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Hiking Through Student Loans and a Career To Financial Freedom

Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. American Express is a ChooseFI advertiser. Disclosures.

This is a guest post by Millionaire Mob, a blog focused on investing in dividend growth stocks and travel rewards. We have helped thousands of people with bettering their financial future through passive income and dividend investing.

Hiking Through Student Loans and a Career to Financial Freedom

It was gloomy, rainy day at a midwestern college. Looking out the window there was no one around and not much to do. I had about $8.67 of assets to my name with a pile of laundry to do and an electric bill to pay. I was sitting at my computer wondering why I went to college if I have no job prospects and now no assets? Several other classmates I knew had jobs lined up when they graduated and had money transferred to them from their parents as allowance. I, on the other hand, had to work nonstop to ‘keep the lights on.’ Where would I go from here?

I was staring at a conquest bigger than Mount Everest.

I grew up in a midwestern city with the value that you should always be working. School or not, I have worked since I was 14 years old. Through continuous hard work, I eventually found myself going to a good university.

The Start Of An Uphill Hike To Financial Freedom

My parents were able to help me get by for one semester. After that, I was basically on my own. Just like thousands of others out there, I had to finance my college. In addition to student loans, I worked cushy gigs at restaurants and hotels to keep my head above water with books, living expenses, and food.

I worked hard for my grades. Grades were another part of our Midwestern values. Get good grades and respect your professors. This was engrained in my DNA.

I didn’t have things too bad. It was a bit draining, but it could have been much worse. I got to the point of senior year with a good work ethic and decent grades. I was so excited to apply and land some great interviews with Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and several large, national banks.

What happened?

I was denied at every single one. So, this is great? Racked up over $60,000 of credit card debt and worked my tail off during school. All with nothing to show for it.

Let’s Start Hiking To Financial Freedom

I knew that I was at a crossroads. I needed to make something happen rather than have it come to me. I sat online for hours using the web to find employers and reached out directly to them. I knew I had bills to pay over $60,000 worth of debt to pay once I graduated. In addition, I always envisioned that I was going to create or do something big. I was far from it…

After hours of phone calls talking to finance professionals in the industry and hearing that they weren’t hiring. I had to get back to the drawing board. A college friend’s dad had a job opening within their group at a middle market investment bank. Bingo! I can nail this. I spent hours preparing for the case study and interview. I even brought in a discounted cash flow model to my interview (nerd!). I was provided an offer! They still give me crap about my discounted cash flow model. My offer letter was favorable, and I was on my way to making near six figures out of college.

I was happy. I felt like I was on top of the world, but is that enough?

I had a mountain of student loans to pay. I thought I was riding high with the offer, but realized I had to do something to secure my financial future NOW. I built an Excel spreadsheet that would track my student loan balances by interest rate and amount. I sorted by the highest interest rate and swept all additional cash flow I had from income to repaying these student loans as fast as possible.

From my first job, I was able to leverage this into a number of different rotations in financial advisory. I repaid all of my $60,000 in student loans in three years while maxing out all retirement accounts. I ended up purchasing my first home at 25 after repaying my student loans. Being in finance, I was enamored with the challenge of cleaning up my personal finances.

Is that good enough though? No, I learned about this thing called financial freedom.

I started shifting my focus to building wealth by tracking my net worth. I was obsessed. Like others, I checked my net worth balance daily watching it rise to over $300,000 by age 27.

Only Halfway There, But The Tough Part Is Finished

How was I going to achieve financial freedom? Why should I have to rely on a job for my life? I wanted to be able to do what I wanted and say I created something. More than just another financial model for a client. I came up with three strategies that I should focus on, which included:

  • dividend growth investing
  • passive income
  • travel

The third point is important because I am a big believer in enjoying life at the current moment while being aggressive in your pursuit of financial freedom. Travel rewards have allowed me to travel for little to no cost. It’s been a lot of fun.

Here’s a photo from my travel experience in Italy. This is a photo I took literally hiking. Not at the peak of the mountain, but not at the bottom.

Yeah, debt has been mainly repaid. Is that how we achieve financial freedom? No. At Millionaire Mob, we are focused on building income streams to be completely non-reliant on our day job income. We believe that achieving financial freedom is easier than you think. What you should focus on is the 3P’s, which include:

  • Patience
  • Planning
  • Progress

Yes, I am a millennial. No, I won’t let the millennial reputation decide how I will personally fare in my pursuit of financial freedom.

Going forward, I will turn my attention to creating other forms of income to build wealth. Thus, achieving financial freedom. I can’t wait to share my progress over time. Any additional income will be used to invest in a dividend growth portfolio, which will enable me to receive even more income while realizing the benefits of long-term capital appreciation in stock market. If you are curious, check out our guide to building a dividend growth portfolio. We’ve included an infographic that is bound to help you.

What did I learn? Invest in yourself. You get paid to provide a service to your employer. You can leverage that into anything you want.

While I have made some great strides in the past 5+ years of my career, I’m not done. Making it isn’t just having money in your 401(k) and Roth IRA. At the same time, there’s much more to life than having wealth. Make sure to go out and enjoy the good things in life.

I’m Tired Of Hiking To The Peak (Of FIRE), But There’s Some Easy Work To Become Financially Free

Yeah, I’ve tackled my student loans. Yes, I continue to max out my retirement accounts and then some. No, I won’t stop trying to build a legacy of financial education to achieve financial freedom. You too can pay down over $60,000 in student loans and create a net worth of $300,000 in a matter of three years. I admit there’s much more room for improvement. I haven’t always been the best spender. However, stick with your plan after completing the hardest climb, which is debt repayment and career establishment.

There is no one-size fits all approach to becoming financially free. Each person’s situation is different, but to pay off your student loans and create an outstanding net worth, follow these steps:

  1. Build relationships that matter for the long-term.
  2. Surround yourself with others that are achieving the same goal of financial freedom with you.
  3. Have a plan, curate it and execute.
  4. Go out and live a life that you want to live.
  5. Earn additional income from the things you love. It will make it more fun and rewarding!
  6. Never stop hustling.

At Millionaire Mob, helping is the core of our midwestern roots. Follow us on our journey to financial freedom. You can play along as well by following our steps to attain wealth. Millionaire Mob will keep you apprised of our goals.

Are you ready to Escalate Your Life?

Note: I am not an avid hiker…

Author Bio: Millionaire Mob is where people come together to find the best travel deals and financial advice. We specialize in dividend growth investing, passive income and travel rewards. Our advice has helped others travel the world and achieve financial freedom.

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Hiking Through Student Loans And A Career To Financial Freedom
Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. American Express is a ChooseFI advertiser. Disclosures.
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