How I became Debt Free in 11 Months

I am a Registered Nurse in my 20's working at the University Health Network in the Toronto. I volunteered as a speaker at a York University Alumni career development program. As I walked through Vari Hall there was a display that showed the amount of student loan different students had. Some posts were in the thousands while the majority were in the 10's of thousands. I could almost feel the uncertainly, the frustration, the concern and the raw emotions that each student felt as they wrote the figures. I remembered the frustration and hopelessness that I felt when I was in that situation. My parents were refugee's from vietnam, therefore we were extremely poor. My oldest brother used to viciously verbally attack me by saying that I was a burden on my family. I felt horrible, some nights I would be so worried I would cry myself to sleep. I was a second entry nursing student which means that I was completing my second degree. This meant I was older than typical undergraduate students, and this added more frustration and concern. When I graduated my student loan was over 20,000, I had no job, and this strained my relationship with my parents and therefore living at home was not an option. I sat down, and told myself "Are you a fighter or not? Its time to do what fighters do and fight for whats is yours". From this point, I committed myself 100% to set a goal and reach it. I wanted to live on my own in a downtown condo, and pay off my student loan in under 12 month. At the 11th month, I paid off my student loan while living in my own condo in Toronto. I really hope that this article will help relieve some stress from any students that are going through what I went through. Please believe in yourself and know that everything will be okay! :)

Here are some things that helped me achieved my goals...

1 - Make a Decision

This is a concept that is repeated over and over on this website. I am going to repeat it again because it is fundamental principle for achieving any type of goal. Before you want to do something, decide how badly you want to achieve it. Do you kind of what it? Do you want it so bad, that when your friend calls to go out you put going out as a higher priority? Do you want your goal more than you want to sleep? Are you willing to work 16 hours a day, and eat beans and rice? If you truly want something, you must decide from the beginning that you want it, that you have already achieved your goal.

“How badly you want something can be measured by what you sacrifice for it” - Michael Zhang 

"While the other guy is sleeping, I am working" - Will Smith

After you make this decison, you will start using this goal as an excuse NOT to do other things. For example, No I can’t go out with you tonight because I went over my monthly limit or No, I can’t go out with you because I need to do work. So this first step, you need to sit down, decide if you want to accomplish this goal. Then, write it down on a piece of paper and put it up somewhere you can read it every singe day to remind yourself. This does not mean thatyou kill yourself to reach your goals. In order to sustain your life style you still need to let yourself be happy and enjoy life.

2 - Get a job

In order to save money, you need to have an income so the second rule is get a job. This is not as easy as it seems sometimes! This is actually a topic in itself. There are many great resources that help with resume/cover letter writing. This will be a quick summary of some key points. First, do your homework and make sure that you wrote a great resume and cover letter. Don't make any spelling mistakes, and treat the application process like a full-time job. Spend 45 mins on each application, crafting a unique cover letter. Get out there and network, not limiting yourself to social media but also at conferences and in person. At these events make sure you are aware of how you present yourself; Iron your shirt, dress appropriately. You will need to develop your soft skills to be able to effectively work with others. Communications Skills, Net Working Abilities, Public Speaking,Team Working Abilities, Conflict Resolution are skills that should be focused on. Its not an easy process it takes time and commitment. Your emotions will go up and down as you start getting phone calls and interviews. It took me about 3 month sending resume's every day (3 -4 a day).

You can do it!

3 - Pay Your Goals First

I always leave a buffer amount in my bank, enough to let me survive 3 month. I never allow my bank account to go lower than this point, therefore, this is my “0”. At the beginning of every month, I always paid my OSAP off first, before any thing else. I pay myself, before I go out, before I buy shoes. This method ensures that I put myself an my needs first. This also forces me to be aware of where I can allocate my resources. This method basically ensures that you prioritize paying off your loans, as you will have no money to spend on other things, since you always paid your own goals first. 

4 - Know Your Number

No, not that number!! 

This number is how much you save every week/month. My sister works with people in debt, and what is shocking, is the number of people that have no idea what their number is. Ironically, these are the same people at the Gucci store, going clubbing, and the people spending money like have no worries, well its probably because they really have no idea.  Your earning - expense = Your number. I sit down, and calculate what my number is every month, I make X amount a month I pay X amount to rent, allocate x amount to OSAP (review rule 3), and then give myself X amount to enjoy. I also track all my expenses on a calendar so I know exactly where I am.

5 - Make Good Friends/Lifestyle Choices

We all know those people. They make 14 dollars an hour but wear Gucci belts, LV Shoes etc. It is so important to reduce the time you spend around these people. If I'm around them I don't let their stupidness affect me. I truly believe that the best things in life can be enjoyed without spending a lot of money. For example, my bf and I really enjoy to go work out in a park, we enjoy running by the lake. Our friends are all active so one day one of my close girl friends organized a trip to go tubing and swimming an hour north of the city. This cost us 25 dollars each, including gas, food, and rental fees. 


Anita Hoang is a Critical Care Registered Nurse in Toronto, Canada. She has trained at York Muay Thai, Atlas Boxing and Sinbi Muay Thai in Thailand. She has stepped into he ring three times. She has two bachleors degrees, one in Kinesiology and Health Sciences and one in Nursing. She is a firm believe in the application of the fighters mind set in all areas of her life. She has won numerous academic and athletic ahievement awards including