Living A Better Life Interview – Krystel All She Saves
In our brand new interview series, we are interviewing various individuals from across the web. This interview series focuses on how they are living a better life. They can be living a better life by pursuing financial independence, minimalism, simplicity, and many more aspects. Are you interested in being interviewed? Continue reading!
Want to be interviewed?
If you want to be interviewed about how you are living a better life. Contact us at [email protected] and tell us why you’d be a great candidate!
Give us your best elevator speech!
I’m Krystel and I’m on a journey to pay off over $50,000 in student loan debt in the next four years (or less!) I am a young professional living and working in Saint Paul, Minnesota. In 2011, I graduated with my undergraduate degree with over $77,000 in student loan debt.
From 2011 until 2016, I would pay the minimum monthly student loan payment each month without giving much thought to it. That’s what everyone else does, right? My friends and I would joke about the old age we would be by the time we finished off paying off our loans – over Starbucks and dinner with cocktails, of course.
In January of 2017, it finally hit me – living with debt should not be normal. Living with debt holds us back from living the life we should have. I constantly said to myself “Think about everything I could be doing if I didn’t have to pay off my student loans each month!”
I didn’t think there was any other option than paying off my loans for the next 10 or 20 years of my life. Until I realized that it was doable. If I tried really hard, I could pay off all of my loans, be debt free, and have that extra money to do whatever I want – like finally travel the world as I’ve always dreamed of doing.
I pledged to myself that I would set a goal of paying off over $50,000 of student loan debt within the next four years – or less.
How are you living a better life than you were last year? 5 years ago? 10?
My life is so much better than last year, or even 5-10 years ago because I am financially aware. I am no longer living from paycheck to paycheck or nervous to look at my bank account in fear of overdraft charges or how little money there would be to my name.
Now, I am constantly aware of how much money I have and am conscious of where each dollar I make is going. Each dollar has a specific job – whether that’s to pay a bill or go into my “splurge” category (my favorite, of course!)
Getting a hold of your finances is scary, at first – trust me, I’ve been there. But once you face your fears and take control of your money, it is the most liberating and freeing feeling. You are no longer living to make a paycheck, rather, you are living to work towards your future goals – maybe that’s planning for a future wedding or kids, traveling the world, or being able to support your parents.
Because I am hyper-aware of my financial situation, I know the exact month I’ll be debt free. I am no longer living in a limbo of “paying off my student loans in 10 or 20 years”. I know when I’ll be free, and that is 100% worth living for.
What would you tell your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to immerse myself in personal finance, the earlier the better. I’ve always had limiting beliefs around finance – whether that be that “I’m not good at math” or “I’m always going to be living paycheck to paycheck” and thought that anything that had to do with my financial life was scary or intimidating.
I would tell my younger self that I can be control of my financial life if I want to, and in reality, it’s really not that hard. I just need to believe in myself and have confidence that I am making the right choices, and just because I was never taught financial lessons, it doesn’t mean I can’t change that on my own.
Lastly, I would tell my younger self to stop thinking about what other people think of me, as hard as that may be. When I was younger, I spent a majority of my time making decisions on how others would view me or what seemed like the “cool” thing to do.
In my early 20’s, this showed up again, but instead, I constantly tried to keep up with the social standards – and social media sites like Instagram made that even harder. I always wanted the newest clothes that the influencers were wearing and the number of likes I received defined me.
When you decide to turn that off, you only do things if it makes you happy or serves a purpose in your life. The actions I choose each day now bring positivity to my life because I chose them intentionally, not because I’m doing it for others. Life is much simpler this way 😊
What made you want to change the way you were living?
At the beginning of 2015, I found myself with $15,000 in credit card debt that I had slowly but surely built up over the past 4 years prior. I felt like I had no way out, and no matter how hard I tried to throw extra money I had at my consumer debt, the hole just seemed to get deeper and deeper.
On top of the $15,000 in credit card debt I had, I still had $50,000+ in student loan debt that I didn’t even think twice about (since I figured I would be paying it off for the next 20 years of my life!)
Tom, my current partner and I were just starting to have serious conversations about our future together around the same time and he questioned me about my current financial status, which I had hidden from him.
