Rochester, New York native and child of a single parent household with seven siblings, Devon Horace was no stranger to a lifestyle of improvising while being economically reasonable. In order for him to pursue higher learning in Psychology with a concentration in Human Behavior and Cognitive Psychology at the St. Joseph College in Brooklyn, New York, he had to apply for student loans. Like majority of college students, Horace accrued $37, 238.38 in student loan debt upon graduating in 2015. Of course, nobody likes having to pay “Auntie Sallie Mae”, and becoming financially paralyzed. However, Horace took the high road and figured out how to pay his student loan debt in 10 months. Through his experience and financial challenges, Horace birthed Horace Consulting, LLC to help other millennials through their financial journey and gain financial literacy.
We had an opportunity to catch up with the Master of Strategy and Execution and are excited to share with our readers, tips to becoming debt free in 2019:
MillBuzz: As a child growing up, what was it like in a household with seven siblings?
Horace: My mother’s house was like survival of the fittest. We grew up very independent and though we had each other, we had to find our own way. The conversation about money was always negative and having eight kids in the house, we grew up fast and was strongly encouraged to get jobs to help out around the house, or when we were of age, get our own space.
MillBuzz: American culture programs high school graduates to pursue higher learning by going to college and getting a degree with the options of paying for their education via out of pocket, scholarships, or loans. What would you do different as it relates to preparing financially for college?
Horace: If I could do something different, it would have been applying for and seeking out as many scholarships as I can. Also taking the options of a full ride to a school rather than passing on it, to go to a school out of town or of high notoriety. A lot of students go off to school not really knowing what they want to be or study, and before you know it, you’re thousands of dollars in debt.
MillBuzz: How did you feel when you realized the amount of debt you’ve accumulated? What impact did this have on your mindset?
Horace: Looking at my debt as a whole, I felt defeated. I thought, how was I going to be able to pay all of this off? Then I spiraled out. So many thoughts raced through my head from where I was going to live, and if I was going to be able to have my own place, to when would I be able to travel and have time for myself, with a number like this, I’ll be working forever.
MillBuzz: According to The Motley Fool, the average 2017 graduate acquired their degree with $39,400 of student loan debt. With you successfully paying off $37,238.38 in student loans, alongside another $10,000 of miscellaneous debt in 10 months, what tips can you share with those struggling to become debt free?
Horace: Here are 5 tips:
- Take Inventory:
- Write out all your student loans out. Rather it’s in a notebook or excel sheet, you have to track and list everything you owe.
- List each loan amount in order that fits you. I decided to list from largest dollar amount with highest interest rate to smallest. Many people know this process as the debt avalanche or debt snowball method.
- To constantly remind yourself of your debt, make sure it’s visible and or easy to access. If you spend a lot of time in the bathroom, put it on the sink mirror. If you like to Netflix and chill, put it next to the TV. And if you’re a foodie, on the fridge is always a great place to hang it up. I would even write my loan list on the fridge.
- Focus on small victories:
- When looking at your debt as a whole, you may feel defeated. Take each loan and create small victories and goals.
- Many loans are broken down into numbered loans (ex. Loan 1, Loan 3, Loan 8, and so on), so tackle each loan one at a time.
- Once you pay off one loan, you become more motivated and determined to pay off the others. It’s a psychological Jedi mind trick in yourself.
- Pay more than the minimum payments:
- Set up auto pay. A lot of lenders have been rewarding people a certain percentage off their loans if they switch to auto pay.
- With the extra money you make, pay towards the principle of the loan.
- Pick up an extra job or another source of income:
- Become a freelancer.
- Sell your unwanted items on apps and websites like Letgo, Amazon, and Facebook marketplace.
- Pick up a gig like babysitting, shoveling snow, racking leaves, cutting the grass, taking the garbage out for the elderly, Uber, TaskRabbit, a personal shopper, and helping people move. My point is that there is so many ways to make extra money.
- Basic living:
- Try to cut your monthly expenses down as low as you can and still pay for the necessities.
- Stop buying things you already have like more clothes and shoes, and more make-up and beauty supplies.
- Try to take your bills down like cancelling subscriptions to programs. Example, if you’re paying for Netflix, you don’t need Hulu, HBO, and others.
- If it’s an option, try to live with a very close friend or move back in with your parents until you’ve paid off all your debt.
MillBuzz: With social media being a necessity to run a business or become an influencer in today’s society, it has become overbearing on the way it affects mental health. How were you able to manage being a “millennial on a budget” without comparing your financial journey to social media illusions?
Horace: One way I would not compare myself was by following people like me. I would follow debt freedom and debt free journey accounts to find likeminded people who were also paying off their debt. When you do that, you become a part of a community that shares the same goal. Now we all know we can’t control everything we see in social media, so at times I would go on multiple media fasting. I would take a whole month off to get away from all of the distractions.
If you’re building a brand, show your followers the journey. People relate more to real and raw content. Yes, many people love the glamorous, wild and fun lifestyle, but if you’re real and organic, like-minded people will follow.
MillBuzz: In order to remain debt free, having tunnel vision is key. What formula or template would you recommend millennials to use on the monthly basis to monitor their income?
Horace: I recommend having a budget sheet and a budget tracker. I encourage people to keep track of their money, so they may adjust if needed
MillBuzz: It’s a new year and we all start the year off motivated to save. What’s an essential template/outline everyone should have in their home when it comes to saving?
Horace: If you’re someone who needs to physical separate your money in order to keep it, I would suggest getting a water cooler bottle. With a normal piggy bank, you can access your funds pretty easy, which may cause you to dip into your savings. If you have a water cooler bottle, it’s harder to dip into your savings because in order to access the bottle, you have to cut it open.
If you’re someone who works well with digital banking, I would advise setting up your account to move a certain percentage of your paycheck to a savings account seamlessly.
MillBuzz: To piggy back off of our last question, what are a few tools (e.g., books, YouTube channels, or podcasts) you would recommend millennials to study in order to advance in financial literacy?
Horace: Here are the five books I started off with during my debt freedom journey:
- Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Classon
- The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley
- The Millionaire Mind by William D. Danko
- The One Thing by Jay Papasan and Gary Keller
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Follow these hashtags on Instagram #DebtFreedom #DebtFreedomJourney and check out my YouTube channel at Devon Horace. And when you read and watch this content, it is very important that you apply it. In order for it to work in your life, you must apply the teachings.
MillBuzz: What’s next for Horace Consulting, LLC and where can we learn more about your company?
Horace: Horace Consulting will be offering group courses. We will provide tips, tools, and personal strategy to help you pay off your personal debts. And clients will have lifetime access to a private Facebook group of knowledge, and like-minded people on the same journey to debt freedom. We will continue to go Live on Instagram providing tips and tools.