Home > Managing Debt > How I Paid Off $117K In Student Loans

Comments 1 Comment

When Richard Kline graduated from law school in 2003, he had $117,000 in debt and jobs in the legal field were scarce so he took a job as a mortgage loan officer. Despite his hard work and a housing market that was just starting to boom, he was barely making a dent in his balances.

Within a few years, though, he was debt-free, in large part because he was willing to take a step back in order to move forward. Here’s how he did it.

The first year after graduation, Kline deferred his payments on his loans, but since interest continued to capitalize, he quickly grew frustrated by the fact that his balances were growing larger. His next step was to make minimum payments (about $450 a month) and pay extra when he could.

But living and working in an expensive city – New York – meant a big chunk of his income was going toward rent. The fact that he was getting paid largely on commission didn’t help. No loans closed meant no commission check.

That’s when he decided to get serious about paying off his debt. He wrote in an email:

“I didn’t want to be a debt slave my entire life. I saw the hand writing on the wall and it was kinda scary to have this debt hanging around my neck for the next 30 years. I felt like I was running to stay in place. It made no sense to me to be in this situation.”

So he asked his parents if he could move back in with them, a step that wasn’t as common as it is today – especially for a law school grad. “Just a few years ago everyone was snickering at people that moved in with mommy and daddy,” he said.

With no rent payment, though, he was able to put a large chunk of his income toward his debt. He also tried dabbling in the stock market, but it turned out to be a expensive mistake. He said he “lost about $5,000 on silly junk stocks. Never again.”

His strategy paid off and within six and a half years he had paid off his loans completely. He’s also now working in his chosen field as circulation manager and partner of LegalAdvice.com, a website that connects clients looking for legal advice on the Internet with a licensed legal professional.

His advice to other grads with lots of student loan debt? Don’t dismiss the option of living with family if it helps you free up funds to pay off your loans as fast as possible. “I think it is wise to move into your own apartment and get married and buy a home, only after student loan obligations are paid off,” he said.

His only regret is that he waited a few years to return home. “I could have paid off the loans much faster if I had moved back in with my parents even sooner, but I was brainwashed by society that says there is a social stigma for moving back in with mom and dad.”

Are you struggling with student loan debt? Here’s a guide to paying off student loans. And if you’re wondering how your student loans are affecting your credit, you can use free tools from Credit.com to monitor your credit scores and get an analysis of your credit history.

More on Student Loans:

Image: Hemera | Inset image courtesy of Richard Kline

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

  • Certified Hamster Midwife

    Wouldn’t this require having parents who live in the New York metro area? Nice arrangement if you can get it.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team