I finally fessed up to the mess I was in and he was in complete shock. To this day, I can still picture the look on his face. The student loans were one thing, but $15,000 in credit card debt alone?
Seeing his disbelief was the wakeup call I needed to show me that I needed to get my act together, otherwise I would just fall deeper into financial ruin.
I was able to pay off that $15,000 in 11 months, something I never thought was possible. After paying off that debt I needed a new goal: paying off my student loans – that is where I am today!
Does financial independence play a role? If so, how?
Absolutely! But to be honest, I had never even heard of the term financial independence before a few years ago. Now, financial independence plays a huge role in my life. I think about it every day because it is ultimately my end goal.
Financial independence in my life means having a choice to do whatever I want with my life. It means not having to work a 40-hour work week if I don’t want to because I don’t have to worry about the money keeping my life afloat.
It means spending as much time with my family and friends as I want to, being present at events during the work week, and working on projects that my mind, body, and soul cares about.
I care so much about my finances because the steps I am taking now is what is moving me forward towards financial independence.
What advice do you have for others in living a better life?
Eliminate anything in your life that does not bring you happiness.
As I mentioned earlier, for years in my life I was consumed with social media. Each day I would wake up and immediately grab my phone to see what new updates that occurred over the 8 hours I was asleep. I would look at everyone’s “highlight reels” and be sad for my own life. Any energy I had from a good night’s rest was immediately taken away because I was jealous of what I thought other’s lives were like.
One day, I decided to remove it from my life completely. I was sick of comparing myself to stranger’s lives – I wanted to focus on my own. As soon as I did that, I started adding positivity back into my life. I immersed myself in books, I learned new things, I started investing, I started my blog!
I was living a better life because I had built it myself and only surrounded myself with people, places and ideas that brought joy to my life. I encourage you to do the same – I promise you it will change your life.
What books/podcasts/blogs have you consumed that lead you to this point?
My journey started in 2016-2017 when I started immersing myself in personal finance blogs. There are thousands out there, and I encourage you to find a couple that share a similar story to your own. One of the first debt payoff blogs I found was Dear Debt by Melanie Lockert.
From there, I fell down the rabbit hole and read any other personal finance blog in my sight! Rockstar Finance has a great compilation of blogs and specific niches.
My favorite podcast is hands down ChooseFI – Brad and Jonathan do an amazing job of laying down the foundation of financial independence and how to get there, no matter what stage you are at financially.
What’s one area in your life you still struggle with?
I still struggle with keeping my spending habits in check. And that’s the funny thing – in 2018 alone, I’ve paid off $16,000 to my student loan debt. But just yesterday I had the urge to go to Target to buy holiday decorations. I knew there was a sale and my intentions were good.
But as I pulled into the Target parking lot, a weird feeling came over me. I knew that if I stepped into that store, I would end up spending more than I needed to. Did I even need the decorations in the first place?
Could I go somewhere cheaper, maybe the local Goodwill and get decorations there instead? Maybe I could borrow from a friend or family member instead. I was already in the parking lot, but I decided to keep driving and go straight home.
Spending habits are weird things. I’ve been credit card debt free since 2015 but yes, I’m human and still get the urge to buy items I don’t need. Changing your habits take time, and sometimes you slip up. It happens.
But that doesn’t mean I should go straight into debt again – it just means that I am more aware of my habits. A lot of times for me, it just helps to question myself like I did above.
By simply being conscious of my spending decision – versus just swiping my card – has eliminated so many unnecessary purchases.
If you had to give just 1 tip that you’ve learned along your journey, what would it be and why?
The journey is hard, but it is 100% worth it. The days will seem long when you have a long-term goal in mind and there will be days you want to give up. But if you want to better your financial life, know you can do it. I never thought I would get out of debt, but boom – in 11 months I was done.
And when I started paying off my student loans aggressively, I gave myself a goal of 4 years to do it. And now, here I am, 1.5 years in and I should be COMPLETELY debt free by the end of next year.
One of my favorite quotes that has helped me along this journey that I encourage you to keep in mind is:
“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”
Where can readers get in touch with you?
You can read all about my debt payoff journey and how I plan to live a debt-free life at All She Saves. I love hearing from readers and others who are living a debt free life or currently paying off debt, so feel free to email me directly at [email protected]. I would love to chat with you!
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