There’s no question that education is expensive. Student loan debt has risen exponentially over the past decade, with $1.5 trillion in debt now held by more than 44 million Americans. For many, the costs of education may be a reason to forgo pursuing higher education and advanced degrees all together. But Kellee, an elementary school teacher who dreamed of earning a PhD since high school, wasn’t going to allow these seemingly insurmountable financial challenges stop her. Thanks to a combination of a supportive network, budgeting with Mint, and efficient planning, she was able to graduate with her doctorate debt-free. Ahead, Kellee shares her story of budgeting to pay off her student loans to meet her goals of being a teacher and buying a house in her 30s. As told to Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner.
I always knew that I wanted to teach. I was raised in a family of teachers: My paternal grandmother taught math, and my dad taught computer science and mathematics — both of his sisters worked in education, too. I grew up around so many adults helping and teaching people, and letting people reach their fullest potential. I enjoyed helping others and knew teaching was my path.
After finishing high school, I was determined to stay in school until I had my doctorate. I started by taking out loans for my undergraduate degree, living on campus during the school year, and trying not to add on extra expenses. Every summer, I lived with my family and worked in retail at the mall. I saved money and applied it immediately to the next semester’s tuition and expenses. I started budgeting early on with Mint, which taught me to put money away when I work — it’s a practice I’ve carried on into my adult life.
After undergrad, I pursued a master’s …read more