Lesson #3: Pay Down Debt

Easier said than done, no?

When I graduated college, I was roughly $20,000 in debt because of three student loans, and, with a bachelor’s degree in English and theatre arts, not a huge prospect for paying that quickly. But when I got a real job, I made it a point to put extra money toward the smaller loans as often as possible, especially Christmas or birthday cash gifts or income I earned from picking up extra shifts — anything beyond my normal budget. I paid off two loans of the three quickly, only to take on additional car debt. But with the same game plan, I paid my car off 10 months in advance. (I actually was annoyed when the loan company sent me my title early because I knew I still owed them $6!)

Get a Financial Life by Beth Kobliner helped me understand how money works, especially for loans, credit cards, and mortgages. While I’m not debt free (one last lingering student loan and a mortgage), that book taught me why it’s important to throw extra money at each principle and in what order to pay down debt. I have a better sense of credit scores and why you shouldn’t carry a balance on a card. I’m not getting paid to endorse the book, but that doesn’t hinder me for extolling and recommending it to anyone and everyone with cash questions.

I know it’s not easy to talk about money (and this is my second day doing so!), but I honestly think that being comfortable with it aids in life happiness. If you can’t discuss one of the biggest factors that dictates your existence, then how can you make educated decisions about how to live day-to-day, let alone into the future?

So study up, friends, look at your budget and throw a few extra dollars whenever you can at that credit card balance or lingering loan. 

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