Knowing how to pay down debt may come easily to some, but for Jessica Flaherty, a 30-year-old volunteer coordinator and alumnae admission representative from Lewiston, Maine, it did not. For months/years, Jessica’s coping mechanism involved turning off her phone to avoid nagging calls from bill collectors about her mountain of school debt.
It wasn’t until February 2012 that she realized her debt was affecting her happiness and that she needed to do something – her student loan payments were upwards of $1,000 per month and she began to notice that she no longer had disposable income.
That was when she took a friend’s suggestion to set up an account with Mint.com, quickly uploading all of her financial information – including her school loan debt – and then setting up monthly goals to pay down what she owed.
Within just a few months, Jessica began to feel more in control of her money. To give herself even more breathing room, she started selling used items online. This helped her to pay down her highest-interest loans first, cutting her monthly payments from $1,000 to $500. She also got a job as a volunteer coordinator at a local library, adding to both her and her husband’s monthly income.
Jessica hasn’t missed a loan payment since then and praises Mint for helping her come to terms with her financial struggles and for being the “catalyst of change” she needed to get her life on track.
Though she admits that changing her spending habits is hard: “I have not succeeded in the coffee budget! But I try to be more on top of it,” she says, “and not beat myself up when I fail.”
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