Going From $54k in Debt to Saving for a Wedding and House: An Interview with SoFi Member Deanna Krinn
Name: Deanna Krinn
Locale: Bloomington, IN
Alma Mater: Indiana University
By Day: Project Manager at Indiana University Communications
SoFi Member Since: 2015
Approximate SoFi Loan: $54,000, Combined Personal and Student Loan Refi
SoFi Savings: ~$500/month
Deanna Krinn is the first in her family to put herself through college, which she knew would be challenging when relying solely on scholarships and loans.
As a result of having to move to attend college, Deanna maxed out her first credit card, charging $2,000 on it in just a few months after arriving at Indiana University. Despite working three jobs to cover her expenses while in school, her total credit card debt grew to over $16,000, and she was forced to take out a personal loan to keep up with payments.
On top of that stress, Deanna’s father lost his job and was out of work for a couple of years, which meant no health insurance for anyone in the family. Eventually, she accrued over $50,000 in debt, including student and personal loans.
Fast forward to this time last year, Deanna started a new job as a project manager for the communications and marketing agency of her alma mater. She consolidated two outstanding student loans, and then refinanced that consolidated student loan. She then went on to refinance an existing personal loan through SoFi that served to eliminate her remaining credit card debt. Today, she makes only two monthly payments—one for her refinanced student loans, and one for her personal loan—allowing her to have some fun and save $500 per month to help pay for her wedding, honeymoon, and a home in the future.
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How has consolidating and refinancing your student loans through SoFi helped in your effort to get out of debt faster?
The average interest rate on my student loans before consolidating and refinancing with SoFi was 7.25%; after, it dropped to 6%. The interest rate on my personal loan went from 15.25% down to 9.24%. I also decreased the term length of my student loan by five years, and increased the term length of my personal loan, but only by one year. Thanks to the lower rates on both loans, I now save $500 per month. My fiancé and I sat down a little less than a year ago to hammer out a budget, and now we talk regularly as we track our spending against our savings.
How do you and your fiancé track your expenses, income, and savings?
We use Mint, because it’s connected to our joint accounts, to help us fall in line with our savings and debt repayment goals. But it’s been a challenge, especially when it comes to food—eating dinner out is a total weak spot for us.
What are you saving for now that you’re getting your debt under control?
We’re getting married in the fall, at a farm just south of Bloomington. We’re expecting a little over 150 family members and friends, and we have an exciting evening planned, including yard games, a barbecue, and hours of dancing with our favorite people.
After that, we’re off on our honeymoon—a relaxing two-week trip to Ireland and Edinburgh, Scotland. I’ve never been out of the country before, so I’m really looking forward to taking in as much as possible. We’re staying at Airbnb rentals most of the time; we want to meet locals and avoid the tourist attractions.
We’re also saving to buy a home. When we return from our honeymoon, we’ll look in the Bryan Park neighborhood of Bloomington, where we currently rent. Our budget is in the $150,000-$200,000 range. We need something a bit larger than what we have now, and we want a big yard for our two 80-pound dogs!
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Once you return from Europe, what’s the next step for you career-wise?
I’ve been with Indiana University for about a year. Most of the people in my office are in their 20s and 30s, which makes it a fun place to work. I love calling Bloomington home, so I’m focusing on building my clout and connections at the university. I’m working on moving up to the next level in the agency, which would include more client-facing relations and managing more complex campaigns with larger budgets.
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Given that you’ve overcome some serious financial challenges since graduating, what advice do you have for young professionals struggling with debt?
When I got my first student loan bill for $900 just a few months after graduating from college, I thought someone had made a mistake—the amount was more than my rent! So I’d tell others in a similar position to consolidate their loans and keep their eyes open for opportunities to refinance. There are options to get back on track; you don’t have to be stuck with that debt forever.
For more information on how to navigate your student loans, explore our Student Loan Help Center.
How do you climb out of debt when your income just pays your living expenses and you can’t find another job?
You don’t. Cut any cost possible. Buy a cheaper car. Cancel cable. Constantly look for a job that pays more, and offers the same, or better benefits.