In August 2012, Bobby Hoyt decided to get serious about putting money toward his $40,000 student loan debt. Eighteen months later, the high-school band director was completely debt-free.
In order to fast track his debt repayment plan, Hoyt — who is now a full-time financial blogger — made several short-term sacrifices.
"The reality is, if you have a lot of debt and you want to get rid of it quickly, there's no comfortable way to do that," the 28-year-old teacher-turned-entrepreneur told CNBC. "Cutting back on eating out, or living at home, or not doing all the fun things that your friends are doing is uncomfortable — but you have to realize that it's all temporary."
Plus, "it's OK to be poor for a little bit," he said. "A lot of people don't realize that. They want to start living the good life immediately, but when you're young it's OK to struggle a bit."
Here are five things Hoyt lived without in order to contribute 75% of his paycheck toward his loans and become debt-free as quickly as possible:
Hoyt and his wife, Coral, an elementary school teacher, rented a room from her parents for $500 a month. "It was super cramped, but cheaper than immediately buying a house or getting a nice apartment after college," he told CNBC.
Sure, "it totally sucks renting a room from your in-laws," he admitted, "but living costs are one of the biggest inhibitors of being able to pay off your loans quickly. A lot of people graduate and they feel like they have to go out and get the big house or the nice apartment — but you can't necessarily do that if you want to pay your loans off quickly."
If living with your parents is not an option, he suggests renting an apartment with multiple roommates to cut your living expenses, or if you already own a house, renting out any spare rooms.
While Hoyt could have afforded to ditch the clunker that he drove in high school for a new car with modern amenities, he kept the clunker in order to pay off his loans quicker.
There's no need to buy a brand new ride when you're young and just starting out your career, Hoyt said — especially if you're in the red.
"Too many young people save up what little cash they can after making all of their monthly payments just to blow it on a trip to someplace that they really can't afford to go to," Hoyt wrote on his blog.
Sacrificing vacations allowed him to contribute more toward his loans — plus, it created the opportunity for nicer trips in the future, he wrote: "I'll travel more when I'm older and have more money to do the really nice stuff."
Hoyt avoided the mall and simply "wore all the stuff that I had from college," he explained.
Of course, there were a few necessities he had to buy — such as dress shirts and nice slacks for work — but he refused to spend on "wants."
Hoyt cut the cord, and he advises anyone else looking to free up cash and pay down loans to do the same.
It's one of the simplest ways to save money — plus, he hasn't missed it at all. "With Netflix, Hulu and devices like Apple TV you can easily stay up to date on shows without having to pay for cable," Hoyt wrote. "Stop paying for cable. Just stop."