June 26th, 2014

Spotlight on Success: How Tommy Paid off $34,000 of Student Loan Debt Years Ahead of Schedule

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Here at Credit Karma, we love success stories. We’re inspired when we hear from members who took control of their finances and made major improvements to their credit health.

As Credit Karma’s new Community Manager, I wanted to get to know some of these inspiring members, and share their stories with our readers. Over the next few weeks, we’ll introduce you to a few Credit Karma members who deserve recognition for improving their financial situation. If you’d like to be featured, please send us an email.

Tommy’s Story

Tommy, an intensive care nurse from Canton, Texas, is a Credit Karma community member who paid off his student loans several years ahead of schedule. Tommy graduated six years ago with a degree in nursing from The University of Texas at Tyler that left him approximately $34,000 in debt. It certainly helped that Tommy attended a public university where he benefitted from in-state tuition. The tuition at a private school would have likely left him even deeper in debt, he realizes. With some time and effort, he was able to completely pay off his student loans. Tommy’s philosophy on debt repayment is simple: “while it’s not going to be fun, you made a promise to repay the money.”

When Tommy got a significant raise at work, he realized that was his chance to prioritize paying off his student loans and improving his credit health. He started making multiple payments each month, as doing so chipped away at the principal of his loans even faster. At times, Tommy was discouraged at how long it took to see changes reflected in his credit score. Even worse, his score would sometimes fluctuate – dropping suddenly only to bounce right back up. However, watching his score increase over time was just the motivation he needed to keep paying off debt. He found himself checking Credit Karma two or three times a week, and then daily to monitor his progress.

Tommy says that he finds it easy to be a frugal person—he doesn’t need much in terms of material possessions and even sold his car to save some money. But if you’re a spender, paying off your debt might not be so easy. He advises anyone starting to pay down debt to “stay on it – eventually you’ll get there.”

Words of Wisdom

Tommy’s advice to others who have massive debt loads is to learn how to say “no.” It can be hard to remain dedicated to saving money if you’re a particularly social person, Tommy noted. The temptation to go out to bars with friends can cost you hundreds of dollars a month, even. But if you stay focused and disciplined, you’ll reap the rewards of your hard work.

We applaud Tommy’s financial progress and wish him well on his next big endeavor: grad school!

Disclaimer: All information posted to this site was accurate at the time of its initial publication. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and accurate. However, Credit Karma does not make any guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For complete details of any products mentioned, visit bank or issuer website.


Kayleigh Gaddor is the Community Manager at Credit Karma. Not content to stay in one place too long, she’s most recently traveled to Hong Kong, Scandinavia and Hawaii. An avid reader and proud introvert, Kayleigh can usually be found with her head buried in her Kindle.

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  1. Congrats on the accomplishment Tommy! Great way to prioritize your future by using the raise to pay off debt.

    Jaosn Vitug at 4:30 am on June 30, 2014

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