Episode 22: Resourcefully Building a Business While Paying Off Debt

May 14, 2018

Quick Recap:

  • How Chenell paid off $38,000 of debt and saved an 8 month emergency fund in 16 months
  • Chenell's best advice for paying off debt and staying motivated
  • Evil vs Awesome: Student Loans
  • How blogging lead to her working for herself
  • Chenell's advice for starting a side hustle
  • Evil or Awesome: Books before movies


The Show:

Today we're excited to have a guest who helps people turn a side hustle into a business that supports you full-time. Her proudest financial moment was Paying off $38k in student loans in about 16 months & Saving up an 8 month emergency fund that allowed her to quit my day job. 

Today we're happy to welcome Chenell Tull from Hustle to Startup to the Accio Debt Freedom Podcast. Welcome Chenell!

Chenell's Debt Story

I had a regular bachelor degree from a four year school. I started out at an in-state college and then after my sophomore year I decided I wanted to go to Arizona. So I transferred to Arizona state and that is where most of my debt came from.

I had no real goals, I just wanted to move across the country. I now have a geography degree, which doesn't help with what I'm doing now but that's alright. 

Where her debt stands now & How she paid off $38,000:

I have about $30,000 left. I started out with about $72,000 out of college. I graduated 2009, so it's been less than 10 years.

It is tough though.

I managed to pay off that $38,000 but really cutting back, not going out, saving every penny I could. Pretty much nixing my retirement savings. I cut all spending and put every dollar toward my student loans.

At the time I only had a $1,000 emergency fund, which scares me to think about today, because that is just not enough money to have saved away. 

So I just started not eating out, cooking at home, just saving everything I could and try to make more money as well. Cut back on grocery bills tried to cut back on electricity bills, just any way that I could save and putting it towards that debt.

The biggest impact came when I sold my car, I live in Philadelphia so a car wasn't necessary to get around. SO I didn't have to pay insurance, gas, or repairs. Those had gotten to be very expensive at the end of the life of my car so I just decided that was it, I was done. And I was just going to take public transit everywhere. I put all the money from the sale and the $400/month I was saving towards my debt as well. 

It was kind of extreme, but it worked.

What is your best advice for those paying off student debt?

Don't get frustrated with yourself, because there are going to be times when you have a $500 car repair bill or something else will happen. I think the easiest way to stay with it is to be really kind to yourself and understanding of the mistakes you will make. 

How did Chenell stay motivated?

Besides posting a debt update on her blog, Bright Sense every month, she also got really nerdy with excel spreadsheets, so she would keep running the numbers and seeing what a difference a little extra could make and seeing that debt free date was really motivating. 

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Evil vs Awesome: Student Loans


  • Totally evil, easy way out
  • Without them you'd have to be more creative in paying for school


  • Enables people to go to school when they might not have otherwise been able to go

Overall: Evil

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Was blogging the catalyst for working online and starting your business?

Yes! It really helped me learn more skills and put myself out there to do better at my day job and then that transitioned me to being on the online marketing team at work which eventually lead to what I do for my business. 

Was side hustling with your blog part of your debt pay off strategy?

I wasn't, I couldn't figure it out for the life of me and by the time I transitioned from paying off debt full force to saving money and putting it in my emergency fund so I could quit my job, I didn't do that. 

How did you end up working in marketing, is that something you did before or did it evolve from your online work?

I started out in the travel agency department in my previous job, I was in a call center and I was not enjoying it at all.  So I found an internet help desk position which was right up my alley. 

Then I started blogging and listening to Smart Passive Income and he was talking about SEO, so I ended up learning everything I could about it and then I went to my boss and asked him what we were doing in that area and came up with a big presentation of things we could do, and was told "great! You go do that." So I became the SEO person. 

Eventually I ended up being in charge of paid traffic as well, so that is what I ended up doing full time and that is now what I help clients with. 

What advice do you have for those looking to start a side hustle?

The easiest way to start is to take skill you already have or enjoy and it doesn't have to relate to your day job, and see if you enjoy it.

Evil vs Awesome: books before movies


  • Seeing the movie first, means the books feel like behind the scenes extra.


  • You have to let your imagination figure out who the characters are.

Overall: Awesome

What do you think?

Thanks for joining us!

Create Your Own Financial Magic!

Chenell paid off $38,000 of debt and saved an 8 month emergency fund in just 16 months, find out how on the latest episode!
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