3 drastic things a software engineer did to pay off $ 60,000 in student loans

  • When Nickolas Natali finished his studies, he owed $ 59,000 with interest rates of up to 8.5%.
  • He hated having debts, so he moved into a van and cut his expenses significantly, paying them off in a year.
  • Now Natali has his own business and a net worth of over $ 200,000, but he doesn’t regret his year in the van.
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Nickolas Natali graduated from college a year earlier, hoping to reduce the amount of student loans he owed at the end. Even with that, his software engineering degree still cost him just under $ 59,000 when he graduated.

Natali had five direct loans, and three of them were unsubsidized with interest rates ranging from 4.5% to 8.5%.

“I hated the feeling of knowing my money was being forced to go somewhere I really didn’t want it,” Natali said. He was “extremely motivated” to repay the loans quickly, he said.

He set a goal of paying it off in just one year, but his work as a software engineer for the Department of Defense paid $ 64,638 a year, barely more than his total loan balance. He therefore took drastic measures, reducing his cost of living so severely that he could devote most of his income to loan repayments. A year later, he had achieved his goal and was no longer in debt.

Thinking back on her decisions, Natali – who started investing the majority of her income after paying off her loans and now works as a wealth performance coach with a net worth of over $ 200,000 at age 25 – acknowledges that her personal methods to save as much money as it does are extremely drastic, and not something most people could or should do.

“I don’t know if I would recommend the van life for everyone,” he said. “It’s a great experience to be in a van, and you will learn a lot about yourself, but extremism? I don’t know.”

Natali no longer lives in the van. After paying off his loans, he moved into a house with several roommates, which allowed him to continue his big savings. Since February, he has his own accommodation.

But the skills he learned from saving under such extreme circumstances allowed him to continue to maximize his Roth IRA and grow his portfolio while growing his business.

Here are the three things Natali did that paid her $ 59,000 in just one year.

1. He lived in his van to keep housing costs low

After looking up the numbers over the phone with a friend who was knowledgeable about finances, Natali considered buying a van to live in and save on rent. Hearing Natali’s ideas for lowering his overhead costs, a family member offered him the van on condition that he actually lived there.

Natali rose to the challenge and invested around $ 1,400 to transform the van into a livable home. Even after the updates, it was anything but glamorous – with multiple open holes that let in hot air during the day and cold air at night.

“I remember feeling like the Instagram photos other people were posting of their vans was doing van life a disservice because I was like, Why is it so difficult ?, ” Natali said. “I mean, they had like… a shower and toilet and all that. And all the while I was peeing in a bottle and ducking under curtains held in by magnets so no one could see me and yeah , it wasn’t sexy at all. “

2. He kept track of every dollar he spent

To manage his student loan repayment in just a year, Natali knew he had to aggressively save his money, even living in the van.

He meticulously tracked all expenses, from trips to the gas station to coffee appointments, keeping necessary costs like his food bill as low as possible.

He continued to funnel between $ 4,000 and $ 6,000 of his paychecks each month into his debts, which eventually led him to pay them off in full according to his one-year goal.

3. He worked as much overtime as he could

In order to achieve her goals, Natali accumulated overtime and started working between 60 and 80 hours per week, which allowed her to gain a lot of overtime.

“It was horrible and wonderful at the same time,” said Natali, reflecting on the experience. “It was so tiring to be constantly on alert 24/7.”

Natali said he worked frequently while hungry and “short of energy”, often spending an hour or more looking for a safe place to park and sleep each night, and that he could feel the pressure to keep his professional performance high while working so hard. hours.

However, he also said he was very grateful for this period of time because it had deepened him spiritually and taught him to be “more grateful for the things I had, rather than thinking about the things. that I didn’t have yet. “


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