My Money Story: How I’m Handling $100K in Student Loans

Name: Shannel Hawkins
Current City: Oakland, CA
Occupation: Events / Marketing
Fun Fact: I’m a recent vegetarian aspiring to move toward being fully vegan
Social: @coco_shannel on insta

What did your family teach you about money?

I’m the first in my family to go to college and didn’t learn many details about how to manage my finances at home. I was lucky enough to see my parents hustle and invest in properties, but also witnessed how the financial crisis of 2008 also hit them. From there, I wanted to make sure that I had learned about finances and had a solid financial plan.

Can you talk a bit about your financial situation when you graduated?

I went to a private university and the cost to go there was much higher than public universities, so I graduated with a lot of student loans. With maxing out my federal loans, I still did not have enough funds to attend. I felt cornered and pressured to take out a private loan.

I had no clue on what an 11% interest rate meant when taking this loan out but when seeing the results of this on Snowball Wealth I was in shock.

To give you an idea of what that meant – I took out a $20,000 loan my first year and by the time I graduated it was $40,000 since the interest was accruing while I was in school. I had no idea I could have paid off part of my loan while in college. On top of that, I didn’t know that all the interest goes into the principal balance once you graduate.

My main goal was to get an education and I felt like I got shot in the foot with that one loan ballooning so quickly.

Going to all of this was a hard lesson that I hope no one else has to go through. I was quite embarrassed at first about how much debt I was in but Snowball Wealth helped me get over that fear. I hope my story helps others and educates young women on financial decisions.

How did you get started with managing your loans?

I put my loans into the Snowball platform and for me, it was eye-opening. Everything was daunting, I was $100K in student debt, with growing interest and it was helpful to see it all laid out for me. I refinanced my loans through Snowball and am paying them down.

I saved close to $10K after refinancing and am forever grateful I saved so much money. Besides the financial savings, Snowball saved me headaches.

How did you start your early career?

I currently work in marketing and events, and specifically, experiential marketing. I always knew I wanted to be in marketing. Early on, I started off my career in social media and leveraged my knowledge of different platforms as a way to get my foot in the door. From there, I moved into events and experiential marketing.

Tips on getting promoted at work?

My work ethic is to put in hard work and let my work speak for itself. But I realized that speaking up and advocating for yourself is important also, especially during reviews. The Snowball slack community was super helpful and supportive when I asked how to go about asking for a promotion during a pandemic. Some of their advice included using metrics on your successes, mentioning times you went above and beyond, and how you feel you can contribute even more in the future. A few weeks ago, after receiving positive reviews at work, I received a promotion! With this community, I felt even more empowered to speak up and advocate for myself.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?

It’s never too late to get started! Professionally, go for what you want and what you deserve. Don’t stay stagnant because you are scared. You never know if there is something better out there for you. Financially, it’s also never too late to get started or gain more knowledge whether that is paying off student debt, building your credit, or finding ways to invest.

Shannel is a part of the Snowball Wealth Slack Community, to join, fill out this form.

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