The Winner of the January Call to Action!

The Winner of the January Call to Action!

KatieThe beginning of the year is when many of us resolve to make progress on our money—whether that means paying off debt, spending smarter or saving to meet an important goal.

But you can't do any of that if you're feeling hopeless or disempowered. Which is why here at LearnVest, we dedicated last month to building up your financial confidence.

To help you stay excited and focused on your 2015 ambitions, we shared 10 habits of the financially fearless and strategies for tackling money hurdles at every age.

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And in our quest to further grow your money confidence, we posed this question in our January Call to Action: What does money confidence mean to you—and how have you flaunted it?

We received over 75 bold responses, from the woman who managed to travel abroad while simultaneously paying off student loans to the freelancer who has socked away enough money so that she can be choosy about which projects she takes on. Thank you to everyone who shared!

And congratulations to this month’s winner, who will receive $100 to help her achieve her financial goals: Katie S., a human resources coordinator from West Newbury, Mass.

Below, check out Katie's story of dealing with student debt—and going on to help others do the same!

“In May 2014 I graduated from Connecticut College with nearly $80,000 in student debt.

During the years preceding, my family had been going through financial turmoil. My parents spent outside their means during the early 2000s—they bought a beautiful colonial farmhouse at the peak of the housing market, and the house then plummeted in value.

Then, in spring 2012, my father had a heart attack. A self-employed dentist, he could not work for several months and still cannot earn as much as he did nearly three years ago. My parents eventually came to the heartbreaking realization that their dream home was no longer an option. They’ve since moved into a smaller colonial farmhouse and are working on rebuilding their lives and sticking to a realistic budget.

After watching my parent’s financial struggles, I decided that I would never let money run my life. But first I had to figure out how to manage my massive debt!

In the months leading up to graduation, I read several finance books, secured a job and set up a budget for post-grad life. I also took off fall semester my senior year, because I had earned enough credits to graduate a semester early. So I stayed home and worked at a café and a toy store in my hometown.

Now I have an extremely organized budgeting and savings plan. I’ve paid down over $5,000 of my debt and continue to pay more than the required amount every month, while still contributing 10% to my 401(k). I know that it will be years before I am debt-free, but it sure feels good to have some control over my finances at 22!

Since I’ve found my money confidence, I flaunt it by mentoring current college students and recent grads on managing student loan debt and developing financial skills. I recently sat down with my cousin to discuss how she would handle her loans after she graduates in December. In the future I would really like to put together a class on financial basics to teach at my high school.

It’s time for Millennials to take control. We can beat student loan debt together!”

Thanks for sharing, Katie!

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