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Emily’s list: Debt payoff inspiration edition

Emily Crone

It’s no secret that I’m terrified of my husband’s law school loans and what will happen when he graduates in May. But after reading the story of Brian McBride, I feel a little better. This young man took very extreme measures, but he managed to pay off $26,500 in less than two years.

I learned about his story this week from an article he wrote for CNN Money. After graduating college, he had school debt and a car loan, but landed a journalism job that paid only $13 an hour. He sometimes went as extreme as skipping meals and eating a protein bar or drinking an Ensure shake instead, but he did manage to pay off his auto loan in six months.

Debt pay-off inspiration

McBride soon scored a job with CNN in Atlanta that paid $25 an hour, but he still had thousands of dollars of debt. He upped his game and made major lifestyle choices to accelerate his debt reduction, including:

  • Ditching cable TV and switching to Netflix streaming.
  • Taking advantage of employee discounts (he used one for his phone bill).
  • Living close to his job to reduce gas usage.
  • Cooking meats past the expiration time (and he did get sick a few times).
  • Obsessively seeking price cuts at grocery stores.
  • Leaving the heater off in the winter and the air conditioning off in the summer whenever possible.

He said it’s been over a month now and being debt-free feels amazing. “Now that I’m not tied down to any debt, I have the freedom to make decisions I couldn’t before,” he wrote. “I can make a purchase without worrying about overdrawing my bank account or falling behind on my bills.”

I feel like I need to brace myself for May, when the clock starts ticking on the loans and I need to really commit to some lifestyle changes for us. It won’t be easy, although I know it will be worth it to shed the debt as early as possible. As McBride wrote, “Even though I’m pretty much back to where I started when I first arrived in Atlanta — with just about a couple thousand dollars to my name — I still feel like I hit the jackpot.” Have you had success with paying off debt? Check out my roundup of my 10 favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week, many of which address this very topic.

1. Young Cheap Living discusses why converting to a more minimalist life has improved her finances, home and happiness.

2. The Money Principle reveals what goes into conquering your debt and asks the questions you need to answer before you move forward.

3. My Broken Coins confesses to poor spending habits and commits to a more frugal lifestyle in 2013.

4. Work Save Live explains how to wisely handle medical debt, an increasingly common problem.

5. Making Sense of Cents reminds us why it’s a bad idea to try to keep up with the Joneses and encourages us to take a step back before making a major purchase.

6. Frugal Rules discusses why he doesn’t believe in New Year’s resolutions and prefers to set goals instead.

7. Free Money Wisdom provides insight on how your fitness level affects your finances.

8. PT Money shares one basic and powerful strategy for shedding your debt once and for all.

9. Club Thrifty reveals all of the goodies he scored from smart use of rewards credit cards in 2012.

10. Smart on Money helps readers understand the real cost of identity theft and what to do if you’re a victim.

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