- When she graduated from college, the TikTok influencer who goes by Taylor BeepBoop discovered she had $20,000 in student debt.
- She decided to pay it off in a year and made a plan, starting with figuring out exactly how much she owed.
- She drastically reduced her living expenses by renting a closet from a friend and taking side gigs.
- Learn more about Personal Finance Insider.
The TikTok creator and freelance post-production professional who goes online as Taylor BeepBoop had just finished her bachelor’s degree when she received a strange text from her father minutes after entering her graduation ceremony. “Congratulations, kid. Have fun paying off those student loans,” the message read.
She thought it was a joke.
Until this text, she believed her parents were footing the bill themselves due to a serious miscommunication. She didn’t realize that they couldn’t afford school anymore after some financial difficulties. She started college at 17 and didn’t ask questions signing forms. “I signed the papers, but I was a child,” she says.
“In 10 seconds, I find out that I’m starting my future with a mountain of debt,” the 28-year-old continues, later joking about the summary of her financial history which could be summed up as both “very impressive and very sad”. In one year, Taylor has paid off more than $20,000 in debt while working $13 an hour, just a little above minimum wage in California, where she lives. Below, she describes how she did that — and what she wouldn’t do again.
She worked backwards to calculate exactly how much she should pay monthly
For most of her life, Taylor has always been financially conscious. “I remember telling my parents not to buy me any more toys, because I didn’t want them wasting money,” she says. When the 2008
affected, she begged her parents to open a brokerage account for her to invest the money she had in it – at the time, she was only in college.
“When the student loan hit me, it wasn’t hugely devastating; it was almost like I was preparing for it. I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop my whole life,” she explains. .
Immediately, she began working on a roadmap to get out of the situation she had been thrown into. Because she knew how detrimental high interest rates can be when trying to pay off debt, she knew she wanted to pay off the loans as quickly as possible. She ran through her numbers with calculators to see how much interest she would pay over time. “It makes me angry,” she said, “so I did whatever I had to do.”
Determined to repay the loans within a year, she calculated how much she would have to contribute each month. “I calculated exactly how much I had to pay every two weeks, every pay period,” she says.
She was living below her means and looking for extra ways to earn money
To make these payments, she had to make extreme changes. Working for $13 an hour at a quality assurance company, she had to be extremely creative and diligent about her finances.
When Taylor tells people she lived in a closet during this part of her journey, it’s not just a figure of speech. Both to save money and because it was her only option at the time, she rented the extra closet from a friend for $400 a month. The space barely fits a bed.
She would never spend money on anything she didn’t absolutely need – not even a little snack here or there. She worked overtime most weeks and stayed late at her desk just to eat dinner provided by the company. “Those are not fun memories,” she said.
Looking for ways to increase her income even more, she undertook many side businesses during this time. “I would just browse the odd jobs section of Craigslist,” she explains. She’s participated in focus groups, brain scan research studies, sold clothes, worked as a sales clerk at golf tournaments, and even considered selling her eggs. “I always had the weirdest things going on in my life,” she says. “It looked like I had the most interesting life in the world, but no, I was just living in poverty, that was all.”
Looking back, she wouldn’t recommend most of the hustles she did. “I would probably say they weren’t worth it; I didn’t make a lot of money,” she says. “It was just causing me a lot of stress.”
She tracked all her income and expenses
At the same time, Taylor tracked her earnings down to the last penny. “I would track every payment,” she explains. Using a notebook, she recorded everything that came in and went out. Because she was paid hourly and had so many side jobs, her income fluctuated often, so it was useful to track the details each month.
“I would figure out the absolute bare minimum that I could live off of for that week,” she told Insider, “And put everything else straight into my student loans.”
Now she is trying to help others get out of debt and have a good relationship with money
Now debt-free, Taylor is still implementing many of the financial habits she used to pay off her loans. She still tracks her income and expenses and sets aside a day each month – called “finance day” – to check her money.
In recent years, most of her income has come from her professional career as a freelance post-production professional. She increased her net worth by investing her money in index funds and eventually bought a house in San Francisco that she enjoys renovating and decorating. Over the past few months, she has found success on TikTok, showing off her DIY and design skills.
She also wants her friends and other loved ones involved in financial planning. “It’s my mission to get my friends or family to join me, and I teach them about finance day and setting up retirement accounts,” she says, “I don’t want to see these people who are close to my heart drown in it.”
Speaking to others who may be going through something similar with debt, she has simple advice: “Make room for positive interactions to come into your life and try to find comfort in the fact that ‘there are millions of ways to make money.