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Do you aspire to a debt-free lifestyle? These debt-free influencers did, but to get there, they had to adopt new habits and tackle their debt for good. In addition to sharing the amount and type they’ve overcome, they gave us their top tips for saving money and paying down student loans, credit card debt, personal loans and more.

Follow their stories and learn from their experiences so you too can conquer your debt and move toward a debt-free lifestyle.

Debt-free influencer Alicia Tenise

Alicia T. Chew

Paid off $40,000 in one year (40% of her debt).

✅Worked with a financial trainer

Alicia decided the best way to conquer $100,000 in credit card and student loan debt was to work with a financial trainer who could guide her through the process and hold her accountable for the changes she needed to make.

Debt-free influencer, Alicia T. Chew, is a top D.C-based fashion, lifestyle and travel blogger. Since launching her blog in 2011, Alicia has been named one of the top D.C. fashion & beauty Instagram accounts to follow by Washingtonian Magazine, highlighted on Essence Magazine’s website, interviewed by The Washington Post, and was featured by ELLE Magazine in their April 2017 issue.

Tip #1: Work with a Financial Trainer

As her brand and income grew, Alicia decided it was time to get serious about her debt. So she enlisted the help of a financial trainer to get her finances in shape!

“One method my financial trainer suggested was to pay off any bills/credit cards with the greatest interest rate first and opt for payment plans for those bills with lower interest rates. 

Whenever I get paid for a blog project, I would put:

  • 30% of my earnings into savings account for taxes
  • 15% in high-yield savings account for my emergency fund
  • 15% towards the loan or credit card with the highest interest rate

 I’ve improved my credit score by 100+ points and pay off 40% of my debt in the past year.

Learn more:
Follow: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter 

Debt-free influencer Leanna Carson

Leanna Carson, Change with Us

Paid off a $20,00 bank loan in 1 year

✅Leveraged their good debt to pay off the bad
✅Paid off high-interest debt first

Leanna and her husband decided to sell their home after it increased in value and used equity to pay down their “bad” debts. 

In 2016, debt-free influencer, Leanna Carson, and her husband invested in real estate by purchasing their first home

in a fantastic neighborhood. They knew the value of the house would increase, and they’d eventually make money on their purchase. That time came in 2020 when they decided to sell their home and use the money to tackle other debts. 

Tip #2: Know the Difference Between Good and Bad Debt

Good debts are any debt that increases your net worth as you pay it (i.e., mortgages), whereas bad debts do not. Using the equity in your home to pay off debt is one way to use good debt to conquer bad debt.

“We spontaneously decided to sell our house in July 2020, and because we had a decent amount of equity in our home, the home’s value had increased, and we had owned it for more than two years (no capital gains), it just made sense.”

After they sold their home, they paid off student loans, credit card debt and their second car! They were also able to set money aside for investing and our next home. 

Tip #3 Pay off High-Interest Debt First

The couple also committed to paying off high-interest debt first and always paid more than the minimum payment to speed up the process. 

Learn more:
Follow: Instagram

Debt-free influencer Cinneah El-Amin

Cinneah El-Amin, Flyananced

Paid off $23,000 in student loans, credit card debt and personal loan debt in one year. 

✅Negotiated a higher salary
✅Used the Debt Snowball Method

Flynanced is a travel and financial freedom platform where debt-free influencer, Cinneah El-Amin, teaches her followers how to travel and build wealth. She created this platform to challenge the narrative of shame around money and encourage others who want to manage their money while also pursuing the things that bring them happiness and joy.

Tip #4: Negotiate a Higher Salary

“Thanks to negotiating a higher salary, a realistic budget, clarity around my spending triggers,  and using the debt snowball method, I am now debt-free! 

Tip #5: Use the Debt Snowball Method

“I paid off over $23,000 of student loan, credit card, and personal loan debt and documented my journey throughout 2020 to show other millennial women that no matter what mistakes we’ve made in the past, we are worthy of a life without debt!”

