How I paid off my SoFi student loans 9 years early

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SoFi refinance student loans

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It was just one year ago that I refinanced my student loans with SoFi and saved over 50% on my interest rate.  I refinanced into a 10-year loan, but I never expected to keep the loan for 10 years.  I’m proud to say that SoFi is now paid off 9 years early!

Refinancing with SoFi and how you can earn $100

When I refinanced my loans in March 2015, the process was fairly simple, even with my finances being overly complex with all of my rental properties.  Within 10 minutes of filling out the online forms and uploading a few documents (ie: recent paystubs, W-2s), I was approved.

Because I knew that I would be paying off the loans pretty quickly, I chose the variable rate loan rather than the fixed loan.  And I chose the auto-deduct of the minimum payment, which provided a 0.25% discount off my rate!  This allowed me to drop my interest rate from 6% to under 3%!!!

To check the current rates, click here to use my affiliate link to earn $100 on your student loan refinance with SoFi.

SoFi refinance student loans

SoFi reduced the minimum loan to $5000

Previously, SoFi required a minimum loan balance of $10,000 to refinance with them, but they recently lowered the minimum loan balance to $5,000.  So, even if you have a low balance loan, you can still save with SoFi!

For example, if you have a $10,000 loan at the 6% rate that I had and lowered it to 3%, that would be a savings of $300 in the first year alone!  Now imagine how much you would save over the course of the loan repayment.

With the low interest rate at 3%, it was so low that I was tempted not to pay it off so quickly.  However, I needed to stay focused on the bigger picture.  With my primary goal of acquiring more rental properties, I need to pay off all other debt so that I can ensure I qualify for the rental property mortgages.

I was already paying $200 a month extra towards my student loans to reduce the 10-year repayment period.  In November, I paid off my 6-year 0% loan on my Chevy Tahoe.  So, I added that amount to the accelerated paydown of my student loans.

A few years ago, we bought solar panels for our home, which reduced our electricity bill by almost $200 a month on average.  We did a 20-year prepaid lease, so we didn’t have payments to SolarCity.  Instead, I chose to repay myself $200 a month from the electricity savings.  I finally repaid myself in December, so that $200 a month started going towards my student loans as well.

You’ll notice a pattern here… whenever one bill is paid off, the payment that I was making started going towards the next debt I wanted to target.  This is known as a “debt avalanche”.  There is also a strategy called “debt snowball” where you focus paying off the smallest debt first, then move on to the next smallest, and on and on until all your debts are paid off.

Also… notice that when I paid off those debts, I didn’t spend the money on other “stuff” that doesn’t align with my goals of buying more rental properties, retiring early, and traveling more.  It is so easy to fall into the trap of buying another car, shopping at the mall, or whatever else may tempt you.  Be strong… and remember what is most important to you!

As my SoFi student loan balance was getting smaller and smaller, I became within striking distance of paying it off!  When my company bonus was paid in March, I took all of that money, plus some of my savings to pay the whole thing off!!!!!!!

SoFi student loans paid off

Actually, I paid just a little more than the balance due just to ensure that there wasn’t an amount owed the following month for accrued interest.

Why am I so focused on paying off my SoFi student loans?

Normally, I am someone who is ok with having low-interest debt hang around so that I can redirect my money towards investments that pay a much higher rate of return.  Even in today’s economy, it isn’t difficult to find investments that will earn more than 3%.  If you’re looking for a good guide on how to start investing, check out this post by my friend Joseph.

Rental property
Here’s one of our rentals properties

My real incentive for paying off debt is twofold… first and foremost, real estate investing is my primary focus right now.  When we buy rental properties, we look to take a mortgage out on them after we rehab them and place a tenant in the property.  So, by reducing all other debt to zero, this helps my debt-to-income ratio (amount of minimum payments you have divided by your income), which is one of the primary variables that determines whether or not you get approved for your loan.  By eliminating my car loan and my student loan payment, that goes a long way towards improving my debt-to-income ratio.

Second, I’m becoming more and more interested in retiring early.  I’ll be 41 this year, and I’m looking at a lot of scenarios trying to figure out what I need to do if I want to retire by age 50.  If I can pay off all debt, then retiring at age 50 is something very doable.  And that would free my time to focus on my two passions… travel (and writing about my adventures) and real estate investing.

Conclusion

If you have student loan payments, check out the offer from SoFi where you’ll get a great interest rate AND SoFi will give you $100 if you use my affiliate link.  By lowering my interest rate from 6% to less than 3%, I was able to accelerate the payoff of my student loans.  Then, by paying off other debt and focusing that money on my student loans, I was able to pay them off 9 years early!


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3 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Lee, thanks for the article. I’m trying to get going in my own debt avalanche! I am just about paid off all my credit card debt and am about to move that money over to paying of my student loans. I’m hoping to refinance with sofi. Currently I’ve been paying my Sallie Mae loan payment with my credit card and then paying off my credit card right after the transaction posted in order to get the reward points (I know some people, say this isn’t always the best idea, but t’s been working well for me). I hope to keep this up after refinancing but it’s only possible when I call and make a payment over the phone.Do you know if phone payments with card are an option with Sofi? Also would the automatic payment (to get the lower interest rate) not be made since a payment was already received? If you have any knowledge about this I’d love to get some insight! Thanks!

    • Hey Shawn, I never tried making payments to SoFi via credit card, so I’m not sure if that works or not. If they are, I totally missed a boatload of points as I paid off my loan. I signed up for the automatic payments to receive the discount as well. My loan was a few years ago, but I think that when I made larger payments, the automatic payment didn’t post, but I’m not 100% sure on that. Good luck and let me know how it goes for you!

      Remember, if you use my referral link, you’ll get $100 for refinancing your student loans with SoFi.

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