Getting out of debt is not easy. It requires a certain mindset and dedicated effort to get it done. Debt is no respecter of persons. It doesn’t matter what socioeconomic level you are, without a targeted effort, it is impossible to conquer debt.
Our get out of debt series is to inspire others who are still in debt. After paying off our student loan debt which between Mrs Breathe Easy and I, was upwards of $200,000. The actual amount paid with interest was close to $300,000. The strategies we used to pay it off was discussed in the article about getting out of student loan bondage.
We interview other people who have been successful in slaying debt. The certified debt ninjas.
Our first debt slaying ninja in the series is none other than my friend Xrayvsn. From my interactions with him and how he has inspired me and others, he is a remarkable fellow.
He has a habit of making lemonade out of lemons, turning an unfortunate situation to a motivation. He crawled his way out of a devastating divorce and gigantic student loan debt.
What do you do for a living?
I am a physician, board certified in the specialty of radiology.
Do you have a degree and are you currently using your degree?
Yes, I have a medical degree (graduated in 1997) and I currently am practicing medicine with it.
How long have you worked in your field and what is your current salary range?Only if you want to, however, it is better to give our readers some perspective. If they are low income earner vs high income earner, the strategies to pay off debt might differ.
I completed a fellowship in interventional radiology in 2003 and have been practicing medicine since that time.
As a specialist, I do enjoy a high-income salary (think very, very high six figures) which is quite unusual even for my specialty.
I am very fortunate to be in the practice I am in with a high salary and still able to live in a very ‘low cost of living’ area.
What major debt have you paid off that you feel is a hurrah moment for you?
Describe to us in detail, the strategies you used to pay off that/those debt(s)
I was very fortunate that my parents funded my college education which I am sure was quite expensive even back then as I went to Johns Hopkins University for four years.
After undergraduate I was basically responsible for my own way financially and borrowed the maximum allowable each year to pay for medical school tuition and room and board.
I don’t remember the exact numbers, but it was around $40k/year.
That is quite expensive. I don’t even want to imagine how much medical school cost now.
After 4 years of medical school I therefore had at least $160k worth of student debt.
Even though I got into a residency and started making some money (resident salaries were around 32-36k/yr if I remember correctly), I chose not to make any payments towards this amount.
In my mind I thought future self would take care of the money because future self would be making a lot more so it shouldn’t be a problem.
I was wrong.
Future self was definitely not happy when future self then transitioned into present self and had to start making those payments which ballooned due to all the forbearance and deferment options I had used up.
All total I think it took me 17 years from the exact day I graduated medical school to finally pay off that balance completely.
This is a warning for those thinking of going to medical school. The debt is saddening.
I never ran the numbers but with that many years of interest I would say it easily eclipsed $600k when all is said regarding the total cost of my medical education.
The only other major debt was my home.
At one point I had a first and second mortgage on it which totaled around $600k.
After my divorce there was a switch that was suddenly turned on in my head and I decided that I wanted to become debt free.
I attacked my student loans first because they had the highest interest rates.
I used my positive cash-flow (basically my high income and low spending rate really helped this) and had it paid off fairly quickly once I directed all my excess money towards it.
Later I had a small war chest built up in case for some reason my ex-wife won her frivolous civil lawsuit against me (she asked for $4 million with jury trial, which after 1 week of hearings, they awarded her $0).
That is scary. Divorce takes an emotional toll and cost a lot of money too. Just glad the jury were reasonable.
After paying legal fees for this ($125k), I still had a substantial amount left.
In one fell swoop I paid my next highest interest rate loan which was my 2nd mortgage.
With only one loan remaining (the primary mortgage), all my positive cashflow quickly disposed of that and I finally became debt free and owned “Every Blade of Grass.”
I love the saying. This must have been an awesome feeling.
It was a huge weight off my shoulders and I felt especially proud as I essentially achieved this feat just a few years after what most people call “an awful divorce for the ages.”
Do you have any other debt left? What kind of debt? What are your goals to pay off this debt?
I am currently debt free and have no desire to go back into debt.
Do you budget? Why or why not? Which method do you use?
I feel a bit embarrassed to admit this, especially since my website primarily deals with personal finance, but throughout my life I really have not used a budget.
I do really have a low spend/frugal lifestyle for the most part.
When I spend, I spend really big (last purchase was a new 2015 Tesla 90D with pretty much all the bells and whistles).
For these large purchases I will pay for the item in cash and thus previously set aside money for it.
For someone who doesn’t budget, you have done well. Check our article on limitations of budgeting and why some people might not need one.
What percentage of your monthly income do you save?
The great thing about the financial situation I am in is because of front loading money into income producing assets I have created what I call a “Capital Snowball” and that money starts earning money of its own and creates a self-perpetuating cycle.
Essentially every year my investment/passive income continues to grow and add to my primary W2 income while my burn rate remains relatively stable and low
Because of this phenomenon, my savings rate has rapidly climbed over the past several years that I have actually tracked it.
About 3 years ago I would say I was saving about 60% of my income, now it is in the mid to high 70s.
Do you have any passive income sources?
I absolutely love passive income.
It is my “Favorite Kind of Money,” and I do everything I can to create assets that add to that.
In addition to dividends from my market portfolio (stocks, bonds, REITS), I have passive income sources primarily from real estate investments (I originally did crowdfunding but after I became an accredited investor I started investing primarily in private syndications with commercial multifamily apartments.
Do you rent or own your own home/condo/apartment?
I own my home.
Which side of the argument are you in terms of paying off mortgages investing?
I ended up doing a combination of both.
I always made sure I maximized contributions to whatever retirement vehicles I had available.
After that, the excess money went to rapidly paying down the mortgage.
Even though I probably left some money on the table given the long bull run we have had, I think the financial peace of mind I have being debt free far surpasses any monetary amount I did not capitalize on.
I usually turn it around when someone asks me that very question and ask the following:
“If you had a fully paid off home, would you take a mortgage out on it to put the proceeds into the stock market?”
I would venture that most people would not and that should also be a clue of what might be the best approach.
47 year old physician (radiologist) who is a single divorced dad of a teenage daughter and runs the website XRAYVSN.com.
I have learned a lot from Xrayvsn’s adversities and the way he overcame them. Check out his website for divorce series. His series is devoted to inspiring people going through divorce, that they can overcome the challenge and get their life back.
If you love what you read, Join us. We hate spam too, so we will only send you relevant emails.
Please comment below and let us know what adversities you have overcome and what you think about our series.
If you have a get out of debt story to tell us, please send us an email or comment about it. We would be happy to interview you.
PIN THIS IMAGE