Learn more:
Follow: Instagram 

Debt-free influencer Anna Barker

Anna Barker, Logical Dollar

Paid off $60,000 of student debt in three years.

✅Paid herself first, each pay cycle

Paying yourself first means: Before you pay your bills, buy groceries, or do anything else with your money, you set aside a certain amount that will go toward savings.

After finishing college with over $60,000 in debt, debt-dree influencer, Anna Barker, ignored the problem for a few years until she realized it wasn’t the life she wanted to be living. 

 “Friends who had graduated around the same time seemed to consider carrying massive amounts of student debt as normal, but after doing the math, I decided that it was definitely time for a change in my financial habits, with the ultimate goal of becoming debt-free.”

Tip #6: Pay Yourself First, Each Pay Cycle

Paying yourself first means: Before you pay your bills, buy groceries, or do anything else with your money, you set aside a certain amount that will go toward savings. 

“I still left room in my budget for things that I truly wanted to spend money on (travel, primarily) but made sure that a major portion of each paycheck was also being devoted to my financial goals.”

Learn more at

Debt-free influencer Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok, Conscious Coins

Paid off $28,000 of student debt in three years on a $31,000 annual income. 

✅Put half her paycheck toward her debt
✅Worked side hustles to earn extra income

By sharing living expenses with her partner and roommate and taking on side hustles, Zina was able to put half of her paycheck toward her debt each month.

Debt-free influencer, Zina Kumok, tackled $28,000 of student loans in three years, all while never earning more than $31,000 a year. She kept a strict budget and continuously looked for new income streams and ways to cut spending so she could put a large part of her earnings toward her debt. 

Tip #7: Add Side Hustles to Earn Extra Income

“At first, I would do internet surveys for about $1 each. Then, I worked as a freelance writer. Any time I got extra money, I added it toward my student loans. I would also open bank accounts with sign-up bonuses and put the money toward my loans.”

Check out: Ideas for your next side hustle.

Tip #8: Put 50% of Your Paycheck Toward Your Debt Each Month

“The biggest change came when I moved in with my then-boyfriend and friend. Splitting the rent with two other people made a huge difference. At that point, I was able to put half my paycheck toward my debt.”

Learn more:
Follow: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook

Debt-free influencer Jessica Lindholm

Jessica Caver Lindholm, To Living Free

Paid off $100,000 of debt by changing her relationship with money.

✅Asked Credit Card Companies for Lower Interest Rates
✅Built a healthy relationship with money

Jessica took charge of her debt and boldly asked her credit card companies to work with her by adjusting her interest rates. 

Debt-free influencer, Jessica Caver Lindholm, struggled with over 100k in debt for many years but ultimately took control of her finances and becoming a self-made millionaire by managing her money-based anxiety and focusing on small, actionable steps she could take to reframe her relationship with money.

Tip #9: Ask Credit Card Companies for Lower Interest Rates

“I called her credit card companies to ask for a lower interest rate or exceptions when I needed them.”

#Tip #10: Build a Healthy Relationship with Money

“I was constantly struggling and anxious about paying off my debt until I shifted my personal narrative and stopped letting it control me.” 

She took back power by making consistent monthly payments for more than the minimum whenever possible.  It’s challenging to attract something and control it if it brings you constant fear and anxiety. By reframing her relationship with money, Jessica connected with it on her terms and attracted it with positive energy. 

Learn more:
Follow: Instagram and Facebook

Debt-free influencer Heath and Alyssa Padgett

Heath and Alyssa Padgett, Make Money Rving

Paid off $30,000 in student loans in under three years and visited all 50 states along the way.

✅Think outside the box with housing!

Heath and Alyssa bought an RV on Craigslist and took their freelance video editing and marketing business on the road. They have spent the past seven years traveling (mostly) full-time while running two remote businesses.

