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Proud Moments: Conquering My Student Loans

Students Loans

Conquering Student Loans

Thank you Navient for sponsoring this post.

Thinking back now, I never thought I would be out of debt. I was barely a quarter century old and I owed north of a six-digit number. It was pretty intimidating.

Before I knew it, my life entailed working as much possible to pay off these loans, not saving for the future, and if I’m being honest, I could barely afford ramen noodles. There was no way I could keep up with the Joneses, let alone even have NYC subway tokens I needed to work for them.

This doesn’t quite sound like the American dream, but little did I know some of my greatest life lessons would be learned by the small sacrifices I had to make the first few years out of college when I decided to pay down my student loans as fast as I could.

2017 Kia Niro Touring Edition Road Trip

It’s never too soon to visit colleges and universities across the country. On our summer road trip through Tennessee, Kiddo and I stopped by Vanderbilt University. I’ll be honest, I love Nashville, so I’m all about planting that seed! My husband and I plan to help however we can with her student loans and encourage her to continue to excel at swimming with hopes she earns financial assistance through scholarships to keep the costs down.

Money. Money. Money.

Since I was dedicated to paying off these loans, everything began to quickly revolve around money. The more I would put towards the balance, the more I craved financial freedom and I was determined to finish this race a winner.

Discouraged by how much it was costing me to live the “big city life,” on a whim, I packed my life up, and bid the east coast farewell for good. I took a chance and moved to California with $800, no job, no car, owner of student loans, and two duffel bags hoping to figure SOMETHING out. What? Who knows, but I was convinced taking this chance would reveal in time what I needed to do.

I just didn’t expect it so quickly! I began working at a marketing company handling promotions for the biggest names in entertainment. Suddenly, everything I had studied those 4-years had come into play, and I clearly began to see the return on investment when every two weeks I was able to erase a few more zeros from my lingering student loan balance.

Be The Change You Want To See

But I needed to somehow earn more money, I was on a mission and not about to quit now.  Adding more jobs to my already packed work schedule was not a viable option. I was already maintaining a strict budget, but I knew there had to be a way to get a chunk of the debt down even more. What was the missing puzzle piece?

Student Loans

I was so happy to see Kiddo take such a sincere interest in exploring the campuses. I truly hope no matter what her destiny is, that she will try college for 4-years. There’s so much to learn, and such a great experience.

 
Again, I did what I did best, took another big chance. I came up with this crazy idea and within hours, I opened a one-woman promotional merchandise company earning business from the biggest record label in the world. I knew I was a guppy swimming amongst the sharks, but if I could even win some of their smaller bids for merchandise, it would double and almost triple what I was already earning making the finish line actually visible!

Going on my own not only gave me the financial means to finally “start my life,” but encouraged me to use what I learned in college to become an entrepreneur, create my own companies, and eventually launch The JetSet Family which I am so incredibly proud of. I was utilizing the skills I learned in college and seeing the results unfold in real time. I was officially on the course to financial freedom.

I learned that sometimes you need to look outside of the box for a whole new normal. I also learned through this process that life was only as tough as you let it be.

He said. “I love her, but…”

During this time I also met my future husband. He was and had always lived a debt free life. He paid his credit card bills in full every month, his car was paid for way before the three years were up, and even though we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, there was no way he was going to marry my debt. Even though he knew it would happen, and had the ring picked out and ready to go, he had zero plans to pop the question until my school loans were a thing of the past.

This made me want to hustle even more. He was and still is my biggest cheerleader. I learned not to depend on someone else for money and how to earn, budget, and manage my own. Who knew student loans would teach me life skills as well? I sure didn’t, but they did.

So now all of my dreams were coming true. My debt was almost non-existent, I had a flourishing career, and I met, “the one.”

So was it all worth it?

I’d say so. Without any help, I had to figure out a way to finance my college education, and I was determined to defy the odds. It gave me the freedom (and safety net I so desperately wanted) to explore different options and learn at an early age that my goals could and would one day be a reality.

Trust me, it was filled with years of trials and tribulations, stupid mistakes, and learning experiences, but I can look back with pride that not only did I pay off my student loans, but that it resulted in a really great life, including a pretty fantastic husband and an amazing daughter.

I believe in Nashville, TN

Such a cool city and I think it’s calling her name. We swung by the VU bookstore to grab her a little swag and I have to say, I became a little misty eyed when I realized I only have 8 short summers left until I drop Baby Girl off at college wherever it might be.

I Did It!

Obtaining a higher education isn’t and shouldn’t be considered taking a chance, but an insurance policy for the future. That with a little (…OK, a lot of) hard work, dedication, and tenacity you can not only pay off that debt, but reach the life goals you always dreamed of having. If I didn’t take a chance or shied away from signing on that dotted line, I wouldn’t be married to the greatest guy, and have the best daughter, with a thriving business. I love my life and in a very Nicole Standley sort of way, have student loans to thank for that.

But let’s be very clear, everything wasn’t always peachy keen. Life is a rollercoaster, so you need to strap in, buckle up, and enjoy the ride. Don’t give up, mistakes in life are a given and just mean you are trying your best, so don’t avoid them, deal with them head on, and stop searching for normalcy. It doesn’t exist. Strive for contentment.

Oh, and no matter how many zeros are on that student loan statement…you’ll survive. I promise.

 

How Did You Handle Student Loans?

We would love to know more about your experience. By sharing your tips, experiences, and memories, in our comment section below you help fellow members in The JetSet Family community decide the best fit for them and their families. Let us know your thoughts, or if you have any questions about student loan repayment.

Thank you again to Navient for sponsoring this post.  All content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

 

Written by Nicole Standley

Nicole Standley

Founder + Creative Officer, Nicole Standley, shares her favorite trends in travel, food + wine, fashion, health, and fun on The JetSet Family and is a long time travel + lifestyle contributor for CBS Los Angeles, Huffington Post, and Hilton Hotels. She is a brand ambassador for Netflix and O, The Oprah Magazine, and has been named Top Family Travel Blogger by Trip Advisor and Red Tricycle. Follow her on Instagram at: nicoleDstandley

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