Save as much money as possible
There is no easy solution for paying off debt, according to Lockert, who has learned from experience. Shortly after gradating from New York University in 2011, she moved to Portland, Oregon, where the cost of living was significantly less than New York City, but where she struggled to find work.
Lockert eventually landed a job at a non-profit that netted her $31,000 a year. She started doing side hustles, she recalls, often working seven days a week.
“I pretty much cut back every single way I could,” says Lockert. “I didn’t have health insurance, I didn’t have a car, no pets. I walked and biked everywhere and took every gig I could take. And after cutting back pretty much all the expenses I could, I hit a plateau and realized I can’t cut back anymore, and so I started side hustling as much as I could and earning more money.”
The millennial found side gigs on Craigslist and TaskRabbit, and made extra money pet sitting.
“Every time I got paid from a side hustle I put that money towards my debt. That helped lower the interest,” she says.
Lockert eventually launched her own freelance writing business, which doubled her income. At the time, her studio in Portland, which she shared which her then boyfriend, cost her just $400 a month. The extra money coupled with a low cost of living allowed her to pay off her high interest debt in under five years.
“Once I got rid of those 7.9 interest loans, I just felt so great,” Lockert recalls.
When she was finished paying off her high-interest student loans, she could focus on paying off her next highest interest debts, she says.
“Then, towards the end of it, I was just down to my undergrad loans of 2.3 percent, and just focused on that,” she says. “And obviously those payments went a lot further at that point because the interest was so low, and then I could make more principal headway on the payments.”