In December 2011, Bobby Hoyt graduated from The University of Texas at San Antonio with a degree in music education — and a $40,000 tab.
"I had the six-month grace period like everyone else does on their loans, so I didn't make any payments right away," the Houston resident tells CNBC. "I didn't realize that interest was accruing on it. That's an unfortunate reality that a lot of people graduating college don't know."
Hoyt — who started his career as a high-school band director — didn't get serious about putting money toward his debt until he met his current mentor, a successful businessman and longtime friend of his wife's family.
"He basically told me, 'You need to pay off your loans as fast as you can,'" Hoyt recalls. "So I started making the biggest possible payments that I could."
Hoyt made his first payment in August 2012. A year and a half later, he was completely debt-free — and he did it all on a teacher's salary.
Today, the 28-year-old is a full-time financial blogger and shares his journey to building wealth on his website, Millennial Money Man.
Here's how the teacher-turned-entrepreneur paid off $40,000 of student loans in 18 months: