Michelle Schroeder-Gardner from Making Sense of Cents

She Paid Off $40,000 in Student Loans in Just 7 Months! 🤯

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She Paid Off $40,000 in Student Loans in Just 7 Months! 🤯

Credit cards are a dangerous thing. I know, I’ve had them in my purse and wallet at some point in time. But I learned the hard way that they can be very risky if you’re not careful! You see, when you max out your credit card and have to carry overpayments into the next month, that’s not good for anyone! I was 18 years old with student loans also. Sometimes it feels like we never learn from our mistakes until it is too late to do anything about it…

Many have been following Michelle Schroeder-Gardner from Making Sense of Cents for some time now. I am one of them. When I learned how she was able to pay off her debts in a short amount of time, it opened my eyes and gave me hope. It is so nice when people share their stories of struggling financially because it reminds us we are not alone and gives us hope for the future.

So, when I heard about Michelle Tackling her Student loan debt, I became inspired. She agreed to let me interview her, to explain how she did it. You can do this too if you put in a little hard work.

May We Introduce:

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner 👉

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner from Making Sense of Cents

Read the Interview with Michelle Schroeder-Gardner from Making Sense of Cents

Can you tell my readers about yourself and your blog?

Hello! Thanks for having me on your website. My name is Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, and I am the founder and creator of Making Sense of Cents. I started my website several years ago, and have been a full-time blogger since 2013. 

I was able to pay off $40,000 in student loan debt in just 7 months, by side hustling like crazy, which is something I talk about in great detail on my website. I currently travel full-time with my husband and two dogs via sailboat.

On my blog Making Sense of Cents, I talk a lot about different ways to make extra money, the best ways to save money, achieving your dream life, traveling, and more. 


What methods did you use to pay off your Debts?

I did many, many different things in order to pay off my debt. I mystery shopped, rented out rooms in my house to roommates, grew my blogging business, sold items on eBay, took part in paid surveys, managed social media for businesses, and I did all of that on top of my day job as a financial analyst.

It was difficult at times, as I was often working 100 hours a week. But, it was well worth it as I was able to pay off my $40,000 student loan debt in just 7 months. This also allowed me to focus on other things in life since I no longer had a huge monthly debt hanging over my head.

What credit sources do you find most helpful? (eg. credit karma, budget calculator)

For finding your credit score, there are many ways you can do this. 

You can receive one annual free credit report from the three main credit bureaus, and this is a great way to look everything over.

What advice would you give someone who is about to start college during these uncertain financial times?

My top tip would be to find ways to cut your college costs if you can. No matter the times, so many people enter college without fully realizing what student loans mean. This then leads them to take out way more student loan debt than they need.

I recommend reading my article How Do Student Loans Work? To fully understand what you may be taking on.

In short, I recommend understanding what the terms below mean:

  • FAFSA; 
  • federal and private student loans; 
  • student loan forgiveness;
  •  Parent student loans; 
  • Interest rate; 
  • Monthly payments;
  • And more!


What tips can you give someone who has both student loans and credit card debts?

My top tip is to find ways to pay them off as quickly as you can. Credit card debt usually has a very high-interest rate, so paying them off quickly is critical to becoming debt-free and finally getting rid of them.

Yes, it may be hard to squeeze in ways to make extra money, but it is important. One thing I always like to mention is that the average person watches over 30 hours of TV a week. That is nearly a full-time job. If you were able to just claim back half of those hours each week, you’d be able to make a good side income that could be put towards your debt.

You’ll also most likely want/need to find ways to cut back on your spending as well.


What do you think are the KEYS to Financial Freedom?

I think the keys to financial freedom can vary from person to person, but here’s a good list to start with (which can be adapted for each person’s individual goals):

  • Pay off high-interest-rate debt; 
  • Save for retirement; 
  • Have an emergency fund;
  • Make a budget; 
  • Learn as much as you can;
  • Set goals for yourself


What was the most challenging moment you experienced while paying off your student loan debt?

There were a lot of challenging moments, but the lack of sleep and working so many hours was definitely draining. I was working a full-time job, and managing everything on the side, including growing a business, having a house, and still trying to squeeze in time to spend with friends and family.

I was extremely motivated, though, as it was refreshing to see each debt payment be made and watching those student loans be eliminated. 

What was your greatest failure, and what did you learn from that?

Oh, that is a tough one!

One that I had not too long ago was when I realized that I was working far too much. I was spending all of my time online, between my phone and my laptop. Working on my business almost became an addiction, which led to other parts of my life slipping.

Tell me about your proudest achievement?

One of the things I am most proud of is paying off my student loans. It was a huge relief to pay it off and completely changed my life. Not having that huge debt hanging over my head allowed me to do other things in life.

You stated you were afraid of credit card debt.  Can you explain a little bit?

