When Student Loans and Medical Bills Get You Down, Jump Back on Your Horse—Interview with Alegria Beveridge
Name: Alegria Beveridge
Locale: Denver, CO
Alma Maters: Mount Ida College and Bay Path University
By Day: Software Project Manager
SoFi Member Since: 2015
Approximate SoFi Loan: $37,000 (self), $250,000 (husband)
SoFi Savings: $7,000 on own loans, $30,000 on husband’s loans
While Alegria Beveridge made it through her undergrad years with almost no student debt, business school left her with $45,000 in student loans when she graduated in 2012. Add to that amount her husband’s $280,000 in student loans, and they were facing an amount of debt that would make anyone feel anxious.
On top of those financial concerns, Alegria has struggled with a lifelong health issue that recently required emergency surgery, which left her with a $6,000 bill. But none of this can hold her back from following her dream of building a home in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
Why did you take out student loans?
I took out some loans for my undergrad degree at Mount Ida College in Massachusetts. I had a job during college so I was able to keep those balances relatively low. Paying them off wasn’t too difficult.
After college, I worked for a while but wanted to get ahead faster in my career. So I decided to get an MBA. I was working while going to school, but couldn’t cover all of my tuition. So I had to borrow more money. When I married my husband, who accumulated about $280,000 in student loans after attending a five-year program in computer science and multimedia at Northeastern University, we then had his debt to repay, too.
Has your education paid off well for your career?
Yes. When I finished graduate school in 2012 and was able to move into a better position. Just two weeks after graduation, I got a new job as a Junior Project Manager with EnerNOC, an energy software company. This job paid 24% more than my previous Project Coordinator role. After a year in that position, I was promoted to Project Manager and received another 10% raise.
How has refinancing your loans through SoFi helped you reach your payment goals?
We started out indebted to more than ten student loan companies. Ten! At one point, we couldn’t make the payments on our loans, even though we were each making almost six figures per year. Through SoFi, I combined all of my loans into one new loan, and my husband did the same. When we refinanced our loans, we were able to reduce the interest rate and the number of companies we were paying. With SoFi, we’re saving $7,000 on my loans, and over $30,000 on my husband’s loans! Plus, we’re paying SoFi via AutoPay, which not only makes it easier, but saved us even more on our interest.
Are you paying the minimum each month, or doing something else to get out of debt sooner?
We chose a loan rate and terms that minimized our interest rate without putting us under serious financial strain to make monthly payments. We are able to pay double our minimum each month, but have the flexibility to pay less when we need to.
For example, in November I had emergency surgery. I was born with a reproductive disorder that has caused lifelong problems. I’ve had two minor surgeries, but then had a flare up in November. That’s when my doctor said it was time for a major surgery to fix the problem permanently. So we paid less on the loans for a couple of months.
Having that flexibility was huge for us. We’re now back to making double payments and are on schedule to pay everything off in six and a half years. But I have a goal to get there in five.
How did surgery impact your work and student loan payments? Are you well now?
When you take into account all of the doctor visits and the hospital stay, I owed about $6,000 in medical bills. We had some money in savings to throw at it, but by cutting back on the extra student loan payments for a couple months, we were able to handle everything.
I only took a day and a half of vacation for the surgery, thanks to the ability to work from home. Just a couple of weeks after the surgery, I was back to my favorite hobby —horseback riding. I feel great.
Have you been riding for long?
I started riding when I was seven. A family friend had horses, and I tagged along for a few lessons. I quickly fell in love with it. I negotiated with my parents to give up summer camp so I could take horseback riding lessons. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, so to pay for my lessons, I mucked stalls and helped out around the farm when I was just eight years old.
What is your big dream once you are debt free?
The plan is to build a dream house in the mountains. I’d love to have a horse on the property, and my husband wants a big garage for his motorcycles. Mountain views, big deck, a lot of outside living, and more space to stretch out—that’s the dream.