Six-Figure Salary with Six-Figure Debt

HomeManage MoneySix-Figure Salary with Six-Figure Debt

Want to Score Cash For Free?

  • Survey Junkie: Earn up to $50 per survey with one of the highest-paying survey sites on the web. Join Survey Junkie Now
  • SoFi Money: Earning money for unlocking better features sounds like a dream. But this free banking app really pays you $100 with you switch your direct deposit to SoFi Money. Get SoFi Money.
  • Aspiration: This mobile banking app lets you do everything for free and takes no fees — ever. Better yet, if you join through this link you can get $100 in your new account.

In 2015 I was fresh out of my MBA program and fresh in $154K of debt.

I’ve been on my debt free journey for a year now I’m paying it off by living a minimalist lifestyle and listening to Dave Ramsey on the daily. I realized I would never be able to live the life I wanted with debt hanging over my head, so I decided to pay it off and document my story. I don’t want to spend my time kicking myself for taking on the debt, but instead learning from my mistakes and planning a brighter future because of it. I’m living small and chipping away one paycheck at a time. I hope you enjoy my story!

A Lifetime of Debt

My debt story began at 16 when I got my first credit card in the mail and maxed it out the same day at the mall. That habit stayed with me and peaked during my post college life. I was misusing credit worse than ever. I moved to Washington, DC and experienced a whole new type of spending. I was the definition of “keeping up with the Joneses,” and $200 on a night out was a regular occurrence. By the time I was 23 I had managed to rack up $17K worth of credit card debt. I remember the day I added up the balances on all of my cards. I realized I wouldn’t be able to make even the minimum payments on half of them with my upcoming paycheck. I spent the next year aggressively paying off debt, but the cycle continued. Every time I would pay off a card my brain told me that I was responsible enough to use it and I would run it right back up again.

Around 24 I hit a rut in my career and jumped at the chance to get my MBA. I had a ton of debt, but I was young and impulsive so off I went to sign my name to $90K more. As a part-time student I wasn’t eligible for any grants or aid through the school so I knew I would have to reach for the stars during my job search to pay back my debt. It was a huge risk but I was young and stupid and decided to go for it.

After I graduated I was lucky to land a six figure salary in banking. The job was in a much cheaper city so I took it as sign to make a plan to pay off my debt. I don’t remember the exact time I was introduced to Dave Ramsey, but after I moved I read the Total Money Makeover and started formulating a budget. My first step was to add up all of my debts and assets to get a clear picture of where I stood. I stared at the numbers almost bursting into tears. I had $14K worth of credit card debt and $140K in student loan debt. Oh yeah, I had also never started saving for retirement so my only asset was my car, a 2005 Honda. I was 27 years old and -$154K in the hole.

Want Free Money?

  • Aspiration: Want to get spotted a $150 for free? Simply sign up for Aspiration, and the free banking app will give you cash for free, you just relax while it gives you $150 just for opening a new debit card. There’s no catch. This bank account is legit and only takes two minutes to sign up for an account.

Around the same time I started following the Dave Ramsey plan, I found minimalism. I fell in love with the lifestyle. I’ve always been interested in the concept of living with less but I never really got it because I’m a born and raised spender. Minimalism changed the way I view myself and material possessions. I realized that living with less can be very freeing. I’m still working on completely downsizing, but I’m worlds away from where I was in my early twenties, financially and mentally.

For a while, I doubted my choice to use Dave Ramsey’s method because the finish line seemed so unattainable. My family and friends kept telling me to just put my extra money in the stock market and not worry about paying it off because everyone had debt. I created a few scenarios in excel and showed the outcomes of paying off the debt ASAP versus paying it off over 10 years and investing what was left over. I realized that I wouldn’t be happy until the debt was gone. I knew that I would feel trapped in every job I had for the next decade because I had a $1,500 monthly payment to worry about. I would never be able to quit and start my own business or even save for a house. I decided that Dave was right. His plan was my ticket to freedom and I didn’t care what everyone else thought was right. I got myself into this mess and I was going to get myself out.

