A 29-year-old who's paid over $100,000 of student loans gives her 2 best pieces of debt-repayment advice

jessica elberfeld

Courtesy of Jessica Elberfeld

Jessica Elberfeld.

Since graduating from college in 2009, Jessica Elberfeld has paid $104,182.42 in loans.

In November, she'll have paid her full balance - over $113,000 - and will be loan-free.

How does she do it? Elberfeld spoke with Business Insider to share her budget, and her best advice:Advertisement

Also, she recommends borrowers take a close eye to their interest rates. Her own loans, a $68,000 mixture of public and private, originally held interest rates as high as 10.75% that caused her total debt to balloon into the six figures. In April 2015, she was able to have the loans consolidated at a 2.85% interest rate.

"See if the rates are reasonable, and if not, find a way to rebalance," she advised.
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And then, "find a way to up your income and take your monthly expenses down. When you have control of what's going out and coming in you can make a plan and take it one step at at time." For her, one step at a time was following the "debt snowball" method of loan repayment, popularized by Dave Ramsey. It instructs people to start by paying off their smallest loan in full, then roll that money into payments for the next-biggest loan, and so on.

"I'll create friends a budget and say, 'Here's your snowball plan,' and they look at it and get so overwhelmed," she said. "I say, 'the time is going to pass anyway. Look at one loan and think about that one only. Once you pay one alone, then look at the next.' You have to take it one step at a time - otherwise, it's overwhelming."Advertisement

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