Maeghan Donohue
Stephanie Schroeder graduated from law school with $80,000 in student loan debt 15 years ago. Underemployed ever since, her debt has grown to more than $125,000.

It was only a year after graduation that Kristin Wong paid off her $12,000 in student debt. Wong said she was determined to get the burden taken care of as fast as possible, even though her projected payoff period was 20 years.

“Paying off student loan debt early isn’t for everyone,” Wong wrote in her article for Get Rich Slowly. “But I had a private loan that I shouldn’t have taken out in the first place. It carried a variable 8 percent interest rate, and at the time, I had no desire to try to out-earn my student loan interest by investing. Most importantly, I just wanted this debt out of my life."

When Wong got a real job with benefits after graduation, she didn’t inflate her lifestyle. She could have traveled, worn nicer clothes or eaten fancier meals, but she budgeted her entertainment allowance and didn’t go over it.

Her trick, she said, was having the motivation to get rid of the debt, so she was willing to forgo things she wanted to do.

“I didn’t want to sacrifice a little for 10 years or even five years. I wanted to sacrifice a lot for one year,” Wong said.

Eventually, to pay off the last $6,000, Wong moved back in with her parents — something she hadn't wanted to do because of the strict midnight curfew they gave her.

She also talked to her lender on the phone often and paid large portions on the principle amount instead of the interest. She even calculated the new amounts monthly to make sure it was correct. If the lender was wrong, Wong would call.

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