004 | Get Off The Hamster Wheel | Jonathan Backstory

In Today’s Podcast we cover:

Jonathan shares his origin story from and how he graduated from pharmacy school in 2013 with $168,000 student loan debt and how he payed them off in less than 5 years

How did he get to that point?

‘Followed the rules’ to get his pharmacy degree but came out owing $1,000 per month in interest
You don’t have as much money as you think: the impact of taxes
How many years of work he gave up to pursue advanced degree and then pay down the debt just to get back to $0 net worth
Would there have been a more efficient way to earn a $100k+ income?
How Brad saved 90% of his income the first 2 years living at home and how it set him up for life
Jonathan paid off his $168k of student loan debt in 3.5 years (!)

What it takes:

Incredible focus & intensity
Create metrics to track to make paying down debt a fun game

He looked at every single monthly expense to see if they could save money
They were able to cut their cost of living from $60k per year to $38k per year
Is there a need for an emergency fund?
Differences in financial personality types
When loans are paid off where does he go from here?
Plans for 2017: emergency fund, create blog and podcast, create new streams of income

Links from the show:

ChooseFI debt pay down excel file

Click here to watch the  video tutorial to show you how to update and use this tool.


Tweetable Quotes:

I wanted to be “successful” and I put all my hopes and dreams into being that person
Are you doing it because America and our culture tells you you have to?
Marry someone that is more frugal than you – that’s a great tip!
My goal is to have five passive streams of income moving out of 2017

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20 thoughts on “004 | Get Off The Hamster Wheel | Jonathan Backstory”

  1. Wow, great stuff here. Very similar to our story, it seems more and more people with crushing student loan debt are not only taking the initiative to get out of debt, but using those techniques to ski-jump themselves to FI.

    • Thanks for the kind words, I’m going to check out your site this weekend. In particular Im curious to read your article “DIY: Gardening your way to frugality”
      I am very interested in insourcing Gardening as a way to reduce expenses

  2. Hey Jonathan, current pharmacy student here, looks like the link to your Excel Spreadsheet is broken. We all a clamoring at a chance to download that excel sheet.

    • Thanks for asking, If you sign up for the get out of debt email chain on our subscribe page, you get this file plus a video tutorial (its the 3rd email in the sequence). I will get this link working today, thanks for reminding me

  3. Great podcast, I graduated business school in June 2013 with roughly $180k in debt and totally understand what it’s like to realize a 6 figure salary didn’t go as far as I thought it would. Appreciate the spreadsheet you shared. I re-financed with Sofi and subsequently with Earnest and am very happy with Earnest.

  4. This is inspiring for someone who is about to graduate pharmacy school next month with $130k.

    One question though, did you put money into your 401k? I find it hard not to at least put the match in for work. Thanks!

    • I did the match – and would recommend it due to the high marginal tax bracket you will find yourself in. Read my article “congratulations your broke” and listen to Episode 5- Dave Ramsey for more info

  5. Hey there! I am just getting caught up on your show from the beginning! I would love to have that e-mail with the video tutorial as I am struggling to get this updated.

  6. Jonathan,

    Can you explain a bit more about the multiple checking accounts? What bank do you use? Does each account have its own debit card?

    New listener as of yesterday. Excited to learn more.


  7. Jonathan and Brad,

    I just came across your podcast and I’m quickly making my way through each episode on 2x speed. Like Jonathan, I recently graduated from pharmacy school with 130k in student debt and have been working to pay it down. I’ve been a big Dave Ramsey fan my whole life so I also struggle with his concept of not contributing towards retirement until my debt has been paid. So I’ve been contributing about 12% to retirement and throwing about 50% of my paycheck to loans.

    Thanks to your podcast, I’m working on reducing my monthly expenses so I’m looking into project FI, I’ve found new vendors for my disability/ auto insurance and cut those in half.

    I’ve been using a bank called Simple, it is a division of BBVA Compass- but they allow you to create “envelopes” within your account. This allows you to seperate money and earmark it for certain things within the account.

    Looking forward to catching up on more episode in the days to come.

    Keep up the good work,


  8. Hi. I am a new listener. I am going through each podcast from the beginning since I missed a few. 5 passive income streams? Would these all be some kind of investment?

  9. The having to pay 35% more just to tread water is really powerful. I liked the ideas of metrics to keep engaged too. Daily interest accural chart could be useful for mortgage.

  10. I listened to this episode this morning! It was super motivating, and I love the work that you two are doing.

    Also, I downloaded the excel spreadsheet, and I’m going to dig into that for my debt!

  11. Just after listening to the first 4 podcasts, im really enjoying it thanks guys, it’s inspiring. I relate to the focus attributed to paying off debt as it’s a more tangible metric ie a spreadsheet and it’s payment versus minimum payment versus goal, you can see it as a target you can actively affect. I can’t wait to see where Jonathon goes from here with regards to making his 50k a year work for him. The uncertainty of trying to make your money work for you makes me more anxious than trying to reach a target set by a debt you need to pay, its the unknown and quantification when trying to predict or set goals that makes it really interesting.

  12. Hello!
    I’m a Dave Ramsey Graduate. I am currently on Baby Steps 3b (saving for a down payment on a house), 4 (contributing at least 15% towards retirement), and 5 (getting started on my kids’ college funds). Well…truth be told I’ve been on these steps since January. I have set the money aside, but haven’t yet pressed the button to restart investing. You are both an inspiration to me and I’m so happy that I found this website.
    Dave Ramsey says that if you follow his principles, you’ll reach a level of wealth in 15 years. After finding the FI community, I think our family can definitely achieve a level of wealth in 10 years! I went from wanting to save for a 4 year old used Toyota Rav4 for purchase in the next year, to deciding that I will drive my 2006 Honda Civic with 125K miles on it into the ground. I only drive it 8K miles a year. This car can easily last us another 9 years at this pace, if we maintain it well.
    Anyhow, I’m thankful for going down the FIRE rabbit hole!
    I plan on listening to your podcasts in order that’s how excited I am about joining this movement.

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