The moment you graduate from college and become an official adult, you’re on top of the world. And then reality sets in. Life costs money, and sometimes a lot of it. From student loans to rent to car payments and saving for retirement, it can get overwhelming to balance it all.
But it is possible to find a way through the financial maze. We caught up with 23-year-old Josh Stine, a recent graduate from Penn State who paid off his $23,000 in student loans in just 10 months, and who was recently featured in Forbes for his financial accomplishments.
Stine graduated from the Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology in 2014 with a degree in cybersecurity. His relevant and in-demand degree garnered him a lot of attention from prospective employers, he says, and he took a job after graduation with PricewaterhouseCoopers in the Washington, D.C. area.
In the meantime, his first priority was to whittle away at his student loans. His first-year income was $60,000—but he wanted to be out of debt as soon as possible. “My main motivation was to find other ways to pay for my student loans,” he recalls.
Supplementing Income with a Side Gig
Undergraduates collecting a diploma as part of the class of 2016 will be among the most indebted students yet, with an average debt size of more than $37,000, according to analysis from student loan expert Mark Kantrowitz, the Wall Street Journal reported.
There are a number of ways to pay down debt faster, including adding more income with a side gig and refinancing loans into lower rates.
For Stine, adding income to his regular salary made the most sense.
He first contemplated becoming a driver with Uber, the car service-on-demand app, with his Honda Civic in his downtime. However, he was already working 50-60 hour work weeks and felt it would be too exhausting to add more hours of work.
Then Stine heard about Turo, a car rental marketplace where car owners can rent out their cars to travelers and earn as much as $1,000 per month. The flexibility of the Turo platform allows clients to use it to meet their own needs—whether it’s generating enough income for all living expenses, making contributions to a family’s financial goals, or financing their dream cars. Josh decided to try it.
Turo is part of the growing group of services, such as Airbnb, aimed at helping people create additional income on their own.
“I got my first rental within a week [of listing my car],” Stine said. “I’m very fortunate. Since a lot of people in Arlington [VA] don’t have cars, and I’m located right on a metro line, my car was in high demand.”
As his business evolved, he started racking up the dollars. “I got to the point where I was actually generating profit,” he says. Not only could he pay for the car itself, but he could also pay for his insurance and allocate some of his extra income toward his student loans.
Ten months later, he made his final student loan payment in October 2015.
Breaking Out of the Corporate Mold
The side income Stine earned from renting out his car ignited his inner entrepreneur. After a year working at PwC, he decided to try consulting on his own and left his corporate office job.
By leaning into his alumni connections from Penn State, he’s been able to successfully work for himself. His additional gigs include work as the chief operating officer of Happy Valley Tickets, a ticket distributor for Penn State events, and he is a partner at online marketing agency KNG Strategies.
Through his experience working directly with clients, Stine realized that he liked working offline with people just as much working with computers, so today, he’s planning to leverage his organizational skills to create a startup offering professional organizing services.
So what’s Stine’s top tip for other new graduates trying to break into the “real world”?
“The corporate job is not what you have to do. There’s nothing wrong with a corporate job, but there are options out there,” he advises.
Do you have a story about how refinancing or a side gig helped you pay your student loans faster? We’d like to hear from you. If you would like to share your story, please email our team at [email protected]arnest.com.
This guest post was written and contributed by Megan Natt, Content Marketing Manager at Turo.