- Kelan and Brittany Kline graduated with a combined $40,000 in student loan debt.
- By 2018, they had $25,000 left, and they decided together to focus on paying it off.
- They dramatically cut back their expenses and earned as much money as possible to pay off the debt.
- Read more stories from Personal Finance Insider.
Student debt is crippling America. The total student loan debt in the US currently hovers at a staggering $1.7 trillion, and the median amount of outstanding student debt for an individual is between $20,000 to $25,000. Which is why, sadly, it’s no surprise that people continue to pay off their debt into their 60s and beyond.
But what if you could crush your debt sooner than later? That’s what Kelan Kline and his wife, Brittany Kline, managed to do. Upon graduating from college, the couple was saddled with a combined $40,000 of student debt. While they did what they could to keep their student debt to a minimum during college, such as side hustling and tapping into financial aid, in 2018 they decided to crush their debt as soon as possible.
Here’s how they managed to knock down $25,000 of student debt in just five months.
1. They got on the same page as a couple
By 2018, the couple had just over $25,000 of the initial $40,000 in student loans left. At the time, they had grown their blog, The Savvy Couple, which started off as a side hustle, into a lucrative endeavor. Kelan had left a job he hated at the county jail to work full-time on the blog.
They sat down at the dinner table and talked about Brittany’s dream of leaving her job to work on the business. “I knew in order to make this happen we had to become debt-free and pay off the remaining $25,000 worth of debt we owed, “says Kelan. “Brittany was very against paying it off so aggressively.”
So they hashed things out. “It was a difficult conversation, but one that completely changed our lives,” says Kelan, who is 31. “We aligned our goals and dreams in life and that allowed us to start working as a team versus playing tug of war against each other. But she trusted me and the dream we created, and the wheels were set in motion.”
2. They increased their income from their side business
In 2018, the Klines’ blog, which shares tips and tricks to save money and live frugally, hit its first $10,000 in monthly income. When their side business-turned full-time endeavor hit that $10,000 mark, the Klines realized they could be more aggressive with their student loan payments and get the debt paid sooner than later.
This took a lot of hard work and time, as it was only after nine straight months of husting that the couple finally made their first $50 from their website. “We’re huge believers that if you truly want complete control over your time and money , you need to start a small business,” says Kelan. “Owning your own business is the only fast lane to financial freedom.”
3. They made debt payoff their priority
By naming debt payoff a top financial priority, the couple was able to direct every spare dollar to their goal. Some months they put $5,000 toward student debt payments, other months they made $11,000 in student debt payments. At the beginning, up to 90% of the income from their blog was going straight into paying off their student loans.
“We made becoming debt-free our No. 1 goal and solely focused on making that happen,” says Kelan. “We knew that a little temporary sacrifice was going to have an everlasting effect on our entire life.”
4. They cut back on expenses
As the Klines were dead set on being debt-free, they cut back on eating out, groceries, entertainment, and investing in order to put more money towards their goal. They cooked on the weekends with friends, cooked at home, and found the areas in their life where they were wasting money.
In turn, they were able to find $500 to $1,000 in their monthly expenses to put directly toward their student debt. “Looking back, our quality of life really didn’t change that much while we were aggressively paying off our debt,” says Kelan . “We simply got creative and found cheap or free ways to have fun.”
5. They side hustled
The Klines were quite familiar with side hustling, as they had been taking on odd jobs to make extra money since college. They sold makeup through Avon, did dropshipping on Amazon, and flipped items on eBay. In any given month this earned them an extra $100 to $200.
“Along with starting our personal finance blog and turning it into a thriving online business, side hustling really gave us the power to drastically increase our income in a very short amount of time,” says Kelan. “Owning a business gives you the power of passive income and separating yourself from always having to trade your time for money.”
For those who want to get on a fast track to student loan payoff, Kelan suggests getting on the same page as your spouse first. Figure out what you want to ultimately achieve, and chunk it down into smaller goals.
“You can’t both be going in different directions doing your own thing when it comes to your finances,” says Kelan. “Sit down, talk about what is working and what is not, get on a realistic budget you both agree on, talk about long-term goals, and start to create your dream life together.”