Harvard graduate Joe Mihalic paid off his $90,000 student loan debt in a remarkable seven months, becoming a blog celebrity after his story hit most major media outlets.
His blog, nomoreharvarddebt.com, has gone from 300 hits a day to tens of thousands.
Mihalic’s success has struck a chord with a nation beset with a stunning $1 trillion in overall student loan debt.
President Obama has made easing student loan terms an issue in his campaign. And lawmakers have been trying to reach an accord on how to prevent a doubling of rates from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on federally subsidized Stafford loans. They must take action before July 1 to extend the lower rate for another year.
Meanwhile, Mihalic’s e-mail inbox is overwhelmed with advice seekers, students in debt and congratulatory remarks from strangers.
“Over the past few days, my inbox has been flooded with hundreds of emails thanking me for being an inspiration; some folks have asked for advice on how they can do the same thing,” Mihalic, who is from Austin, Texas, wrote yesterday in his blog.
How did Mihalic accomplish the feat of paying of $90,000 in student loans? For one, he has a good job with a six-figure salary at Dell, Inc. But he also had plenty of other expenses beside his student loan debt.
“I had a mortgage on my house and two cars and a motorcycle, and I had become accustomed to spending $1,300 per month on entertainment,” Mihalic wrote in his blog. “I wouldn’t say I was living above my means, but I certainly wasn’t living below them, either.”
Mihalic applied his savings toward lowering the debt, but it “barely made a dent.”
Here are the highlights of his journey toward a zero balance in student debt – in his own words:
- During the past seven months, I haven’t gone on a single dinner date or been to the movies;
- I took a flask with me every time I went out with friends;
- I stopped contributing to my 401k;
- I didn’t go home for Christmas;
- I missed my friends’ bachelor parties and weddings;
- I got better at DIY (do-it-yourself) and figured out things like how to use duct tape to repair my car and zip-ties to repair my house;
- In the past seven months, I haven’t bought a single article of clothing or a single “must-have” gadget or gizmo. I’ve completely eschewed consumerism, and it actually felt pretty good;
- To make extra money, I rented my spare bedrooms to strangers on Craigslist, I tried pedi-cabbing, and I started a landscaping business;
- I sold my second car, my motorcycle, my roadbike, and a bunch of random junk on Craigslist. I got rid of things that I thought I could never live without, and it actually felt pretty good.