Stories From Our Readers: How Nick used side hustles to dig himself out of debt

“After graduating college in 2014, I took out a $7,500 loan to get a new car. I already had about $23,000 in student loan debt. So, post-graduation, I was looking at a total debt load of roughly $30,000.

My first full-time job out of college paid a bit over $30,000 annually. So, I picked up a part-time pizza delivery side hustle for about a year until I found a new job in a new town. My new job came with great benefits and a nice pay increase, but my rent was considerably higher than what I’d been paying before. So, I picked up more side hustles.

I did some freelance radio play-by-play work, drove an Uber, jumped into Airbnb for the extra bedroom in my apartment, did some churning with bank accounts and credit cards, and a few other odds and ends.

In the three years after graduation, my income from side hustles alone matched my debt load of roughly $30,000. I paid off my car in 2016 and eliminated my student loans a week before I turned 25, in 2017. I’m currently debt free and am now funneling my side hustle income into my retirement accounts, other investments, and a down payment for a house.

I’m proud that I was able to dig myself out of debt with a $30,000 to $50,000 income. It wasn’t easy hitting the ground running, right out of college. But I can say that frugality and side hustles definitely played huge roles.”

-Nick
Ames, IA

The takeaways

  • It’s easy to think that we need to earn a particular income or reach a certain financial comfort level before we start tackling debt. That’s not true. There’s no feeling that will wash over you, confirming that you’re ready to be debt free. It’s a decision you have to make. And whenever you make it, it will take work and sacrifice to reach your goal. Here’s some strategy advice on what order you should pay off debt.
  • Financial independence means we have options for how we can spend our money. But we can sometimes overlook the fact that we have options for reaching financial independence, too. Your income doesn’t have to flow via one stream. If you have multiple skills, multiple interests, and can manage your schedule, picking up a side hustle or two can be good. Check out this piece on how multiple income streams can work for you.

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Personal finance can be difficult to navigate, and everyone’s story is different. This series is about sharing experiences of people just like you — the good and the bad — to empower the TSD community. Through your stories, voices will be heard, lessons will be learned, and wins will be celebrated!

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