Credit cards usually have high-interest rates debt, which makes it very difficult to get out of. That is not something I ever wanted to experience.

Do you have an article that you can share about budgeting and saving money?

Yes! Here’s a good one to start with – How To Make a Budget

Blogging Questions

What inspired you to start your blog?

I started my blog back in 2011, completely as a hobby. I knew nothing about blogging, and I didn’t even know that you could make money with it. 

I read about a personal finance website in a magazine and learned about the personal finance community. It seemed so friendly, engaging, and fun, so I decided to start Making Sense of Cents so that I could track my own personal finance journey.

What do you find is the most frustrating aspect of blogging?

The most frustrating is probably simply algorithm changes, such as whenever Facebook, Instagram, or Google decides to change how to show your posts to readers. It can be annoying to change things up so often, but it is just a part of blogging that you get used to.

What type of networking do you think is better to enhance your traffic to the blog?

I’m a big fan of making friendships in the blogging community. This can mean attending meetups or blogging conferences. Or, it can mean simply sharing articles from other blogs and engaging that way.

How do you manage time to run your blog efficiently?

I always try to write ahead as far in advance as I can. So, that means I like to be several months ahead when it comes to blog posts.

Other things that help me include:

  • Having an editor who helps me make my content better. This saves me a ton of time so that I’m not reading the same article 10 times.
  • Having a virtual assistant who helps me a lot with the day-to-day tasks. She assists with emails, managing my Facebook groups, creating Pinterest images, and so on.
  • Having a technical manager who helps to make sure that my website is always running smoothly. And, if it goes down (which websites do), he helps bring it back quickly.
  • Having a Pinterest virtual assistant. This person helps keep me up to date with Pinterest changes and also does nearly all of my Pinterest scheduling so that I don’t have to do it in real-time. 

As you can see, a lot of the ways include hiring out, as I believe it is so beneficial so that you can focus on the areas on your blog that are more pressing.

How much time do you spend blogging?

Over the years, my time spent blogging has varied greatly. Sometimes, I spend 100 hours a week blogging, and other times I may only spend 1 or 2. I would say a good estimate is about 30 hours a week.

A lot of people think Blogging is an easy way to make money online. Do you have some tips for those people who are interested in making money from blogging?

I definitely do not think that blogging is an easy way to make money blogging. If it were easy, then everyone would be doing it. 

My tips for making money blogging include:

  • Starting on self-hosted WordPress, as well as owning your domain name. 
  • Networking with other bloggers as much as you can. 
  • Spending time on creating high-quality content that readers (and yourself) find interesting. 
  • Continuing to learn as much about blogging, social media, and the industry because things are always changing, and there are always new things to learn. 
  • Having an email list from the very beginning. 

And so much more – the list is endless but is a good start!

I do have a free course that people may be interested in, that will teach them how to start a blog – How To Start a Blog Free Course

What is the most significant difference in your life post-blogging?

So many things have changed, but the biggest difference is probably my happiness level. Being my own boss, creating my own flexible schedule, being able to travel full-time, loving what I do, having the ability to help readers with their financial situation, and more, are all great positives of creating Making Sense of Cents.

You have a course “Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing” Can you please explain a little bit about it and how bloggers can take your class?

My course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, is a course that teaches bloggers how to make affiliate income on their website. Affiliate marketing is a monetization method that I think more bloggers can benefit from using, for many reasons. This includes: Many bloggers don’t fully understand what affiliate marketing is. So that bloggers can correctly place affiliate links on their websites. To stay legal, as there are laws and rules that apply to blogging and making money online. And, to grow blogging income! I created this course back in 2016, and have had over 5,000 students sign up over the years. The course has helped many bloggers learn how to make a full-time income.

Grab Michelle's Free ebook

What is the best way for people to keep up to date with all of the best money tips you share? 

The best way to keep up to date is to go to MakingSenseofCents.com, as well as follow me on Instagram and Instagram.com/michelleschro. 

Thank You!

I would like to thank Michelle again. I’m so honored that she took the time out of her busy schedule to share her story and experiences with us. I can say that I completed her course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing and learned more than I thought possible. She provides you with so many great resources and tools to help you get started making money with Affiliate Marketing. 

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner from Making Sense of Cents

We would love to hear your story too! Leave us a comment below if you are working on fixing your financial situation or are now debt-free.

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2 thoughts on “She Paid Off $40,000 in Student Loans in Just 7 Months! 🤯”

  1. I have followed Michelle’s story for many years. So inspiring and full of great information. Thank you for digging a bit deeper and sharing all the great resources in your interview.

    1. She really is so inspiring, I have taken her course and learned so much. I am glad you enjoyed the interview and thank you for visiting The Hacking of Life! 🙂

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