HOW I PAID OFF 120K+ STUDENT LOANS IN 3 YEARS

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The mind set.

I spent too much time in school. My education took eight years of my life, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on tuition and living expenses. As a 17 year old moving from the middle east and getting the opportunity that so many never had, I knew that I wasn’t going to let the system trap me. I worked in libraries, cafeterias, waiting tables, car valet, room monitoring, opening shifts at 6am, closing midnight shifts as a barista, and everything in between in order to reduce the damage of expenses. I knew I had to leverage my energy and time at the expense of sleep and comfort if I wanted to set myself up for success in the future. At least 32K in loans were saved by working during school.

The Job.

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I graduated on December 12th, 2014 and saw my first patient 2 weeks later. I did not need a breather, I did not need a vacation, I needed a license to practice and a Job. The biggest blessing that came my way was a phone call from Nate Foreman, hiring new grads for his startup company Foreman Therapy Services. At that point I had no idea that it was a startup, or that 3 years later i’d be promoted to being a manager and the one making those calls! He said many things during that call, but the only thing I heard was “you can work as much or as little as you want, it’s up to you”. That was all I needed to know. Finding a job that allowed me to work as much as I can instead of getting a salary that matched my expenses was the key factor to my accomplishment.

For the first year, I didn’t even think declining new patients was an option, because the idea didn’t even cross my mind to ask. I’ve visited patients as early as 5:30am and as late as 9pm, and put over 40K miles annually on my car. The more helpful I was, the more patients I got, and the more the company trusted me.

To this day, the door is open for good therapists to work as much as they want and have the #nodaysoff mentality. We offer a variety of different ways to coach these therapists to make sure they are growing in their clinical skills, job duties as well as their personal goals.

The money.

Obviously, you’re going to think, well yeah if you found a job that pays good money and you can work day and night with no life, you can pay anything off…Not necessarily.

What do you know about tax brackets? What do you know about deductions? The more money you make, the more taxes you pay, so in some cases, you can get more take home getting paid less, BUT, there are ways to change that.

First. Buying a house.

The first 6 months I started working, I stayed with my parents, by July, I put down 18K on a downpayment on my first house. Buying a house makes you richer immediately, since you get thousands of tax money back as a refund, and you earn equity that may raise in value for later (you can then chose to sell it and use the profit to pay off more loans).

Second. Deductions

  1. Tax deductions on my home.
  2. I always donated about 6K a year to charity.
  3. kept track of my miles (about 40K a year)
  4. I used an app called mint and kept track of work expenses (including continuing education, phone bills, insurance, anything you can think of that applies)
  5. use a tax person that knows what they are doing to file your taxes. It makes a huge difference!

Just like that i’m making close to 11K a year in refunds that I wouldn’t have gotten if I hadn’t done those things. Thats about 33K in the last 3 years that I put straight into loans.

Third. Expenses and Payments

Isin’t just managing my expenses based on wants/needs enough? Well…yes, but executing that into a payment plan is the hard part.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Save up an emergency fund, about 5K
  2. Set a budget for expenses such as bills, food, gas
  3. Withdraw cash when you can for things that you might spend more on if you aren’t careful (food was my weakness). Using cards can be cancerous when it comes to managing your spending. Try it ;)
  4. Use a piggy bank. For every time you pass up on things that you don’t really need but can afford, like that extra chips and a drink, transfer that money somewhere, so you can push it towards loans. TRUST ME IT ADDS UP!
  5. Organize loan payments by percentage of interest. I had 5 loans, and after I paid off my required expenses, everything else extra went to the highest percentage interest loan.
  6. If you pay a loan off, use the extra money that you are not “required” to pay anymore and pay it to the next highest percentage interest loan, and keep doing this down the list.
  7. CELEBRATE!

In conclusion, this is not the only way to pay off loans, and is not a prescription on the how-to either. I’ve had a lot of people help me figure things out along the way,  and it was what worked for me. Every person has different circumstances, different goals, different opportunities, and in the end, you should chose what’s best for you, I just hope that you can do it while having as much fun as possible, and enjoy helping patients achieve their goals!

Ramzi Abbassi
Instagram: @ramziabbassi