A local man who paid off student loans in one year shares tips on ways for others to cut down on debt.
When Phil Risher, founder of the Young Adult Survival Guide blog, graduated from college in 2012 he had $30,000 in student loan debt. It was important for him to pay it off quickly, so he developed a plan that started with setting goals and then a budget. With an annual salary of $48,000 from a customer service job, Risher knew he would bring in about $3,000 a month. To meet his goal, he paid $2,500 monthly for loans and used $500 for expenses.
“You want to set a budget that matches your goals,” Risher said. “Then you have to control your mind every day."
Part of Risher’s strategy was decreasing expenses. He moved into his father’s basement, drove an older paid off car and packed lunched Monday through Thursday every week. On Fridays, which he coined the term “ Yum-Yum Friday,” he ate out. Twelve months later, his school loans were paid off and his sights were set on a different goal: buying his first home with cash and no payments.
Over the next two years, Risher continued to save and reached that goal.
“I was really proud of myself,” Risher said. “ I live in Montgomery County and things aren’t cheap there, so when I stuck to my goal and hit it, it was an amazing feeling.”
Student loan debt is at an all-time high. According to Pew Research, Americans owed more than $1.3 trillion in student loans by the end of June. That is more than two and a half times what they owed a decade earlier, according to the report. Research also shows that four in 10 adults under the age of 30 have student loan debt, which averages around $30,000 per borrower.
Risher knows how stressful that can be, so he started the Young Adult Survival Guide in hopes of helping others. The blog features posts on budgeting strategies as well as a beginners guide to cash flow.