Episode 12: How Lauren Hustled to Pay Off $38k in Debt

February 25, 2018

Quick Recap:

  • What got Lauren started on the path to debt freedom
  • How she paid off $38,000 in 18 months
  • Her best advice for those still in debt
  • Evil vs Awesome: Olympics
  • How to balance corporate life and side hustling
  • Whether you should tell your job about your side hustle
  • What is optimized spending
  • Evil vs Awesome: Valentine's Day


The Show:

Today we're thrilled to welcome, corporate drone (her words), Lauren from the Practical Penny. She paid off $38,000 of debt and we're excited to dig into just how she did it.

What got you started on the path to want to be debt free?

I would love to say that I was really inspired in college and that I worked hard all the way through college, but the truth is I was a little sloppy. I didn't even realized I had to meet certain requirements to graduate.

So when my four years were up in college, I still had to complete 20 hours for my degree and I really dragged those out. Six months later my grace period was up on my student loans and since I was taking less than 12 hours of course work, I got my first bill to pay back my loans. 

It was a HUGE wake up call. I  was floored that I had to pay $500 a month on top of everything else.  

You don't realized just how quickly that grace period goes by. Lauren realized she needed to get out from under this, that being in debt just wasn't going to work for her.

Did you decide to pay off the debt before getting married? Yes, but it was a family decision with her immediate family...

I was living at home and my Dad was getting tired of it so he offered me a really nice proposal, I could pay hime $500 a month in rent or I could pay the extra $500 a month toward my student loans. Which would mean I'd be paying $1,000 toward my student loans.

On the flip side, I had just started dating the guy that would be my husband and I didn't want my debt to be a hang up for him. It was a push on both sides of the coin there. 

Was the Debt Only Student Loan Debt? Or did you have other debt?

I graduated college and the bill was for $28,000 in student loans, then a year later I needed a car and I bought a car for $10,000. So a total of $38,000 that I paid off in 18 months. 

How did you do that?!

I was living at home, and my parents were super cool about it all. I was working my $12/hour job but I managed to turn it around and a few months after I got that bill I forced myself to finish up those classes and get a real corporate job that paid well. 

Getting my income up allowed me to make major payments on my student loans really fast. 

What made you start The Practical Penny?

I started blogging because I really wanted to share, that even though I was working really hard to pay off that debt, I still had a fulfilling life on my budget. 

I knew that being extremely frugal would just lead to me binge spending and starting a terrible cycle. 

What kind of advice do you have for those of us still paying off debt?

This is going to sound weird, but, whatever it takes to trick yourself into thinking this was a great idea do it. 

For example, I get songs stuck in my head all the time, so one day while I was sitting around, it popped into my head, "debt free at 23" and it became this little chant I did. Every time I thought about swiping my credit card for something I didn't need the chant came into my head and reminded me that I had some bigger goals.

So even if it's the cheesiest thing you have to do, find a way to trick yourself into believing this is a good thing for you to do. 

Like Accio Debt Freedom? Be sure to share with your friends!

Evil vs Awesome: Olympics



  • I would have love to gone to Rio since, I once swam against someone that competed in Rio
  • I would totally spend money to go to the olympics.
  • Ability to see other cultures

Overall: Awesome

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​​​How do you balance corporate life with side hustling?

I've got my cape right here.....just kidding.

I'm a person that always likes to use their time productively. My husband teaches tennis and so he gets off work later. For a while I would come home and just watch Law and Order, but eventually I realized, what am I doing with my life? I need a hobby, how about a hobby that makes money?

So I started blogging and it's really about trying to be as productive as a I can and being focused on what I do. I don't really enjoy watching TV, I just always feel better when I'm learning and working towards a major goal.

Have you ever run into any issues with your job and your side hustle?

I think the key to it is being a superstar employee, make it so your boss would regret firing you everyday. I anticipate what my boss needs, giving them stuff before they ask, no one ever has to go over your head to get stuff done.

My boss is pretty awesome, so I took a gamble and told him about my real estate company and my blog and he's been really supportive. But I think he may not have been as supportive if I hadn't proven that I could get my work done and pursue my dreams. I really hustle at work and then can pursue my side hustles at the same time.

What is the real estate company?

My husband and I decided when we were dating, about my dream to get into real estate. We decided we are going to buy a rental property and my goal is buy a house every year and if I can do that I'm hoping to retire by 40. 

Would you recommend pursuing side hustling or getting ahead in the corporate field to pay off debt?

I would say the best thing to do is to get ahead in the corporate world, but don't ignore the side hustle. 

Here is the thing, corporate promotions and raises give you big money now, which means you can pay off debt now. Side hustles can pay you big but for most people they take time to build up. Start small and commit to it, then it can pay off later, work a corporate job while you build your empire.

In 2016, when I was just 5 years in, I was able to double my salary. It was life changing in the way of being able to save an invest. I started at the average salary for business graduates and then in 5 years I changed jobs and got two promotions and it paid off when it came to paying off the debt really fast. 

One last thing, one thing that really helped me get the promotions was being able to take advantage of training, every chance that I could get more training and for my company to pay for training, I took advantage of that. 

You don't get what you don't ask for.

What is Optimized Spending?

Optimized spending is a way of saying you can have anything but not everything. I don't like to think about what I can't have because it brings in scarcity. So optimized spending is about choosing the things that make me the happiest with the money that I have.

For example, I like to think about things in priority order, so for me, I like to come home to a place that is a really nice place after a long day at work, but I don't care much about my car because I only have a 10 minute commute. So I'm willing to spend to live in a really nice house, but my car payment, when I had one, was only $250. 

I'm spending the money in the places that make me the happiest. You don't have to spend guilty about what you're spending money on if you prioritize. 

What is your debt payoff planner?

This worksheet helps you prioritize your debts, typically the fastest way to do it is to pay it off by the highest interest rate. It helps you rank your debts by interest rate. 

Interest is a tax on stupidity so the least amount of interest you can pay the better. 

Evil vs Awesome: Valentine's Day



  • I appreciate when someone spends time on me.
  • Even better is when someone gives me back my time, so you don't have to spend money to spoil your significant other.

Overall: Awesome

What do you think?

Thanks for joining us!

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Lauren from The Practical Penny paid off $38,000 in 18 months, we talk to her about how she did it.
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