week, 50 bucks every week, $200 a month. Which is fairly unbelievable to suppose that you would spend $200 a month on lunches.”

As soon as she received an condo close to the college, she saved on transportation prices. To save lots of on hire, she had a roommate for 2 years.  

The small issues added up. In October 2018, she hit the milestone of paying $20,000 towards her pupil loans, with $18,800 left to go.

Her Aim: Be Debt-Free by March 2020

Higginbotham walks throughout the College of Kansas campus on Dec. 14, 2018. She managed to pay down $26,000 of her debt in two years. “I made a dedication and it’s exhausting, nevertheless it’s not going to be without end,” stated Higginbotham, who hopes to be debt free by 2020. Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

Higginbotham has needed to push again in opposition to well-meaning associates — and even her personal impulses — who suppose she can buy a house.

It’s a objective she has for the longer term, however she needs the liberty of not being tied to monetary obligations much more than she needs a home.

“I really feel I’m keen to sacrifice now, realizing what’s ready for me on the opposite aspect of this,” she stated.

Higginbotham plans to be debt-free earlier than her 31st birthday in March 2020.

It’s a sluggish street that she admits continues to be troublesome.

“While you first begin this journey, it’s actually thrilling,” she stated. “And also you suppose it’ll be thrilling the entire time, which simply frankly isn’t the case.”

However she nonetheless celebrates each win and milestone, whether or not by means of a textual content to a good friend or having beers at a bar.

“I blow my finances extra instances than I’m pleased with, and I haven’t been good,” she stated. “This has been a messy course of with a number of failures, however I haven’t let that cease me.”

Jen Smith is a workers author at The Penny Hoarder. She provides money-saving and debt-payoff tips about Instagram at @savingwithspunk.

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