My Escape Route

I used my signing bonus to fund an emergency fund with $1,000 and knocked out baby step one. In the first five months of my journey, I paid off the $14K in credit card debt by adhering to a strict budget and eating my weight in beans and rice. I also refinanced my student loans with a private lender to get a better interest rate. I had a short period where I faltered and took on more debt (I know, I know!). We all make mistakes! The debt was for my Invisalign treatment and I’m now close to paying it off.

student debt
I’ve significantly downsized my lifestyle in order to free up as much as possible to go towards debt. I went from living in a luxury one bedroom apartment for $1,800 a month to a $600 a month studio. I’ve given up a dishwasher, microwave, washer/dryer, air conditioning, and a new car, all in the name of paying off debt. I no longer get my nails done. I wait eight weeks in between haircuts instead of six, and go to Super Cuts instead of the salon. I’ve eaten more tuna sandwiches than I can count and peanut butter has become one of my main food groups. When people ask me to go out for drinks/dancing, I always agree but sip a club soda for free. Those are a few of the things I’ve lost chasing freedom but the things I’ve gained have changed my life in ways I never expected.

I’ve gained a sense of control over a part of my life that for years made me feel powerless.

I’ve realized that if I want something I CAN get it. Most importantly, I’ve learned that the only thing standing in my way is myself. I’m 28 years old, digging myself out of 12 years of financial mishaps, and vowing to never go back because I don’t want to die with heaps of unpaid debt left for my family. I hope you’ll share your story and follow along with mine at


All of us have a story to tell about personal finance, and I created the Meet Millennials series so that anyone can share their story with money. Talking about money has been considered taboo in the past but we are here to change that.


Want Free Money?

Simply sign up for Aspiration, and the free banking app will give you cash for free, you just relax while it gives you $100 just for opening a new debit card. There’s no catch. This bank account is legit and only takes two minutes to sign up for an account.

Learn more

The Best Apps to Save You Real Money

We are on our phone a lot, right? Wouldn't it make sense to save money with the best money saving apps?

AppAt a glancedownload
Get a $100 bonus at Aspiration when you open and fund an account with $10 or more. Then use your Aspiration debit card to make at least $1,000 worth of cumulative transactions within 60 days of account opening.
Open a new account in the next 24 hours and you could get up to $200 in free stock.
Truebill reviewTruebill
This free app delivers on its promise to save you money effortlessly. You can use it to lower your bills, cancel unwanted subscriptions and bill negotiations.

About the author

Brian Meiggs
Brian Meiggs
Brian Meiggs is a personal finance expert, and the founder of My Millennial Guide, a personal finance site helping you put more money in your pocket. He helps millennials follow the smart money in order to increase their earning potential and start building wealth for the the future. He regularly writes about side hustles, investing, and general personal finance topics aimed to help anyone earn more, pay off debt, and reach financial freedom. He has been quoted as a top personal finance blogger in major publications including Yahoo! Finance, NASDAQ, Discover, MSN Money and more.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

On a similar note...

Explore More On

7 Best Bank Bonuses and Promotions of April 2021

aspiration★★★★★This Company Will Give You $100 for Opening a Free Account
Boost your savings and earn up to 1.00% APY interest on your savings. Get up to 10% cash back on your purchases. Get $100 bonus when you spend your first $1,000 with your new Aspiration Plus Card.
personal capital★★★★★
The First and Only Interest Earning Crypto Account
Receive up to $250 Bitcoin bonus when you make qualifying deposits over the first 30 days. Receive up to 8.6% annually on your crypto. Join the most trusted financial services for crypto investors on the market.
personal capital★★★★★Get Up $200 in Free Stock for Joining
Commission-free stock, ETF and options trades. Get a free stock worth up to $200 when joining (must complete application). Simple, easy to use investor platform with no account minimums.
sofi★★★★★All-In-One Investing That's Easy to Use
Tired of Robinhood? Invest in stocks, ETFs, crypto, or automated investing in all one app. No commissions for stocks and ETFs. Complimentary access to SoFi Financial Planners.
personal capital★★★★★The Smart and Free Way to Manage Your Money
Take control of your finances with the perfect union of technology and highly personalized service. Get access to free online financial tools, including retirement planner, investment checkup, net worth calculator and more. Digital-first wealth management advisor with 24,000 clients in 50 states.
blooom★★★★★401K and IRA Management
Start your free 401k and IRA management now. Find and reduce hidden fees. Improve your diversification.
cit★★★★★Enjoy the Benefits of a CIT Bank Money Market Account
A CIT Bank Money Market Account helps you get more from your savings with interest rates for maximum growth. Earn over 7x the national average with high-interest rates. It now pays to open a money market account with CIT Bank.
My Millennial Guide