Debt-free influencers, Heath and Alyssa Padgett, took the typical downsizing story, turned it on its head and put it on wheels! After graduating from College they had $30,000 in student loan debt. Rather than settling down and slowly paying off the debt over 10 years, they decided to completely reimagine their housing situation and build an on-the-go life that allowed them to pay off the debt faster while indulging their desire to travel.

Tip #11: Think Outside the Box with Housing

“We bought an old RV on Craigslist, found ways to save money or even camp for free, and lived as minimally as possible. We paid off all our student loans in under 3 years and visited all 50 states along the way.’

Learn more:
Follow: Facebook, The RV Entrepreneur Facebook Group and Instagram

Debt-free influencer Sarah Hovind

Sarah Hovind, Sociables

Paid off a $20,000 bank loan in one year.

✅Downsized her housing
✅Sold her car

Sarah downsized her housing and transportation expenses to tackle a bank loan with steep monthly payments. 

In 2020, debt-free influencer, Sarah Hovind, owed the bank $20,000 from a loan she had taken out to invest. Although investing is a great idea, she learned the hard way how steep loan payments can outweigh the benefits of borrowing money to fund business ventures. 

Tip #12: Downsize Your Housing And Transportations Costs

“Taking charge was difficult, but I decided to downsize from my nice (but expensive) downtown condo to a shared townhouse outside of the city core. Next, I got rid of my car. That was also tough for me, but given the many transit options in my city, I had to acknowledge my car wasn’t necessary. These two things cut my expenses considerably.”

Sarah also found ways to increase her income by monetizing her Instagram. Using Instagram, Sarah showcases local events, restaurants, and brewery news and encourages people to take advantage of all their city has to offer. In 2020, Sarah was nominated for “Best Blogger” and “Best Instagram” in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Learn more:
Follow: Instagram

Debt-free influencer Jen Smith

Jen Smith, Modern Frugality

Paid off $78,000 in debt in 23 months

✅Used no-spend challenges to stay focused on goals and eliminate mindless spending

Jen Smith runs the Frugal Friends podcast, which has over 1 million downloads. 

As soon as they finished their honeymoon, newlyweds, debt-free influencers, Jen and Travis Smith, set to work tackling their debt. At the time, Travis was between jobs, having relocated to start married life, and Jen was making $35k. They quickly diversified their income streams with extra jobs together made $88K annually.

Tip #13: Use No-spend Challenges to Eliminate Mindless Spending

“I used no-spend challenges to detox my spending and show me things I was spending mindlessly on or that I just didn’t need like I thought I did. It was doing those things over and over for two years that finally got us to the finish line.”

Learn more:
Follow: Instagram and Podcast

Scarlett McKnight, Thirty-Eight Investing

Debt-free influencer Scarlett McKnight

Scarlett McKnight, ThirtyEight Investing

Paid off $70,000 in four years. 

✅She made the most of her two-income household

Scarlett paid off her debt strategically, tackling the first $20,000 in three years (during graduate school) and the remaining $50,000 in one year.

Debt-free influencer, Scarlett McKnight, created ThirtyEight Investing after beginning the journey to paying off over $70,000 in graduate student debt for physical therapy. The number 38 represents her ultimate goal of achieving financial freedom by that age.

“During the three years of full-time graduate school, I took a Financial Peace University course, read dozens of books in personal finance. I took on two extra jobs during school and was able to pay off approximately $20,000 within three years. After graduating, I was able to pay off the remaining $50,000 of student debt within one year of dedicated and exhausting work. This included first tracking my personal cash flow, utilizing a strict monthly budget and only living on bare necessities.” 

Tip #14: Make The Most Of Your Two-Income Household

“I figured out how to live off my husband’s income and pay all net income from my full-time job toward my debt. All the while earning passive income via my website.”

Tip #15 Create Passive Streams Of Income

Passive income: earnings derived from a rental property, limited partnership, or other enterprises in which a person is not actively involved. 

“In addition to creating wooden projects to sell on Marketplace, I bought two rental properties that earn positive cash flow. It was the most rewarding and intense twelve months of my life.” 

Learn more:
Follow: Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Twitter

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