Welcome to the first of my Debt Free Community series interviews, aside from my own interview which you can read here. This week I am featuring the lovely Diana from Diana on a Dime. I hope you enjoy this series as much as I do!
Q: Diana, tell me a bit about yourself
I’m from New Jersey in the USA. I have lived here my entire life besides the 5 years I was completing my undergrad and graduate studies in Syracuse, New York. I have a twin sister and I currently live with my parents while I pay off my debt ASAP! For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a teacher, and now I get to finally pursue my dreams teaching 5th grade. However, it took a lot of education (and student loans) to get here.
Q: What is your current financial situation?
Currently, I am a teacher working multiple side hustles to increase my income while I work to pay off a little over $200,000 in student loan debt. I have very minimal expenses because my parents have allowed me to move back home rent free as long as I am putting extra money towards my debt. My goal is to have them paid off in about three years.
Q: Where did you start with your debt free journey and where are you today?
I started in November 2015 with $201, 096.74 and I am currently down to $105,915.76. I can’t wait to hit 50% paid off!
Q: What was your turning point or your reason for paying off debt?
My turning point was when I started looking for jobs during grad school and quickly realised my paycheck from being a teacher wouldn’t be able to afford my loan payments and moving out on my own. I realised that I would be carrying this burden for 20 years if I didn’t commit to paying my loans off. Yes, I am making a lot of sacrifices now, but I will save so much money in the long run this way and get rid of the burden so much faster.
Q: What did you do to help pay debt?
I’ve done a lot over the years to help pay off my debt. When I first got interested in personal finance I read as many personal finance blogs that I could find. I quickly found out about Dave Ramsey and have used his baby steps loosely to create a plan for myself. I immediately created a budget, which helped a lot in realising just how much money I was spending. It’s hard to tell until you actually have it in one spot, I use Mint for mine. Then, I found side hustles in grad school, for me that was babysitting whenever possible. Now that is a ton of tutoring in many different capacities and occasionally babysitting. Also, I made the tough decision of moving back to my home town and finding a job 20 minutes from my parents to really pay off debt fast.
Q: Have you had any particular setbacks during this journey? If so, What did you do to overcome these?
I have the most horrific car, just constant issues that cost me money. I very quickly realised that the whole $1,000 emergency fund wouldn’t work for me because in New Jersey a simple repair on a car could easily cost you that much. When I found out about sinking funds, they were life changing. Now I have one for my car, medical, and the summer since I’m a teacher (Of course I do work side jobs in the summer, but it’s no where near my salary, so I save every month for my summer bills to make it a bit easier).
Q: Where do you see your financial situation in 5 years time?
In 5 years I see myself having my loans paid off, moved out on my own, saving for retirement and definitely saving for a house. I’m super excited for the future and it definitely motivates me to stay focused thinking about my future goals.
Q: What advice would you give a beginner on their debt free journey?
The beginning is always the hardest. I remember feeling every single emotion out there when I added up all my debt, realised my income, and the long road ahead. Just stick with it because it seems hard in the beginning, but it is so worth it to live a life of financial freedom. I’ve managed to pay off four student loans and I’m already saving thousands in interest a year because of that.
Q: Do you have anything else to add?
Make sure your debt free journey and your journey to financial freedom is personal, it’s called personal finance for a reason. Of course, take the advice of the experts in the field, but you need to make sure you are making decisions that are best for you and for your family. Also, don’t beat yourself up if you slip up and lose sight of your goals, it’s a tough road to be on, but there are others on this journey and that’s where you can find a lot of motivation and inspiration.
Q: Where can we find you?
You can find me on the social links below:
If you’d like to be featured in the next post let me know! Comment below or send me a message on my contact page.